5 ways to SAVE TIME in PowerPoint

Save time in PowerPoint by learning from the expert team here at Presented. We are super fast at formatting. Years of working as presentation specialists mean that we have gained quite a few tips and tricks.

5 ways to save time in PowerPoint that we couldn’t live without…

 

  1. Using the Reset button

It’s surprising how few people know about this button. If the template masters are correctly set up using layouts and placeholders, then resetting a slide is the best way to get a consistent looking professional deck fast.

Give the button a click on an existing slide to see if anything happens. If you are using a company template then content should move and automatically format to the house style.

Even if the only layout you use is “Title Only”, then Reset gets all your titles across all slides in the same place and same style every time.

The Reset Button shows the power of templates and why we recommend them!

 

  1. Using layouts and templates correctly

The reset button tip won’t be much use if you aren’t using a template. And if you aren’t: why not? Even for custom use decks we’ll set up a few layouts in the masters to help us format the rest of the deck as quickly as possible. We’ll always load a palette, fonts and default styles for shapes, lines and text.

But when it comes to adjusting design, then using a template is vital for amends. For example, if you have 80 slides and your boss wants the title style to be larger and bold now? Well you can make that change in the master and it’ll just take one edit, rather than 80 edits (one for each slide).

Actually applying layouts to your slides will also make your deck look how it’s supposed to look. This keeps marketing compliance happy. And it takes you no time at all. Changing from 1 column to 2 column? There might be a layout for that. MUCH faster than fiddling on the slide and finding that the positioning of content is a mil or 2 different to other slides. Inconsistencies make it look like your content is jumping around, and it diminishes how professional you look.

 

  1. Quick access tool bar

There are a lot of buttons on the ribbon. Microsoft have buried the ones we want to be handy so they are in sub menus (e.g. Arrange > Align > Right Align). So it takes multiple clicks to access these tools. But we can reduce that to one click by adding these buttons to the top of the window so that they are easily accessible.

Either right click the top of the screen and select ‘Quick access tool bar’ to select the buttons you want to add. Or, go to the button itself and right click it to ‘Add to Quick Access Toolbar’. Either way, this is an essential hack for the team here at Presented.

 

  1. Format painter

To copy the format from one object to another, simply select the original object and press Alt + F to activate the Format Painter. (Or click the Format Painter button on the ribbon – it’s below the Home tab).

You can also right click any shape that you’ve styled correctly, and choose “Set as default shape”, so that all future shapes follow that same style. The same is true for a text box and a line.

 

  1. F4 will save time

F4 is a great key for reducing mouse movement and clicks, and for saving time in PowerPoint.

Whatever formatted you just did: pressing F4 will repeat it. Have a go. It can really save so much time!

 

We hope these tricks help you to save time in PowerPoint!

Data Visualisation in PowerPoint

Dealing with complex data visualisation challenges in PowerPoint is something that we face every day at Presented. Getting your data visualisation right will massively help your audience to understand your message. So here are some tips:

Tips to help you with data visualisation in PowerPoint.

1.    Know your message:

Before you even start thinking about data visualisation, you need to know what story you want to tell. What do you want your audience to take away after seeing each visual?

For example: If you’re showing the annual revenue for your company for the past ten years, there could be a number of stories you are trying to tell. Your story could be that annual revenue is growing year on year, or it could be that despite annual revenue growing year on year, the % growth each year is actually decreasing.

2.    Use message headings instead of “topic” titles:

We often see charts with titles such as:

“Annual overheads 2010 – 2015” or “Price of Edam in European cities”.

These titles tell the audience next to nothing about your story. Instead of titles, choose to use descriptive headings instead. A heading should grab your audience’s attention and immediately explain your story. If you want the audience to understand and remember your message, then don’t hide it in a topic title, spell out the message for them. “Overhead costs have halved in 2015” or “London pays more than every other European city for Edam” are message headings that tell the audience exactly what they need to know, without even looking at the data.

