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Lesson 1 – Where to start when creating a presentation. Effective presentations start with an outline that ensures the message is clear and compelling. I’ll show you three steps to create an outline for your presentation.

Lesson 2 – How to reduce the single biggest complaint of audiences today: information overload. You will learn how to reduce the information in your presentation to only what the audience needs to hear.

Lesson 3 – Why you should plan your slides on paper before you create them in software. PowerPoint does not help you think about what each slide should look like. You will learn how to plan each slide before sitting down at the computer so you spend much less time in the software.

Lesson 4 – Designing slides so they are easy to see. How do you select colors and fonts that are easy for the audience to see? You will learn how to use tools I have created that give you objective answers based on research.

Lesson 5 – Best practices for graphs. When presenting numbers, a graph is usually much better than a table of numbers. I’ll show you what to watch out for and how to clean up the default graphs in PowerPoint.

Lesson 6 – Using photos and images. One of the first visuals that presenters use is a photo. In this lesson you will learn where to find great photos that you can legally use and make them look good on your slides.

Lesson 7 – Delivery Tips. Once you have your slides prepared from your outline, you need to prepare to deliver your presentation. I’ll give you insider tips that the pros use to deliver confidently and tell you about the best tool for presenting your PowerPoint presentation on an iPad.

Then, every two weeks, you and the other over 8,000 subscribers will receive another practical tip or technique you can use immediately to improve the effectiveness of your PowerPoint presentations.  To see the newsletter archives, scroll down this page for all previous issues

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Archives

Almost all of the articles in the newsletter issues from the last few years have also been organized by topic in the Articles section of the site. The archives by year are below. Click on the year to expand the list of newsletters published in that year.

 

Year: 2014
  • Why SmartArt is often misused; Issue #326 December 9, 2014 At my workshops I suggest that people not use the SmartArt feature of PowerPoint. Example slides I reviewed at a recent workshop reinforced how this feature is often misused. The big issue is that most people pick SmartArt based on how nice it looks vs. whether it effectively communicates the ...
  • Finding and Using Vector icons in PowerPoint; Issue #325 November 25, 2014 Today’s article was inspired by a topic that fellow PowerPoint MVP Nolan Haims covered in one of his sessions at the recent Presentation Summit. When he was speaking about using icons, he stressed how vector icons are better than image icons. Today I want to explore this topic in some ...
  • A presenter’s most important resource; Issue #324 November 11, 2014 What is the most important resource for a presenter? Some may say it is time. Time to prepare and the time spent delivering the presentation. Some may say it is knowledge. The knowledge of the topic and knowing how to communicate that message. And others would have different answers. I ...
  • Best of the Presentation Summit 2014; Issue #323 October 28, 2014 Two weeks ago I attended and presented two sessions at the Presentation Summit, the annual presentation design conference hosted by Rick Altman. As I usually do the first newsletter after the conference, here are a few of the best ideas from the conference. My first session was on creating visuals for ...
  • Confusing the message with supporting information; Issue #322 October 14, 2014 A recent consulting assignment was a good demonstration of the problem presenters run into when they confuse their message with the supporting information. My client was presenting to executives to suggest what they should do about a situation in one of their divisions. The problem was that she had structured the ...
  • Have a backup story ready; Issue #321 September 30, 2014 While I was working with an executive earlier this year on an important presentation she was delivering at a conference, I realized how important it is to have a backup story ready. If you are relying on a story to illustrate a key point in your presentation, this may be ...
  • Discernment; Issue #320 September 16, 2014 Discernment is defined as making wise decisions or judging well. In order to make wise decisions as a presenter, you have to ask the right questions. Too often, presenters don’t ask key questions that help them determine the content and approach that will be most successful. Why don’t presenters ask the ...
  • Jargon and Acronyms; Issue #319 September 2, 2014 For a number of years I have been advising participants in my workshops to minimize the use of jargon or acronyms in their presentations to audiences that will likely not know what those terms mean. I didn’t fully realize how problematic these were until the results of my recent survey ...
  • Paperless handouts; Issue #318 August 9, 2014 The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and hybrid laptop/tablet devices in organizations has given presenters opportunities to move towards paperless handouts. A recent client experience had me re-examine methods that can work today. The attendees at this particular workshop are all regularly travelling and this has necessitated them moving to an almost ...
  • Free Pre-Made Diagrams; Issue #317 August 5, 2014 Where do you turn when you want to use a diagram to show a sequence relationship or a relationship between entities (two of the six categories of messages I overview in this SlideShare deck)? Microsoft will tell you to use SmartArt. I suggest you don’t use SmartArt. It is inflexible, hard ...
  • Review of a Data Viz Checklist; Issue #316 July 22, 2014 In the last six to nine months I have been paying more attention to the world of data visualization. This is the practice of showing data in a visual way that clearly communicates the message. This is important to presenters of financial, operational, and technical information. I have found this industry ...
  • When you should use a dual-axis graph; Issue #315 July 8, 2014 It is not uncommon to see a graph with two axes. But it is rare that the graph makes information easier to understand for the audience. It usually confuses the audience and obscures any message the presenter was trying to deliver. In this article I want to explain why dual-axis ...
  • Don’t start by copying previous slides; Issue #314 June 24, 2014 Participants in my workshops confirm it every time I ask. The most common way professionals start preparing their presentation is to copy slides from previous files. The presenter picks all the slides they think might be useful in this presentation. This is a big mistake that causes many presentations to ...
  • Sources for Free Images; Issue #313 June 10, 2014 Photos are one of the types of visuals that many presenters include in their presentations. There are photos that are specific to our organization, like product photos, photos of our staff, screen captures of an internal system, and photos of our locations or facilities. We use these photos to illustrate ...
  • Universal Indicators; Issue #312 May 27, 2014 Next week I am presenting a workshop to accountants in Vancouver. One of the points I will be making is that when you show a number that indicates the difference between a measured figure and a standard, you need to use an indicator so the audience knows whether this is ...
  • What presenters can learn from how TV shows start; Issue #311 May 13, 2014 When you watch a TV show these days, whether it is a half-hour sitcom or a one hour drama, how does it start? Why is that relevant to presenters? That’s what this article is all about. The change in TV shows In the past, TV shows started with a listing of the ...
  • Diverging Stacked Bar Charts; Issue #310 April 29, 2014 When I first heard the name of this visual, diverging stacked bar chart, it seemed complex. As I learned more about it, I realized how valuable it is to know about this type of visual in business presentations. In this article I want to show you what this visual is ...
  • Creating slides that print well in B&W; Issue #309 April 15, 2014 One of the participants at last Thursday’s workshop asked how the colorful charts and visuals I was showing would work when printed in grayscale on a black and white laser printer. For those who usually present with printed slides instead of projecting them on a screen, this is a real ...
  • Waterfall Graphs; Issue #308 April 1, 2014 One of the examples you see in this video on what people will learn in my workshops on presenting financial and operational data to executives, is a waterfall graph being used to show the components of the change between a starting value and an ending value. After I showed an ...
  • Numbers only measure a story; Issue #307 March 18, 2014 Why do presenters use so many spreadsheets and tables of numbers in their presentations? The answer I get from participants in my workshops is that the numbers and analysis are important. The audience needs to see all the numbers. In this article I want to explain why I think that ...
  • Make Numbers Visual; Issue #306 March 4, 2014 Last fall at the Presentation Summit conference, I started to evolve my focus, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I have come to realize that how I help presenters the best is to show them how to make the numbers in their presentations visual. To take the ...
  • Are your slides Re-Tweetable?; Issue #305 February 18, 2014 What does Twitter have to do with effective slides in your PowerPoint presentation? A lot more than you think. This occurred to me last week as I was helping a client prepare a presentation for an upcoming investor conference. Twitter gives us an interesting way to measure how much of ...
  • 3 Tips for making column graphs even clearer; Issue #304 February 4, 2014 In my workshops, I always recommend creating graphs in PowerPoint rather than copying them from Excel, because they are easier to edit and it avoids some of the problems of the entire spreadsheet being embedded into the PowerPoint file. Unfortunately, when you create a graph in PowerPoint, the default graph ...
  • Using Amazon Storybuilder to outline a presentation; Issue #303 January 21, 2014 Late last year Amazon Studios introduced a tool that will be helpful for presenters. Amazon Studios is a movie studio that helps produce films for film makers. How would their tools relate to presentations? Like the stories that film makers tell, our presentations should tell a story. In this article ...
  • 3 Steps to Lead Presentation Change in 2014; Issue #302 January 7, 2014 When I am delivering my workshops, a common concern is raised by the participants. They think that the ideas I share are great, they really like the slide makeovers I show them, but they are concerned that the new visuals they create won’t meet with management approval. So they don’t ...

 

Year: 2013
  • Proportional Object Collection Calculator; Issue #301 December 10 2013 Earlier this year I created an online tool to calculate the sizes of two shapes based on values that you input. This allows you to create a diagram with two proportional shapes. I wrote about this calculator in the June 11 issue of the newsletter and gave examples of the ...
  • Celebrating 300 newsletter issues; November 26, 2013 Today I am celebrating the 300th issue of my newsletter. I have been writing this newsletter every two weeks for almost 11 years. I would not be able to keep writing if it was not for the support and encouragement that my loyal readers have shown. If you are not ...
  • Show steps in a process; October 29, 2013 When you need to explain a process, whether it is a manufacturing process, process for handling expense claims, or process for installing a new system, there are steps you want to walk the audience through. The default template in PowerPoint leads many presenters to use a numbered list of steps: ...
  • Ideas from the 2013 Presentation Summit; October 15, 2013 Every year when I speak at and attend the Presentation Summit conference I come back with great ideas from other presentation experts that I can adapt or use in my own presentations. Last month the conference was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and in this article I want to share three ...
  • Results of the 2013 Annoying PowerPoint Survey; Issue #296 October 1, 2013 To see the results of the latest Annoying PowerPoint Survey, click here. Share this:ShareEmailPrintTwitterLinkedInGoogle
  • Donut Graphs; Issue #295 September 17, 2013 For the last year or two I have noticed newspapers and magazines using donut graphs more often to show proportional data results. Donut graphs may look like they are hard to create, but they are actually built into PowerPoint, so any presenter can use them. Here is an example that ...
  • Three uses for a black slide; Issue #294 September 3, 2013 In a workshop last week in the Boston area a participant noticed that I effectively used black slides during the workshop and wanted to know more about how and when to use them. It is a topic I cover in the workshop, and in this article I will share with ...
  • The grammar of text on slides; Issue #293 August 20, 2013 Despite what some commentators say, I don’t believe that we should eliminate all text from every slide. In my workshops I explain that text on slides is necessary and helps the audience in many ways. In this article, I want to talk about the grammar of text on slides. I ...
  • Should you switch to 16:9 slides?; Issue #292 August 6, 2013 One of the big changes in the latest version of PowerPoint is that the default aspect ratio (ratio of width to height) for slides is 16:9. In all previous versions, the default aspect ratio was 4:3. Why the change? Because widescreen formats are becoming more popular for projectors and TVs ...
  • Updating the three “Tell Them” statements; Issue #291 July 23, 2013 There is a classic piece of advice that many presenters have heard when thinking about how to structure their presentation. The advice is to: “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.” I think this advice is outdated and in ...
  • Don’t put yourself in a cage of text; Issue #290 July 9, 2013 When audience members tell me in my Annoying PowerPoint survey that the speaker reading the slides is the most annoying thing about bad PowerPoint slides, some of the blame must be put on the “wall of text” slides that presenters use. Today I want to talk about how all this ...
  • Eliminate 75% of the numbers; Issue #289 June 25, 2013 Information overload is the single biggest issue in presentations today according to audience members I have surveyed. In my book, Present It So They Get It, I devote a chapter to five strategies for laser focusing your information to avoid the overload problem. One of those strategies is to eliminate ...
  • Proportional Shape Comparison Diagrams; Issue #288 June 11, 2013 In February I launched a tool on my website that allows you to create diagrams like this: I refer to this type of diagram as a proportional shape comparison diagram because the size of the shapes allows the viewer to instantly compare the numbers each shape represents. These types of ...
  • Be prepared: VGA is going away; Issue #287 May 28, 2013 For many years presenters have walked into a room and connected their laptop to the projector using a VGA cable. All that will change in the next two years. The VGA port is being phased out by computer manufacturers. In this article I want to suggest what presenters can do ...
  • Context Before Conclusion; Issue #285 April 30, 2013 When you show a slide on the screen, the audience will naturally look at it and start to decipher it. When they believe they understand it, they turn back to the presenter to hear what they are saying. Notice the sequence. The audience comes to a conclusion about the meaning ...
  • Word clues to better organize information; Issue #284 April 16, 2013 With information overload being the number one issue for audiences today, how can presenters better organize their information so it is easier to understand? I see hundreds and hundreds of slides for each customized workshop I do as I create the slide makeovers for that group. I have come up ...
  • Reduce the words in each point; Issue #283 April 2, 2013 In my latest book, Present It So They Get It, I provide five strategies for reducing the information in your presentation down to just what the audience needs to know. Information overload is the single biggest issue in presentations today, and in my workshops, this section on reducing information overload ...
  • Raise the average two slides at a time; Issue #282 March 19, 2013 At the end of my workshops, I ask the participants if they have practical ideas that they can implement immediately to improve the effectiveness of their slides. Without exception, they all say that they have plenty of ideas they can use. In fact, the challenge is that they feel overwhelmed ...
  • Testing your slides; Issue #281 March 5, 2013 What does the audience think when they see a spelling error or other mistake on your slides? They start to wonder if you really took the time to look at your slides before you presented and they question how much you care about delivering a great presentation for them. A ...
  • Five tips for preparing financial slides; Issue #280 February 19, 2013 Financial information is a part of many presentations today. Whether you are presenting the budget for next year, current project spending status, or any other financial information, resist the temptation to just copy a spreadsheet and paste it on a slide. Copied spreadsheets overwhelm the audience and leave them confused. ...
  • Design visuals vs. Content visuals; Issue #279 February 5, 2013 Some presenters think that adding visuals, especially pictures, will instantly improve their slides. I agree that visuals can improve your slides, but only if those visuals help communicate your message more effectively. In this article I want to discuss the difference between design visuals and content visuals. Let me start by ...
  • Timeline Visuals; Issue #278 January 22, 2013 In a presentation where you have to share with the audience when some events happened or are planned to occur, don’t use a list of dates and descriptions. While accurate, a simple list does not help the audience to understand the time span involved and when the events occur within ...
  • Conference call presentations; Issue #277 January 8, 2013 Last year a client asked me for some ideas on how to effectively present when your audience is attending via conference call. You have sent your presentation to the audience members via e-mail, and now you go through it while the audience listens to your over the phone. As the ...

 

Year: 2012
  • Sharing your presentation online; Issue #276 December 11, 2012 Recently I offered some ways that you could turn your PowerPoint presentation into a video that could be sent to others or posted to the web (see article here). What if you want to just share the slides without the extra work to add an audio track? In this article, ...
  • Paperless Handouts; Issue #275 November 27, 2012 Is it possible to replace the paper handouts we use for our presentations with a more environmentally friendly electronic version that the audience downloads in advance or just before we start? The answer is changing, and right now it would be a “maybe.” Electronic handouts can save money on printing, save ...
  • Stand-alone presentations; Issue #274 November 13, 2012 This summer one of my clients asked me how to make stand-alone presentations effective. They often have to send their PowerPoint file to a prospective client without ever getting the opportunity to deliver the presentation in person or via web meeting. Since PowerPoint slides are supposed to be used to ...
  • Don’t start with an apology; Issue #273 October 30 2012 It happens at too many conferences every day. A speaker starts with an apology, and by doing so, sets the wrong tone for their presentation. Apologies destroy your credibility with the audience and put you in the wrong frame of mind, which leads you to not deliver the presentation you ...
  • Presenting legal/regulatory quotes; Issue #272 October 16, 2012 Yesterday I spoke to a conference of real estate and legal professionals about how to create more effective PowerPoint slides when giving training sessions. They commonly show quotes or regulations from legal documents in their training sessions. Often presenters end up just reading the text of a paragraph because there ...
  • Repurpose your presentation as a web video; Issue #271 October 2, 2012 Presentation Tip: Repurpose your presentation as a web video If you read the statistics about online video, you will see that online video is growing dramatically. And it is not just people watching funny cat videos. Executives and professionals are watching video online and making decisions based on the content and ...
  • Determining the goal of your presentation is hard; Issue #270 September 18, 2012 Presentation Tip: Determining the goal of your presentation is hard The foundation of every presentation should be a clear statement of the goal of the presentation. While I am sure you would agree with this, stating a clear goal is much harder than it seems. Don’t always assume that the first goal ...
  • Presenting software/website usage; Issue #269 September 4, 2012 Presentation Tip: Presenting software/website usage Have you seen a presenter attempt a live demonstration of software or a website? Too often the demo goes wrong, with the software locking up or the Internet connection not working. Even large companies like Microsoft and Apple have these problems happen to them. Instead of ...
  • Presenting a Recommendation; Issue #268 August 21, 2012 Presentation Tip: Presenting a recommendation In most cases, there is more than one possible solution for a problem. When you have been asked to investigate possible solutions and present your recommendation, you want the decision makers to act on that recommendation. In this article I will discuss how to make the ...
  • Make slides easy to see; Issue #267 August 7, 2012 Presentation Tip: Make slides easy to see There is no point using slides if the audience won’t be able to figure out what is on them. While this may sound obvious, I see too many presenters create slides that the audience won’t be able to figure out because of problems with ...
  • Prepare for questions or concerns; Issue #266 July 24, 2012 Presentation Tip: Prepare for questions or concerns It would be rare for a business presentation to be given and have no questions from the audience during or after the presentation. I am not talking about keynote style presentations from the big stage, I am talking about the regular presentations we deliver ...
  • How to use the “About Us” information; Issue #265 July 10, 2012 Presentation Tip: How to use “About Us” information In a past article I spoke about the way to structure a sales presentation and suggested that the information about your firm should come after you have demonstrated the solution to their problem. In this article I want to expand on what to ...
  • Create presentation visuals based on lessons from grade school; Issue #264 June 26, 2012 Presentation Tip: Create presentation visuals based on lessons from grade school This is the last week of school for our kids and many kids in North America are finishing or have just completed their school year. Some of the fundamental concepts we learn in grade school stay with us forever. As ...
  • Solving problems caused by embedding; Issue #263 June 12, 2012 Presentation Tip: Solving problems caused by embedding Many presenters don’t realize that PowerPoint embeds or links to other files or information in ways that can cause problems. They may have experienced a PowerPoint file that has grown too large to e-mail to someone else, or linked files or videos don’t work ...
  • Preparing for status update presentations; Issue #262 May 29, 2012 Presentation Tip: Preparing for status update presentations One of the most common types of presentations that professionals have to make is a status update type of presentation. You are working on an initiative or project and you need to bring a steering committee or management team up to date on what ...
  • Don’t use numbers just because you have them; Issue #261 May 15, 2012 Presentation Tip: Don’t use numbers just because you have them You are a presenter who deals with a lot of numbers. Maybe they are financial results, operational analysis, or market research. You live in Excel and love spreadsheets. So, naturally, when you have to present to others, you include almost every ...
  • Choose a boring font; Issue #260, May 1, 2012 Presentation Tip: Choose a boring font A lot of presentation designers have made comments in the last year or two about what font you should choose for your PowerPoint slides. Almost every designer suggests that you abandon the built-in fonts like Arial or Calibri. Why? They claim that by using a ...
  • Case study/Success story slides; Issue #259 April 17, 2012 Presentation Tip: Case study/Success story slides In any presentation where you are selling ideas, products or services, your audience will want to know that you can actually solve their problem. Just stating that you can solve the problem is not enough, you have to provide proof. One of the best ways ...
  • The one question a sales presentation must answer; Issue #258 April 3, 2012 Presentation Tip: The one question a sales presentation must answer Last week I was reviewing a sales presentation someone sent me. They are pitching their services to a major prospective client and they know that their competition will be strong. So how do they start their presentation? With slide after slide ...
  • Essential iPad apps for presenters; Issue #257 March 20, 2012 Presentation Tip: Essential iPad apps for presenters Apple’s latest iPad was released last week and many presenters either already have an iPad or are considering purchasing one. I have had one for about a year (the iPad 2) and have found it very valuable for my work. In this article, I ...
  • Use pre-made slides to cut prep time; Issue #256 March 6, 2012 Presentation Tip: Use pre-made slides to cut prep time In a consulting assignment I am working on with a client in New York, we are developing a set of slides that can be re-used in many different presentations. It is a good idea because it cuts preparation time dramatically. In addition ...
  • Ten years of this newsletter; Issue #255 February 21, 2012 Presentation Tip: Ten years of this newsletter Ten years ago, on February 26th 2002, I sent out my first newsletter. Today, I am sending you issue 255. What a journey it has been these last ten years. According to my records, over 13,500 people have been part of the newsletter list ...
  • Don’t start your presentation with credits; Issue #254, February 7, 2012 PowerPoint Tip: Don’t start your presentation with credits Last week in a coaching session a client asked, “What is the best way to start my presentation?” She said that she had tried different methods and didn’t feel that they were working as well as she wanted. This question reminded me of ...
  • Boring presentations are not the problem; Issue #253, January 24, 2012 PowerPoint Tip: Boring presentations are not the problem How many times have you heard that the problem with many PowerPoint presentations is that they are boring? This is a common refrain from the media and it used to justify why presentations should not use PowerPoint, or use some other hot presentation ...
  • Effective dashboard slides; Issue #252 January 10, 2012 PowerPoint Tip: Effective dashboard slides At the start of the year many organizations are looking back to see how they did last year. They will use many different measures, and they may decide that they want to start tracking certain statistics that will make a difference in improving performance going forward. ...

