5 Simple PowerPoint Tips

May 5, 2014

When you hear "PowerPoint," many connotations -- often negative -- likely come to mind. Perhaps this piece of software has forced you into late-night work sessions, high-stress mornings before a conference or even malfunctions in the boardroom.

But imagine a world where PowerPoint could help empower you. That's what it's supposed to do, of course. Here are 5 simple tips that will help you leverage PowerPoint like a true presentation design expert:

1. Align Objects

When you have multiple icons or photos on a slide, make sure everything is arranged in a beautiful, professional and orderly manner. You can make sure this is the case by following these simple steps:

1. Select the objects that you want to align
2. Select ‘Arrange’ in the home menu bar
3. Go to the bottom tab that says Align or Distribute
4. Select the alignment option you want

2. Simplify Charts and Graphs

When utilizing charts and graphs in PowerPoint, don’t just opt for the generic elements. You need to customize them to match the color and style of your brand. Also, when you first create a chart or graph in PowerPoint, it automatically provides standard numbers and labels that you might not need. Eliminate these numbers and reduce the clutter in order to keep your charts clean, simple and to the point. When you have a chart picked out, follow these suggestions:

1. With the chart selected, go to the chart layout tab. Here you can change the layout of all the labels, as well as take them out completely
2. If you go to the format tab, you can change the colors of the charts as well as add effects like shadows and custom chart styles

3. Custom Shape Your Photos

Did you know you can make your photos stand out by putting them into shapes? This can give your presentation some individuality and make it more customized. Follow these steps:

1. Select the image that you want to change
2. Click on the ‘Format’ tab
3. Choose ‘Crop’ and then ‘Mask Shape’
4. Select the shape you want your photo to be

4. Add Animations

Adding simple animations will add value and heightened interest to your next presentation. Beware! Too many complex animations can make things confusing and messy. Having just the right amount of simple animations and transitions -- one every 5-10 slides is a good target -- can make your presentation really stand out. Follow these instructions:

1. Select the object you want to animate
2. Go to the ‘Animations’ tab
3. Select an animation from the entrance effects. Pick one based off of the mood that you want to get across. Maybe a simple fade or float in
4. In the far right corner, select ‘Reorder’
5. Here you can reorder your animations as well as change the timing and effects options

5. Change the Size of Your Presentation

If you need a custom presentation size or if you need to create a custom banner or handout, you can do this easily in PowerPoint. Abide by these steps:

1. Choose ‘File’ then page setup
2. Change the height and width of the background and click ‘ok’

PowerPoint: You either love it or hate it. If you are in the latter category, I hope you’ll take steps to master this powerful platform -- it's worth it!

READ MORE: 3 Presentation Design Trends Every Presenter Should Know

About the Author

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki.

If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University. Find Scott on Google+.