Titles Message headings
Annual overheads 2010 – 2015 Overhead costs have halved in 2015
Price of Edam in European cities London pays more than every other European city for Edam

 

3.    Select the right chart or visual:

There are pie charts, bar charts, scatter diagrams, line graphs and hundreds of other methods for data visualisation. How do you know which one to choose? This is where The Graphic Continuum comes in handy. This poster (widely available on the internet) breaks down which graphs, charts or visuals are the best to choose depending on what type of data visualistaiton you need.

Whether your data tracks changes over time, compares categories or shows how a variable is broken down into its constituent parts, The Graphic Continuum will show you which method will display your data the most clearly. Although it doesn’t provide an exhaustive list, there are plenty of options there to get your imagination flowing!

PowerPoint has also added more chart types to its own library so there are even more options for you for data visualisation in PowerPoint.

Data visualisation - the graphic continuum

4.    Select the right data for your message:

Perhaps you don’t need to display all the data? It’s good to be focused: drill down and make sure your data is working to show the story you want. Keep on track and avoid showing irrelevant data – even if it’s pretty or interesting, stick to the message you want your data visualisation to make.

e.g. Imagine you have data for your company’s annual revenue for the last five years, but the story you want to tell is that the % growth in annual revenue is decreasing each year. There is no need to show your audience the annual revenue data. Simply do the calculations and show the audience the data for % growth instead.

5.    Choose your scale:

Even if the data doesn’t change, the scale that you choose for your charts can have a surprisingly big impact on the message. There are few hard and fast rules when choosing a scale for your charts, but it is important to be aware of scale and try out a few different options. The question you should ask yourself is whether this scale shows an honest representation of your data.

One rule to definitely heed is how the scale of a column chart that starts at zero can affect your data visualistaion. We subconsciously calculate the area of the chart based on a zero start value – but if the scale doesn’t start at zero then the data might be automatically misrepresented. You can make your data highlight big differences with a higher start value. Or small differences with a zero start. Be both careful and wise with this!

6.    Simplify!

If you can simplify or remove bits of the data without detracting from the integrity of your message, then do it!
Ask yourself:

  • Will including certain data add anything to help your audience understand?
  • Does it provide useful context?
  • Do I need to keep it to offer a level of detail necessary to convince the sceptics in my audience that my conclusion is accurate and reliable?

If the answer to these questions is no, then delete it! The simpler the data is to understand, the easier your audience will find it to follow what you’re saying.

7.    Use colour sparingly and purposefully:

Colour can be brilliant at providing focus and reducing confusion, but too much colour can have the opposite effect and will confuse unnecessarily. Any more than around 6 colours is too many. Remember, if you are presenting information live, you can add animation to colour sections of a graph. That way you can explain the overall data first and then use colour to highlight the key area that you want your audience to focus on.

8.    De-clutter the Chart Junk:

Check out Edward Tufte for all things to do with data visualisation. Edward Tufte coined the phrase chartjunk. He knows his onions.

What do you want your audience to focus on? Whilst axes, legends and gridlines are no doubt useful, they should not be the focal point of your data. Use colours like light grey for gridlines and axes so that they do not draw attention away from the important data. A good rule of thumb for any data labels is the closer you can have them to the data the better. Why put the legend all the way to the side of a pie chart when you could label each segment directly? The closer you have labels to the data the easier it is for people to see which label relates to which segment.

Likewise, you often won’t need both numbers on the axes and on top of your chart series. Consider losing such elements of “chart junk” to keep your data visualisation working well for you.

 

We hope these tips for data visualisation in PowerPoint will help you!

Looking for a freelance PowerPoint designer?

Areas a freelance PowerPoint designer must master:

Being a good freelance PowerPoint designer isn’t simply using PowerPoint. Designers must be highly creative, technically expert and able to follow a brief. Following a brief is crucial.

PowerPoint is a great tool with many capabilities. Here are some more areas to be mastered by any presentation designer:

Interactive slides:

Using triggers and hyperlinks is essential for navigation-led decks. Simple effects are PowerPoint Zoom summaries or basic hyperlinks. Or advanced effects are trigger animations, custom slide shows, etc. Interactive features are ideal for engaging audiences.

