Category Archives: PowerPoint Training

PowerPoint 2013: 3 Tips For a Better Presentation

what's new in office 2013

In the right hands, PowerPoint can be an extremely useful presentation tool. However, much like Excel, the low barrier to entry for PowerPoint means that anyone can get their hands on the software and that’s where the problems begin. Cue poor presentations and cringe moments. These three tips twinned with our other bite-sized tips will help you on your way to becoming a PowerPoint 2013 pro.

Zoom, Drag & Drop

Zoom in on an image, photograph, table, text and more with the new magnifying glass tool. Great for emphasising important parts of a slide, it’s reminiscent of the pinch and slide function on the iPhone / iPad. Simply click on the magnifying glass and select the area in which you’d like to zoom by hovering your cursor and right clicking. Added to this, you can also move the zoom area by holding down your left mouse button and dragging the highlighted area to another spot.


Jump to a slide

Another great feature of the acclaimed Presenter View, the Slide Navigator allows you to switch seamlessly between slides without the kitchen sink being displayed to the audience. Useful for all types of presentations, you’ll never be left flustered again when asked to jump to a slide. Just select the navigator icon and click on the slide you wish to open.


Laser Pointer

Merging the offline and online, the laser pen tool is a great way to highlight key areas of your presentation that you’re talking about. Particularly handy when talking an audience through a table of data, the pen has an endless number of uses. Simply select the laser tool icon (select cursor colour) and begin using your highlighter.


Want to use PowerPoint  like a pro? Attend one of Best STL’s PowerPoint courses available London and UK wide.

PowerPoint 2013: See What’s Coming with Presenter View

new feature for microsoft office 2013One of the most common questions in PowerPoint training is “how can I see something different on my screen to the audience?” The answer is complicated and involves multiple graphics card outputs. The Presenter View was added in 2010 but has really come into it’s own in PowerPoint 2013.

In Presenter View you can see the current slide as well as the next slide and your notes on your monitor whilst the audience only sees the current slide. This is one of my favourite additions to PowerPoint as you are certain what is coming next, avoiding that embarrassing flicking between slides as you work out where that topic is.

presenter view in powerpoint 2013

There’s a whole bunch of other tools underneath the main thumbnail, such as being able to zoom into slides to add emphasis, display a laser pointer to draw attention, and jump around the presentation without the delegates seeing what you’re doing.

How to: The Presenter View will be used by default. If you want to enable or disable it go to SLIDE SHOW > Use Presenter View.

Could you use PowerPoint over Photoshop for effective design?

For the design community, Adobe’s Photoshop is the go-to tool for image manipulation and design concepts. I want to look into whether it’s remotely possible to even consider PowerPoint as the more effective way to communicate a creative idea. The initial reaction may be ‘of course not, how could they even be compared to each other?’ In this post I will attempt to give my insight into why I believe you can use utilise PowerPoint as a creative tool, taking into consideration the user’s technical ability as well as both software’s strengths and weaknesses.

The UI (User Interface)

When comparing two different and contrasting pieces of software, looking into their user interface is always a good place to start. When you are placed in an environment where time is money and personnel are uncomfortable mastering new pieces of software – an interface needs to be clear and linear but also, most importantly, user friendly. I hope you can agree that PowerPoint boasts bold and bright navigation tools such as the ability to increase the user’s magnification through a simple drop down menu. Although visual accessibility may not be an issue for someone with 20/20 vision, if you wanted to utilise this option regardless, Photoshop does not offer an obvious option to do so.

photoshop cs6 and powerpoint 2013

A side by side comparison of Photoshop (left) and PowerPoint (right) respective UIs.