 

Year: 2011
  • Spreadsheets Don’t Belong on Slides; Issue #251 December 20, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Spreadsheets don’t belong on slides Frequently people tell me that financial presentations include a huge spreadsheet that has been copied on to a slide. The text and numbers are way too small and inevitably the presenter says, “I know you can’t read this, so I’ll read it to you.” Spreadsheets don’t belong on slides. Today I want to talk about why not and what you can do instead. Why don’t spreadsheets belong on slides? Because a spreadsheet is an analytical tool, not a communication tool. We use spreadsheets because they are the best tool for analyzing numbers, doing calculations and comparing numerical information. A spreadsheet does those jobs well. It quickly allows us to do hundreds of calculations that would take hours if done by hand. It is so easy to do calculations that we may end up doing more analysis that gives additional insight into the numbers. So for this purpose, a spreadsheet is a great tool. But when it comes to communicating the results of that analysis to others, the spreadsheet is a terrible tool. It contains far too ...
  • The audience wants the conclusion; Issue #250 December 6, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: The audience wants the conclusion In my survey this fall of what annoys audiences about bad PowerPoint presentations, the clear message you sent was that too many presentations suffer from information overload. Whether it is text, numbers, or a combination of both, the excessive information causes confusion and lack of action by the audience. Today I want to address the issue of whether to present a little or a lot of your work in a presentation. It is likely that you have done a lot of analysis and many calculations in order to come up with the conclusions that you want to present. The common view is that it is important for the audience to hear about all the assumptions, steps in the process, formulas, and calculations. You may also be tempted to include who did each step, how long it took, when it was done and even what office location helped out. While all of this information may be important to you, the truth is that the audience doesn’t need to hear it all. What your audience needs to hear ...
  • Creating universal icons; Issue #249 November 22, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Creating universal icons When creating visuals, it can be helpful to sometimes use icons to represent items generically, such as people, cars, or objects. You could purchase vector icons from a site like istockphoto.com, but you can usually create your own custom icon using the drawing tools in PowerPoint. PowerPoint MVP Sandy Johnson did a session at the recent Presentation Summit demonstrating some of the new techniques in PowerPoint 2010. In today’s article, I’ll focus on the techniques you can use in PowerPoint 2007, since that is the version most people are using today. Why might you want to use a universal icon? I have used them in proportional diagrams, tables, or when I want to represent an idea, but don’t want the complexity of a photo to distract the audience from a simple point. Here is an example of one of my slide makeovers that used a universal icon: watch video on YouTube here. The first step is to design the icon you want to create. I suggest keeping it simple, because it will make it easier to create. Try ...
  • Three lessons learned from Pecha Kucha; Issue #248 November 8, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Three lessons learned from Pecha Kucha At the recent Presentation Summit, Ric Bretschneider did a session on Pecha Kucha, a presentation format that has gained a lot of followers in recent years. As part of his session, he asked a few people to volunteer in advance to demonstrate this technique. I was one of the volunteers and today I’d like to share three lessons I learned from the experience. First of all, I should explain what Pecha Kucha is. A Pecha Kucha is a twenty slide presentation that lasts six minutes and forty seconds because each slide is on the screen for only twenty seconds. The slides automatically advance, so the presenter has to time their remarks to coincide with the changing of the slides. There are evening events held in a number of cities where presenters prepare and deliver these types of presentations (find out more about the organization behind Pecha Kucha at www.pecha-kucha.org). The goal of a Pecha Kucha is to focus your message into a short presentation that still gets the point across. When I was approached with ...
  • Takeaways from the Presentation Summit; Issue #247 October 26, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Takeaways from the Presentation Summit Last month I had the privilege of speaking at the ninth Presentation Summit in Austin, Texas. It is the one time during the year that the presentation community gets together and shares ideas and best practices on creating and delivering effective presentations. In addition to being a speaker and connecting with colleagues, I attend to further my knowledge from the excellent speakers who present. Today I want to share three of the many ideas I took away from this year’s conference. Connie Malamed delivered a pre-conference workshop on visual design and one of the points I took away is how sketching taps in to our natural creativity. I am not an artist or designer, but I have often used sketches to determine what visual will work best for a particular situation. Recently during a consulting call, I was sketching different graphs as my client spoke about what he was trying to communicate in a specific slide. It helped to be able to visualize my thoughts and gave me new ideas as I sketched. You don’t need ...
  • Adding crosshatching fills to graphs in PowerPoint 2007; Issue #246 October 11, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Adding crosshatching fills to graphs in PowerPoint 2007 When I was presenting a course for accountants in July, a number of the participants mentioned that starting in PowerPoint 2007, they had lost the ability to fill graph segments with crosshatch patterns. This is important when printing graphs in black and white since shades of grey are hard to distinguish. The participants asked if there was any way to get back this important feature that had been eliminated. Today I want to show you a way to restore this functionality to PowerPoint 2007 and 2010. First, let’s start with what crosshatch patterns are and why you may need to use them. A crosshatch pattern is a series of lines on a white background that is used to fill a shape or, in the case of a graph, a column or pie wedge. There are usually patterns such as diagonal lines (in both directions and a combination), vertical and horizontal lines, and dots. A crosshatch fill is used to be able to distinguish the different parts of a graph, such as the ...
  • Results of the 2011 Annoying PowerPoint survey; Issue #245 September 27, 2011 Note: The results of the latest survey are available here. PowerPoint Tip: Results of the Annoying PowerPoint survey As I analyzed the responses and comments in the survey of “What annoys you about bad PowerPoint presentations?”, a clear theme emerged. Audiences are fed up with presenters who fill their slides with too much content and are then compelled to read it all to those seated in the room. Let’s look at the responses first and then the comments. In looking at what the 603 respondents said were their top three annoyances, it was clear that reading the slides is by far the top thing that presenters do that annoys their audience. This has been in top spot for all five of the surveys I have done going back to 2003. Moving up one spot from the last survey, the second most annoying thing is the presenter filling the slides with full sentences of information instead of summarizing the key messages in bullet points. And rounding out the top three, is the presenter using fonts that are too small to read, probably because they ...
  • Amazing pre-made animation effects; Issue #244 September 13, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Amazing pre-made animation effects At the end of this week I’ll be travelling to the Presentation Summit in Austin, Texas. It is the only gathering of presentation professionals and I look forward to seeing all of my colleagues and learning about the work they have been doing in the past year. One of the people that always gets a lot of attention is Julie Terberg, a presentation designer from Michigan. Her makeovers session is always packed and she has our jaws dropping at what can be done with PowerPoint. A couple of years ago she showed us some templates she was working on for Microsoft. She was designing more than just a look and feel template. This was a template that showed you how to create a certain effect using the drawing tools and animation effects in PowerPoint. We were amazed at what we saw and were looking forward to these templates being available for everyone to use. I had forgotten about this until recently when someone asked if there was a way to create a slide that made it look ...
  • How animating a graph makes it easier to understand; Issue #243 August 30, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: How animating a graph makes it easier to understand I spoke last week to a group of executives and one of the challenges that I saw in their presentations was the tendency to put spreadsheets on their slides when talking about financial topics. A graph is better than a spreadsheet to illustrate numeric information to your audience. Use a pie chart to show proportions, use a column chart to compare measured values, or use a line chart to show a trend. Showing the point instead of asking the audience to do math to figure it out is far more effective. By default, the graphs in PowerPoint appear all at once. In this article I want to suggest that by animating the elements of your graph, you can make it even more meaningful for your audience. When you build each part of the graph one at a time, it allows you to discuss just that data and the audience can focus on each point you are making. For example, you can show each set of data in a line chart so that ...
  • Saving money on technology purchases; Issue #242 August 16, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Saving money on technology purchases According to retail statistics, this time of year is now more popular for technology buying than Christmas. The back-to-school purchases for those heading to high school or college/university often include technology such as computers, software, tablets, and smartphones. Our kids have been using PowerPoint in school since grade 3, so we know how important technology is in schools today. Since we are all looking for ways to save money when making these large purchases, this article is about legitimate ways to reduce how much you spend when making technology purchases. Computer manufacturers have recognized the importance of getting students hooked on their brand early, so a number of them offer special educational stores as part of their offerings. Apple has an educational part of their website that offers discounted prices on many computers and tablets. The discounts are also available in their stores. Dell offers a student centre where you can save on their laptops and desktops. Check with your preferred supplier to see if they offer discounts for students, and ask retailers what offers ...
  • Presenting from someone else’s computer; Issue #241 August 2, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Presenting from someone else’s computer In my workshops it is common that participants ask about what they need to take into account when they must take their PowerPoint presentation to another computer on a USB drive instead of using a laptop. It may be that the room they are presenting in has a fixed connection between the projector and a computer in the room, they don’t have a laptop, or they want to travel lighter and use the equipment they know will be in the room. Today’s article gives some best practices when presenting from a different computer. First, make sure you have created your slides so that you minimize the chance of things looking differently on another computer. Ask what version of PowerPoint the computer has and save the file in the format for that version (this is especially necessary if your version is more recent than the version on the computer you are presenting on). Use standard fonts that will be on all computers, like Arial or Calibri so your text appears the way you designed it. Make ...
  • Breaking the habit of speaking to the screen; Issue #240 July 19, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Breaking the habit of speaking to the screen In the past, I have discussed the habit some presenters have of talking to the screen instead of the audience when using PowerPoint. In two previous newsletters (here and here), I suggest that the problem stems from presenters using the slides as speaker notes and needing to regularly look at the screen in order to remember what they are supposed to say. I suggested strategies such as setting up a monitor so you can see what is on the screen instead of turning around, and rehearsing so you know your material better. In today’s article I want to move the discussion to a higher level and talk about the mindset that can help break the habit of speaking to the screen. Recently I spoke to a group of accountants on why many financial presentations are so ineffective and confusing. It boils down to a need to shift our mindset to one of serving the audience instead of delivering the data. If you are speaking to the screen when delivering a PowerPoint presentation, I suggest ...
  • You need permission to use YouTube videos; Issue #239 July 5, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: You need permission to use YouTube videos One of the most frequent topics on the PowerPoint newsgroups and forums is how to include YouTube videos in a presentation. People find a cool video on YouTube and think it would be great in their presentation. In this article I’m not going to show you how to include a YouTube video in your PowerPoint presentation. I want to discuss the right way to get permission to do so. Permission, you ask? Why do I need permission? I thought anything on the Internet, especially YouTube, is free for the taking. Actually, this is one of the most common misconceptions around. Just because it is on the Internet does not make it free. Just like every other broadcast medium, like television or a movie theatre, videos are copyrighted by the creator, and you need permission to use the video in your work. So how do you get permission? You must ask for it. The challenge is how do you know who to ask? Here’s the best route I’ve found. Whenever you are watching a video ...
  • Using a tablet or e-reader for Speaker Notes; Issue #238 June 21, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Using a tablet or e-reader for Speaker Notes One of the sessions I’ll be presenting at the Presentation Summit conference this September in Austin, TX is on the topic of being more environmentally friendly with our presentations. While PowerPoint presentations are seemingly all digital, they tend to generate a lot of paper with the handouts, speaking notes, and flipcharts that are used in many presentations. In my session I’ll be showing techniques to eliminate the paper associated with many presentations. One of the techniques I’ll be showing is a technique that I have started to use that eliminates the speaking notes that I would print for each presentation and then promptly recycle afterwards. Instead of printing 30-50 pages of notes, I now carry those notes on my iPad and no trees are sacrificed for the presentation. Here are two ways to create speaking notes that you can carry on a tablet or e-reader device, like an iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or any of the other similar devices on the market today. If all you need is a preview of the upcoming ...
  • Editing old graphs in PowerPoint 2007/10; Issue #237 June 7, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Editing old graphs in PowerPoint 2007/10 One of the major changes between PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2007 is the way that graphs are created. In PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions, graphs were created by using a module called Microsoft Graph. Starting in PowerPoint 2007, you now use Excel to create graphs, which makes more sense since most of the data for graphs comes from an Excel spreadsheet. The challenge is that the old graphs and the new graphs don’t have the same format. Even though they may look very similar, a graph in PowerPoint 2003 is very different than a graph in PowerPoint 2007. If you try to edit a PowerPoint 2003 graph in PowerPoint 2007, you will find that all of the new options are missing and you only have access to a limited set of options that mimics the older approach to creating graphs. You can recreate the graph from scratch, but that could be a lot of work. My suggestion is to convert the old graphs to the new format. Double-click on the graph in PowerPoint 2007 and ...
  • Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Images to Find Photos; Issue #236 May 24, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Images to Find Photos In my workshops, whenever I speak about using photos in a presentation, someone always asks about Google Images. It is so easy to find pictures using the image search function of Google, why don’t I recommend it? Because in almost every case, it is more risky than presenters could imagine. Why? Because photos are copyrighted and you can’t use them without permission. Let me share with you one of two examples I shared in my webinar in March to illustrate the risks. An advertising firm was creating a blog post for a client. They needed a photo, so they did a web search and found one that would work perfectly. The blog post got uploaded to the client site and everything was fine. Until their client received a letter from a lawyer informing them of the copyright infringement. The client was not happy. It ended up costing the advertising firm $4,000 to settle the case when they could have purchased a photo for around $10. If you want to read the ...
  • Prepare for Problems so you Respond, not React; Issue #235 May 10, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Prepare for Problems so you Respond, not React At a conference in February I heard Bo Boshers share a story of two groups who faced the same situation and had very different reactions. One group saw a potential danger and reacted by running away. The other group had been prepared for challenges and, when confronted with the same potential danger, was able to stand and respond. In this article I want to talk about how presenters should be prepared for problems so when they happen, we respond, not react. If you are going to do presentations, you will at some point face a problem with the equipment, room, technology, sound system, audience, or any number of possible things that could go wrong. When something goes wrong, will you react and panic, grasping the first thought that comes to you in desperation, or will you respond, having thought through possible scenarios in advance, and handle the situation gracefully? I believe it is your choice. To be prepared to respond, the first step is to think through what could go wrong. Make a ...
  • Formatting text in a table; Issue #234 April 26, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Formatting text in a table Two issues ago I wrote about how to format text on slides because text will always be a part of our slides. Today I want to take the topic further and discuss the formatting of text in a table. Tables can be a great way to visually show a comparison between two or more items. In many cases, that table will include text, so we need to format it properly to make it easy for the audience to understand the comparison we are presenting. There are some aspects of text formatting that work the same in tables as in text boxes. The most important is the ability to use tabs to format text into columns or align the text in a particular way within a table cell. As I talked about before, you can use four different tab types to achieve the text alignment you want. You can also use the text highlighting technique I described to make text stand out. Another similarity between text boxes and table cells is a feature that was added in ...
  • Using Exit animation to reveal a graphic; Issue #233 April 12, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Using Exit animation to reveal a graphic The last step in my five-step KWICK method from my book The Visual Slide Revolution is to Keep the Focus of the audience.  The best way to do this is to build your points or slide elements one by one on the slide.  This works if you have created the visual, but it isn’t so easy if you are using a graphic that was supplied to you.  This article is about using a technique to reveal a graphic piece by piece. Revealing a graphic is like what our teachers used to do with overhead transparencies.  They would place a piece of paper over the transparency, covering up what they didn’t want us to see yet.  They would slide the paper down to reveal each point as they spoke.  This gives the same benefit to the audience as building elements on the slide, so we can use this technique with graphics that have been supplied to us for our presentation. The first step is to position the supplied graphic on the slide.  Make it as big as ...
  • Text formatting tips; Issue #232 March 29, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Text formatting tips Last Friday I did a web based training session for a consulting organization and one of the issues we discussed was formatting text on slides so that it was easy to understand.  Even though I try to help people use visuals instead of text, I know that text will still be an important part of our slides.  So today’s article gives a few tips on making that text easy to interpret. Let’s start with a common issue I see on slides, improper use of hanging indents.  This happens when you want to have text on a slide that is not in bullet points, so you just click the bullet point format button to turn off bullet points in the default layout.  Unfortunately, PowerPoint removes the bullet, but does not remove the hanging indent, which causes the first line of text to hang off to the left of the rest of the text.  The audience wonders what is wrong.  One solution is to adjust the indent settings on the ruler to make the first line indent marker line ...
  • Quickly adding iPhone or iPad videos to your presentation; Issue #231 March 15, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Quickly adding iPhone or iPad videos to your presentation Last week the new iPad2 joined the lineup of popular Apple devices that have video cameras.  The desire to use those videos in our presentation is a hot topic.  One of my consulting clients will be using his iPhone videos this year to show testimonials.  I used my iPhone to demonstrate taking and using video in a recent CSAE presentation.  And I included the topic in last month’s webinar on Incorporating Video in Your PowerPoint Presentations. So how do you use video from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in your presentation?  There are four steps I want to cover in this article.  One important thing to realize is that you don’t need to use iTunes to get your video off your device.  This means you can take a video and use it even if you aren’t at your home PC that you use to sync your iPhone or iPad.  Here’s how you can use these videos in your presentation. First, connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and wait for ...
  • Equipment to carry when presenting; Issue #230 March 1, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Equipment to carry when presenting I was speaking at the CSAE Trillium Chapter Winter Summit last Friday.  I brought a lot of cables and equipment because I was doing a live demonstration of how you can create a video for your web site using visuals you create in PowerPoint.  I normally don’t carry that amount of gear with me, but I do carry more than just my laptop and remote.  In today’s article I want to talk about three pieces of equipment that help me present successfully when travelling. I carry a 12 foot VGA extension cable in the bottom of my laptop bag.  Why?  Because it allows me to place my laptop where I can see it and work with it regardless of how the AV staff have set up the projector connection.  Typically the connection for the projector is taped down to the lectern.  I don’t speak behind a lectern because it creates a physical barrier between the audience and the presenter.  Instead, I use my extension cord to move the connection to a nearby table or chair.  ...
  • Why presenters spend way longer working on presentations than they need to; Issue #229 February 16, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Why presenters spend way longer working on presentations than they need to One of the issues I am often asked about during my workshops is the length of time it takes to create a PowerPoint presentation.  Many presenters bemoan the hours and hours it takes.  When I inquire as to what they are doing in that time, there are two big issues that are usually contributing to the length of time spent on preparing a presentation. The first issue is that they tell me they spend a lot of time revising and reorganizing their presentation.  Is it because they always deal with incredibly complex topics?  No, the root cause is that they don’t spend time on structuring their message at the start.  If you don’t spend quality time thinking about what you are going to say, you end up doing that thinking during the creation process instead.  And your thinking gets interrupted by working on slides and takes much longer than it should. Instead, block off some time before you even touch the computer.  Use that quiet time to reflect on ...
  • Can you solve presentation problems by switching tools?; Issue #228 February 1, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Can you solve presentation problems by switching tools? Many people acknowledge that far too many presentations are not designed or delivered nearly as well as they could be.  So how can we solve this problem?  The solution, say some, is to change the tools we are using.  Throw out PowerPoint because it causes the problems, they claim.  Instead, they say we should use tools like SlideRocket or Prezi, or even switch over to Keynote on the Mac, as one organization did. So will this finally solve the problem once and for all?  I haven’t seen any evidence that this rush to change tools solves the problem.  I recently got to see my first Prezi presentation live.  Prezi is the latest hot presentation tool that has captured attention.  It allows for non-linear presentations where you scroll across a large canvas, showing each visual in whatever order you want.  In comments made to me afterwards, and my own impression, it was clear that the dizzying scrolling movement did not make the topic any clearer, and actually distracted from the message. In all of ...
  • Structuring a presentation that sells effectively; Issue #227 January 18, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Structuring a presentation that sells effectively In my consulting work, I recently worked with three different CEOs on presentations where the primary objective was to sell their ideas or services.  The reason an executive hires me to work with them on a presentation is not because I am a designer who creates fancy looking slides.  They hire me because I work on the content of their presentation to make it effective and create slides that support the message (if you want to see if I would be a good fit for your organization, read this page).  Today I want to share a few ideas on making sales presentations more effective. The foundation is to get a clear structure as the starting point.  Let me use one of the recent situations as an example.  I asked the CEO to answer the three key structure questions.  First, what do you want the Board of Directors to do at the end of the presentation?  While this sounds like an easy question, it took some discussion before we came up with the specific action he ...

 

