29 PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Go to the eLearningArt blog, to get a free eBook of all 29 expert PowerPoint tips + additional bonus tips. You can also get some free PowerPoint images, graphics, and templates.

PowerPoint is an extremely powerful tool when used correctly. But when you’re new to it, it can feel like it’s just blank screens and bullet points. It can take years (or decades) to fully master it.

But I decided to save you some time…

I asked the world’s leading PowerPoint experts the following question:

What’s your single best PowerPoint tip, trick, or hack?

Below you’ll see responses from some amazing PowerPoint gurus, including top authors, speakers, instructors, bloggers, and even a handful of PowerPoint MVPs and Microsoft employees!

Here’s a two-minute video that summarizes all 29 PowerPoint tips:

Enjoy the full tutorials by scrolling below or jump to these sections:

Summary | Presentation Approach | Design | Shortcuts | Delivery | Setup | Beyond Presentations

PowerPoint Presentation Approach Tips
  1. Use the Tell ‘n Show method: a headline with a single point and media to support it

To get your audience to understand and remember what you say, use the Tell ‘n’ Show(SM) method.

Use the slide title to tell your point–what you want them to remember. For example, write “3rd quarter sales rose 5% over last year” instead of just “3rd quarter sales.”

Then use the rest of the slide to show your point with an image, animation, graph, or diagram.

Research has shown the students who see slides done like this do better on tests and similarly, your audience will “get” your point more quickly and easily. They’ll be more engaged, too.

Ellen Finkelstein is the President & Owner of Ellen Finkelstein, Inc. She is one of only 12 Microsoft designated PowerPoint MVPs in the United States and is the author of one of the most popular blogs on the web.

  1. Don’t open PPT until you have a clear message

Don’t launch PowerPoint until you have a clear message. Many people launch PowerPoint, think what they want to present, add slides, then think again, and add slides again.

To compare with an analogy, they are on a fun journey, driving their car, stopping wherever they want, and then driving to wherever they fancy. It’s good to have an amazing journey–but a journey without a destination will get you nowhere.

Continuing this analogy, a “clear message” is the destination where you want to go, and you want to take your audience along with you. So, make sure you have a message before you begin creating your slides.

Geetesh Bajaj is the Owner of Indezine.com. He is a PowerPoint MVP and the author of the Indezine blog, one of the most visited PowerPoint and presentation websites.

  1. Start with the end-scenario in mind

As a designer, I recommend you think more about the end scenario than the beginning.

Practical considerations – is this a printout, email attachment, onscreen presentation, interactive discussion tool or a combination of those? Where will it be seen – in a stadium, boardroom, café, at their desk?

Then consider the conceptual considerations – who is your audience and what do they currently think about your topic? What would you like to change in that thinking? Based on what you know about them, how can you change that thinking?

Write those things down, then build your presentation with that at the forefront.

Tom Howell is the Agency Director at Synapsis Creative. He was recently designated a PowerPoint MVP by Microsoft. His presentation blog is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their presentation design.

  1. Tease the audience by revealing info in parts

Do you struggle to hold your participant’s attention – especially when your training topic is dull and boring?

There’s a secret technique I use that works like a charm every time. It is…

“Tease your audience by revealing your information in parts”

Let me give you an example…

Want to present a Framework?

Present just the skeletal structure first. Explain the context. Then reveal the first step. Explain.

Then reveal the next step and so on.

Your audience can’t take their eyes off, till you finish your explanation.

Why does this work so well?

Studies have shown that as humans – we experience ‘tension’ when we leave things incomplete.

We feel subconsciously compelled to pay attention to the task till we see it finished. It’s called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

Try it in your next presentation. All you need is to apply a simple custom animation to your visuals – to reveal information in stages.

Ramgopal is the Director and Co-Owner of PrezoTraining. He also runs a popular YouTube Channel focusing on PowerPoint.

  1. Don’t open PowerPoint first. Instead, sketch on a notepad

The first step on PowerPoint is…don’t open PowerPoint.

Sketch out your presentation on a notepad (regular or digital) and plan the whole thing.

Then rewrite, numbering and ordering your thoughts. That’s your slide order.

