episode 1: Do You PowerPoint 2016?

Show Notes – Episode #1


  • PowerPoint is synonymous with “Presentation” but the latest version’s name is creating some confusion with Windows and Mac versions both being named “2016.” In addition, there are different ways to get Office 2016, but not all are the same. Our three professional presentation designers discuss the details of PowerPoint 2016 in its many variations, including what we use, recommend and caution avoiding.

What version of PowerPoint do you currently use?

  • Troy: For myself and my design team, it is PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. There are computers in the studio with 2003, 2010 and 2013 as “test” computers, along with 2011 on the Mac side.
  • Sandra:  2013 primarily, but 2010 as needed and 2016 on my “travel” laptop
  • Nolan: 2016 on the PC, but split 50/50 on the Mac between 2011 and 2016.

Subscription and perpetual license options

  • Sandra: I’m using subscription 2016 on my work and travel PCs and running a VM (Virtual Machine) with Window 8.1 that runs 2013 and 2010 and another with 2010 on Window 7. My Mac is running the 2016 subscription and a VM with windows 8.1 and Office 2013.
  • Troy: Subscription is where everything is going, Adobe lead the way by ditching CDs and going to the Creative Cloud subscription. Microsoft is doing the same thing, although it’s a bit more confusing information to us as consumers, the advantages of how they are doing the subscription, mainly in releasing new features, makes it my recommended option.
  • Nolan: Microsoft can be kind of opaque to the user about new features and functionality despite the “What’s New” dialogue popup. But, I see subscription offering as the best option going forward.

Do you use PowerPoint Mobile?

  • Nolan: Occasionally IOS for quickly reviewing decks, but not for creating content.
  • Troy: I use the IOS mobile PPT for reviewing proofs from my design team a lot, but not so much with clients or presenting. I keep playing with the online version, and am amazed at how much it has improved into a real app – but I have not integrated it into my workflow.
  • Sandra: I love the PowerPoint Android app. I didn’t expect I’d ever use it for anything but viewing. However, I recently had a need to make minor edits to a presentation. I found the interface clunky (due to my unfamiliarity), but very, very doable. The overall process is very gratifying when you’re in a pinch with the easy access to OneDrive and Outlook. I downloaded the file, made edits and emailed it to the client in a matter of minutes while sitting in a restaurant.

What are your favorite features of PowerPoint 2016?

  • Troy: For me, it’s Morph, which is a new slide transition that is really a new animation. It has changed the way we develop slides (see below for links to blog posts at ThePowerPointBlog with Morph demos).  The Dark Grey color scheme (not perfect, but best option for backstage in a dark environment and 2-12 computer screens to stare at) – and, because I am on the Microsoft insider preview, I am running the new black theme on my main computer.
  • Sandra: I have to agree with Morph as my absolute favorite, but the theme style presets are also pretty cool. I especially like the ease with which I can change the transparency of a fill color, and Design Ideas, but it’s still pretty limited.
  • Nolan: PC: Ivy chart including tree maps.

What are the pitfalls of PowerPoint 2016?

  • Troy: Chart data label bug where the numbers display in 2010 and 2013, but not in 2016. The other big issue for me is the QAT sizing is forced to a wide touch screen interface setup and that is bad design to force everyone to use it. (Note: Microsoft updated PowerPoint after this podcast was recorded to make the QAT sizing rolled back to the original 2010 width – which is great!)
  • Sandra: Morph is great, but it can mimic Prezi’s dizzying motion effect. As much as I love Morph, and while there are appropriate applications for this effect, I caution users to be careful out there. There is a big issue with the duplicate chart bug, where if you duplicate a slide with a chart, then edit the new chart, the first chart data becomes a duplicate of the second chart.
  • Nolan: For me, on 2016 Mac, no QAT customization, no save as movie, no Ivy charts, no setting of custom font theme and other features, but the biggest thing is overall instability–regular crashes, cursors not being where the mouse is when using format painter, slides suddenly appearing without content, much slower saves, inconsistent visual preview when control-dragging object to duplicate; Excel is probably worse with inability to select cells text until you escape or navigate around the worksheet. Also, too many clicks to save or open files. All things that should be fixed but for now it is huge number of pitfalls.

Tips for PowerPoint 2016

  • Troy: Office 365, out of a box or subscription is valid for 2-5 installs + mobile versions. If you have multiple computers, one subscription covers them, making it a great value. The multi-install is something I have maximized for TLC. We have 3 generic named user accounts that give us Office 2016 on 15 show computers, plus our fleet of iPads and Android tablets.
  • Nolan: You can and SHOULD keep 2011 on your (Mac) machine for now; you can easily go back and forth as needed with both 2011 and 2016 installed side-by-side.

Wrap Up

  • Troy: I feel Office and PowerPoint 2016 are the future – new features and updates rolling out faster is a great model.
  • Sandra: Integration with OneDrive, which started with 2013, Office is truly available anywhere.
  • Nolan: Yes, the pace of new features is exciting when you see an update is available and open PPT to find out what’s new.


Pro Tips

  • Troy: My presentation pro-tip is using the most powerful design tool in PowerPoint, at least on the Windows side, the Quick Access Toolbar. By default, it is in the upper left and has maybe 4 buttons. But, you can add buttons for everything, position it below the Ribbon so it is easier to get to and it will make slide design a lot faster. Even more valuable is that you can export your custom QAT and load it on any other computer, so you instantly have a familiar set of quick formatting buttons. Search “QAT” on ThePowerPointBlog and I have a few posts that show all of the buttons I have added to my QAT with step-by-step instructions on how to save it out and install on another computer – I also have a download so you can cheat and instantly install my version of the QAT as a starting point.
  • Nolan: Thanks for rubbing it in that I can’t customize the QAT on Mac 2016. Break apart SmartArt (for chunking or to make better process graphics) to convert to shapes. Start with SmartArt, but don’t end there.
  • Sandra: Mine is also the Quick Access Toolbar but I’ll add that many users tend to make PowerPoint much more difficult to use than it is. A lot of the work is already done for you, such as pre-designed themes that provide color, font and layout options. Using consistent colors and fonts will go a long way to make your presentations look more professionally designed. However, the most important feature of these themes are the pre-designed layouts for consistently positioning your headlines, body copy, charts, images, etc.


Tech Tips

  • Nolan: CloudConvert.com is a free online conversion tool from any format to any format.
  • Sandra: I love the free Text-to-Outline addin created by Jamie Garroch at YOU Present. It is free and creates PowerPoint shapes of text so you can create mask effects like Photoshop and distribute your presentation with non-system fonts.
  • Troy: Lynda.com’s offline Windows and iPad app, you do need a subscription, but the offline player apps are included and work great. I spool up 5-6 full courses for flights and downtime while travelling.


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