What Is a PowerPoint Presentation?

Use a PowerPoint presentation to keep your audience interested

Microsoft's PowerPoint software is used to create professional-looking slide shows that can be displayed on projectors or big-screen TVs. The product of the software is called a presentation. Usually, a human presenter speaks to an audience and uses the PowerPoint presentation for visuals to hold the listeners' attention and add visual information. However, some PowerPoint presentations are created and recorded to provide a human-less experience.

A PowerPoint presentation works just as well for huge audiences as for small groups.

Where to Find PowerPoint

PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office package and is also available as:

  • A standalone program for Windows computers and Macs
  • Part of an Office 365 subscription
  • PowerPoint Online
  • PowerPoint Apps for Android and iOS mobile devices

How to Use PowerPoint

PowerPoint comes with many templates that set the tone of a presentation—from casual to formal to off-the-wall. New PowerPoint users usually select a template and replace the placeholder text and images with their own to customize a presentation. They add additional slides in the same template format as they need them and add text, images, and graphics. As they learn, they add special effects, transitions between slides, music, charts, and animations—all built into the software—to enrich the experience for the audience. 

Collaborating With PowerPoint

Although PowerPoint is often used by a single individual, it is also structured for use by a group for the purposes of collaborating on a presentation.

In this case, the presentation is saved online on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. When you're ready to share, you send your collaborators or co-workers a link to the PowerPoint file and assign them either viewing or editing permissions. Comments on the presentation are visible to all the collaborators.

If you use the free PowerPoint Online, you work and collaborate using your favorite desktop browser. You and your team can work on the same presentation at the same time from anywhere. You just need a Microsoft account.

Uses for PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint appears in all sorts of business and personal presentations. Among them are:

  • Employee training sessions
  • Product launches
  • Sales meetings
  • Trade show demos
  • Club meetings
  • Public appearances
  • Family trees
  • Digital portfolios
  • Photo slide shows
  • Marketing strategies
  • Quarterly earning presentations
  • Business plans

PowerPoint Competitors

PowerPoint is by far the most popular presentation software program available. Approximately 35 million PowerPoint presentations are given each day. Although there are several competitors to PowerPoint, they lack the familiarity and global reach of PowerPoint. Apple's Keynote software is similar to PowerPoint and ships free on all Macs, but it has only a tiny share of the presentation software user base.

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Russell, Wendy. "What Is a PowerPoint Presentation?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-a-powerpoint-presentation-2767424. Russell, Wendy. (2017, August 17). What Is a PowerPoint Presentation? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-powerpoint-presentation-2767424 Russell, Wendy. "What Is a PowerPoint Presentation?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-powerpoint-presentation-2767424 (accessed November 21, 2017).