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.
Do you know that SlideShare gets over 70 million visitors per month … and of that 80% comes from targeted search!
This indicates that SlideShare is a great opportunity to tremendously raise brand awareness and build a relationship with the right audience.
But, the thing is:
SlideShare is a highly underused. In fact, only 15% of marketers used SlideShare in 2014.
But those that are using SlideShare correctly (i.e., creating SlideShare’s that rock!) are reaping huge rewards. Heck, we’ve gotten over 1 million SlideShare views with only a handful of decks ourselves.
So today we’re going to walk you through all the steps of how to create an awesome SlideShare and get more eyeballs in front of your business.
Let’s get started with a helpful SlideShare creation tips infographic from Salesforce.com that nicely summarizes the tips we are about to share.
Here’s my take on the SlideShare creation tips from the above infographic:
Start with a clear message
First, identify the main message. What do you want your audience to learn? Then, break this message down into its simplest form. As you build out your deck you will want to make sure that all your slides tie into this main message.
Then, work from there to develop your presentation theme. You want something unique that connects with your topic and reflects what makes you, you. The theme should tie in with your message or your concept, or at least complement it. For example, if you’re writing about taxes, you’ll want to avoid an 80’s retro theme.
Create an attention grabbing title
You’ll need to give SlideShare a catchy title. It should follow directly from your main message.
Here’s some examples on the topic of presentations:
Here are a few more examples of title slides that work:
Ultimately, it needs to be immediately clear what you’re offering – save the metaphor for the content of the presentation.
Create a captivating deck of slides
Figure out the information you want to convey, and how to make that info flow within a compelling story. Group together the parts of the message that go together, and put it down in the most logical order – like, problem-solution.
Make the slides simple and easy to digest – stats are a great way to get the reader hooked, especially if you’re offering a solution to a prevalent problem. So your first slide could be something like: “80% of people are making pizza the WRONG WAY”. That’s the problem, so follow up with the solution.
Nail your cover slide
Next, we’re gonna go against the grain here and say do judge a SlideShare by its cover – you want your cover to rock because it’s the only thing (besides the title) that’s making people do that click thing with their finger. It should look stylish and include your title, and not much else. Way less is way more here.
This is one of the most important SlideShare strategies for getting views, as people will scroll through and only see your cover before deciding whether or not to click. So make it count!
That sounds simple, but we know it’s not. Stylish – what’s stylish? What’s a good theme? What’s a good color palette?
We knew you were going to ask that, which is why we put together this incredible list for you: The Best SlideShare Cover Slides of 2016. Just scroll through those to see what we liked, why we liked it, and get some inspiration for your soon-to-be masterpiece. This is a treasure trove of our best SlideShare presentation tips, so dive in.
We also have an excellent (you guessed it) SlideShare presentation on color! Check it out here. Color conveys emotion, sets a mood, and makes people feel certain things about you and your brand – make them feel the right things.
Perfect your slide design
Design, design, design! This is really where you want to shine. Spend time brainstorming the image you want to project, because all the design choices you make should reflect that, including color, font, and any graphics.
You should also use it as an opportunity to stay consistent with your brand – make sure to put your logo, URL, and social media channels on your slides. You don’t want it to be obnoxious, but you do want people to be able to find you!
Finally, on your last slide, make sure to include something for people to do (besides click on to the next SlideShare presentation, glazed-eyed and drooling a little). Typically you’ll want them to go to your website to find out more – so tell them to do that if that’s what you want!
Aside from all this stuff you should do, we have a list of things for you to avoid. Check out our presentation on it here, and avoid these common and awful mistakes. You’re ahead of the game already!
We get it. That vast, empty blankness of that slide can be really intimidating. “Less is more,” you think, “so I just won’t put anything.”
It can feel overwhelming to start from nothing, but you can do it! We have some excellent resources to help you out, too. These resources are basically guaranteed to help you find inspiration.
We’ve got a nice little variety on our list:
There’s Note and Point, for well-curated examples that tend towards a design theme. There’s Canva, which has a page dedicated to different layouts you can do. There’s Graphic River, which has tons of awesome PowerPoint templates for sale – not to toot our own horn, but our totally awesome template is on there and you should check it out (toot toot!). And of course, you can always browse around SlideShare itself for examples of what others in the community are doing.
Optimize your SlideShare uploads so people can find them
All of this advice is going to be about how to help people find you. You’ve just spent all this time and effort making an amazing SlideShare presentation – now you want to show off!
If you want a lot of people to find you, you’re going to want to go viral. If you want our in-depth list of tips for how exactly to do that, go feast your eyeballs on this. Not to brag, but we did get 1 million views on SlideShare. No big deal. Not like we’re experts or anything. (But seriously go read about it).
If you want the quick rundown, these are our recommendations:
Transcribe your deck and include your keywords in the transcription
Include SEO keywords that will drive traffic to your presentation; the longer and more specific the better. To help with this, make sure to transcribe your presentation into the notes tab – a lot of your phrases will organically drive traffic too.
Also, don’t forget to make sure your filename is relevant and also conveys the most important information – this will become your URL (and www.slideshare.net/mostboringpresentationever isn’t going to help you out).
Make your SlideShare findable
Continuing on the same theme, there are other strategies you can use to make sure people can find your presentation. First, make sure your settings allow it! If you have anything that is making it private, your SEO words won’t do anything.
You can also use categories to tag your presentation so people can search for those. The more relevant and specific, the better. Also, think about what you would search for if you were looking for your presentation, and add those tags in too.
Keep your audience’s attention
This one is a bit trickier, but SlideShare actually curates content to feature on their homepage – and they could choose you. Yes, you – it’s practically a Cinderella story.
Clearly, this has innumerable benefits. You have a much higher chance of people seeing your stuff, liking your stuff, and following your other stuff. Yay stuff! But how do you get the prince to take you to the ball? In other words, what are the ultimate SlideShare strategies?
Basically, follow all of our advice really, really well:
- Make sure your headline is on point. Say something shocking, indicate that it’s a list that can help them accomplish something or about stuff they simply HAVE to know about. You know what kinds of things make you click on them – model it after that.
- Create the most engaging and innovative cover slide ever. It’s a tall order, but your cover slide should be powerful, eye-catching, and straight to the point.
- Make your slides look awesome. Follow our SlideShare tips from earlier: use a consistent color theme, high-quality images, all that jazz.
- Write stuff that people want to read (and write it well). People are not going to want to feel like they’re reading the fine print on their auto loan. Make it suitable to your topic, but it has to be well-written and interesting.
- Be super clear about your message. Don’t waffle! Save that for breakfast. Get straight to the point and be very clear about what you’re offering.
- Make everyone want to be you. Think of the people who you admire and want to emulate – be like them for someone else.
The presentations that get featured tend to follow all those guidelines, plus be topical, super relevant, or in list format (we do love our listicles).
Be active within the SlideShare community
You want to engage with the community – don’t just throw stuff out there and expect people to come to you. Make sure you’re finding other people that are creating content you like, that interests you, and that’s relevant to your stuff. Then, let them know you like it by following them, liking and commenting on their presentations, and subscribing to their page.
You can also give them a shout out by sharing stuff you really like and embed their content on your site. You’ll want to read and respond to comments, too. It’s all about building a network and supporting the community. These are all ways you can learn how to maximize SlideShare for you and your business.
Measure your performance with analytics
Analytics can help you understand if what you’re doing is working. With analytics, you can look at:
- Total views: who is looking at your stuff?
- Social shares: where is my stuff being shared?
- Top countries: where are my viewers from?
- Top content: what is most popular?
You can also look at actions and traffic sources, too. Actions will tell you how many outbound clicks you’re getting, what presentations are being favorited, what comments you’re getting, who is downloading your presentation and who is sending it to their friends over email.
Traffic sources will tell you how people are finding you – if it’s through social media, searching on Google, within SlideShare itself, from an embedded link, or just a direct link to your site.
All of this works together to tell you where you’re marketing most successfully, and where can use some work. If you’re getting all your views through SlideShare, you know you can really capitalize on that population by focusing on it – but that also tells you that your other platforms aren’t working as well. Change it up, try something new, and see if that gets you the views you’re looking for.
SlideShare can be an awesome tool for your business, and if you use it the right way you can really get a good bang for your buck.
We love to use it not just to host our presentations, but to share tips with other people on the site and connect with the community. We hope this guide to SlideShare was helpful for you and gave you something to shoot for.
What do you use SlideShare for? Have you used it successfully for your business, or do you use it for something else? Tell us about it! Did we skip over something you love? Set us straight!
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.
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.
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. If you are reading this and are still not sold on the power of music during creative work, here are 21 ways music makes you more productive.
