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  • Microsoft PowerPoint

20 Key Microsoft PowerPoint Features (to Make Better Presentations) + Video

Andrew Childress

Learn how to make better presentations with Microsoft's presentation app. Use these easy PowerPoint functions and features.

10 tips for PowerPoint

In this tutorial, you'll get 20 of my favorite PowerPoint features and PowerPoint tools to build great-looking presentations.

The Best Microsoft PowerPoint Features to Make Better Presentations in 2022 (Video)

Are you ready to start learning about the features of PowerPoint right now? Get a headstart on six of those features with this quick video:

best powerpoint features

You just learned about some of the top MS PPT features. Do you want to know more? Continue reading to discover a great source for PowerPoint templates and for details on how to use even more great PowerPoint features.

The Best Source for PowerPoint Templates (With Unlimited Use)

Envato Elements is the best place to ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">find premium PowerPoint templates . For a low monthly fee, you become a subscriber. Once you become a subscriber, you get access to:

ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Explore PowerPoint Templates

Envato Elements has hundreds of premium templates.

Benefits and Features of PowerPoint (For 2022 Presentations)

PowerPoint features and benefits

What is the main purpose of Microsoft PowerPoint? It helps you tell stories in visual ways. This is done by the stunning presentation of content - words, images, charts, and more. It's a multimedia tool that helps you craft and share your ideas with the world. 

PowerPoint offers an array of customization features. Every visual element is under your control. Whether it's text styles, image shapes, or sleek animations, you're in the driver's seat. Whatever template you choose in PPT, you keep full creative control. It helps you bring your vision to reality.

PowerPoint functions and features also help you streamline your workflow. You don't have to make the same edits over and over. With features like Slide Master and copying, you can reuse designs again and again. This leaves you extra time to focus on creativity, without being bogged down in tedious edits.

Joint PowerPoint functions and features

PowerPoint is built for an audience. With robust collaboration and sharing features, you can work with a team to build slides. And you can share finished presentations in formats that work best for your broader audience. PowerPoint new features are added with each release of the app. If you're wondering about future upgrades, they'll download as you update PPT.

As you can see, PowerPoint features and benefits are countless! Let's dive in and explore twenty of the best that you should be using today. 

Guide to Making Great Presentations With PowerPoint  

Now, let's take a closer look at some of the MS PowerPoint features and tools you can use to become more efficient.

1. Build Infographics for Data

Words alone aren't enough to share data in interesting ways. To wow your audience, you need to use infographics. These are visuals that combine information and graphics together. They help you tell stories with data in creative ways.

Infographics are a hallmark of premium templates. They're one of the PowerPoint features and benefits that you'll find most helpful in creating modern, engaging slide decks. They may take the form of funnels, timelines, data bars, and much more. 

Environment PowerPoint functions and features

And when you've used a premium infographic PPT, built-in features give you unlimited control. In moments, you can click and drag to move the infographic into a new position on a slide. Or you can change out its colors by using the Shape Format > Shape Fill menu on PPT's ribbon. 

2. Start With a Built-in Layout

There are really two directions you can go when you're building out a new slide in Microsoft PowerPoint:

It's really a no-brainer to start your slide design with a pre-built layout. It's a time-saver, and it also improves the look of the presentation because all boxes and content are aligned neatly.

From the  Home  tab, choose a  Layout  from the menu option:

Layouts features of PowerPoint

I think one of the reasons that presenters avoid layouts is that they want to customize the slide. There's nothing stopping you from taking a layout and tweaking it, moving boxes around as needed, or adding other content placeholders.

3. Use Slide Master View to Update Designs Consistently

Most of my favorite PowerPoint features not only save time, but also ensure that slides are consistent. It's a huge advantage if the logo is in the same spot on each slide, for example. 

Go to the  View  tab and choose  Slide Master.  Now, add something that you want to appear on each slide (like a logo or footer text) to the master:

Added slide master MS PPT features

When you return to Normal  view, you'll see the changes on each slide that uses the same master.

Again, it's all about making clean slide designs with consistency. Adjusting the slide master is a sweet spot of productivity and design excellence.

best powerpoint features

4. Layouts to Declutter Slides

Cluttered slide layouts are all too common in many PowerPoint decks. Sometimes, you've got little choice but to pack a lot of information onto a single slide. But it's a bad habit you should avoid.

A good rule of thumb is to use PowerPoint's Layout option. It's a drop-down menu found on the Home tab. If you find yourself with a messy slide, go here first. 

Joint what is hte main purpose of Microsoft PowerPoint

You'll see an array of different slide layouts - many with extra room for images and other contents. 

This is a subtle, yet effective way to declutter your slides. It helps coach you on cleaner, neater layouts that you can then apply in a single click.  

5. Use Someone Else's Presentation as a Starting Point

Picasso is credited for having said,

"Good artists borrow, great artists steal."

There's nothing wrong with using the hard work of others to build a great presentation.