Year: 2010
  • Switch the focus from the data to the audience; Issue #226 January 4, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Switch the focus from the data to the audience A few months ago I advised a senior executive at a research firm on an upcoming presentation.  Today I want to share the advice I gave her because it can benefit all presenters who are sharing data with their audience. This executive was about to present data to a client and the desire was that the client understand what that data meant to their business.  This type of scenario is common to many analysts and other professionals who present internally or to clients.  She was struggling with how to make the data make sense.  As we chatted, the key issue became clear. She was focused on the data, where it came from, how it had been collected, and proving that the data was accurate.  All important aspects to her, but not important to the audience.  The audience didn’t care as much about the origins of the data as it did about what that data meant to their business.  They cared about what directions the data suggested, what this data implied for their ...
  • Using Infographics on Slides; Issue #225 December 14, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Using Infographics on slides A popular visual today is an infographic.  What is an infographic?  Based on definitions online, I would say that an infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge that presents complex information quickly and clearly.  The infographic does not simplify the information, it just represents it in a clear manner visually. Here is an example I used in one of my slide makeovers: Many infographics are complex, which is why using them in a presentation can be a challenge.  Showing the infographic all at once on a slide can be overwhelming for the audience because it is too much information at once, even though it may be visual.  The audience feels overloaded and the presenter has a hard time explaining each part of the infographic because the audience has trouble following along. So how can you use an infographic you have been provided with on a slide?  Reveal it piece by piece instead of showing it all at once.  By showing only one part at a time, the audience can focus on what you are ...
  • Finding high-resolution logos and research graphics for your presentation; Issue #224 November 30, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Finding high-resolution logos and research graphics for your presentation If you have ever had to put a logo on a slide, you know some of the challenges that exist.  If it is your own logo, you probably have a high-res image easily available from your marketing department.  But if it is a client or supplier logo, now you’ve got problems. You can go to their web site and grab the logo from their home page, but it is usually small and low resolution.  When you try to resize it to be large enough for the slide, it looks chunky, and not a good representation of that organization.  You could search for the logo on Google Images, but you might end up with the old logo and be embarrassed during the presentation when they point that out. How do you get a high-res logo from their web site?  You need to know where to look.  Some organizations actually have a logo download page, but most do not, and you need to be a little more crafty in your approach.  In this tip, ...
  • Solve your presentation delivery problems; Issue #223 November 16, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Solve your presentation delivery problems After you have planned your presentation and created persuasive visuals, you need to prepare to present your presentation.  In today’s newsletter, I want to share some of the delivery tips I most often use when answering questions from participants in my workshops. I’ll start with a good presenter evaluation feedback form I featured earlier this year from Jim Endicott of Distinction Services that you can find here.  As you look at the specific items that Jim suggests we use to evaluate presenters, pay attention to those parts of each item that are underlined.  The underlined phrases are the measurement criteria you should pay attention to when practicing before you deliver your presentation. The equipment we use to present still seems to give some presenters a challenge.  Make sure you practice connecting your laptop to a projector if this is unfamiliar to you.  The key connections to focus on are the video connection and your remote.  Make sure you know how to toggle the display so that is shows on both the projector and your laptop screen (check ...
  • Tools for working with audio or video to include in your PowerPoint presentation; Issue #222 November 2, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Tools for working with audio or video to include in your PowerPoint presentation The latest version of PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2010) includes built-in audio and video editing tools that make it almost like a media editing software program.  But what about the vast majority of us who don’t have the latest version?  Today I want to share some of the tools I have used that will help you edit, convert and show audios or videos during your presentation, no matter what version of PowerPoint you have. The first tool is used to convert videos into the preferred PowerPoint format of WMV (Windows Media Video format).  It is called Any Video Converter and is available at www.any-video-converter.com.  When you go to download it at their web site, make sure you go to the free downloads page in order to get the free version.  I like this software because it is no cost, and does a great job of converting many different formats.  It even allows you to convert online videos from YouTube as well.  This is important if you are showing a YouTube ...
  • Creating a video of your presentation from your slides and an audio recording; Issue #221 October 19, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Creating a video of your presentation from your slides and an audio recording Today’s tip comes from some work I’ve been doing coaching a couple of professional speaking colleagues on how to create a movie of a presentation for use by their client on the web for ongoing training.  It is also one of the topics I’ll be covering in my Presentation Summit session today. To create a movie from your slides, you can go the high-end route and use software like Camtasia to record the slides and audio from the presentation as it is going on and create the movie.  But this is software that you may not have and you may not be allowed to purchase and install it on your computer. Instead, I’ve been showing them how to create a movie from an audio track and the images of their slides.  It starts with recording the audio for the movie.  The easiest way to record audio is using Audacity, a terrific free audio editor available here. Save your audio file as an MP3 file using the Export function in ...
  • An alternative to using video in a web presentation; Issue #220 October 5, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: An alternative to using video in a web presentation Earlier this year a professional speaking colleague called on me to help her with an upcoming webinar.  It was her first significant webinar for clients and she obviously wanted it to go well.  One of the elements she wanted to include in her presentation was a video clip that illustrated some of the ideas she wanted to communicate.  Today I want to share with you the approach I recommended that will allow you to get the benefit of a video clip without actually showing it during a webinar. Why not just embed the video on a slide and show it like you do in a live presentation?  On all the webinar platforms I’ve used video seems to be a big problem.  In my experience, video over the web does not work well when embedded on a PowerPoint slide.  It works better when played in a media player outside PowerPoint, but it still suffers from stutters due to the limitations of the bandwidth on a live transmission.  The reason watching videos like ...
  • How less on your PowerPoint slides makes it easier for you to communicate your message; Issue #219 September 21, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: How less on your PowerPoint slides makes it easier for you to communicate your message I was speaking with a new client recently about how they felt “free” when using the type of persuasive visuals that I suggest presenters create and use.  Here is her story and lessons that all presenters can learn. My client is a senior executive at a large firm and is regularly speaking to fellow executives and staff.  The typical slides used at this organization are packed with text, as are too many slides I see.  Bullet paragraphs detail almost everything the presenter is going to say.  When she presented with these slides, she said she felt fearful.  I wasn’t surprised. You see, when you have slides packed with information, it puts you in a cage as a presenter.  You have boundaries of what you can say based on what is on the slide.  The audience can see all these points and expects you to cover each point in the order it is on the slide and to the level of detail shown.  These slides set an ...
  • Deciding what data to show in your presentation; Issue #218 September 7, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Deciding what data to show in your presentation When a presenter dumps data on their audience and expects the audience to figure it all out, they are setting themselves up for disappointment.  The “data dump” presentation is not effective communication.  So if you’ve done a lot of analysis and the research to back up your points, how much of it should you put in to your presentation? Let’s start with why too many presenters think they need to include every piece of data in their presentation.  I think it comes from when we were in school.  Remember the teacher always saying, “Make sure you show your work.”  In school, the teacher needed to see all your work so they could evaluate whether you understood the material or not.  If you just show an answer, they don’t know how you got the answer and can’t be assured that you grasped the concepts they were teaching. But the workplace is different. As professionals, our presentations are not an attempt by our bosses to check if we know our job. They do that evaluation ...
  • Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 2; Issue #217 August 24, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 2 In the last newsletter we discussed options for pasting a summary table of results from Excel on a slide to present numerical information.  While showing a table of numbers is one option for presenting this type of data, it is not the only option, nor is it the best option in many cases.  Today I want to explain other best practices you can use to present numerical information from Excel. If you are showing a trend in some data or comparing a few figures, use a graph in PowerPoint instead of a table of numbers.  If you show a table of numbers and expect your audience to do the math to figure out the difference in magnitude between the numbers, they won’t.  Audiences won’t do the math.  Instead, use a graph to illustrate the differences in the numbers.  Don’t feel that you have to re-type the data and risk making a mistake.  Just copy and paste the data from Excel to the PowerPoint graph data table.  If you ...
  • Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 1; Issue #216 August 10, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 1 Excel is commonly used to perform calculations or financial analysis.  I use it frequently for these purposes, as I am sure you do.  While Excel is a great tool for performing numeric analysis, it is not intended to be a presentation tool.  If you show a large spreadsheet on the screen, people get overwhelmed quickly and tune out. In a two-part series, I am going to share my best practices for using the information from our Excel analysis in a presentation.  In today’s first part, we’ll talk about using a table of numbers from the spreadsheet on a slide.  Next time, I’ll cover ways to use the data other than the copy and paste approach we’ll cover today. If you shouldn’t just copy and paste the entire spreadsheet on a slide, what should you do instead?  Create a summary table.  Any analysis we do should result in us answering a question that prompted the analysis.  How are this year’s results compared to last year?  How are results compared to ...
  • Using quotes effectively on your slides; Issue #215 July 27, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Using quotes effectively on your slides You want to use a quote to illustrate your point, so you type it out on a PowerPoint slide.  Like most presenters, you show the slide and immediately start talking about how this quote illustrates your point.  Unfortunately, the audience is still reading the quote while you are speaking, so they don’t hear your insights.  They come up with their own interpretation when they are reading the quote, which may not match what you wanted them to get out of it. When you are using a quote, you need to give the audience context before you show the quote.  They need to know the background, such as when it was said, under what circumstances, where was it said, who is saying it, why is this person important, what happened just before it was said, or why the person said it.  Giving context prepares the audience to interpret the quote in the right way. When you show the slide with the quote, pause, turn towards the screen and stay silent for the few seconds that it takes to ...
  • Why do presenters change the organization’s template?; Issue #214 July 13, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Why do presenters change the organization’s template? I had a conversation recently with a client who is looking to update their organization’s PowerPoint template.  The one they have now is out of date, but of more concern is that everyone seems to be creating their own slide design.  The organization’s branding is getting lost in the variety of looks that have no consistency. The modification of corporate slide templates is a common problem for many marketing departments.   As presentation coach Richard Petersen has said to me many times, most templates last about 30 minutes before someone in the field changes them.  The question is why this happens when so much work has been put into creating a slide look that is well designed and helps project a uniform image. As I explained to my client, I think that presenters change the slide template because they haven’t been told why decisions were made.  In my opinion, it is a failure to educate the presenters who use the template.  If they understood the reasons behind choices of fonts, colours, branding and positioning of ...
  • Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 2; Issue #213 June 29, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 2 Last time I gave the first six steps in a twelve step program for breaking the addiction that many presenters have.  They have become accustomed to packing their slides with text and data and mostly reading the slides to their audience.  They know others have somehow managed to use visuals effectively in presentations, but they need some help to break the habit. I hope these steps will help you or someone you know to start to make the changes that will help improve your presentations, and lead to even greater success.  These first six steps dealt with making a decision to change and committing to the work it will require, and you can read them here.  The next six steps, which is the focus of today’s newsletter, address how to make the change. I have asked for assistance to address my shortcomings.  Knowing that this will take time and effort, I have asked for approval at work and home for time and funding to get the training ...
  • Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 1; Issue #212 June 15, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 1 The twelve step program created by Alcoholics Anonymous has been used as a model for many people to break their addiction to alcohol, drugs and other destructive behaviours.  It has been adapted to many situations to deal with different problems people have.  I started thinking about these steps when I was considering how to stop people from creating and delivering PowerPoint presentations that are ineffective and damaging to their careers. So today I am giving you the first six steps of my twelve step program for breaking the addiction that many presenters have.  They have become accustomed to packing their slides with text and data and mostly reading the slides to their audience.  They know others have somehow managed to use visuals effectively in presentations, but they need some help to break the habit they have. I hope these steps will help you or someone you know to start to make the changes that will help improve your presentations, and lead to even greater success.  These first ...
  • Being too emotionally invested in your slides leads to less effective presentations; Issue #211 June 1, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Being too emotionally invested in your slides leads to less effective presentations I’ve spent some time thinking about the different reasons why presenters don’t create presentations that are as effective as they could be.  One of the reasons is that too many presenters start their preparation by creating their slides.  They spend a lot of time getting all the text and numbers just right on every slide.  And when somebody suggests a more effective visual approach, they resist, and end up using the original, overloaded slides. Why the resistance?  Because they are heavily invested emotionally in the slides they spent so much time creating.  It is human nature to resist changing something that we put a lot of time and effort in to.  We think that since we spent so much time on it, there is no way we are just throwing it out and starting over again.  Our emotions take over, and it has nothing to do with the rational logic that the new approach is better at effectively communicating our message. To help prevent this from happening, I always ...
  • How to create a consistent look when many sources are contributing slides to a presentation; Issue #210 May 18, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: How to create a consistent look when many sources are contributing slides to a presentation In a recent workshop, one of the participants raised the challenge they have when assembling slides from different sources in the organization into one presentation. They said that often you can immediately tell that the presentation has been drawn from different sources just by the look of the slides, even though they are all using the corporate template. I asked them what tips them off when they look at the slides and we came up with a list of items I want to share in this article. Look for these formatting and content aspects of your slides to make sure you create a presentation that looks consistent and not like it has been thrown together from different presentations. Length of bullet points: When some slides use a few words and other slides use full sentences, it is easy to tell that the source is different. Aim for an average of six words per bullet point and make sure that it is just a key idea, not ...
  • Use these two techniques to get the exact shape you want in a diagram; Issue #209 May 4, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Use these two techniques to get the exact shape you want in a diagram PowerPoint has a wealth of drawing tools that allow presenters to create a vast array of diagrams to illustrate their points. It is clear from the questions I get in workshops that many presenters are under the mistaken impression that you need to use fancy graphics software or illustration package to draw diagrams. Not at all. PowerPoint has all the tools most presenters will ever need. In this article I want to share two techniques that can be helpful in creating the exact shape you want for an illustration. The first situation is when you want to use shapes to illustrate the size of two items because you want the audience to see how much larger or smaller one item is compared to the other. Sometimes using proportional shapes is a better illustration than a graph. For example, you might want to show two rectangles that represent the size of a market in two different countries. You need the shapes to be properly proportioned because the ...
  • So what’s all the fuss about the backchannel?; Issue #208 April 20, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: So what’s all the fuss about the backchannel? A lot has been written recently about incorporating the backchannel into presentations. If you aren’t familiar with the term “backchannel”, it refers to comments people in the audience are sharing with the world via Twitter and other social media sharing sites. In my opinion, all this talk has little relevance for most presenters. Here’s why. First, in order to consolidate the comments about a presentation, Twitter users attach a hashtag to their tweet. Usually it is a tag associated with the event as opposed to each specific presentation. For example, all of the comments at last year’s PowerPoint Live conference were tagged with the #pptlive hashtag. This is now common with many large conferences. But that’s the thing. Only conferences assign a hashtag. There is no way every project update presentation, sales pitch, or training program in an organization is going to have its own hashtag. So for most presentations, the mechanism for consolidating comments doesn’t exist. And I don’t see most regular presenters creating a hashtag for every presentation they do. Second, ...
  • “You know, it’s just like…”; Issue #207 April 6, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: “You know, it’s just like…” One of the reasons that presenters don’t use visuals instead of text is because they don’t know what visual to use to explain the point they are making. Business professionals tell me all the time that they aren’t graphic artists or designers, so how can they come up with a visual? In my book “The Visual Slide Revolution”, I list 38 words or phrases and the clues they give as to what visual will work as a good replacement for all the text. Recently, I came up with an additional insight. I was preparing a workshop for a client and I realized how powerful the following phrase can be when thinking about visuals. We often use this phrase, “You know, it’s just like …” during conversations when we are trying to explain a concept, idea, process, object, or pretty much anything that the other person is not familiar with. We use this phrase to frame the new item in a way that is easy to understand for the listener. Let me break this phrase down into ...
  • Corrupted PowerPoint file; Issue #206 March 23, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Corrupted PowerPoint file I got a panicked call recently from a past workshop participant. She supports presenters who were out on the road doing a major presentation in venues across the country. Whenever they started the presentation, its gives them the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD as it’s known). It is likely that the PowerPoint file got corrupted. How could it have happened and what can you do about it? Here are some thoughts. The problem may have occurred because they are running the file from a USB drive. I always suggest that you copy your presentation from a USB drive to your computer’s hard drive for two reasons. First, it runs faster. Second, the file can get corrupt if you pull the USB drive out of the computer without properly ejecting it. Many people don’t properly eject USB drives and it can cause major problems. They also suggested that when they tested the presentation at the office, they had not tested it with the presentation remote. It is always a good idea to test with as close to the exact ...
  • Using diagrams created in drawing tools; Issue #205 March 9, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Using diagrams created in drawing tools In the last couple of months I’ve seen some new drawing tools come out that allow you to create your own diagram or drawing and use it on your slides. One was tweeted by Johanna Rehnvall, and is a program called Simple Diagrams at http://www.simplediagrams.com/home. The other is an online tool called Lovely Charts at http://www.lovelycharts.com that Donna Gunter wrote about in SpeakerNetNews. In both cases, you use the tool to create your diagram and then export it or output it to a graphic that you insert on your slide. Today’s tip is on what you do with that graphic to make it effective on your slide. One challenge with a graphic file is that it comes in to your slide as a single image. You can’t animate parts of it like you could if you built the diagram in PowerPoint itself. So when you present the diagram, it comes on all at once and you have to work harder to keep the audience’s attention focused on the part of the diagram you are ...
  • “How Many Slides?” is the wrong question to ask; Issue #204 February 23, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: “How Many Slides?” is the wrong question to ask I often get asked in workshops, “How many slides should I have for an x minute presentation?” And I’ve now come to the conclusion that this isn’t even the right question to be asking. In the past, when we put up a slide and spoke to it, we counted the number of slides. Today, I think the relevant measure is how many different visual impressions are used. By a visual impression, I mean something different on the screen for the audience to look at. For example, let’s say you have one slide and it has a headline and three images with text underneath each image. To explain each point individually, you build the slide so each image appears with the corresponding text. I suggest that you would then have four visual impressions: 1) the slide with just the headline, which introduces the topic you will be talking about, 2) the slide with the first image and text added, 3) the slide with the second image and text added, and 4) the ...
  • A method for effectively presenting a graph image from another program; Issue #203 February 9, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Drawing on top of graphs Graphs that you create in PowerPoint are easy to work with and present because you can animate them easily.  But not all of our graphs will be created in PowerPoint.  Sometimes we will need to use a graph that has been created in a graphics program and saved as an image file, posted on a web site or included in a PDF file.  We may also deal with technical graphs that are output to image files from special software programs.  We don’t want to, or can’t, recreate these graphs in PowerPoint, so how do we present them effectively? The problem with graphs that are images is that you can’t animate them. They are a static image and can’t be broken into series of data like you can with a graph created in PowerPoint. With a PowerPoint graph, you can build it piece by piece to explain the data one at a time. A graph image can’t be built piece by piece. You could try to recreate the graph in PowerPoint, and I have done that ...
  • Three helpful tips to use when creating and editing PowerPoint slides; Issue #202 January 26, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Little tips that make a big difference It is usually the little things in life that can make the biggest difference. Like a small change to our routine can help us gain more time for priorities such as family. And when using PowerPoint, sometimes the small tips make the biggest impact. When I was consulting with a CEO and her assistant recently, we covered some major ways to upgrade the visuals they were using. In addition to the makeovers that they will be incorporating, they found a few of the small tips I shared particularly useful. These tips are ways to use PowerPoint that, once you discover them, you see how valuable they will be to you. So today I am going to share the three tips that they found the most useful. The first tip is about how to preview your slide show without going into full Slide Show mode. To enter Slide Show mode, you can press the F5 key to start at slide 1 or you can hold the Shift key down while pressing the F5 key ...
  • Five slide project update presentation; Issue #201 January 12, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Five slide project update presentation How many executives really want to sit through a 45 slide project update presentation? The one where the presenter details every little item and confuses the heck out of them? My guess is that no executives want to spend their valuable time that way. So what do you do instead? Today’s tip demonstrates how you can apply my ideas around more effective communication using persuasive PowerPoint visuals to a situation many of us are in. It doesn’t matter whether you are a formal project manager or just managing the projects that are part of your role, we all have to report on how our projects or initiatives are going. Let me suggest that you use only five slides to update executives on your project. “Five slides!” you exclaim. “That’s not enough to detail everything we have been doing!?!”. I know, but frankly an executive doesn’t care about the minutia, they care about results. Too often as presenters, we create presentations that show what we have been doing instead of what the audience really wants, which ...

 

Year: 2009
  • Best slide ever; Issue #200 December 15, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Best slide ever While I was at the PowerPoint Live conference in October, I was interviewed by Ron Galloway, who is doing a documentary film on PowerPoint. Here’s how he describes the film: “Regarding Powerpoint” will attempt to put the program’s influence on business, education, and thinking into meaningful context. The film will be out early next year, but it is one of the questions he asked me that I want to expand on in today’s tip. Ron asked me, “What is the best PowerPoint slide you have ever seen?” I thought for a moment and came up with an answer that he wasn’t expecting. And it may be one that you’ll find surprising as well. I said the best slide was a black slide, where there was essentially nothing on the screen. Now that may seem like a strange answer, but let me explain why I said it. I believe that slides should only be used to enhance your message, not to take over your message. Too often, presenters make the slides the message and, in reality, the audience doesn’t ...
  • Sequence of Information matters; Issue #199 December 1, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Sequence of Information matters Research by Michael Posner reported in John Medina’s book Brain Rules shows why the typical sequence of information is not helping our presentations be as effective as they could be. I’ve been sharing this with my workshop audiences this year and I’d like to share it with you in today’s tip. The usual sequence is to methodically share every piece of supporting data we have in a logical order and present the conclusion after all the data has been shared. For example, a typical persuasive sales presentation would list each feature of the product or service and then present the conclusion that the product or service is the best to solve the problem at hand. So why is this not as effective as it could be? Because the audience doesn’t know where you are headed. By the time you get to the conclusion, they have forgotten the different pieces of data and don’t necessarily know how the data supports the conclusion. With confusion comes lack of action. Research by Michael Posner suggests that audiences recall better and ...
  • Issue #198 November 17, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: More results from the Annoying PowerPoint Survey Note: the latest survey results can be found here. I’ve already reported on what audiences find most annoying based on the survey completed by 548 people. The text overload epidemic continues and the number one annoyance again is the presenter reading the slides to the audience. I’ve now gone through the hundreds of comments that people wrote in – it took up nine pages of 10 point type! It is clear that the annoyances extend beyond just the overload of text. The comments did reinforce the text issue, with many expressing frustration at reports that are copied on to slides and read to the audience. But here are five more areas that presenters need to address in order to improve their presentations. Poor Presentation Skills The comments were very clear that this is a big issue. One respondent captured it well when they said, “The presenter lets the technology, not the content, become primary.” Audiences get annoyed when the presenter places more importance on the slides than the basics of communication, such as ...
  • Issue #197 November 3, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Top Ideas from PowerPoint Live I’m back from PowerPoint Live and today’s tip is about the top ideas I learned while at the conference. First off, the conference is changing its name. It is now known as The Presentation Summit, reflecting the evolution of the content beyond just software features to many other techniques and ideas that presentation professionals need to know about. The next conference is Oct 17-20, 2010 in San Diego. I went to an excellent session by Echo Swinford on creating templates in PowerPoint 2007. She gave a clear workflow to follow and explained how we can create a theme in PowerPoint that can carry colors and fonts over to Word and Excel for even greater consistency in our communications. I see so many problems with templates designed by professional designers who don’t know the secrets Echo shared. Echo is going to create a series of video programs that every marketing, design and presentation professional should watch to save themselves and their colleagues hours of frustration in working with templates. I’ll let you know when the ...
  • Issue #196 October 20, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Results of the Fourth Annoying PowerPoint Survey The message from my biennial survey of what annoys audiences about bad PowerPoint presentations is that audiences are fed up with the overload of text on slides and how that text causes presenters to read the slides to them. A total of 548 people responded to the survey over a six week period. Can we trust those who responded? I sure do. Over 65% of them said they see more than 100 presentations a year, so they know what they like and what is annoying. In the survey, I list twelve annoyances and ask people to select the top three. Here are the details of the top five things that annoy audiences about bad PowerPoint presentations. The percentages refer to what proportion of the responses listed that item and the percentages don’t add up perfectly since some people selected more or less than three. The speaker read the slides to us 69.2% Text so small I couldn’t read it 48.2% Full sentences instead of bullet points 48.0% Slides hard to see because ...
  • Government Photos you can use; Issue #195 October 6, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Government Photos In almost every workshop that I do, someone asks where you can get great photos to use in your presentation. I always mention Microsoft’s online library of images that is accessible through PowerPoint, stock photography sites such as istockphoto.com and pictures you take yourself. Today I’d like to discuss another source that is available free of charge in most cases. Governments have staff who take photographs as part of their jobs, and many times these photos are quite good. Fortunately, these photos also belong to the government and the various departments and agencies have generously made a lot of these photos available for use without charge. You do have to read their licensing terms, but it normally just asks that you include a short source description at the bottom of your slide in small font. Here is a photo of a sunrise in Alaska from the NOAA Photo Library listed below (taken by Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps). The availability of these photos varies from country to country, and today I’ll use the US government as the example of ...
  • Issue #194 September 22, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Upgrading from PowerPoint 2003 to 2007 I am planning to buy a new laptop next year after the new Core i7 chipset comes to laptops. One question I am struggling with is whether to load the 2007 or the 2003 version as my primary Office version. I still plan to load both versions and run one of them via a virtual machine as I do now so that I can demonstrate the proper version in my workshops. But the primary Office version will be the one I work in most of the time. I am currently running Office 2003 as my primary version. Why would I run a version that is at least six years old? Because my surveys show that most corporate clients are running Office 2003 and a number are running even earlier versions, like 2000. The cost of upgrading is one expense that many organizations are putting off until the economic situation changes. But an even bigger cost is the cost of retraining because the user interface is so different between Office 2003 and 2007. If ...
  • Issue #193 September 8, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: What’s new this fall Summer is over for those of us who have kids. Our kids started back to school today and I know many others started back in the last few weeks. As children all over the world start discovering new ideas and embark on new learning adventures this month, I wanted to let you know about what is new for you this fall. First, I’ve launched a new version of the seven day e-course that all new subscribers to the newsletter receive. It has been totally rewritten and the focus is on helping your PowerPoint presentations be more effective. It includes the latest ideas I have been working on and has links to resources for more detailed information. If you’d like to check it out (and I suggest you do), you can access all the lessons at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/ecourse. Next, it is time to do my survey on what annoys you about bad PowerPoint presentations. I’ve done this survey every two years since 2003 and it always forms the basis of much discussion and insight. The chief reason ...
  • Creating a customized Excel presentation; Issue #192 August 25, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Creating a customized Excel presentation Recently a presenter called who wanted to know if PowerPoint could accept inputs and do calculations while in Slide Show mode. While this is far beyond the capabilities of PowerPoint, I was able to help with an idea that I want to share with you today. If you are doing a presentation where you want to enter inputs, such as financial figures, and show the audience the result of calculations in real-time and possibly as a graph, this technique will enable you to do so. It leverages PowerPoint’s ability to hyperlink to another file type and have that file open in the proper program. In this case we will use Excel and have it function almost like it is PowerPoint, hence the title of this tip being an Excel presentation. Here’s how this works. First, set up an Excel spreadsheet that has the inputs at the top of the sheet. Format the sheet so the font is large enough to see when projected, usually at least 18 or 20 point. If you want to show the ...
  • Issue #191 August 11, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Confirming your colors have enough contrast Recently I commented on a blog post regarding colors that are used on slides. The writer had made some suggestions on colors to use or avoid based on the color wheel used by graphics professionals. While this is a good first level approach, we have all seen slides that are unreadable due to the choice of colors. I don’t have a design background, and I am guessing you are probably like me. How can we make sure that the colors we choose will be seen easily? The most important factor in making slides readable from a color perspective is not whether you choose a light or dark background. It is whether the colors you choose have enough contrast with each other. You can choose a white background and if you use light pink letters, your audience won’t see the text. Similarly, you can choose a navy blue background and if you use dark green text, it’s as good as not even there. In many workshops, people often point out that they can’t select ...
  • Issue #190 July 28, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Capturing screens and using on slides Last week I was presenting to a conference of educators in Washington, DC and the topic of screen captures came up. Some of the sample slides they sent for my workshop makeovers contained screen shots that could be improved, so today I’ll share some tips on capturing the screen and using it on your slides. This is helpful when demonstrating a web site, showing how to complete a form in Word, or any other application you need to show during your presentation. There are at least four ways to actually capture the screen, depending on what software you have. The first two methods work in any version of Windows. By pressing the PrintScreen key (sometimes abbreviated to PrtScrn or something similar), Windows captures the entire screen and copies the image to the Windows clipboard, allowing you to paste it on your slide. If you want to capture only the current application, say your browser without seeing other applications or the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, hold down the Alt key and ...
  • Three techniques to save time creating or editing PowerPoint slides; Issue #189 July 14, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Time savers when editing slides We all want to be as efficient as possible, so today’s tip shows you three ways I use to save time when creating and editing my workshop and conference PowerPoint slides. They might be new ways to use features that you already know or features you didn’t know PowerPoint had. Read, enjoy and use them to create your next presentation in less time. Format Painter – This tool allows you to format a series of objects, whether they are text boxes or shapes, using the same attributes such as font face, font size, fill color and a number of other attributes. Here’s how it works. Format one of the objects exactly how you want it to look. Select this object. Click on the Format Painter toolbar button that looks like a paintbrush. It is on the default Standard toolbar in PowerPoint 2003 and on the Home ribbon in PowerPoint 2007. Then, to apply this format to another object, click on that object, even if it is on another slide. If you have a lot of ...
  • Keyboard shortcuts when editing slides; Issue #188 June 30, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Keyboard shortcuts when editing slides In past issues on the newsletter, I’ve shared some tips on keyboard shortcuts you can use when in Slide Show mode. If you missed some of the past issues or want to remind yourself of those tips, click here. Today I’ll share a few keyboard shortcuts to use when creating and editing your slides. One of the tips I share in my workshops that most people tell me is new information to them, is how to break a line at a specific word when writing a headline (or any text). Just press Shift+Enter (i.e. hold the Shift key down and press Enter). This is different than simply pressing the Enter key, which gives you a new paragraph. The Shift+Enter key combination breaks the line and uses the line spacing instead of the paragraph spacing. It may look pretty darn similar on your screen, but line spacing is smaller than paragraph spacing and that difference will appear much larger when projected to a big screen in a boardroom. Another tip I share in my workshops is to ...
  • Three steps to reformat a presentation with a new slide design; Issue #187 June 16, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Reformatting a presentation Often in my workshops, someone shares how they struggle when trying to merge slides from different presenters into one presentation or when they have to reformat a presentation using a new slide design. What should be easy turns into a nightmare with content moving all over the place and hours spent reformatting each slide by hand. In today’s newsletter I want to share a few tips that can help when you find yourself in this situation. The first thing I suggest you do is check the Slide Layout of the existing slides. This is the one area that causes more problems than almost any other area. Unfortunately, most presenters don’t know that they should select the appropriate layout when they create a slide. They just use the default bullet point layout and delete or move items until they get the slide they want. The problem is that once you apply a new design to a slide, it wants to use the underlying layout and it moves things back to where they are supposed to be. So, before ...
  • Issue #186 June 2, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Equipment to carry when presenting When I travel to deliver customized workshops or speak at conferences, I carry the normal equipment for a presenter: my laptop, presentation remote and projector if required. In today’s tip, I want to share with you a few of the other pieces of equipment I carry that come in handy when travelling. I know all of these are perfectly OK to carry on an airplane since I regularly have my laptop bag searched when going through security. The first item I carry is a VGA extension cord. Mine is 15 feet long. It allows me to move my laptop away from a podium or projector. Too often, A/V people position the cord to connect the laptop to the projector in places that cause a problem as a presenter. One common setup is the cord taped to a podium, which I never use because it creates a barrier between the audience and myself. The other common situation is a short cord right beside the projector, which is blowing hot air right into my laptop, overheating ...
  • Getting the audience excited before your presentation; Issue #185, May 19, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Getting the audience excited before your presentation This is the description for the session I will present at the Annual Conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) next month in New Orleans: “Too many HR presentations look like the text of a manual was copied onto the slides. How can you create persuasive visuals when you aren’t a graphic designer? This session will show you a five-step process for creating persuasive visual slides that allow you to present in a conversational manner.” Why do I share it with you? Because it illustrates how we can get the audience excited about our message before our presentation even starts. If you are presenting before colleagues or managers internally, in front of prospects and clients, or at conferences as I do, you want the audience to walk into the room positively anticipating what you will say. You can achieve this with a well-written description of your presentation that is included in a program, agenda or brochure. I have learned a lot about writing descriptions of my work from the world of direct ...
  • Handout that is not a slide printout; Issue #184 May 5, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Handout that is not a slide printout Recently I delivered a one hour concurrent session at a conference. Obviously I can’t deliver the same amount of information in one hour that I can in my customized full-day workshops for organizations. When I do a shorter presentation, I also consider whether I need to take a different approach to my handout. Normally in my half-day or full-day workshops, my handout is a printout of most of my slides so that the audience doesn’t have to write down every point I am making and has the space to take notes on how they will implement the ideas I am sharing. Many people take these notes and keep them beside their desk for quick reference whenever creating a presentation because they have enough detail to act as a memory jogger about what I discussed. With a one hour presentation, I take a different approach. I don’t view it as a training session, but more of an overview of ideas with a few details. It is not a scenario where people will be taking detailed ...
  • Being prepared for computer failure; Issue #183 April 21, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Being prepared for computer failure Last month I had an experience that I wish you never have – my computer operating system got corrupted. Of course, this happened a few days before I flew to Los Angeles to do a post-conference workshop at an association conference. I caused the problem by disconnecting an external hard drive while the computer was hibernated without properly ejecting the drive first. You have probably been told not to do this with USB flash drives, trust me, heed the warnings. I am pretty much back to full speed with my laptop, so I can now share the lessons I learned from going through this experience. Lesson #1 is to always have a full backup of your system. I have an automatic image backup run every morning while I get ready and have breakfast. An image backup allows me to recover everything, including the operating system, if the hard drive crashes. I also use an online backup system that saves any changed data files every few minutes during the day so that my data is always ...
  • Plan the follow-up to your presentation to increase the impact of your message; Issue #182 April 7, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Plan your follow-up Is your presentation done when you stop speaking and the audience has left the room? It shouldn’t be. Research published in the book “Brain Rules” by John Medina shows that people remember the information better if they are re-exposed to it after your presentation. This means that your presentation should consist of the time you have with the audience plus a planned follow-up to reinforce your message. So what does a planned follow-up look like? You can plan to send one or more follow-up e-mails to the audience members to remind them of some of the key ideas and direct them to more resources or implementation ideas. You can prepare a special report extending the ideas and mail it to the audience members two weeks after the presentation. You can schedule a conference call or web meeting to answer any questions that have come up. Or you can create a series of videos to reinforce your message and make them available over the web. Let me share what I have changed in my approach to presentation follow-up. In ...
  • Issue #181 March 24, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Different uses for the tool PowerPoint is used as a tool to create many different outputs: projected slides, flipbook presentations, reports and even memos. Last week during a session in Los Angeles, I suggested that although there are different outputs from the same tool, there are a number of things that are common when using PowerPoint to create clear communication. No matter what output you will be creating, it needs to be structured so that it makes sense for the audience. Before you start using PowerPoint, determine what your presentation goal is, where the audience is now, and what points you need to make in order to move them from where they are to where you want them to be by the end of the presentation. The second common aspect is clear design. Your slides need to use colors that have enough contrast so that the audience can easily see them, the font you use needs to be big enough to be easily read, the slides need to be uncluttered and the focus of the design should be in ...
  • Handling mistakes on slides; Issue #180 March 10, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Handling mistakes on slides Last week I made a mistake on a slide and someone noticed during the session. I had typed the 13th of the month instead of the 10th in a visual. How did they know I was wrong? Because the explanatory text on the slide and what I said were not consistent with what my visual showed. This happens to all presenters, no matter how careful we are. The key is how you respond when someone points out the mistake. Unfortunately, this seems to rattle some presenters. If you are a little nervous, this could throw a big wrench in your wheels. But don’t worry. It is actually a good sign when people are asking questions like this because it shows they are interested and have a desire to better understand your point. So what should you do? First, pause a moment to determine whether what they are saying is correct. You may even want to ask them to explain what they see as incorrect because you may not be able to see the error. This can get ...
  • Issue #179 February 24, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Using FLV videos in PowerPoint There are two types of video files that do not work well in PowerPoint for Windows: MOV QuickTime files and FLV Flash video files. In a previous newsletter I dealt with how to play QuickTime videos in PowerPoint (if you missed that issue, click here to read it in the archives). Today I will deal with Flash video files. Flash video is the most popular video format on the Web because virtually every browser has the Flash player installed and the video plays automatically. You may have a Flash video file on your web site that you’d like to use in your presentation, but you will run into two problems. First, how do you get the video off the web and on to your computer. Second, how do you get the video file to play in your presentation. Let’s address each of these. To get the Flash video file off the web and on to your computer, you may need to follow one of the following methods. If you can right-click on the web ...
  • Issue #178 February 10, 2009 Don’t misinterpret Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint: In a blog post at http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html, Guy Kawasaki says: “Before there is an epidemic of Ménière’s in the venture capital community, I am trying to evangelize the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.” Ever since this blog post, commentators have used it to justify a call to reduce the number of slides in all types of presentations. But I think most of these commentators are misguided. Let’s look at what Kawasaki actually said. He said the rule applies to venture capital presentations and “any presentation to reach agreement”. OK, hands up, how many of you are almost always doing presentations where you expect to reach an agreement in that meeting? What, almost no hands up!?! Exactly my point. Most of the presentations that ...
  • Using Motion Path Animation; Issue #177 January 27 2009 PowerPoint Tip – Using Motion Paths One of the features of PowerPoint that has the potential to annoy the most is the animation feature, where you can make elements of the slide move. It is annoying when the animation does not add to the message being delivered. Having every bullet fly in may look “cool” as a presenter, but audiences find it annoying. Probably the worst use of animation I have seen was on a slide from a salesperson. They were showing the prospect the inside sales team that would be supporting the prospect after the sale. The slide had the four people in the group, with their picture, name and areas of expertise. To build the slide, the salesperson had each of the head shot pictures bounce in to place. It made the staff look totally unprofessional! I asked the salesperson if they had ever shown those four people how he presented them to prospective clients. After a long pause, he changed the subject. So why would you want to use movement animation? Because sometimes it explains something better than you could ...
  • Issue #176 January 13 2008 PowerPoint Tip: What’s in your Deleted Scenes special feature? Recently I was watching a movie on DVD with my family. As with many DVDs today, it included a special feature with Deleted Scenes. As the director usually explains, these scenes were originally shot with the intention of being in the movie, but during the editing stage, they found that the scene did not move the story along or develop a character in the way that they thought it would. Since it wasn’t a strong enough scene, it was cut. In your presentations, what would be in the Deleted Slides special feature? Too often, that special feature would be blank. I see many presentations where the presenter should have cut some slides and material that wasn’t strong enough in moving the audience to understand the message. But they left in every slide and the presentation has dips where the audience loses focus during a weak spot. Not cutting out material also leads to presentations that are longer than they need to be. I rarely, if ever, hear a complaint that a presentation ...

