I don't know about the rest of you, but my Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator skills are circa 1998. I can muddle my way through the easy stuff, but for the most part, I'm hopelessly out of date. How did I, a self-proclaimed professional student, let my graphic design skills become obsolete? I blame it on PowerPoint.
Some people might call me lazy but, for 99% of the drawing or photo editing projects I do, PowerPoint has everything I need to crank out a polished final product in no time flat. In fact, most of the images I create for my blog posts are done with nothing more than stock photos, free clip art & fonts, and a little creativity. Because PowerPoint's drawing and picture tools are so quick and easy to use, I've found ways to creatively apply my skills to plenty of other life projects.
Here's how to use PowerPoint to ...
1. Create a Custom Twitter Background
Tired of the boring Twitter default background and looking for a way to show some personality? If you're like me you've probably tried all of the flashy, ad riddled, and so-called "free" Twitter background creators online only to realize that they're hard to use and produce mediocre results. Check-out these easy-to-follow, step by step instructions from The Closet Entreprenuer, including a free PowerPoint template you can download to jump-start your design. Yes; you'll need to do some tweaking to get your background image sized just right, but this is the cheapest, easiest approach I've found.
2. Get Noticed by Prospective Employers
As we all know, there are many more job-seekers than jobs right now. Differentiation is the key to getting noticed by potential employers, but how do you distinguish yourself when you're using the same boring resume template everyone else is using? Sure, online resume/CV hosts offer tons of feature-rich ways to stand-out (many for free), but they also take some time to set up. If you're looking for a quick way to make an impression, use your PowerPoint know-how to design a simple, engaging presentation with highlights from your resume. When you're done, sending your PowerPoint resume is as simple as attaching it to an email or uploading it to a website. (Tip: Try out Mindflash for a free trial and upload your resume for a handy way to share your creativity with prospective employers.)
Need a little design inspiration? Here's an example of some punchy PowerPoint self-promotion.
3. Design a Large-Format Poster
My 6 year old has been studying polar bears recently with his efforts culminating in an individual presentation to be delivered to his class, either on a poster or in a diorama. Excited about creating a poster we set out to find some instructions that would allow us to make something large enough to be seen at the back of the classroom. He ultimately decided I could help him make a diorama instead, but my search for poster-making instructions wasn't a total loss because I stumbled upon these great resources from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Not only do they have instructions to walk you through creating your own large format posters there are also several free, pre-formatted poster templates you can download!
4. Make Public Speaking More Fun (for you and your audience)
I know the idea of using PowerPoint for ice breakers or keynotes isn't particularly innovative, but I think opportunities to use PowerPoint's features to really elevate a presentation are often missed by presenters who slavishly cling to bullet points to tell a story. Here's my take on it: if you're going to be forced into public speaking, at least find a way to leverage the tools you've got in a way that's fun and engaging.
For a great example of what I mean, watch the following keynote address from Dick Hardt. It's a funny, fresh take on what could've been a dull topic in less inspired hands. Thankfully you don't need to be as inspired as Dick to make this kind of a presentation work. But watch this short video and I guarantee that you will be inspired by Dick's use of PowerPoint in a way that's anything but deadly!
Of course there are endless numbers of creative ideas for using PowerPoint. Check out some more ideas here. Or better yet, share some of your own by submitting a comment, below.
Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own training design muscles.