Customise Theme Colours in PowerPoint to match your brand colours

How to Customise Theme Colours in PowerPoint

PowerPoint has default colours built-in to any new presentation or template. The bad news is that they aren’t great, but the good news is that you can change the colours to whatever you want. You can choose from a selection of alternative Office options:

List of Office colour themes

Office colour options

Alternatively, you can customise theme colours in PowerPoint to match your branding or a specific project or department.

First, make sure you have your brand colours to hand as RGB values. If you only have them in CMYK, you can convert them easily enough in InDesign or there are online conversion tools such as this one.

Customise Theme Colours in PowerPoint:

  1. Go to the Design tab
  2. Click on the down arrow in the Variants group
  3. Select Colors and click Customize Colors
  4. Edit custom colours to match your branding

Theme Colour dialog box

Create new Theme Colours

This allows you to change accent colour, hyperlink colour, and backgrounds for a look and feel that match your branding. The first of these colours will change the default font text colour and the second is for the default slide background. We find it’s best not to load colours into the first 4. Stick to text and background colours only.

The next 6 colours are Accents 1-6. These are important as they are used for charts, in order. Consider which colours you want to appear next to each other in a pie or bar chart, and load in as Accent 1-6 accordingly. These Accent colours also are used in the default table design options in PowerPoint (and Word/Excel).

Finally the hyperlink / followed hyperlink colour: it’s always a blue and dark magenta by default. So if you prefer something more in keeping with your branding then definitely specify different colours.

Adding additional colours with a VBA hack

For the more technical out there you can go one step further with this and add an additional row of custom colours to the palette. This involves editing the VBA of the PowerPoint file. It’s not simple, but you’ll find more information online, for example here.
We can do this for you of course, so get in touch if you need more than 6 accent colours in your PowerPoint template!

Advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint

The trick with animations in PowerPoint presentations is to get the balance right. Too little or too samey and the slides become boring and repetitive. Too much can slow down your delivery and dilute your message. Correctly used advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint can give your deck real zing and make it really entertaining and engaging.

PRO TIP: if you have a lot of objects then before adding advanced animation, open the Selection Pane to name your objects. This will help you to keep everything in order:

The Selection Pane - advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint

The Selection Pane in action

Which advanced animation techniques should you use, and how do you apply them?

It’s all sequential

Adding a sequence of different animations, from simple entry to more complex motion paths, can create some amazing effects without the need to click though. Open up the Animation Pane and use a judicial mix of On Click, With Previous or After Previous. The Delay function is also worth exploring.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Repeating an animation is a simple way to highlight a key piece of information. You might add a motion path to an arrow to repeatedly point to certain graphical elements, numbers etc. You can have objects moving in the background of a design to bring the design to life for the duration of the slide. To set any animation to repeat, go to the Animation Pane and apply an animation. Then you will need to right click on the animation and go into the options for Timing. There you can set how many times you want it to repeat or to set it to repeat continuously until the slide ends.

Gotta bounce

A hidden gem in the animation world is the “bounce”. It is a nifty effect that can be applied at the end of a motion path – instead of slowing to a halt, the animated object bounces a little. It may sound like nothing, and it is subtle but it can look very slick, especially when combined with Auto Reverse, which simply moves the object back to its starting point.

Feeling triggered

We love triggers here at Presented. But what is a trigger animation? To put it simply, you add an animation to one object and then add a trigger to a second object which activates the animation on the first. For example, you might have a number of textboxes you want to open and close in a particular order whilst staying on one slide, or you might create an interactive map and want to be able to highlight sectors separately. You need to create buttons and add triggers which open and close the textboxes or bring in the required data. Make sense? Perhaps a short video will help here:

Let’s talk about Morph

The Morph transition allows you to move from slide to slide with smooth animation, creating the illusion of movement. Try it! Add some objects to a slide, and put some off the artboard too. Duplicate the slide, add the Morph transition and drag the objects around, on and off the artboard. Now, go back to the first slide and play the Slide Show to see how the objects animate. Cool bananas? It looks like you’ve used advanced animation techniques, but you’ve simply selected a clever transition. There are lots of videos on YouTube about Morph, here is a good example.

More about advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint

For more examples of advanced animation techniques we have used in PowerPoint why not browse our interactive portfolio, here.

