Creating a great presentation takes a lot of work if you want to impress your audience and convince them that PowerPoint is still a very useful tool. But as much as you invest in your presentation, be it in the content or the design, you could still benefit from a few pro tips that can save you some time and effort.
We’ve rounded up 15 PowerPoint hacks to help you design your presentation faster and more efficiently, but also to make the delivery easier and more outstanding.
PowerPoint Hack #1: Embed your fonts
Fonts are an essential part of your presentation design. Many experiments have shown how different fonts can make a message more or less trustworthy and appealing to your audience.
Also, if you need to share a deck with someone who doesn’t have all the typefaces you used, it’s going to be a problem.
To avoid this, click File > Options, go to the Save menu, and check “Embed fonts in the file.” Another alternative is to always save and send a pdf version of your presentation.
PowerPoint Hack #2: Convert any document to a presentation
Did you know that you can use an existing Microsoft Word document to create a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation? To set up the slides in a presentation, PowerPoint uses the heading styles in your Word document. For example, each paragraph formatted with the Heading 1 style will become the title of a new slide, each Heading 2 will become the first level of text, and so on.
Create a presentation from an existing document by clicking Home > Slides > Slides from outline.
Or you can do it directly from Microsoft Word. Open the document you want to use to create a PowerPoint presentation; on the File menu, point to Send To, and then click Microsoft PowerPoint. If you can’t see this option in your Word, all you need to do is add it manually to your Quick Access Toolbar from File > Options.
PowerPoint Hack #3: Select separate bodies of text and other objects
Here’s a helpful tip about text selection. If you hold down Ctrl while highlighting text, you can select two completely separate sections at the same time.
You can use this to edit text quickly, to underline or bold certain terms or phrases, or to change the color of a series of non-sequential words.
This hack applies to selecting other objects as well such as geometric shapes or images.
PowerPoint Hack #4: Align images and objects to ensure symmetry
Organizing your content neatly will help convey your ideas more effectively. According to the American scientist Alan Lightman, human brains strive to see things symmetrically.
“The reason must be partly psychological," he says. "Symmetry represents order, and we crave order in this strange universe we find ourselves in... [It] helps us make sense of the world around us". Via
Going slide by slide to ensure everything is aligned can be a real nightmare. To align all images on a slide, select all of the objects you want by clicking on one of them, then hold Shift and select the rest. In the menu click Arrange > Align or Distribute > chose the type of alignment you want. You can also choose Align Left, Align Right or Center. For horizontal alignments, you can also choose Align Top, Middle, or Bottom.
If your objects aren’t evenly spaced from each other, choose Draw > Align or Distribute > Distribute Vertically or Horizontally. To make sure you have a good overview of your content and how it’s organized, select the Grid/ Gridlines/ Guides option in the View menu.
PowerPoint Hack #5: Adding audio to your slides
This is perhaps my favorite hack. I feel like after I learned how to do this I became much more creative in my presentations. To add audio to your presentation, click the Insert tab > Audio > Audio online > Browse your computer for the file/ Audio on my PC > Play in background so that PowerPoint knows to play the audio in the background of the presentation. Or you can play the sound only when you click at that particular slide.
You can use music or white noise like waves or forest sounds, to create an enjoyable ambiance or mark a special idea (you can also use it to break into dance if you’re feeling dramatic).
This only works when you’re in presentation mode, not in editing mode. To get back to your presentation, use the same letter you used before.
PowerPoint Hack #6: Use the Fade animation as a quick fix
If you didn’t have enough time to create an intro and outro animation for each slide, Fade will be your plan B. Changing each transition to a fade helps the presentation run much more smoothly. It only takes seconds to do and it makes every slide appear more considered.
The same goes for elements within the slides. Even if you just have each part of the slide fade in, one by one it helps to carry the narrative you are telling and looks so much better. However, make sure you don’t go overboard with the fade animation because it can drag the presentation and become tiresome for the audience. One fade animation per idea or per section is more than enough most times.
PowerPoint Hack #7: Need to show something specific? Create your own animation
If, on the other hand, you’re a more creative person with more time on your hands, you can create your own animation by creating a unique motion path. Select Add animations > Motion paths > Custom paths and you can draw freeform. When you are done, press the Esc button.
You can also select an existing motion path and edit it using the green and red buttons on the path. The green spot will show the initial state of the animation and the red spot represents the final position.
PowerPoint Hack #8: Reduce the size of your presentation
This is one of the most common issues with presentations - you do an amazing job of creating and designing it and then you have a huge document that you can’t send or transfer. Worry not, we have the solution for this. The first thing you’ll want to do is compress all your images, they are probably the biggest size troublemakers.
