The National University of Singapore have developed an add-on software called PowerPointLabs. If you are an ambitious PowerPoint user who doesn’t have time to fiddle around with learning all the tricks that experts such as the BrightCarbon staff have figured out, then you may find PowerPointLabs to be very helpful.
Power-user is an add on that claims to make you up to 40% more efficient when working in PowerPoint. It’s got a bunch of visual elements and lots of tools designed to help you make better and more impactful business documents. As a BrightCarbon employee, I spend most of my work time (and admittedly, a little bit of my free time) creating, editing, and playing around in PowerPoint. Is Power-user going to revolutionize my PowerPoint workflow? Let’s find out.
I’ve had Power-user on my machine for about two months now and have been testing it’s features and functionality. I’m going to take you through a few of the features that I’ve found most helpful, and some that will be more helpful to those who aren’t as familiar with PowerPoint as me! It’s worth noting that Power-user has features for Word and Excel too, but it’s PowerPoint capabilities will be my main focus.
There are three pricing options for Power-user.
- Free Forever: The free version gets you a limited number of template slides and visual elements. 100,000 HD pictures, 30 advanced Excel formulas and the tab explorer.
- Premium, $18.75 per month billed annually: 400 PowerPoint and Excel templates, 200 editable maps, advanced charts, automated formatting tools, shape manipulation tools, thousands of vector icons and flags.
- Premium (>9 users), $9-15 per month: All Premium features plus shared library, admin portal.
Under the Format section of the Power-user ribbon, there’s another button that says Format where you can apply a range of conditions to your entire presentation. So for example, if you want to apply new client colors to an old file, go to Replace color, scroll through all the current colors, and then change all red fills or text currently to blue. You can also do this by playing around with templates, but Replace color allows you to swap out one color without editing the entire scheme.
The formatting feature also applies to text. So if you want your company name to always be bold, or the word ‘classified’ to always be underlined, then you use Apply selective bold/italic/underline, type in the text you want to change, and select the formatting you want to apply.
This is almost as good as One font which goes through your presentation, lets you know how many different fonts there are allows you to make them all consistent. If you’ve ever collaborated on documents with a multitude of users, I don’t need to explain to you the value of this! If you’ve got a document being saved on a bunch of different machines, there’s likely to be some accidental changes in the formatting. One font not only identifies how many fonts are in your presentation, but also tells you what they are. So, if you know that you have one text box that you want in a handwriting font, and that’s the only other font listed, you know you’re okay.
You may already be familiar with the PowerPoint standard alignment and spacing tools (and if you’re not, I’m about to rock your world). They allow you to align objects to certain points on the screen, and distribute objects evenly across certain distances. These can be enormous time savers when you’re laying out a slide. Power-user took these standard alignment and spacing tools, and added some more options: Increase/decrease vertical and horizontal distance.
You can also easily make a process or step diagram by selecting items that are already aligned and selecting the increase or decrease vertical distance to evenly stagger objects, giving a staircase effect. A limitation in this is that increasing the distance will automatically make a descending staircase from left to right. If you click Decrease distance to try to go the other way, you will get stuck in a loop where your objects spread apart one step, and then go back together to decrease the distance you’ve just created. If you click decrease once, then click increase, you can create a nice ascending staircase.
If you’re craving even more alignment goodness, let me point you towards BrightCarbon’s very own PowerPoint add in BrightSlide. It supercharges PowerPoint’s alignment tools, giving you more control than ever.
Power-user offers many pre-built diagrams, some of these are already available in PowerPoint, but with less flexibility. Like PowerPoint, you can link an Excel spreadsheet and create a chart based on the data within. The circle diagram is particularly handy, because the only way to get a similar effect is with SmartArt, and spending time in SmartArt can drive a person crazy…
One thing that is unique to Power-user is the Gantt chart, which is great for inserting schedules. In theory you could achieve the same effect by inserting a table, however with a table you would be more limited in your formatting and animation options. If you insert a Gantt chart via Power-user, it will create a group of PowerPoint shapes, meaning you can ungroup and animate in column by column, or row by row. You also have much more freedom with changing the colors, text, and size of each individual object, which can be helpful. Something to note about Power-user, is that not all the charts default to the color scheme you’ve set up in your template (which PowerPoint templates do) so you’ll have to go back and recolor your chart to match the rest of your deck.
Normally when you copy something like an object or a block of text, it gets stored on this invisible space called your clipboard until you are ready to paste it, and it stays there allowing you to paste it repeatedly until you copy something else. Power-user has created a clipboard window which you can open on the left hand side of the screen. This allows you to copy multiple objects and keep them handy as you scroll through a presentation. So if you need to copy a certain logo onto some slides, and a certain text onto all the divider pages, you only have to go through the deck once instead of going through once for the slides and once for the divider pages.
I work in a community of professional PowerPoint users and developers, so I’ve got tons of resources at my disposal, including a wide variety of PowerPoint maps. However, one of the things my clients most commonly ask me for is an editable PowerPoint map. “Can you get us a map of the United States that we can change the colors of?” or “Can you get us a map of the world where we can highlight the countries we operate in?” are two questions that I get nearly every time I run a training. And yes, BrightCarbon has a bunch of editable PowerPoint maps, but you can also get one with your subscription to Power-user. Power-user even offers tips on how you can easily remove all the text labels, which is a huge time saver.
It took me a while to realize that when you hit this button it opens a new document. For a few minutes I was fumbling around wondering “how do I get out of here!?”, but hey, I make mistakes so you don’t have to. So clicking the template button launches a new PowerPoint document that is filled with pre-made slide templates. These can be helpful if you’re not super PowerPoint savvy and need to throw something together quickly. The template document features 135 slides of everything from simple, nicely laid out slides with icons and text boxes (which would serve well as value propositions), to more creative takes on timelines like windy roads and production conveyor belts.
One negative is that the default color schemes aren’t great. They’re either PowerPoint standard rainbow, or very muted blues. But, if you’ve got a color scheme already picked out that shouldn’t pose a problem.
There is a fair amount of functionality I’ve not covered here. If you choose to purchase Power-user I suggest spending a good amount of time familiarizing yourself with the different areas of the toolbar. You might be wasting time and effort trying to master something that Power-user has covered. To learn more about Power-user click here.
I received a subscription to this software free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion.Leave a comment
Jamie Garroch puts the ‘power’ in PowerPoint add-ins. He’s written code for dozens of amazing functionality boosters, some for specific organizations and some available for all users, and he's joining the BrightCarbon team! Read on to learn about the experience that Jamie is bringing to BrightCarbon and how it will help clients and the presentation community use PowerPoint more effectively.
Keeping track of all your company slides is a challenge, especially if you don’t have a proper intranet or server system. SlideKick is PowerPoint add-in that manages presentation content for a flat annual fee. It helps you to make your presentation assets readily available to other users, give everyone the most current information, and quickly search within content.
This is awesome! You guys are great to work with and we will absolutely recommend you to others.John Capuano Lone Beacon