Five Simple Steps to Merging PowerPoint Presentations in Minutes, Not Hours

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Vickie Sokol Evans explains the techniques that can be used in Microsoft PowerPoint for PC or Mac

If you’ve ever been responsible for managing the slide deck for an important meeting where multiple presenters needed you to combine their presentations into the “official presentation”, then you know how stressful and time consuming this task can be.

Many assistants tell me that this process gives them panic attacks. Because you are relying on multiple presenters, the quality of each presentation submitted won’t be the same. Each presenter has their own skill level and experience with PowerPoint. When a presenter misses a deadline, it impacts your deadlines, plus there will always be last-minute changes. It is going to take a lot of effort, time, and confidence to get this done so expect to work late hours at the office.

Well, consider this problem solved if you’re using Microsoft PowerPoint on either PC or Mac. In fact, you’re just minutes away (not hours) from accomplishing your task. Your confidence will be sky high and your stress levels, extremely low to non-existent.

Here’s our task

The Quarterly Town Hall meeting is approaching. There will be three presenters from within the company we’ll call Contoso: Mr. London, Mr. Sydney, and Ms. Austin. We ultimately want one slide deck, so each presenter can quickly take the stage without taking time during the meeting to load each new PowerPoint file between presenters.

Note: If you want to follow along, pick three existing presentations you have and assume they are from our three fictitious presenters.

Note: If you want to follow along, pick three existing presentations you have and assume they are from our three fictitious presenters.

Part 1: Set up the file

A. Start with your company template or use your company-branded PowerPoint Theme

In real life, while the presenters are each working on their slides, you can start setting up the official presentation.

Using a Company Template

Download the company template from your Intranet or use a recent company-branded presentation. Delete any slides you don’t need.

Using your Company Theme

If your company has created a company-branded PowerPoint Theme, then open a blank presentation in PowerPoint and apply your company theme by going to the Design tab, in the Themes group, and click your company Theme to apply the company-branded slides and layouts.

In either case, save the new file as “Contoso Town Hall Meeting” and insert a Title Slide as your first slide and add “Town Hall Meeting” in the Title Placeholder.

B. Add Sections

PowerPoint “Sections” allow you to group slides together so that you can organize your topic or speaker slides, effortlessly navigate your presentation and easily print logical sections of slides. It was one of MY favorite features introduced in PowerPoint 2010 for PC and is available for both PC and Mac. Here is an example of sections added to the Town Hall Meeting presentation.

To create sections in your presentation

1.In either Normal or Slide Sorter view, click the space after the Title slide in the presentation. On the Home tab, in the Slides group, click Section. Select Add Section to create a new section after the current slide. Name the section London.

2. Click in the space after Mr. London’s section and this time, right-click to display the shortcut menu and choose Add Section. You’ve now seen two ways to add a new section: from the ribbon and from right-clicking.

3. Repeat the steps above so that you have the following sections in your presentation: Opening Slides, Mr. London, Mr. Sydney, Ms. Austin, Closing Slides

To rename a Section

1. If you must rename a section, right-click the section name and select Rename.

2. Repeat as necessary.

C. Add standard slides

After you’ve created the file and added the Title slide and sections, your next step is to add any other standard slides to the presentation while the presenters are working on their slides. Then wait patiently for their slides.

Part 2: Merge presenter slides

Now this is where all the fun begins. I’m not kidding!  After you learn how to correctly do this, you’re going to have a lot of fun with this task.

Step 1: Copy all slides from their presentations

1.Open the first presenter’s presentation file, such as Mr. London. IMPORTANT: Ignore any formatting, design, or template used. You’ll focus on that after you’ve pasted them into your presentation.

2. Select all the slides in the presentation by selecting one slide and then using Ctrl+A (PC) or Cmd+A (Mac).

3. Copy the slides to the clipboard by using Ctrl+C (PC) or Cmd+C (Mac).

Step 2: Paste their slides into your presentation

1.Find Mr. London’s section in your Town Hall slide deck and click in the space after the Section name.