That's exactly what ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Envato Elements   is for. Elements is an all-you-can-download subscription service made for every creative. For one flat rate, you'll get access to ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">thousands of PowerPoint themes .

I use Envato Elements on every creative project that I work on. I always start browsing on Elements to get ideas for what I'm working on. With one of the PowerPoint templates, you've got a huge head start on creating a presentation.

Use others standard PPT features

The price of Envato is worth it for the PowerPoint themes alone. But for those who create presentations frequently, you benefit greatly from the stock photos, graphics, icons, and other assets that can really spice up a presentation.

best powerpoint features

Using one of these pre-built templates  isn't  stealing—it just feels like it because it makes it so easy. With Elements, you skip the hard work of designing everything from a blank slate.

6. Rearrange Slides for Effectiveness

Most presentations can become markedly better in just a few seconds by simply rethinking the order that your slides are sequenced. Over and over, I coach presenters to remember the  BLUF  principle: bottom line up front.

How many presentations have you sat through where the message was unclear? By the time you've sat through 30 minutes, you're so inundated with data that it can be hard to remember the point. Instead, give your conclusion up front and  then  share why you feel that way.

Slide sorter PowerPoint new features

The best way to do this with PowerPoint is to switch to  Slide Sorter  view. There's no better way to have all your content in view at the same time. Switch to it by clicking on View > Slide Sorter.

When I switch to Slide Sorter view, I'm taking a long hard look to ensure that I'm not burying my conclusion. I'm building a story that makes sense sequentially. Drag and drop the slide thumbnails to reorder them in a concise and BLUF-friendly order.

7. Work With Design Ideas for Inspiration

Stuck in a rut trying to create a new slide design? It happens to us all. No matter how compelling your content, sometimes it's hard to know how best to arrange it on a slide. But this is also very important. You need a clear, coherent slide layout that's attractive and easy to read.

Creative blue grey what are the features of PowerPoint

Fortunately, PowerPoint features and benefits can help you here! With built-in smart Design Ideas, PPT suggests new layouts for each slide in your presentation. Access the feature by going to the Design Ideas button on PPT's Home tab. 

When you click it, you'll see a sidebar open on the right side. On it, there are thumbnails featuring new layout ideas for your slide designs. To apply one, simply click on the thumbnail. In a flash, PowerPoint will rearrange your slide to match. 

8. Follow the Guides

Earlier versions of PowerPoint made it somewhat difficult to align things consistently on a slide. Now, the guides that you'll see pop up as you drag and drop objects help ensure that your objects are nice and neat.

In the screenshot below, you can see an example of what I mean. The small red arrows and dotted lines show how objects relate to each other, and you'll see them when an object is equidistant between them.

Alignment PowerPoint functions and features

Keep an eye out for these helper lines when you're working in PowerPoint. Using them to align objects results in a cleaner slide.

9. Set Slide Sizes

The key consideration when setting slide size is to consider the size of the screen you'll present on. Some different types of screens have slightly different aspect ratios.

To change slide size, go to the  Design  tab and choose  Slide Size , then  Custom Slide Size.

Slide size custom MS PPT features

Setting the size of your presentation is important. When you align the two, your presentation fills the screen or projector that you're using.

best powerpoint features

10. Format the Background

When you work in PowerPoint, it pays to make creative use of all space. This includes the empty space on your slide. In other words, it's the background. Formatting a PPT background helps you add creative colors and patterns to each slide. 

It also has a practical purpose. Adjusting slide backgrounds helps boost the readability of content on your slides.

Creative blue and grey PowerPoint new features

To adjust slide backgrounds in PPT, find the Design tab, and then choose Format Background from the Customize group. A sidebar launches, with an array of options. You can choose from solid fills, or 3D gradient designs. You can even add pattern and image fills! Click on each of the bubbles to control these options. 

11. Resize Multiple Objects

As I mentioned earlier, I think consistency in slides is important for maintaining a clean look. If you've got multiple images that need to be the same size, there's an easy feature for doing just that.

A great example of this is when you've got several profile images that need to be resized consistently. To do this, start off by holding  Control  on your keyboard ( Command  on Mac) and click on all the images that should be resized.

Now, make sure that you're on the Shape Format  tab on PowerPoint's ribbon. Next up, find the  Size  area, type a number into one of the boxes, and press enter. All the images will be resized to the same size that you set in the box:

Resize all images PowerPoint features and benefits

After you set a starting point on size, you can tweak it to get things perfect. The important thing is that you keep them all selected and tweak the size in lockstep.

12. Clean Up Tables Quickly

Data tables in PowerPoint are one of the most effective ways to present data. They're easy for your viewer to quickly glance at and understand numbers with an easy row-column view. 

As you start resizing and tweaking the look of a table in PowerPoint, it's likely that your rows and columns may become a bit disjointed or messy. I like to fix this with  Distribute Rows,  which evens up the sizes of the rows:

Distribute rows PowerPoint featurs

Highlight the rows, and then go to the  Layout  tab and click  Distribute Rows  to apply an easy fix to your rows.