 

Year: 2008
  • Issue #175 December 23 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Where to get inspiration for slides We are about to celebrate Christmas at our house and many of you are celebrating this or other special occasions at your home during the holidays. One of the best loved parts of this time of year for our family is the light and holiday displays seen at so many houses and parks. We make it a tradition to drive down one particular road Christmas Eve on our way back from my parents’ house because of the great displays they have. What do holiday lights have to do with your presentations? More than you may initially think. You see, holiday displays and your presentations both need to have visual appeal, and we can learn from some of what we observe at this time of year and, in fact, any time we see visual artists at work, whether it is outdoors, in the theatre or in a studio. One idea from a holiday display we saw this weekend is how to simulate movement of an object on a slide. The light display was one ...
  • Issue #174 December 9, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Take time to update your slides In the next few weeks as my travelling starts to slow down and I have more time in the office, I’ll be doing something that I suggest you do as well. I’ll be reviewing and updating the slides that I use in my workshops. Today’s tip is about why you should update your slides and how to do it. In my book, The Visual Slide Revolution, and in my teaching, I suggest that you can cut your preparation time dramatically by using a library of standard slides that will cover about 70-80% of the material you normally deliver. But you can’t just create the slides once and assume that they will last forever. I suggest at least every six months you freshen the slides with new ideas. This way, it keeps your material current and it keeps your delivery fresh because you are always integrating new ideas. Where will these new ideas come from? From your experience. In the past six months, go back and see what slides you have created to customize ...
  • Issue #173 November 25, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Please don’t speak to the screen It happens far too often. It happened again last week – speaking to the screen instead of the audience. We are in the process of attending high school open house nights in order to figure out which high school will be best for our son. The first one we attended last week was for a school that has an international curriculum and one of the areas they said they stress is communication. So the coordinator stood and faced the screen as she spoke, usually reading what was written on each slide. At least she used a microphone so we could hear her. Why does this happen so often and what can we do about it? In this newsletter I’m covering some more strategies to use so you can avoid speaking to the screen. I gave some strategies six weeks ago, but it seems like more are needed. First, let’s look at why it happens. There are a number of reasons, but most common are the inability to see what is on the screen ...
  • Issue #172 November 11, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Shortcut keys when presenting In the workshops where I cover the topic of presenting your persuasive visual slides, one of the areas that gets the most interest is the shortcut keys you can use while you are delivering the presentation. In today’s tip I want to alert you to some of the most useful shortcuts and when you would use them in a business or professional presentation. Probably the most useful key when presenting is the “B” key. Why? Because it allows you to toggle to a black screen at any time. Why would you want to hide your wonderfully created slides? Because sometimes the greatest power comes from the audience focusing only on you. Take away the visual, and they focus more intently on what you are saying. Any time the visual is not relevant to what you are saying, like in a story or when you are answering a non-related question, press the “B” key on your keyboard to make the slide disappear. The “B” stands for the colour “Black”, so if your operating system and PowerPoint ...
  • Where to get PowerPoint help; Issue #171 October 28, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Where to get PowerPoint help When I am giving workshops, participants will often ask me how to accomplish a specific task in PowerPoint. I’m not a technical expert in all the minute details of PowerPoint, but I can answer most of their questions. For those who haven’t been in a workshop yet, I’ve put together short “how-to” videos available here to help out. But where do I go to figure out a question that I don’t know the answer to? Today’s tip will point you to the same sources I use for technical help. First stop is the PowerPoint FAQ list at http://www.rdpslides.com/pptfaq/index.html . It is created and maintained by Steve Rindsberg, one of the Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs. If you are having a problem with PowerPoint or are wondering how to do something specific, chances are Steve or one of the other MVPs who contribute have already written an article on it. If it has to do with an error message or a technical issue, I head over to the Microsoft support site at http://support.microsoft.com. This allows you to narrow your ...
  • Issue #170 October 14, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Stop looking at the screen What is so darned interesting on the screen? That’s what I was asking myself at a recent conference as I saw speaker after speaker looking at the screen repeatedly during their presentation. It’s not like anything had changed on the screen – it wasn’t that they had put up a new point or moved to a new slide. They just regularly looked at the screen. It was almost like they were wondering if the screen was still there or what was displayed had changed without them initiating it. I got to thinking why they would be doing this. I think it is because they needed to remind themselves what point they were discussing. If this is the case, let me suggest some better ways to go about making sure you cover what you need to for each topic in your presentation. First, position your laptop so that you can see it when you are facing the audience. If you need to sneak a peek at what is on the screen, look at your laptop ...
  • Issue #169 September 30, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using photos when telling stories Last week at the PowerPoint Live conference, more than one speaker emphasized how important it is that we tell stories when we are presenting instead of reading slides full of text or data. I agree with them and this issue I want to talk about how we can enhance our stories by using photos. What a photo can do is transport your audience right into the story with you. Photos work at an emotional level, which is where stories work as well. With the detail of your stories, you help the audience form an image in their own mind and feel what you felt when the story happened to you. A photo helps take the audience there more rapidly and makes it more real. Here are some examples of photos that can transport your audience. If you are talking about a location, such as a field of flowers or a busy city, a photo can take them there. If you are talking about a time of day, like sunrise or late afternoon, photos take ...
  • Issue #168 September 16, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Going green when creating presentations Last newsletter we looked at ways to be more environmentally responsible when creating handouts for our presentations. This time we’ll look at some tips when developing our presentations. 1. Plan before you create The more time we spend at the computer, the more electricity we use. So, instead of starting your presentation by sitting at the screen and typing away, spend some time planning the structure of what you want to say first. Let me share an example with you. Yesterday I finished my slides for my presentation next week at PowerPoint Live. But earlier this month I sat down with some sticky notes and outlined the structure and what support I needed for my main points. When it came time to create my slides, I spent less time at my computer because I had already outlined what needed to be on my slides. Not only does this save on the electricity you use, but it saves you time and lets you get on to the things you’d rather spend your time on. 2. ...
  • Issue #167 September 2, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Going green with your presentation handouts In this issue of the newsletter and the next issue, I’ll be sharing some ideas on how we can all be more environmentally responsible when it comes to preparing and delivering our presentations. Today I’ll cover what I consider to be the biggest area of potential savings – handouts. Next time I’ll cover some tips on creating our presentations. Here are some tips to help you be more environmentally sensitive when using handouts – and they will probably save you money as well. 1. Print four slides per page Too often presenters print handouts using the three slides per page format with lines beside each slide. In addition to being less visually dense and easier for audience members to take notes on, the four per page option can use up to 25% fewer pages. 2. Print using Pure Black & White The default when printing slides with a colored background on a black and white laser printer is “Grayscale”, which converts each color to a shade of gray and uses a lot of ...
  • Issue #166 August 19, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: What to look for in a web presentation service Next month I am presenting at PowerPoint Live on how to design and deliver a web based presentation and the differences from a presentation where the audience is in the room. I was looking back at the webinar I did for SpeakerNetNews that covered some of these topics and one area I am not going to cover at PowerPoint Live is the area of selecting a web presentation service. So I’m going to share some of my thoughts on that topic today. The objective today is not to convince you to lean towards one particular service or another. It is to give you some criteria to consider when you have to make that decision. With the cost of travel by any means increasing rapidly, we will all be doing web- based presentations in the future. If you are already using a web conference service, this may help you evaluate if you are getting the best value from who you currently use. Criteria #1 – Cost Structure There seem to be ...
  • Issue #165 August 5, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using a Venn Diagram One of the types of visuals that I review in my workshops is the Venn diagram. These diagrams were created in 1881 by John Venn as a way to represent relationships in the branch of mathematics known as set theory. The basic Venn diagram used in presentations shows two partially overlapping shapes, usually circles or ovals, and text to show what belongs to only one shape and what is common to both shapes. Why might you want to use it in your presentation? Here are two situations where it helps clearly explain your point. The first is when you are trying to show an overlapping relationship. It could be amongst roles, departments or product features. The key message is to show how some elements of each individual role/department/product are unique and some are the same as the other role/department/product. The Venn diagram makes these distinctions visually clear for your audience. A second situation is when you are showing the intersection of ideas. A common example right now is to show one circle that represents efficiency ...
  • Create professional looking diagrams by using techniques that line up things perfectly; Issue #164 July 22, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Align & Distribute for consistency On one of the makeover slides I created for a workshop I am giving tomorrow, I created a Gantt chart to show the implementation timeline for the service that was being sold. When you are creating a timeline by hand, it is important to space out the time periods evenly or else the visual does not look correct to the audience. To make it easier, I used a feature that is one of the subjects of today’s tip – the distribute feature. Aligning, having multiple objects lined up at the top, bottom or along one side, and distributing, having multiple objects evenly placed either horizontally or vertically are two important tasks that are hard to do by hand. If you have ever tried to arrange multiple pictures on a wall lining up the right edges or the tops, you know what I am talking about. This has always proven stressful for me as my wife expects me to be able to measure, nail the hook in and everything to be perfect. But few of us ...
  • Issue #163 July 8, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Summer Reading List for Presenters With the early July holiday over for those of us in the U.S. and Canada, it is the official start to summer. Many of us will be taking some time off in the next two months and today I want to share with you my recommendations for a book to take with you to the lake, camp or wherever you might be spending a few days relaxing. I know that you want to take a fiction book with you to escape from the daily grind of work. And you should take such a novel. But if you also want to pack a business oriented book, I’ve got four that I suggest you consider. The first is a book I read a few years ago and is by the man who has done probably more research in the area of using multimedia to teach than anyone else. The book is “Multimedia Learning” by Richard E. Mayer. While this is an academic book and a little drier than you might like, it does contain valuable insights ...
  • Issue #162 June 24, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Playing Quicktime videos in PowerPoint When you start incorporating video in to your PowerPoint presentations, you will likely hit one of the roadblocks that many presenters find frustrating. It has to do with video file formats. There are many video file formats. Some of the most popular ones you will see are AVI, WMV, and MOV. The problem is with the last file format, the MOV format. It is the Quicktime format created by Apple. It is a good format for quality and size of file, but it unfortunately does not work well in PowerPoint on Windows. The reason the MOV file format is so common is that it is the default format on Apple computers. But if you are working on a Windows machine, why should that matter? Because almost every video editing or production company uses Apple computers for video work. They are usually much better at that task. And your video company is likely going to give you an MOV file as the final output. If you try to insert it like any other video in ...
  • Issue #161 June 10, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: When to give handouts Many times you will give a handout with your presentation. It is often a copy of your slides, but it can contain other documents as well. I recently posted an article on my web site that talks about some best practices for creating handouts. The full article is at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/creatinghandouts.htm Today I want to deal with one of the most contentious questions I get when it comes to the topic of handouts. When do you give out the handout – before or after you speak? Some will argue that you always give it out after you speak. They say that if you give it out before, people can read ahead and know what you are going to say. If everything you are going to say is on your slides, this is true. But you know that my philosophy is that your slides should be visuals that guide a conversation with the audience, not a transcript of everything you are going to say. So my approach is to give a handout before I speak. I have ...
  • Issue #160 May 27, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Distributing your presentation in PDF format More and more presentations or handouts are being distributed in PDF format so that they can be viewed on any system and look the same. I always provide my clients with a PDF handout so that when they print it, I know it will look the same as when I created it. Those who receive the PDF file can then easily e-mail it to others who did not attend the presentation. Today’s tip gives you four ideas on how you can make a PDF copy of your presentation be more than a simple printout of your slides. Note that these ideas require you to have a full copy of Adobe Acrobat, not just the free Reader application. But if you are going to create PDF documents, you probably have the full Acrobat already. If you want to have your audience (and I use the term audience to mean anyone who is opening the PDF file to review it) look at more information on a web site, add a hyperlink to a slide. There ...
  • Issue #159 May 13, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Learn From Great Presentations One of the best ways to get better at presenting is to watch other presenters who are better than yourself. It is a time-tested principle that is true in many endeavors, be it sports, music or business: watch the best and learn from them. Today I want to point you to a web site that contains the audio and many times a written transcript of what scholars have deemed to be the top 100 speeches of the modern era. The web site is http://www.americanrhetoric.com/newtop100speeches.htm and is a great source of material for being inspired at how spoken words can literally change lives. I encourage you to visit the site, bookmark it and visit regularly to spend time listening to the greatest speeches of our time by people like Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, FDR and many others. As you listen to their speeches, pay attention to the following as points to remember and incorporate when you speak. The first thing you will notice about every one of these speeches is the passion ...
  • Issue #158 April 29, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using PDF files during presentations In my latest article that has been posted to the web site, I talk about how we can increase interaction in our sales presentations. I talk about the difference between a lecture style of presentation (one-way communication only) and a more interactive presentation. I then give four ways to get the audience involved to have more of a conversation. One of the ideas is to hyperlink to a PDF document, and that’s what I am going to expand on today. The full article is at: http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/increasinginteraction.htm . When you display a brochure in the Adobe PDF Reader, it usually opens showing the full page, which is usually far too small to be able to read or explain. So what you will need to do is zoom in on the area that you want the audience to focus on. You can use the percentage zoom drop down list, but the zoom is focused on the center of the page, which may not be where you want to zoom in on. Instead, click on the ...
  • Issue #157 April 15, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using Hyperlinking Last newsletter I pointed you to an article on designing presentations for delivery via a web conferencing system. Today I follow that up with an article on delivering that presentation via the web facility. The full article is on my web site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/deliverwebsalespresentation.htm (if the link doesn’t work because it is too long, just go to the articles page on the web site and you’ll see it there) In today’s newsletter I want to expand on one of the topics in the article. Too many times when we want to bring content from outside PowerPoint into our presentation, we see a distracting technique used. The presenter exits their presentation, we see them start up another application, find their file, open it and then continue. There is a much cleaner way to do this – hyperlinking. In PowerPoint, you can add a hyperlink to any text or shape. By selecting the text or shape, you can then click Insert – Hyperlink in PowerPoint 2003 or PowerPoint 2007. You will see the options for hyperlinking to files or ...
  • Designing and Delivering Non-Linear Presentations; Issue #156 April 1, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Designing Non-Linear Presentations Yesterday I posted a new article on the site that gives best practices for designing sales presentations to be delivered over the web. Web delivery of presentations is growing rapidly and these tips will help your next web presentation be a success. At http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/designwebsalespresentation.htm you can read the full article. (if the link doesn’t work because it is too long, just go to the articles page on the web site and you’ll see it there) In today’s tip I want to expand on one of the ideas I mention in the article: non-linear presentations. Whenever I discuss this in my workshops it is one of the ideas that my audiences find the most intriguing. You can deliver a non-linear presentation in person or over the web. Let me start by recapping what it is before I give you some tips when planning to present this way. A non-linear presentation is one where you give the audience control of the sequence of topics. Instead of going through the topics in the order you have planned, you give them a ...
  • Issue #155 March 18, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Video Best Practices This past week I posted a new article on the web site about best practices when using video clips in sales presentations. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling an idea to your boss or selling a multi-million dollar package of products and services to a client, video can be a great addition to your presentation. In the article, posted on the site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/videoinsales.htm I talk about four best practices that you should follow when adding video to your PowerPoint presentation. In the newsletter today I want to expand on a few of the ideas I shared. In the article I talk about how one of the easiest ways to capture your own video is to use the video mode of your digital camera. It used to be that there was only one video mode, but most cameras today have multiple settings. The question is, What resolution should you use? The best compromise between quality and file size is usually 640 x 480, known as VGA resolution. It looks good when projected and keeps the ...
  • Issue #154 March 4, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Photo Best Practices Last week the Presentation Xpert newsletter published one of my new articles on using product photos in sales presentations. If you want to read the full article, you can go to http://editor.ne16.com/htmleditor/viewOnline.asp?FileID=147429 Today I want to expand on a couple of the ideas in the article. One of the tips I shared is to resample your photos before inserting them on a slide. This is something I have discussed before and the purpose is to keep the file size small while maintaining high quality photos. One question that also comes up that I didn’t discuss in the article was what file format to use when saving pictures to be inserted on a PowerPoint slide. Most digital cameras save photos in the JPG format, which is a compressed format that maintains quite good quality. If you get professional photos taken, they may be provided in the TIF format, a high quality format that is not compressed much. My suggestion is to use the JPG format to save photos before inserting them on slides. It gives you good ...
  • Issue #153 February 19, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Radio station WIMTT Have you been listening to radio station WIMTT lately? What? You aren’t familiar with that station? Worried that it doesn’t broadcast in your local area? Well it is available in every local radio market in the world and it is the single most important station for presenters to listen to. The programming is key to effective presentations, but far too many presenters ignore the valuable content it provides. What is station WIMTT? It is a radio station you don’t listen to with a traditional or satellite radio. It is a station you listen to with the radio in your head. The call letters WIMTT stand for “What It Means To Them”. The focus of your presentation is the audience, and if you aren’t listening to their needs and desires, your presentations will fail. Don’t spend your time thinking of what you want to say, spend your energy thinking of what your points mean to the audience. Look at things from their point of view, not your own. Excited about a feature of your product? They don’t ...
  • How to determine if the font on your slides is big enough; Issue #152 February 5, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Is Your Font Big Enough? One of the questions that comes up often in my workshops is “How big of a font should I use?” The answer is … It depends. You certainly don’t want to do what I have seen twice in the past 18 months. These two presentations have set the record for smallest font used on a slide in my experience. They used a five point font. No, that is not a typo. Five (5) point! And they expected the audience to be able to read it. So how do I answer the font size question? I did the research to come up with a way that I could determine an appropriate font size. I started by considering visual acuity. This is the term used for how well we see. It is what the optometrist measures using the eye chart that starts with the large “E” at the top and smaller lines below. They determine your visual acuity based on how tall a letter you can clearly see at what distance. It is important that we have the letters ...
  • How to make slides that are accessible for those with hearing or sight impairments; Issue #151 January 22, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Making Accessible Slides Last year I worked on a project for my publisher, Prentice Hall, that was interesting and highly informative. The topic was how to make PowerPoint presentations accessible to those who have hearing or sight impairments. It is a requirement on some college campuses and we would all do well to be aware of some of the ideas in order to be able to make our messages accessible to everyone in our audiences. In today’s article, I want to share some of the key techniques for making your PowerPoint slides accessible. Not only will these ideas help when you have someone who is visually or hearing impaired in your audience, but in many cases the suggestions will make your slides clearer for everyone. First, pay attention to the design of your slides. Make sure you have selected colors that have enough contrast. Someone who has trouble seeing needs a high degree of contrast between text or shapes and the background. Use the Color Contrast Calculator to check the contrast of the colors you select. Use sans-serif fonts that are ...
  • Issue #150 January 8, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Identifying Possible Visuals This is a milestone issue for the newsletter as it is the 150th issue. And I’ll take this occasion to announce that my next book is scheduled to be ready mid to late February and will be available in both e-book and printed formats. The topic is how to create persuasive visuals. More on the book in future newsletters, but today’s tip is one of the topics I discuss in more detail in the book. One of the biggest obstacles I hear to creating visuals instead of text on PowerPoint slides is that people don’t know what visual to create for the point they are making. They think that you need a degree in graphics or need to be a really creative person to come up with the appropriate graphic for different situations. I disagree. I suggest you listen carefully to the language you use to describe the point that you are making. The words or phrases you use will give you all the clues you need. No degree required. Anyone can do it. Let’s look ...