How to reduce PowerPoint file size

Introducing the Zip trick to reduce PowerPoint file sizes

PowerPoint files can be huge, and this can be a problem – for example if you are hoping to email the file some servers have size limits for attachments. There is a simple trick (thanks to Echo Swinford for the knowledge) using Zip to investigate what might be causing the problem. Let’s look at the process:

1. First, make a copy of the file

In File Explorer, select the PPT and Control-C, Control-V in the same folder.

2. Right-click on the copy and select Rename 

3. Add the extenstion “.zip” to the very end of the file name

Make sure to put the .zip after the existing file extension (.pptx) – do not replace it. The file now becomes a zipped folder. It’should read “”

A zipped PowerPoint presentation in a folder

A zipped PowerPoint presentation

4. Now Unzip the folder to access the contents

5. Click the folder “ppt” > “media”

In the media folder you will see a list of all the image files in your presentation – jpegs, gifs, MP4s etc. Sort by Size or Compressed size, so you can see the largest easily.

Images in the Zip folder

Images in the Zip folder

6. Change view to large icons, or double click on the images, to identify them

Once you’ve identified which images are pushing up the MB count, go into your original presentation and reduce the file size for each image in PowerPoint. Select the image and in the Picture Format tab click on Compress Pictures.

Compress Picture dialog box

Options for image compression

Choose “Apply only to this picture” to keep a better control of image quality throughout. Of course you can choose to compress all the pictures but sometimes the PowerPoint compression tool can give a low quality result.

You can also delete the cropped areas of the pictures. The tool here gives a guide on recommended resolutions – we go for 150 ppi if a small file size is crucial.

Obviously you can also use PhotoShop to really keep control on image quality and size.

7. Resave your presentation and check the reduced file size

Spot the difference.

Zip to reduce file size

Hey presto my file is no longer massive

So that’s how you use Zip to reduce the file size in PowerPoint!

Now you can delete the Zip folder and you’re done!

For more advice on how to reduce file size in PowerPoint, there are plenty of How To videos on YouTube, like this one.

How to set up the Quick Access Toolbar

Get faster: set up the Quick Access Toolbar

One of the bugbears as a PowerPoint user is having to click between tabs to access the commands that you use frequently – it can slow the process of creating your slides. One way to speed things up is to set up the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). The QAT is a customizable toolbar to which you can add your most frequently-used commands so that they are permanently displayed.

Useful commands to add

Here at Presented we all have our own preferences for which commands we like easy access to, but there are some which we have all added, such as some alignment tools, arrange (e.g. Bring to Front), undo and redo, and the various copy and paste options. Here are a few examples from the Presented team:


How to customise your QAT

Go to the ribbon and click the relevant tab (or group) to display the command that you want. Right-click the command, and then select Add to Quick Access Toolbar from the shortcut menu. You aren’t restricted to commands that are on the ribbon either, to add commands that aren’t on the ribbon, click the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar dropdown, and go to More Commands. In the Choose commands from: dropdown, select Commands Not in the Ribbon. Find the command in the list, and then click Add >>, when you Ok this dialog box it will be added to the QAT. You can equally remove a command from the QAT by right clicking on the command button and selecting Remove from Quick Access Toolbar from the shortcut menu.

A handy add-in!

On a side note, there are many add-ins available for PowerPoint, and one we use here at Presented is i-Slide. There is a free version available here: Once installed you will have an i-Slide tab, where you will find lots of useful tools all in one place.

Reordering commands on the Quick Access Toolbar

You might want to group similar commands together on the toolbar (e.g. all alignment tools). To do this, right-click the QAT, then select Customize the Quick Access Toolbar from the dropdown menu. Find the command you want to move and click on it, then use the Move Up or Move Down arrows to get it where you want it.

How to move the QAT

The QAT can either be displayed in the upper left corner (on the title bar) or below the ribbon. If you want to move it click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar (on the far right of the QAT). From the dropdown select Show Below the Ribbon or Show Above the Ribbon.

Another way to customize the QAT

You can also add, remove, and change the order of the commands on your QAT by using the Options command. First, click on the File tab and under Help, select Options. If you then click Quick Access Toolbar you can make the changes you want.

