by Adam Noar
The challenge is on.
At exactly 3:42 on Thursday afternoon, your boss asks you to create a single presentation out of the several slide decks that the marketing, sales, research & development, and human resources departments have produced for the company’s quarterly meeting – which is tomorrow.
Before panic sets in, consider this.
Many experts would have you believe that the only reason to merge two or more PowerPoint presentations is to create a seamless and professional slide deck that conveys the impression you spent days weeks gave up a month of sleep, for heaven’s sake, just to produce a unified and professional collection of slides so each presenter appears to have worked in tandem with everyone speaking before and after them.
Ha! Nothing could be further from the truth.
The real reason for knowing how to merge PowerPoint files is time management, my friend, and nothing else. We’re talking about your time. Controlling how you spend the hours in your day will make you a happier person. Less stressed. More convivial. I want that for you, all of it.
Learn the master secrets of merging multiple decks, and you will have more time for the really important things in life, like attending extra meetings and visiting with your colleagues during work hours. You might even be able to leave work at a decent time today. After all, do you really want to copy-paste slides from two or more decks ONE-AT-A-FREAKING-TIME?
I didn’t think so, and that’s why I’m here. Grab your latte and let’s get started.
The one secret you must know
PowerPoint has a tremendous amount of smart features. Becoming familiar with them all isn’t for the fainthearted.
Using the presentation software can make you feel like the future pledge who shows up for Rush Week but has no idea about what’s really going on in the background. After all, it takes an incredible amount of planning and coordination to make sure everything, including you, fits within the culture.
Slide decks aren’t too dissimilar from frat houses and sororities; they are messy and disorderly until someone comes along and sets out the policies and procedures for how everything is supposed to go down.
Creating an official-looking, smoothly merged PowerPoint presentation works the same way, my intrepid design master. The only difference is that there’s a lot less beer involved, and the culture is really a theme, or the underlying concept that ties everything together. You’re the one who will establish the rules for consistency and orderliness.
It’s your party.
You are in charge of gathering all the slides, bringing them together, and fitting them into a single, neat and respectable file. If you’re as smart as I think you are, you already are using your company-branded PowerPoint Theme for the most professional look possible.
The background blends seamlessly, and the fonts line up like well-behaved ponies at the fair.
Just thinking about merging presentations can leave even the experts feeling overwhelmed, but in truth, it’s easier than it sounds.
Here’s how to “reuse” or “import “ slides from another presentation. We’ll take it a step at a time:
If you’re using a newer version of Microsoft Powerpoint, open one of the existing presentations you intend to use.
1.) Click on the slide that all the other slides will follow. Make sure you are in “normal view,” or no amount of clicking will help you.
2.) Next, go to Slides. Find the tab that says Home. In the upper left-hand corner of the New Slide icon, you’ll see a down arrow. Click it. Below that, Click on Reuse Slides.
3.) When the dialogue box appears, identify which presentation you’re importing.
4.) Click OK. All of the slides in the presentation you selected will transport into the new file.
And . . . you’re done.
Yes, it really is that easy. Shh, don’t tell anyone, especially not your boss.
All of this happens without you ever having to open any of the other files (timesaver, duh!). What’s even better is that reusing/importing/merging slides will not change any of the original slide decks. They remain unaffected by whatever magic you’re making in the unified presentation.
But I don’t need everything including the kitchen sink
Not to worry.
Even though ALL the slides merged into the new presentation file, you can delete the ones you don’t want. Just click on the unnecessary slides in the left window pane of the presentation. Delete them one at a time until you are satisfied with the remaining slides. Pulling out the slides one by one may take a little extra time, but you can be positive that you’ll keep the ones you want.
If you have several slides to delete – and you’re sure of yourself, group them and then delete the entire group with a single action. Click on the first slide and then depress the control key while clicking on the rest of the slides you don’t want.
Additionally, you can click on the first slide to be deleted, depress the control key and click the last slide in the series. Everything from the first and last slides selected will head to the trash file at once when you hit the delete key.
But wait, I want to vet and compare the slides
You’re meticulous. I appreciate that about you. Maybe you want to check each of the slides before accepting them in toto, like the bidders who have to accept the entire contents of a warehouse room in search of treasure on Storage Wars.
That’s where merging your slide decks comes in. Again, it’s an easy, step-by-step process.
This time, however, when you open the PowerPoint app, open one of the presentations.
1.) Click on Review.
