How PowerPoint's New Shape Tools Can Upgrade Your Training Design

The more I experiment with PowerPoint 2010's new features, the more I'm impressed.  Here's a quick video that nicely highlights some of the coolest new features.

Cool, eh?  And, those are just some highlights.  My two favorite new features aren't even featured in the video: the shape union and shape subtract tools.

Unlike grouping which doesn't fully unite the shapes into one new shape, the shape union tool allows you to blend shapes to create your own custom shapes.   Likewise, the shape subtract tool allows you to remove a shape or a portion of a shape from another shape.  Here are a few illustrations to show you what I mean.

Not only do these tools open up a world of possibilities, they'll also save you the time, money, and frustration of hunting for simple clip-art images or icons.  No more time spent un-grouping or re-coloring clip-art to make it fit your visual design.  Now you can make many of your own objects with just a few clicks and some creativity!

Before you can use these new features you'll need to do some quick customization of your PowerPoint ribbon (a shout-out to Microsoft for making the ribbon fully customizable in 2010).  The I Came, I Saw, I Learned Blog has some great step-by-step instructions for customizing your ribbon with the new shape tools. I also recommend reading the PowerPoint Team Blog for some easy-to-follow steps for using the tools.

And, for even more creative ideas on how to put these tools to work for you, I've pulled together the following tutorials.

1. Use Shape Union and Subtract to Create a Key Hole Effect - Use this effect to play with perspective, to add emphasis, or to enhance an exploratory exercise.

2. Use Shape Subtract to Create a Moving Airplane Window effect - This could be a fun way to do a menu, to play with perspective, or with video as a backdrop - to act as a frame for your story.

3. Use Shape Union and Subtract to Create a Key-Based Learning Exercise (via - I think the key & lock metaphor is a great way to build a learning exercise - particularly in a sales/service training or presentation.

Looking for more PowerPoint tips, tricks, and ideas? Check out some of these posts from the Mindflash archives:

Which of these ideas are you going to try first?  What creative uses have you come up with for the shape union & shape subtract tools?  Please share them with us and drop us a line.


Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own training design muscles.

Learn more with a free live demo.

See how your retail business can leverage Mindflash to deliver consistent, up-to-date, on-brand training affordably.