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I’m Lea, Host of the Present Beyond Measure Podcast, and This is How I Work

Presentation Expert - Lea Pica

We are kicking off a new series here at Panda called “This is how I work” – where we interview presentation experts to understand their routines, tools, hacks, resources and more.

Our first guest is Lea Pica, a presentation hero who has a TON of experience creating awesome presentations.

Lea is an accomplished speaker, writer and podcaster having spoken at industry and company events including eMetrics, Analytics Demystified, ConversionXL, and ForeSee. Her podcast, “The Present Beyond Measure Show”, helps listeners learn how to tell compelling stories with data, as she interviews the leading minds in digital analytics. The show has become one of the most popular analytics podcasts in less than a year.

So without further ado, here’s how Lea works. You are going to love the presentation tips, tools, and resources she has to share!


Location:  Home office in beautiful Bucks County, PA

Current Gig: Director of Data Visualization and Storytelling, Search Discovery and Host of the Present Beyond Measure Podcast

One word that best describes how you work:  Passionately

Current computer: Custom-built PC and Apple Macbook Pro

Preferred program for creating presentations: PowerPoint


First of all, tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today?

After deciding not to pursue my musical theater aspirations, I spent the first 12 years of my career in various roles in the digital marketing space. I managed search marketing and web analytics programs for the likes of Scholastic, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and Prudential. Somewhere along the way, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere with presenting my data to stakeholders and decision-makers. I had my big eureka moment when asked to present in Prezi for grad school, and I realized I had to completely rethink my approach.

I picked up Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds on a lark, and was totally hooked. I voraciously consumed every resource on presentation and data visualization I could find. I began to study the work of Edward Tufte, Nancy Duarte, Stephen Few, Guy Kawasaki, and Seth Godin. I began incorporating these principles into my work, and the results amazed me: I was earning more budget for analytics capabilities for my team, getting invited to kickoff projects, and reactivating dormant optimization projects.  My presentations were finally beginning to inspire action.

When I attended a digital analytics conference later that year, I realized that these same mistakes were being made everywhere I turned. No one was being empowered with the right toolset for delivering information in an impactful way. I vowed that one day I would take that same stage to spread the message that there was a better way.

Four years later, I was invited by a software vendor to present at their annual status. I decided this would be my inaugural platform to spread the word about effective data presentation. Despite my no-name status, lack of polish and severe stage fright, it ended being one of the summit’s highest rated sessions to date. This reaffirmed to me the importance of tackling this issue in the analytics space head-on. Folks in the industry caught wind, and I was invited to a number of conferences and seminars in the years to follow. I finally decided to go rogue two years ago and leave the corporate world to pursue my dream of training, blogging, and podcasting about all things data presentation.

And here I am!

What presentation tools can’t you live without? Why?

One of my favorite finds is a suite of tools by Veodin. The first tool is KeyRocket, which is a little productivity app that acts as a keyboard shortcut training coach for your entire computer, including PowerPoint. Every time I use my mouse to perform an action, KeyRocket pops up a little prompt with a time-saving keyboard shortcut. Shortcuts are essential to finishing that slide deck in the 11th hour and creating more time for planning and prep!

The second tool is SlideProof, which acts as a majorly anal-retentive editor for your PowerPoint presentations. Through an 80-point check, it hunts down every rogue misaligned object, inconsistent spacing, and grammatical error. It’s saved me from more than one potentially mortifying slide flub! SlideProof also boasts a huge shape library, pulls together an agenda on the fly using site sections, and conveniently surfaces the program’s most powerful features.

powerpoint mistake correction tool - slideproof - powerpoint productivity tool

Last, I can’t live without the Voice Memos app on my iPhone. Listening to myself speak was a game-changing practice for identifying and refining my weak points in diction and intonation. And, I listen to my recordings while traveling to speaking engagements as a method of preparation.

What’s your workspace setup like?

I have a whole lot of workspace stuffed into an itty bitty living space! My monster custom-built PC monitor sits next to my amazing Audio-Technica ATR2100 podcast microphone on a vintage gray desk. I have a filing cabinet to my left which houses my DBX 286s Mic Pre-Amp and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface. My microphone plus those two bad boys make my podcast voices sound silky smooth with resonant depth. Atop my monitor sits a Logitech 720p HD webcam for video tutorials and interviews.