13. Learn to Use SmartArt

Without a doubt, SmartArt is one of my favorite MS PowerPoint features. Think of this feature as the sweet spot between infographics and text-only diagrams.

Basically, SmartArt is a way to create flexible graphics that you can update right inside of PowerPoint. You don't need a separate app to build out your own graphics and charts.

Smartart features of PowerPoint

SmartArt allows you to build out a variety of diagrams, such as hierarchies, processes, cycles, and more. Basically, you can build out a simple bulleted list, and the art adapts to include the points you add.

I'm all about doing as much as you can directly inside of PowerPoint. Features like SmartArt are a great bridge that cut out one more app like Illustrator or Photoshop from your workflow.

best powerpoint features

14.  Try a Theme Variant

What do you do when you get to the end of designing a presentation, and it just doesn't feel right?

The easiest solution might be to try a new  variant.  This simply tweaks the color scheme and style of the presentation. On the  Design  tab, click a different thumbnail from the  Variants  selection.

When you change a variant, it'll change the entire presentation's color scheme, as you can see below. One simple click is the easiest way to try an alternate style:

Slide design themes

Changing the Theme Variant is yet another step you can use to quickly  and  consistently apply a new look to your presentation. You may not have time to redo the presentation from scratch, so try out a variant as an alternative.

15. Save Slides to Share

PowerPoint offers many great ways to save slides for sharing. Naturally, the default is the app's own .pptx format. This keeps the formatting that you build in. Your saved copy will include your animations, transitions, narrations, and much more.

When you share your slides, audiences can open them in their own copies of PowerPoint. 

But sometimes, you may need to share slides with a wider group. Maybe they don't have PowerPoint installed but want to read over your slides. Or they may be on a limited connection and don't need features like animations or web links. 

Here, it's a good idea to save your slides in PDF format. This option is widely readable, even on smartphones and other mobile devices.

Export PDF MS PPT Features

To save slides for sharing, keep in mind what your audience needs. Then, go to File > Export inside PowerPoint. Choose  Create PDF/XPS  and select PDF on the pop-up menu.

Your slides are ready to share with the world! 

16. Align Objects

If you decide to add images or any object to your presentation, you should know about the align feature. The align feature is one of the key features of PowerPoint. When you use it aligns objects so that they line up.

Shape format align MS PPT features

To get all the objects to align properly, you’ll need to highlight the objects you want to align. Then click on the Shape Format tab. Next, in the toolbar, you’ll find the Align button. When you click on this button, a menu drops down. Choose an option depending on how you want your objects to align.

Align objects to center

If you click Align Center , all your objects will be aligned in a straight line in the center of your screen.

17. Insert Shapes

If you want illustrations in your presentation, then you should know how to insert shapes. Inserting shapes is one of the features of MS PowerPoint.

Insert shapes MS PPT features

To add a shape to your slide, click on the Insert tab. Then, in the toolbar, click on the Shapes button.

When you click on the Shapes button, a menu drops down with various shapes. Choose the shape you want. Next, click and drag your mouse to draw the shape.

18. Slide Transitions

To add some interesting effects to your presentation, the PowerPoint feature for you is slide transitions.

Transitions effects dropdown

To add transitions, click on the Transitions tab. In the toolbar, a menu of effects appears such as Wipe and Split .

For even more effects, click on the Effect Options button. When you click on the Effect Options button, a menu drops down with more options.

19. Animations

Animations can also add interesting effects to your presentation. Animations is a PowerPoint feature that adds movement to objects on your slide.

Animations PowerPoint functions and features

To add animation, select an object. Next, click on the Animations tab. You'll see a display of various animations including Appear , Fade , Wheel , and more. Click on an effect to select it. Then click Effect Options to the right of the various animations to see a drop-down with more options for your selected animation.

After you've selected an animation and effects, you need to define the trigger. Under the Animation Pane option click the Trigger option. Select when you went the animation to appear from the drop-down.

20. Inserting a Video

If you want to add a video from a website to your presentation, you can hyperlink the video to the text on the slide.

Insert video features of PowerPoint

Start by highlighting the text you want to hyperlink. Next, click on the Insert button. In the toolbar, you’ll see a Video button. When you click on the Video button, a menu pops up letting you choose to insert a video from the following locations:

Choose the option where your video is located. Then select the video from the window that appears.

5 Top Premium PowerPoint Templates From Envato Elements Trending for 2022

Premium Microsoft PowerPoint templates can you save you time. Here's a hand-picked list of the top five Microsoft PowerPoint Premium templates:

1. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Streamo

Streamo PowerPoint Template

Streamo is a multipurpose minimal style template. This template comes with 35 slides. Everything in this template can be edited, including graphics.

2. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Fiesta

Fiesta PowerPoint template

Fiesta is a creative template with a colorful design. This template comes with 30 high-definition slides. Change the colors with the 50 color themes this template comes with.

3. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Carnation

Carnation Presentation Template

Carnation is a multipurpose template with stylish colors and a nature-themed design. This template comes with over 50 unique slides. Plus, you'll get infographics and icons.

4. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Lolerei

Lolerei Multipurpose PowerPoint

Lolerei is a multipurpose template with a modern and professional-looking design. The nice-looking design of this template can work with any presentation topic. Also, this template comes with a picture placeholder, so you can drag and drop an image into the placeholder.

5. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Flat

Flat PowerPoint template

Flat PowerPoint is a creative premium template that comes with 50 slides. This template comes with 50 premade color themes. And if you want to use icons, this template comes with 30 slides full of icons.

Download Our New eBook on Making Great Presentations

We've got the perfect complement to this tutorial, which walks you through the complete presentation process. Learn how to write your presentation, design it like a pro, and prepare it to present powerfully. 

Download our new eBook:  The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations . It's available for free with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter.

 Free eBook PDF Download Make a Great Presentation

Learn More About Microsoft PowerPoint

Don't stop now! There's plenty more to learn about Microsoft PowerPoint. I truly believe that building up your presentation skills is one of the most valuable steps you can take when you're trying to advance your career.

Check out some of the tutorials below to keep learning more about presentations with PowerPoint:

best powerpoint features

Save Time on Your Next PPT Project!

In this article, you learned the key features of PowerPoint and how to use the MS PowerPoint features. Then, put that knowledge to use on a premium presentation template.

Envato Elements has thousands of ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">premium templates so that you can easily create an impressive presentation.

Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Sarah Joy and Andrew Childress . Andrew has added a video. Sarah and Andrew are freelance instructors for Envato Tuts+.

Andrew Childress

Echo Rivera

7 Things You Didn't Know PowerPoint Could Do That Will Make Your Next Presentation POP!

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

Let me guess…

You think PowerPoint dooms you to create #DeathByPowerpoint.

I mean, it is in the name right? So, it has to be true.

Or, maybe you feel like there’s not much more to learn about PowerPoint.

I mean, you’ve been using PowerPoint for decades, so what could possibly surprise you at this point, right?

Either way, in this post I hope to show you that you can create awesome presentations using PowerPoint and that there are probably some great features you don’t know about even if you’ve been using PowerPoint for decades.

Just in case you’re new to my blog, hi I’m Dr. Echo Rivera. I help academics, researchers, scientists, evaluators and similar professionals create engaging presentations. I provide professional development training for groups and individuals .

And in this blog we’ll be talking about 7 things you probably didn’t know PowerPoint can do that will make your next presentation pop!

Oh! I also made a video version of this blog post too, so you can see all these features in action :)

I’m going to show you more than 7 Powerpoint features, but I’ve broken them down into 7 categories.

Here are those seven categories:


Photo Editing


Custom Visuals

Data Visualization

Saving Time

Before we get started, I want to make sure you know about my FREE training workshop on engaging presentations >>

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

1. Accessibility in PowerPoint

Feature #1: live subtitles.

Have you been trying to make your talks or lectures more accessible, but have been struggling with the captioning part—especially for live lectures?

Well, PowerPoint has live subtitles you can activate when giving a presentation.

How to activate subtitles in PowerPoint:

Click the “Slideshow” tab

Check “Always use subtitles”

Choose settings for your microphone and languages

Click into Presenter view and give your presentation

Want to see how accurate the PowerPoint subtitles are?

I test the subtitles (and talk about some pros/cons) in another video . I also had them activated in the video that goes with this post.

This feature is great and I’ve used it a lot—it’s kinda like having Rev.com built into PowerPoint!

Though, in full disclosure, I’m now using the live transcript feature in Zoom instead because then it works when I’m not sharing my PowerPoint slides. I also like that people can deactivate them if they don’t want to see the captions.

But, if you’re presenting in-person, then the PowerPoint live subtitles is a decent backup option to consider.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the subtitles feature.

Feature #2: Alt Text

Do you need to share your PowerPoint file with someone who uses a screen reader due to a vision disability?

If so, then you’ll need to add Alt Text to all of your images, graphs, and slide objects. That way, the screen reader will know what to say for those.

How to add Alt Text to images in PowerPoint:

Right click on the object, image, or graph

Click “Edit Alt text”

Add the text you want a screen reader to say

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

If you have an object on your slide that does not need to be spoken to the person, then you check “mark as decorative” instead of typing a description.

But , your slides shouldn’t have those types of things on them and if you find that you have a lot of decorations on your slides, then be sure to check out my free training ASAP.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the Alt Text feature .

Feature #3: Accessibility Checker

If you’re sharing a PowerPoint file so someone can use a screen reader with it, then you’ll need to do more than just add alt text to your images.

You also need to:

make sure the order of the information is correct

none of your tables have merged cells

add slide titles

The PowerPoint Accessibility Checker can help you find slides that make mistakes in these areas.

Beyond helping those who use a screen reader, this feature will also flag slides that don’t have enough contrast.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the Accessibility Checker feature .

2. Photo Editing in PowerPoint

Have you seen PowerPoint slides that look like this?

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

Yeah, me too.

