Major presentations can often turn out to be make-or-break moments, for a business or an individual career. It could be a bid for an essential and lucrative contract, or perhaps an argument for a department staying open. The intent might be to attract greater investment or a larger budget, or maybe an illustration of how shedding unprofitable aspects of a business will help it to stay afloat. Any of these occasions can be swung in your favour by a successful presentation - or turned against you if your presentation fails.

So, the quality of the presentation is vital. Which means the quality of the tools used for the presentation is key. After all, whatever purpose you're presenting for, and whatever kind of audience might be before you, there's no chance of success unless your presentation is as visually appealing and engaging as can be - and this is where Microsoft PowerPoint comes in. With PowerPoint, you can be confident of making the very most effective impact.

However, any presentation has to be about more than just the technology. As impressive as the tools PowerPoint offers are, the show will still need the best foundations underpinning it if it's going to make the right impression.

Given just how important a key presentation can be for yourself and for the company, there's a great deal to be gained from ensuring that you (or whoever is presenting) can bring first-class skills both in using PowerPoint and in constructing and delivering the presentation itself. Now, of course, most of us aren't born with any such talent, so a short training course can definitely come in handy - yet there are countless training providers who offer such courses. You'll need to pick the right one in order to get the most benefit from these key skills. But how to identify the best from all the rest?

Well, if you're after training for Microsoft PowerPoint, a good place to start is with the first part of that name. Microsoft provide qualifications for trainers, in much the same sense that school teachers need to be qualified before taking a class - yet where IT training is concerned, there's no obligation for all trainers to be qualified. It's up to you to find a training provider that can guarantee its entire staff will be fully Microsoft qualified - after all, if you're learning to drive, you'd expect to be taught by an appropriately certified instructor, rather than just someone with a rough idea of how a car works. Take the same attitude into your search for training - if you want to learn PowerPoint, learn it from the best teacher - and you'll get the most benefit out of the software.

As important as qualified trainers are to gaining the greatest advantage from the training, they're not the only concern. Another critical issue is class size. Find a training provider that guarantees small class sizes, and you can be sure of a personal approach tailored to fit you or your colleague's specific needs.

The ease of learning and developing skills can also be boosted by little things, like a comfortable environment, easily accessible and understandable teaching materials, and refreshments available when needed - all of which may sound like quibbling details, but a better learning experience will invariably lead to better results.

And what happens when your course is over? In all likelihood, you're not after a training course just to deal with one presentation; rather, it's an important career skill to be learned and reused over and over. It's certainly a sound idea to spend a little time identifying a training provider that don't see their job as ending when you walk out the door at the end of the course. Instead, find training that comes with ongoing support, so that any questions you have afterwards (and most of us do sometimes find queries and concerns popping into our heads after the ideal time to ask them) will still be answered, and any further assistance you require will be available as and when you need it.

It might take a short while longer to find a training provider that guarantees all these benefits, but it's time well spent. Poor quality training, training that lacks those guarantees, will be at best a waste of time and money, and at worst a harmful negative influence on how you work - whereas the first-class training you need will allow you to make the most effective presentations time and again, and to make just the impact you deserve to be making.