Presentation Expert - Lea Pica - Desk Setup

While working I’m able to view my sprawling backyard from my little cottage. I absolutely love mentally stepping into a vision of nature and stillness while in my peak creative zone.

What’s is a trend you see in presentations right now?

One of my favorite trends is a dimmed photo behind a bold statement or quote in white text, or a background using bokeh lights. I love seeing fresh interplays of thin and think font families to emphasize key words in content.

I also look forward to playing more with the Morph and Push animations in PowerPoint to represent a flow through my story that simple fades can’t achieve. Nolan Haims of Present Your Story recorded a fascinating tutorial on using PowerPoint Morph to simulate the animated Trendalyzer bubble chart effect made famous by the late, great Hans Rosling

What’s your process/method for creating presentations?

I always start with a presentation planning method I discovered some time ago from Olivia Mitchell called Presenting By Boxes. It is a super practical approach for distilling and organizing your content into a clear framework that always keeps your audience and objective front and center. I love how it emphasizes succinctly supporting your key message and prompting your audience to action.

What is one of your favorite presentation hacks/tips/tricks?

My favorite hack is customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (or QAT) in PowerPoint. The QAT allows you to create your own shortcuts for rote tasks like object alignment that take your hand away from the keyboard and waste precious seconds. I learned about it through my friends at Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, who offer an entire course dedicated to tapping the productivity power of the QAT. It is one of the best-kept secrets in PowerPoint!

What’s a great presentation related resource you use often?

I adore the Canva Design School for inspiration on how to design beautiful and impactful quote slides, statement slides, and an overall look and feel. Canva’s interactive lessons are simple, fun, and visually entertaining. It helps prove the point that you do NOT have to be a professional artist to design effective presentation slides.

What makes you “cringe” the most when you think about a boring/ugly presentation slide?

Rather than one element being cringe-worthy, I rather cringe when I see a slide stuffed with many missteps. I often see a typical slide where the title is a boring statement about what the slide is showing, rather than a bold observation or insight behind the visual. Then there are multiple charts or tables crammed into a small space, usually rendered with cognitive-loading, visual noise like gridlines, excessive labels, and rainbow color palettes. The final nail in the coffin is a barrage of bullet points at the bottom in tiny font, hinting at the key insight but buried in excessive wordiness.

When I witness this symphony of slide sloppiness, it makes my heart sad. It is truly a function of never being taught a better way, and that is why I am so passionate about my “No Slide Left Behind” mission!

What do you listen to while you work on your presentations? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence? How do you get into the creative zone?

I’m a music fiend and always have something playing during go time. I have multiple playlists on Spotify running on a continuous loop throughout the day, catering to my specific mood and concentration. My favorite productivity playlists range between Deep Focus, 90’s R&B, and the soundtrack to Interstellar. Eclectic, I know!

Another amazing find is Focus@Will, an online radio station that plays what they call “neuroergonomic” music designed to maximize productivity by helping the listener enter a flow state. I FLY through my presentations when I listen to the Focus@Will Alpha Chill station.

What are you currently reading in relation to presentations? What’s something you’d recommend for people to read?

Right now I’m finishing Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. I’m fascinated by the storytelling mastery behind TED, and am loving learning what makes an engaged audience tick. I particularly enjoy the analysis of the common threads between the most successful TED talks, such as an engaging backstory and delivering “jaw-dropping moments”.

My first recommendation when it comes to upping your data presentation game would be Storytelling with Data by my friend Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. For me, this read distils the best of every presentation and data visualization book I’d read into a practical approach to telling your data story. Cole’s approach leverages cinematic storytelling techniques and her tone is balanced without a hint of dogma or judgment.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I’m an avid yogini and incorporate a daily yoga and affirmation practice into my day. My cottage overlooks a stunning valley so I frequently go outside to my deck for some grounding and recharging, especially during the spectacular sunsets.

What’s a good piece of advice you’ve received when it comes to creating presentations?

Exercise extreme discrimination and intention when using animation. Early in my career, I was told by my boss that while my content was great, my animations made him seasick. I’m talking checkerboard and spiral transitions while laser beaming in every single letter on the slide (yes, that was an available animation back then.)  I thought that because I knew every feature, that made me an expert on how to present. Oopsie daysie.

