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6 PowerPoint Tips and Tricks for Creating Effective Presentations in 2017

by Adam Noar

For most people, PowerPoint is that awkward tool that is used for making amateur presentations in high school and college. And sadly, many people will continue using it that way in the future. In other words, most people suck at PowerPoint and presentations don’t look like there are getting much better anytime soon.

But fortunately, if you’re reading this article (and have hopefully subscribed to our free weekly newsletter) you begin to see the true power of PowerPoint and its potential for helping you achieve presentation greatness.

What’s more is that new PowerPoint tips and tricks are being discovered all the time. Even for us advanced PowerPoint designers here at Panda, we continue to find golden nuggets while creating presentations for clients. On top of that, PowerPoint is continuing to roll out new feature updates based on consumer feedback.

So, today we’re going to be talking about some of the cool PowerPoint tips and tricks for creating enhancing your slide decks in 2017 and beyond!

Let’s begin.

PowerPoint Tip #1.) Customize .emf files from Adobe Illustrator directly in PowerPoint

News flash! PowerPoint plays nice with Adobe Illustrator!

This PowerPoint tip is especially helpful for those that:

  • work alongside graphic designers who work in Adobe programs (like Adobe Illustrator)
  • want to save time by downloading pre-made vector graphics

Without going too much into specifics, PowerPoint allows you to take objects exported as a .emf file from Adobe Illustrator and insert them into PowerPoint seamlessly.

The objects imported into PowerPoint will then become completely editable as if they were built in PowerPoint natively. Cool right?!?

This means you (or your graphic designer) can build complex graphics in Illustrator and then edit the fill color, line color, shape and size all within PowerPoint. This ability to edit illustrator objects in PowerPoint also means you get full creative power on how they animate in and out of a slide.

Double sweetness!

PowerPoint Tip# 2.) Master the Selection Pane – this will make working with complex animations a breeze

The Selection Pane is one of PowerPoint’s hidden gems.

Nobody ever talks about the Selection Pane because most people don’t know what it’s used for!

Basically, the Selection Pane lets you show/hide objects as well as rename them.

This feature is a TON of help when you have a complex slide that requires specific animations to specific objects. Especially when you have a lot of layers within your PowerPoint slide.

PowerPoint, by default, gives some random funky names to objects on a slide (as seen in the image above) which can create a headache when you want to add animations and create animation chains to numerous objects.

The ability to select an object and then rename it from the Selection Pane makes creating animation chains so much easier.

In other words, the Selection Pane keeps you organized and quickly able to identify everything.

Just like a brain surgeon wouldn’t start surgery without having everything laid out properly, the same goes for PowerPoint design (or PowerPoint surgery you might say).

The point is when you organize your slide objects nicely with the Selection Pane you don’t have to TEDIOUSLY pour over your Animation Pane to make sure all the objects have been assigned an animation and in the correct order.

Organizing and correctly labeling your slide objects in PowerPoint will make your slide creation process much easier!

The Selection Pane will allow you to rename objects in a group based off of the animation that will be applied to it so will always be a step ahead of those pesky animations!

PowerPoint Tip #3.) Convert your charts to shapes and then animate them for instant “WOW” factor

You probably know that one of the best ways to showcase complicated statistics in PowerPoint is by using a graph or a chart.

But, what you might not know is that the default graphs and charts in PowerPoint are sometimes a big pain to customize the way you like.

Another thing you may not realize is that that you can convert your PowerPoint charts to shapes so you can then animate them however you like.

Once things are converted to shapes you then have full control over all elements of the chart you want to animate (as seen in the example above).

The only drawback to converting your charts to shapes is that the chart will no longer be integrated with Excel meaning that if you want to change a data point in Excel it won’t automatically update the chart (i.e., you will have to update the chart manually). It’s a tradeoff but it’s often worth it for that extra wow factor of introducing chart elements in creative ways with animations.

PowerPoint Tip #4.) Hyperlink slides with text, objects, and images – to make your presentation a “choose your own adventure” experience for your audience

Hyperlinking slides together is not something that is often done in PowerPoint.

Most PowerPoints are very linear because the “story” that is being told can’t be told any other way. You move from slide to slide in sequential order till you reach the end.

With Prezi presentations becoming creating more buzz, PowerPoint is making updates/upgrades to make them less linear, but what most people don’t realize is that using simple hyperlinks can take your PowerPoint decks to whole new levels because it gives the audience control of where they want to go in the presentation.

To hyperlink an object simply Right Click on the object and select Hyperlink. A box will then pop up and from there you need to select Place in This Document. And there you can select which slide you want to jump to when that object is selected.

Once you play around with hyperlinks more you will start to see PowerPoint in a whole new light.

PowerPoint Tip #5.) Use conceptual images, (not literal ones) 

Using conceptual images is way smarter than resorting to literal ones, but you don’t want to get too abstract either.

It’s important to strike a balance.

You want to avoid literal imagery for two reasons:

  • It may not illustrate the nuances of what you’re talking about.
  • It can cause your audience to immediately think about personal connections they may have to the image, which may not be relevant to your story. This could lead to distraction.

For example, let’s say you are trying to illustrate the idea of “interconnectivity” on a particular slide. Now, you may be tempted to find a picture of a spider web or group of cheerleaders forming a pyramid. However, both of these are likely poor image choices!

Why?

In both examples, your audience may have personal connections to those things that would throw off their thinking. For example, maybe your listeners hate spiders or used to cheerlead in high school—and now, instead of thinking about interconnectivity, they’re thinking about that.

Below is an example of a graphic that would better illustrate the concept of “interconnectivity”. Notice how with the image above nobody could have a personal connection to the image which could throw them off and have them thinking about the wrong things!

Remember, your goal is to keep people entertained and focused!

PowerPoint Tip #6.) Reinforce your ideas with repetition

So, after you’ve picked some great conceptual images/graphics (mentioned in PowerPoint tip #5 above) it’s time to use repetition to help drive your points home.

You can use this technique by first introducing your image or graphic early in order to set the tone for the rest of your presentation. Then, reinforce your message by putting the image on multiple slides throughout your presentation. You can even use it as a highlight on each slide, like your presentation’s own personal trademark.

By reinforcing your conceptual images often your audience will have a better chance of remembering your ideas, which is exactly what you want when you give a presentation!

Conclusion

I hope you have found these six PowerPoint tips and tricks useful.

Here is my question for you …

Which of the PowerPoint tips mentioned in this post are you most interested in trying out?

Sound off in your comments below… And please remember to be specific as possible.

Also, do you have a friend that is currently creating a new important PowerPoint slide deck and could benefit from learning about these presentation tips? If so, send them a link to this blog post right now. I’m sure, they will return the favor to you one day!

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  • stkarthik

    You can only convert smart art into shapes ! How do you convert charts to shapes ?

    • Copy the chart, select “paste special”, and then choose “Picture (Windows Metafile)”. Then, use the ungroup tool to ungroup the chart and the chart will be broken up into individual shapes. Boom!