 

Year: 2007
  • Issue #149 December 11, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Animation Using Reveals Recently I needed to animate parts of a graph. I tried the animation tools in PowerPoint, but they would not allow me to reveal the parts of the graph the way I wanted to. If this happens to you when wanting to reveal parts of a graph or a graphic, here is an option to consider. The technique involves thinking in a different way. Instead of the normal approach of animating each element to come on to a slide, this approach reveals the elements that are already on the slide, but are covered up by other elements. It is like we used to do with overhead transparencies when we would cover part of the transparency up with a piece of paper and reveal each point by moving the paper. There are two ways to implement this technique. The first is to begin by saving the background as an image. Then, add this image to the slide. Size it so that the image covers up the entire slide (it now looks like the slide has nothing on ...
  • Issue #148 November 27, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Smaller imported PDF images Earlier this year I shared a technique for including PDF content on a PowerPoint slide. In issue 135 on May 29 I showed how the capture tool in Acrobat can be used to move content from a PDF file to a slide (see http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/archives.htm for this and all back issues). If you are including a lot of PDF content, you may have seen your file size grow. One way to reduce the size of PowerPoint files that contain graphics is to use PowerPoint’s built-in feature to compress graphics. I have used this to compress files up to 96%. But this does not seem to help when you have these PDF images in a PowerPoint file. If file size is of critical importance to you because you need to e- mail the file to others, you may need to use a modified technique that will allow a smaller file size. Here are the steps you would follow: 1. Capture the PDF content using the Acrobat capture tool as you normally would. Make sure that the capture ...
  • Issue #147 November 13, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Wide screen laptops Almost every laptop sold today is a wide screen model. The native display resolution is great and allows you to put applications side by side when working. The problem is that most projectors are not wide screen and are lower resolution. This can cause frustrating display problems for presenters when the higher resolution is sent to a projector that doesn’t handle it very well. There is something you can do about this potential problem. In PowerPoint, you can set the Slide Show Resolution to be different than the regular resolution that your laptop normally uses. This is helpful because now you can output a resolution that is more compatible with projectors and have less issues when presenting. This setting is in the Set Up Show dialog box. I set my Slide Show Resolution to 1024 x 768, which is commonly known as XGA resolution and is the most common native resolution for projectors in use today. What this means is that when I switch to slide show mode, my display switches to the XGA resolution and ...
  • Issue #146 October 30, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Text Heavy Slides Annoy Audiences Survey Says In the third Annoying PowerPoint Survey that wrapped up a week ago, the major conclusion is that we are suffering through an epidemic of overloaded text slides – and we are not happy about it. The survey results point to the need for presenters to increase the use of relevant visuals to replace text and allow more of a conversation with the audience instead of a recitation of the slide text. When asked to select the top three things that annoy them about bad PowerPoint presentations, the respondents cited the following as the most annoying: The speaker read the slides to us – 67.4% Full sentences instead of bullet points – 45.4% Text so small I couldn’t read it – 45.0% While the top ranked issue has not changed in the three surveys (previous surveys were done in 2003 and 2005), what stood out clearly this time was that the top three annoyances all relate to overloaded text slides. And the rest of the annoying characteristics were ranked well behind these top ...
  • Issue #145 October 16, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Visual Slide Definition This past week I created a new definition of a visual slide that captures where my position is different from some others. Here is my definition: “A visual slide is not the absence of text; it is the presence of a visual that encourages a conversation with the audience.” Now some people have stated that PowerPoint slides should never have text on them – visuals only. And we have all seen the paragraphs of unending text on too many slides. I think those are the two ends of a spectrum. While it is important to know where the extremes of the spectrum are, I am not sure living there is the best approach. I prefer something in the middle. In my definition, I deliberately chose to define a visual not by what is missing, but instead by what is present that is of greatest value. Let me explain. A visual is not of value simply because there is no text on the slide. The lack of text does not add to the benefit that the audience ...
  • Starting with a standard set of slides speeds presentation creation; Issue #144 October 2, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Standard Set of Slides One of the ways to spend far less time creating PowerPoint presentations is to create a standard set of slides to draw on when creating your presentations.  Why is this such a good idea?  Let me share why I use this technique to drastically cut down on the time I spend creating each new presentation when I speak at a conference or deliver a workshop. One objection I hear regularly to this idea is that having a standard set of slides eliminates the opportunity to customize presentations. And today you need to create custom presentations if you want to survive in the highly competitive business marketplace. I agree that you need to customize, but having a standard set of slides doesn’t hinder your ability to do so. By a standard set of slides what I mean is a set of slides that covers the majority of the common ideas that you present. It is not intended to be restrictive. It allows you to have a library of slides you commonly use to save time creating every new, ...
  • Issue #143 September 18, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Throw out some slides Like most professionals, you are an expert in your field and you are asked to speak on the same or similar topics frequently. To save the time of recreating all your slides from scratch, you have a file that you usually use and it works pretty well. Let me encourage you today to throw some of those slides out. Why? Because I know (and you do too) that you have improved and you can think of more effective ways of presenting certain points. So why keep using the same old slides? Throw out the ones that don’t work and create new slides. Your whole presentation will get better as a result. Every few months I do this for my slides. About two months ago when the last revision was made, I threw out over 50 slides. Why? Because there was a better slide that had been created or I had newer material that was stronger than the points on that slide. Let me give you a couple of examples. I eliminated some slides in the ...
  • Issue #142 September 4, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Ideas from 5,000 years ago We can learn valuable lessons from how humans communicated 5,000 years ago. At that time, formal written language was not well established, so how did people communicate? They used pictures and stories. They drew a picture on a cave wall and told the story of what was depicted, whether it was hunting, family relationships or other important ideas. One of the ideas I’ll be sharing at the Think Outside The Slide workshop later this month in Seattle is what we can learn from this method of communicating. Today, let me share a high-level lesson learned by thinking about communicating through cave drawings. Some people might refer to cave drawings as primitive. I am not sure I agree. I think what people even back then realized, is that visuals are powerful communication vehicles. So they drew with detail and used vivid colors. They did it so well that the drawings still exist today. Once the drawing was complete, they told the story of the event they depicted. The story referred to the drawing, but added ...
  • Issue #141 August 21, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Create a custom image As we start to move towards using more visuals in our presentations, we have the desire to create better and better graphics. And this is good, as long as better does not mean more complex. We need to keep them simple and meaningful for the audience. Does this mean we have to hire a graphic designer though? I don’t think so. Many times we can create custom images for our slides by combining multiple elements to create a new image that shows exactly what we want to communicate. And combining elements is easier than it sounds. Let me use an example from a recent client presentation. The client wanted to explain how two competing ideas needed to be balanced in order to achieve the optimal result. Instead of stating it simply as text bullet points, I created an image by combining text and a photo. I took a photo of an old balance scale, the type they used in shops a hundred years ago. Then, I added semi- transparent text boxes on each of the ...
  • Issue #140 August 7, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: The Value of Preparing Early When you travel, it is almost inevitable that you will see someone working on their presentation in the airport waiting area or on the airplane. Inevitably, they will get off the plane, jump into a rental car and drive to a meeting room where they will present that set of slides. By leaving the preparation to the last minute, you don’t give yourself four advantages that preparing early gives you. First, when you prepare early, you leave yourself time to let the ideas percolate in your mind. You can review your presentation without being rushed and make revisions. This makes your presentation better. Presenters regularly tell me that they thought of a great way to present an idea after the presentation and wished they had thought of it before they presented. By preparing early, you give yourself the time to think of these great ideas. If you have ever arrived at the presentation site and realized that you have forgotten a cord or piece of equipment, you know the next advantage of preparing early. ...
  • Issue #139 July 24, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: How Many Features Do You Need To Know? Recently we had a family picture taken on my wife’s side of the family. We assembled at her parent’s house and a photographer we know, Larry, came to take the picture outside. Everything went exceedingly well – the weather was perfect and smiles abounded. After we were done, we all went back into the house for refreshments. One of the reasons we have used Larry in the past is his ability to touch up a photo using Photoshop. He and I were talking about this in the house after the photo shoot and I had assumed that he was a Photoshop expert user. Turns out he only really knows the eight or so functions that he needs to make photos look amazing. As I thought about it later, that makes perfect sense. I teach that you don’t need to know every feature of PowerPoint, only the ones to be effective at presenting in your role. That’s why most top presenters only use about 20-25% of the features at most. It’s also ...
  • Use a map to show geographic relationships; Issue #138 July 10, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Why Not Use a Map? If you have geographic based data to present, it is important to organize it into a logical manner for the audience. Usually this means organizing it left to right in west to east order so that the data on the slide is the same order as the regions or territories would be if you looked at a map. Typically this will be a column graph with the western data starting on the left moving to the far right where we find eastern data. A recent client slide from a Canadian client is a perfect illustration. They were showing market share in each region. They used a column graph and had one bar for BC, one for Alberta, one for the Prairies, one for Ontario, one for Quebec and one for the Atlantic provinces. It was a well designed slide. But it could have been even more effective. When showing market share, a pie chart is a great visual because the proportion is instantly clear to the audience. But how do you create a pie graph ...
  • Issue #137 June 26, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Research on Slide Titles In the newspaper recently I saw a short mention that a study was done recently that showed that a sentence as a title of a PowerPoint slide was found to be more effective. So I did the research and found the paper that this report was based on. And as is all too common, the reporting greatly simplifies what the paper really said. It is a paper that discusses what the authors call “Assertion- Evidence Slide Design” (the paper is online at http://www.writing.eng.vt.edu/slides.html). This is basically an approach that uses a sentence as the title of the slide and a visual as evidence to support the assertion made by the title. In their tests, they compared the effectiveness of slides using this design method to slides with short phrase titles and bullet points only. They found a significant increase in understanding with the slides that used their design. Not a surprise I must say. But here is where the reporting went astray. The report suggested that the conclusion is that the title change was ...
  • Four tips to make it easier when collaborating on the creation of a presentation; Issue #136 June 12, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Collaborating on Presentations In my consulting work, I get a chance to collaborate on developing presentations with people in many different geographic locations. Sometimes it is face-to-face and other times it is done virtually. Collaborating on presentations instead of doing it yourself is becoming more common. Today I have some tips for making collaboration work no matter if you are in the same room or oceans apart. Tip #1 Get on the same version If at all possible, everyone should work on the same version of PowerPoint that will be used to present with. I had a situation earlier this year with a client where their older version of PowerPoint did not support some of the animation and transparency features that I had used in designing the slides. In this case I had to design down to the version they were using. Tip #2 Use viewer if necessary One solution to different versions of PowerPoint being used is to use the PowerPoint Viewer to be able to see the presentation as it has been designed. The Viewer is available for download from ...
  • Capture part of a PDF document for use on your PowerPoint slide; Issue #135 May 29, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Use PDF Capture Tool I’ve worked with two clients recently who produce a lot of material in Adobe’s PDF format for marketing purposes. This is quite common today as more companies switch from printed materials to online versions that can be printed as needed, downloaded from a web site or e-mailed. Marketing departments spend a lot of time creating these materials and you should take advantage of their work in your presentations. While you could ask for the source file so that you have all the graphics, charts, tables, etc., that’s not usually the easiest approach. Since most of the pages will have been created in high end page layout software, you will be getting files that you likely would have a hard time using. The easier approach is to use the PDF version of the document. With a PDF version, you always get it looking the way the designer intended it to look and don’t have to worry about having a fancy graphics program to read it. And most of the time it is easy for the designer to ...
  • Issue #134 May 15, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Use Gantt chart for Timelines In a number of presentations that I have worked on for clients they want to show a timeline of events as a background for their comments. It may be developments in the industry, evolution of a competitive landscape or as simple as external world events that influence their situation. This proves to be a bit of a challenge for many since often these events are not point in time events but are developments that may have taken months or years to occur. Some have used a bulleted list with each bullet containing a date and the text of the event or development. The challenge with this format is that it does not make it easy to get a sense of overall timing because the gap between the dates in the list may not be consistent. It also does not allow for an easy way to show how long something took if it developed over, say, 2 years. Another attempt was to have a timeline of years through the middle of the slide and ...
  • Issue #133 May 1, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Beyond Templates Many of you will be familiar with the idea of using a template to give your slides a common look. A Master Slide sets the background color, text colors and fonts and any branding on the slide. This way, every slide has a consistent look and the audience is not distracted by changing slide appearances. Some organizations take this idea one step further and create a style guide. Your template is one part of a style guide, but it goes further than just the look and feel. A style guide can contain elements such as: 1) Guidelines on when to use different slide masters If you are creating presentations that have distinct sections, such as a workshop, seminar or longer session, you may want to create multiple slide masters so that the graphical look indicates to your audience what this slide is about. For example, you may have one slide look for the start of a section and another slide look for introducing an exercise. This type of graphical cueing can increase the engagement of your ...
  • Issue #132 April 17, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Finish Strong, Not Long You have heard it said many times that the most important parts of your presentation are the start and the end. Presenters spend time thinking about how to introduce their topic and engage the audience. Certainly important to do. But too many times presenters end their presentation weakly, leaving a poor impression that sinks their presentation despite what they had said earlier. The most common ways to end a presentation are also the worst possible ways to do so. I see way too many presentations finish with a slide that says “Questions?” or “Thank You!” in big bold type in the center of the slide. This is the worst way to end your presentation, especially if you are doing a persuasive or sales presentation. Why? By saying “Thank You”, all you have done is thank them for sitting through your presentation, where do you go from there? If you end with “Questions?”, you have just invited the audience to question what you have told them. It suggests that they should have questions about your ...
  • Issue #131 April 3, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Color Contrast Calculator One of the most common audience complaints about PowerPoint slides is that the presenter picked colors that don’t have enough contrast. This means that text, lines, shapes or graphs can’t be seen well on the slide and the message is negatively affected. If you don’t have a background in design, how do you ensure that the colors you have chosen have enough contrast? This same complaint was made about early web sites, so the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created a standard that tests the contrast between two colors. There are actually two tests. The first is for color brightness contrast. This measures the difference in brightness between two colors. The second test is for color difference, which measures the difference between the attributes of two colors. Both tests are calculations that use the Red, Green and Blue (RGB) attributes of the two colors to determine if there is enough difference between the two colors. The RGB attributes of any color are easily seen in the Custom tab of the color selection dialog box when ...
  • Issue #130 March 20, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Ideas for More Visuals I have been talking recently to more and more clients about how to get away from text or number filled presentation slides and move towards using visuals to represent the ideas we are sharing. This ranges from sales staff to finance professionals to admin assistants. Today’s tip is a web based resource that can help stimulate your thinking about what visual could represent the point you are making. The web site is a project from some academics who are studying ways to represent concepts visually and it is an interesting site. The specific page I suggest as a resource is at: http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html . This page contains a large number of potential visual ideas organized into categories based on the periodic table of elements (there’s the academic influence showing through). Notice that they have organized the visual methods (as they term them) by color to represent what you are trying to visualize (data, concept, strategy, etc.) and they have added letter colors and symbols to further categorize the methods on the basis of process vs. ...
  • Issue #129 March 6, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – What The Audience Really Needs Too many times presenters assume they know what their audience needs. And too many times they are wrong. I remember a presentation I did a couple of years ago where I made this mistake. I had a conversation with the person who had booked me and I felt that I knew what they wanted. I prepared my presentation but as I was on the stage, I could see that I wasn’t hitting the mark. And the evaluations showed it. A few months later a fellow professional speaker reinforced for me the need to dig deeper to find out what the audience really needs. So now I regularly use online survey tools to find out what topics the audience wants me to cover and I structure my presentation accordingly. The past two weekends I spoke in Nashville and Las Vegas for the same organization. And the presentation was so successful because of my preparation, specifically my audience research. When they asked me to speak, I suggested that we do an online survey of the ...
  • Issue #128 February 20, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Protecting Your Slides from Changes You have spent a long time getting your slides just right – everything is in place, colors work, animation builds to emphasize the key points and visuals speak louder than text. Now you have to send it to a colleague or distribute it to others. The risk is that all that work will be for naught when someone else decides to change something on the slide. I have spoken and done consulting in the investment management industry where compliance is a large concern and the risk of slides being changed is a real threat. Other industries have similar compliance risks. Even if you don’t have a compliance issue, the risk of your carefully crafted message or visuals being altered and an important client not getting the right message can be even more scary. Just telling people not to change the slides doesn’t work. There are a couple of things you can do to reduce or prevent changes. First, use the grouping feature to lock the positions of graphical elements. I use this for callout ...
  • Issue #127 February 6, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Taking Pictures for use in PowerPoint Photographs are becoming more and more common in presentations and for good reason. Photos can cut to the emotion of a point far better than text or clip art ever can. And with the popularity of digital cameras, it is now easier than ever to use our own photos as part of our presentations. When you are taking photos, keep these ideas in mind. 1. Frame the photo Most photos have the subject of the photo, whether it is a person or an object, in the direct center of the frame. It is often more interesting to have the subject off center in one of four spots in the frame. Imagine the frame of the photo is divided by four lines into nine boxes like a tic-tac-toe board. Try to have your subject at one of the spots where the lines of the grid intersect. This will make for a more interesting shot and put the subject in context with the background. 2. Make sure the subject is in focus With our photos projected ...
  • Issue #126 January 23, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Using Hyper-links One of the topics I discussed in a presentation on future trends in presentations last month was the use of hyper-links to create non- linear presentations and include other content in our presentations. The ability of PowerPoint to link to content within or outside the current set of slides allows you to create and deliver a more flexible presentation customized to what your audience needs at that moment. Let’s look at some of the options hyper-linking gives you. 1. Link to a slide in your presentation By linking to another slide in the existing presentation, you are able to jump between topics in the order that the audience wants to hear them. This is usually done by creating a menu slide and then giving the audience a choice of where they want to go from there. It can also be used when an audience member asks a question that you have anticipated and you jump to a prepared slide for the answer to that question. Then you can jump back to where you were in the presentation. 2.Link ...
  • Issue #125 January 9, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – How Attitude Affects Your Presentation When you are presenting, certainly your message and key points are important. But perhaps as important is your attitude towards your audience and your material. Attitude is not something that most of us consciously consider on a daily basis – but perhaps we should. I am sure we have all seen presentations that suffered from a lack of interest in the topic by the presenter or contempt for the audience by the presenter. In either situation, the presenter may have tried to hide their true feelings, but the audience can pick it up in an instant. I have been thinking more about attitude since I have been reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s new book “Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude”. Jeffrey is someone I have admired for a number of years for his straightforward style and his approach to business. It doesn’t hurt that he started switching to visual slides for his presentations years ago, well before many others were thinking about it. This book is about how you can create a Yes! attitude in ...

