Do you spend three or more hours most weeks creating and modifying Power Point decks? If so, I found something you really need: a short workshop that will reduce the amount of time you spend creating and modifying Power Point decks by two thirds. Really. For every three hours you spend now, you will probably spend no more than one hour, and your decks will look more professional. Taylor Croonquist of Nuts and Bolts Speed Training has created an on-line “watch and do” workshop that shows you how to do that.
Full disclosure: Taylor reached out to me and asked me to review his workshop so I did not have to pay the $98 for the course. But the course was well worth the list price. Wish I had taken it years ago.
The workshop is designed around the 2013 version of PowerPoint for Windows, although most of his techniques work on 2007 and 2010. Mac users cannot use many of Taylor’s techniques directly, although I think the workshop is worth the price even for them. Many of the ideas Taylor demonstrates work for the Mac version of PowerPoint, you just won’t get the full speed benefit. I ran much of the workshop in parallel with a Windows 2010 and Mac 2011 version up simultaneously. I spent about six hours going through the workshop, following along with Taylor on my Windows machine and often also on my Mac. I’m already using many of the tricks and techniques.
His main concentrations:
- Use the keyboard instead of the mouse. The majority of the speed changes come from the simple fact that you can type a couple of characters a lot faster than you can pick up the mouse, find what you want, click or drag or whatever, and get your hand back on the keyboard. Aargh, you think, I have to remember a whole series of chords. Remember Word Perfect? Taylor has a very well thought out way to configure your PowerPoint environment to virtually eliminate the need to remember chords; you just need a few common points about how alt and control keys work that you probably already know. Everything else is on the screen. You will get a significant speed improvement immediately, and as your muscle memory becomes established it will all quickly become automatic.
- Format an object once. Reuse it often.
- Align everything perfectly. When you look at a slide and it does not look “right” it is probably because elements are not properly aligned. It can be a pain to get things to align right, but Taylor shows you how to do it perfectly and quickly. Your slides will stand out largely because misaligned objects will not distract from your message.
- Use connectors correctly. Taylor shows you how to quickly set up even complex connector lines that are easy to maintain as your deck changes over time.
- Take advantage of Ninja lines. Don’t look for them in your Excel help file. Ninja lines are just what they sound like: they appear out of the dark, do something magical, then disappear. Got a tough alignment problem? Call in the Ninjas.
Remember that every deck you create will probably go through a series of updates. Taylor emphasizes how to create each slide so that it can easily be updated over time, and how to take someone else’s messed up deck and quickly get it properly aligned and easy to maintain.
The user-interface of the course is quite intuitive and effective. Taylor is fun to listen to, even for a multiple hour stretch. He has a lot of enthusiasm for doing PowerPoint quickly while achieving professional results.
I strongly recommend this workshop. It will reduce your frustration with PowerPoint, and your managers and co-workers who constantly suggest “minor” changes, while giving you more time to do the important things.
Even after taking the workshop, you can still create a bad slide deck. It will look professional, and you will have done it in in one third of the time, but it will still be awful. Check out my earlier post on My Favorite PowerPoint Tips.
The last word:
I hope you had a Happy Independence Day celebration, waved a few flags, thanked a few vets, ate a few burgers and hot dogs, and “ah”d at some great fireworks. We don’t live in a perfect country, but we live in a great country. There is no other country I would rather live in. It was worth fighting and dying to create it, and periodically we have to fight and die to keep it great and free.
Keep your sense of humor.