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The Office Tech Pro

PowerPoint makeover: Transforming an old (ugly) PowerPoint presentation

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Not too long ago, one of my seminar attendees let out a disgusted sigh right in the middle of a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. As it turned out, she was upset by not having the seminar information 72 hours earlier.

She had been handed a 30+ slide presentation on Friday afternoon, which she was expected to “fix” for a Monday morning meeting. The content was alright, but her manager wasn’t happy with how it looked.

Indeed! Every other slide had a different color theme, font and organization. And, animation was used indiscriminately. She retyped all the content into a blank presentation, applied consistent design elements and applied animation more strategically — by her word a 14-hour ordeal. I could have done it in under an hour.
Step 1: Preserve the content!

The correct way to compose a presentation is in Word. Using multilevel or outline list numbering (I. A. 1.) formatting in Word allows you to import all your slide topics and bullets intact, right into individual slides. So that your Word doc, Figure 1, when imported to PowerPoint, looks like Figure 2.


If this is possible, then it stands to reason that you can also export content from PowerPoint to a Word document. In PowerPoint, you would save your presentation as type: Outline/RTF. In this manner you preserve all the text content. You will want to keep the original presentation as a source for the graphics you may need.
Step 2: Reformat content

After opening up the .rtf document in Word, clear all formats. In versions 2003 or earlier, it’s Edit, Clear, Formats. In 2007, you will select the Clear Formatting button from the Home Tab, Font Group. It is located just above the Font Color button.

Format the title of your presentation using the Title Style from styles selection field. Don’t manually change any colors or fonts. You will be doing this part in PowerPoint, if necessary.

Select the balance of the text and format it as a multilevel list or outline. VERY IMPORTANT: Do not manually format your text, use multilevel list button (2007) or Format, Numbering, Outline Numbering selection (I. A. 1.). With everything at the Roman numeral level, I., begin tabbing to create your bullets at the A. level. If you choose to use the 3rd level, 1., as well, keep in mind that the sub-bullets may put too much content on the slide. Consider a new slide rather than sub-bullets. Once you have your content outline formatted, save it as a regular document.

Step 3: Open and apply design elements in PowerPoint

Open your file, being sure to choose files of type as “All Outlines” to see your Word document show up as a choice. Now you can choose a slide design or modify the slide master to get a consistent look and feel across all slides.

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