Microsoft PowerPoint has been around for more than 25 years and yet it still remains associated with that ugly phrase, ‘Death by PowerPoint’.

Most people will have had at least one experience of a dull, boring or frustrating presentation delivered with the tool. However, it’s not the technology which should be taking the blame. It’s people not using the technology well who need to change their ways.

Today, PowerPoint remains a highly relevant and well used application in the Microsoft Office suite. Ongoing improvements mean visually engaging presentations can be created if you know what you are doing.

The savvy Assistant simply needs to understand some good design principles; make good use of animations and transitions; be prepared to collaborate and deliver presentations virtually; and know how to use interactive elements and embedded media effectively.

Follow Good Design Principles and Best Practices for Slide Design

A Savvy Assistant understands that a good PowerPoint slide deck supports a presentation – not the other way around.

For that to happen, the slide deck needs to have clarity, clear messaging and some visual punch.

The way to achieve that is through good design principles and best practices for slide design in PowerPoint.

Good design creates a powerful connection between your audience and your message. It engages people. It makes people feel something. It delivers something memorable. It makes an impact.

From my many, many years of experience as a Microsoft Office trainer and workshop presenter, I can tell you that simplicity, consistency and clarity are essential for a well-designed PowerPoint presentation.

The worst kind of PowerPoint presentation is a sequence of slides where every slide is packed with text (from which the presenter will just read the text verbatim). Please never let a client or boss deliver a presentation that way.

The way to go is to keep text short and make good use of images, animations, transitions, interactive elements and embedded media.

The Savvy Assistant is a master of the Slide Master, a dedicated user of the Designer feature and gets everything in place with the Slide Sorter.

A strong presentation starts with design. The VA, PA or EA who has PowerPoint skills mastery has an edge. They will be better able to stand out from the crowd or impress the boss and colleagues.

Create More Polished Presentations with Animations and Transitions

Any PowerPoint presentation can be enhanced with smart use of the application’s design features.

The standard slide you tend to see in a deck has text and an image, all static. But text, pictures, shapes and objects on a slide can all be made more animated. This can make slides and the overall talk more interesting for the audience.

The savvy Assistant also knows the value of transitions – the way a deck moves from one slide to the next in a presentation. This can add pace, a bit of fun and even some ‘wow’ to the simplest of presentations.

Of course, as with any aspect of the design, you want to be sensible, be consistent and be able to adapt.

Using animations and transitions for polished presentations is a smart way to go – as long as you know what you are doing. Particular care needs to be taken when considering the addition of sound effects. Will they add anything to a presentation or will they only add a distraction from the message?

Advanced users of PowerPoint will enjoy using Morph to transform presentations from the ordinary to the outstanding. Assistants who love efficiency and productivity will make good use of the Animation Painter to save time in creating animations.

The Value of Collaborating in PowerPoint and Pointers on Delivering Presentations Virtually

For many teams and organisations today, there is a greater emphasis on collaborative working and online communications.

The savvy Assistant will be expected to play their part in creating, co-authoring and improving presentations in PowerPoint. They may also find there are times when they will be asked, invited or required to deliver their own presentation.

That means understanding how to collaborate in PowerPoint and deliver presentations virtually is an area the career-minded Assistant will want to master.

Collaboration allows different people to work together on one presentation, and to bring different perspectives and creative talents to the table. When organised well, it can increase efficiency and sharpen the impact of any presentation.

PowerPoint has some excellent collaboration features. It allows multiple people to work on one document at the same time, in real time. It offers tools to edit, comment and chat about ways to improve every slide in the deck.

Keep creating and refining new versions of a presentation. Or go back to a previous version if you like that one better. It’s easy to manage inside the application.

It is one thing to create presentations. It is a very different thing to have to present them. Even if it’s to a small group online rather than to an audience physically in the same room as you.

It’s why, as an experienced Microsoft Office trainer and workshop presenter, I am happy to share some tips for presenting virtual PowerPoint presentations.

Enhancing PowerPoint Presentations with Interactive Elements and Embedded Media

The savvy Assistant is constantly seeking to find ways to improve efficiency and quality. With some PowerPoint presentations a way to do that is through the addition of interactive elements, video or audio clips.

These kinds of features really can make a difference. Introducing interactive elements to enhance your PowerPoint presentations can help an audience or presentation user to feel more engaged with the content.

As with any other elements of slide design in PowerPoint, it pays to plan carefully, keep it simple and learn how to put things together quickly and easily.

Hyperlinks, buttons and triggered animations allow the user to feel they are part of the action – and in control of the story journey in a presentation. Forms, surveys and quizzes allow people to have their say and can provide invaluable feedback.

With a click of a QR code, people can access more detailed information about the presentation topic or a specific aspect of it. You don’t have to cram everything onto your slides.

Video is one of the most powerful media out there. Thoughtful use of it in a PowerPoint presentation can lift the content and make things more memorable. Background music can add an emotional note to the narrative and a sound bite can capture an idea or point in the audio moment.

The savvy Assistant understands these different elements and how to weave theme effectively into the mix – expertly avoiding some of the common pitfalls.

PowerPoint Presentations are Here to Stay

The old jokes about ‘Death by PowerPoint’ since the 1990s have not led to the demise of the application. Far from it. Microsoft have added fresh features and given it a new lease of life.

That’s because those who understand PowerPoint recognise that dull or boring presentations are not the fault of the application. It’s down to poor slide design or presenting skills. Or both of those things.

PowerPoint, when done well, can support memorable presentations that get audiences to sit up and take notice. It has some lovely visual features and interactive elements that can lift an average presentation to something energising, engaging and impactful.

The savvy Assistant will be, or choose to become, a master of PowerPoint. It is the way to enhance the narrative, break complicated messages into singular clarity, control the pace and add atmosphere to presentations.

In a world where too many still fail to communicate effectively with PowerPoint, the smart VA, PA or EA can take advantage of the application’s features – and make a name for themselves as a presentation genius.

Shelley Fishel - The MS Office Maestro

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

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!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney