Sometimes a horrible-looking deck lands in your inbox that needs to be presented in a couple of hours. What can you do in the last minute? Here are some rescue tools, with specific instructions for PowerPoint 2011 running on a Mac.
- Squeeze all slides into the same slide template so that titles are all lined up across pages. Select a slide and go to the layout button at the top left of the PowerPoint ribbon. Strip the template of background watermarks
- Pick 1-2 colours that fit the graphical language of the organisation that is delivering the presentation and use them to replace all standard Microsoft Office colours across the deck
- On each slide, select everything/every object and set the font consistently to a decent sans-serif
- Take out excessive drop shadows, gradients, reflections, rounded edges if you can
- Un-stretch images by selecting them, right-clicking, go to the format picture dialogue, select size, and make sure that the height and width percentages are the same to recover the original aspect ratio. Re-crop if necessary.
- Cut text, change prose-style text into headline style text. Remove exclamation marks, italics, and underlining. Remove excessive use of bold type.
- Align and distribute objects as much as possible to get some order back into the slide
- If you have time, start breaking up busy slides into multiple slides
- Fix data charts: remove ticks marks, gap width to 50%, replace the Microsoft Office standard colours, round up numbers, put in the consistent font, scale up the chart to fit the biggest area possible.