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)?
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.
PowerPoint vs. Canva! Could this be the most important debate of our time?
Probably not … but here’s the deal:
Here at Presentation Panda, we live for pitting two perfectly good software programs against each other in a bitter showdown fight to the death to see who wins.
We simply love looking at the pros and cons of different programs and while we do voice our opinions from time to time (looking at you, Prezi vs. PowerPoint), we think it all depends on what you’re looking for.
So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Canva and PowerPoint for presentations so you can make the best choice!
Canva – a fast and super simple free online tool to easily create slides
Canva was born out of a desire to make design simple for people, and it grew from there. It’s used for all sorts of designs, from social media posts to presentations (which is what we’ll be talking about here). It’s grown in popularity tremendously, and claims to have over 10 million users today.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, like we mentioned before. It’s simple. Like, really simple. It’s easy to understand, easy to use, and a great intro for people who have never tried to design anything in their life. And if that sounds too difficult, they even offer an interactive tutorial when you get started (that gets you up to speed in 23 seconds – what a time suck!).
Of course, with simplicity comes a bit of a sacrifice in features. The design ability is pretty limited – but again, that’s part of the point. With the small amount of features and that tutorial we mentioned above, it may actually be easier to learn than PowerPoint!
A Nice Selection of Preloaded Custom Fonts
Okay, on to something you hear us talk about a lot here: fonts. You’ll be happy to hear that not only does Canva have a pretty decent selection of pre-loaded fonts, but we approve of them! In fact, a lot of them are ones we highly recommend.
We really love this functionality. Not only is it user-friendly, when it’s combined with the search feature, it makes it super easy to discover image elements and include the ones you like.
We know what you’re thinking. We can read your mind. You’re thinking, “But Presentation Panda, this has to be a crazy expensive program. With that slick website and fancy talk about making design simple for everyone, they must charge a lot.”
Nope! They’re free.
If price is your biggest concern, you really can’t go wrong with Canva. You can use every single template Canva has for free, no sneaky “freemium” business. The only thing you would have to pay for is if you wanted to use one of the premium images they offer, and even then it’s only $1 an image.
Don’t want to pay a single penny? We feel you. They also offer tons of free images, so there’s no need to use the premium ones if you don’t want to.
Canva also has a premium pricing model for some extra features which leads us to our next point.
Canva for Work
For $12.95 a month you can get access to Canva for Work which will allows you (and anyone else on our team) to easily create graphics that are aligned with your visual branding — no extensive design training required. Using Canva for Work can save you time and ensure your graphics look awesome.
Before we start on this one, know that this is a premium option. But it’s really cool, so we wanted to share.
If you’re making presentations regularly for your business or the company you work for, and you have certain fonts and colors you use consistently, you can save them within Canva. This makes them easy to access and use instead of having to enter them in each time. If you do this a lot and you don’t mind spending a little money, this could be worth it.
Of course, no program is perfect. Which brings us to…
Yeah, this is a pro and a con for us. While it’s awesome that it’s so easy to use, the features are really, really minimal. Currently, the ribbon only lets you:
- Pick your font
- Make the font bigger, smaller, bold, or italic
- Change the color of objects or make them transparent
- Hyperlink objects
- Align text
Annnnd that’s about it. Simple, yes. For YOUR specific needs though, it may be TOO simple. We will leave that for you to decide!
Just because we like to have complete control over the fonts, colors, animations, images, and transitions doesn’t mean we’re control freaks!
Okay maybe. But all of those things come together to create a really amazing, unique, and personal presentation. If you’re looking for that special touch and really want to wow your audience, you may find it harder if you’re using Canva.
Maximum of 30 Slides
This may not be a problem for you if you have a short presentation, but Canva maxes out at 30 slides. We do like to think that less is more, but sometimes you just need more slides.
Features We Miss
There are a lot of great features on PowerPoint that we really love, that are sorely lacking with Canva. Included are:
Animations – you can’t introduce points one at a time, or animate any of the content on your slides. We do generally advocate going easy on the animation, but a little bit can spice things up! This makes it pretty static.
Transitions – it just cuts to the next slide, no option to insert a transition. Again, this can make your presentation feel pretty static.
Parallax scrolling – this is one of our favorite features because it just brings that next level of slickness and professionalism to your presentation. It’s a great way to emulate Prezi a little bit (without the dizziness), and that’s just not available with Canva.