But there is nothing in PowerPoint that forces anyone to create slides like that.

In fact, these slides were made in PowerPoint, too!

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

For example, I could present accessibility information about PowerPoint using a template, wall of text, and a poorly-formatted visual…

…or I could also present accessibility information about PowerPoint using my own slide, minimal text, and well-formatted visuals.

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

PowerPoint has fantastic built-in tools that make it easy for you to create highly visual slides.

Feature #1: Built-in icons, photos, and illustrations

PowerPoint has built-in icons, photos, and illustrations that I highly recommend you use. Unlike PowerPoint SmartArt , these are actually modern and will help improve your presentation design.

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

How to use the PowerPoint icons, photos, and illustrations:

Click the “Insert” tab

Click on “Icons”

Choose the tab you want to search in (Images, icons, cutout people, stickers, videos, or illustrations)

Choose which one/s you want to add and click “Add” or “Insert”

If you don’t see the photos and illustrations, they might be somewhere else. Try this:

Click on the “Insert” tab

Click on “Pictures”

Click “stock images”

This is a relatively new feature in PowerPoint, so you do need a recent version. But this feature alone would make an upgrade worth it, in my opinion.

If you ever feel like it “takes too long” to create visual presentations, then this is the #1 feature that will make it both easier and faster for you to create better slides.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the icons feature .

Some people don’t see the illustrations or cutout people with the icons. If that’s you, then try this:

Feature #2: Crop

Have you ever struggled to get a photo to fit the space you need it to you on your slide?

Do you end up with distorted images because you’re trying to make a photo fit?

There’s one solution for both challenges: crop!

You can do a basic crop, where you just trim the edges of a photo.

How to do a basic crop in PowerPoint:

Double click the photo (or click on the photo, then click the “Photo” tab)

Look to the top right for where it says “crop” and click on it

Little black bars will pop up on your image—use those to trim the photo

Hit the enter key or click out of the image to finish cropping

Note: for some Mac users, when you double click on the photo, it automatically takes you to the cropping mode, so you can sometimes skip step 2.

If you want to adjust how you cropped the photo, all you have to do is repeat the steps above.

All versions of PowerPoint have this feature. To learn more and/or see how to do it if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the Crop feature .

You can do more than a basic crop, though. You can get fancy and crop your photo into a shape, too!

How to crop a photo into a shape in PowerPoint:

Look to the top right for where it says “crop”

Click on the down arrow by the icon

Hover over “crop to shape”

Choose your shape

Little black bars will pop up on your image—use those to trim the photo and adjust into the shape

All versions of PowerPoint have this feature. To learn more and/or see how to do it if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the Crop into Shapes feature .

Feature #3: Edit Photos and Add Filters

I highly recommend you use your own photos as much as possible in your presentations.

The problem with photos we take, though, is that they don’t always look very good.

Luckily, PowerPoint has some basic photo editing and filter options that can help.

How to edit photos and add filters in PowerPoint:

Look to the left for where it says “corrections” or “color” or “artistic effects”

Choose one and play around with the settings until you like the way the photo looks.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the Picture Corrections Pane feature .

Feature #4: Remove Background

If you really want to take your creativity to the next level, then playing around with removing backgrounds is a must-know feature.

How to remove photo backgrounds in PowerPoint:

Look to the left for where it says “remove background” and click.

Some of the image will be a bright pink — that’s what PowerPoint will remove. Use the “mark areas to keep” and “mark areas to remove” until it’s how you want.

Click the checkmark for “Keep all changes” when you’re done.

I’ll be honest: it can be a little annoying to use.

When you mark an area to keep or remove, it will often change another part of the image. I often find myself having to repeat what I mark over and over again.

Apple Keynote has a background removal feature that is better and easier to use, so if you use a Mac and have Keynote, consider using that to remove backgrounds instead.

And, obviously, it will never look as good as a photo that had the background removed using professional photo editing software.

But if all you have is Windows and you just need to do something quick and informal, this is a good option.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the background removal feature .

3. Interactive Features in PowerPoint

Feature #1: non-linear presentations with ppt zoom.

Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker just talked the whole time?

The thing is—there’s nothing in PowerPoint that requires it.

There’s nothing in PowerPoint that stops the speaker from engaging with the audience.

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

I mean, have you ever been working on your slides and thought, “oh! I should poll my audience here!” only to have PowerPoint tell you “No! You cannot do that!”

Nope. That’s not a thing that happens.

Talking at people is a choice that presenters make, and has nothing to do with PowerPoint’s features.

In fact, PowerPoint has a feature that encourages you to interact with your audience!

Remember Prezi?

It was all the rage for a few years back in the early 2000s.

I was an early adopter but stopped using it because it was a lot of work and a lot of money to make what was ultimately just a nice PowerPoint presentation.

There was one benefit of Prezi, though: interactive (“non-linear”) presentations.

What people liked about Prezi was the option to be able to go through the presentation out of order.

