3 PowerPoint HACKS

for INSTANT Improvement

(incl. Morph between Shapes)

This post will introduce you to three PowerPoint techniques that you can use to impress your colleagues and boss.  They will think you spent HOURS honing and crafting your presentation…

…but you won’t.

This will be our little secret.

Tip #1 – No More Bullet Points

We’ve seen and read repeatedly how bullet points “are so 20th Century”; we need to get with the times and break from the traditional bullet point slide format.

The problem is that most people still use the old-school bullet point format because

  1. it’s easy.
  2. its what we’re used to.
  3. our time to be creative is limited.
  4. our audience doesn’t expect anything different.

Here is how we can create amazing slides without relying on traditional bullet point techniques.

Insert a simple Text Box with your slide information (Insert (tab)-> Text (group) -> Text Box).

Do not worry about formatting of any of the text; just type your main points as you would have if you were typing bullet points.

Convert the Text Box to a SmartArt Object

Once your main points have been typed, with the text box selected, select Home (tab) -> Paragraph (group) -> Convert to SmartArt.

If you hover (without clicking) over the various thumbnail options, you can see that the text in the Text Box is broken into fancier pieces.

If you don’t see something that you like, select More SmartArt Graphics… at the bottom of the list.

Looking through the categories on the left, we will go with the List category and use the Vertical Curved List option.

This will convert our boring Text Box text to exciting SmartArt text.

Ungroup the SmartArt Shapes

Because we want to customize the SmartArt beyond what the default customization options will allow, we will convert the SmartArt to individual shapes.  To perform the conversion, we will ungroup the SmartArt by selecting the entire SmartArt object and press


It is likely that a SmartArt object may contain multiple layers of groups.  To ungroup this to its lowest level, perform another


If you can’t remember the keyboard shortcut for Ungroup, you can also right-click on the SmartArt object and select Ungroup from the context menu.

There are additional Ungroup actions located on various ribbons.

Customize the Shapes

Perform any cosmetic changes you wish to get the “look and feel” that best suits your needs.  For this example, we will use a dark blue fill for the rectangles that contain text and a dark blue outline for the circles and arc.

To add numbering to the inside of the circles, insert another Text Box and place it inside of the top-most circle.  We will type the number 1 in this first Text Box.  Change the font style, size, and color as you see fit.

After we have customized to look of the “1” Text Box, copy and paste the Text Box twice; place the pasted Text Boxes in the middle and bottom circles.  Change the text to read “2” and “3” respectively.

Regroup the SmartArt Shapes

To regroup the SmartArt shapes, we must first select the pieces we want grouped.  We don’t want to regroup the entire set of shapes into a single shape; this would limit our flexibility when we animate the objects.

Our first group will consist of the “1” Text Box, the circle surrounding the “1”, and the blue rectangle labeled “Goodbye Bullet Points!”.

This can be done by clicking on the first object to be part of the group, then hold down the CTRL key and click the remaining objects.

Another way to select the object, assuming there is enough space between the needed versus unneeded objects, is to click and hold your left mouse button and drag a box to surround the desired objects.

Selection Tip: Any object that is 100% contained in the selection box will be selected.  If you happen to capture the edge of a surrounding object, but that object is only partially contained in the selection box, the object will be ignored.

After you have selected the three objects, regroup them by pressing


Repeat the process for the remaining #2 and #3 items.

Tip #2 – Effortless Animation

We want to start our presentation with an opening title slide and then progress to our slide that has our three main points.  We have drafted the following two slides.

If we run the presentation as-is, the presentation will be boring and uninteresting; slide #2 instantly replaces slide #1 and everyone watching becomes instantly bored.

We could use some form of slide transition, like a fade or a wipe effect, but those transitions are also common, and our audience has seen them so many times that the effects have lost their luster.

Let’s transition between the slides in a way that most audiences have never seen.

Enter the Morph Transition!

The Morph transition is a relatively new slide transition effect that can perform same rather amazing feats of animation without the user knowing anything about entrance/emphasis/exit effects or motion paths.

The way you build a Morph transition is as follows:

Create the slide you are transitioning into.  In our case, this will contain our title at the top and our 3-item SmartArt object in the middle of the slide.

Copy the slide so you have two of the same slides.

Selecting the slide we are transitioning FROM (we’ll call this “slide #1”), zoom out so you can see much of the surround empty space.  Holding your CTRL key while spinning the wheel on the mouse is a great trick zooming for in and out of Office documents.

