Time-Saving Tips When Preparing PowerPoint Lessons

Converting your sermon or Sunday School material to PowerPoint format can greatly increase your preparation time - - especially for beginners. There are a variety of ways to greatly decrease the amount of time that it takes to develop PowerPoint material. This webpage gives tried and true tips on how to decrease your work. If you are serious about using PowerPoint for presenting your lessons then you need to take time to read this webpage closely. The tips on this page can save most presenters HOURS and HOURS every year! 

The tips start with the simplest ideas and then progress to time saving tips for more advanced users.

1. Using The PowerPoint Wizard'

How beginners can use the "wizard" to save time. Probably one of the best ways for beginners to to get started in using PowerPoint is simply to use one of the PoiwrPoint "Autocontent Wizards." The wizards automatically set up PowerPoint with a colorful background, font sizes, a recommended layout and even ask you question about what you want your show to say.

For most people, the autocontent wizard is one of the choices that they are presented with when they start PowerPoint each time. Simply activate the wizard and begin answering the questions that it presents you with. The PowerPoint Autocontent Wizard was designed by Microsoft to automate PowerPoint presentation creations and to teach people how to use PowerPoint. It is very easy to use.

The only recommendation that I have for people using the Autocontent Wizard is that the wizard tends to pick fonts that are too small. After you finish inputting your material, you may want to go back and increase your text sizes.

2. Cut and Past from Your Bible Software

A lot of preachers and teachers will incorporate scriptures into their presentations. Make sure that you aren't wasting time retyping all of your scripture texts into your presentation. Most Bible software packages will allow you to simply highlight the scripture text that you want to use in your presentation and paste it into your show. A few Bible software programs have special pasting features that you can use anytime. The bottom line is to simply go to the help screen of your Bible software and see how your software works. If you don't have Bible software then you should get some! Although you can spend hundreds of dollars for Bible software, many Bible software companies sell simple versions for as little as ten dollars. You can even download free versions from the Internet or use one of the internet on-line Bibles such as at http://biblestudytools.net/.

Using "Cut and Paste" is a great idea for a lot more than just your Bible verses. If you are typing in your sermon or class notes then you can cut and paste any text into your presentation.

IMPORTANT! There is one particularly important tip when cutting and pasting. If you cut and paste FORMATED text into PowerPoint then it may take it's formatting features with it. What this means is that the cutting and pasting may take the original font size and type with the font into the PowerPoint show. If you are using "Arial" 36 point font in your show then you may not want to bring in "Courier" 12 point font. Most of the time, you want your pasted text to take on the font characteristics that PowerPoint is already set to. If you are having this problem then the correction is to use "Paste Special" rather than regular "paste". Selecting "Paste Special" gives you a choice of pasting text with embedded formatting or as "unformatted" text. Choosing unformatted text allows PowerPoint to take control and makes the text take on the preset format in PowerPoint. You can't get to "Paste Special" by using the quick paste feature of right clicking on your mouse. You will have to use the edit menu at the top of the PowerPoint screen.

COPYRIGHT: Whatever you do, make sure that when you are cutting and pasting text from Bible software and other's works that you are not violating copyrights. Make sure that you read the copyright rules found with the software that you are using. Many modern Bibles such as the NIV allow you to use short sections of verses in your presentations as long as you put their specific copyright statements in your material. The statements may be as simple as "used by permission of zzzzzzz company." You can usually find the requirements in your Bible software help screen.

3. Cut and Past to the PowerPoint Outliner

Although it is common for people to cut and paste short sections of individual text from their notes or Bible software into individual slides, the best way to cut and paste text is often to paste it into the PowerPoint outliner rather than into individual slides. The outliner is designed to work with groups of text. If you have large sections of text such as sermon notes or question lists then the outliner may be the best place to work. You get to the outliner in PowerPoint by selecting "VIEW" and then "OUTLINER" from the menu bar at the top of the PowerPoint screen. Paste your text into the outliner screen. At everyplace that you want a new slide you can simply insert your cursor and hit the "enter" key. This procedure separates your text into a new slide at each hit of the enter key. Hitting the "enter" key sets a new slide but it also sets you up for making bullets. Hit the "enter" key at every point that you want to turn text into slide bullets. After you hit the "enter" key then simply press the "tab" key to turn that text into a bullet and hit it again to turn the text into sub-bullets. To move text back from bullets to a slide header then simply press "SHIFT" "TAB". Practice working on text in the outliner can save you lots of time.

As mentioned in the "Cut and Paste" tips above. Make sure that you use "Paste Special" and paste "unformatted text" when moving text from your word processor into the Outliner to keep from overwriting the PowerPoint font settings with the font setting that you used in your word processor.

START TYPING!: Many Sunday School teachers and preachers hand write out a lot of their notes or type them out on paper. The sooner that you start converting your notes over to electronic form then the sooner that you will have material that you can cut and paste over into your PowerPoint presentations. Once your text is in electronic format then not only is it easy to cut and paste but it may be easier to find. I personally keep nearly ALL of my Sunday School notes in one file. It is now nearly 700 pages long. I use my word processors to search features to quickly find any special material.

4. Using Your Word Processing Outliner

How to use the "Outliner" to convert your sermon or Sunday School lesson from a word processing document to a PowerPoint show. This is easily done with Microsoft Word word processor. Simply type your text in the word processor in the outliner mode (click "VIEW" and then "OUTLINER" from the menu bar at the top of PowerPoint). Once you have your text done in Microsoft Word then open PowerPoint in a separate window. Go back to Microsoft Word and select "FILE" and then "SEND TO" and select "MICROSOFT POWERPOINT". This will automatically send your text into PowerPoint and will make each major point the heading of a new slide and subpoint into a bullet.

