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Presentations Crash Course

Creating effective PowerPoints are an essential part of presentations such as case competitions and for careers in consulting. On February 28th, ABSA held a PowerPoint Workshop led by UW Foster alumni Rose Jao from PwC who is highly skilled and experienced in designing PowerPoint presentations, consulting, and case competitions. We hope that this insight and guidance will be useful for any presentations you may have in the future.

Here are Rose’s Top 8 PowerPoint Tips:

1. Pick a theme:

All you need to start is 1 color palette, 1 title font, and 1 subtitle/content font. Use free sources like Google Fonts

  • If you are working with a company, search their color palette. For example, let’s say Starbucks is your client for your case competition. You can use a green color palette to help tie the whole presentation together. Something extra your team could do is to wear the color green as well.

  • You can also use Pinterest or Google to find inspiration when deciding what color theme to implement for your slides.

  • Bookmark Google Fonts and download over 1000 free fonts to put in sample text and see what fonts look like together.

  • This tip makes a big difference to tie everything together!

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

Reuse old content when possible and find small ways to make it look fresh

  • If you make one good slide, reuse it!

  • If it’s working, don’t break it; you can make it fun and fresh. If you find something that looks nice, there is no need to start from scratch.

3. Keep it simple

Avoid cluttering slides and keep the audience focused on your key points

  • A popular trend these days is to have minimalistic designs and lots of white space.

  • Gray out everything else that you don’t want to focus on and keep things as simple as you can to draw the audience’s eyes on what you’re speaking on.

4. Watch for conversion issues

Custom fonts will not transfer between your computers and others - the safest bet is converting your deck to PDF

  • If you get fancy with fonts, make sure to send in the file as a PDF. Otherwise, sometimes your slides do not look like what you created.

  • You don’t have to worry about conversion issues for PDF so it is strongly advised to use it!

5. Use quality images

Search “free stock images” or use websites like

  • Some of Rose’s favorite free stock images are from the website, which has a selection of high quality images to choose from.

  • Here is an example of a clean title slide with two text boxes and one picture of Kenya:

6. Automate what you can

Use the Slide Master feature and familiarize yourself with PowerPoint features

  • Automate your means by using the Slide Master feature!

  • The Slide Master can help you make a template for the entire PowerPoint.

  • The title slide is the master and if you insert one icon, it will show up for every single slide on the deck.

  • Anything you do in Slide Master will automatically populate, which helps save time especially for case competitions!

7. Slides support the story

Pretty slides won’t compensate for faulty content or lack of a storyline

  • You could be a firm believer in loving good design, slides that look nice and clean, and that it doesn’t matter if the information you include is wrong.

  • However, it’s also important to keep in mind that you have to be supporting your content and your storyline.

  • At the end of the day, slides should be more of a secondary thing to focus on.

8. Practice makes perfect

Cheesy, but true - be creative with your design and keep trying until you find your style!

  • You don’t have to implement all 8 of these tips. Instead, you can just do one at a time and improve over time.

  • Build your portfolio and get better at it!

Now let’s move onto the 4 common case competition slides:

1. Implementation Timeline

  • This is a content slide showing your recommendation over time. In case competitions, the key is to “fake it til you make it.”

  • Another tip for creating slides is that you can rename stages and reuse slides later.

  • For making timelines, a tip is to use a table so that the whole box is a table that makes it easy to fill in the lines. Fill in the cells of a table instead of drawing a bar because it makes it easier for everything to remain the same size.

  • The point of this slide is to show the different phases of what happened in your timeline.

  • Here’s are a couple example slides:

2. Risks & Mitigation

  • For this content slide, you can create a table that shows your straightforward thinking about these strategies.

  • Rose recommends putting one of these in your decks!

  • Here’s an example slide:

3. Decision Matrix

  • This content slide can be considered the hardest one to make since it’s difficult to make them look not too overwhelming.

  • In addition, if a judge is color blind, they may not be able to see the slide. You can use shapes instead to make it more accessible.

  • Make sure to support your decision: put criteria on the left (what you’re weighing) and different options on the top.

  • Another option is to use numbers, which is an accessible matrix. You can also weigh them, which makes this more technically accurate.

  • The point of this slide is to emphasize that you gave a lot of thought to the options and you’re sharing the one you’re most confident about.

  • Here are a few example slides:

4. Financials

  • For this content slide, sometimes you won’t be given finance data to work from or you will have to find information about companies that aren’t public.

  • If you are making stuff up, be as clear as possible and show the judges what you want them to see.

  • Trying to show what you want the judges to think is key.

  • Another tip is to try to show a number and make it big to look more confident.

  • Here are a few example slides:

With these tips and tricks in mind, we hope these can help you feel more prepared and ready to take on your next presentation or case competition. Good luck on finals, take care of yourself, and remember to have a well-rested spring break! As always, stay safe, healthy, and happy and we hope to see you at our upcoming events in spring quarter!

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