Today, I am very judicious with animation, using nothing more than simple fades and white boxes to strategically hide and reveal information as I guide the audience through my narrative. Animation is even riskier with Prezi, and I would advise an abundance of caution when creating your animation path to avoid vertigo-inducing death spirals.

What’s the one piece of advice you would tell someone before or during public speaking (delivering a presentation)?

public speaking tips by presentation expert lea pica

Do NOT walk into that room or stage without rehearsing your talk. In my professional experience, I have learned that my stage fright is inversely proportional to my amount of preparation. There is a reason behind the old theater adage of “practice, practice, practice”, and the number three is quite relevant here. I believe that when you run through your material at least three times, you begin to integrate the concepts in a way that dramatically builds confidence. At the very least, practice at least one time more than you typically do (which often means one time!)

I frequently encounter resistance from my workshop students when expressing the importance of preparation due to a lack of time. I advise my workshop students to adopt a mindset that practicing your presentation is as critical as creating a slide deck or showing up to speak. If we treat preparation with the same degree of importance, pockets of time begin to reveal themselves.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?

I am a super crunchy-granola closet hippie and amateur homesteader, which means I cook almost everything I eat from scratch. I love adapting traditionally indulgent foods like muffins and pancakes to a nutrient-dense Paleo template, it’s one of my great passions. I also adore crafting fun treats like homemade gummy candy and beef jerky with my budding toddler chef!


The Presentation Panda: How I Work series asks presentation heroes, experts, and flat-out awesome people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. If you would like to be featured or have someone you want to see featured contact us here.

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5 Clever Ways to Present Data Effectively in PowerPoint (With Awesome Examples)

best tips for effectively presenting data in powerpoint

Unless you’re numbers oriented, looking at data is very BORING. That’s why it’s your job to make the data not boring!

To help get you on the right path, we are going to cover 5 smart tips on how to present data effectively in your next PowerPoint presentation.

Believe it or not, beyond trying to help people fall in love, Match.com has made us fall in love with their data presentation skills based on their recent ppt survey report, Singles in America, which presents insightful data about singles, dating, and more.

Let’s go through some slides examples from their survey presentation and discuss what they did right!

PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #1 – Mix and Match

best way to present data in PowerPoint - tip #1 - Mix and Match

Looking at their slides, we love the way they mixed up their presentation of the data, using numbers on one side and a simple chart on the other. It flows really nicely, and they make sense together, but it mixes up the style just enough to keep you engaged.

Charts can be super helpful – they are great for when you are trying to talk while your audience is looking at the slide. You can use them as a visual aid to complement what you are talking about, instead of the text on the slide competing with the words coming out of your mouth.

Charts are also often a very clear way to present your data because the visual cues are a lot easier to get across. You can use a couple nice colors to make it stand out, and easily compare things like profits across years or responses across different ages. That kind of stuff is hard (and boring) to present using just text.

But not all data is like that. You see in the slide above that they are highlighting numbers from just one group, or results from a single question. This is an excellent example of how to present numbers in an interesting way. It looks great to have the text with the number highlighted by being a bit bigger. Those are some impressive stats, too, which draws the eye right to it – 270% is quite the attention-getter.

But to mix things up on the other side of the slide, they presented the data in a simple donut chart. It’s a really nice visual contrast to the left half of the slide and makes the slide as a whole way more inviting and engaging. Wouldn’t you agree?

As a side note, we also love their overall presentation on the slide here. The text both complements the slide and stands out, and they used one of our tips that we recommend in this article about how to overlay text on an image: the white text on a transparent shape technique. It allows the image to still show, but be more in the background, and really lets the text pop. It is an easy way to use an image that is super relevant, but too busy to put text directly on.

PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #2 – Avoid the PPT Default Trap

data visualization in PowerPoint - tip #2 - Avoid the default trap

Sure, the PowerPoint default chart is easy. But it is also boring, and you are better than that!

For all the effort you put into creating amazing slides, you do not want to just slap your results into a basic, default chart (with the same tired default color scheme) and be done with it. You want to go beyond the standard PowerPoint chart defaults and look for CREATIVE ways to display your information.

