Three technical tips for PowerPoint that will make your life easier

I realise a lot of people will already know about these, but I wasn’t one of them! With the exception of #3, I only learnt about these tools in the last year. And I love them so much I wanted to share them.

  1. Group/Ungroup clip art

This is a great tip for editing and fiddling with Clip Art images. Say you find an image, but you only want to use part of it and it’s difficult to crop, or you only want to recolour a specific part of it. By ungrouping the image, it separates it out into the various component shapes.

For example, I wanted a block colour image of the United Kingdom. There was a clip art image of the UK and Ireland, but it had a shadow effect on it. By ‘ungrouping’ the image, I was able to delete all the black parts, leaving just the green.

123Group the shapes again, so they become a single image.

Likewise, you can group images or shapes on your slide, to make them into one single object.

  1. Drawing tools > Format > Align

I use the Align menu so much now I’ve found out about it. It’s got lots of options to line up objects, by aligning them to the left, right etc, and also distributing objects in a line and evenly spaced.

I want this image in the dead centre of the slide. Rather than dragging it around and guessing, I can use the align menu. Align centre and align middle to get the image in the centre of the slide.

5

In this next example, I’ve got the first and last images where I want them, but I want them all to sit neatly in a row.

I want to distribute horizontally

6And then align middle

7Tah dah!

8

  1. Save as PDF

When I was working in a university library, I used to save my presentations as PDFs when sending them to students. It’s just a bit cleaner and to me feels more professional than sending the original PPT slide file.

Ned Potter recommended this in a blog post for when you’re using non-standard fonts, and I suppose you could present from your PDF anyway! Ctrl+L goes full screen (or View > Full Screen Mode), and you can use keyboard arrows to move presentation. I hadn’t considered presenting from a PDF, but I think I might start doing this more. I can’t stand when you see a speaker load up their PowerPoint and you see the behind-the-scenes. I don’t know why I hate it, just do! It’s a pet peeve. Sometimes it has spoiled a ‘big reveal’ slide. And I’ve done it plenty of times myself, and I always hate when I do.

It only works for presentations without animations and transitions, but personally I don’t use these much anyway. I’m intrigued if anyone does this, and why? Let me know in the comments.