Doug Thomas is a Video and Webinar Creator at Microsoft. He has created and appeared in over 250 videos at office.com.

PowerPoint Design Tips
  1. Use transparent overlays on images for text contrast

My favorite trick to do in PowerPoint is to create transparent overlays over slides, videos, photographs in PowerPoint!

First, you create a rectangle to cover up the slide > Then you set it to a solid color or a gradient > You right click, set the transparency of each color to around 20% or any value you like depending on the project > and there you have it!

You can dim photos, create duo-tone overlays, darken, brighten, add exposure, add a vignette or do pretty much anything regarding colors with this type of object!

The best part is – you can freely copy it between slides or even separate PowerPoints! Awesome to know about and use 

Andrzej Pach is an Online Instructor for Udemy & Skillshare. He also hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels to focus on PowerPoint with over 2 million views and 19,000 subscribers.

  1. Go big with visuals. Bleed photos and videos to the edge

Go big with your visuals.

My top tip to presentation designers of all levels is a simple, elegant, and often overlooked technique: bleed your inserted photographs and videos all the way to the edges.

Insert your image. Scale (don’t stretch!) and crop appropriately. If next is necessary, set it in a semi-transparent shape with sufficient contrast against the text color.

Think about some of the best presentations you’ve ever seen. Think also about your favorite movies and TV shows. Their images take up all available screen space. Yours can too.

Tony Ramos is the Director of the Presentation Guild and the Owner of TonyRamos.com. He was the first blogger on the internet to cover PowerPoint topics. Tony is an expert designer and producer of PowerPoint presentations and proposal graphics.

  1. Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tools

Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tools.

Bethany Auck is the Founder and Creative Director of SlideRabbit. As a presentation and communication specialist, she helps clients build high-quality presentations, from basic slide design to complex animations and infographics.

  1. Structure clean layouts by using a grid system on slide masters

Keep your layouts clean and well-structured by implementing a grid system with guides on the pasteboard of your master slide.

Stephy Lewis is a Senior Designer for Aerotek and a Director of the Presentation Guild. She is a top visual designer of presentations and websites.

  1. Find a beautiful, fresh font pair. One for headers and one for body

When I create PowerPoint tutorials on YouTube I am always thinking about techniques that would be simple to implement and yet would have the biggest positive impact.

So, if you have 2 minutes to transform your presentation from good to awesome, I would suggest looking at your fonts.

Find a beautiful, fresh looking font pair (one font for the headers and one for the body) and you can instantly change how your presentation feels and looks like.

I am planning to do a video soon on this topic, so please visit my YouTube channel soon, if you are interested in awesome font pairs for your ppt  Good luck everyone!

One Skill (aka Kasparas Tolkusinas) is the CEO of One Skill PowerPoint Tutorials. He hosts one of the most popular PowerPoint YouTube channels, with over one million views and 14,000+ subscribers.

  1. Create an arrow with broken SmartArt

I have an easy favorite that I often use. You know the arrow type that looks like a Nike Swoosh logo? The ones that start at a point then become thicker as they softly curve up or down? I have an easy hack that uses broken SmartArt to create such an arrow.

Of course, if you have the newest version of PowerPoint (2016/Office 365), you can insert this arrow style as an icon, but it’s not easily editable (other than to recolor). Do this instead: 1) Insert > SmartArt > Process > Upward Arrow (or Descending Process) | 2) Ungroup | 3) Ungroup again | 4) Delete all extra shapes and text boxes, leaving only the arrow.

You’re left with an adjustable arrow that allows you to use the yellow handles to change the swoosh width and arrow head size. Rotate, Flip Vertical, Flip Horizontal, or resize to further customize.

Sandra Johnson is the Owner and Chief Presentation Officer at Presentation Wiz and is Vice President of the Presentation Guild. She has also been designated only 1 of 12 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States.

PowerPoint Shortcuts, Tricks, and Hacks
  1. Power-crop photos with SmartArt

The favorite hack is Power Cropping a bunch of photos in seconds.

(1) In PowerPoint select a bunch of odd sized (or shaped) photos
(2) Navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
(3) Open the Picture Layout drop down
(4) Select a SmartArt layout (Bending Picture Semi-Transparent Text is my favorite)
(5) CTRL+SHIFT+G to ungroup the graphic twice.

