by Adam Noar
Awesome PowerPoint decks take time to create.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were ways to cut down slide creation time by 25%? … 50%? … or even 100%?
Well, you’re in luck:
Today I’m going to show you 10 PowerPoint time-saving tips for creating presentations extremely fast.
In the spirit of not wasting any time, let’s get to it!
#1.) Know your PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts
Why waste time moving and clicking your mouse when you can do the same function instantly on your keyboard?
PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts allow you to focus on your work without distracting mouse clicks.
We’ve got some favorites, and they tend to be the ones we use the most:
Ever move an image or change a color and immediately think, “Nope!” and need to change it back? Don’t waste your time going all the way up to Edit and Undo, just press Control+Z and you’re there! Another one I use ALL THE TIME is Control+D to duplicate an object, for obvious reasons. If you want to learn some more,
Another one I use ALL THE TIME is Control+D to duplicate an object, for obvious reasons. If you want to learn some more, check out this round-up of our favorite PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts!
If you’re craving more PowerPoint time-saving tricks and shortcuts, you should probably consider grabbing yourself a copy of Nuts and Bolts Speed Training – a series of training videos to help you master PowerPoint and make your life easier. The PowerPoint training course will teach you how to speed through PowerPoint, turn boring bullets into engaging layouts, and much more.
If you have to make slideshows all the time, or you want to get faster to free up your time for other things, their course is going to be exactly what you need.
Another tool you may want to check out is Key Rocket recommended by our friend Lea Pica. KeyRocket is simply a software tool that makes you more productive in PowerPoint (and other MS Office programs) by giving you keyboard shortcut recommendations based on what you frequently do. Awesome right?
#2.) Download a professional PowerPoint template
Sometimes you don’t have the time to create a gorgeous PowerPoint template yourself.
If that’s the case, simply stroll on over to Graphic River and pick yourself out a killer template that’s guaranteed to wow your audience.
Professional PowerPoint templates can be great not just to save time, but also because they’re guaranteed to look great. They’re also super easy to customize exactly how you want it.
We do have some favorites, of course, so we decided to curate our top 10 picks for the best PowerPoint templates on the whole site. You’re welcome.
If you’d rather go rogue and browse through everything yourself, there are a few things you should look for – we’ve put together a nice guide to buying a PowerPoint template here. The most important thing is to find a template that fits your brand – if you’re working for a hip modern startup, you’re going to want to look for something modern, minimalist, and maybe a little quirky. With that in mind, make sure the template is consistent throughout! Pay attention to the color palette, fonts, and overall style. You don’t want to buy a seemingly great template and then have to spend a lot of time editing it to make it consistent. Kind of defeats the purpose, no?
When we created our own template, we kept all of those things in mind. We wanted a template that was well-organized, easy to edit, and consistently beautiful, as well as being effective and exactly what our clients wanted. With close to 1,000 sales on Graphic River and a solid 5-star rating, we like to think we’ve achieved that! So for a little #humblebrag, head on over to our Influencer template to see what we’re talking about.
#3.) Storyboard first before touching PowerPoint
We understand the impulse to just jump in and get your hands dirty, but a lot of times, like a little kid with finger paints, you just end up with a mess.
That’s why we recommend storyboarding before even opening PowerPoint. Your audience is going to need a story to follow, and the clearer you have that story before you start, the easier it will be to make the presentation. Make sure to figure out exactly what your key messages are – what do you want them to learn? What ideas do you want to connect? What key takeaway message do you need to drive home? Figuring out the flow of your story will naturally dictate the flow of the PowerPoint, which will make it so much easier to decide what the feel of the presentation will be, what images you need, etc.
After figuring all that out, we recommend using each slide as a placeholder to put notes for what images and content you want. This will help make sure you focus on the big picture and not get sucked into the details that can throw you off track. The notes at the beginning will make sure your overarching narrative stays intact.
If you think about it, the story of your presentation is a lot like the story of a book or a movie. Your audience wants to follow a plot and watch it unfold – make it interesting for them! And follow the cardinal rules of good storytelling, including a well-paced plot that you’ve already laid out in your storyboard.
#4.) Get inspired and come up with your theme first
You may be tempted to start your presentation design by collecting images, as it’s usually one of the more fun tasks – but avoid doing this!
A lot of the time you end up having to throw a lot of them out because you don’t need them, they don’t fit with the story, or they don’t match the style you’ve chosen.
And how do you figure out what you need, the story, and the style? You storyboard, and then you come up with a theme for your slides. It will be so much easier and faster to find the images you need. You’ll know what to look for so you stay consistent throughout the PowerPoint, and so that you match the feel of your story.