For example, if you have 4 categories of information you want to share with your audience and the order doesn’t matter, you could let the audience choose which category to start with.

That makes for a highly engaging presentation.

Well, the good news is that PowerPoint actually lets you do that. It’s called the “Zoom” feature (not to be confused with the meeting/webinar app!) and is really easy to set up.

I made a video about the Zoom feature , and in it I show you an example of what this could look like in a real presentation.

How to create an interactive, non-linear presentation in PowerPoint:

Create sections in your presentation for each chunk of slides that will be part of the non-linear presentation.

Create a new slide that will work as your “table of contents”.

Insert > Zoom > Section Zoom.

Click on the sections to include, then click insert.

Arrange the thumbnails however you want.

Click on one of the thumbnails > click on the Zoom tab > UNCHECK “zoom transition” (that will make people nauseous!).

REPEAT #6 for all thumbnails.

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the Zoom feature .

4. Animations in PowerPoint

Animations and transitions in PowerPoint have a bad reputation.

There’s a reason for it: we’ve all seen presentations filled with wild, nonsense animations and transitions.

And, I do still see a lot of people use inappropriate animations and transitions all the time.

But like I’ve mentioned earlier, there is nothing in PowerPoint that requires you to use them.

You can pretend the bad animations don’t exist and just … not use them.

But here’s the thing: you should still use animations and transitions.

You just need to know which ones to use. It’s not an “all or nothing” thing here.

There are good animations and bad animations.

When you use good animations in the right way you can reduce or prevent cognitive overload for your audience.

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

One of the best animations that PowerPoint has is Ink Replay. With the draw tab and ink replay, you can draw in a slide and then animate it as if it were being drawn in the moment.

Look at how mind-blowingly awesome this looks:

So the next obvious question is: Which animations/transitions are good and which ones are bad?

That’s a nuanced answer, and is the benefit to taking some professional development on how to create engaging presentations.

For example, in my training, you learn a framework for how to present effectively so you can know how to answer that question depending on the specific presentation context (content, audience, delivery format).

If you’re enjoying this blog post so far and you want to learn how to use all these features the right way, then you’ll love my presentation training! You can get started for free with my free training.

How to add animations in PowerPoint (movement that happens within a single slide):

This is a pretty detailed and nuanced topic, but just to get you started:

Click on the object you want to animate.

Click the “animations” tab

Choose a good animation

Click on “Animation Pane” to make further adjustments

How to add transitions in PowerPoint (movement that happens between slides):

Again, this is a pretty detailed and nuanced topic, but just to get you started:

Click on second slide

Click the “transitions” tab

Choose a good transition

look to the right section if you want to make further adjustments

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have which animations/transitions, and how to use them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about animations and the Microsoft page about transitions .

Just remember: you have to choose a good animation/transition and for the right reasons. Otherwise, you’ll just be adding extra work for yourself and overwhelming your audience.

By now, you’re probably wondering why should you spend the time to learn all of these features?

One reason is because this will make your basic, standard, everyday presentation significantly better.

But there’s another reason: Knowing how to use features like this is what will give your presentation that wow factor.

For example, instead of just showing a pie chart and a graphic…what if we applied some photo editing and animations to make it do something like this:

Cool, right?

And this can make slides with a graphic + text even more memorable.

Here’s the dog I showed earlier in the background removal example,

You wouldn’t do something like this for every single slide in a presentation—that would be too much. But this would be a powerful opening slide to hook the audience!

Here’s one more example where I used photo editing and animations to make a powerful, memorable slide.

Are you shocked at what PowerPoint can do?

I hope that you’re excited to see how creative you can actually be using software that’s underused.

5. Editing Shapes in PowerPoint

This is the feature that most people don’t know about: you can edit shapes in PowerPoint.

Your first reaction to that might be, “so what? why would I do that?”

So I’ll use an example of something we see in a lot of presentations: Venn diagrams.

Chances are you think you only have 2 options for creating a Venn diagram in PowerPoint:

Making shapes transparent and layering them, or

A PowerPoint SmartArt Venn diagram

As I explain in another post, both of those are wrong.

The right way to create Venn diagrams is to add two circles to the slide, overlap them, and then fragment them.

Here’s what that looks like:

That’s what allows you to customize each section of a Venn diagram.

Why would you want to do that?

So you can change the colors around and help your audience see exactly which slice you’re referring to. You can make it a unique color, or you can make all the other slices gray so that the slice you’re talking about is the only one with a pop of color.

See the difference here:

There are all sorts of options to play around with. You can merge shapes or use one shape to “cut out” a portion of another.

How to edit shapes in PowerPoint:

Overlap some shapes.

Select both.

Click the “Shape Format” tab

Look towards the left for a tiny icon that’s two circles overlapping. Click it.

Choose the option that best fits with what you need to do (I used “fragment” in the above example).

To learn more about which versions of PowerPoint have this feature, and how to activate them if the above instructions don’t work, visit the Microsoft page about the editing shapes feature .

6. Data Visualization in PowerPoint

We’ve all seen overwhelming and confusing quantitative and qualitative data presented via PowerPoint.