 

Year: 2006
  • Issue #124 December 12, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – The most likely cause of video failure Last week when I was speaking at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers Convention in Vancouver, one of the trends I talked about was the increasingly common expectation of audiences to see multimedia incorporated into presentations. On the Oprah Winfrey show last week viewers saw Al Gore go through some of his slides on global warming and one of the reasons his presentation is so effective is that he integrates visual media so well into his story. While incorporating video seems straightforward, there is one problem that comes up more often than any other. You create the presentation on your computer and then send it or move it to another computer that you will present from. You go to show the video or play an audio track and it doesn’t work. In most cases it is because the link is an absolute link instead of a relative link. Let me explain. When you insert an audio or video clip it actually doesn’t insert the media file, it links to where the ...
  • Issue #123 November 28, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Detailed Handouts without Packed Slides One reason presenters pack slides with too much text and information is that they claim that since they will be printing the slides as their handout, they will need the audience to have the detail for future reference. But what happens is that the barrage of information on the slide overwhelms the audience and the presentation is a failure. There is a better way. Instead of overloading text on your slides, design a slide file that has both detail slides and properly designed visuals that can serve both show and print purposes. Here’s how you can do it. For each topic, create two slides. The first one you will display during the presentation and it should be visual, not packed with text. The next slide should contain any detailed information you want the audience to have to refer to after the presentation. This second slide will never be shown during the presentation. It is there for printing purposes only. Then, for each of the detailed slides, click on Slide Show – Hide Slide. ...
  • Issue #122 November 14, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Downside of Dashboards One of the recent trends in executive presentations is to create what is know as dashboard slides. A dashboard slide is a way for executives to get a quick view on projects, initiatives, financial or other measurements of interest. It is usually designed to have a red, yellow or green light beside each item indicating the measure of that item against a standard. In some organization they have even created these displays on internal web sites so the displays are updated in real time. While this sounds like a good idea, I have two key objections to the way most of these slides are created. First, if you ask a presenter how the color has been calculated, i.e. what constitutes a green, yellow or red, they can’t answer your question because they don’t know. Someone programmed a set of calculations on a spreadsheet or in some other tool that spits out the color rating for each item based on a complex formula of factors. The presenter simply reports the rating. This does not serve executives ...
  • Issue #121 October 31, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Scary Slide Mistakes Today is Halloween for many and it brings to mind thoughts of scary things. I want to share with you today some of the scary mistakes I have seen presenters make so that you can avoid these mistakes. Is there text there? – When I was working on a presentation for a client in the travel industry once I came across a slide for a ski resort that demonstrated what not to do when putting text on a picture. The slide had a gorgeous picture of a snow covered mountain top – but then they put white text on top of the picture. Of course the letters on the snow disappeared, leaving a confusing partial phrase. The lesson here is that the best way to add text to a picture is to use a semi-transparent screen behind the text so the text has a contrasting color to make it stand out. Where’s the exit? Let me out now! – A lesson in presentation structure was illustrated brilliantly by an agenda slide that I saw. This ...
  • Issue #120 October 17, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Equipment Failure If you are going to use PowerPoint to present, at some point in time you will have to deal with the equipment failing. You may not have had this happen to you yet, but you will. Even though the equipment is far more reliable than it was when I started presenting with computers and projectors over 10 years ago, it is not perfect. And I like to say that it is not a matter of “if” you will experience equipment failure, it is only a matter of “when”. That’s why I am doing a webinar this Thursday on handling problems during your presentation. The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what happens, you need to keep going. The audience is there to hear your message and they expect you to deliver it no matter how many equipment problems occur. This means that you should be mentally and physically prepared to deal with various types of failures, from projectors to computers to sound systems and every other component you use. I have ...
  • Issue #119 October 3, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Customizing tricks The days of canned presentations are over. Oh, they’ve been over for a while now, just some presenters haven’t realized it yet. So how can you quickly customize your presentation to exactly what the audience needs with little effort each time? Use these two simple tricks. First, many presenters have a large file of slides and select only the ones they want for each presentation. This is a smart idea. But instead of copying out the ones you want each time, here is another approach. Hide the slides you don’t want to show. To hide a slide, right-click on it in the list of slides on the left side of the screen. In the sub-menu that appears, click on Hide Slide. You will now see the slide number in the list has a diagonal line through it. This means that the slide is still there, but it will not be shown in Slide Show mode. This way, you show only the slides you want without a lot of effort. If you are going to print the ...
  • Issue #118 September 19, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Equipment Connections In my webinar this week on Setting Up for a Worry Free Presentation, one of the items I will be covering is how to connect the equipment you will need for your presentation. I’ll go into more details on the webinar, but want to outline some of the most important basics today. The two most important pieces of equipment you will likely be using are a projector and your computer. The most obvious connection is to connect the display port of the computer to the display input of the projector. This is usually done using a cable that connects to the VGA port of the computer and a computer input port on the projector (sometimes a VGA port and sometimes a special port for that projector). Two other connections seem so obvious that they are usually taken for granted – the power cords for the projector and the laptop. While it may seem obvious, I have seen people struggle to figure out why the projector isn’t working when it was simply the cord not being plugged ...
  • Issue #117 September 5, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Photo Entrance Loop Summer is over for most as the kids are back in school and we look forward to the last third of the calendar year. I hope many of you were able to take some time off in the last few months to recharge and rest up. Most people take photos while they are on vacation and with the popularity of digital cameras, the number of photos we take has exploded. We were away for 20 days last month and took almost 2,000 pictures! With digital pictures being so easy to take and select the best to show others, why not think of using a loop of digital pictures as an entrance show for an upcoming conference presentation you are involved in. Fall is a prime time for conferences and if you are speaking at one or helping prepare someone’s presentation, this is a way to make the presentation stand out from the start. What I mean by a loop is a set of say 10-15 photos that automatically change from one to the next and ...
  • Issue #116 August 22, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Graduated Color Backgrounds One of the most popular ideas I shared on my webinar last month about creating your own custom PowerPoint template was to use a graduated background instead of a solid color. I find graphics in the background, such as pictures or logos, too distracting – and so do audience members based on the surveys I have done. If the background is too busy, people focus on the interesting details in the background instead of on your content. So a clean background is better. But many people commented that a solid color background was a little too flat and boring. And I agree. So I suggest a graduated background where the color at the top gradually changes to the color at the bottom. While this is a better idea than a flat color, too many times I have seen the color choices make a graduated background look worse than any distracting picture could ever do. Think green graduating to red and you get the picture. The trick to picking two colors to use in a graduated ...
  • Issue #115 August 8, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: Making Your Point Stand Out with a Photo As I have written many times before, using pictures can illustrate your point much better than words in some cases. Just be sure that when you use a picture, the point is clear. A recent slide reminded me of this. The presenter was using a picture that covered almost all of the screen. It showed 3 objects, two incorrect examples and one correct example. The difference was very slight and in terms of the large picture, the section of difference in each object that the presenter was emphasizing was perhaps 10-15% of each object. The presenter verbally pointed out the differences and the audience had to figure out where on the picture the difference was shown. I suggested some changes that made it much clearer for the audience to tell what the difference was and made the point much stronger. I took the one picture and broke it into three pictures, one for each example. For each example, I zoomed in on only the section of the object that was being ...
  • Issue #114 July 25, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: The Challenge with White Backgrounds I am often asked what color background someone should use for their PowerPoint slides. Many organizations use a white background because it prints well. That’s fine if you only print your presentations, but if you will be projecting your presentation, a white background can cause problems. Here are a few observations from a recent presentation that used a white background. The room was well lit, and turning down the lights wasn’t really an option since it would have made the room too dark for the audience to stay awake. Strong room lighting washes out colors, so the text color, even black, appears washed out and harder to see when using a white background. Second, a white background is the dominant color the audience sees, which is quite bright and can tire their eyes, making it harder for them to devote their full attention to you and your message. And finally, it is very hard for a projector and screen combination to create a true white color (it is one of the hardest colors to ...
  • Issue #113 July 11, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: What to look for in a travelling projector I have been asked twice recently about what specifications or features I would consider when purchasing a projector to take with you to present to small to mid sized groups (2-100 people). Since this is likely of interest to more than the two people who asked, I thought I would share my response in case you are considering a similar purchase. There are three criteria I stress above others: 1) 4 lbs or less weight – you will notice & feel every ounce as you carry this equipment in airports or in buildings. Don’t let anyone tell you that a 5.5 lb projector is just a little more than a 4 lb one – it is almost 38% heavier and your arm will tell you after only a few trips. 2) minimum of 2,000 lumens brightness – lumens is how they measure how bright a projector is and with at least 2,000 lumens, you will be able to present in almost all lighting situation without having to turn down any lights. ...
  • Issue #112 June 27, 2006 25 Time Saving Tips E-book As you know, all of the past newsletter are archived on my web site. But many of you don’t have time to search the over 100 issues for time saving tips. So I did it for you and have produced a 16 page summary of what I believe are the top 25 tips that will save you time when using PowerPoint – some even I had forgotten. And I have decided that it will be my gift to you. Just go to http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/25tips.htm and you can download your copy. I am also giving you permission to send it to as many people as you would like to – so think of colleagues, associates, customers, suppliers or friends who would benefit and e-mail it to them. Thanks for your support over the years. Share this:ShareEmailPrintTwitterLinkedInGoogle
  • Issue #111 June 13, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: Transitioning between sections Not long ago I talked with a customer who got some feedback after a recent presentation that concerned her. The comment was that it was too jolting when she moved from one section to the next in her presentation. She wanted to find a way to make the transitions smoother between the sections. Since she doesn’t use any text on her slides, the traditional text Agenda slide approach would not fit with her presentation. I gave her an idea to use the same agenda slide concept in a slightly different way. If you have multiple agenda items and want a non-text approach, you might want to try this out. Here is what I shared with her. If she has six sections to cover, I suggested she show an Agenda-like slide at the start to give a roadmap of where she was going but instead of listing the sections in text, use six pictures, one to represent each section and arrange them in a circle. Then, when she switches to a new section, bring back the context ...
  • Issue #110 May 30, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: Aligning at a decimal Many presentations involve slides containing numbers, whether they are financial figures or measurements of other key indicators. If these figures include decimal places, the clearest way to show the numbers is by aligning them at the decimal point. This way, the audience can easily compare numbers by looking at the figures to the left and right of the decimal point. Unfortunately, the default alignment when you use the Tab key to try to align numbers is left alignment of the starting number. Some people try to use leading spaces to attempt to create decimal alignment, but it never works properly and looks strange to your audience when the numbers are almost aligned but not exactly. Here’s how you can have perfectly aligned numbers on your slides. 1. Click in the text box or placeholder that you want to align the text in. 2. Turn on the Ruler (if it is not displayed at the top of the screen already) so that you know where to set the tabs by clicking on View -> Ruler 3. On the left ...
  • Issue #109 May 16, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Using a picture to fill a graph Graphs are one of the most effective ways to show numerical data in a presentation. The visual can bring the data to life and really highlight the important point you are making. In all graphs, you should use emphasis to direct your audience to the specific part of the graph that is making the point. It is not good enough to just show the graph and hope the audience figures it out. One good way to emphasize your point on a graph is to use a graphic arrow to point to the specific line, bar, column or pie slice that is your point on the graph. Another way, and my personal favourite, is to use color to emphasize the important part of the graph. For example, in a column chart, I will make all of the other columns appear with just a line outlining the column, but no fill color. Then, for the important column that makes my point, I will fill it with a color that contrasts with my background ...
  • Issue #108 May 2, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Breaking down complex diagrams In quite a number of presentations, especially ones involving steps or processes, slides full of text could be replaced with diagrams that visually show a flow or relationship. Some situations are commonly seen as diagrams, for example an organization chart has become the standard for showing organizational reporting relationships instead of listing names on a slide. And diagrams do a good job of helping your audience understand a flow, process or relationship between items or concepts. The challenge comes when you have a complex situation and the diagram is quite involved. One example may be when you are trying to show the flow of a call in a call centre. A decision tree diagram is a great way to show the decisions and options that an agent will have to consider when dealing with each type of call. But you can see how this diagram could get massive very quickly. If you displayed the large diagram on a slide, you would have to shrink it so small that no one in your audience would ...
  • Issue #107 April 18 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Adding Audio Clips to Your Presentation Last issue we talked about video in your presentation, this issue we will cover audio clips. First, when would you want to use an audio clip over a video clip? Well, sometimes you can’t get a video clip because of the circumstances or because you don’t have the equipment at hand. Also, sometimes it is the sound and not the visual that is important, like when using a clip from a radio show or noise from nature. And sometimes you want to use music which doesn’t require any visual with it. So, what do you need to be concerned with when wanting to use audio. First, the quality of the clip is critical because when amplified, any distortion in the sound will be magnified. Get the best quality clip you can find. Second, save the audio in either the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format or the popular MP3 format. Both are high quality compressed formats that work well in PowerPoint. Don’t use WAV files unless it is a very short clip since ...
  • Issue #106 April 4, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Biggest issues with video on slides This past Saturday I attended a conference for parents that was hosted by our school board and was once again reminded of the challenges that many presenters face when trying to incorporate video into their presentation. In one of the sessions I attended, the presenters wanted to start with a clip from a Disney movie (I didn’t want to ask if they had permission to do so). They started by dropping out of the PowerPoint show mode and trying to run the DVD from a media player application. It hadn’t been set up properly, so they had to restart the media player, then start the DVD playing from the beginning, fast forward through the parts they didn’t want to use (we saw all of this by the way) and finally got to the clip they wanted to show. We watched and when it was done, my one question was, “What did that add to our experience?” The point of the clip could have been made with one sentence and the clip did ...
  • Issue #105 March 21, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Web Presentation Delivery Tips Last issue I shared some tips for doing presentations remotely. This time I want to focus on tips for a presentation delivery method that is gaining momentum quickly – the web presentation or sometimes called a webinar. I have held these and now have a web meeting facility that I use to train individuals or groups without the expense of travel (e-mail me for more details or visit http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/webtraining.htm). As I defined last time, a webinar is where the audience sees your slides in their browser and listens to you on a conference call. You are controlling the slides while you are speaking on the phone. You do need a service to present in this way and a few of the big names in this market are GoToMeeting, WebEx and Live Meeting. When doing a web based presentation, keep these tips in mind. No matter how fast your connection is or how fast your participant’s connection is, there will be a slight delay between when you “push” the slide to the service and when ...
  • Issue #104 March 7, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Remote Presentation Delivery tips I define a remote presentation as one where you send your slide file to your audience in advance of your presentation and they view and control your slides on their own computer as they listen to you on the telephone. This is different than a webinar where the audience sees your slides in their browser and you are controlling the slides while you are speaking. If you do remote presentations, here are some tips to keep in mind. When you are sending your file, remember that many e-mail systems will not accept an attachment larger than 4 MB, so if you have large photos that have not been resampled or large emedded audio files, your e-mail attachment may be stripped off before the recipient gets it. Also, if you are e-mailing a large file to many people in an organization, you run the risk of overloading their e-mail server with the size of the attachments. A better approach is to put the file on your web site or a shared corporate drive and provide ...
  • Issue #103 February 21, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Results of Presentation Delivery Survey Last month I conducted a survey on how presenters deliver their PowerPoint presentations. Thank you to the 250 people who participated. I have analyzed the numeric data and written comments and concluded the following. Both the numerical and written data reinforce trends that I have seen emerge over the past few years. The majority of presentations are still delivered with the presenter standing up using projected slides. But that depends on the location of the presentation and we are starting to see it change. Outside the organization, it is more likely that a presentation will be printed and delivered due to the logistical challenges and the need for personal connection, especially in sales situations. We are starting to see, and will continue to see, the growth of remote presentations. It has started for internal presentations, but will grow to also include external presentations as the cost of bringing people together grows (hence the new web-based training service I introduced above). This will become a more important consideration for presenters and designers. That’s why ...
  • Issue #102 February 7, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Research on Effective Presentations Late last year I was contacted by the membership chair of the Infocomm International Presentations Council because she had seen my work and thought I could contribute to their group. Infocomm International is the world-wide trade association for the A/V industry. Last month I joined the council and have become aware of the many great things they are doing. One of the resources that is available to anyone is a site called the Visual Being blog at http://www.visualbeing.com . In addition to being able to listen in as experts in the industry discuss current ideas and trends, there is also a section on the site that summarizes academic research that is being done into what is effective in presentations. More and more, researchers in universities are investigating how digital media is being used communicate in person and on the web. And these studies are giving us insight into what will work best for our audiences. One of the Presentations Council members, Robert Befus, has set up a part of the Visual Being site, called ...
  • Issue #101 January 24, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Vertical Text Sometimes on a diagram or graph you will need to make text go vertical instead of the default horizontal direction. Let’s look at how you can do that. There would be two scenarios that you might have. First, you want to have simple text go vertical instead of horizontal – it can up or down. The easiest way to accomplish this is to first create a text box with your text in it (click Insert -> Text Box and type in the text). Then, you can use the green rotation handle located above the text box to rotate the entire box. Grab it with your mouse and drag it around either direction until the text looks like you want it to. If you want to restrict your rotation to increments of 15 degrees (so you can have it perfectly vertical, or even at a perfect 45 degree angle), hold the Shift key down while you drag the rotation handle. An alternate method is to right-click on the text box and select Format Text Box from the ...
  • Issue #100 January 10, 2006 PPT – Search Templates for great images In two weeks I’ll be doing my web tutorial on Using Digital Photos and one of the topics I’ll be covering is where you can find photos on the web. Microsoft has a large number of photos on their Office Online web site, but one of the undiscovered spots for great photos is the templates that they offer. Microsoft has an Office templates site that offers templates for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If you go to the site at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default.aspx, you can search for the word PowerPoint and a term that describes the type of photo you are looking for, like sales for example. In the results, you will see a set of PowerPoint templates that contain images that may be useful for your presentation. To extract the photo, download the template and save it on your computer. Open it up in PowerPoint. The images are likely on the Slide Master. Click View -> Master -> Slide Master. Click on the master that contains the image you want to use (there may be a ...

 

