Today’s modern Assistant might be asked to put together or polish PowerPoint presentations for a client or boss.

Sometimes that will be a solo task. Sometimes it may involve collaboration with one or more other people – including the client or the boss. Either way, it is important to create presentations using good design principles and best practices for slide design.

Hybrid working (part of the week in the office, part of the week at home or other remote location) is now the model adopted by many organisations. This means the savvy Assistant is likely to be involved in the preparation – and even delivery – of virtual presentations. These can be via Zoom, Google Meet,  Microsoft Teams or other web conferencing platforms.

The Benefits of Collaboration in PowerPoint

Presentations are an important way for people, teams and organisations to share vision, mission, values, ideas and information.

A client or boss may want their VA, PA or EA to create a draft presentation for them to review. A team may want to work together on putting together the clearest presentation about their work or a specific project.

Collaboration in PowerPoint allows people to work together on one presentation. Collaboration increases efficiency, enhances creativity and creates space for different perspectives and viewpoints to be considered.

Collaboration leverages the strengths, talents and insights of the group. It is a collective approach to creating visually engaging presentations in PowerPoint.

For teams, PowerPoint collaboration allows people to communicate effectively, set clear roles and responsibilities, establish a timeline, streamline workflows and build a coherent final message.

Sharing a PowerPoint Slide Deck to Collaborate on a Presentation

Before others can work on the same presentation, it needs to be shared with them.

You can invite people to work on the presentation directly, through email, a shared link or via OneDrive or SharePoint in Microsoft 365.

The savvy Assistant will use – and guide others to use – good design principles to help to develop a consistent approach to collaborative efforts in creating future presentations.

Once people are involved, PowerPoint shows who is currently viewing or editing a presentation – and which bit of it they are working on. Look for the thumbnail with the person’s image or initials.

Co-Authoring a PowerPoint Presentation

Collaboration on a presentation is more involved than if you are doing it solo. Good processes, communications protocols and teamwork are essential to avoid too many cooks spoiling the broth.

In PowerPoint, you can co-author in real time, with different people working on the same presentation at the same time. You can see who is doing what, and when, and add your contributions without affecting changes made by others.

For example, introducing interactive elements to enhance your PowerPoint presentation might seem a good idea to you. However, a client, boss or colleague may not be so convinced it is right. Co-authoring lets you work through both the broad brush and finer details of a presentation.

Editing a PowerPoint Document Together

As an Assistant, you can edit text, move or change images, and add animations and transitions for polished presentations.

Everyone in the loop can see your edits and additions, and give feedback. People can leave comments on any element of the draft presentation. Or they can use Chat in PowerPoint to talk through points and resolve any conflicts, where people disagree about wording or visuals.

When you have made your changes you can save the file and all non-conflicted changes will be automatically merged into the presentation. You can view through the My Changes view.

PowerPoint helps everyone to be on the same page. As a savvy Assistant, you always know where you are in the editing process. If you’ve not checked the draft presentation for a few days, no worries. The ‘while you were away’ feature tracks recent changes made by others and lets you see what’s new in the document.

The version control feature allows a team to collaborate better, track changes and revert to previous versions of the document if preferred. It helps to maintain a coherent final presentation, even if there are many contributors to it.

Delivering a collaborative presentation that hits the mark with its audience is a hugely satisfying feeling. It lifts confidence and energy. If a VA, PA or EA has been the facilitator for the collaboration it raises their standing, for sure.

Delivering Virtual PowerPoint Presentations

Some PowerPoint presentations are designed to be delivered in front of an audience in a room. Traditionally, that’s what the set up was.

Today, in the world of hybrid working and high tech, presentations are much more likely to be delivered online, in the virtual world. Think video conferencing with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom, for example.

The savvy Assistant may well find themselves working on presentations for this kind of online meeting. Those who are not up to date may benefit from some PowerPoint Skills Mastery training.

A presentation could be internal, for sharing within an organisation for information, training and learning. A presentation might be for an online event, such as a conference, discussion panel or even a TED talk. A presentation might need to be polished for a sales conference with prospects.