Video – you definitely can’t record video with Canva – you can’t even insert video! You’re limited to images only for this program.
PowerPoint – a powerful (but still user-friendly) program to make some slide magic
PowerPoint is a household name. It’s sturdy, reliable, and even though it can be used for evil, we like to help people use its powers for good!
Basically, PowerPoint is a Microsoft product used for creating presentations. It has a lot of awesome features and is very adaptable to just about anything you want to use it for. And if peer pressure is your thing, an incredible 500 million people around the world use it.
Of course, it’s no secret that we love PowerPoint at Presentation Panda. In fact, our awesome template is made just for PowerPoint (plug plug plug). We may be a tiny bit biased, but we’re more than capable of recognizing the pros and cons of PowerPoint.
So what do we love and hate about it?
Yes, Canva is easy, but so is PowerPoint! Most of the functions are extremely user-friendly and easy to figure out just by poking around. It’s all organized really well, and the ribbon is easy to navigate.
PowerPoint is like Earth-based heaven for anyone that wants a lot of features to use in their presentation. The design features and possibilities are close to endless! The contrast really comes out when going from PowerPoint to Canva – we love our design features and really miss them when using Canva.
Yeah, the word is getting a little overused (cough, Buzzfeed, cough). But it’s true! There are lots of hacks and workarounds you can do with PowerPoint that can result in some stunning looking slides. Some that we love are animations to introduce your points one by one, custom templates (like are award winning Influencer Template), and inserting video clips to change things up and keep your audience engaged.
This one is easy – PowerPoint doesn’t play favorites. It works on every computer, simple as that. Your boss probably expects your next presentation to be in PowerPoint and if your company is a stickler about keeping info secure on a private server (i.e., not stored in the cloud like Canva) PowerPoint may be your only option.
If you need to whip up an awesome presentation and you’re on a time crunch, PowerPoint is the place to go. There are tons of design shortcuts like templates, ppt keyboard hacks, and easy-to-do animations that give it some pizzazz.
Speaking of video, it’s not only possible to insert video; you can actually record and play videos through PowerPoint.
Extra Control During Your Presentations
Even if you create a stunning looking presentation, it’s still possible for your audience to get a little bored. There are a lot of options for things you can do within your presentation to keep people engaged!
In addition to inserting a video like we mentioned above, you can create a hyper-linked table of contents so that you can jump from section to section, you can draw on the slide to get and direct people’s attention to a certain point, or you can use Control + B to turn the screen black and shift attention back to you.
Okay, enough of the lovey-dovey stuff. We’ve got some bones to pick too…
It’s always money, money, money with you! But it’s true, PowerPoint is certainly not free. Most people buy the entire Office 365 program (which includes other essentials like Word and Excel) for a one-time purchase of $149, or a yearly cost of $100 or $70 (depending on the functionality and different programs you want).
That can be a lot of money for some people. You can buy PowerPoint separately for $109, which makes it a pretty clear choice to just buy the package. But still, just looking solely at a money comparison with Canva, $0 vs. $109 is a pretty easy choice.
We gave Canva props for their fonts, which we’re going to rub in a little bit here. We are just not a fan of the pre-loaded fonts on PowerPoint, and they’re pretty limited. Canva is the clear winner in this category as well.
If you’re still in the PowerPoint camp but want more font options, it’s easy enough to download the fonts you want from places like Font Squirrel. There are tons of categories that are organized really nicely, so it’s very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.
What you’ll notice is that there are two decent sized cons with PowerPoint, and lots of small ones with Canva. It really does just depend on what you’re looking for – a fast and super simple free program to easily create some basic slides, or a powerful (but still user-friendly) program to really make some magic.
Of course, either one can fall prey to what we talk about a lot here, which are boring presentations with no creativity and lots of bullet points (we really hate bullet points). Whichever program you end up using, check out the rest of our blog for tons of tips on how to make a great presentation!
What do you think? When it comes to PowerPoint vs. Canva are you partial to Canva or PowerPoint, or do you use another program entirely? Did we miss any of your favorite features or biggest pet peeves? Let us know!
If you aren’t using PowerPoint 2016 already … you should!
Microsoft Office 2016 has received some pretty great reviews online and today we are going to be talking about the top 5 benefits of PowerPoint 2016 (which is included in the Microsoft Office suite) and why you need to consider making the 2016 PowerPoint upgrade.
Just imagine all the functionality and features you’re used to, but with added enhancements to help you create the most stunning slides.
