I am a big fan of Powerpoint standard shapes. Shapes (if used reasonably) can effectively underline and structure the content of your slide and literally “shape” your messages. They guide the reader’s eye and steer him through the slide. So, if you talk about cause and effect – why not put the content in two rectangular boxes and connect them with an arrow? If you describe some process steps – why not visualize them with a sequence of chevrons? If you describe the “five dimensions of the XY model” – why not put the model in an ellipse in the center of the slide and have five more ellipses surround it as “satellites”? Play around with the shapes, and combine them to create new ones (read more in the post “Visualize as much as you can”).
But which shapes do you need? Well, about 10% of all the shapes Powerpoint offers. You do need the text field, the rectangle, the triangle, the ellipse, the lines, the arrows, and the chevrons. But that’s about it. You probably don’t need stars, banners, and most of the curved arrows. You certainly don’t need hearts, suns, smileys, and the lightning!
Check the following examples: