Creative destruction is a term that I’m sure all of us have heard by now. We’ve all contributed to it whether or not we’re even aware of it. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I made a presentation with poster boards?” My answer: the 8th grade science fair. Like you, I quickly discarded the plain poster board for the much more impressive Microsoft PowerPoint software. Now, poster boards don’t even cross my mind; PowerPoint is essentially synonymous with presentation.
So what makes PowerPoint so awesome? Simply put, it gives you—the presenter—seemingly limitless freedom and opens up all kinds of opportunities for creativity when it comes to presentations. But, many of us frequently fall into the trap of relying on the standard black text and white background format. For presentations that truly stand out, consider the following often-neglected features:
1. The Slide Master:
What it is: Adding a pre-set theme to your presentation is a really easy way to make your slides much more appealing to your audience. Don’t like any of the themes available or want to personalize one a bit more? To save a whole lot of time, simply make changes to the Slide Master.
Why you use it: All changes to the slide master will be made to each slide in the presentation until another Slide Master is inserted. Each presentation has at least one Slide Master by default.
How to find it: To access the Slide Master, click on the View tab in the ribbon (Mac users, click on “Edit Master” in the Themes tab).
2. Action Buttons
What they are: If you’re sick of the plain “left and right” association of slides in a presentation, try experimenting with the underutilized Action Button feature. An Action Button is essentially a hyperlink that can be applied to any object (including a text box) that you insert into a slide.
Why you use them: You can link to any slide in your presentation, a web page, even an entirely different file on your computer by using Action Buttons.
How to find them: To format an object as an action button, click on “Action” in the Link section of the Format tab. Or, you can simply insert an Action Button object which can be found under Shapes in the Insert tab. (Mac users, click on “Action Buttons” in the Shapes menu under the Insert section in the Home tab).
3. Quick Access Toolbar
What it is: Ever wonder why the Save, Undo, and Redo buttons in the top-left hand corner of the screen are separated? That area is called the Quick Access Toolbar and you can actually change it by adding more shortcuts to save time.
Why you use it: By default, the quick access toolbar provides shortcuts to the most common features in PowerPoint – Save, Undo, and Redo. However, you can customize the toolbar and add almost any feature in PowerPoint as a shortcut.
How to use it: If you want to add a feature to the toolbar, all you have to do is right-click anything in the ribbon (tabs, sections, even fonts) and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”. Consider adding the Slide Master and Action Button functions for faster editing. (Bonus—you can also learn the keyboard shortcuts so you don’t have to use the toolbar at all.)
4. Quick Styles
What they are: To keep the audience’s attention, you probably don’t want to go with the simple black and white text that you find in a Word document. But don’t waste time looking through all the font colors and shape effects that are in the Drawing Tools tab when you click on a text object. You can add a pre-set design to your text box by clicking one of the Quick Styles.
Why you use them: Try adding one of these to your Titles and Headings to give them an extra aesthetic boost that the audience will appreciate.
How to find them: You can choose a Quick Style by navigating to the Drawing section of the Home tab.
5. Insert Excel Spreadsheets
What it is: You’ve spent time and effort making an incredibly impressive Excel spreadsheet using all sorts of formulas that you can’t use in other programs. Now you want to present your results in PowerPoint and you’re about to type all that information into a new table object. Pump the brakes, there’s a much easier answer—you can just insert your Excel spreadsheet directly into a slide.
Why you use it: PowerPoint easily allows you to insert your awesome spreadsheet into your presentation. This saves you the time and effort of having to re-create your spreadsheet using PowerPoint’s formatting. Using this feature allows you to access all the toolbars and functions of Excel without loading the software. If you know that you’re going to be presenting spreadsheets in PowerPoint often, you can actually make your Excel spreadsheet right in PowerPoint by starting with a blank table.
How to use it: Just navigate to the Insert tab and under the Table menu, click on “Excel Spreadsheet”. This creates an Excel object and opens the Excel toolbar in addition to the PowerPoint toolbars. All you have to do from here is copy the information in your original spreadsheet in Excel and paste it into the cells of the object on the slide.
Familiarize yourself with these time-saving PowerPoint tricks and you’ll be a master presenter in no time! Try our PowerPoint test and see what you already know.