Deck Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, Part 1

6 tips for more effective PowerPoint (PPT) slides or Google Slides presentations, straight from Expand’s official presentation slides expert.

Not all presentations are created equal. Luckily, Nelson Holland, Expand’s official slides expert, is here to share valuable tips for more effective PowerPoint (or Google Slides) presentations. 

In fact, Nelson has so many helpful lessons to share that they won’t all fit into one post. Today, we’ll focus on “under the hood” improvements. Keep an eye out for part 2 coming soon!

Why make better presentation decks?

You’re probably looking for tips on creating more effective PowerPoint presentations for at least one of these reasons:

  • Branding: Your presentation decks are part of your overall brand, so consistency is key for building and maintaining trust
  • Results: You want to get the most out of your decks, such as more sales or better buy-in for projects
  • Efficiency: You can also cut down on how long it takes to create new presentations or update existing ones

The tried and true tips below from Nelson will help set yourself up for slides success with “under the hood” improvements. People seeing your presentation decks will notice that your slides look better. Meanwhile, you (and your boss) will notice that your efficiency and consistency are way up.

1. Master the slide master

Screenshot of how to find and use your PPT slide master
Ah hah! The slide student has become the slide master.

Your PPT slide master (sometimes referred to colloquially as a master slide) is the top of your slides hierarchy. It contains the theme and slide layout for your presentation, kind of like a template. Resist the temptation to rush in and do everything from scratch. Your slide master is a great opportunity to practice working smarter, not harder. 

For starters, using your slide master will make your slides look more consistent and professional. Slide titles will show up in the same spot on each slide. Font size will stay consistent. And so will annoying little things, like slide numbers and footer text.

Plus, utilizing your slide master means you can have some updates automatically flow into your full presentation.

2. Create default shape and text box styles

image alt text

Ever notice how the shape tool defaults to lots of drop shadows and bevels that you likely don’t have as part of your template? Good news: You can manage your defaults to avoid this kind of annoyance. 

Here’s how to define your default styling for shapes or text boxes:

  1. Draw your shape or text box 
  2. Customize it with your desired style (for instance, no drop shadow)
  3. Right click (PC) or ctrl-click (Mac) and make it your default style

Now, whenever you want to make a new shape in your current deck, PowerPoint will default to all the styles you just defined. The same goes for text box styling, to help you save even more time. So you can read up on other tips for making more effective PPT presentations, of course. Just like… 

3. Set your theme colors

Screenshot of how to update your theme colors in PPT
By setting your theme colors, you spend less time fiddling and more time basking in the glory of consistent branding

When your theme colors are actually set to brand colors, it’s a lot easier to create consistent visuals. Remember: Just because PPT has a default color palette, that doesn’t mean it needs to be your default color palette. 

This tip is especially helpful if you’re not a graphic designer by trade. Setting your theme colors has an impact on the look and feel of your finished slides, even though you don’t have to manually tweak them for each slide. Smart art and charts will default to your theme palette as well.

And that’s part of the appeal: less time fiddling. It’s also a big help for maintaining consistency, because your brand’s colors are a big part of your visual identity. By setting your theme colors, you can benefit from the time savings and brand consistency without having to do extra work or mess with the color picking tool. 

How-to instructions: PowerPoint | Google Slides

4. Cut & paste content instead of dragging slides

When working on a presentation, sometimes you need content that exists in a different set of slides from another deck. Reusing content can be a great time saver, though it does come with risks and frustrations. Like when you drag a slide from one presentation into another. Seems good, right? Unless the two decks use different templates, in which case, you’ve now muddied the waters in your new deck by introducing an older template.

To avoid any inconsistencies when reusing content from two different templates, use copy and paste instead of drag and drop. It only takes a second, and doing it this way will prevent mixing templates and branding.

5. Manage photo file sizes

Screenshot of how to compress photos to reduce file size in PPT
Compressing your photos is a great way to reduce file size (perfect for downloading right before a meeting)

We all love when slides are visually engaging. As a graphic designer, Nelson is especially fond of striking photos and other attention-grabbing visuals. Still, it helps to be mindful that the more photos you use and the bigger the file sizes of those photos, the larger the overall presentation file size becomes. And that can impact how long it takes to email, upload, download, or simply load the presentation. 

Did you know that you can reduce the overall file size of your presentations before sharing them? Select your slides in the left thumbnail column > click the File menu > and select Compress pictures. Just like that, you can make your PPT decks more manageable. For presentations you need to email, Nelson recommends a total file size of 5MB when possible.

6. Choose between PPT or Google Slides

Our clients sometimes ask us whether they should use PowerPoint or Google Slides. There are advantages to both, and which one is best for you likely depends on a few things. Some you can’t control, like if you work for an enterprise organization and they require everyone to use Microsoft Office 365. 

But what if you have the flexibility to choose? In that case, ask yourself this key question: Do I typically need to collaborate with others on presentations? If so, Google Slides is ideal for collaborating in real-time, though Slides can be a bit limiting at times. If you’re more the sole controller of decks, PowerPoint can be a great option that allows for more autonomy with your decks. For instance, PPT has quicker and more flexible ways to format objects, while setting transparencies to objects in Slides can be quite cumbersome.

Wrapping up our presentation

We hope you’ve enjoyed Nelson’s tips for more effective PPT presentations. Look for part 2 coming soon, with even more practical yet powerful guidance on making the most of your decks. 

Want to free up even more of your time? Contact us below for fast and friendly PPT support.

You may also like...

BrandingCopyDesignWeb Design

How to Work with a Creative Agency

The client’s guide to establishing a seamless process when working with a creative agency.

Deck Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, Part 2

6 more tips for more effective PowerPoint (PPT) slides or Google Slides presentations

Contact Us

Howdy! Share a few quick details so we can help you.

    We respect your privacy and time. For details, check out our Privacy Policy.

    For general inquiries, email us at