9 Tips to Boost Your Productivity with PowerPoint

9 Tips to Boost Your Productivity with PowerPoint
Image credit: MIKI Yoshihito | Flickr

Almost every presentation at a seminar, business conference, company meetings, investor presentations, and even presentations to clients includes PowerPoint. It’s hard to imagine a presentation without one. In this context, strong PowerPoint skills for entrepreneurs become vital in getting their message across effectively.

Over two decades have passed since its introduction in 1990, and people have been using it ever since for their corporate as well as personal projects.

At times, it can be tedious to create lengthy presentations and a few shortcuts can come in handy to reduce the workload and make the presentation more appealing.

In this article I am going to list and discuss nine such shortcuts:

1. Start with an outline

There are many views available in PowerPoint to view the presentation and each view has its own designated purpose. The outline view helps you focus on the structure of the presentation. The individual slides are displayed on the left side with the main title of the slide and its contents. This can give you an overview of the entire presentation without worrying about the look and feel of each slide.

2. Make use of templates

Templates play a pivotal role in your presentation. Many users make the common mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel instead of using the already available templates. PowerPoint has an array of beautifully designed templates, which can be marginally modified as per the user’s requirements. The color code can be modified or you can create your own color code for a particular template. You can also purchase professionally designed templates at reasonable prices from several different vendors in the market

3. Build a library of commonly used graphics and charts

When you use PowerPoint frequently, many components in your presentation will be repeated like company logos, text snippets or charts. Hence, in order to save time, you can create an archive of all these commonly used assets.

You could use a strong tool like ShapeChef for this purpose. It is an add-in tool, which integrates with the PowerPoint window and aids you to build a searchable library of the logos, graphics, shapes, charts etc. You can even share this library with your teammates or even the entire company.

4. Use shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can immensely improve your productivity while working on your presentation. My top 5 shortcuts for PowerPoint:

Ctrl+D: Duplicates the selected item (much faster than copy and paste)
Ctrl+Y: Redoes the last action
Ctrl+G: Groups the selected shapes (Ctrl+Shift+G to ungroup)
Ctrl+B: Makes the selected text/shape bold
Ctrl+F1: Hides/unhides the Ribbon (useful for freeing up space on small screens)

5. Customize the “Quick Access Toolbar”

Located directly above the ribbon in your PowerPoint window, the “Quick Access Toolbar” lets you access and add commands that you use often. Once you find the command that you want to add to the toolbar, right-click on it and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”. If you want to remove a command, which you no longer use frequently, then right-click on it and select “Remove from Quick Access Toolbar”.

6. Pin presentation to the “Open” Menu

If there is a presentation, that you use frequently, you can pin it to the “Recent Presentations” menu instead of accessing it from a particular folder every time. To do this, click on the file option, this will display the list of recent presentations that you accessed. Move the cursor over the presentation you want to pin and click on the pin icon next to the title of the presentation.

7. Familiarize yourself with the "Selection Pane"

Selection pane is one of the less popular but very useful tools in PowerPoint. It can basically be used for two operations:

To hide certain objects in order to de-clutter a slide
To name objects so that they are easily identifiable

You can hide objects by clicking on the “selection pane” from the home tab and then selecting the object you want to hide. Once the object is selected, click on the “eye” icon to hide it.

In order to name an object, double-click on the object in the selection pane and type the new name. Click outside the name field and the new object name is displayed.

8. Quickly copy shape styles with the "Format Painter"

It is a vital tool, which helps you to quickly copy all formatting styles (color, font, shadow) from one shape to another. You can do this by selecting the text or picture you want to copy and then clicking on format painter in the Home tab. Then select the text you want to format and release the mouse button.

9. Use PowerPoint's new collaboration features 

One of the latest features from PowerPoint is that you can save your presentation to your OneDrive or Office365 Sharepoint account and share it with your team. The entire team can work on the presentation at the same time and avoids the task of mailing each other the file after every minor edit. To enable this, save you presentation and then click on the share option on the top right corner of the ribbon. You can add the people you want to invite to view/edit the presentation.


Using some of the shortcuts and tools in this article, you’ll be making your presentations more efficient, interactive and informative. A good presentation is not only visually appealing but will also help you get your message across clearly. It can be the difference between your audience falling asleep or actually listening to you.