How to reset the Quick Access Toolbar to the default settings

If you get in a pickle and would like to reset the QAT to the default settings, right-click on it and Customize the Quick Access Toolbar from the dropdown. This opens the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar window, click on Reset Defaults, and then select Reset only Quick Access Toolbar.

Three things the Quick Access Toolbar cannot do

Annoyingly you cannot make the buttons in the QAT any larger and they are quite small. The only way to do this is to lower your screen resolution, and that’s not ideal. Another niggle is that the QAT can only run on one line so you may not be able to add everything you want to it. Also, you can only add actual commands to the QAT so other formatting options, such as indenting and line spacing (which show on the ribbon), cannot be added.

Good luck!

Embedding Microsoft Forms in PowerPoint

Using Microsoft Forms in PowerPoint is an excellent way to boost engagement of an online presentation. Generally this is for presentations which are shared, and read by individuals. There are of course other ways to use polls with 3rd party apps in live events. Anyone viewing a copy of the presentation can fill the form/answer the quiz questions and submit it to the presenter without having to exit PowerPoint.

Forms are a simple way to share a survey, opinion poll and other information by embedding the Microsoft Forms within a PowerPoint document. Share the presentation, and collect user responses. The results will automatically be collated for you online in

Microsoft Forms in PowerPoint

How to insert Microsoft Forms PowerPoint

The Microsoft Forms PowerPoint add-in allows presenters to easily insert a quiz (or a form) into a PowerPoint deck. To access Forms, go to the Insert tab and click the Forms icon in PowerPoint ribbon. Any current forms or quizzes will appear in the task pane, or you can select + New Form or + New Quiz.

You can use the form to test audience understanding of your content, or gather data about your audience. Use it as a learning tool to check if certain aspects of your presentation need improving ? Or, of course, it can simply be a bit of fun.

Form features

There are 4 types of basic question available to use in a form:

  • multiple choice – it will give you some suggestions or you can add your own options, allowing for more than one to be selected if this this appropriate
  • rating, which can be stars or numbers
  • date (maybe you would like to track if the feedback improves over time)
  • text – either long or short

You also have the option to add ranking with up/down arrows or Likert charts and there is an option to upload files. You can make answers “required” and shuffle them if you think users will always opt for the first option.

There are some in-built design features, they are quite basic, but you can also use your own background colour or upload an image if you wish.

Quiz features

Quiz fields are the same as those for forms, the only real difference is how they display on the screen.

Capture and analyse data

As users submit their responses to forms and quizzes, these come through to the website where you can log in to view them ( There are various things you can do with the responses. For quizzes you can then score them and share the results with the participants. Or for forms maybe you would like to open the responses in Excel to save for your records, or for extra analysis.

The Microsoft Forms PowerPoint add-in makes the whole process easy. Give it a try!

The pros and cons when you outsource presentation design

Outsourcing is commonplace in business. It makes sense to contract out functions to third parties when you do not have the internal resource available. Companies outsource all sorts of functions from marketing to sales, customer service and HR.  Taking the outsource of presentation design as an example, we’re going to look at some pros and cons.

So, let’s get into it. Why should you outsource presentation design?

  • Outsourcing PowerPoint design gives you access to skills and expertise that you do not have in-house
  • You don’t have to employ a dedicated presentation designer, which saves you money on benefits, training, recruitment time etc
  • Your presentations should be a much higher quality once they are professionally designed, which makes you look good
  • It’s easy to budget for some external design help
  • Outsourcing presentation design will free up your team to work on what they are good at
  • You’ll gain competitive advantage when your presentations are more impressive visually than those of your rivals

Of course, handing over control of a business function to someone else, brings risks of its own:

  • The presentation design may not meet your expectations (less talented freelancer perhaps?)
  • The work may miss your deadline, depending on the workload at the design agency
  • You may experience communication problems which can cause delays
  • There is a risk of confidentiality breach (of course this risk can be easily mitigated with an NDA)
  • Outsourcing design can be costly if you don’t shop around

Taking all of this into account, if your external presentations could do with a design refresh and if you have the budget available it is definitely worthwhile looking into outsourcing your presentation design.

And do we need to say we’re the best presentation design agency to outsource to? We don’t need to. But we just did.