You’ll be glad you made the switch.
So let’s begin!
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #1: Morph – a clever transition effect for making smooth animations, transitions, and object movements across your slides. We would upgrade to PowerPoint 2016 for this reason alone!
Morph Transitions in PowerPoint 2016 was created to take your ANIMATIONS to the next level.
It hasn’t created that much buzz yet but we think overtime people will realize how awesome this feature really is.
Simply explained, Morph allows you to SEAMLESSLY move an object from Point A to Point B. To move objects effectively you’ll need to have two slides with at least one object in common. An easy way is to duplicate the slide and then move the object on the second slide to a different place. You can also copy and paste the object from one slide and add it to the next.
PowerPoint then “AUTOMAGICALLY” estimates the difference between the two slides and applies a smooth animation between them. Play around with movement and transitions. You can use Morph to move objects, change colors, shrink or zoom into a particular view.
So, how can this tool be applied?
You can apply the Morph transition to slides and create the appearance of movement in a wide range of objects, such as shapes, text, images, and charts.
Check out the animated GIF below that we created to see the Morph transition in action. Pretty cool right?!
The direct transitions of Morph can be a very powerful tool to help you explain business processes or steps.
Morph Transitions is an easier way to animate without the use of complicated motion paths. But unlike motion paths, the transition takes the shortest direct route.
One thing to note about Morph, it’s an Office 365 subscription only feature. This means that you can only access this feature if you have purchased Office 365.
However, keep in mind that animations and a smooth transition between slides can mean the difference between captivating your audience or putting them to sleep.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #2: PowerPoint designer – suggests color schemes and layouts for your presentation, based on the picture you add to your slide.
Suffering from presentation design-block? Staring at a blank canvas and nothing comes to mind? Stressed about where to even begin? We know how difficult it can be to design a presentation.
While we have designed an award winning PowerPoint template and put together a list of top places to find presentation inspiration to get you started, PowerPoint’s Designer feature can also help make your presentations better.
So what is PowerPoint’s new Designer tool? According to Microsoft, “Designer applies cloud intelligence to analyze and identify the most compelling portion of your images to determine which blueprints work best with your content.” Wow! That sounds fancy, right?
Well the good news is that this time-saving assistance isn’t only about dropping a pretty graphic on a slide. Even better… Designer uses cloud smarts to analyze and highlight the most compelling portion of your images. Designer will automatically suggest a number of options for you when you add an image to your slide, instantaneously making your slide more visually appealing.
Check out the quick demo that we put together below to see how PowerPoint Designer works:
Of course you may still need to clean up the slide after selecting the design you like.
One of the things I like most about it is that it’s a really fast way of taking an image and having it fill the entire slide perfectly. Simply take a high-res photo, from somewhere like Unsplash, and paste it anywhere on the slide. Then, select “Design Ideas” from the Design Tab and select the option that takes the photo and fills the entire slide with it. That’s it and badabing! … PowerPoint fills the entire slide with your image. No more annoying (and sometimes inaccurate) image cropping!
Obviously this tool won’t design your ENTIRE PowerPoint for you (that’s what our team of Presentation Pandas are for :D) but similar to our award winning Influencer presentation template (seen below), and other presentation tools we often talk about, this tool can help. At least give it a try and see how you like it!
While PointPoint designer can help make your slides look better, there are a few downsides worth mentioning.
One downside is that similar to the Morph tool that we mentioned in reason #1, PowerPoint Designer is an Office 365 subscription-only feature, meaning you will need to purchase this cloud-based subscription.
Also, this feature will only work with Microsoft supplied templates, so we do not recommend using it if you have a custom template. And lastly, you’ll have to be sure you are connected to the internet since Designer goes online to pull design ideas.
Lastly, while PowerPoint Designer can be useful to some people, the design recommendations are somewhat limited. If your looking for a more robust solution we recommend checking out our Influencer presentation template that is filled with 200+ beautifully crafted slides.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #3: Tell Me – a clever little shortcut box that finds the right command when you need it, so you can save time and focus on your work.
At Presentation Panda we are all about smart presentation hacks and shortcuts for getting the job done better and faster! And we love telling you about them…
Microsoft Office 2016 introduced the Tell Me assistant feature. This tool is meant to help you navigate through the many options of Office 2016.
