Nobody wants to work harder than they have to and creating a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation from scratch can suck up your time like a black hole. It’s tedious and let’s face it, a good presentation requires a bit of artistic know-how, which most of us just don’t have. We know what we like, but we don’t always know how to achieve the images we see in our mind.
Fortunately, PowerPoint can now create your entire presentation for you, leaving a nearly complete presentation that will require only a little tweaking from you. In this article, I’ll show you how to combine Word to PowerPoint and PowerPoint’s new artificial intelligence Designer to create a new presentation in seconds. It’s not magic, but it certainly seems like it when you consider the time you’re going to save.
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First, we’ll export the content from a Word file into PowerPoint, and then we’ll let PowerPoint’s Designer take over to apply existing slide designs. It’s quick and it’s easy.
I’m using Microsoft 365 and Word and PowerPoint for the web. These two features are only available in the web apps, but you can download the resulting presentation and continue working in the desktop version. You can download the .docx demonstration file or work with your own Word file. Just be sure to use the built-in heading styles to drop in a title and a few subheadings.
How to export a Word document to PowerPoint
It’s not uncommon for a presentation to begin life in Word as text. With the textual part of the presentation done, you can push it into PowerPoint:
- With your Word document open in Word for the web (this feature isn’t available in desktop PowerPoint), as shown in Figure A, click the File tab.
- In the left pane, click Export.
- In the resulting dialog, click Export to PowerPoint Presentation (Preview) (Figure B), which connects to PowerPoint.
At this point, the real magic begins.
Let PowerPoint Designer do the work
Once launched, Word will display a gallery of possible PowerPoint design themes but notice that each thumbnail displays your Word document’s title! That’s where built-in styles come in handy; this feature recognizes your headings and will distribute the context among slides accordingly. (Use the mostly blank thumbnail when you already have a customized theme to apply.)
The first thumbnail is already selected, as shown in Figure C—look for the blue border.
However, there are many more to choose from, so take a minute to thumb through the different options if you like. The selected design is great for our presentation, so click Export to finish the process. Wait for the feature to prepare the slides and then click Open Presentation when prompted.
It’s important to note a few limitations:
- First, for now, this feature works only with the English language.
- Second, this feature will not export tables and figures.
Now that you know what the feature can’t do, let’s look at what it can do—trust me, it’s impressive.
PowerPoint launches with completely designed slides and your text, as shown in Figure D. Notice that the slides reflect the built-in Word heading styles thanks to the new AI design component.
The second slide has no subheading because the first two paragraphs after the Heading 1—the presentation title—don’t have another heading. PowerPoint displays the first Heading 2 text, Themes and styles, on the third slide. The content is the Normal text paragraph following that subheading. Similarly, the fourth and fifth slides, use Heading 2 text and Normal text to populate those slides. In a nutshell, PowerPoint displays Heading 1 text on a slide by itself. Other headings contain a subheading and the content following that heading.
At this point, you could stop if you’re happy with the results, but most of the time, you will want to tweak things, at least a bit.
Editing the draft presentation
In Normal view, shown in Figure E, you can continue to make design changes.
Simply select a slide and then apply a different slide design from the Designer pane. With a few quick clicks, you can completely change a slide. The designer also offers changes for the other slides.
Click through the slides to see the interesting graphical layout the designer chose. These components are also editable. You can also customize the slide.
To update the text, simply click the appropriate shape. As shown in Figure F, you can edit the text in the displayed text box.
You can even change shape colors using the Designer pane. A few of the slides contain images and you can easily swap those out for others.
The new features are available only in the web apps, but once you have the basic presentation, you can download it to your local drive and open and edit it using the desktop version of PowerPoint. Or continue to work in PowerPoint for the web. It’s up to you.
Someone familiar with PowerPoint might recognize your presentation as one of PowerPoint’s many existing designs, but they’ll secretly applaud you for taking advantage of the feature. Most won’t know anything about the upscaled Designer, so your designer-created presentation that took you minutes to create will impress nearly everyone. No one needs to know that it took minutes instead of hours!