What is PowerPoint?

Whether you're seeking to enhance your professional skills or exploring a new career path, understanding PowerPoint is essential as it holds a 95% market share in presentation applications worldwide. This guide provides an overview of PowerPoint, its uses, how to acquire it, the benefits of learning it, and the career opportunities it provides.

Key Insights

  • PowerPoint, a part of the Microsoft 365 suite, is the most widely used presentation application with a 95% market share worldwide. It's used for creating vibrant and memorable visual presentations in various professional fields.
  • Subscriptions to Microsoft 365, which includes PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, typically cost around 6 dollars a month depending on the payment plan. A classic version of PowerPoint can also be purchased for a one-time fee of approximately 150 dollars.
  • Knowing how to use PowerPoint is a vital skill in many professions, including educators, HR professionals, and business analysts. It aids in communicating complex information in an easy-to-digest format, making presentations more engaging and effective.
  • PowerPoint is not usually a primary tool for job-specific roles, but it is a valuable tool in almost all professional environments. It's often used in leading important seminars, communicating with stakeholders, and compiling information.
  • Alternatives to PowerPoint include Google Slides and Prezi, which offer free or fully-functional free versions. However, due to PowerPoint's integration with Office 365, it holds a substantial market share across many professional industries.
  • Noble Desktop offers comprehensive training courses in PowerPoint, available both in-person and online. These courses provide hands-on training in PowerPoint design, making them ideal for students hoping to use PowerPoint professionally.

PowerPoint is the most commonly used presentation application in the world. With a market share of nearly 95%, almost any presentation produced in a professional environment will be made using PowerPoint. Thus, anyone working in a field that asks them to condense information or highlight specific data in an informative or persuasive manner will likely want to learn how to use this application. In this overview, you’ll learn more about what PowerPoint is, what it can do, who uses it, and how to understand it to determine how to add this skill to your professional toolbox.

What Can You Do with PowerPoint?

PowerPoint allows users to create vibrant and memorable visual presentations that can serve a wide variety of purposes. PowerPoint’s advanced features let users integrate dynamic animations and 3D modeled graphics into their designs, allowing them to create more complex presentations than simple text projected onto a screen. Whether you are attempting to keep an audience engaged during a critical seminar or make a sales pitch as memorable as possible, PowerPoint gives you the tools to wow your audience.

Some users will use PowerPoint to create informative slideshows that condense complicated information into a single, easy-to-digest presentation. This makes the program ideal for both instructors and professionals looking to host informational seminars regularly. In fact, many online classes you take will use PowerPoint to provide students with the main takeaways from a lecture. Some users, who need to persuade audiences, such as entrepreneurs meeting with potential investors, will use PowerPoint to create memorable and persuasive presentations that convince their audience to invest in their product.

How Do You Download PowerPoint? How Much Does it Cost?

PowerPoint is typically acquired through institutional means. Employees and students will obtain access to all of the programs in the Microsoft 365 suite. A free program trial is available, but users must license PowerPoint after this trial expires. It is available for PC and Mac.

Those who cannot receive an institutional copy of PowerPoint will need to purchase a subscription to Microsoft 365. This subscription includes the entire collection of Microsoft Office applications, including PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. This subscription will cost roughly 6 dollars a month depending on the payment plan that a user chooses. Users can purchase a ‘classic’ version of PowerPoint for a one-time fee of approximately 150 dollars, but this version lacks access to several Cloud-related features. At the time of writing, there is no way to purchase the current version of PowerPoint as a standalone product.

What Are the Benefits of Learning PowerPoint?

Microsoft Office Bootcamp: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, Learn From Experts, Free Retake, Small Class Sizes,  1-on-1 Bonus Training. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

PowerPoint is a useful application to learn for workers in almost any professional business setting. Learning PowerPoint will help professionals communicate information in practical and manageable ways, freeing them up to put their energy into more pressing concerns. PowerPoint is an incredibly versatile tool, so its uses will vary depending on a user’s individual needs. Still, almost anyone who needs to communicate with large groups of people will benefit from learning how to use PowerPoint.