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

Well, just like before, there is nothing in PowerPoint that forces you to present data that way.

Here are some data visualizations I created using PowerPoint:

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

Data looks confusing and overwhelming in PowerPoint if it’s designed that way. Likewise, data will be engaging and easy to understand if it’s designed that way. You have full control over this as the presenter.


If you want to present data effectively using PowerPoint, you can. It involves knowing how to:

Choose your key points and figuring out the “story”

Choose what data to show, and what not to show

Organize your data so it’s clear and concise

Change the default settings so it’s well-designed

Hack settings when needed to achieve the look you want

Knowing how to use PowerPoint doesn’t teach you that, really. That’s the type of thing you learn through professional development about how to present effectively.

7. Saving Time in PowerPoint

Alright. Now that we’re on the last category, I know you’re thinking that all this stuff takes forever and you don’t have the time to do it.

So, I wanted to end by sharing the best news of all: PowerPoint has excellent built-in features that will speed up your design.

No, it’s not slide design templates, SmartArt, or Design Ideas. You should not be using any of those.

The time-saving features in PowerPoint are:

Using the icons, photos, and illustrations mentioned above

Customizing the Master Slides in your PowerPoint file

Editing and then saving defaults for your text boxes

Editing and then saving defaults for your shapes

Editing and then saving defaults for your graphs

That’s why I created a full 90-minute workshop that walks you through how to set up the Master Slides in PowerPoint and use these settings to save you time.

The workshop is included in my signature program, Blast Off to Stellar Slides! Get started for free and learn more about my program here:

Powerpoint presentation tips by Dr Echo Rivera

🥳 GOSKILLS TURNS 10: Get 10 days of free access with code 10YEARS

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4 PowerPoint Features That Will Make You a Better Presenter

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

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PowerPoint . For many, the name alone is enough to inspire visions of dull presentations filled with text in generic fonts, cheesy clip art, and the occasional swooping animation for an extra dose of creativity. Groundbreaking stuff, right?

But, if you think all PowerPoint presentations are destined to look dated and dry, think again. With some recent additions available for Microsoft 365 subscribers who have PowerPoint 2016 or beyond, it’s far easier than ever to make your presentations look sleek.

“Many of the negative connotations surrounding PowerPoint are less about the tool and more about what its use most commonly represents in business settings: One person reading from a prepared script while audience members sit around reading along as if their presence is simply a check-the-box requirement,” explains Luke Goetting, Director at Puffingston , an award-winning presentation agency based in Austin.

So, if that “whoosh” sound effect isn’t going to cut it when it comes to impressing your audience, what will? Goetting gave us the lowdown on all of those new, need-to-know PowerPoint features that will turn your presentation up a few notches.

Step up your PowerPoint game

Download our print-ready shortcut cheatsheet for PowerPoint.

Note: This feature is only available to Microsoft 365 subscribers and PowerPoint 2019 users.

If you think of a standard PowerPoint presentation, you likely think of something that moves pretty linearly. You start with one slide, and then you click to the next, and then the next, and so on and so forth. Sure, the slides are in a row—but, it’s easy to lose sight of how all of that information fits together.

This is where the new Zoom feature comes into play. Goetting says that you can think of Zoom as a visual table of contents. You can choose which slides you’d like featured, and then the tool will automatically generate one slide that serves as a menu of all of your other slides.

Think of Zoom as a visual table of contents.

While on that menu slide, the presenter can then choose to zoom in (now you get where the name comes from!) on different portions of the presentation and jump to that section.

Not only does it look really cool (if you’ve ever seen a Prezi, you’ll see that the Zoom feature resembles that!), but it empowers presenters to better show the overall theme and context of the slideshow—rather than clicking through slide after slide and losing the big picture. Using Zoom, audience members are always brought back to the common thread.

How to use Zoom

Hit “Insert” and then “Zoom” and choose from three different options:

Both the Summary and Section options create the menu-type slides that allow presenters to choose what they want to click on.

Slide Zoom allows you to place a clickable thumbnail within an existing slide—rather than on a menu slide.

Want cool transitions between your slides that don’t involve dissolving photos or roadrunner sound effects? Morph is just what you’re looking for.

“Ultimately, Morph is a new type of slide transition that recognizes how the assets on the slides have changed from the first slide to the next and automatically manipulates them accordingly,” says Goetting in a blog post about PowerPoint features .

For example, Goetting says to imagine that you had a small circle on your first slide. On the next slide, you make that circle larger. Using Morph, PowerPoint will recognize the circle as the same asset and will automatically increase the size during the transition—making the whole thing smooth and seamless.

“When used effectively, Morph allows the presenter to create an impression of a continuous visual thread—like watching a video or a Prezi—instead of a series of independent slides,” adds Goetting.

How to setup a Morph transition

For the best results, create two slides with at least one common object.

The easiest way to do this is to duplicate the slide and then move the common object somewhere else on the second slide. You can also copy and paste the common object from the first slide and paste it in the second one.

