PowerPoint: 5 tips to become a slideshow superhero

You can't escape PowerPoint - but there are ways to become a master presenter with just a few simple tips and tricks

Grainne Hallahan

Superman as PowerPoint superhero

The humble PowerPoint. It can be your saviour when it comes to the rescue in a cover lesson...but it can also be your workload nemesis: sucking up your planning time as you try to "jazz up" each slide.

Whether you love it or hate it, you’re probably going to need these hacks at some point, because as a teacher it is virtually impossible to escape PowerPoint.

1. Hide and seek

This is a hidden gem: you can use "find" for large PowerPoints with many slides.

A simple presentation can sometimes grow into a gargantuan monster of a resource. Slides can be added until you have a whole scheme of learning on one PowerPoint slide, designed to last weeks.

But what do you do when you want to find one specific slide in there?

Just like MS Word, PowerPoint has the "find" tool, and it will come to your rescue when you have that needle in a pedagogical haystack.

Simply click "home" and then on the far right you will see ‘find’ and a little magnifying glass. Or Ctrl+F will do the same.

Quick read: MS Word hacks: 6 ways to supercharge this everyday tool

Quick listen: 3 myths about project-based learning

From the magazine: How tidying up my teaching put the joy back in the job

2. Cover up

There are times in your lesson where you don’t want the screen on. You might need the students to focus on you and the work in front of them, or you might simply need to flick between the whiteboard and PowerPoint slides.

Whatever the problem, the solution isn’t turning the projector off and on, or fiddling to minimise the presentation (we can see your emails, Miss!).

Instead, just hit B and the screen will go black, until you hit it again, and you return to your presentation.

3. Auto-update

The joy of being in the middle period of a specification change means that we finally can start reusing our lessons from the previous year. The sticking point? Having to change all the dates. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

@shadylady222 on Twitter shared this great hack for updating the date on all your presentations. 

•          Click the Insert tab.

•          Click the Date and Time button.

•          Select the date or time format you want.

•          To have the date and time automatically update, select Update automatically.

•          Click OK – and you're done.

4. Record the visualiser

Live marking on Word or using a visualiser can be transformative for your students' learning experience – but sadly, once it's done, it's gone forever. Or is it?

Not if you use PowerPoint "record screen" to record your computer screen while you’re live marking on the visualiser or word.

All you need to do is select "insert" and then "screen recording". You can crop a selection of the screen, or record the whole screen, and then it can be inserted into the PowerPoint and saved forever!

5. Note prompter

This is an almost too-simple-to-be-true hack: presenter mode.

If you want your screen to display your notes, simple go to "slideshow", and select the checkbox for presenter view – and never be lost for your notes again.

No doubt you have your own hints and tricks for getting the most from PowerPoint – let us know below.

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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