10 PowerPoint Productivity Tips & Tricks

“Oh no! Not another boring PowerPoint presentation to update…” Love it or hate it, PowerPoint is ubiquitous when it comes to formal presentations. Whether you have to produce a financial report, an audit report, due diligence questionnaires, update a pitch book or a portfolio review, there comes a time when you will have to use this tool. Indeed, PowerPoint is on at least 1 billion computers worldwide!

Who has never been frustrated by how tedious slide design could be, and how long it can take to esthetically perfect a slide. Most of the PowerPoint users must choose between spending tremendous amounts of time on their slides or creating a basic, minimalist deck that risk sacrificing the effectiveness of the message. This article showcases a selection of PowerPoint tips and tricks, which will enable you to become quicker at using the tool. It will hopefully also prevent you from sacrificing effective messaging in an effort to save time!

1. Customise your Quick Access Toolbar

2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts

3. Resize Multiple Objects or Shapes at Once

4. Identify and Match Exact Colours

5. Fit Text into a Shape

6. Generate lorem ipsum Text in a Shape or Text Box

7. Easily Capture Screenshots

8. Increase the Number of Undo Allowed

9. Type Faster with Custom Autocorrect Shortcuts

10. Pay attention to Design

Customise your Quick Access Toolbar

The first step to becoming a PowerPoint master is building your Quick Access Toolbar. It is a customisable toolbar sitting above the ribbon, where you can add your favourite and most frequently-used commands. Invest five minutes to set it up, and you will not regret it: it will pay out each time you use PowerPoint thereafter.

Simply click the white downwards-facing arrow above your ribbon. Then click “More Commands”, choose commands from “All Commands”, select and add your favourite commands. If you want to remove any commands, simply select the command and hit “Remove”.

quick access toolbar

Our advice: The Format Painter and the alignment tools are nice-to-haves in your Quick Access Toolbar that can save you a lot of time!

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts can be live-changing. Once you realise you do not have to manually perform these actions, you will not look back. Generally, utilising PowerPoint does not require memorising as many keys as Excel does, but there are a few that you should be aware of :

Keyboard Shortcuts

Resize Multiple Objects or Shapes at Once

Have you ever used multiple shapes or images in a slide, and every time you want to change their collective size you are messing up the proportions? There is a solution for that. First, group all the objects together. To group, highlight all objects and either right click “Group“, or highlight and hit ALT + G. Then, adjust the size with your mouse while holding SHIFT to keep the proportion. This will help you resize and fit multiple objects without distorting the original proportions and shapes.

resize multiple objects

For the UpSlide users, the “Arrange“, “Swap” and “Smart Painter” features can help you organise your shapes or images in one click: optimise the position of your boxes on your slide automatically, easily switch your shapes from one place to another and apply your brand colours to your shapes.

UpSlide features

Identify and Match Exact Colours

You need to utilise a specific, custom colour but you cannot seem to find it in the colour palette. Homogenisation is very important when building a corporate presentation and you do not want to get caught using an off-brand shade!

The eyedropper tool can help you. It quickly identifies the exact colour you are looking to match and applies it to the text or object you are trying to change. While format painter can be helpful for applying the exact same formatting (size, colouring, etc.) from one object to another, sometimes you might only be looking to apply the same colour. A common use case for this tool is for pitch books. If you are looking to match the theme of the presentation to the potential customer/partner’s logo, the eyedropper tool can prove invaluable.

Select the shape you want to change, click on the colouring format, select the eyedropper tool. Using the eyedropper tool, hover over the colour you want to copy. When the colour’s identification appears, click the colour you want. Just like that, your shape will be the same colour of your customer’s logo, making your presentation more personalised!


>> Read more: How-To Guide: Link Excel To PowerPoint

Fit Text into a Shape

You are typing a text label into a shape, but the text does not fit and breaks the word into two lines. Who has never encountered such a frustrating situation? There are two ways to go about it without wasting valuable time:

Option 1: Right click on the shape, “Format the shape”. Change the text margins to “0” from the left, and “0” from the right. Nine times out of ten, this will solve your issue.

Option 2: Insert a text box over the original shape (text box should use a transparent background) and type directly into the text box. The text will show up over the shape and you will be able to easily change the size, orientation and form of the text box.

fit text into a shape

Generate lorem ipsum Text in a Shape or Text Box

Very often when using PowerPoint, you quickly add placeholders to show where the text is going to be. For random text, you can go to a website and copy paste the famous lorem ipsum paragraph, but you can also generate it directly from PowerPoint and save a few minutes!

Just pick any shape, type “=lorem(x) (where x is the number of paragraphs you desire) and hit Enter.  Alternatively, if you are not fond of Latin, you can use the “=rand(x,y)” function instead. Type “=rand(2,3)” to generate 2 paragraphs with 3 sentences each. Your shape will be filled with random text, preventing you from one more copy-paste.

Easily Capture Screenshots

If you need to insert a screenshot of your company’s website or a customer example, PowerPoint makes it easy to grab screenshots. On the “Insert” tab, click the “Screenshot” icon, and you will see a thumbnail of each of your currently open windows. Resize the window to show exactly what you want first, then come back and select it – it will get dropped into the slide you are editing.

Screenshot Tool

Just like that, you saved 5 minutes and avoided to switch between screens several times!

Increase the Number of Undo Allowed

Undoing previous actions in PowerPoint is something you have to do dozens of times every day. If you have tried to undo multiple actions, you probably had the painful experience to see that you are limited to 20 undos. After that, you are stuck and all you can do is manually changing back everything else. This can be time-consuming and adds no value at all. The good news is, you can change that limitation to the number of undo you want!

Go in your PowerPoint “File” tab, “Options“, and in the “Advanced” section you will find the “Editing  options” where you can increase or decrease the maximum number of undo. The minimum number is 3 and the maximum is 150 undos. However, before you increase it up to 150 undos, keep in mind that a high number of undos can reduce performance and slow down PowerPoint…

Increase the number of Undos

Type Faster with Custom Autocorrect Shortcuts

If you are typing very often the same long and/or complex words, then this tip if for you. You can define yourself custom shortcuts that will be used by PowerPoint’s Autocorrect tool.

Go in the PowerPoint “Options“, “Proofing“, “Autocorrect Options“. Then you can enter new combinations of characters to replace by a word (or even a phrase) of your choice.

The next time we want to type “Due diligence questionnaire” in a presentation, we will just need to type “D/D/Q” and press the space bar, the Autocorrect tool will do the rest. But you can go much further and use shortcuts to be replaced by entire sentences.

Pay Attention to Design

PowerPoint offers all sorts of ways to add visual “flash” to your slides: fades, swipes, flashing text, etc. Avoid the temptation to spend hours dressing up your slides with cheesy effects and focus instead on simple design basics.

• Prefer a sans serif font for body text: Sans serifs ‘like Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri) tend to be the easiest to read on screens. If your company’s graphic charter offers several fonts, choose the simplest one.

• Put dark text on a light background: Again, this is easiest to read. If you must use a dark background – for instance, if your company uses a standard template with a dark background – make sure your text is quite light (white, cream, light grey, or pastels) and maybe bump the font size up two or three notches.

• Align text left or right: Centered text is harder to read and should be reserved for important, impactful quotes. Line up all your text to a right-hand or left-hand baseline – it will look better and be easier to follow.

• Avoid clutter: A headline, a few bullet points, maybe an image – anything more than that and you risk losing your audience as they sort it all out.

Use the SlideCheck

Even if you paid a lot of attention to details, typos may still appear from time to time.

SlideCheck, by UpSlide, reviews your presentation to ensure your content is up-to-date and meets design quality standards. Warnings are grouped by slides and by type. Hovering over a warning displays a preview of what is wrong directly on your slide. The list of potential warnings are: double spaces, misaligned shapes, empty placeholders, outdated library slides or shapes, punctuation spacing…

The Slidecheck Feature

Try the Slide Check for free now!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments