Top five tips and tricks for PowerPoint

It does not matter if you are spending one hour a week or five hours a day – PowerPoint is (most likely) not the favorite part of your job. It’s a necessary evil you want to get out of the way as quickly as possible, right?

Our list will help you become more efficient in PowerPoint, so you can spend more time on tasks you were trained to do. 

Let's get to it: the top five tips and tricks to spending less time in PowerPoint.

1: PowerPoint Plugins.

What's a craftsman without his hammer, or an analyst without a PowerPoint plugin?

Plugins are the essential modern-day tools for knowledge workers. There are many plugins available, and that leads to the question: which should you choose? 

If you're into numbers, you should check out Thick-cell. The plugin makes it so much easier to edit graphs, and it saves you a ton of time due to the automatic placement of elements and automatic calculation of typical financial figures like CAGR

Pros: Saves you a ton of time

Cons: It's not a cheap tool, and does require some time to learn.

2: Customization of your Quick Access Toolbar

An overlooked tool that can give you an edge and increase your slide production substantially is customization of the Quick Access Toolbar.

Wait, what?

You can change the default settings in PowerPoint to make it more optimal for your most used commands, like align and distribute elements. It gives you instant access to the most common features and can drastically decrease the time it takes to align elements, and you no longer need to use the mouse as often. Instead, you just select the elements and click a command. Once installed, you just hit alt + the number of the command you want to use.

What is more, it makes your slides stand out more professionally, as alignment and distribution become second nature. Everything will be dead straight and perfectly proportional. Below is how you can set up like no-more. 

1.      Download the ribbon by clicking here

2.      In PowerPoint, right click anywhere in the ribbon and select ‘Customize the ribbon’

3.      In the lower right corner, click on ‘Import customization file’ and select the file ‘NoMore custom ribbon’ you just downloaded in step 1. Click ‘yes’ in the dialogue box.

4.      Right click on the ribbon and select ‘Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon’

5.      Press alt and a command. Alt + 2, aligns elements to the left. Alt + 3, aligns elements center etc.    

If you have any questions to the installation process, send an e-mail by clicking here.

Pros: It allows you to execute your most frequent commands using keyboard shortcuts and automatically align and distribute elements.

Cons: None, but it takes a little time to set up.

3: Keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl + G groups your elements, Ctrl + E centers your paragraphs and F7 does a spellcheck. Once fully proficient, you almost won’t need a mouse in PowerPoint. Before trying to learn all the commands below all at once, select the commands you use most frequently and practice until you're proficient. When it is second nature, you can add new commands to your arsenal. 

Action and Shortcut Key

Go to “Tell me what you want to do ”: Alt + Q

Switch between outline and thumbnail pane: Ctrl + Shift + Tab

Zoom: Alt + W, Q, Tab to value you want

Switch between outline and thumbnail pane: Ctrl + Shift + Tab

Move to next placeholder (if on slide’s last placeholder, this inserts a new slide): Ctrl + Enter

Insert a new slide: Ctrl + M

Duplicate the current side: Ctrl + D

Increase font size: Ctrl + Shift + >

Decrease font size: Ctrl + Shift + <

Display the font dialog box: Ctrl + T or Ctrl + Shift + F

Change case: Shift + F3

Apply superscript formatting: Ctrl + Equal sign

Apply subscript formatting: Ctrl + Shift + Plus sign

Remove manual character formatting: Ctrl + Spacebar

Center a paragraph: Ctrl + E

Justify a paragraph: Ctrl + J

Left align a paragraph: Ctrl + L

Right align a paragraph: Ctrl + R

Promote a paragraph in an outline: Alt + Shift + Left arrow

Demote a paragraph in an outline: Alt + Shift + Right arrow

Move selected outline paragraphs up: Alt + Shift + Up arrow

Show or hide the grid: Shift + F9

Show or hide the guides: Alt + F9

Group Items (with items selected): Ctrl + G

Ungroup: Ctrl + Shift + G

Copy formatting of selected shape: Ctrl + Shift + C

Paste formatting only to another shape: Ctrl + Shift + V

Insert hyperlink: Ctrl + K

Select to the end of a word: Ctrl + Shift + Right arrow

Select to the beginning of a word: Ctrl + Shift + Left arrow

Select all objects: Ctrl + A (on Slides tab)

Select all slides: Ctrl + A (in Slide Sorter view)

Select all text: Ctrl + A (on the Outline tab)

Delete one word to the left: Ctrl + Backspace

Delete one word to the right: Ctrl + Delete

Cut selected object or text: Ctrl + X

Copy selected object or text: Ctrl + C

Paste cut or copied object or text: Ctrl + V

Undo: Ctrl + Z

Redo: Ctrl + Y

Open Find dialog box: Ctrl + F

Spellcheck: F7

Pros: It's not going to make your slides better, but it will increase your speed significantly.

Cons: There is a learning curve: it does take time to learn all commands, and you will be slower initially. It is an investment, like anything else. 

4: Outsource your PowerPoint

There are two main options why business professionals outsource their PowerPoint presentations:

1: They want slides of higher quality than they can provide on their own.

2: They feel they could use their time better than aligning slides.

Whether you want option 1 or 2, there are vendors for both needs.

If you are a start-up that needs a creative pitchdeck, Unicorn Pitch or Visually might be an appropriate solution.

If you are a business looking to outsource corporate presentations strategically and need fast turnarounds, no-more might be a good solution. We also provide support for desk research tasks.

Pros: It is much cheaper than doing it on your own and it enables you to focus on core tasks

Cons: Some may think the quality is not high enough until they try

5: Download premade slides or templates and paste them into your company's template.

There are a million places you can download free or paid templates.

So what's the downside?

Your company most likely already have visual guidelines you need to respect. As a result, downloading by the slide may prove to be a better way of optimizing your slide production. The advantage is that you only pay for what you need.

What's even better is all elements are fully customizable, unique, and easy to convert. They can take average steps to the next level, and add the final touch that brings the pitch from good to excellent.

Pros: Provides great creative inspiration, the majority of the work is done for you

Cons: You have to change the colors to your guidelines, and possibly resize the elements, yet this should not take more than a minute.

Now that you’ve learned the most useful tips and tricks, you’re that much closer to taming the beast of PowerPoint. And soon enough, you’ll have the ability to focus your energy on more pertinent tasks.

Rune Johansen
Published by Rune Johansen

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