PowerPoint Shortcuts That’ll Make You Less Annoying

November 11th, 2010

There is no feeling of helplessness quite like that of being stuck in a terrible presentation with no possibility of escape.  While the standard cause of this misery is insipid material, the misuse of PowerPoint by ostensibly intelligent scientists can also be maddening.  With this in mind, I ask—nay, implore—you to do me a big favor and learn a few of PowerPoint’s shortcut functions:

1)  Jumping slides.  I rarely use animated transitions, but when used judiciously, I think they can be effective.  What really bugs the hell out of me is when someone in the audience asks to go a couple of slides back, and the presenter ends up clicking the back arrow fifty times in order to retreat through all of the layers of animation.  That. is. annoying.

Not only is it annoying, it is completely unnecessary.  PowerPoint allows you to advance directly to any slide in your presentation by typing the slide number and hitting enter.  Remember, if someone asks you to bring up a slide that has animations on it, you might want to jump one slide forward of it and then hit the back arrow so you don’t have to re-execute all of the animations.

2)  Restarting presentations.  How many times have you seen someone exit a presentation to start a video, then end up restarting the presentation from the beginning?  The next ten seconds (or two minutes, if the guy loves animations) are then spent scrolling forward to get back to where the person left off.

Don’t do this.  You can restart your presentation from where you left off by hitting SHIFT+F5.  Hitting F5 will start the presentation from the beginning.

3)  Blanking the screen.  I once saw a presenter raise the screen to use the chalkboard while comically squinting under the intense illumination of the projector.  If you need to use the board, you need not make a fool of yourself or shut down the projector.  Simply, type “B” during your presentation to black out the projected image.  Hitting “B” again toggles back to your slide.  And just so you know, hitting “W” toggles a white screen on and off.

So…in the words of the great Judge Reinhold: learn it, know it, live it.

16 Responses to “PowerPoint Shortcuts That’ll Make You Less Annoying”

  1. Chemjobber Says:

    So true.

    Another annoying peeve: people who answer questions using the edit screen instead of the full screen version.

  2. Matt Says:

    @CJ .. um … er … I am TOTALLY guilty of that one.
    Although, now that I’ve gotten used to setting up presenter mode (where I see different things – slide sorter, current slide, notes, time elapsed) than my audience (current slide), things are sooo much easier.

  3. J-bone Says:

    I didn’t know any of these so thank you for the tips (although I’ve yet to use animation or videos in my presentation so I guess now I’ll avoid the awkwardness you described).

    “No shirt, no shoes, NOOOOOO DICE!”

  4. Jan Jensen Says:

    Is there even a reason to quit and restart powerpoint? I use the command-tab (windows key-tab for PCs) to switch between powerpoint and other open applications such as movies.

  5. excimer Says:

    For you Friends of Steve, the B/W black/white screen shortcuts also work in Keynote.

  6. Matt T Says:

    One thing that always irked me was that people never saved their presentations as PPS(X) files so, when opened, it was in slide-show mode. There have been many a time I watched someone struggle with a touchpad to find and click the tiny “slide show” button in the lower-left corner.

    Then again, the *good* thing about someone opening a PPT(X) is that I can see how many slides I’ll have to sit (or suffer) through before it starts.

  7. Eric F. Brown Says:

    The function key F5 starts the presentation from slide 1.

  8. Eric F. Brown Says:

    Sorry about the replication of your advice in my comment. I’ll be more careful with electrons in the future.

  9. Ason Says:

    I saw a rather auspicious professor give a talk where he used a tablet PC to mark up his slides as he spoke. It turned out to be very brilliant since he could underline certain parts of each slide he really wanted to underscore—much like you do with a laser pointer, but it doesn’t disappear. He also could write simple equations.

    The effect was very conversational, and it was probably one of the best uses of technology in a presentation I have seen for some time. Two questions from the audience were about his tablet PC.

  10. Paul Says:

    For his second and third offenses of egregious comment diarrhea, Wolfie is now banned from posting comments for two months.

  11. McChemist Says:

    But having a slide full of text, and reading out the entirety of the text word for word, is still perfectly okay, right?


  12. Chemjobber Says:

    Yes, but you must mumble them. Otherwise, the words would retain their power.

  13. P Says:

    Is there a shortcut for jumping between slides in the navigation pane while creating a presentation? (NOT during the slide show, but in edit mode). Can’t find it anywhere, but I know it exists!

  14. PowerPoint Peeves and Chemistry Arrows | ChemBark Says:

    […] continuing series on PowerPoint advice continues with a look at another one of my irrational pet peeves: the […]

  15. Antoine Kamel Says:

    Thank you a lot! Very useful tip!

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