If you look, you will see that there are defaults for everything; there are even PowerPoint presentation templates for surveys. But who wants to present their survey the way everyone else is?

Using the default charts is easy, sure. But it just does not look that great – it takes a little more effort to make them look awesome. Expert presentation designers always find a way to go above and beyond the standard formatting that PowerPoint provides.

Taking a look at our example, notice how the pie charts have their own unique style to them. The minimalist style, with the larger yellow portion representing the results, contrasted against the smaller blue portion, is fantastic and very unique. There is also no data shown on the chart itself, but instead, it is shown in large bold font in the text underneath the chart.

Even when they present the data in the text underneath the pie charts, they keep it simple. They only highlight the important portion, and when they reference the percentage, the font color is the same as the corresponding part of the chart. The minimalist text really complements the overall simple presentation.

We definitely do not mean simple in the way that we refer to the PowerPoint default charts here. For sure, these took some work to make them look this great. The difference here is that the design is purposefully simple and clear, to enhance the presentation and make it easy to scan and get the key takeaways quickly. Ultimately, it is simple for the audience, not for you. But it is so worth it!

Another thing we love is their use of color. Notice how bright and fun the slide looks. They used colors that contrast beautifully (teal and yellowish orange) with the white text, which was an excellent choice. If you love these color choices but are a little confused at how to do that yourself, check out our list of tips on how to pick colors for your PowerPoint presentation.

PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #3 – Sometimes the Best Chart is No Chart

how to presen data effectively - tip #3 - sometimes the best chart is no chart

We know, that seems like kind of a funny tip on a list about how to present data effectively in PowerPoint – your mind kind of automatically jumps to charts and graphs – but just hang in there.

This is a bit of the “less is more” kind of advice. Sometimes all you need is the data highlights and a nice way of presenting them on the slide.

Look at the example slide for this – notice that there is no chart showing the proportions or anything. Really, it’s just a few stacked boxes with some text and numbers. If you’re wondering how to present numbers in PowerPoint, this is it. The background image helps a lot because it relates to their biggest finding, so it is relevant and creates interest.

Also, notice that there are only three data points on the slide. We bet the survey included a lot more answer choices – but who cares? The presentation designer probably ignored those on purpose. But why?

But why?

It is likely that they understand their data, they understand their audience, and they know that they just need to focus on the most important findings. Is the audience really going to care if 2% of singles got the best results when they flirted at their local zoo? The audience does not really care about the lower numbers because they want to know what to do and where to go to have the most success. These are the most important results, so those are what are shown on the slide. This is the type of survey results PowerPoint example that shows how you can really edit down the data and make the slide look great.

Do you feel like something is missing from their presentation? We don’t! We get the message, it is easy to read through and understand quickly. This is the information we want to know, we don’t need a complicated bar chart showing the percentage of EVERY option presented in the survey.

Also, as a quick tip, you may notice that the percentage of the three answers adds up to more than 100%. This means that they let their audience choose more than one option, which means it would not work as a pie chart even if you wanted it to.

When you have data like that, where the audience was allowed to choose more than one and your audience really only cares about a portion of the findings, a simple numerical presentation like this is the simplest and most effective.

PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #4 – Think Outside the Box

how to present numbers in PowerPoint - tip #4 - think outside the box - have some fun presenting the data

We know the phrase “think outside the box” is an overused buzz word but you really should be thinking outside the box and having fun with presenting your data.

Before you go running for the standard bar chart or pie chart, do a little brainstorming to think about some potential ideas of how presenting your data could be a little more UNIQUE.

It is geographical, like the example above? A map is an easy reference point, and it is just as easy to see what they are trying to get across. If your data is about a group of people, try using icons to represent them instead of the bar in the bar chart. There are all sorts of fun ways you can play with your data. Data visualization in PowerPoint doesn’t have to mean graphs! This is a really fun way to turn your survey results into presentations that are interesting and fun.

You can see in our example that it looks so much cooler than something you would see in a typical bar chart. We all know the map of the U.S. pretty well, and we know where we live. It is easy to see where those locations are, and they have them labeled on the right for clarity as well.

