You might not realize it, but there are tons of hidden tools in PowerPoint that can come in handy when you’re designing a deck. Here are our favorite tricks for saving time and adding polish to any presentation.
1. Import images as SVGs, not JPGs or PNGs.
If you import icons or graphics into PowerPoint as JPGs or PNGs, you’re creating two limitations for yourself: One, you won’t be able to enlarge an image or change its weight/thickness without compromising its quality. Two, you won’t be able to change the color of an image.
Thanks to a 2016 update, PowerPoint allows SVG images to be added and edited after they’re in a deck. This is a game changer for adding brand elements to a presentation. There are a few options for adjusting icons directly on your slides:
2. Use guides to line up items.
When you need to align items on a slide, there’s no need to eyeball it. PowerPoint has two tools—Guides and Gridlines—that can line up objects perfectly. To add horizontal and vertical center lines to your deck, go to View > Guides. To add more guiding lines, go to View > Gridlines.
3. Align objects on a slide.
If you’re not a fan of Guides or Gridlines, you can also use the Align tool to line up objects on slides. To do this, hold down the Shift button and click all of the objects you want to align. Next, click Format > Align and select your preference for horizontal and vertical alignment.
4. Add a transition between slides.
Adding a transition between slides is a simple way to make your entire presentation look and feel more professional. There are tons of transition options in PowerPoint, but we tend to use the “Fade” option most often because it has a smooth, subtle effect. That said, certain brands or audiences may call for a transition that feels more boisterous. For example, the “Wipe” transition could work well in a deck for a car wash company, and “Page Curl” might be nice for a presentation that features a book publisher.
Pro tip: To add transitions to every slide in a deck, select a slide in the left-hand pane and hit Command + A (on a Mac) or CTRL + A (on a PC) to select all slides in the deck. Choose the transition you want and set the Effect Options to “Smoothly.”
5. Keep animations simple.
To make your presentation feel professional, keep your animations simple. We tend to avoid the animations listed under the “Exciting” category (such as Boomerang, Bounce, Pinwheel and Spiral In) and opt for simpler options, like Fade or Wipe. Like transitions, this rule can be broken depending on your presentation’s content and audience.
6. Use gifs wisely.
To add some interesting movement to your slides, use cinemographs—that is, high quality, animated gifs—as slide backgrounds. It’s easy to find these; use the keyword “cinemographs” in your search engine to get a range of options. Once you’ve found the right gif, save it to your computer and select Insert > Picture to add it to your deck, much like you would with a regular image. Not only will this simplify your workflow, but it will make your file size much smaller than if you were to use video.
Have another trick you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it.