2.) Next, click on Compare (from the group of Compare functions). When the Browse box prompts you to make a selection, select the title of the presentation you want to merge for comparison. Doing so will make a Revision Check Box appear.
3.) Use the Revisions window to look for Presentation Changes. The slides in your two files will appear side-by-side, where you can easily compare them.
4.) Accept or Reject the changes by checking the response in the Revision Check Box.
5.) When you’re done with comparing your slides, click File and Save As. Name the new document and save the merged contents.
Merging is a handy trick that makes quick work of comparing slides and creating optimal PowerPoint presentations. Of course, there are many workarounds, too, but I recommend merging because of the time it will save you.
Last-minute tricks of the trade
How does the new file look?
As pleased as you may be about your newly-formed, company-branded, professional-looking, ginormous presentation, you may have noticed that the formatting in it is off just a bit. Or even a lot. It depends on how much formatting needs finessing.
Usually, the slides you import, merge or even copy-paste (remember, there’s always a work-around) into the main presentation deck will adopt the look of the destination PowerPoint. However, you may find an errant subheading or title that doesn’t line up properly, and you’ll need to correct its position on the slide or adjust the color and size.
Relax, it’s a piece of cake.
Now it’s time to put a sign on your door (or cubicle) that says, “Pay no attention to that man (or woman) behind the green curtain” and grab the controls.
The control button you’re looking for is called Source Formatting, and it looks like this:
One click, and your troubles will be over, or maybe not. But at least your PowerPoint presentation will stop being so finicky, and each slide will look similar to those before and after it. That’s what will make you stand out as a professional presentation designer and maybe even employee of the month.
And since your door is closed, you can eat that cake in peace while you marvel at your successful presentation design skills.
You’re almost done now. But before you head into the homestretch, you may find the need for a little troubleshooting.
Hacks, troubleshooting, and advanced tricks
Your newly merged PowerPoint presentation isn’t always going to take off and gallop smoothly through the slides on its own like a riderless horse on a Houston freeway in spite of rush-hour traffic. No, it’s going to move at the terrifying speed of a three-toed sloth. Considering that these mammals move only 0.15 mph, the genuinely frightening aspect is that you may reach retirement age before the slide deck and all its merged content loads.
That’s because you’re folding in each presentation’s files, adding them into the destination slide deck. Some of those files can be weighty because not every presenter will know to clip the actual seven seconds of video they want to use. They’ll insert the entire dang video. That’s fine if it’s a vine, but a full-length video can be a real troublemaker.
You’ll have to stay at work long after everyone else has gone home unless you know how to trim things up a bit. You’ll need to compress your media files so they load quicker and play back more smoothly during the big presentation tomorrow.
Media File Compression
1.) Open the destination presentation file and follow these steps:
2.) Go to File, and click on Info.
3.) When the Multimedia icon appears, select Compress (Be aware that the compression process will strip away any subtitles and alternate audio tracks.)
4.) Select the video quality that suits your needs:
Full HD (1080p) Best audio and video overall while still saving space.
HD (720p) Good compression, decent image and video quality.
Standard (480p) Super-streamlined mode; best for emailing files containing video
5.) Save your presentation file when you’re finished.
Note: This feature isn’t available on MacOS.
Overweight media files aren’t the only challenge you might find in the new presentation file. It’s never a good idea for the pictures of your super-ordinates to appear stretched as wide as the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The photos should make people look good. To do this, you may need to compress them – the pics, not the people.
You’ll find the button you need in File>Compress Pictures. Compress them all at once or select individual pictures by clicking on them one at a time. Use this Microsoft chart as a guide for picture quality:
Printing: 220 ppi
Screen viewing: 150 ppi
Email: 96 ppi
Preserving the current resolution: Original quality
Note: By clicking on the Delete cropped areas of pictures, you’ll reduce your file size even more.
There’s a chance you may run into some other difficulties. Most of them are easily overcome by following general PowerPoint advice. Sometimes, you merely need to disable pop-ups or restart your computer. I recommend that you always have the latest updates installed before you begin any big project like merging PowerPoint presentation files.
And with that, you should be good to go.
Conclusion: Less daunting than you thought, right?
With this new skill under your belt and your presentation merged into a unified format that looks more professional than the suits down the hall, you can attend a few extra meetings or hang out with your co-workers. You could even invite others to collaborate with you on other PowerPoint presentations, but that’s another blog.
Maybe you’ll have time to look for other ways to show off your new-found productivity at work, or you could end world hunger.
You know you want to, and there’s still time left in your day.