Of course, don’t go extreme with it:

We’re not saying you should always avoid charts – sometimes charts are genuinely the best choice for your data. All we are saying is to think about how you can present your data well. This especially applies if you have a ton of data to present (which is sometimes unavoidable) because bar chart after bar chart is going to put your audience to sleep. Experiment with different styles and colors and images to keep it interesting!

PowerPoint Data Visualization Tip #5 – Overlay Data Onto Images

ppt on survey report - tip #5 - intertwine your data with real world images

A super cool way to make your data look awesome is to find images that match the topic of your data and overlay your data onto the image. This will immediately cue the audience into what you are talking about, and help them remember it – and of course, it will look great!

Look at the slide for this example. The theme of the slide is communication, so the data is presented over the length of the megaphone image in the background.

This image is even a little more clever than that because it is talking about annoying dating advice. Who is more annoying than that guy with a megaphone, shouting useless cliches about love at you? This checks all the boxes for us.

Of course, creating slides like this takes a bit of effort. You have to find just the right image to work with your data and layout, and there are a lot of factors that go into that. On top of being relevant, it has to be high quality, with enough white space to write on, and not too busy to distract from the information. We know, it is quite a list of demands!

The end results, though, are worth it. If you pull it off, you’ve got an awesome and engaging slide with a clever visual cue sitting in the background. It’s really one of the best ways to present data in PowerPoint.


Presenting data in PowerPoint is fun stuff, right?

Hopefully, after reading this list of some of the best ways to present data in PowerPoint, you agree with us that it can be!

There are definitely a lot of things to keep in mind when you are putting data into your slide, but it is all in the spirit of creating a great presentation: make it beautiful, clear, and interesting.

Data is a part of that, and it is always worth it to put in some time into making sure it fits those criteria.

Here’s my question to you:

How do you feel about presenting numbers in PowerPoint? Do you use the standard bar charts and pie charts, or do you make it all your own? Or do you do a combination of both? Also, do you have any data visualization tips we missed or resources that really help you out? We would love to know what they are! Share them in the comments below.

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6 PowerPoint Tips and Tricks for Creating Effective Presentations in 2017

best Powerpoint tips and tricks in 2017

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

insert adobe illustrator files into 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

powerpoint selection pane keeps everything organized

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

animated charts in powerpoint look much better

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!


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!

powerpoint conceptual images

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!


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!

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, please remember to like and share using the sharing icons to the left.

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5 Incredibly Simple Ways To Make Screenshots Look Better In PowerPoint


Screenshots (also called screen captures) are often used in presentations to illustrate what the audience can expect to see on their computer screen, mobile device, tablet, or laptop at a given time.

Here at Presentation Panda we probably use the screenshot tool HUNDREDS of times a day. There are many screenshot tools including Microsoft’s Snipping Tool (that comes with Windows), Evernote’s Skitch, and of course there is the good old fashioned Print Screen key on your keyboard when you quickly want to take a screenshot of your entire screen.

So here’s the deal:

Rather than adding the “raw” or “naked” screenshot to your presentation like 99% of people do (yawn!) you should follow these simple PowerPoint design tips to bring your screenshots to life.

These “dressed up” screenshots will make your slides look better and your audience will thank you for it!

Let’s begin!

Screenshot Trick #1. The Contextual Image 


A great way of bringing your screenshot to life is by giving your screenshot some context by framing the visual on the device the audience will be using.

For example, if you’re presenting a new website and you want to show a series of screen captures, you can frame each image within a generic computer monitor (like the one in the image example above) to highlight how the website will look when someone is viewing it on their screen.

How to create this screenshot effect:

Option 1: Find a great image of a computer, tablet, phone, etc, and paste your screenshot directly over the screen of the image. Crop the image (as needed) so it fits within the screen of the device you’re placing it on. You can find great pictures of computers (like the image seen below), tablets, and smartphones on unsplash.com.

Note: This option works great when the device is front facing (like the image seen below) but is more difficult when the device is displayed at an angle (like the image seen above).


Option 2: Go to Placeit and choose from a huge selection of contextual images that you can drop your screenshot into. Placeit will then take your screenshot and auto-magically drops it into the photo.

Note: Placeit costs $8 to download a big size version of the image (Standard (1920×1440, 4:3 or Wide 2720×960, 17:6). If you plan to use the service on a more frequent basis you can also sign up for one of their payment plan options.

