Our Presentation Pick: PowerPointLabs
We love a good free tool, that’s why we built WeCompress! So we’re writing a few feature posts about some awesome people who’ve also made some awesome free tools that we think you’d like. Today, we’re focusing on one of our favourite PowerPoint Add-ins; PowerPoint Labs.
Death by PowerPoint is an all too familiar part of the business lexicon; avoiding it should be a top priority when designing your presentations. Creating a simple, striking and memorable presentation using ‘out of the box’ PowerPoint can be a lot of work, but PowerPointLabs will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Some say as few as three, others as much as seven; whatever your personal limit for objects per slide is, keeping to it means one thing: More slides. Arranging extra slides takes longer, so how can PowerPointLabs help?
There’s two ‘labs’ you’ll want open when arranging objects in your slides, the ‘Resize Lab’ and the ‘Positions Lab’. Before you dive in and start using either, take a moment to look over the options, in particular the settings (by clicking the cog) for each feature. I like to get all my positions sorted first, then follow up with the resizing to adjust all the alignments. Snapping to an evenly spaced grid, and symmetrical cascade or a neatly aligned stack can be achieved in a couple of clicks. Just make sure to pay attention to the order that you select your objects, in most cases the first and second object you select will dictate the pattern of your layout. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll have a neat and well proportioned slide in no time.
Color selection is a decision I loathe. I know that colors make all the difference, but I never seem to be able to pick the ones that work together. Picking colors that compliment each other, while balancing the right level of contrast, overall brightness, and vibrancy is hard. Why not leave the difficult part up to PowerPointLabs?
The ‘Colors Lab’ lets you choose a single color from which it will generate some handy matches. I like to start with whatever color I can see on my desktop that I feel good about. I make a rough guess of it, then looking at the suggested matches below, adjust the contrast and brightness using the sliders until I’m happy with the pallet. Then it’s dark colors for background (easy on the eye) and lighter, whiter colors for text (contrast helps your text stand out). Just drag and drop your chosen color to the favorites and you’re off.
Humans are terrible at remembering things, and they are worse when there is more than one thing to remember at a time. Being able to focus in on a point as you talk about it will help make your message memorable, which is why you started the presentation in the first place! When you open the ‘Effects’ button you’ll be presented with some handy features to help you with focus. The ‘Spotlight’ effect can be set to obscure or block out all but the point you want to highlight. In the settings you can set the color, transparency and how hard or soft you would like the edges to be for your spotlight to be. To apply, click ‘Effects’, select the appropriate shape from the menu, draw it over the area you’d like to spotlight, then click again ‘Effects’ and select ‘Spotlight’, that’s it! You can achieve a similar result using the blur and magnify options, both have adjustable levels.
There are a tonne of extra features in PowerPointLabs that deserve an honorable mention here; animation, transitions, narration, caption and image tools to name a few. It’s got a lot going for it, but the big selling point for me is PowerPointLabs’ ability to get your presentations in order quickly and neatly. It will reduce preparation time and free you up from tedious layout decisions. The most important thing in your presentation is the message, so keeping your time free to work on that is probably the best thing a PowerPoint tool can do, and did I mention it’s free!?