It’s a great little PowerPoint hack that not a lot of people know about.

Taylor Croonquist is the Co-Founder of NutsAndBoltsSpeedTraining.com. He is the guru of time-saving PowerPoint tips. If you want to be blown away by how fast someone can whip a PPT into shape, check out his blog or videos.

  1. Use Ctrl + arrow keys to nudge objects on the screen

Here’s a quick and easy one I share in my PowerPoint for eLearning 101 classes:

Want to move something just a smidge using the arrow keys? You may notice that it’s hard to get to just the right spot using the arrow keys.

Try holding down the [Control] key with the arrow keys and watch as your slide objects move by just a pixel at a time.

AJ Walther is the Chief Creative Officer at IconLogic. She is also the instructor for several PowerPoint courses: PowerPoint for eLearning 101 and 201, and the author of 2 PowerPoint books.

  1. Use SmartArt to break bullet points into text boxes

Use SmartArt as a tool to eliminate bullet points and “chunk” your information out visually.

Select your text box of bullet points and either right-click or choose from the Home tab “Convert to SmartArt.” Select a SmartArt graphic that contains horizontal boxes. Select the newly created SmartArt containing your text, right-click and ungroup it twice, giving you text in rectangles.

Now, delete any extraneous SmartArt items (i.e. arrows) and format the boxes however you like. Voila, you have magically turned a page of bullet points into visual chunks—much easier to read!

Nolan Haims is the Principal of Nolan Haims Creative. He leads a team of visual design professionals dedicated to all types of visual communication. Nolan blogs at Present Your Story and hosts the popular Presentation Podcast.

  1. Create “smokey letters” with PPT’s new Morph transition

Magic Smoky Letters!

I recently went on a crazy experimentation spree (channeling my inner mad scientist!) with the Morph transition and discovered this bizarre but very cool “smoky letters” trick.

Let’s say, for instance, that you want the word TEXT to come out as smoke from a chimney (or fireplace, tailpipe, cigar, teapot, magic lamp, etc.).  You first put a picture of the chimney on your slide.  Next, you create smoke “seeds” by inserting a rectangle and editing one of the points (Format – Shape – Edit Points) – then making 4 copies of this rectangle (one for each letter in TEXT).  Make these “seeds” tiny and transparent, then place on top of the chimney (where you want the smoke to come out).

Next, duplicate the slide and on this new slide, delete the “seeds” on the chimney.  Then, vectorize the word TEXT (by writing it in a text box, putting it on top of a colored rectangle, selecting both objects and going to Merge Shapes – Fragment and deleting the stuff around TEXT).

Finally, add a Morph transition to the second slide, and you’re done!

Simply view in presentation mode and prepare for your jaw to drop… check out this trick with more details and examples here.


Lia (aka P-Spice) is the queen of PowerPoint animations and tricks. She hosts the most popular YouTube channel on PowerPoint, with over 4 million views and 36,000+ subscribers. She is also the author of the Spicy Presentations blog.

  1. Convert text to an image if the custom font might not be installed.

One of my favorite frustration-busters involves a workaround when I know my client won’t have a custom font installed.

For example, if the slide would benefit from a gorgeous script as an accent element, I will turn that piece of text into an image.

I do this by selecting the font as an object, copying it and then pasting it as a picture (either right click to paste or use the paste button in the Home menu).

Now I know the “text” will display as designed on any computer.

Lori Chollar is the Co-Founder of TLC Creative Services, Inc.

PowerPoint Presentation Delivery Tips
  1. Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes

I’m a College Professor and use PowerPoint for Lecture notes.

Many students want detailed lecture notes, but get bored quickly reading mountains of text on a slide.

So, I use the “Notes Pages” panel for detail while keeping the slides simple – I urge students to read the notes which may contain more information than given in a lecture.

If printing out the slides, it is essential to use “Notes Pages” print layout option.

Dr. Eugene O’Loughlin is a Lecturer in Computing at the National College of Ireland. He also hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels that covers PowerPoint topics and has over 12 million views and 26k+ subscribers.

  1. Leverage “Presenter View” and “sections” when there are multiple presenters

Increase the power of Presenter View with PowerPoint Sections.

Sections are used to organize slides within a presentation by grouping slides and giving each group a name.

In addition, Presenter View leverages these Sections that can be seen in Presenter View’s Grid Layout.

When running a presentation with multiple presenters, or an awards show with multiple award categories, I add lots of PowerPoint sections. The ability to minimize live-show stress and find the correct section to jump to is amazing!

Troy Chollar is the Co-Founder of TLC Creative Services, Inc. He is also a Microsoft designated PowerPoint MVP, PowerPoint blogger, and host the popular Presentation Podcast.

  1. Use “triggers” to create interactive presentations

Create interactive presentations with triggers to start animations through hot spots on a slide.

You can reveal specific parts of a diagram, make something change color by clicking it, or give people multiple choice questions and have the correct answer pop-up.

It takes seconds to do and works brilliantly, particularly with visual slides.

Right click on any animation, choose Timing, then Triggers in the pop-up window, and choose which object you click to start (trigger) the animation.

You can have multiple triggers on one slide and multiple animations triggered by the same object.

It makes compelling and effective presentations.

Richard Goring is the Director at BrightCarbon. He creates compelling and persuasive presentations using visuals and diagrams. Richard also blogs at the Bright Carbon blog and has a post on this trigger technique mentioned above.

  1. Use a formatted “Notes” page for presentation handouts.

I open the most eyes when I discuss how to use the Notes page to create handouts that are contained within the same PPTX file as the slides.

Most people have never spent even a second in the Notes master so they never knew you could globally reformat the Notes pages to allow them to better accommodate the creation of handout pages.

Rick Altman is the Director of R. Altman and Associates and the Conference Host of The Presentation Summit. If you looking to create PowerPoints that don’t suck, he literally wrote the book on it.

PowerPoint software and hardware setup tips
  1. Add “align” to your Quick Access Toolbar

Tired of eyeballing that slide to see if all the objects are all even or in the same grid? That is why my favorite tip is to make Align one of your favorites on your QAT.

Imagine a slide that might introduce three speakers’ headshots and captions but they are not aligned or equidistant from each other. Let’s fix it.

Select all three objects – click on the first object, then press and hold CTRL when you click on the others.  You can also use SHIFT and your mouse to draw a box over what you want to align – I call it a “Lasso”. To arrange the three headshots, click on the Format Tab in the Picture tools, you will see an option to align objects. You can choose to center objects horizontally, vertically or to a box of text.

You do the same when working with shapes, text boxes, SmartArt graphics, and WordArt by selecting Format in the Drawing Tools.

The result:  your objects snap to the grid and the smart guide lines that appear on your slide will help confirm it.

Sharyn Fitzpatrick is the Editor of PresentationXpert and the Chief Marketing and Webinar Guru at Marcom Gurus. She also lives in my home town (Los Altos), is a raving Penn State fan, and a former competitive swimmer!

  1. Customize your “quick access” toolbar with frequently used buttons

I don’t have a ton of keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint, but I do customize my toolbar.

When I do that (right-click on the toolbar at the very top of the window), I can add any button I want, especially the alignment buttons, which makes life a lot easier when you’re working with different slide objects such as text, images, and graphs.

In Excel, my favorite keyboard shortcut is CTRL+1 (CMD+1 on Macs), which will bring you to the Format menu. And it works for everything–cells, line charts, bar charts, axis labels, gridlines, whatever you need.

Jonathan Schwabish is the Founder at PolicyViz.com and a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute. He is well known in the presentation community for his presentation book Better Presentations and his expertise in data visualization.

  1. Name screen elements on the “Selection Pane” for easy design layering and more

The Selection Pane is one of PowerPoint’s best-kept secrets.

By default, it’s hidden in the “Select” menu on the “Home” tab.

I add it to my Quick Access Toolbar and keep the Selection Pane open anytime I’m working in PowerPoint.

Once open, you can name all the objects on the screen. This really helps when you’re trying to change the layering order of the objects, add animations, and more.

You can also hide objects by clicking the “eye” icon next to each object. That’s helpful for revealing objects beneath that layer.

Without the selection pane, both layering and animations are next to impossible.

Bryan Jones is the Founder and President of eLearningArt. He runs a stock photo and template site to help people build better presentations and graphics. He also blogs frequently about eLearning, PowerPoint, and presentations.

  1. In a dark working environment, change the default interface for more contrast

When I’m working in a dark environment (at night in my office, backstage at a conference, etc.), I find it extremely helpful to change PowerPoint’s interface from the bright white and orange to black or at least dark grey.

To do this, click File, then Account, then select Black or Dark Grey from the Office Theme drop-down.

Note that _these_ Office Themes control your interface elements such as the Ribbon and the workspace; they aren’t the same Office Themes that you may think of when we talk about PowerPoint templates and themes. (Thanks for naming everything the same, Microsoft!)

Echo Swinford is a PowerPoint Corporate Presentation and Template Expert at Echosvoice. She is designated as 1 of only 12 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. Echo also authored a book on building PowerPoint templates and is the President of the Presentation Guild.

  1. Get a good external mouse. One with a scroll wheel can zoom in and out

A comfortable external mouse is a must-have for quick toolbar navigation and graphics editing.

Make your work even speedier by choosing a mouse with a scroll wheel. In PowerPoint, hold the Ctrl/Command key and scroll forward or backward to change the Zoom level. Go from the big picture to the smallest details in an instant.

Julie Terberg is a Presentation Expert, Visual Communicator at Terberg design. She is a designated Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, author of a book on creating PowerPoint templates, and is the Art Director for the Presentation Guild.

Think beyond PowerPoint presentations

  1. Think of PPT as a tool beyond liner presentations

Strangely enough, my best tip/hack is to start seeing PowerPoint as a tool that can do much more than linear presentations.

Here are a few examples:

1) Produce better visuals & handouts at the same time by moving text to the notes pane, and design your Notes Master so it has your corporate colors and logo

2) Use PowerPoint’s screen capture tool (PPT2010 and up), or screen recording tool (PPT2013 and up) to create quick tutorials without needing other software

3) Get to know the drawing/shape tools to create your custom graphics and save them as images.

Chantal Bossé is the Owner of CHABOS, Inc. where she helps clients, such as TEDx speakers, maximize their presentation impact. She is also a designated Microsoft PowerPoint MVP.

  1. Export to video and PDF to make content portable and reach a wider audience.

Exporting to video and PDF is a quick and easy way to make your content much more portable and mobile-friendly to reach a wider audience.

The PDF option allows you to totally rethink your documents and make the switch to interactive “e-books”.

The video option gives you a super flexible MP4 video file that you can use virtually anywhere.

To see an example of each, visit this tutorial.

Mike Taylor is a Learning Technologist at Mindset Digital, as well as a former Community Manager at Articulate He is also a frequent speaker and popular blogger.

  1. Hyperlink between slides to create a non-linear experience

Hyperlinking: Many who build eLearning with PowerPoint rely too much on the default linear slide 1- slide 2 -next-next-next setup.

Learning to hyperlink across slide decks enables you to build interesting interactions like branching simulations and quizzes with scaffolded feedback.

It takes patience and thinking through but isn’t technically difficult.

Another tip: Figure out how to do the planning/layout the way that works best for you: I like to use Post-It notes I can move around. Others like to draw it out, and still others use the PPT flowcharting tools.

Jane Bozarth is an E-Learning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina. She is the author of several popular books, including Better Than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-Learning with PowerPoint.

  1. Build clickable prototypes and hyperlink from any object to other slides

Creating prototypes is tough, right? Difficult software, expensive too.

But wait…

Do you realize that PowerPoint can be used to build prototypes?

One of the coolest and simplest features that you’ll find in PowerPoint is the ability to put hyperlinks on any object on your slide and have it link to other slides.

This way you can mock up any kind of e-learning, interactive job aid, software simulation or app you’d like and get a real feel of how it would work. Just create the screens you need for your prototype, add clickable areas (transparent shapes are great for that!) and voila!

Jeff Kortenbosch is a Performance Consultant at Bright Alley. He’s a PowerPoint guru and has a series of YouTube videos where he teaches users how to draw in PowerPoint.

