Love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint is one of the most popular applications for creating and giving presentations. According to a survey conducted in 2015, more than a quarter of people see at least one presentation per day in any given work week. That’s almost twice as many as six years ago.
Knowing how to use PowerPoint well can make you a rockstar in your office (give or take the inflated ego). Having PowerPoint wrapped around your little finger could bring you more opportunities to present at conferences and other events, which could in turn further your career. Use our PowerPoint hacks to become the envy of your coworkers and ensure you’re always in demand as a speaker.
1. Cut Text From Your Slides
Reading text from your PowerPoint slides is more likely to annoy your audience than any other bad presenting habit. Cut your text back to no more than six words per slide. These words should communicate the key point of the slide and remind you what you were going to say about it, but they shouldn’t be your entire script.
2. Create a Custom Background
You don’t have to use the standard PowerPoint slide size for your presentation. In fact, if you are planning to project your presentation onto a long, thin screen, the standard slide size might be very inconvenient. This is how you can reshape your slides:
• Open the File Menu.
• Select Page Setup.
• Enter your desired height and width in inches or pixels.
• Click OK.
3. Create a Custom Template
Just as you don’t have to use the standard PowerPoint slide size, you also don’t have to use a stock template for your presentation. If you give a lot of presentations on behalf of your organization, you may want to create a custom template that includes the company’s logo, so you can use it for all your presentations. Here’s how to make a custom template:
• Open the Themes tab.
• Click Edit Master on the right of the tab.
• Click Slide Master.
• Edit the template.
• Click Close Master to apply the template to all slides in the current presentation.
4. Align Your Images
Trying to manually line up images on a PowerPoint slide can be extremely frustrating. Thankfully, there is a built-in feature that will align them for you. Here’s how to use it:
• Click on the first object you want to align to select it.
• Hold down Shift and select the other images.
• Click Align in the top toolbar.
• Select the type of alignment you want.
5. Add Gliffy Diagrams
Adding a Gliffy diagram to your presentation can be extremely helpful if you’re trying to explain a complicated idea. Diagrams are less ambiguous than words and leave far less room for interpretation. As an added bonus, they will add polish and make any presentation look even more professional and pulled together. Here’s how to add one:
• Create and name your diagram.
• Go to File>Export.
• Choose either PNG or JPG format and your desired size.
• Select the type of alignment you want.
• Choose Insert Picture from File from the toolbar.
6. Learn to Zoom In and Out
Sometimes, there is a particular part of a slide that you want your audience to see in more detail. Rather than asking them all to lean forward and strain their eyes, you can simply zoom in on this part of the slide while presenting. Look for the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the display in Presenter View. Click on this icon, move your pointer to the part of the slide you want to enlarge, and click again. When you’re done focusing on this part of the slide, click the magnifying glass again to zoom back out.
7. Use Hyperlinks Elegantly
You can add a hyperlink to any object on your PowerPoint slide. Here’s how:
• Select the object.
• Press Ctrl + K.
• Paste the link into the address space.
• Click OK.
Clicking on the object during your presentation will open the page you linked to. If you’d rather not have to move your cursor across the slide in front of your audience, press the tab key to move to the hyperlink and press Enter to open.
8. Practice Navigating Through Your Presentation
Avoid fumbling in front of your audience by practicing using these key navigation commands:
• F5 starts your presentation.
• N advances to the next slide.
• P moves back to the last slide.
• Jump to any slide by entering the slide number and pressing Enter.
Knowing these commands can allow you to move through your presentation with ease, and can also help you avoid getting muddled when fielding questions from the audience.
9. Bring the Attention Back to You
Remember that PowerPoint is only a tool and that you are the one the audience has come to see. It can be useful to bring the attention away from your slides and back to you during your presentation. Make the display go black by pressing B at any time. Pressing this key again will bring the slides back up.
10. Get the Ending Right
It’s easy to accidentally advance past the last slide in a presentation, which brings up the Microsoft PowerPoint program and can break your audience’s concentration. Avoid this possibility by adding a blank slide to the end of your presentation. If you accidentally move past the last slide, you can immediately go back by pressing P, rather than having to reload your presentation.
If you’re fluent in PowerPoint, it becomes a powerful tool for communicating your ideas and enthralling your audience. However, if you’re less than fluent, it becomes a tool of clunky presentations, sleepy audiences and less than stellar results. Use these hacks, learn them by heart and create amazing presentations that your audience will look forward to rather than dreading. Just remember, with great PowerPoint comes great responsibility.