When using design as a communicative tool in a corporate environment, PowerPoint has many advantages. For example, Claire in HR may want to use PowerPoint to create a stimulating and original job specification for candidates. Supposing that some of you may be highly experienced in using Photoshop, outside of the graphic design industry, you cannot depend that staff are familiar with its user interface or feel comfortable thrown into a world of small icons, variable sliders and hieroglyphic symbols. Photoshop embodies this complex interface for a specific reason: its user interface is designed to fold into itself, revealing more options the deeper you delve into its functions. This requires time and patience to master, or Photoshop training. Now a lot of you may be thinking ‘well that’s fine, I will master all its tools eventually,’ but I prompt this question ‘Are you able to use PowerPoint’s tools to create the same outcome in less time?’ If the answer is yes then my recommendation would be to delve even deeper into the bold and bright realm of PowerPoint. If the answer is no it sounds like you have already become familiar with most of what Photoshop has to offer and are comfortable with its features. Honestly reflect on whether or not you have been able to creatively and accurately convey your message in Photoshop but more importantly whether you could have done this in PowerPoint instead.

Creative Features

The ‘Ribbon’ is PowerPoint’s key feature in my eyes because of its contrasting colour, organised alignment and clear functions, making it something that is immediately useful for the user. As you all know, Photoshop is the world’s leading software in image manipulation and creation. This allows the program to boast an encyclopaedia of filters, adjustment scales, brushes and blending options. For a corporate entity that appreciates design as an effective tool for communication but does not have the technical ability or time to learn a complex piece of software such as Photoshop, PowerPoint is ideal. PowerPoint offers many creative options that would suit this type of user:

Templates: you are easily able to select a pre-configured template that suits your purpose. For example a presentation on a member of staff’s quarterly review could incorporate a presentation with pre-built graphs or charts comparing performance to a previous year.

Templates extended: What’s more is PowerPoint’s ability to customise pre-installed or downloadable templates around your existing brand. Using the colour palette (when a template is selected) you are able to use the colour select tool which enables you to incorporate your company’s branding colours instantly.

colour design themes in photoshop 2013

Theme design colours allow you to customise the palette to align to your company branding.

Visualise statistics: PowerPoint offers much more than just bullets. With the ability to create infographic-style diagrams using PowerPoint’s ‘SmartArt’ feature you have yourself a modern and engaging creative asset!

Transitions: With Photoshop you are able to create incredibly complex animations using the ability to export frames into GIFs. To create a clean and well executed GIF for a loading screen, as an example, would normally take hours of design and development, whereas PowerPoint takes all the time and hassle out of the equation by offering a wide selection of pre-built animations. However do be careful not to over-do these: if they are used too often it can often detract away from the message you are trying to convey.

Smart Guides: These helpful features allow the automatic alignment of custom shapes, stock imagery or even text boxes Although you are able to do this in Photoshop, enabling these features can be relatively challenging when you have an entire menu of options to chose from.

powerpoint 2013 smart guides

The dashed Smart Guides allow you to align your slide objects with precision

QuickStyles: This feature allows you to make your images, or even text, slightly more dynamic in appearance. To add a reflection to an image in Photoshop you would have to duplicate the image and spend time with the blending and masking options to get it right. However, PowerPoint offers a one-click solution to add not only reflections but also shadows, glow, border, bevels and 3D effects.


Usability is another extremely important aspect in trying to produce something creative; after all you don’t want unfamiliar complicated menus to navigate if you have looming deadlines and deliverables. At no point do I want to come across as implying that Photoshop is a redundant tool in producing creative content, there is however a specific audience that it caters for. PowerPoint however does have some useful features that work around some of Photoshop’s downfalls:

Multiple Users: In an environment where you are working within a team of people, i.e. your marketing team, being able to all work on one presentation at one time becomes simple. Using Microsoft’s SkyDrive or SharePoint you are able to share a link, along with relevant permissions, to a document that everyone can work on at the same time! And if someone decides to add some text that… maybe doesn’t make sense? You can leave a polite ‘Reply Comment’ asking them to clarify what they have typed.

sharepoint capabilities

SharePoint capabilities. Source:

Portability: I wonder how many of you are reading this on a tablet, or some form of mobile device? More and more consumers digest media on a mobile device daily and look for interfaces that can cross all mediums. Although Adobe have released Photoshop Express for mobile devices, it does not suitably – or fully – offer all the services that the desktop version of Photoshop does. However, Office programs on touch screen or mobile devices allow you to create exactly the same creative content as you would on a desktop computer. If you are away from your local network you can also use your smart phone or mobile device to  access SkyDrive and view any content your colleagues have created that same day.