There are certain PowerPoint hacks to create your own Placeit type images in PowerPoint. We will save that for a later post!



Screenshot Trick #2. The Physical Paper Effect


Another awesome way to improve the look of your screenshots is to add a shadow effect that makes the screenshot look like a physical piece of paper. The realistic look created with these shadows will attract your audience’s attention. It almost looks like you could pick the screenshot off the screen and hold it in your hand!

Check out the video tutorial below to see how it’s done:

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Insert a Shape
Step #2: Change the color (use a dark grey color if placing on a white background)
Step #3: Give the shape some “Soft Edges” (within the Format Shape tab)
Step #4: Use the “Edit Shape” tool to modify the shape
Step #5: Right click and “Send the Shape to Back” (behind the screenshot)
Step #6: Move the shape around using your mouse or arrow keys for final placement

Screenshot Trick #3. The Small Bottom Shadow


A great way to give your screenshots a boost is to give them a feeling of depth. This bottom shadow technique makes the screenshots appear to be on a foreground above everything else.

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Right click the screenshots and select Format Picture
Step #2: Click on Effects
Step #3: Click on Shadow
Step #4: Select Preset Options and then select the “Offset Bottom” option

Screenshot Trick #4. The Angle 


Another way to improve your screenshots is to use the angle effect.

The great thing about these angled screenshots is that they can direct a users attention in a particular direction. When you angle your screenshots (like seen in the above example) you keep the focus on the center image.

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Right click the screenshot you want to apply an Angle effect to and click on Format Picture
Step #2: Click on 3D Rotation
Step #3: Select Preset Options and then select the “Perspective: Contrasting Right (or Left)” option

Screenshot Trick #5. The Glowing Background


If you want your screenshots to “standout” why not have some serious contrast with a cool looking glow effect. The glows in the background give a real physical spotlight feel to focus the user on the screenshot.

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Right click the screenshots and select Format Picture
Step #2: Click on Effects
Step #3: Click on Glow
Step #4: Select Preset Options and then select the glow effect you desire. You can then change the color of the glow to whatever you want.


Does that mean every single screenshot, image, icon, button and header text should have these sort of screenshot effects?

Of course not. The screenshot examples highlighted in this post work because of the contrast they make between real world objects (in this case the screenshots) and graphics (gradients, fonts, etc.).

These screenshot techniques are effective because they draw the audience to focus on what your presenting (product, service, idea, etc.) without having to over-design. These different screenshot effects also create depth, and present the screenshots in the foreground.

You may think that screenshot effects are a minor detail but they do increase the appeal of what your presenting to your audience. Judging a book by it’s cover may be wrong, but it’s what people do, so win them over with a well presented product within a nice looking screenshot.

Here’s my question(s) for you …

Do you have have any tricks for making screenshots look better in PowerPoint? Do you have a particular screenshot tool that you use? Sound off in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these screenshot effects? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more PowerPoint tips, tools, and tricks just like these? Here are a few articles you might like:

10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks For More Exciting Presentations

5 Presentation Design Tips for Amazing Looking Slides (Infographic)

5 Presentation Tools That Will Make Your Slides Stand Out

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The 15 Best PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts of All Time!


If you want to be a PRESENTATION HERO you need to work more efficiently and easily within PowerPoint.

This starts by knowing your essential PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts.

That’s why we have put together a list of 15 of the best PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts that we use ALL THE TIME when designing presentations.

These ninja like keyboard hacks will not only help you gain more control over your slides but will also save you lots of time!

Let’s begin with a quick summary and then go into each shortcut in more detail!

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#1. Zoom In or Out of Your Current Slide by Using Ctrl + Mouse Wheel Spin. 


Zooming in and out of your canvas is critical if you want to design your slides properly. By zooming in and out of your slide you will be able to get a close-up view of your file or zoom out to see more of the slide at a reduced size.

There are two ways you can zoom in and out of your slides:

The slow way or the fast way.

The slow way involves clicking on what object you want to zoom in on and then clicking on the magnification dial on the lower right hand corner of PowerPoint. This method gets the job done but involves a lot of mouse clicking.

The FAST way involves clicking on what object you want to zoom in on and then using the shortcut Ctrl + spinning your mouse wheel.