2. Using Ctrl+V (PC) or Cmd+V (Mac), paste Mr. London’s slides into your slide deck. Note that the default paste function is “destination theme” which means the template Mr. London used, will not be brought over. Some of his manual formatting will be brought over, but I’ll show you how to get rid of that in step 4.

Step 3: Change Presenter’s Title Slide to a Section Header layout

Assuming Mr. London used the standard Title Slide as the first slide in HIS slide deck, let’s change Mr. London’s first slide from Title Slide layout to Section Header layout in YOUR slide deck.

1. Select Mr. London’s first slide.

2. On the Home tab, in the Slides group, click the Layout drop down to view all the layouts available to you.

3. Select the Section Header layout.

Note: If your template does not have a Section Header layout, look for a layout called Divider or Section or Topic/Subtopic.

Step 4: Reset each slide to match your template

Changing the layout in the last step should reposition all the content, but there still may be some weird formatting or misaligned content. Here’s where it gets really good. You’re going to LOVE the Reset button!

The Reset button has to be the best kept secret in all of PowerPoint history. In my 20+ years supporting PowerPoint users, 80-90% of the time knowledge of the reset button would have saved hours of time, reduced stress and prevented missed deadlines. For instance, suppose you accidentally nudged the slide’s title out of position. Or someone changed the font on the slide to something other than what the font SHOULD be. Or you have a vast buffet of inconsistencies (colors, fonts, bullets). Rather than individually fix each item, click the Reset button to reset the slide to the defined Slide Layout.  It’s brilliant!  No, it’s magical.

Let’s make sure Mr. London’s first slide doesn’t have any weird formatting on it.

1. On the Home tab, in the Slide group, click Reset to reset the current slide to the definition of the layout. All of the bad formatting should disappear!

1. Once you’ve reset the slide to match the layout, you may need to make a few adjustments but thankfully, the fonts, bullets, colors and positioning of content should now be consistent with the other slides, or at least consistent with your company’s template or Theme.

2. Go to the next slide and click the Reset If you don’t like what the Reset button does, you can also Undo and then make your changes manually. The shortcut key for Undo is Ctrl+Z (PC) and Cmd+Z (Mac).

3. Go to the next slide and click the Reset Repeat for each slide.

Step 5: Change the layout if necessary

1. If Step 4 doesn’t reset the content correctly, it may be a layout issue. You may need to change the layout of the slide. On the Home tab, in the Slide group, click Layout and apply the correct layout.

2. Then always click the Reset button whenever you change a slide’s layout.

Repeat Steps 1-5 for each presenter and celebrate!

How much effort required of you when pulling together slides from multiple presenters is traditionally dependent on the quality other the presenters’ slides, which makes sense why the task causes so much anxiety. You don’t have control over the timeliness and quality of their deliverables. And you never will. But by learning these five simple steps, my hope is that you can now relax and stop worrying about what you’re going to get and when. You have the tools, skills, confidence, and now EXCITEMENT to tackle this assignment each and every time thanks to PowerPoint’s magical Reset button.

Your final step is to evaluate how much time this task used to take multiplied by the number of times you do this each year. Next, compare it what it takes now (per year) to determine your ROI from reading this article and subscribing to Executive Secretary Magazine. Share your findings with your manager during your next review and share this training with your colleagues! They’ll love you for it.

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About Author

Vickie Sokol Evans

Literally making the audiences’ jaws drop, Vickie Sokol Evans, author of the bestselling “100 Tips” series for both PC & Mac, teaches the world’s smartest people how to use their technology better. She's witty, sharp, pointed and knows more about how to get the most from Microsoft, Google and Apple productivity tools – teaching Assistants (and their teams) tricks to turn what usually takes hours into solutions that takes minutes, by learning how to use the programs to their full potential. She is a Microsoft Certified Trainer with over 20 certifications and founder of The Red Cape Company, headquartered in Austin, Texas. Vickie will be speaking at Executive Secretary LIVE in Johannesburg, 28-29 February and London 27-28 March 2020. For further information and to book, visit www.executivesecretarylive.com

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