Year: 2005
  • Issue #99 December 13, 2005 PPT – Saving Slides as Pictures Sometimes we get a PowerPoint slide show from a friend or colleague and it contains a full slide sized photo that we would love to use on one of our slides or as a graphic for another purpose. If we get permission to use it (you always need to have permission to use an image before using it), the next chore is to save the picture as a graphic file so we can import it on to our slide. You can do this in a couple of different ways. First, you can save the slide as a JPG using the File -> Save As command and selecting the JPG file type in the Save As Type drop down list. This saves the current slide or all slides as JPG graphic files which you can then import or use elsewhere. Another choice is to copy the graphic and paste it into a graphic program. To do this, make sure the slide thumbnails are showing in the Slide/Outline pane usually on the left of your screen (if ...
  • Issue #98 November 29, 2005 PPT – Picture File Format Photos are becoming a more important part of our presentations. In order to connect emotionally, photos are so much more effective than plain text. So if you are going to use photos, what file format should you use? There are many formats out there, including TIF (high quality, allows transparency, large file size), BMP (high quality, very large file size) and EPS (used for print applications, many can’t be used in PowerPoint). But I have found the best format for use in PowerPoint presentations is the JPG file format. It is a compressed format, so it creates small files, but it does lose some quality due to the compression. In my experience because of the resolution of computers and projectors, the loss in quality is not noticeable. And the reduction in file size is a greater benefit to presentations because the presentation file is easier to distribute and runs quicker. A recent experience with a fellow professional speaker, Laura Stack illustrated the differences in file formats. She was having a problem with a large graphic file ...
  • Issue #97 November 15, 2005 PPT – Inserting Pictures Is there a “correct” way to insert a picture on a PowerPoint(R) slide? Yes, there actually is. First, let me share the incorrect way – unfortunately this is the way that far too many people use. The wrong way to insert a picture on a slide is to copy and paste it from another place, whether that is a photo viewer, graphics program or any other application. Why is this the wrong way? Let me illustrate with a recent example. Richard Peterson, my good friend and North America’s Presentation Coach, sent me a file he had trouble with. It was from one of his clients and at least half of the pictures were replaced with a white rectangle that said that QuickTime was needed to view the pictures. After some research, I figured out that they had used Copy & Paste to insert the pictures on a Mac platform. When you Copy & Paste on a Mac, it embeds Quicktime parts into the picture on the PowerPoint(R) slide. This can cause problems as we discovered. But it ...
  • Issue #96 November 1, 2005 1. PPT – Version Issues Many readers have told me that they create their presentations on one computer and present from another – either a colleague’s laptop or a PC connected to the projector in a conference room. When taking your carefully crafted presentation to a different computer, you can have all your work be ruined by version differences. A recent example from a reader e-mail is a perfect illustration. They create the presentation on a machine with PowerPoint 2002, but the machine connected to the projector only has PowerPoint 97. This causes no end of headaches as a number of features are not supported and the resulting slides look awful. What can you do in a similar situation? First, there are known issues when trying to display a PowerPoint file on a previous version and the worst incompatibility in recent years is with PowerPoint 97. One solution is to upgrade the display computer to the latest version of PowerPoint and the problem will vanish. This may be too expensive or take too much time to be complete before your presentation. ...
  • Issue #95 October 18, 2005 1. Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results Last week I gave you a preview of the results from the Annoying PowerPoint survey I did last month. I have now analyzed the 415 written comments and prepared a full article of the results. There were many areas covered by the comments, but three areas stood out. First, it appears that many presenters still don’t know how to use the equipment. Examples include starting your presentation or laptop while connected to the projector (slip a book in front of the lens if you need to, just don’t block exhaust vents from the projector) and even some presenters who don’t know about Slide Show mode and deliver in Normal mode (this one even surprised me). Second was the poor design of so many slides. This covered color and fonts as I expected, but it also included an area that I find a lot in my consulting practice – the slide layout. Many people commented on how presenters don’t use the slide master and layouts to keep a consistent look to the slides in the presentation. The ...
  • Issue #94 October 4, 2005 1. Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results Preview Thanks to the almost 700 people who completed the survey on what annoys you about bad PowerPoint presentations. The full survey results will be coming in the next issue because I have over 400 written comments to pour through and analyze. But I wanted to share the results of the first question on the most annoying aspects of bad PowerPoint presentations. The top of the list did not change from the last time I did the survey (in 2003), so it looks like I still have lots of work to do in order to rid the world of these annoyances. If your organization needs help in these areas, let me know so I can come and rescue you from “Death by PowerPoint”. Here are the top annoyances: The speaker read the slides to us 61.9% Text so small I couldn’t read it 47.1% Slides hard to see because of color choice 42.7% Full sentences instead of bullet points 39.0% Moving/flying text or graphics 24.8% Overly complex diagrams or charts 22.3% Remember that everyone was asked ...
  • Issue #93 September 20, 2005 1. PPT – Remote Presentations With business travel declining due to costs and other factors, presentations that would traditionally be held in a conference room have been forced to change as well. More presentations are being delivered remotely, either through a webcasting technology or by teleconferencing with each person having a copy of the slides in advance. If you are delivering presentations where most of the people are not in the same room, there are some things you need to keep in mind. First, the involvement of the Internet in the process will create some limits. Whether it is trying to send large files to others or transmitting complex graphics or motion across the continent or the world, The limits placed on Internet traffic needs to be considered. You will also have to use new techniques to engage your audience since they know you can’t see them and they will be multitasking while you are presenting. Finally, you will have to ensure that each graphic is clearly explained since you won’t be able to point at anything on the screen and ...
  • Issue #92 September 6, 2005 1. PPT – Non-linear presentations One of the knocks that PowerPoint has taken is that it forces a presentation to be linear. What this means is that you as a presenter have to follow the slides in the order that they are in the file without deviation. Critics say that this limits the presenter from addressing new directions that come up or from changing the presentation order on the fly based on the needs of the audience. I had a well known speaker mention this to me at the recent NSA convention and I decided to write an article explaining exactly how you can make non-linear PowerPoint presentations. With a little thought and preparation, you can create and deliver a presentation that is presented in a different order every time based on the needs of the audience you have in front of you that day. If the boss wants to skip to a particular section, you can do it seamlessly and look like you were anticipating the request. If you want to jump out to Word to capture participants ideas, you ...
  • Issue #91 August 23, 2005 1. PPT – Animate multiple objects There are times when you want to animate multiple objects on a slide at the same time. For example, sometimes I will have a diagram where I want to emphasize three spots on the diagram using circles that show the important areas. If I animate each circle one at a time, I have to click three times to get all three circles on the screen. One option you have when animating multiple objects is to change the animation sequence to have items come on automatically with the previously animated object. This can be set after you animate each object and it allows the three circles to appear at the same time, but it requires a fair amount of work to animate each circle and then go in and change the timing for the second and third circle animations. A quicker way to achieve the three objects coming on together is the following. Select each object you want to animate together by clicking on the first object, then holding the Ctrl key down when clicking on ...
  • Issue #90 August 9, 2005 1. PPT – Save Remote Batteries When I first got my latest remote presentation device (the Interlink RemotePoint Navigator by the way, and it is still the best in my opinion) I was concerned about battery life. And in the first few months, I had to replace the batteries after what I thought was not a lot of usage. So I started carrying an extra set of batteries and was concerned about how many batteries I would go through. The next set lasted quite a bit longer, so I was perplexed as to why that would be. Now I wasn’t sure how long to expect the batteries to last. Well I think Ed Rigsbee, a fellow professional speaker has revealed the secret at a recent presentation he did. We were setting up his equipment and I saw him take out his remote (the same model I use) and he proceeded to install one of the batteries, but only one. I asked why he was doing that and he explained that if you take one battery out, the remote won’t work in ...
  • Issue #89 July 26, 2005 1. PPT – Power On Sequence With the advances in laptop design, I thought it did not matter any more what order you turned on your presentation equipment. But a recent experience proved me wrong. It used to be that you needed to turn on the projector before your laptop so that when the laptop started up, it would be able to recognize that the projector was connected and set the display properly. But many laptops now have video systems that recognize a projector no matter what order the equipment is turned on or connected. But recently I helped a presenter with a new laptop who could not get the projector display working properly. It turns out that we had to shut down everything and it only worked when the projector was on before the laptop. So the lesson here is that most newer laptops don’t care what order you turn on the equipment, but if you are having a problem getting things to display properly, try restarting everything by turning the projector on first. 2. Outlook – Archive vs. Compress I recently ...
  • Issue #88 July 12, 2005 1. PPT – Turn Off Wireless For those of you who have a wireless connection built in to your laptop (which is anyone who has purchased a laptop in the last two years probably), beware of a problem I saw recently during a presentation. While the presenter was setting up, he commented that he had a wireless connection in the meeting room. This is quite common now that many hotels offer free wireless Internet connections throughout the hotel. He proceeded to set up and later started his presentation. The wireless connection continued to be live during the presentation and it caused a problem about half way through. On top of one of his slides popped up a message that his computer had downloaded an update to his virus software and it was now installed. The only way to get rid of the message was to click on the OK button in the message window. What happened is that since the virus software saw a live Internet connection, it kept checking for updates every few minutes (most virus software packages do this ...
  • Issue #87 June 28, 2005 1. PPT – Feedback Forms If you do presentations that include a feedback form or other paper that you want returned after the presentation, don’t include it as the last page of your handout. In the past, I have had my feedback form copied as part of my handout. The form was stapled to the rest of the handout as a single package. What inevitably happened was that a number of people would turn the entire handout over and take notes on the back of the handout. Which was actually the back of the feedback form. So when it came time to fill out the feedback form, they would not fill it out because they wanted to keep the notes they had made. Now I always have a separate feedback form so it gets returned at the end of the seminar. If you have forms such as employee benefit forms, project feedback forms or sales followup forms, ensure that they are separate from any other handouts you give so that you get the forms back at the end of your presentation. 2. ...
  • Issue #86 June 14, 2005 1. PPT – Delivery Tips During the delivery of a PowerPoint presentation, there is a lot you can do with the keyboard that will enhance the audience experience. Here are some of the keystrokes that you can use while in Slide Show mode. Ctrl+H – this key combination will prevent the pointer from coming up on the screen during the presentation if your mouse is moved. This can save you from having the arrow dancing across the screen while you are talking. A – pressing the A key during a presentation makes the pointer appear or disappear. If the pointer does appear on the screen during your presentation (because you forgot to use Ctrl+H above), the natural inclination is to press the Escape key – but this stops the presentation! Pressing the A key toggles the pointer on and off, so it can be used to turn the pointer off if it comes on. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very ...
  • Issue #85 May 31, 2005 1. PPT – Save Prep Time If there is one thing that I see more than anything else when reviewing PowerPoint presentations it is the failure to use the proper tools in setting up a master slide to make creating and editing the presentation easier. So many times I see each slide having the background, colors, fonts and layout individually set. Not only is this time better spent on something else, it almost always causes the slides to look inconsistent when displayed because the alignment of graphics or text boxes is slightly different each slide. When people are paying me to improve their presentation, this is one area I end up spending a chunk of time on. How can you solve this issue? Simple, spend time setting up the master slide first. Click on View->Master to display the slide master. Here is where you can set the color scheme (click on Format->Slide Design and click on Color Schemes), the fonts (select the text in the placeholder and click Format->Font) and the layout (you can size or move the text placeholders by ...
  • Issue #84 May 17, 2005 1. PPT – Hyperlinking Sometimes in a PowerPoint presentation you will want to run a file from another application. This may be a video or a file from an application like Excel or Word. PowerPoint does allow you to create hyperlinks from text or other objects, but to activate them, you usually need to move your mouse to the link and click on it to start the link. This mouse moving across the screen is distracting for the audience. I use hyperlinks in my Compelling PowerPoint seminar to show a few of the Video Tutorials I created that illustrate a particular point I am making. I want it to appear seamless when I present, so I searched for a way to launch the link without using the mouse. Here’s what works for me. Since the video tutorials are Flash files played from an HTML page, what I really need to do is launch the HTML page and then the coding on that page will do the rest. So I have created an Action button (by clicking on Slide Show->Action Buttons and ...
  • Issue #83 May 3, 2005 1. PPT – Template Searching It amazes me how popular it is to search for a pre-made PowerPoint template. In fact, searching for a template or background is second only to searching for the term PowerPoint! There is a whole industry now dedicated to creating and selling PowerPoint templates. This obsession with templates disturbs me because there seems to be this misconception that if I just get the right look to my slides, the message will be great. Hogwash! Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, your slides need to be attractive and not ugly, but content is way more important than look. If people would invest the time working on structuring their message, finding good backup for each key point and practicing their delivery, we would not have so many bad PowerPoint presentations. Now this viewpoint is not going to endear me to the PowerPoint template industry, but I think it is important for our audiences. Many of these fancy backgrounds include multiple images which look “cool”, but only end up distracting the audience from the key text or ...
  • Issue #82 April 19, 2005 1. PPT – Control Audio Playing When you insert an audio clip on a PowerPoint slide, it will ask you if you want the clip to play automatically or not. If you click YES, it will start playing the clip when the slide is first displayed. This may be exactly what you want. But in other situations, you want the audio clip to play at a certain time as you explain something on the slide. I do this in my Compelling PowerPoint seminar when I play an audio clip example after I have explained how it was recorded. I want to give my audience some context before they hear the clip. In order to control the playing of the audio clip, you need to click NO when PowerPoint asks you if you want to automatically play the clip. By default, PowerPoint will then play the clip only if you move your mouse over the clip on the slide and click on it to start the clip playing. This is awkward during the presentation and distracting for your audience. But there is ...
  • Issue #81 April 5, 2005 1. PPT – Easily Duplicate Object When you are drawing a diagram, do you spend a lot of time reformatting each object? I have found a way to save a bunch of time when creating similar objects. Let’s use a common example. I am drawing a process diagram that has 8 boxes, all should be formatted to look the same since they each represent a step in the process. I create the first box and get the size, color and font to look exactly the way I want. Now I need to create the next seven boxes. I could copy and paste each one, but the paste routine in PowerPoint positions the object on top of the one you are copying. It makes it hard to grab the right object and move it to a new position. Here’s an easier technique. Position your cursor over the object you want to copy, in this case my perfectly formatted box. Hold the Control key down and click you left mouse button down and drag the object to the spot you want it to ...
  • Issue #80 March 22, 2005 1. PPT – Recolor Photos One of the tutorials on the Using Images video tutorial is on changing the coloring of a photo. I think that this is a largely unknown feature, so I thought I’d profile it today. It allows you to take any photo that you have inserted on a slide and change it to suit your needs. There are four choices. First is Automatic, which uses the coloring that the picture has when originally inserted. Second is Grayscale. This option converts the colors in the original picture to shades of gray. It is like taking the picture on black and white film in a camera. The third option is Black and White. This is a little confusing because this option turns all colors to only black or white, no shades in between. It is not like using black and white photo film, it is more like an artistic appearance. The final choice is Washout, which puts a white screen over the picture and is best used for washing out a photo that you are using as a background ...
  • Issue #79 March 8, 2005 1. PPT – Excel screen shot If you have to show numeric data from Excel on PowerPoint slides, you will be interested in this tip. Many times we want to use a table of data from Excel on a slide. If you simply select the cells in Excel, copy the selection and paste it into PowerPoint, you will get a PowerPoint table that may or may not look like the table of data that you want. It may reformat the figures, change the layout or do other things that you don’t want it to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take a picture of the cells instead of copying them into a PowerPoint table? Well, you can. To do so you use a little know feature of Excel called Copy Picture. Here’s how it works. First, select the cells in Excel that you want to copy. Then, hold the Shift key down and click on the Edit menu. You will see some new options, including the Copy Picture option. Click on the Copy Picture option and it opens a ...
  • Issue #78 February 22, 2005 1. Selecting hidden objects When drawing a diagram or using images, many times we layer items on top of each other for a number of reasons. You may have two photographs placed on top of each other, one of a young person and one of how they look today. The animation is set to display the current photo over the younger one. Or you may have two objects in a diagram overlapping to show a part of a process or structure. In both cases, selecting the object that is in the background can be difficult or impossible. Most people move the object on top out of the way to select the object below and then have trouble putting the top object back in place where it was. Well, there is an easier way. PowerPoint allows you to cycle through every object on the slide by selecting one object and then using the Tab key to cycle through every object – text or graphic – on the slide. You can also use the Shift+Tab key combination to cycle backwards through the objects. ...
  • Issue #77 February 8, 2005 1. PPT – Media file names I recently ran into a problem on a consulting assignment that I think serves as a good lesson for anyone using audio or video files in PowerPoint presentations. The client had a video clip that had been converted to the Windows Media video format (which is the preferred format, by the way, because it is small and plays well in PowerPoint) that would not play when inserted into a PowerPoint presentation. They sent it to me and it ran fine on my computer, so I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I tried reconverting the file a number of different ways, but it still didn’t run on their computer. I ended up going to their offices and it would run on some of their computers, but not others. I just couldn’t figure out what the issue was. It seemed that some of the computers may have had a problem with the way PowerPoint was installed because they had all the latest service packs installed, so it wasn’t that they were missing some bug fixes. ...
  • Issue #76 January 25, 2005 1. PPT – Play Audio over many slides A number of people have asked how they can get an audio segment to play over a number of slides. What they are usually trying to do is have background music play while they go through a series of slides. By default, when PowerPoint inserts an audio clip, it stops playing the clip when you go to the next slide, regardless of whether the entire audio segment has finished or not. But you can change this default behavior. The trick is in setting the animation settings for the audio item on the slide. After you have inserted the audio clip on your slide, it will ask you whether you want to play the clip automatically or not. If you say Yes, the audio clip plays as soon as the slide appears. If you say No, the audio clip plays when you click on it with your mouse while the slide is displayed (a future tip will explain how to get the audio clip to play on the click of the advance key). Neither ...
  • Issue #75 January 11, 2005 1. PPT – Navigating with the keyboard Since the popularity of Windows grew so many years ago, the reliance on the mouse to navigate and complete tasks in a program has grown. New computer users may not even be aware that before the advent of Windows, everything was done using key combinations on the keyboard. In many cases, the keyboard can still be used to perform many functions, and it may be quicker to do it with the keyboard than reaching for the mouse. Here are some ways to navigate within PowerPoint using the keyboard. Ctrl+Enter: The Ctrl+Enter key combination (hold down the Control key and press the Enter key) will allow you to jump to the next text box on a slide. This can be extremely useful when entering the text for slides. On a new slide, press Ctrl+Enter to move to the first text box, usually the title. Type in the title, press Ctrl+Enter again to jump to the bullet point text box, type in your points and you are done entering the slide text without touching the mouse ...

 

Year: 2004
  • Issue #74 December 21, 2004 1. PPS Files Got a question from a subscriber recently on what the difference is between a PPT (normal PowerPoint) file and a PPS (PowerPoint Show) file and if the PPS file was secure from any changes. You will likely encounter PPS files if you get a presentation via e- mail or download it from a web site. The value of a PPS file is that when you double-click on the file to open it (or open it on a web site), it automatically goes into the Slide Show mode of PowerPoint and appears to only use that mode, since when the show is over, it exits PowerPoint. While it appears secure and is indeed the best way to distribute a PowerPoint slide show to others, it is not as secure as it first appears. A PPS file can be opened from PowerPoint by clicking on the File menu item and then clicking on the Open menu option. If you select the PPS file to open in the file dialog box, it will open the file in the normal editing mode ...
  • Issue #73 December 7, 2004 1. Keeping PPT updated Recently, I have had a few questions from subscribers asking if PowerPoint has particular bugs that don’t allow certain graphics, audio, or video to play properly. These questions happen on a regular basis and my advice is always to first see if you have all the latest updates for PowerPoint. This fixes most of the problems that people have. Unlike Windows, Microsoft Office (and, therefore, PowerPoint) does not automatically check for updates. This means that unless you manually check for updates, you may miss a critical update that solves a problem that occurs in PowerPoint. I had a situation earlier this year where a client was having problems seeing a graphic I had created for them and I couldn’t understand what the problem was. That was until I asked them to send me a screen print of what they were seeing. Only then did I realize that what they were describing was completely different than what I was seeing. I checked the Microsoft Support Knowledgebase and discovered that the problem had been fixed in one of the ...
  • Issue #72 November 23, 2004 1. How Many Slides? What would you think of a 35 minute presentation in which the presenter showed 115 slides? If you are like most people your reaction to that first sentence was something along the lines of “Oh my gosh! That must have been horrible!” Recently, I reviewed a videotape of this presentation for a client – and it was very effective. The presenter is one of their top sales professionals and I could see why. Now you might be asking, “How can that be possible??” Well, most, probably 85-90% of his slides were product photos that were presented in an almost video like way. At one point he showed 8 slides in under 15 seconds to demonstrate how certain features of the product were built. It taught me a valuable lesson that I want to share with you. Up to that time, I subscribed to the idea that each slide should be shown for two to three minutes on average. And I still think for the average text based slide the traditional rule still applies. But this experience opened ...
  • Issue #71 November 9, 2004 1. Presentation Coaching By now most of you have figured out that I am an expert on PowerPoint and using it to effectively communicate a message to an audience (that’s why a number of you have asked me to consult or do workshops). But I know enough to know that I am not an expert in every aspect of presentations. I am an expert at presenting my PowerPoint ideas, but I would not say that I am an expert at coaching others on presentation skills such as how you stand, gestures and filler words. I think you should work with experts in each area of presenting, so I have partnered with a presentation coaching expert named Richard Peterson, who has many years of experience helping executives and professionals deliver more powerful presentations. Richard helped me this summer prepare for an important presentation in Arizona, so I know how good he is. I recently interviewed Richard on how to create more impact when delivering a presentation. I recorded the interview and have posted it on my web site for you to listen ...
  • Issue #70 October 26, 2004 1. Clip Art License In a presentation I was at earlier this year the presenter stated that you cannot use Microsoft’s clip art in your slides or documents if you are charging money for them. This surprised me, so went to the Microsoft clip art site and here is the relevant part of what they say in their license: “You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and license, display and distribute them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following: You may not sell, license or distribute copies of the Media Elements by themselves or as part of any collection, product or service if the primary value of the product or service is in the Media Elements.” (you can read the whole text at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/tou.aspx) So what does this mean for the average business presenter? It means that you can indeed use the Microsoft clip art or other media elements in your presentations, books and CDs as long as what you ...
  • Issue #69 October 12, 2004 1. Drawing Perfect Squares or Circles in PowerPoint In many cases, I want to draw a square or circle in PowerPoint and when I use the rectangle or oval drawing tool, I just can’t get it perfectly square or a perfect circle. I just can’t seem to get it just so. If you have had this problem, I am here to share an easy solution to this issue. As you are drawing the square or circle, simply hold the Shift key down as you are drawing and it will keep the proportions perfect. For example, to draw a perfect circle, click on the oval drawing toolbar button (the drawing toolbar is the one usually located at the bottom of the PowerPoint window). The cursor changes to a plus (+) sign. To draw the oval, position the cursor where you want the oval to start, then hold the Shift key down and click the left mouse button down and drag it to where the other side of the circle should be – keeping the Shift key held down the whole time. You ...
  • Issues #68 September 28, 2004 1. Turning Photos into a PowerPoint show A subscriber recently asked me if there was a way to easily create a PowerPoint show of the digital pictures from his daughter’s wedding. PowerPoint is a great way to share photos from any special occasion. Even funeral homes are starting to see families create self-running shows to honor a loved one. PowerPoint 2002 and higher has a feature that makes this very easy. In a new slide show, click on the Insert menu item, click on the Picture menu option and click on New Photo Album from the sub-menu. This will take you to a dialog box where you can select pictures from your hard disk, set up each picture the way you like it, and then when you click the Create button, it creates a slide for each picture. Now you have a PowerPoint show you can save and send to others or set up to run in a loop at a family gathering. This is one of the techniques that I will be including in a new product I am working ...
  • Issue #67 September 14, 2004 1. PowerPoint backgrounds It seems today that there are many companies and web sites selling PowerPoint backgrounds or templates. Many have been created with wonderful graphics or designs, but I find many of them too busy or the colors do not offer enough contrast with common text colors. If you want to create your own background, many people suggest you need to get a high end graphics package like Adobe Photoshop and spend hours learning how to use it to create complex graphical backgrounds. While I do own Photoshop, I don’t recommend everyone rush out and buy it just for this purpose – that would be a waste of your money. I prefer to create my own backgrounds and to keep it simple. This allows me to make changes easily and to select easily contrasting colors for text and diagrams. It also allows all changes to be made using the tools that PowerPoint or MS Office already supply. If you click on the Format menu item in PowerPoint and then click on the Background menu option, you will see the current ...
  • Issue #66 August 31, 2004 1. High-resolution screen shots I have written before about ways to take snapshots of your screen and include them in PowerPoint presentations or documents (see the Aug 27, 2002 issue in the archives – archive link at the bottom of this newsletter). If you are using the screen shot for a presentation the resolution will be fine since it will be captured in the same resolution as you want to display it in. But if you need to print the screen capture as a large graphic in a document at high resolution, it may not look as good since printers have a higher resolution than your screen does. You may have noticed the pixelation effect when scaling up a graphic. Pixelation is when the system enlarges each pixel and the graphic looks muddy and jagged. The system does this because it only has a certain number of pixels to work with. If you had more pixels to work with, the pixelation effect would not happen. But how do you get more pixels than the original graphic has? If you (or a ...
  • Issue #65 August 17, 2004 1. Don’t put text at the bottom of your slides When you are designing your PowerPoint slides, leave the bottom 10-15% of the slide blank or for footer graphics or logos. Many room setups have the bottom of the screen so low that anyone past the front row can’t see the bottom 10-15% of the screen because of the heads in front of them. You will see the audience members bobbing and weaving to try to see around the heads in front of them when you put your points too low on the slide. I was in the audience at a recent presentation and saw this happen. I suggest using this space at the bottom of your slides for your web site address, your logo and perhaps the client logo as well. You may even put a horizontal line at about that spot to separate your points from the slide footer information. I had this room setup problem happen to me recently and this is what I did. During the pre-presentation checks, I tested how my slides looked by sitting half ...
  • Issue #64 August 3, 2004 1. PowerPoint keys during Slide Show I had an e-mail and phone chat with a new subscriber recently discussing how to use some keys during the delivery of a PowerPoint presentation. You can get a full list by pressing the F1 key while in slide show mode, but here are a few of my favorites: <slide number> then Enter – you can quickly jump to any slide by typing the slide number using the number keys and then pressing the Enter key. I have used this to skip ahead in my presentation when running tight on time and the audience does not know that I just skipped some slides. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very useful when you want to put the audience’s focus on you for a moment instead of your visuals. Ctrl-L or Ctrl-H – pressing this key combination turns the pointer off during the presentation. Which key combination works depends on which version of PowerPoint you have. ...
  • Issue #63 July 20, 2004 1. Resizing Graphics in PowerPoint In previous issues of the newsletter I have discussed how you can resize and resample graphics (especially digital photographs) before you insert them on a slide. The advantage of using a graphics utility like IrfanView is that the file you insert on your slide is much smaller and this makes your PowerPoint file much smaller. Today I want to extend the discussion by talking about how you can resize the graphic once it is in the slide. One important tool is the cropping tool, which allows you to cut off some of the slide so you show only the part you need to show. I discussed this before, and as a recap, to get to the cropping tool, click on the graphic to select it. If the Picture toolbar does not automatically display, click on the View menu and click on the Toolbars menu item and select the Picture toolbar. The cropping tool is the icon on the Picture toolbar that looks like two plus signs. When you click on it, it turns the cursor into ...
  • Issue #62 July 6, 2004 1. Uses for the Slide Sorter view in PowerPoint Most people use the default view in PowerPoint, known as the Slide view or Normal view, which allows you to easily edit your slides. And for most purposes, it is the best view to work in. But if you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to explore the Slide Sorter view. You can access this view by clicking on the View menu and clicking on the Slide Sorter menu item or you can click on the Slide Sorter view toolbar button at the bottom left of the screen (it looks like four slides in a box configuration). This view displays all of your slides as miniature slides. It does not allow direct editing of the slides, so you may ask why you would want to use this view. One thing I use it for is to get a sense of the overall flow of my presentation. I am checking for logical sequence from one slide to the next. The main use for the view is that you can move slides to ...
  • Issue #61 June 22, 2004 1. Text formatting in PowerPoint The default formatting for the body of a slide in PowerPoint is to have bullet points for each idea. While this is usually a good idea, in this tip I want to share some ideas on how you can have a little more control over the formatting of the text on a slide. When you are typing along and the text is too long to fit on one line, PowerPoint will automatically wrap your text to the next line (sidebar point: try to observe the 6 x 6 guideline when creating bullet points – no more than six words per bullet point and no more than six bullet points per slide in order to make the bullet points short and powerful and the slide readable – see my article on writing powerful bullet points on the web site for more details). If you want to make the line break at a certain point, hold the Shift key down and press the Enter key. This Shift+Enter key combination starts a new line within the same bullet point. ...
  • Issue #60 June 8, 2004 1. Resetting PowerPoint Slide Design I am sure many of you have had (or will have) this experience with PowerPoint. You get handed someone else’s file to “fix up and put into the company template”. You look at it and it is the dog’s breakfast – text boxes not properly positioned, titles not where they are supposed to be, colors are not at all the standard ones and so on. If you have ever manually adjusted a set of slides, let me share an easier technique that I used once again recently with a client. In a previous issue of the newsletter (March 30, 2004 – see the archive link at the end of the newsletter to access any back issue), I explained how you can reapply a slide layout to control the look of the slide from a content point of view. Well you can do something similar for the slide look from a color and design point of view. If you click on the Format menu and click on Slide Design, you will get the Slide design task pane ...
  • Issue #59 May 25, 2004 1. Fix to PowerPoint Custom Shows bug In previous issues of this newsletter you have read how I think that the Custom Shows feature of PowerPoint is one of the most useful features because it saves a lot of time when you present slightly different versions of a presentation. To recap, the Custom Shows feature allows you to select slides from your file to show in a particular order and save that list so it can be shown again. You don’t have to create a new file and copy slides over, and if you make a change to one slide, all Custom Shows using that slide have the new version because they are all drawn from the one slide file. But there has been a bug in the Custom Shows feature that I reported on earlier. It occurs when you delete a slide that is in a Custom Show. PowerPoint no longer allows you to edit any of the Custom Shows that contained that slide. Well, in Office XP/2002 Service Pack 3 (known as SP3), they say that they have fixed ...
  • Issue #58 May 11, 2004 1. Aligning objects in PowerPoint When I have more than one text or graphic object on a slide, I always find it hard to line them up perfectly. I just can’t seem to do it by hand, and I am never really sure whether they are perfectly aligned. I was just trying to do this last week for a client. I was arranging two rows of photos of their staff on a slide and needed to have the photos lined up horizontally and vertically so it didn’t look all jagged. When I have this need, I use the built in object alignment feature of PowerPoint. To use this feature, you select each object to be aligned in one of two ways. You can select the first object by clicking on it and then holding the Ctrl key down while clicking on the other objects. Or, you can select the arrow cursor in the lower left corner of the screen on the Drawing toolbar and draw a selection rectangle around the objects (when you use this method, make sure all of the ...
  • Issue #57 April 27, 2004 1. Spicing up PowerPoint Charts An article I saw recently at PC Magazine talked about how to make Excel charts look more fun by adding graphics (such as a picture of a hamburger) as the fill color for bar charts. This allows you for example to show a stack of burgers the height of which represents the data value. It turns out that the same techniques work for PowerPoint charts. To use a graphic as the fill for a bar or column chart, first create the chart using the chart tools and accept the default fill colors. Then, right click on the chart and select to edit the chart from the popup menu that appears by clicking on Chart – Edit. Click on the data series you wish to change (may need to click on it more than once to select the data series). Now right click on that data series and choose to Format Data Series in the popup menu. On the Patterns tab, click on the Fill Effects button to open the Fill Effects dialog box and click on ...
  • Issue #56 April 13, 2004 1. Making Smaller PowerPoint files Recently I have been working with a couple of clients to prepare better PowerPoint presentations and in both cases they were including graphics. What happens far too often is that including graphic files, such as digital photographs or scanned art, will increase the PowerPoint file size dramatically because the graphic file is so large. So much in some cases that the file cannot be e-mailed because it is too large. Let me share two techniques that can help reduce the PowerPoint file size when including graphics. The first is to reduce the size of the graphic files before you even import them into PowerPoint. You should resample them and resize them down to 72 or 96 dpi resolution and about 300-400 pixels wide in most cases. You can do this with the great utility at http://www.irfanview.com (I have written about this great utility in a previous version of the newsletter – if you don’t already have it, get it, you will love it). If you have already imported the higher resolution graphics and now realize that ...
  • Issue #55 March 30, 2004 1. Restoring PowerPoint Slide Layout Have you ever copied a slide from one PowerPoint presentation to another and then found it doesn’t look like the other slides you created? It is not aligned quite like the others and now you have to manually try to correct it. Last year I had a client that ran into this problem all the time. One person created the slides, then another was to put it into the corporate template. They would spend a lot of time struggling with the reformatting until I showed them that there is an easier way. Whenever you create a new slide, you are prompted to select the slide layout for the new slide (in a dialog box in PowerPoint 2000 or earlier, in the Slide Layout task pane in PowerPoint 2002 or above). The Slide Layout specifies the generic layout for the slide – whether there is a body text box, columns, etc. Well, you can reapply the slide layout to an existing slide if you want to. This will reset the text boxes and graphics to the default ...
  • Issue #53 March 2, 2004 1. High-Speed Internet at Hotels – part 3 We have looked at the type of service you will get at hotels and how to connect, now let’s see what things we have to keep in mind when using the service. Depending on what service they use, you may or may not have a true IP address. Why does this matter? Because if you want to do a video conference through a web cam or do a web conference with application sharing, an external IP address is essential. To tell if you have an external IP address in Windows, click on the Start button and then on the Control Panel. Click on Network Connections and open your Ethernet connection. On the Support tab or the Properties item, it should tell you your IP address. If it starts with 192.168, then you do not have an external IP address and web conferencing will not work (The 192.168 indicates a router device between you at the Internet). You also need to make sure that you have an up-to- date virus package running at all ...
  • Issue #52 February 17, 2004 1. High-Speed Internet at Hotels – part 2 Last issue we looked at how to tell what type of service you will get, this time we will look at how to connect when you get to your room. When you get to the room, they will likely have one of two ways to connect to the high-speed service. Most have an Ethernet connection and some also offer a USB connection from the high-speed device for those without an Ethernet port. Some offer wireless access as well, but I always prefer a wired connection since it is faster and more secure. They will likely have a cable in the room (check the desk drawer or the closet if it is not attached to the high-speed device) but some do not. Even if they do have a cable, it may not be long enough to reach from the port to your desk location. So I always carry my RoadWired Ethernet/phone retractable cable I mentioned in December. After you connect your laptop, follow the instructions to connect to the service. Sometimes if it is ...
  • Issue #51 February 3, 2004 1. Removing Spyware If you have had your web browsing suddenly slow down or you have noticed that strange things happen when browsing, you may have run into a problem I had last fall – spyware. Spyware is a term referring to programs that are usually installed without us realizing it. It may be installed by a program that loads from a graphic you click on, hidden in a utility you download or attached to file sharing applications. The purpose of these programs is to feed information about your browsing to third parties, which use them primarily for advertising purposes, but may be using them for worse. Last fall I had a problem with a program that took over my browsing experience. It would highlight certain words on pages and turn them into links to other sites. It would automatically open new sites based on words I typed in to the address bar. It took me a while to figure out what was going on and I still don’t have any idea how this program got onto my PC. If you ...
  • Issue #50 January 20, 2004 1. Insert Slides in PowerPoint Do you ever wish there was an easy way to combine slides from different PowerPoint presentations into one file? Many of us want to reuse a slide or many slides from one presentation in a new presentation and this tip will show you an easy way to do it. First thing you need to do is to go to the presentation you want the slides to be inserted into (the destination presentation) and click on the slide you want to be before the inserted slides. Then, click on the Insert menu item and click on the Slides from Files option. You will see the Insert Slides from Files dialog box. To find the source presentation, click on the Browse button and find the file you are looking for. The dialog box will then display small images of all of the slides in that file. You can select which slides you want to import by clicking on the first slide and holding the Ctrl key down as you click on each subsequent slide that you want to ...
  • Issue #49 January 6, 2004 1. Sounds Alike Find in Word I don’t know if this happens to you, but it does to me. I am working in Word and I want to find a name or word in the document but I can’t remember exactly how to spell it (happens to me with names a lot). I try different combinations, but seem to never have any luck. Well, there is a better way. It is called the sounds alike search. It is an option in the Find feature and here is how it works when you are in a Word document. Click on the Edit menu and click on the Find menu option and you will see the Find dialog box (or press Ctrl+F to go straight to the Find dialog box). The regular Find options are displayed, but you can click on the More button at the bottom of the dialog box to reveal additional search options. Then check the box beside Sounds Like to search for words that sound like the search entry but are not necessarily spelled that way (for example, there ...