Remember 1990’s Clippy? The annoying little paper clip mascot that wasn’t all that helpful. Well, you can think of “Tell Me” as Clippy’s smarter and more attractive cousin.
The Tell Me What to Do text field is located after the last Tab of the Ribbon.
To use this feature, simply type what you want to do in the Office program. You will notice a drop-down menu open with suggested searches as well as recently used options. The little genie will not only show you how to do what you want to do, like a help feature, but gives you the option to do it directly from there.
For example, if you want to adjust line spacing, but haven’t memorized how to do it, just type it in the little “Tell Me” text field. PowerPoint will then provide you with your line spacing options faster than you can blink.
Here’s a quick demo that we put together to show how the Tell Me assistant feature it works:
So unless you have memorized how to edit every single thing in PowerPoint this tool will probably work wonders for you.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #4: Smart Lookup – brings research directly to PowerPoint.
How many times do you find yourself having to jump out to a browser to do a search for a definition, image or for inspiration? With PowerPoint 2016 you no longer have to leave PowerPoint to look up simple information.
By using Smart Lookup you can quickly learn more about text you select by seeing definitions, images, and other results from various online resources, including Wikipedia (all powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine). How convenient is that?
In order to use the Smart Lookup feature all you have to do is:
Right-click a particular word or phrase on your slide
Choose Smart Lookup and that’s it! PowerPoint will then bring up a side panel and show you more info, images, and other results about the word you just looked up.
Here’s a quick demo that we put together to show how the Smart Lookup feature works:
Using a tool like this can also help eliminate errors by quickly checking the facts or the vocabulary you will use on your slides. There’s nothing like an error free presentation!
You can also use the Smart Lookup tool to quickly find creative inspiration. Just be wary about using any of the images that come up for the image search results right away.
If you come across an image you like, be sure to check the license before using the image for your presentation or give attribution for the image if required by the author.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #5: Real Time Group Collaboration – When you share your presentation with others, you’ll see them working with you at the same time.
Collaborating with your coworkers on your PowerPoint presentations just got way easier with PowerPoint’s Real Time Group Collaboration feature.
What is the Collaboration feature? When you save your presentation to OneDrive or SharePoint Online for Office 365, you can work on a presentation at the same time as your colleagues. Pretty cool right? With real time editing you no longer have to deal with emailing edits to your coworkers (and vice versa) and then piecing all the edits together at the end.
Using the Real Time Group Collaboration is pretty easy. Just follow these steps:
Open your PowerPoint presentation, and choose Share in the top-right corner of the ribbon when you’re ready to collaborate.
Choose Save to Cloud and choose a location to save your presentation to.
Once your presentation is saved to a shared location, you can invite others to work on it as well. In the Invite people box, enter the email address of the person you’d like to share the presentation with.
If you already have the person’s contact info stored, you can just enter their name.
So what type of group collaboration does PowerPoint 2016 provide? Here’s what you can do:
See where others are working in your shared presentation – If someone else is viewing or working on the presentation, their thumbnail picture appears in the top-right corner of the ribbon. PowerPoint will also alert you when people enter or leave your presentation. You can instantly chat with the people who are working in the presentation by using Skype for Business. It opens a chat window for instant conversation. Choose the Skype for Business button to start a group chat with everyone working in the document.
Resolve conflicting changes – If there are conflicting changes, a visual comparison between your changes and the conflicting changes from one of your collaborators will pop up when you select Save. You can choose the changes you’d like to keep.
Document activity – The Activity pane lets you see the complete list of changes made so far. It also gives you access to the earlier versions.
Review Comments – Leave comments for other team members to see. Team members can respond to each others comments.
As we have mentioned before, getting feedback and input from others is a great way to enhance your presentation. As long as everyone is on the same page with the design direction, Group Collaboration simply makes the design process easier and more efficient.
As you can see there are many exciting new features that come with PowerPoint 2016.
Just remember, these tools will not do everything for you! But you can be certain that using these new PowerPoint features will take you one step closer to building the perfect slides and creating them in record time.
So, here’s my question to you:
After reading this article do you agree that features like the Morph tool or Group Collaboration can help make your PowerPoint decks much better? How do you think you would use these new PowerPoint features?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about the benefits of upgrading to PowerPoint 2016? 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? Here are a few articles you might like:
10 Reasons Your PowerPoint Sucks … And How You Can Make Your Presentation Amazing!
10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks For More Exciting Presentations
5 Presentation Design Tips for Amazing Looking Slides