Nowadays, it's hard to find screens with the 4:3 aspect ratios. Almost everything is 16:9 or 16:10. But by default, PowerPoint slides are set to the 4:3 aspect ratio. Thus, even if a widescreen ratio is available when presenting (say the projector supports the ratio or you are using a TV), the slides still appear the traditional almost-square and banal.
Here's how to give your presentation the extra spice and make it widescreen.
The process is the same in both PowerPoint 2007 and 2010. It's just a setting change. Here, I guide you through the process step-by-step. If you are using an older version of Microsoft's presentation software, skip to the bottom of this article.
PowerPoint 2007 and later
To set the aspect ratio of the presentation to one of the widescreen ratios, first go to the Design tab on top and click 'Page Setup'.
A dialog box will pop up with various settings for the presentation. Change the very first option that says 'Slide sized for' to 'On-screen Show (16:9)' or 'On-screen Show (16:10)'.
The entire presentation should get stretched up and optimized for a wide screen. None of your graphics and other things will appear stretched when forced to become widescreen nor will your presentation have black bars on the left and right of the screen.
PowerPoint 2003 and Earlier
You can find the setting in File, Page Setup. After you have the dialog popped up, you can make the change as shown in the last part of the previous section.
For best results, it is good to make this change before you start working on your presentation, or else some of your text, graphics and other elements might require a bit of shuffling around.
Also, remember to make sure you know the aspect ratio of the display you will be presenting this on. If you don't know, do not assume that the display will support widescreen. You might then find yourself reverting back to 4:3 on a finished presentation and rearranging your slide elements.