For some users, PowerPoint will complement live presentations by condensing important information they may miss. Many audience members may find it challenging to follow a presenter who is only speaking aloud. Knowing how to use PowerPoint will let users ensure that their most important information is understood. For other users, PowerPoint will let them condense vital information to be easily understood and accessed even without a live presenter. This is ideal for compiling stylesheets, company policies, important links, phone numbers, or other information someone may need to reference in a professional setting.

Read more about why you should learn PowerPoint.

PowerPoint Careers

Despite PowerPoint being ubiquitous in the professional world, there aren’t many jobs that strictly rely on PowerPoint or use it as a primary design tool. Instead, a wide variety of professionals utilize PowerPoint in a case-by-case capacity. Teachers will use it to build presentations, HR reps will compile important information for new hires, and Business Analysts will use it to condense information for stakeholders. Knowing PowerPoint won’t be enough to get a student a job on its own, but it will be a valuable tool in almost all professional settings. Just a few common professional uses include:

Leading Important Seminars: PowerPoint helps employees who need to communicate important information to co-workers or subordinates regularly. New hires will need to periodically receive large amounts of information in a professional office setting, so learning PowerPoint is helpful for any employee. Teachers and Educators will also regularly use PowerPoint to provide their students and clients with slides highlighting the critical information given to them.

Communicating with Stakeholders: Anyone leading a design project, working with investors, or handling large amounts of data can benefit from learning PowerPoint to quickly highlight essential data that they want to communicate with stakeholders. An investment meeting may require that presenters condense hundreds of pages of business data into a few slides, or a pitch meeting might require a presenter to quickly and effectively hook their audience. The skills associated with PowerPoint will significantly help these presenters persuade and update their audiences.

Compiling Information: Not all uses of PowerPoint involve live presentations. With the ability to record presentations for later use, some professionals will use PowerPoint to collect information for audiences with whom they will never directly interact. This is especially important for asynchronous meetings and seminars, where presenters can record a PowerPoint presentation to replace a more complicated video recording. In addition, some professionals will use PowerPoint to archive and organize important information into slides to distribute to employees without ever ‘presenting’ them, such as offices organizing policies or educators providing students with contact information.

How to Learn PowerPoint

Students looking to learn how to use PowerPoint have many options available. Students can opt to take a live training course, in person or online, or they can enroll in an asynchronous course. There are also free tutorials and training options available, so students should carefully consider their options to decide which method of learning PowerPoint is best for them. Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me Tool is an ideal place to look to find and compare available PowerPoint courses.

Many students find that live instruction is the most effective way to learn skills like PowerPoint. These courses let students interact directly with live instructors who can provide feedback and answer questions. These courses are available both in-person and online, giving students additional flexibility in learning PowerPoint. In these classes, students will receive hands-on training in PowerPoint design, making the classes ideal for students hoping to quickly pick up the necessary skills to start using PowerPoint professionally. These courses require students to attend live instruction seminars, which may burden students with minimal free time. In addition, in-person classes will require students to commute to a campus or training center, whereas online instruction will likely require students to obtain PowerPoint.

Students looking for more flexibility in the pace and structure of their learning may want to consider enrolling in an on-demand course. These classes, which often consist of pre-recorded lectures and structured modules, let students control the time they spend learning new skills. This can be especially useful for students who have work or family obligations that prevent them from devoting consistent time to their studies. The drawback to these classes is that students won’t have access to a live instructor, so they won’t have someone to answer their questions or provide feedback on their designs.

A final option available to students is free training tutorials. These tutorials, most often video productions, will guide students through the basic features of PowerPoint and commonly used design principles. On their official YouTube channel, Noble Desktop provides students with a free seminar on PowerPoint Presentation Design. This lecture will help students understand fundamental visual design elements used to make memorable presentations. Noble also offers frequently updating resources on their free seminars page, so students should check in regularly to see the available options. These resources may not be enough to learn how to use PowerPoint professionally, but they are an ideal place to start.

Read the full guide on how to learn PowerPoint.

A Brief History of PowerPoint

PowerPoint was first developed by Forethought Inc. in 1987. The program was originally an exclusive Macintosh application, though a Windows version quickly followed. By the time PowerPoint was released in 1987, Microsoft had already begun purchasing the program, which it had acquired in the summer of that same year. The program replaced internal attempts to develop a proprietary presentation software program for Microsoft.

In 1993, PowerPoint 2.0 was released as part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Alongside Word and Excel, the Microsoft Office programs received frequent updates and quickly integrated email access into the applications. Owing to this bundling and frequency of updates (and being bundled with Microsoft computers), PowerPoint promptly established a foothold as the premiere presentation application available, a status that it still holds today.

Comparable Applications/Programming Languages/Fields

The most comparable alternatives to PowerPoint are its largest market competitors, Google Slides and Prezi. Both of these are free presentation design applications with significant browser-based functionalities. Having been developed well after PowerPoint established its stranglehold on the presentation design application market, these programs exist primarily as responses to PowerPoint, attempting to include features that PowerPoint lacks.

The most prominent advantage to these programs is that they are either free or have fully-functional free versions. Prezi has a free version available to users who only plan to produce introductory presentations, and Google Slides is free to any user with a Google account. This makes them ideal tools for presenters who don’t feel the need to purchase a monthly Office subscription to continue their work. In addition, since these programs aren’t coming directly from Microsoft, many Mac users find that they are easier to use on their devices.

The drawback to either of these programs is that even though they are competitors to PowerPoint, Microsoft still boasts a nearly 95% market share across many professional industries, primarily because of PowerPoint's Office 365 integration. Any company using Word or Excel will be using PowerPoint alongside those programs. This means there is no choice but PowerPoint for students looking to learn a presentation application to use in their daily professional lives.

Learn PowerPoint with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Professionals looking to learn PowerPoint may consider skills development training through Noble Desktop. These courses, available in person at Noble’s Manhattan campus and through live online instruction, will give students hands-on training in designing and organizing information using PowerPoint. These courses, which expert instructors teach, will provide students with the experience needed to build evocative and memorable presentations. Even in online courses, class sizes are kept small, so students can interface directly with their instructor to receive assistance and feedback. Plus, Noble offers free retakes on all its courses, giving students more opportunities to practice building presentations in a professional environment.

Noble offers a PowerPoint Bootcamp, which teaches students, even those without prior PowerPoint experience, how to design compelling and evocative presentations. In this certificate-granting program, students will learn how to work with PowerPoint layouts, add animations and graphics, and work with layers, charts, graphs, and other objects. Then, students will receive advanced skills training, such as creating reusable PowerPoint templates, utilizing multimedia features in a presentation, and recording a presentation for later use. These skills will take students from novices to PowerPoint experts and prepare them to use the program professionally.

Since PowerPoint is a design program, Noble also offers students a PowerPoint Presentation Design course. This class focuses on the rhetorical and theoretical side of communicating through PowerPoint. In this class, students will learn design principles related to color, typography, graphic images, and other visual design elements. Whereas a bootcamp course teaches students how to use the tool to build presentations, this course will teach students how to design them, giving them the composition and design theories they need to make their presentations memorable and effective.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft PowerPoint is the most commonly used presentation design application available. It is used in hundreds of professional industries, and almost anyone who needs to make a presentation in an office will use PowerPoint.
  • Most users acquire PowerPoint as part of an institutional Microsoft 365 subscription, though individual and family subscriptions are available.
  • Mastering PowerPoint isn’t enough to build a career. Instead, learning PowerPoint will give users a leg up in many professional fields and industries.
  • PowerPoint has been around since 1987, and since it became integrated as a part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs, it has been the most dominant name in presentation software.
  • Free alternatives exist, but for professionals looking to work in an office environment, there is no substitute for learning PowerPoint.
  • Anyone looking to learn PowerPoint can turn to Noble Desktop for comprehensive in-person or live online training.

How to Learn PowerPoint

Master PowerPoint with hands-on training. PowerPoint is a popular Microsoft Office application for designing and delivering slideshow presentations.

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