Microsoft's Windows 8 RT tablet. Source:

Microsoft’s Windows 8 RT tablet. Source:

In this day and age, it is an ever-growing importance for design to play a crucial part of our lives – whether in shopping for new furniture for your home or learning to operate a new software for your job. The key is to identify your strengths and weaknesses in both pieces of software. If you are able to technically master a complex piece of software like Photoshop quickly, then explore and expand your ideas using that. However if you are creatively minded but lack that technical ability don’t give in, get to grips and learn certain techniques PowerPoint can provide to really get your creative idea across. So my answer would be this: Yes, you CAN use PowerPoint over Photoshop as an effective creative tool. However you need to look at how complex your creative idea is, regardless of the message you are trying to convey, and honestly ask yourself how far your technical ability will take you in both pieces of software. Will PowerPoint restrict your creativity or help it flourish or will Photoshop expand your creativity or simply deny you from even remotely getting your message across?


To summarise, I offer the following analogy: PowerPoint is a bicycle, whereas Photoshop is a car. Both offer the ability to get from A to B. However, a bicycle is simpler in design and operation, it uses short cuts that cars can’t. This is compared to the complexity and the abundance of features a car will provide, although it takes longer to learn how to operate a car you are open to far more possibilities in your travels. But remember, even if you do get your drivers license, it’s always a good idea to remember that eventually you’ll need to take your bicycle out for a spin from time to time!

What are your thoughts, do you agree that PowerPoint can act as a creative tool in an environment where time is money? Or do you completely disagree and think that Photoshop is far more suited as a creative tool in a corporate environment?

Want to use PowerPoint or Photoshop like a pro? Attend one of Best STL’s PowerPoint  courses or Photoshop training, available London and UK wide.

16 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts in PowerPoint

save time in microsoft powerpoint with keyboard shortcutsSome people spend a lot of time working with Microsoft Office, performing the same actions over and over again. Using the mouse is a friendly and easy way to navigate around your presentations, but keyboard shortcuts can really speed up your workflow. Just a couple sprinkled throughout your week can add up to significant time savings. Even if you’re not the kind of person who likes to use keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint, try some of these out and see how natural they become in a short amount of time.

Editing a Presentation

  • Ctrl + N : Open a new blank presentation
  • Ctrl + M : Insert a new slide
  • Ctrl + D : duplicate an object
  • Ctrl + SHIFT + D :duplicate selected slide
  • Ctrl + F1 : show/hide the ribbon
  • F5 : starts slide show from the first slide
  • SHIFT + F5 : starts slide show from the current slide
  • Ctrl + K : opens hyperlink dialogue box
  • Ctrl + W : close active window
  • Ctrl + Q : close the program
  • F4 : repeats the last action performed
  • F7 : Spell check

When in Slide Show view

  • N = next slide
  • P = Previous slide
  • B = black out the screen
  • W = white out the screen

You’ll be surprised how useful keyboard shortcuts can be once you get used to them.

If you want to learn more, browse the largest schedule of Best STL PowerPoint training London and UK wide.


Making Images Transparent in Microsoft PowerPoint

You’ve found the perfect image that illustrates the point you’re trying to make in your presentation, so you drop it in. Unfortunately it has a big white rectangle around it that really spoils the look. Or you’ve inserted the logo for your company’s new product but the black background makes it jar against the slide. You could modify it in a dedicated image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop, however PowerPoint has many useful image editing abilities built in.

Image in PowerPoint without transparency

Not a good look.