If you’re struggling to come up with your theme. Get inspired by looking at design styles across the web. Here’s an awesome list of places to find inspiration for your next PowerPoint.
#5.) Tell a visual story. Don’t write a novel!
Nobody wants to go to a presentation where they have to read slides like a book. Let your visuals do the work!
Your story will be vital, but should primarily be visual (which is why crystallizing it beforehand is so important). Your text should be minimal, and you should be saying the majority of your points out loud, with your slides there for more of a visual aid. You can showcase things like visuals that what you’re saying, charts that explain your data, or infographics that simplify your points.
Ultimately, you need to make your slides work for you, not against you. If it’s too text-heavy, it will compete for your audience’s attention, which is the opposite of what you want! Use the slides to emphasize or enhance your points, but don’t make your audience choose between reading what’s on the slide or listening to what you’re saying. They can’t do both.
#6.) Practice makes perfect
We know you came here looking for a magic pill to swallow that will make you instantly way faster at PowerPoint. Sorry, I’m not Morpheus from the Matrix.
We do have some amazing tricks that may make it seem that way, but to be honest, it doesn’t happen overnight – even with the PowerPoint speed tips from this post, you’re going to have to practice.
You’re going to have to put these tips to good use, play around with them, and get used to using them before they really click and you start to use them intuitively.
This also means taking the tips we publish weekly and putting them into action. We publish this PowerPoint tips blog because we love great slides but they require action to work. Start practicing today and you’ll be amazed at where you are in a month.
#7.) Repurpose old material (previous ppt slides, images, etc.)
There’s no reason to do more work than you need to.
If you have a slide design you love, it doesn’t expire after you use it once! You can re-use old slide designs and templates and just tweak them to match your new audience, presentation, or story. This especially applies if you work in a company where you need to make a lot of presentations in the same style. Figure out the template you love and come back to it for inspiration and to re-work what you already have to fit what you need.
Keeping a library of photos is such a time-saver – if you find a photo you love but don’t end up using, save it! You can always scroll through your stockpile to find inspiration, or you know it’s in there for when you need it in the future. You can also bookmark your favorite image resource websites that you always come back to – or simply grab a copy of Slides Made Simple where I list all the best ones.
This can work for a lot of different parts of your presentation, too. Land on the perfect color palette? Save it to use in the future. Spend a lot of time making custom icons that are ideal for your needs? Save them! If you’ve already put the work into making something really great, don’t make yourself do that all over again every time you need a presentation if you don’t have to.
#8.) Resist the temptation to “fiddle”
If you’re getting to the point where you’re adding glow effects to images or going back-and-forth about which animation to use … STOP! Step away from the PowerPoint and let it go.
While it is true that details do matter in slide design, over obsessing on trivial edits can slow you down. Some things are worth perfecting and worth fiddling with. Some are not. Choose your battles wisely.
#9.) Stick with a slide creation process that works for you
Once you figure out a system you like, stick with it! Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Keep doing that, because what will happen is that you get even better at doing it that way, instead of experimenting with different systems all the time and not becoming efficient at any of them.
Everyone has their own ppt slide creation method, and we won’t tell you what to do. Below is my four-step process if you want somewhere to start:
Step #1. – Brainstorm: First, I brainstorm. I think this is the best thing to start with because you can just get all your ideas down without worrying yet about flow, consistency, or style. Just a big brain dump to see where your head is at, and what directions you can go it.
Step #2. – Outline: After brainstorming, I take all the ideas I like and create an outline of a story, which I then organize into a structure.
Step #3. – Storyboard: From that structure, I create a storyboard – and seeing how that’s one of the first tips on this list, you can see how important I think it is. Those are my steps to getting to the storyboard.
Step #4. – Design: After the storyboard, I move to design. I find that the design flows much easier for me if I’ve completed the above steps, because I have a much clearer idea of what I want.
That’s what works for me, so that’s what I do every time! Find what works for you.
#10.) Hire a presentation designer – the ultimate PowerPoint time-saving trick!
Want to reduce your slide creation time by 100%? Hire a pro!
If you want the ultimate PowerPoint time-saver, you may just want to outsource your project to a pro. A professional presentation designer will give you the amazing results you want and you won’t have to spend any time doing it (hint hint, we may know a good team to call).
We get it – some people don’t want to get better at PowerPoint and simply need awesome results! They’ll cost money, but the time saved and deliverable you get may be worth the cost.
We hope this round-up of our favorite PowerPoint time-saving tips helped you out! Implementing these tips can drastically reduce the time it will take you to create your next presentation.
Here’s my question for you:
Do you use any of these PowerPoint speed tips already? Let us know! Did we miss one of your favorites? Set us straight! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.