After that, visit the “Transitions” tab and click the “Morph” button to apply that particular transition.

Here's an example via Microsoft of the morph feature seamlessly animating objects across slides.

This is the original slide:


And this is the morphed slide:

best powerpoint features

For more information on this feature, check out this article on Microsoft .

3. Designer

Don’t fancy yourself much of a graphic designer? Don’t worry—PowerPoint’s Designer tool can help you generate professional looking slides without much effort.

“Simply put, Designer automatically generates a sample design concept for your slide as soon as you insert content (such as a photo) into it,” Goetting says.

In addition to suggesting designs that will immediately update the look and feel of your presentation, Designer also automatically adjusts to match the color scheme and specific styling of the template that you’re using—saving you even more time and effort.

How to use Designer

Insert a piece of visual content—whether that’s a photo or something else—into the slide you’re working with.

When doing so, the “Design Ideas” window will appear on the right and provide plenty of inspiration.

best powerpoint features

You can also access the Designer tool at any time by clicking on the “Design” ribbon tab and choosing the “Design Ideas” category.

For more information on this feature, check out this page on Microsoft .

4. Slide hyperlinking

“Slide hyperlinking is a very useful feature few people know about or utilize,” says Goetting.

Using this tool, you can create links directly to other slides within your presentation—allowing you to easily hop around between desired slides.

“With this feature, users can create pivot points that allow them to jump to different slides in their presentation, ideally based on audience feedback,” Goetting explains, “The result is an interactive, evolving presentation experience that flows much more like an app or website than a traditional linear presentation.”

How to use slide hyperlinking

Within the “Insert Hyperlink” option, you can choose “Place in This Document” instead of the traditional place that you insert hyperlinks.

PowerPoint is what you make of it

These sorts of tools and features can help to kick up the visual appeal of your presentation. But, no amount of technology will save you if you don’t approach your slides in the correct way.

Goetting recommends choosing a fresher font ( Font Squirrel is a great resource!) and using images or iconography (check out The Noun Project !) to supplement or replace text.

“Even simple visuals communicate much better than words,” he says.

And, of course, make your best effort to minimize text usage.

We’ve all heard this advice, yet business presentations continue to be plagued by paragraphs of corporate mumbo jumbo. Instead, focus on sharing keywords on slides, and use the presentation itself to explain the rest.

“PowerPoint is what you make of it. I find it amusing when people use other visual display tools, and you can see their creativity emerging, yet when they get into PowerPoint, they fall back into those bad habits. Ignore the default layout choices, start with a fresh slate, and imagine the best way you’d be able to understand your information if you were in the audience," he concludes.

Loved this? Then you'll love our printable PDF cheat sheet of the most important Microsoft PowerPoint Shortcuts .

best powerpoint features

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Kat Boogaard

Kat is a writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. When she escapes her computer, she enjoys reading, hiking, golfing, and dishing out tips for prospective freelancers on her website.

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Best PowerPoint features and functions to use for presentations

1] use the cameo feature, 2] take advantage of powerpoint presenter view, 3] have a look at the zoom feature, 4] use the subtitles feature, 5] practice with the presenter coach, what is the most important part of a powerpoint.

READ :  How to save animated GIFs from PowerPoint.

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best powerpoint features

Puffingston featured in GoSkills article “4 PowerPoint Features That Will Make You a Better Presenter”

Puffingston Director Luke Goetting was recently featured in a GoSkills.com article 4 PowerPoint Features That Will Make You a Better Presenter.

The article includes numerous quotes and examples from Luke discussing how to best utilize PowerPoint 2016-2017 in modern business settings—including examples of his favorite PowerPoint features: Zoom, Morph, Designer and Slide Hyperlinking.

As GoSkills author Kat Boogaard proposes in the article, “If you think all PowerPoint presentations are destined to look dated and dry, think again. With some recent additions available for Office 365 subscribers who have PowerPoint 2016 or beyond, it’s far easier than ever to make your presentations look sleek.”


A demo of the PowerPoint Zoom feature as seen on GoSkills.com

Notable article excerpts:

“Many of the negative connotations surrounding PowerPoint are less about the tool and more about what its use most commonly represents in business settings: One person reading from a prepared script while audience members sit around reading along as if their presence is simply a check-the-box requirement,” explains Luke Goetting, Director at Puffingston, an award-winning presentation agency based in Austin.

PowerPoint Zoom

PowerPoint Morph

PowerPoint Designer

Slide Hyperlinking

Luke collaborated with GoSkills author Kat Boogaard on the article to develop a PowerPoint demonstration that was quick-hitting, easy to follow and full of great examples of the features in action!

GoSkills.com is an online learning company that helps anyone learn business skills via bite-sized video tutorials taught by award-winning instructors. For more information, check them out at www.goskills.com

Still not convinced? Check out our PowerPoint 2016 demo video here!

Want help taking advantage of these exciting new features! Connect with us!

Want to see more of our presentations in action? Check our our Portfolio



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