Move the three text objects below the slide, the arc line to the left of the slide, and the title to the middle of the slide.

Think of these moved objects as standing off-stage waiting for their big showbiz break.

Select the slide you are transition TO (we’ll call this “slide #2”) and apply a Morph transition.  This is done by selecting Transitions (tab) -> Transition to This Slide (group) -> Morph.

Run the slideshow and advance from slide #1 to slide #2.  You will see the title move up, the arc line fly in from the left side of the screen, and the three text objects fly in from the bottom of the screen.

The way the Morph transition works is that it looks for an item on the starting slide (slide #1) and that same item on the ending slide (slide #2).  If those two items are not in the same position, Morph will calculate a motion path to move the item from the start position to the end position.  Morph will also compare size, rotation, color, etc. Any differences between the same item on different slides are calculated when going from one to the other.

The result, to the untrained eye, appears to be a great investment in time, skill, and patience to achieve.  The truth of the matter is that it couldn’t be simpler.  It’s as if someone else did the work for you.

Let’s See More of the Morph Transition in Action

Let’s duplicate the slide with our title and three main talking points.

Next, we’ll move the title and the first and second talking point to the off-stage space above the slide.

Now move the arc line off-stage to the left and the third talking point to the upper-left corner of the slide.

Since we duplicated the slide that contained the Morph transition, the duplicate slide also contains the Morph transition.

Return to slide #2 and run the slide show starting from the current slide position.  This can be easily done by pressing


Advance to slide #3 and watch as the slide elements move to their new positions.

Adjusting the Transition Speed

If you feel that the transition is taking too long to complete or is moving too quickly, you can adjust the speed of the transition by going to Transitions (tab) -> Timing (group) -> Duration and adjust the transition interval.

You can also adjust the effect options to control how you morph when using shapes (objects) or items containing text.  Each of these settings brings different behaviors to the transition.  It’s best to experiment to see what works best for you.

Tip #3 – Enhanced Morph

At the time of this posting (April 2019), Enhanced Morph is available to Office 365 subscribers who are members of the Insiders track.  The full release should happen “soon”.

Here’s how Enhanced Morph works.  Imagine we wish to show our audience what the new Office icons are going to look like.  We show a slide with the old icons, then show them a slide with the new icons.

Moving from slide to slide results in a very boring, instantaneous switch from one set of icons to the other.

If we apply a Morph transition to the second slide, the result is only a slightly less boring transition.  The icons fade from one set to the other.

The reason for this is that Morph tries to find the same object on the second slide that was on the first slide and calculate the differences between them.  Since the same icons are not on both slide, Morph defaults to a simple fade transition.

Here’s where the new Enhanced Morph come in to play.

Follow these steps to morph one object into another object.

Step 1

Starting with the two slides: Slide 1 with the old logos and Slide 2 with the new logos.

Open the Selection Pane.  The Selection Pane can be activated by pressing Alt-F10 on the keyboard or by selecting Home (tab) -> Editing (group) -> Select -> Selection Pane…

Step 2

Select an icon on the first slide and rename the icon’s label in the Selection Pane.  In this case, we will select the Excel icon and rename the icon to “Excel”.

Perform the same operation on the other icon.  In this case, we select the PowerPoint icon and rename its label to “PowerPoint”.

Repeat this process for the corresponding icons on Slide 2.

These steps alone will not give you the desired result.  The result remains a simple fade transition.

Here is the key to get all of this to work.  You must place 2 exclamation points in front of the item label.

This will programmatically connect these to object together and perform the necessary calculations in size, placement, shape, and color.

Notes about Enhanced Morph when working with complex images and shapes

When working with images or complex shapes; because there are so many variables in color, size, placement, and relationships from elements of one image to another, Enhanced Morph will only resize and fade between the two items.

If you are working with shapes that are relatively simple, like regular polygons (i.e. triangles, quadrilaterals,  pentagons, hexagons, octagons, etc…), Enhanced Morph will have a much greater chance of calculating a smooth, multi-stepped conversion from one object to another.

The key here is to experiment with different shape, sizes, colors, and positions to see what Enhanced Morph can accomplish.

Even in situations where the objects are too diverse of one another, you will at least save time from plotting motion paths and various other trickery to achieve the same result as a singe click of the Morph button.

Practice Workbook

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