The way it works is simple:

Spinning your mouse wheel forward will zoom in on your current slide, while spinning it down will pull your view back.

Here’s a look at the canvas zoom keyboard shortcut in action:


Once you see the importance of zooming in and out of your slides you will be on the path of slide creation greatness!

#2. Reorder a Bulleted or Numbered List (Without Having to Cut and Paste) by Using Alt+Shift+Up and Alt+Shift+Down


While we don’t really advocate using bullet lists here at Presentation Panda we do realize that people still use them from time to time.

If you are going to include some type of list (a bullet list, numbered list, etc.) then you should know that there is a quick way to reorder your list if needed.

If you want to reorder your list simply place your text cursor next to the list item you want to move up or down and then hit Alt+Shift+Up (to move the item towards the the top of list) or Alt+Shift+Down (to move the item to the bottom of the list).

Here’s a look at the list reordering shortcut in action:


#3. Toggle Through Objects/Layers Using the Tab Key


When you’re dealing with more complex graphics and animations on your slide you need to be able to select certain objects on the slide quickly.

Selecting a particular object on your slide can sometimes be difficult when your graphics have multiple layers (objects overlapping one another).

When objects overlap one another, reaching the ones on the bottom of the pile has traditionally required workarounds, such as temporarily cutting or moving the ones on top. This can be quite tedious and a big time suck!

To select the particular object/layer that you want, all you have to do is keep hitting the Tab key until your object/layer is selected.

Here’s a look at the toggle shortcut in action:


#4. Undo Your Last Edit Using Ctrl + Z


When you’re creating your PowerPoint slides you are going to be making edits CONSTANTLY. There are often times you will need to undo your last action/edit.

You can either do this by hitting the undo button in the PowerPoint Ribbon or you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Z. If you want to redo your last action use the keyboard Ctrl + Y.

Bonus Tip: By default, PowerPoint limits the number of times you can undo an action to 20 times. You can increase this number up to 150 times by going to “File”,  select “Options”, select the “Advanced” tab and then increase the number (up to 150).   

#5. Select All Objects Using Ctrl + A


There are also times you need to be able to grab all the objects on your slide at once.

To do this all you have to do is press Ctrl +A. This will select all objects on the slide.

Bonus Tip: After you have selected all your objects you may decide that you want to deselect one or more of them. After you have selected all your objects (Ctrl + A) you can press Ctrl and then select the object(s) you want to deselect.

#6. Group Objects Together Using Ctrl + G


Grouping allows you to make two or more PowerPoint objects into a single ‘grouped’ object that you can more easily move around and manage on your slide.

To quickly group objects together, simply select multiple objects (you can do this by holding the Shift key), and with your objects selected, hit Ctrl + G.

To do the opposite (ungroup a group of objects) simply select a group of objects and hit Ctrl + Shift + G on your keyboard.

Note: only grouped objects can be ungrouped.

#7. Keep Proportions (Draw a Perfect Square, a Perfect Circle, etc.) by Holding Shift While You draw with the Mouse


PowerPoint doesn’t offer a square or circle AutoShape. You can try to create one, but there isn’t a built-in option that automatically produces one. Instead, you must start with the rectangle and oval AutoShape objects.

The next time you need to draw a perfect circle, square etc. simply hold down the Shift key and then draw the shape using your mouse. Be sure to release the mouse before you release the Shift key.

Bonus Tip: You can also hold the Shift key while you draw a line to create a perfectly straight line.

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#8. Duplicate Objects Using Ctrl + D


It’s simple to create multiple versions of the same shape or picture in PowerPoint, but when you use a shortcut, it’s even easier.

Simply select the item you want to duplicate and then press Ctrl + D.

Simple right?

Another way to duplicate an object would be to Ctrl + C (to copy) and then Ctrl + V (to paste). However, using Ctrl +D is much faster since it only involves one step instead of two.

Bonus Tip: You can also duplicate an entire slide by selecting the slide thumbnail on the left side of the screen and then press Ctrl + D

#9. Insert a New Slide Using Ctrl + M


Unless you’re planning on giving a one slide presentation you want to be able to insert a new slide quickly (as you will be using lots of them).

The quickest way to insert a new slide is to simply press Ctrl + M on your keyboard.

