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.
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. On each slide, select everything/every object and set the font consistently to a decent sans-serif
  4. Take out excessive drop shadows, gradients, reflections, rounded edges if you can
  5. 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.
  6. Cut text, change prose-style text into headline style text. Remove exclamation marks, italics, and underlining. Remove excessive use of bold type.
  7. Align and distribute objects as much as possible to get some order back into the slide
  8. If you have time, start breaking up busy slides into multiple slides
  9. 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.

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