PowerPoint Tricks: 5 Built-Ins to Blast Beyond the Basics

Posted on August 27, 2013 in Editing Slides, Slide Content, Slide Design, Technical PowerPoint Help, The Key to Make a Successful Presentation, Tips & Tricks by Toke Kruse

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Want to create a great PowerPoint presentation? Streamlining your content should be your top priority, but you can also rely on built-in PowerPoint tricks to make your slide design sizzle.

Keep reading for five essential PowerPoint tricks that will make your presentation memorable.

1. Make Your Images Pop with Shadow Effects

Beginning with PowerPoint 2007, shadow effects are a built-in option that looks as good as anything you could whip up on the side with Photoshop. In previous versions of PowerPoint, shadows were only available for text. Now you can add shadow effects to an object or image, too.

To do this, go to Picture/Shape Effects. Click the image, then choose the Picture Effects button on the Ribbon and select Shadow. This gives you a menu of shadow types and orientations.

If you prefer, you can also manually configure a shadow for any image. It can be fun to experiment with different shadow configurations to see what looks best. Just keep in mind that it’s most effective to use the same configuration consistently throughout your presentation – as if every picture in every slide were being exposed to light coming from the same direction.

2. Use AutoContent to Save Time

PowerPoint now gives users the opportunity to add an existing presentation to the AutoContent Wizard. That way, when you’re tweaking an old message for a new audience, you can let AutoContent do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Here’s how:

▪ From the File menu, select New and launch the AutoContent Wizard.

▪ Pick the appropriate category of content template to suit your existing presentation, then click on Add.

▪ A new window will open that allows you to search for a presentation file.

▪ Once you hit OK, that file will be permanently added to the AutoContent selections.

Now customizing the AutoContent options will be a snap, since most of the tweaking has been done for you.

3. Export Slides to Word for Easier Handout Editing

Handouts make a great leave-behind item for your audience. Too often, though, creating a good handout feels like arm-wrestling in handcuffs—it’s just too hard to get each part to cooperate.

The good news is that there’s an easier way. Just send the presentation to Microsoft Word, where you’ll have an easier time editing your slides to be handout-friendly.

Here’s what you’ll need to do. From the File menu, select Send To, then Microsoft Office Word. This brings up a dialogue box with send options. Click on Outline Only, then hit OK.

If you’re using PowerPoint 2007, the process is a little different. In the Office menu, choose the Publish option. Then click on “Create Handouts in Microsoft Office Word.”

4. Control the Presentation Pointer Without Distracting Your Audience

The default behavior of the pointer in PowerPoint is to disappear within five seconds of displaying a new slide. To get the pointer back, you have to move the mouse or trackpad in order to click the bottom corner of the screen—and audiences are not impressed by this kind of fumbling.

Fortunately, there’s a PowerPoint keyboard shortcut that solves this problem. If you want the pointer to be visible, press Ctrl + A. It’ll stay visible until you tell it to disappear. For the disappearing act, press Ctrl + H. It’s that simple.

5. Make An Image into Any Shape You Want

A fun aspect of newer versions of PowerPoint is the ability to convert a picture to the shape of your choice. This can produce a powerful graphic with clean edges, providing a meaningful visual contrast to your slide background. For specific instructions, check out this Microsoft tutorial page.

Learn More PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

For more great PowerPoint tricks and techniques – plus a few important notes on giving effective presentations – check out the Slideshop blog.


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