Redefining PowerPoint and Presentations – Are they the same or different?

PowerPoint slide with bullet pointsPresentation has become so commonly associated with the PowerPoint software that many people use to create presentation slides that “powerpoint” has taken on an almost generic meaning – like Kleenex or Xerox.

But, in this blog post, I’ll talk about why powerpoint and presentation have a little bit of overlap, but a whole lot of differences in their meaning and their capabilities!

Just because you were taught to create PowerPoint slides like a bullet-pointed outline doesn’t mean that’s the best way to use the PowerPoint software.

And just because lots of people use PowerPoint to create presentations doesn’t mean that’s the best format to present your message to your ideal audience.

Let’s redefine those 2 terms!

Microsoft Office software suitePowerPoint is …

a software tool for content creation and graphic design.  PowerPoint also has an ability to project the content, on a computer monitor or on a large projection screen, in an electronic, digital display which may look slightly different than the original content.

The most common type of content created with PowerPoint is a presentation or slideshow.  The most common way to organize the content (message) of a presentation or slideshow created in PowerPoint is by outlining the verbal message in bullet points (as shown in the image above) and then adding small images around the text.

However there are other types of content that can be created with the PowerPoint software tools.  Presentations and slideshows are only a small fraction of what PowerPoint can do.

digital projectorA presentation is …

a means of delivering a message for the purpose of education, information, persuasion, or entertainment.

The most commonly used tool for creating and delivering a presentation is PowerPoint, but there are so many other tools that could be used and, in fact, many other formats in which a presentation can be delivered.

Too often people use the term “PowerPoint” to refer to their presentation.  Unfortunately, this confusion leads many people to plan, write, and create their whole presentation inside of the PowerPoint software — which is really a design tool, not a planning tool.

From a business perspective, any opportunity you have to get your message in front of your ideal audience — your target clients or prospects – that’s a presentation!

Let’s take a look at the commonalities, as well as the differences, between PowerPoint and presentations.

PowerPoint Characteristics:

Here are some of the many things you can do with PowerPoint which most people don’t know you can do with PowerPoint!

  • You can change the “canvas” to almost any size and shape!
  • You can save the output in many different file types, including image files, video, PDF, and more.
  • You can format text blocks in an almost unlimited range of font sizes (not limited to the built-in choices).
  • You can change the output resolution to higher quality (easy on Mac; on Windows involves editing the Registry)
  • Graphics in PowerPoint are much easier to edit and format then in Word.output file types
  • There is a wide variety of available templates/themes/designs for designing PowerPoint documents.
  • You can modify those templates/themes/designs or create your own from scratch.
  • Graphic/image effects and text effects in PowerPoint are more extensive than in some other image editing software.
  • You can format text blocks without bullet points – which is a good idea since many people loathe bullet point slides and find them quite boring!
  • Animations and transitions are easier to use in PowerPoint than in more complex video editing software.
  • You control navigation within a PowerPoint document using hyperlinks.  (For instance, click a button on a slide and have it jump to a different part of the file.)

Presentation Characteristics:

Any time you get your message in front of an audience, that’s a presentation!  Even if that’s one person reading your blog post or viewing your infographic.  Even if that’s thousands of people watching your video that you created with a web-based animation program and then posted on YouTube.

Presentations can be:

one-on-one presentation

  • In person, face-to-face discussion (with or without slides shared on a tablet device)
  • By phone one-on-one or to a group
  • Audio presentation via radio show or podcast (live or prerecorded)
  • Written material (hopefully with visuals) – e-book or white paper
  • “Live” Webinar with audio and slides
  • Prerecorded (evergreen) webinar with audio and slides
  • Web-based Slideshow without audio
  • Live presentation (with or without slides) to small group (conference room)
  • Live presentation (with or without slides) to large group (auditorium)
  • Video presentation (with or without narration; with or without music)
  • Created with a wide range of software tool choices!


You may have learned to use PowerPoint by typing text into a bullet point outline.  But PowerPoint software is capable of doing so much more.

Above all else, PowerPoint is a graphic design tool.  Even though many people don’t make very good use of its graphics functionality, PowerPoint offers some serious design functions compared to other software of similar price.

And since many people already have some familiarity with the PowerPoint software, it is much easier to learn how to create visual content in PowerPoint than to learn a completely new and different software tool, many of which are more complicated to use.

high quality presentationIn my Creative Marketing TV hangout series, I’ll be presenting some little known techniques for designing high-resolution graphic output from PowerPoint in Windows.  These are secret tips that many graphic designers don’t know about because they are working in PowerPoint on a Mac, which offers other built-in options.

While Windows does not make it as easy as Mac, you can save your PowerPoint files at 300 dpi when needed for print quality.  But you need to know about the techniques I’ll be teaching!

To explore ways of creating visual content with PowerPoint, register here for your free PDF guide for the May 7th hangout.

I will send you the hangout details, as well as the PDF with the tips and techniques that I’ll teach in the hangout.

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