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Supercharge your presentation design process in 3 steps

What can you do to speed up your design process for a deck?

When clients ask for an editable PowerPoint deck with a quick turnaround, every cursor movement and mouse click counts. To speed up the design process, and help keep your sanity, follow these three simple steps when approaching deck design.

Step 1: Set up Quick Access Toolbar for design workflows

PowerPoint offers UI customization to help you get to the tools you need faster and also subtle actions that help reduce your trips to and from the Format Pane.

Quick Access Toolbar

Right above the PowerPoint Ribbon lies the Quick Access Toolbar. Truly a gem hidden in plain sight. When positioning elements in a layout, you know better than to eyeball them. Simply go to Home > Arrange > Align or Distribute and carefully pick out an option. However, after 3 rounds, or 9 clicks, it becomes tiring. Doesn’t it?

Positioning objects from the Ribbon

Right above the Ribbon lies the Quick Access Toolbar, a PowerPoint gem hidden in plain sight. It is independent of the Ribbon. Regardless of which tab is active, actions hosted there are always available. To designers, that means we can have all the positioning options right in front of us. Instead of having to click 3 times to get to the desired positioning option, it takes one click to perfectly align the selected elements.

Quick Access Toolbar: to customize, go to Preferences > Ribbon & Toolbar
Align & Distribute Objects

When working with overlapping objects or layers, you can also use Quick Access Toolbar to quickly get to reordering and grouping options.

Reorder Objects

Step 2: Know these designer-friendly keyboard shortcuts

The same way you use keyboard shortcuts when designing a logo or illustrating a concept, keep using them when laying out a deck, too.

In addition to cmd+C, cmd+X, and cmd+V,  you might find it helpful to learn a few new ones. You don’t have to know every keyboard shortcuts PowerPoint allows. Based on your own experience, you’ll enjoy the design process a lot more if you no longer need to reach for your mouse to zoom in and out of the slides, show or hide Guides, group or ungroup elements.

Design-friendly keyboard shortcuts

Make sure to study these, memorize them, by using them whenever you get a chance. Your wrist and fingers will thank you.

Of course, there are tons of others you might find helpful in your workflow, so do explore. The easiest way to know if there is a keyboard shortcut for an action is to simply locate these actions from the menu bar and check. Maybe you need to quickly jump back and forth between the Normal and Slide Sorter view; cmd+1 and cmd+2 can be your friend.

Step 3: Group elements to help yourself and your team

You’d be surprised how big of a part “selection” plays in the deck design process.

If you are trying to move one of the three cards in a layout, you should be able to select the card with a single click and move it. Imagine clicking on the card background and clicking on the image and text block inside that card while holding down Shift. Somehow this text block is grouped with the other two, and now do you pause and ungroup them or do you go ahead and move the whole thing? It might not be a big deal if you only have one slide to deliver. What if you have 20 more to go and the deadline is end-of-day today?

Problematic grouping

Do yourself a favor and group elements with purpose as you design each slide. If a card has an image, an icon, and a text block, group them; if the paragraph has a drop cap and a rule, group them; if the slide has a customized table view, group at least each row or each column. Especially in the middle of a deadline, you’ll want to invest as much time as possible in the design process and save yourself and your team from the frustration of wasting energy with figuring out the “mechanics”.

PowerPoint is still the go-to presentation creation tool the business world favors. As a designer, you probably have been asked to “clean up” a deck, one that is information-dense and/or text-heavy. If not, trust us, it’s coming.

Buckle up and design it with warp speed.