29 PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks Summarized

PowerPoint Presentation Approach Tips

  • Use the Tell ‘n Show method: a headline with a single point and media to support it | Ellen Finkelstein
  • Don’t open PPT until you have a clear message | Geetesh Bajaj
  • Start with the end-scenario in mind | Tom Howell
  • Tease the audience by revealing info in parts | Ramgopal
  • Don’t open PowerPoint first. Instead, sketch on a notepad | Doug Thomas

PowerPoint Design Tips

  • Use transparent overlays on images for text contrast | Andrzej Pach
  • Go big with visuals. Bleed photos and videos to the edge | Tony Ramos
  • Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tool. | Bethany Auck
  • Structure clean layouts by using a grid system on slide master. | Stephy Lewis
  • Find a beautiful, fresh font pair. One for headers and one for bod. | One Skill
  • Create an arrow with broken SmartArt | Sandra Johnson

PowerPoint Shortcuts, Tricks, and Hacks

  • Power-crop photos with SmartArt | Taylor Croonquist
  • Use Ctrl + arrow keys to nudge objects on the screen | AJ Walther
  • Use SmartArt to break bullet points into text boxes | Nolan Haims
  • Create “smoky letters” with PPT’s new Morph transition | Lia (P-Spice)
  • Convert text to an image if the custom font might not be installed | Lori Chollar

PowerPoint Presentation Delivery Tips

  • Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes | Dr Eugene O’Loughlin
  • Leverage “Presenter View” and “sections” when there are multiple presenters | Troy Chollar
  • Use “triggers” to create interactive presentations | Richard Goring
  • Use a formatted “Notes” page for presentation handout.  | Rick Altman

PowerPoint Software and Hardware Setup Tips

  • Add “align” to your Quick Access Toolbar | Sharyn Fitzpatrick
  • Customize your “quick access” toolbar with frequently used buttons | Jon Schwabish
  • Name screen elements on the “Selection Pane” for easy design layering and more | Bryan Jones
  • In a dark working environment, change the default interface for more contrast | Echo Swinford
  • Get a good external mouse. One with a scroll wheel can zoom in and out | Julie Terberg

Think Beyond PowerPoint Presentations

  • Think of PPT as a tool beyond liner presentations | Chantal Bossé
  • Export to video and PDF to make content portable and reach a wider audience | Mike Taylor
  • Hyperlink between slides to create a non-linear experience | Jane Bozarth
  • Build clickable prototypes and hyperlink from any object to other slides | Jeff Kortenbosch

This article was written by Bryan Jones and originally appeared on the eLearningArt blog, where you can get a free eBook of all 29 expert PowerPoint tips + additional bonus tips. You can also get some free PowerPoint images, graphics, and templates.



[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Geetesh Bajaj

Editor Sharyn Fitzpatrick and Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Geetesh Bajaj have a lively discussion about what are the latest trends in PowerPoint, tips for how to maximize your PowerPoint experience, and what features we hope Microsoft brings to Office 365.

About Geetesh Bajaj:

Geetesh Bajaj is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for over a decade now. He has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India. Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like concept, color, interactivity, and navigation–and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He has authored six books on PowerPoint and trains corporate clients on how to plan, create, and deliver presentations.  For more information on Indezine and Geetesh, click here.

20 Top PowerPoint Design Tips

In order to create an amazing PowerPoint presentation, you have to learn the process of effective presentation design. After four years of blogging, I’ve written a number of posts designed to help presenters create better, visually engaging and effective PowerPoint presentations. As all blogs posts do, some resonated better than others and often provided great discussion in the comments.

Instead of forcing you to sift through my site, page after page, I have aggregated 20 of my best blog posts, including the five most viewed post written in 2011, to help you become a better PowerPoint presentation designer. Post types include specific presentation design techniques, book reviews, tips, methods, and more.

So without further adieu, here are the best PowerPoint presentation design posts from Presentation Advisors to make you a better presentation designer in 2012.

The 5 Most Viewed Posts in 2011:

  1. 20 Steps to Become a Presentation Design Hero – There’s no set path to become a presentation designer, but here are a few steps I’ve taken to get where I am today.
  2. 5 Tips to Perfect Your Slideshare Presentation – SlideShare has been a godsend for sharing PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and more. But just because Slideshare is a good platform, does not mean your presentation will be seen without some extra work. Follow these tips to make sure it looks great.
  3. Alternatives to PowerPoint – I write a lot about PowerPoint design, but it’s not the end-all-be-all to effective presentations. Here are a few options if you’d like to take a different route.
  4. 5 Reasons Your Last Presentation Bombed – Yes, presenting isn’t all rainbows and smiles. Some of them don’t go as planned, and others flat out bomb (whether you realize it or not). It happens to the best of us, even me. Here’s a few reasons why that may have happened.
  5. If No Bullets in My PowerPoint, Then What? –  If you read a lot of presentation blogs, you’ve heard numerous authors (including myself) preach about the necessary demise of bullet points in PowerPoint. However, one common complaint of readers (rightfully so) was that there were few specific alternatives. Here are over a dozen.Here are the rest of my top blog posts:
  1. 5 Ways to Start Your Presentation Off Strong – You’ve got seconds to grab your audience’s attention, and only a few minutes to keep it. Technology has made it even worse where you’re competing with audience members dual-tasking on their computers or smartphones. Learn how to grab their attention quickly in this post.
  2. 100 Presentation Tips – Here are 100+ presentation tips for preparation, design and delivery to make your next presentation your best, as well as a few extra submitted by readers. There’s a link to download the list as a PDF as well, which you’re welcome to pass along.
  3. PowerPoint Design Methods – There’s much discussion about the best PowerPoint design method.  How many slides should be used?  What font size?  How fast should I transition through them?  I’ve insisted that there is no right PowerPoint method. This post includes a few popular PowerPoint presentation design methods and theories that have worked well for some established presenters.
  4. The Best Presentation Design Tool – Here I reveal my most useful tool to aid in finding effective presentation imagery. Best of all, it’s free.
  5. A New Spin on the Old Agenda Slide – I had just recently sat in on a presentation that used, like many others, a bullet-point agenda slide with black text on a white background.  I decided to show how, with just a few steps, an agenda slide could be improved [before and after images included].  I credit the inspiration to Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen method and an agenda slide I saw during a live presentation of his I attended.
  6. Breaking Down Steve Jobs’ WWDC Keynote Presentation – We all mourned the passing of Steve Jobs on October 5th, 2011. We’re all lucky to have lived while he changed the technology landscape again and again. In June of 2010, Steve Jobs took the stage for another magical keynote experience (not just a presentation). I decided to break it down for you all of you, highlighting his approach to the WWDC 2010 keynote presentation and what elements create the masterpieces we are used to seeing.
  7. PowerPoint Before and After – Various Slide Types – Often it’s useful to see not only the finished product, but the original product as well. In this post I show you some of my personal slide redesigns, including before and after shots with my commentary on the process of designing each slide.
  8. 5 Ways to WOW at Your Next Presentation – We’re all trying to find a way to rise above the rest – to separate ourselves from the crowd. There seems to be a common path that most presenters take, and the trail is painfully worn down. Use some of these tips to give your audience something they don’t expect at your next presentation.
  9. What’s Wrong with PowerPoint Templates? – Templates and me have a love-hate relationship.  I love to hate them…especially those found within PowerPoint (there are a few nice ones on Keynote).  It’s not necessarily the visual design, it’s the tired, played-out road that the templates bring most presenters down.  I wanted to write a post that not only highlighted some of the pitfalls of using a template, but also the advantages of going “freestyle.”  Some good comments as well.
  10. The Effective Use of White Space in Advertising – I’m a huge fan of utilizing white space (or blank space and isn’t necessarily white).  I wrote this post to highlight some great uses of white space in popular ads, as well as how it can be applied to presentation design.
  11. Book Review – Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina – One of my favorite books of 2009 was Brain Rules.  This book not only breaks down the mysteries of the brain using language that we all can understand, but many of the rules apply to presentation design (namely catching and keeping your audience’s attention).  In the post I highlighted three of those rules that you can apply to your presentation tomorrow.
  12. Reducing the Amount of Text on your PowerPoint Slides – When clients come to me, they often have a presentation completed, however it’s full of bullet points and absent any vibrant imagery. Here I walk you through the process of how I remove the text and add appropriate imagery, while still conveying the main idea of the slide.
  13. Book Review – The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – Steve Jobs was one of the greatest presenters working the keynote stage. Carmine Gallo breaks down his presentation style and teaches you how to be great in front of any audience.
  14. 5 Bits of PowerPoint Advice that will Land You in Presentation Prison -Bad presentation design tips are a dime a dozen, and I’ve heard all the excuses.  Here are 5 bits of presentation advice that you should avoid at all costs.
  15. Perception and PowerPoint Design – Your audience may perceive you in many different ways.  Some may find you interesting, while others may be fighting to keep their eyelids open. Are your PowerPoint presentations leading the audience to perceive you in the wrong way?  
    About the Author:

    Jon Thomas is the founder of Presentation Advisors, a presentation design and training firm based in southern Connecticut. For more on his company’s services, visit his website at www.presentationadvisors.com

Occupy PowerPoint!

By Rick Altman

Living just 20 miles from Oakland, the city described as having the eyes of the nation upon it, I know all about protests. Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the ‘60s, when anti-Vietnam War demonstrations were the rule of the day, I understand the power of group emotion.

And given that “Death by PowerPoint” is a part of everyone’s vocabulary today, it comes as no surprise that community leaders have reached the following determination:

It’s time to occupy the software.

Three of the most active members of the user community have been busy creating a strategy for occupation. Steffen Ginsler, Richar Brett-Slider, and Eskimo Winsdorf have been pooling their expertise into a broad-based strategy to eliminate the abuses in our professional society once and for all.

An accomplished VBA developer, Ginsler has created a script that installs itself without the user’s knowledge and eliminates all layouts that contain bulleted text. “It is kind of like a friendly Trojan horse,” says the soft-spoken Ginsler. “It doesn’t do any real damage to your computer, but it prevents you from bringing harm to others — namely, the people in your audience.”

Winsdorf is not quite as reserved as her friend Steffen. “Hey, what do you expect us to do when all these people are acting like idiots?” she asks, without waiting for an answer. “It’s ridiculous that there are no safeguards to insure against crappy design and sloppy standards. It’s time we took matters into our own hands!”

And Eskimo has done just that with a proprietary and patent-pending JavaScript version of a PowerPoint template that prohibits all changes from the formatting set forth in the slide masters. If you try to reformat text, move a placeholder, or cover up critical design elements, you’ll receive an immediate error message. “I wanted the script to automatically format the hard drive, but the others wouldn’t go for that. Wimps…”

In the most interesting position is Brett-Slider, a former member of the PowerPoint development team. He persuaded his successors to modify the Animation engine with password protection on the following choices: Boomerang, Spiral, Zoom, and Bounce. If users attempt to apply any of them on a slide, the system intervenes and requires a written explanation of the usage.

The explanation is sent to a panel of presentation designers, led by Nancy Latte and Garth Sandals, for review. Within 24 hours, the panel issues a ruling on the appropriateness of its usage. Based on that ruling, the Animation task pane will either provide a password for entry or the animation choices in question will be permanently removed from the program.

“Some of my colleagues thought this might have been drastic,” said Richar in his characteristic baritone. (Richar’s brother couldn’t pronounce the “d” in “Richard” when he was young; Richar dropped the letter from his name in his brother’s honor.) “I assured them that it would be a great career move — everyone talks about bad PowerPoint but nobody does anything about it. This would be their big chance.”

Areas of the program yet to be occupied include sound effects attached to slide transitions, color schemes involving red text and green backgrounds, and clip-art characters not wearing underpants. “We have occupation campaigns in place for all of these offenses,” warns Winsdorf. “We’re going to put an end to Death by PowerPoint, even if it kills us.”

There it is, in one crystalized sentence: Occupy PowerPoint will keep you from killing yourself…or else it will kill you. If only the other Occupy movements could have such a clearly-articulated charter.

About the Author:

Rick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He runs the acclaimed Presentation Summit conference, formerly known as PowerPoint Live, and is  author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better.  For more information, visit his website www.betterppt.com

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