One of these features include setting one of the colours to be transparent. Here’s how to achieve this in different versions of PowerPoint.

powerpoint 2007 image transparency optionsSetting the transparency in PowerPoint 2007:

  1. Select your image
  2. Select the Format tab on the ribbon
  3. Select Recolor
  4. Choose Set Transparent Color
  5. Now click on the colour in the image you wish to set as see-through.

powerpoint 2010 image transparency settingsSetting the transparency in PowerPoint 2010:

  1. Select your image
  2. Select the Format tab on the ribbon
  3. Select Color
  4. Choose Set Transparent Color
  5. Now click on the colour in the image you wish to set as see-through.

powerpoint 2013 image transparency settingsSetting the transparency in PowerPoint 2013:

  1. Select your image
  2. Select the Format tab on the ribbon
  3. Select Color
  4. Choose Set Transparent Color
  5. Now click on the colour in the image you wish to set as see-through.

powerpoint after transparencyNote the results aren’t always perfect and you occasionally get artifacts surrounding your object, but it’s much better than the original. You can always try clicking a different part of the image and seeing if it gauges the transparent colour with more accuracy.

Want to know more? This technique among many others is covered in our Best STL PowerPoint training, London and UK wide.

Using transitions in Powerpoint presentations

Transitions are part of the animation tools available in Powerpoint.  They are so impressive they get their own tab.

Transitions refer to the ways you can change from one slide to another.  You can have a simple transition but why not experiment to see if you can match the transition style to your audience.

For a smooth transition to a formal audience try the Reveal transition. 

For a fun transition during a quiz try the Checkerboard. 

For a presentation to beekeepers, try the Honeycomb effect.

You can preview the transitions and how they will look, but putting your cursor over the individual options and Powerpoint will show you how it will look using an instant preview.

Here is the Transitions tab


The Transitions tab includes extra options, available by scrolling down

Once you have found the transition you like, click to select.

It is a finishing touch that can be unobtrusive, sleek or go all out for the wow factor with some glitter.

Transitions are included in our one day Powerpoint courses.  Find out more with

For advanced + powerpoint techniques such as using multi-media techniques, take a look at







Using Rehearse Timings in Powerpoint

After all your hard work developing your slides, it’s definitely worth running through the whole presentation to see how long the whole presentation takes.  This is the opportunity to edit down the slides if you find you are over-running or finetune your speaker’s notes to help you run to time.

With your presentation open, select the Slide Show tab.


The Slide Show tab has everything you need to make your presentation run to time.

Select the Rehearse Timings in the Set up section of the Slide Show tab.  This function will run the presentation in full screen view, recording the timings.  So when you click N for the next slide, the timer will start afresh for the next slide.  When you reach the end of your presentation, you can view the timings for each of the slides.


The individual timings for the slides are shown underneath each one.

It is a really useful tool to help you prepare your presentation and feel more confident with your delivery on the day. To build on these tips, there are more functions detailed in our  Powerpoint advanced course at





How to insert Excel data into a Powerpoint presentation

This is another thing I didn’t realise that Powerpoint could do.

Using my garden project presentation, I want to add a basic chart  from scratch that compares the costs of sourcing plants from a nursery, from donations or cuttings, or a combination of the two.

Luckily, Powerpoint led me through the process for adding basic information to make bar chart.

I clicked on the Insert tab and selected Chart, which is located in the Illustrations menu.


My Excel bar chart can be created using the Insert tab, and Chart option located in the Illustrations section.

When I selected the bar chart, Powerpoint opened up an extra screen with the key headings for my chart.  I then added the data I wanted.  The chart was updated as I worked.


You can work with Powerpoint and Excel side-by-side to add data to an Excel sheet. The bar chart in Powerpoint is automatically updated.


The Excel data is now in a bar chart in Powerpoint.

This is a really simple example of inserting Excel data into a Powerpoint presentation, using new data.  It’s a good start, and now I really want to build on that…time for more exploring….

For more advanced techniques in Excel and Powerpoint courses, take a look at our range of courses, from introduction, intermediate and more and





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An Introduction to Presentation Views in Powerpoint

I was working on a Powerpoint presentation this weekend, just a for my own amusement, and I noticed that I stayed in the same presentation view throughout my work.  I had adopted my own default view setting – the view I get when I open a new file.