Tips for Presenting Virtual PowerPoint Presentations

As a savvy Assistant, you may be asked, invited or required to deliver a presentation. This might be a live presentation, recording or a saved video ready for streaming online.

Here are 12 tips to help you feel more confident about delivering a virtual presentation in PowerPoint.

1. Know your Audience and Presentation Purpose

When you know who is going be to seeing and hearing your presentation, it is easier to tailor the content to your audience. Think about the purpose of your presentation and what you want it to achieve.

2. Do Your Research

Do you know your topic well? Do you need to find out more information? Do you want to find a fresh perspective, explore current trends, or discover more about a particular subject or industry?

Do your research. Be well informed.

3. Plan and Structure Your Presentation

That research will also help you when it’s time to plan and structure your PowerPoint. You are telling a story. What is your beginning? What is your core message in the middle? What are the key points to get across? How will you bring it all to a conclusion?

4. Keep It Simple

Clarity is essential for good communications. That applies to virtual presentations. Remember, PowerPoint is there to support and enhance your presentation, not to fill slides with tons of dull text.

Keep text short. You expand on the text as you speak to each slide. Make it easy for the audience to digest your points.

5. Use PowerPoint Design Elements Wisely

PowerPoint gives you the potential to include text, images, animations, 3D objects, transitions, interactive elements and embedded media.

Resist the temptation to go ‘tech mad’ and add in fancy features just for the sake of it. Every element of every slide must be there for a purpose. If it is not helping your presentation, take it out.

6. Practise Your Presentation

There is a big difference between looking at a beautifully designed PowerPoint presentation and delivering that to an audience.

The job of a presenter is to bring that presentation to life; to engage, entertain and inform the audience; to get a clear message across; to create connection and touch the emotions.

Get your presentation up on screen and practise, practise, practise. Record yourself or test things out with a trusted friend or colleague. Alternatively, rehearse and appraise your performance using Microsoft’s Speaker Coach.

Is the message clear? Are the key points memorable? What went really well? Where could the presentation be stronger? How was the tone and pace? Was anything missing?

How could you make it even better?

7. Breathe

Some people are natural performers. Some people get extremely nervous about speaking to a group of people. Before you start any virtual presentation, or any video conference call for that matter, take 5 minutes to breathe. A simple slow breathing exercise can make all the difference to how you show up and deliver.

8. Be Confident

Being a savvy Assistant is as much about mindset as it is about skills. Be confident, look confident and feel confident (even if you’re not 100% confident).

9. Pace Yourself

When people get nervous about a talk or presentation, they tend to rush their words. A good presenter paces a talk to good time – and may even build in subtle changes of pace to make a talk more interesting. This takes practice.

10. Gauge Engagement

When I am delivering workshops, online group training or other Microsoft Office learning sessions I always have my senses open to pick up the vibe from the audience. Are they engaged? Are they enjoying the content? Is the energy high or low?

A good presenter can sense how things are going and adjust accordingly. The presenter VA, PA or EA can learn to do the same.

11. Power to the Finish

Start strong. Finish even stronger. You are telling the audience a story. You want them to remember what the presentation is about – and what points to take away with them.

12. Be Smart When Sharing Slide Decks

If somebody missed your presentation and asks for a copy of the slide deck, don’t just send the slides. They will lack context and meaning on their own. Prepare a written document which highlights the content from your presentation and expands on the content.

Alternatively, record a video of the presentation and share a link to it.

PowerPoint Remains a Powerful Presentation Tool in Today’s World

Presentations continue to be an important communications method in today’s hybrid working world. That means PowerPoint still remains an important tool in the savvy Assistant’s toolbox.

PowerPoint lets you design solo or collaboratively, providing visual and interactive elements to improve engagement with the audience. Being able to collaborate on and co-author presentations easily in real-time is a big plus.

The VA, PA and EA who knows how to design, co-author and deliver presentations with consistent quality and confidence will be much sought after.

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Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

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