Designing presentations like a pro

Building presentations

July 27, 2022

Let your slide design speak for you.

The problem with building a professional-looking slide deck is it can take hours. For businesses that give presentations regularly, this can add up to hours of design time and eat up staffing budgets. 

The good news is tools like PowerPoint have hundreds of hacks and tools you can use to speed up the design process. In this guide, you'll learn how to use PowerPoint's inbuilt tools efficiently and build professional PowerPoint presentations quickly. 

Let's dive in ⬇️

Table of contents: 

Coming Soon.

Why efficient presentation building is so important

Before building a presentation, there will always be the same questions: how long will it take and what budget should we expect to pay?

The answer is it all depends on what type of presentation you're building. 

Professionals on Quora say budget at least ten to twenty hours per hour of speaking if you plan to build a top-class presentation. Others say standard slides will take around 30 minutes, while more complex slides with data and statistics can take hours. One thing professionals agree on is a successful presentation must:

  • Be designed by the set deadline
  • Have a professional, quality look
  • Stay within budget
  • Include data, imagery and design techniques to make it more engaging

The last point is an important one. As researcher and consultant Alexandra Samuel explains, adding data to a presentation makes it more credible and visually compelling. 

“Knowing how to develop and deliver a data-driven presentation is now a crucial skill for many professionals, since we often have to tell our colleagues stories that are much more compelling when they’re backed by numbers,” she says. 

Efficient designers know building an engaging presentation doesn't have to take a week. Using Powerpoint's shortcuts and hacks, you can cut the amount of hours it takes to build a presentation without sacrificing quality. 

Let's start with a list of shortcuts used by pros to design a professional presentation ⬇️

7 shortcuts to professional presentation design

The quickest way to design faster in PowerPoint is with shortcuts—and the pros know it. 

Here are seven shortcuts to design presentations faster ⬇️

1. Using access keys 

Access keys are shortcuts pre-built into your keyboard when you open PowerPoint. 

Although the key tips will depend on your ribbon layout, to open it, just press ALT: 

From there, you'll be able to use shortcuts to change font and colors, align text paragraphs and create new slides. For example, if you hit the following combination:

 

It'll open up the text editor. You can then scroll through different fonts until you find one you like to change the selected text. 

2. Quick select text

Formatting text on numerous slides and switching between the mouse and keyboard can get cumbersome. 

The quick select text shortcut highlights words, sentences, or entire paragraphs without having to use the mouse at all. Just hold down the following combination: 

You can then move between the selected text using the left and right arrow keys until the right section is highlighted. A quick hack is when the same keys are used with control, it quickly selects an entire word to save time. 

3. Move objects between layers

Presentations can have multiple items, like text boxes and images, on each slide.  

These elements are called layers. When designing a presentation, overlapping objects need to be moved frequently. To do this, select the object you want to move and push the following shortcut:

This will send the selected object, text box or images to the front or back by one position. 

4. Resize the dimensions of objects

Images, shapes and graphs will need to be resized to fit a slide's design or create enough whitespace to make it look professional. 

Simply hit the following command to shift the chosen object and reshape it quickly: 

5. Changing the order of bulleted text

Bullet points on a list can be moved around a slide without copying and pasting each one separately.

First, hit this command on your keyboard: 

 

A bullet point can then be moved up or down the list until it is at the spot you prefer.

6. Aligned paragraphs

A neatly aligned paragraph makes text easier to read and gives your presentation a professional look. 

Simply hit CTRL + Shift, and then use R/L/J/E to choose the right position: 

7. Resizing fonts

The last hack on our list is a really quick way to resize fonts on a slide. 

Apart from headings on a slide, you should aim to behave body text the same size. Just hit this command: 

This will automatically resize the selected text on your PowerPoint slide. 

With these seven hacks, you'll save hours of time when designing your next presentation and deliver professional results on time.

5 PowerPoint tools and hacks

PowerPoint offers over 450 different tools and features to help you create professional slide decks faster.

However, a lot of these tools are hidden or underutilized. Here are the top five hacks used by pros to design presentations more efficiently 👇

1. Build a quick access toolbar

PowerPoint allows you to build and customize a quick-access toolbar to make easy changes to text, images and layouts. 

The quick access toolbar gives you instant access to helpful features like: 

  • Alignment. Align objects to the middle, right, left, top, and bottom of each other. 
  • Distribution. Distribute multiple objects or shapes across a slide horizontally or vertically. 
  • Rotation. Rotate text boxes, shapes, images, and other elements on a slide. 
  • Bring and send. Arrange multiple objects behind one another in layers. 
  • Sizing. Convert multiple objects to the same size across a slide

The toolbar sits above the ribbon, and you can add your favorite, frequently used commands by clicking the white downward facing arrow about the ribbon: 

Then, click More Commands. This will open up a selection of commands for you to choose from. If you want to add or remove any commands, simply follow the process from the start. 

2. Power up your presentations with Add-ins

Add-ins are essentially helpful apps you can add to your PowerPoint software to supplement missing features or tools. 

Inside the Microsoft Store, there are hundreds of Add-ins available. To find the right one for your needs, simply search what you're looking for in the search bar: 

When you find one you like, just click Add and it'll be integrated into your PowerPoint tool. 

3. Use elbow connectors to draw arrows

PowerPoint's elbow connector feature allows you to draw arrows and join objects (like headshots or text boxes) on a slide. 

The elbow connectors automatically snap to the center of an object to save you time and can be formatted in different colors and sizes. Here's an example of a quick organizational chart that's been built using elbow connectors: 

To make it, the designer clicked on the toolbar ribbon, inserted a shape in the line category and selected elbow connector arrows. Easy!

4. Screen capture

Adding screenshots to a presentation is a quick and easy way to communicate a specific scenario or example to your audience. 

PowerPoint has an inbuilt screen capture tool so you can record your screen and import it to a slide. First, click on the insert tab, select the media section and hit screen recording. A red box like this will appear on your screen: 

From there, simply move the box until it captures the area you want to capture and hit record. When the recording is done, the file is directly inserted into the slide and will play automatically during your presentation. 

5. Snap to grid

Finally, the snap-to-grid tool is a quick way to center objects so every slide is uniform. 

Click on the View tab and select grid settings. When you turn on the Snap to Grid, your slides will show background lines to help align objects: 

 

These same gridlines can be used throughout a presentation to help with symmetry and give it a professional look. And once the feature is turned on, it will appear in your quick access bar to save time. 

Try these pro hacks next time you build the presentation to take it to the next level

Use shortcuts to design your next presentation

Professional slide design can take hours—but it doesn't have to. 

You can save hours by using PowerPoint's powerful inbuilt features like quick access bars, formatting and resizing. The best part about PowerPoint's helpful tools is that they are completely customizable to your design needs. Just enable the features you need and access them from your toolbar each time you build a new slide deck from scratch. 

The recipe for designing a presentation like a pro is simple: learn the hacks, design a customized access bar that suits your needs and save time. 

Want to make your next presentation more professional? Check out Prezent's detailed article on advanced design presentation here.