WHY USE THE MS WORD OUTLINER? - The MS Word outliner is a natural feature for preachers and Sunday School teachers to use. The outliner feature allows the user to quickly change from a simple outline view to a full text view and any view in between. The outliner helps encourage a organized layout of their material. There is really too much to say about the outliner than can be explained in this webpage. Ministers owe it to themselves to try out the MS Word Outliner features. Simply go to the MS Word help screen to begin learning about all the features of the outliner. After you use the outliner then use the information in the paragraph above to publish your sermon or Sunday School material straight into PowerPoint.

5. Keep at Set of Commonly Used Graphics

Over the years I have used PowerPoint to teach the Bible I have found that there are certain graphics that are often useful. Graphics help break up a text only presentation. Graphics can also be used to emphasize points and to give visual cues. One of my favorite graphic visual cues sets are images of Bibles and books. Finding the right images to illustrate your lesson can take LOTS of your time. Over the years I have collected my favorite images and put them in a single folder (directory) on my hard drive. When I know I need an image of a Bible, a cross, a church building, family or child, etc. I know that I can quickly go to this directory and find a suitable graphic. I don't have to get out a graphics index book or a CDRom, I just click on my personal graphics directory and pick the appropriate image.

USING GRAPHICS: Often, when I am showing a scripture verse on the screen I will place a small graphic of a Bible or Book in the upper right hand corner of the slide. In addition to adding color this gives people a visual cue that they are reading a scripture rather than simply some other kind of quote or point. Although I keep a dozen or so images of Bibles and books in my graphic set, I always use the same Bible image in any single lesson. This way, whenever the audience sees a slide with this graphic, their mind automatically thinks "This is a quote from the Bible". On occasion, I will use a "scroll" graphic for Old Testament verses and a "book" graphic to distinguish New Testament verses. To keep the graphic images of the Bible from getting "stale" I keep at least a dozen different Bible images in my image folder (directory) and rotate the images in different presentations.

COMMON IMAGES: Below is a list of the images that I find that I use most often. Maybe this will give you an idea of the images that you can collect:

  • Cross
  • Bible
  • Scroll
  • Books
  • Praying Hand
  • Praying Person
  • Angel
  • Map of Israel (available from this website)
  • Jesus Image
  • Shepherd
  • Sword
  • Ten Commandments tablets
  • Church Building
  • Family
  • Baby
  • Couple Talking
  • Crowd of People
  • Students in Class
  • Coins or Money
  • Dove
  • Heart
  • Scales (like for weighing things)
  • Preacher or speaker
  • Road going into the distance
  • Large graphic question mark
  • Wedding
  • World or Globe

SPECIAL GRAPHICS: You should either scan in a photos or take digital pictures of your church building, church members and have them ready to go at all times.

Go out and buy a large image library such as "Art Explosion" or "Corel MegaGallery" (see reviews on the eBibleTeacher software review page). Spend a few hours to build your image library and you are all set! A few hours one afternoon will save you many hours over the course of a year and make great improvements to your presentations.

EASY GRAPHICS: Can't find the right graphic for your presentation but want to add some color? An easy way to make a nice graphic is to simply use word art. You can make word art in PowerPoint by clicking on "INSERT" then "PICTURE" then "WORDART" from the PowerPoint menu bar. Don't forget that you can use your scanner or digital camera to add special graphics of your own.

CAUTION!: Make sure that you have the right to use the graphics in your presentation! Many graphics are copyrighted. Christians should make sure that they always obey the laws. Don't forget about using the free images from eBibleTeacher.com You are allowed to use the images from the graphic libraries of this website for free as long as you don't obscure the eBibleTeacher logo text.

6. Using the PowerPoint Master Slide

How to use the Master Slide view to save prep time. Anyone who is serious about making their own PowerPoint shows needs to learn how to edit and use the PowerPoint master slide. Effective use of this tool will save you tons of time and really improve the quality of your presentations.

The PowerPoint master slide view allows you to go to one slide and set your font sizes and types, text locations and other features for all slides at once. You can even put a graphic that will appear on every slide. This can save lots of time.

To get to the master slide view, from the main PowerPoint menu bar click on "VIEW" then "MASTER" then "SLIDE MASTER". There you can click on the title bar and then change its formatting. You can enlarge or decrease fonts, change font styles, make bold or italics. Whatever you change on the master slide affects every slide in the presentation. If you want the same graphic to appear on every slide then simply insert it into this slide and it will go on each slide. To change the entire background, simply select "FORMAT" from the main menu then select "BACKGROUND" then click on the down arrow to pick different backgrounds. The pop-up screen that you will get will allow you to choose your own images to use a backgrounds. It is even possible to make motion animations that appear on every slide. Working with the master slide allows you to do lots of things. Just go to the PowerPoint help screen to learn more. Everyone that is serious about making good PowerPoint material uses the slide master. It is a powerful tool for saving time and creating custom shows. Make sure that you visit the eBibleTeacher backgrounds page for sample templates created by editing the master slide.


I hope these tips help you save lots of time in preparing your slides. There are a lot of advantages in using electronic projectors in sermons and Sunday School. Work hard to practice the things mentioned above at the beginning and they will become habits that will help your presentations be more effective. After all, the reason you are speaking and presenting is to get your message out!

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