Click on an image, then go to Format > Compress Pictures. You can compress that image alone or, if you’ve finished the presentation, deselect Apply only to this picture. If you think you’ll need to re-work or edit the images, you might also want to deselect Delete Cropped areas of pictures. If you’re planning on using the presentation on a projector, click web(150dpi) is the best option, whereas if you’re planning to email it, go for the 96dpi compression when saving it.
If you don't need this specifically in a .ppt format, we recommend you save it as a .pdf, which will reduce the size even more. After that, you can use Adobe Professional, Acrobat Pro or online tools like ilovepdf.com and smallpdf.com to reduce the size of the final document.
PowerPoint Hack #9: Create an invisible hyperlink
A marketer’s favorite hack - this will allow you to embed hyperlinks to campaign landing pages and social promotions in web presentations, while still looking flawless.
To create an invisible hyperlink – Insert a geometrical shape, preferably a rectangle, and format it to No fill and No line. Select the shape and click CTRL+K. Paste the link into the address box and click Ok. This is a good solution if you do not want any of the text to appear different, but need to include a link in your slide.
Use this hack to create a nice-looking table of contents or an interactive menu in the beginning of your presentation. Or you can use it to embed links into your product screenshots, redirecting to the product website.
PowerPoint Hack #10: Turn your presentation into a video
Recent statistics show that video content isn't just effective, it’s desirable. Did you know that Facebook users watch 8 billion videos per day? Why not repurpose your amazing presentation into an engaging video and add a cool soundtrack?
It only takes a couple of seconds. All you have to do is click File > Save and send / Export > Create video. Make sure you choose the right timing for each slide, otherwise you might end up with very slow or very fast-moving slides (we speak from experience).
PowerPoint Hack #11: Get creative and start drawing
When you’re delivering your presentation (in Slide show view), you can circle, underline, draw arrows, or make other marks on the slides to emphasize a point or show connections. I bet you didn’t know that.
Turn your cursor into a pen by click CTRL+P. This allows you to draw any shape, underline or highlight an area on the slide. I don’t recommend using this for writing, since that might be a bit tricky but it’s a great tool for sketching or circling. To make it stop, just click CTRL+A.
PowerPoint Hack #12: Combine geometric shapes
Sometimes you just need a different shape. PowerPoint is not perfect. If that’s the case, choose the shapes you want to combine from the Insert tab and select them. Click Merge shapes and choose the option you want. Here’s how they work:
- Union joins the two shapes, becoming one shape that you can use like all other shapes in PowerPoint.
- Combine is similar to merge, but you get empty space where your shapes were overlapping.
- Fragment will combine them but give you a separate area to work with within these three compartments.
- Intersect will remove everything except the intersection of the two shapes, making it similar to the opposite of the combine function.
- Substract will remove from one shape what was covered by the second.
PowerPoint Hack #13: Get your audience’s attention back
The famous Microsoft “study” showed that the human attention span went from 12 seconds on average in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015, which is shorter than that of a goldfish.The truth is, most of the time, we don’t pay attention. It’s just how our brain works. If you’ve lost the attention of your audience or if you simply want to step away from the presentation for a moment and have a debate or emphasise an idea, we have the perfect hack.
Turn your screen Black or White for a moment, to get your audience’s full attention back with the simple pressing of the letter B on the keyboard (for black) or W (for white). Try it now (we’ll wait)!
PowerPoint Hack #14: Do a live poll of your audience
There’s this great app called Poll Everywhere that enables you to ask your audience questions and receive the answers in real-time. A great hack for webinars or conferences. The answers will be displayed instantly in your PowerPoint presentation. The app uses text messaging (SMS) to collect the replies, and audiences respond on their phones.
Here’s how it works:
- Before the presentation, you create the questions and customize how the chart looks and how your audience can respond.
- During the presentation, you invite the audience to respond by visiting a webpage or texting.
- After the presentation you have access to a report.
PowerPoint Hack #15: Zoom in and out of slides
Another way to attract attention to a specific element on a slide is to zoom in. When you’re in Slide show view, you'll notice a magnifying glass in the lower left corner of the slide. Click on that, then click on the part of the slide where you want to zoom. Once you’re done, click the magnifying glass again to zoom back out.
Use this hack for data visualizations and charts or to make your presentation more dynamic.
That’s it for our hack list. Hopefully you’ll find them useful when creating your next presentation.
What other hacks to you use? Let me know in the comments below.