It seemed easier at the start of the weekend to stick to using the Normal View, but by experimenting with each of the four presentation views on the Ribbon, I found it much easier to switch slides around in the Slide Sorter View, and add notes to each slide using the Notes PageThe Reading View let me look at my presentation slides in a full window – making it easier to read through my content and identify where I need to cut down the bullet points and add more images, or even embed a short video.

Here’s a bit more on each of the four presentation views in Powerpoint.

Normal-view-powerpoint training

Normal view in Powerpoint. This is the default view when opening a new or existing presentation.

This is the Normal View.  I like the way I can see my three slides in the left-hand pane.  This gives me a sense of my overall presentation and how it is flowing, as I work on it.

In the normal view, the main screen is the slide I’m working on currently.  I can add comments or ideas in the Notes Page below my main slide.  I type in this space to help prompt me when I’m giving the presentation, and I can use it as space for me to add ideas for possible inclusion as I’m writing.

I can just stay in this normal view, but it can help me to look at how my slides relate to each other.

This is where I have to stop avoiding the View tab and look at the options available:


Here are the seven views I can use throughout my presentation, from putting it all together, to presenting it. I’m concentrating on the first four in Presentation Views.

I want to change the flow of the presentation.  If I use the Slide Sorter View, I can see them all in one go.  This helps me to get an overview of my slides so far, and move them around to improve the narrative of the presentation.

To select the Slide Sorter view, I need the View tab, then click on Slide Sorter View.


In Slide Sorter View I can see how my slides all work together, and switch them around easily.

Once I’ve moved all my slides into the order I think they flow best, I want to look at each slide and start writing my speaker’s notes.  This will help me if I get nervous and forget the content of what I want to say.  I don’t want to end up just reading the bullet points on my slides.


In the Notes Page View, I can add prompts to help me overcome nerves.

Now, I am close to having a complete presentation ready to view and see how it looks.  This is a good way for me to spot any spelling errors or layout problems.  For this, I’m going to use the Reading View as each slide will fit in the window.  I can use the arrows on the keyboard to move to the next slide, or use the arrows at the bottom right of the screen, or just N for next or P for previous slide. When I’m finished in this view, I press Esc to go back to the normal view.

For more information on our powerpoint/training from introduction, intermediate and advanced, have a look at what you can learn in a day…
















Two ingredients for a good presentation – Powerpoint and presentation skills

Powerpoint can give you the professional presentation – you can wow your audience with a   presentation with a strong impact.

Powerpoint can help you to create a presentation quickly and easily with ready made templates – it can help get your message across with smooth transitions between slides, animations on bullet points, and embed videos for active content.

But it is easy to get carried away with techniques and forget the skill of presenting itself. Your Powerpoint presentation can look polished, professional and compelling, but if your delivery and appearance isn’t a match to your content, your message may be lost.

At the planning stage of your Powerpoint presentation, it is worth considering the message you are getting across, the final event, and the delivery of the presentation.  Here you are looking at effective presentation tools and techniques to help persuade your audience, and knowing who your audience are.

These two core skills form the main ingredient of any presentation – which need one more special ingredient to make it all work…which is you, your knowledge, expertise and personality.  For your Powerpoint presentation to help you get your message across, it is helpful to look at ways of combining your skills with Powerpoint.

For a quick refresher in what makes a good presentation, you can access some tips from the Powerpoint File menu – there is a sample presentation which show-cases Powerpoint’s features, and combines these with presentation tips.

In the File menu, there is a Powerpoint presentation called Five Rules, which sets out some good practice guidelines for setting up and giving your presentation.


Powerpoint has a refresher to help inspire you – take a look at Five Rules

If you are looking to develop your presentation skills and get the most of Powerpoint 2007,  have a look at our Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 training courses  For one day courses on presentation skills take a peek at



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