#10. Change Font Size by Holding Shift + Ctrl and use the Greater Than (“>”) and Less Than (“<”) Keys


Adjusting font size in PowerPoint is nothing new. But to quickly fit your text the way you want it, you can simply highlight your text, hold Shift + Ctrl and use the greater than (“>”) and less than (“<”) keys to make it larger or smaller on the fly.

Trust me. This method works much better than guessing and typing in the font size into the PowerPoint Ribbon.

#11. Insert a Hyperlink with Ctrl + K


Here at Presentation Panda we LOVE hyperlinks.

By getting creative with the hyperlinks, you can get a Prezi-like functionality of jumping around to different parts of your presentation.

An easy example of this is creating a table of contents that is interactive. You can use it to skip ahead to wherever you want in your presentation, and then go back to choose your next destination.

An easy way to insert a hyperlink into your presentation is by selecting the object you want to apply a hyperlink to and then using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + K. Doing so will bring up the box where you can then indicate the place in the PowerPoint deck that you want to link to.

#12. Toggle Gridlines On and Off Using Shift + F9 for Better Alignment


Using PowerPoint’s grid and guides will help you keep objects aligned.  There are several ways you can customize the grids including modifying the grid spacing, snapping of objects, and drawing guides.

There are times you may want to have grids turned on and other times you may not want to see them. Therefore, it’s good to know the PowerPoint shortcut for toggling grids on and off.

All you have to do is use Shift + F9 to toggle them on or off.

#13. Quickly Save Your Presentation Using Ctrl + S


It’s always smart to be saving your presentation frequently. I’m sure we have all experienced at least one occasion where we experienced an issue that caused PowerPoint to fail and if the file was not recently saved then we may have lost our most recent edits.

The fastest way to save your PowerPoint presentation is to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + S.

We use this shortcut so often that it has almost become second nature. We find ourselves hitting using the shortcut without even thinking about it.

#14. Move Objects in Smaller Increments Using Ctrl + Arrow Keys


Sometimes you want to place a graphic object “just so” on a PowerPoint slide, but as you drag it with your mouse, it jumps to a spot on its own. Of course, this is near where you want it to be, but not quite the right place.

This can be VERY frustrating.

The quick way around this is to use the arrow keys on the keyboard, (found on the number keypad) instead of dragging the object with the mouse.

These keys will “nudge” the object left, right, up or down, a little at a time, until you can place it just where you want it.

The default nudge setting is 6 points. Points are units of the standard type size. There are 72 points in one inch, so each point measures 0.167 inches – a very small measurement.

If the default setting for nudging is still too large for your purposes, you can make the increments of movement even smaller. Hold down the Ctrl key while using the arrow key (up, down, left, right). When doing this the nudge setting is reduced to 1.25 points, for finer manipulation of the object placement.

#15. Activate the On-Screen Laser Pointer in Slide Show Mode With Ctrl + L


In Slide Show mode, you can turn your mouse into a laser pointer to draw your audience’s attention to something on a slide.

To turn the laser pointer ON simply hit Ctrl + L. To turn the laser pointer OFF hit Ctrl + L again and the laser pointer will turn back into a mouse Pointer.

Note: you can only turn the laser pointer on during Slide Show mode. You can not turn it on when you’re editing your slides.


By knowing the essential PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts you will be able to efficiently design your slide deck in record time.

Keep in mind that PowerPoint has a TON of keyboard shortcuts that were not mentioned in this article. Rather than overwhelm you with all of the keyboard shortcut options, I wanted to focus on some of the ESSENTIAL ones that can significantly impact your PowerPoint productivity. 

If you don’t feel you need keyboard shortcuts, remember that slow, inefficient ninjas are dead ninjas. If you practice these shortcuts and memorize them you will wonder how you ever got by without them!

Here’s my question to you:

After reading this article do you have any additional PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts that you find particularly helpful?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these ppt keyboard shortcuts? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more PowerPoint tips, tools, and tricks just like these? Here are a few articles you might like:

10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks For More Exciting Presentations

5 Presentation Design Tips for Amazing Looking Slides (Infographic)

5 Presentation Tools That Will Make Your Slides Stand Out

Best PowerPoint Template - Professional PowerPoint Template - Cool PowerPoint Template - Influencer PowerPoint Template