Explainer videos:

Create timing and animations in PowerPoint to produce quality videos. Video content increases conversion rates and is perfect for content marketing. We do advanced video level animations in PPT. It’s easy to DIY and save in .mp4 format. What’s even better, is that it’s all editable. See our PPT videos on Presented’s Vimeo page.

Live presenting:

Nothing beats the face to face engagement of presenting live to an audience. First, good designers should know some neuroscience techniques to help your message be remembered. Second, visual impact should be high to support learning and boost engagement. Third, visuals need to be in timing and thematic harmony with your content and narration. Simply put, communication science will massively improve the way you present.

Data visualisation:

Make sure data is communicated in a visually appealing and easy to understand way.

Get a good grip on infographics, dashboards, bespoke charts and diagrams.

Templates:

A well-created, user-friendly template will look good and encourage company-wide consistency. Plus it can save you hours (and hours) every week.

Printed PowerPoint material:

Create your printed material in PowerPoint or Word. In this way, everyone can edit the files, year after year. Annual reports, quarterly reports, brochures, posters, postcards, flyers etc. Everything can be laid out to a high spec and printed professionally from PowerPoint.

Follow the above to up your game as a freelance PowerPoint designer! (Or hire our specialists!)

Our team has years of design and technical expertise. Drop us a line to see how we can improve your next presentation.

Bespoke PowerPoint Training

by Philippa Leguen de Lacroix, Co-Founder

Bespoke PowerPoint training will help you get good at PowerPoint, and fast. Of course, reaching expert level in anything takes time. And it’s hard to find the right training course for your particular needs.

I expect many of you have heard of the 10,000 hour rule. I have probably logged that time in PowerPoint easily. Not all of it was quality practice though (and I don’t want to be guilty of oversimplifying the rule here).

Certainly, I didn’t do a PowerPoint course to reach my now (admittedly self-proclaimed) expert level. Initially, I was entirely self-taught. Back in 1998 I literally spent days doing complex animations (the office was quiet) but for the era they were quite cutting edge. Or at least I thought so! By today’s standards they were terrible, but I enjoyed the creativity.

Bespoke PowerPoint training course

I next spent many years working in desk top publishing departments within investment banks. They provided 24/7 pitchbook service to the bank employees, and I “hotdesked”, covered shifts that included evening and graveyard, and had bankers breathing down my neck. Everything was deadline driven and had to follow strict house style. They did provide in-house PowerPoint training, but it very specific to the needs of that industry. However, I became fast, efficient, and finessed a very high attention to detail. Yet I was also over reliant on client templates, built-in macros, and found my creativity somewhat sapped.

When my friend and co-founder Pani Theodorou and I started our presentation design company in 2009, we again acquired knowledge as we went. There were no bespoke PowerPoint training courses available for the level of design and animation that we wanted. We now lead a team who frequently share tips and tricks to help us all get faster, stronger and more creative in using PowerPoint.

Since our work is of such a high standard, in both design and technicality, our clients are often asking us is we deliver training. We do and we don’t!

bespoke powerpoint course

Bespoke PowerPoint training courses

Courses will fewer attendees can cut through all the boring standard elements and get straight to what’s useful and relevant. The smaller the number of participants, the better the quality of the course – especially when attendees are roughly grouped by existing knowledge or ability.

Common themes include wanting to make PowerPoint slides look more “designy”, how to prevent people taking the deck off-brand, and how to save time.

Often when I demo the “reset” button, there’s an audible reaction from the room. A template sounds like it’s going to be a boring thing, but when they are set up correctly, using layouts will save stacks of time and energy: allowing you to focus on the message of your slides, rather than pouring hours down the drain perfecting the aesthetic.

So whilst we are not a training company and we don’t run courses (currently), please do ask in case we can help you with some targeted tips for a small team, or a 1 to 1 session just for you (or someone in need!). Simply get in touch and ask us about your learning needs.

How to avoid bullets on a slide

Two design ideas to help you avoid bullets…

PowerPoint gets a bad rap as a design tool – it does have limitations, but only a bad worker blames their tools. In the right hands, PowerPoint is a great tool. So even when you have to keep all of your text, there are still layout options that will improve your slide.

Hopefully these slide examples will give you some inspiration:

How to avoid bullets – sample 1

BEFORE:
This “Technology” slide shows a typical bullet list layout. It’s a default layout that we see everywhere and is far from interesting to look at. (It’s also challenging to remember the content, but that’s another story!) Additionally, the title of this slide also had very little meaning – until we developed it.

slide20

AFTER:
The new heading and visuals help to lift the slide and ignite more interest. This particular slide is best delivered in an email format – simply because there’s still too much text onscreen for effective presentation delivery. To present onscreen: we’d recommend using light animation to control the flow of information. Animation can prevent the audience from feeling overwhelmed or reading ahead and getting out of sync with the presenter.

slide22

Avoiding bullets – sample 2

BEFORE:
Another boring looking list with plenty of text. (We’ve swapped out the content with Lorem Ipsum).

Before avoid bullet points

AFTER:
The addition of the image creates visual interest, and the icon for “explore” does a good job of leading the eye to the action points. Yet it’s still text heavy, and the image is purely decorative. But for situations where you have to keep your text – it’s simply better. And there’s nothing here that is complicated or difficult for anyone using PowerPoint to reproduce.

With PowerPoint it’s usually the lack of ideas that is the negative driving force behind so many slides.

We hope this gives you a couple of pointers. The principals are easy! But then, we would say that…

More visual guidance on designing to avoid bullet points.

For those situations where you have to keep your text – here’s another brilliant solution: Print Notes View to PDF in PowerPoint

Drop us a line if you need any help.

Award Winning Presentation Designer

Award Winning Presentation Designer

Marc Richard of Presented took first place at the Presentation Guild Contest #2: “Makeover Makeover”

presentation-designer

 

There aren’t many events to celebrate presention design, so we’re happy to say that Presented is Award Winning!

In 2016, Presented entered a contest run by The Presentation Guild. Presentation Designer Marc Richard took first prize. Here’s how he did it:

“The words ‘Chalkboards, vintage & hand lettering’ can be dangerous territory for a presentation designer in PowerPoint!” said Marc.

“Chalkboard textured backgrounds are much less common now that the 90s and 2000s. Back then they were always a kitsch response to being stuck on computers, yearning to work with our hands! Vintage is a massively vague word that can mean 100 ‘shabby-chic’ things & hand lettering translates to custom installed fonts – not a PowerPoint forte…” he continued.

“Aside from this, the Presentation Guild brief was direct. It clearly stated the client needs and gave multiple examples of design for inspiration. These visual and written clues amount to half the job being done for a presentation designer. We acknowledged that the contest also asked for a working template.”

Starting with the existing branding.

Marc started with the brand Magnolia and the logo. He separated the text from the marque to add motion to the falling petal on the cover slide. This would meet the current trend for animated logos, giving far stronger impact to an identity than a static printed logo can.

Marc explains further: “I used Segoe Script, one of the few handwritten typefaces to come bundled with Windows. Important for anyone viewing your file not to experience PowerPoint substituting your chosen font for something default and losing all formatting. The logo petal had a delicate, etched design and I matched this with gentle plant branch illustrations used on divider slides. I then repeated this on the following section for continuity.”

“Dark chalk background meant lots of use of light colours for contrast & the brief specified gold, grey & I used white also […obviously, chalk!]”

“The client asked for spacious design, so I sourced some PNG stock cosmetic images for interesting profiles & to avoid blocking out the chalk background. I added gentle shadows & translucent shapes to let the foreground hover over the background, adding to airiness. After this, I added in some motion animation to move elements around as you progress from divider slide to content, with simple fly-in & fade effects to finish it all off!”

Fantastic job Marc!

Sadly, there have only been 2 contests (that we know of!) run by the Presentation Guild. We came 2nd in the first contest, beaten by award winning designer Daniel who is now part of the Presented team too!

Do you have what it takes to become an award winning presentation designer too? Drop us a line with your portfolio!