 

Year: 2003
  • Issue #54 March 16, 2004 1. Split text across slides in PowerPoint One of the biggest problems identified in the “What Annoys People About Bad PowerPoint” survey was too much text on a slide. I suggest you observe the six by six guideline, which states that there should be no more than six words in each bullet point and no more than six bullet points per slide. This guideline ensures that the text will be large enough to read when projected. PowerPoint has a feature that can help you keep a reasonable amount of text on each slide. If you find that you have been typing bullet points on a slide and suddenly realize that there is too much on the slide, there is a way that PowerPoint can automatically split the text into two slides. If you click inside the area of the text, as if you were going to edit it, the AutoFit Options button will appear, usually on the lower left side of the text box. The AutoFit Options button looks like two horizontal lines with an arrow above and below pointing towards ...
  • Issue #48 December 23, 2003 1. Negative Cropping of Graphics I ran into a situation earlier this year where I was working with graphic files (diagrams of equipment) supplied by someone else. Whenever I inserted them into a document, the tops of the titles were cut off just a bit. It looked odd and it appeared that the entire word was there, but somehow the top edge of the inserted graphic cut off the top of the words. As an experiment, I tried setting the cropping of the graphic file to a negative value (-0.2 inches). And lo and behold, the rest of the titles appeared! If you are working with graphic files where one or more sides appear to be cut off slightly, right click on the graphic in Word or PowerPoint. Then select Format Picture. In the Picture tab, enter a small negative value for the cropping of the affected sides, or use the down arrow in the Crop From boxes for top, bottom, left and right. When you click on OK, see if this has solved the problem. It is also a reminder ...
  • Issue #47 December 9 2003 1. Access to desktop from TaskBar Many times I will be working on something and need to access an application on my desktop to look something up. Then I have to minimize all my open windows to get to the desktop. I thought there must be an easier way, and it turns out there is. I saw this idea first in the WUGNET newsletter (www.wugnet.com). It creates a Desktop toolbar in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen which then allows you access to the program on your desktop without minimizing open applications. To put the Desktop Toolbar on your taskbar, right click on your taskbar and click on Toolbars and click on Desktop. This will put a new Desktop icon in your taskbar. It is a good idea to resize the new toolbar so that all you see is the word Desktop – you can do this by grabbing the left edge of the toolbar in the taskbar and dragging it to the right until only the Desktop word is shown. Now a double right arrow is shown beside ...
  • Issue #46 November 25, 2003 1. Best Fit for columns If you need to resize a word table column or an Excel column, here is a quick tip on how to set the column width to fit the longest text in the column. Place your mouse on the right column border and the cursor will change into a double arrow, with one arrow pointing left and one pointing right. Double click the left mouse button with the cursor in the double arrow mode and the column width will automatically change to fit the width of the data in the column. This works in both Word and Excel. Of course if you do this and realize that due to one very long string your column is now far too wide, remember that you can click the undo button (the button in the toolbar that looks like an arrow swooping counter clockwise) or click on the Edit menu and click on Undo to return the column to the previous width. Then you can manually move the right column border by dragging it to the right so the column ...
  • Issue #45 November 11, 2003 1. Using Images on Slides Last issue we talked about using the IrFanView tool to improve the quality of your images in PowerPoint slides or Word documents. Loyal subscriber Dick Larkin passes on a great tip to add on to what we discussed last week. In addition to getting the best quality image, he suggests that whenever you use an image/photo/web screen shot on a PowerPoint slide, that you highlight what you want people to look at. He makes an excellent point. Many times we put an image on the slide and when we show it, we either walk to the screen and try to point out what we want the audience to focus on (which blocks some people from seeing what we are pointing out) or we use a laser pointer and wave it all over the screen. A better approach is to use a callout arrow to point to the important item or put a box or circle in a contrasting color around the important part. An even more advanced technique is to use a graphics program to cut ...
  • Issue #44 October 28, 2003 1. Better looking graphics One of the common complaints about graphics used in presentations or on web sites is the poor quality. Even if you scan in an image at high resolution, it seems that most graphics end up looking awful. It is usually because the size or resolution has not been properly adjusted. I recently helped someone with a photo they put on a web site that took up most of the page and took forever to load because it was 2MB. The size of the graphic is the easier of the two areas to understand because we can just look at the image and see what size it is. If you take a large picture and simply use the sizing handles to make it smaller, the image appears the correct size, but the problem is that the graphic file is still the same size, making the presentation file huge. The second issue is with resolution. This refers to the number of dots per inch in the picture. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. Where ...
  • Issue #43 October 14, 2003 1. Advice on Upgrading to MS Office 2003 In just over a week or so, Microsoft will officially release the latest version of their Office suite of applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook being the most common programs. There will likely be a lot of hype about the new versions of these popular applications. The big question you need to answer is: Should I upgrade? My advice is not yet. I have read many reviews about what is new in Office 2003 and most of the changes benefit large organizations that want to tie into corporate databases (Outlook 2003 is much better than the previous version, but you can’t just upgrade that one application). When I look at any new version of a key application, I consider the four ideas that I outlined in my article about upgrading software on the web site (see the full article at http://tinyurl.com/qtiw). And in this case, the key issue is that there is not really enough in the new version to make me upgrade from Office 2002. And with any new release, I ...
  • Issue #42 September 30, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Hoaxes Almost every month (or more frequently) I get an urgent e- mail from someone saying that they are sorry that their computer seems to have a virus and it was probably transmitted to my computer. The e-mail they send tells me to look for a certain file and delete it if I find it on my computer. If you ever get e-mails like this be very skeptical – almost every one of them is a hoax. The first thing I do when I receive one of these e-mails is to check out one of two sites that list these hoaxes. The first spot I check is the Symantec web site at http://securityresponse.symantec.com and check the Hoaxes link at the bottom of the page in the Reference Area. This list is well organized and tells you what to do if you have already acted on the e-mail and deleted a file. The other site to check is http://www.truthorfiction.com, which also has a good list and will tell you if something is true. By deleting some ...
  • Issue #41 September 16, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – High-Speed Connections Many of you, like I, have a high speed connection to the Internet at home, through a cable provider or through a DSL connection from a phone company. It makes using the Internet so much better to have a high speed connection, but there are dangers that you must protect yourself from. In order to offer this high speed link, your provider has set up a permanent (or semi-permanent) connection from your computer to the Internet. This means that anyone else on the Internet can access your computer if they know (or guess) the address that your provider has set up. There are many shady characters out there who have set up programs to scan all the addresses to find out who has a computer available on the other end. And when they find you, they can connect to your PC and find out what you have on your computer. Scary thing. But you can protect yourself. If you have a high speed connection, you should always have a hardware firewall to protect ...
  • Issue #40 September 2, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Spam This time in the ongoing discussion on how to keep your computer safe, I want to talk about dealing with spam. Spam is the term used to describe the unsolicited e-mail that we all receive. Some reports suggest by the end of this year, there will be more spam e-mails sent per day than legitimate e-mail! What everyone wants to know is “How do I stop all this stuff!?!” Well, you can’t stop it, you can only manage it. Some software programs or services promise to stop it, but when these filters delete messages, they unfortunately also delete some legitimate e-mails because of the rules they use. There are two major strategies that I have found most useful in combating spam. The first is to keep your e-mail address away from where spammers harvest addresses. If you participate in newsgroups, never put your e-mail address in any posting. Also, don’t reply to spam messages that you get because then the spammer knows your e-mail is valid and you will get even more. Some people ...
  • Issue #39 August 19, 2003 1. Problems Opening Attachments in OE If you have problems opening attachments using Outlook Express (OE) v6, my wife and others have had this problem as well and I want to share the solution with you. It has to do with a setting in the software. In OE v6, if you click on the Tools menu item and click on the Options menu selection you get the Options dialog box. Click on the Security tab. About one-third of the way down there is an option that says “Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus” – if this option is checked/selected, you will get the blocking behavior. Just uncheck that box, click OK and exit OE and start it again. Then you should be able to open the attached file. If you are running a good virus program, you should not need that option anyways – you are running Norton AntiVirus or equivalent, right? See the next story for more information on keeping your computer safe from viruses. 2. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Viruses It ...
  • Issue #38 August 5, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Backups This is the start of a series of tips I will share over the next few months all aimed at keeping your computer safe from the multitude of things that can happen to it. The first item I want to address is the issue of regular backups. I suggest you do a full backup of your important data files at least every month. By data files I mean your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. not your applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Include in that list your e-mail folders so that all those e-mails are backed up. To be safer, you can do an incremental backup every week (see the May 13 issue of the newsletter for a good way to do this). This incremental backup catches only those files you have changed since the last backup. The best way to store backups today is to copy the files onto a CD, called burning them to a CD. Windows XP includes a utility to do this, but you can also use products such as Nero ...
  • Issue #37 July 22, 2003 1. Searching for an E-mail Thanks to all who responded to the survey on your e-mail inbox. As of last night when I wrote this issue, 113 people had responded. When looking at how many e-mails are in your Inbox, 77 people said 100 or less and 17 more said 101 to 250. What these statistics tell me is that 83% of you clean out your Inbox regularly, probably into folders for certain topics or projects. This means that when you go to find an e-mail, you are searching across many folders. Let me share a quick tip on how to search across many folders at once in Outlook (since 63 people (56%) said they use Outlook). In the Advanced Find dialog box in Outlook, you can click on the Browse button and then check off as many folders as you want to search. Remember that the more folders you select the longer the search will take. One alternative approach to spending time moving e-mails into folders is to hold all non- spam incoming mail in your Inbox. Then, every quarter, ...
  • Issue #36 July 8, 2003 1. Searching the Web If you get frustrated trying to find a specific e-mail, a file or text in a document, the next few issues of the newsletter will be particularly relevant for you. I will be sharing excerpts from my latest e-book titled “The 20% You REALLY Need to Know About Finding Information on Your Windows PC”. Today I want to explain the differences between web search sites so you can decide which one would be best for you. The first type of search site is known as a portal. A portal site is one where people submit sites for review and if the search site staff think the site is of value, they add it to their index of sites. The best examples of portal sites are Yahoo!, MSN and dmoz. The advantage to portal sites is that they tend to exclude many of the useless sites out there. The disadvantage is that you will only find sites that have been submitted, so many useful sites may be missed. Some portal sites now charge to be listed, so you ...
  • Issue #35 June 24, 2003 1. Major changes in PowerPoint 2002 animation Many times one wonders what really changes between the different versions of Microsoft’s major applications. When it comes to PowerPoint, there were two major changes that happened when they moved from the 2000 version to the 2002/XP version (called 2002 here). The first is the use of the task pane for many functions. This is a new Office XP standard and it allows for many functions such as choosing clip art, selecting the slide layout or selecting slide colors to be done in a task pane. This really replaces many of the dialog boxes that we used in PowerPoint 2000 and puts the parameters to choose from in a vertical box covering the entire right side of the screen area. I actually find this a convenient way to work. The other major change they made is a change for the worse in my opinion. They completely rewrote the animation feature. They now allow animation when a slide elements enters the slide, while it is on the slide and when it leaves the slide. They ...
  • Issue #34 June 10, 2003 1. Printing Black & White PowerPoint handouts One of the most common questions I get when doing PowerPoint presentations or workshops is how do you get your handouts to print so nicely in black and white. If you accept the default print options in PowerPoint, a dark background with light text ends up looking awful when printed on a black and white printer. This is one of the ideas I cover in my “The 20% You REALLY Need To Know About PowerPoint” books (see the link above to buy the 2000 or 2002 version). One suggestion I saw recently had you creating two different PowerPoint files with different color schemes in each – no way should you waste your time with that approach. When you go to print your handouts, select the “Pure Black and White” checkbox in PowerPoint 97 or 2000 or select the “Pure black and white” option in the Color/grayscale drop down list in PowerPoint 2002. What this option does is convert the background to white and the text into black. All graphics are printed using grayscale. If ...
  • Issue #33 May 27, 2003 1. E-mail attachment limits In an effort to cut down on the huge volume of viruses and spam, many Internet Service Providers are putting limits on the attachments you can send or receive. Generally, the restrictions relate to size of the attached file and the type of the attached file. I am seeing many restrictions at the 4 to 5 MB file size limit and almost all executable files are forbidden. This causes a problem when you want to send a large presentation file or PDF document. The only way around this is to cut the file into pieces and send multiple e-mails with one piece of the file per e-mail. When the receiver of the e-mails saves the file piece from each e-mail to the same directory, they can then assemble the pieces. The best way to do this is to use a program that is designed for this purpose. One of my clients imposed these restrictions recently and I looked long and hard for a good program and finally found one. It is called Splitter and I like it ...
  • Issue #32 May 13 2003 1. Adding contacts in Outlook One of the things I don’t do as well as I should is add new contacts to my Contacts list in Outlook. One simple way to add a contact when they have sent you an e-mail is to use a right-click technique. When you are viewing the e-mail, right click on the sender’s name at the top of the e-mail. A small menu pops up which has an option to Add to Contacts. Click on the Add to Contacts option and this person will be added to your Contacts list with the name and e-mail address from the e-mail. The full Contact dialog box will be opened so you can fill in any other information that may be in the e-mail such as address or phone number. 2. Creating incremental backups We all know that we should do regular backups to protect our valuable data from loss if our computer fails. For some people, doing a full backup takes a long time and so they don’t back up as often, leaving them vulnerable to data loss. I have ...
  • Issue #31 April 29, 2003 1. Hotel Phone Charges Tip When you are travelling, the cost of dialing in to get your e-mail can add up quickly as hotels now have charges for local calls. At $0.75 to $1.25 per call plus taxes, it is not hard to rack up charges very quickly. One strategy for reducing your overall cost is to investigate sometimes using your Internet provider’s toll-free number (if they offer one). Many Internet providers offer a toll-free 1-800 number for use when you can’t access a local number. There is usually a surcharge for using it, about $6.00/hr or so. If your hotel allows 1-800 calls with no charge (as many do), it may be cheaper to pay the surcharge from your Internet provider than the hotel’s local call charge. For example, if you are just checking e-mail and are connected for 4 minutes, the toll-free surcharge at $6/hour is only $0.40, compared to the hotel charge of almost double that amount. Check your situation to see if this will save you money when travelling. 2. Optical Mouse on Shiny Desk If you own ...
  • Issue #30 April 15, 2003 1. Followup on Remote Purchase Some subscribers have asked whether I have purchased the new remote control that I mentioned a few issues ago. Indeed I did purchase the RemotePoint Navigator and I am very pleased with it. In fact, I was at a conference just after I got it and the closing keynote speaker ended up using my remote because his new one wouldn’t work reliably. I did run into one issue that I thought I should share here for others to be aware of. Depending on where your USB port is located on your computer, you may get interference with the remote from nearby parts. The USB port I plugged my remote into is right beside the power supply and the power supply caused minor interference. I switched to the other USB port, but switching my mouse to the USB port beside the power supply caused display problems. I solved the problems by purchasing a small USB hub which allows me to plug both the mouse and the remote into the hub, which is then plugged into the USB ...
  • Issue #29 April 1, 2003 1. Outlook contact tracking If you use Outlook, one of the most powerful, but often overlooked features is the ability to use the Contacts list as a contact tracking database. This feature allows you to add notes about phone calls, meetings, etc. to a contact. Because Outlook also manages your e-mail, it adds a feature to integrate all e-mails to or from this contact as well. In the Outlook Contact folder, double click on a contact to display the contact record fully. Click on the Activities tab and the system will automatically search for any e-mails to or from the e- mail address you have specified for that contact and list them for your reference. It searches all mail folders, so you will see those you have sent, received and even deleted. Note that this may take a while depending on how many e-mails you have in your folders. To explore what other activities you can use, click on the Actions menu item and click on New Journal Entry. You can then see what types of entries you can add and ...
  • Issue #28 March 18, 2003 1. PDF File Mistakes Many people are now creating Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) format files for all sorts of documents – from proposals, brochures, reports and even invoices. It is easy to create an Acrobat PDF format file and the great benefit is that the file can be viewed on any platform that supports Acrobat PDF, which includes Windows, Mac and Unix. Here are some common problems I have seen with these files. The most common mistake I see made is thinking that by default the file is secure – it can’t be changed. This is not true. In order to secure a PDF file, you need to set the security options from the Document Options menu. The second big mistake is in not using bookmarks. This is such a great feature. You can set jump points to specific pages in your document so the reader can jump to whatever is important to them, not necessarily what you consider important. In concert with the bookmarks is setting the open options so that the reader sees the bookmarks when they ...
  • Issue #27 March 4, 2003 1. Tele/Video conference tips With travel for meetings reducing all around the world, organizations are making increasing use of tele-conference or video-conference meetings. These can be a great substitute for a face-to-face meeting if you follow some simple guidelines. Before the meeting, make sure you know how to use the equipment and you have tested it. I can’t even guess at how many of these meetings don’t occur because someone didn’t know how to connect everyone on the phone or get the video equipment to work properly. Send all materials that you will want to refer to well in advance – usually 3 to 7 days ahead and follow up 24 hours ahead to make sure everyone got the materials. Always have page numbers and document titles on each document so it is easy to refer to a specific item in a document. Set out ground rules for the call in advance and have the moderator of the call enforce them. Right before the call, make sure you have everything ready on the table or desk in a quiet place and ...
  • Issue #26 February 18, 2003 1. Remote Interference Problems Last issue I talked about what to look for in a remote control for presenting. This time I want to share some potential problems with using remotes due to interference. With infra-red remotes, the receiver can have problems receiving the signal if there are certain types of fluorescent lights in the room or there is a neon light too close. I had this happen to me in two rooms. One solution that sort of worked for me is to shield the receiver with a piece of cardboard to try to reduce the interference. Subscriber Paul Collier reminded me after the last issue of a potential problem with radio frequency remotes. Because they have a long range (50 to 100 feet) and they transmit through solid surfaces such as walls, you may be in a location where another remote user can inadvertently control your presentation with a remote in another room! Paul saw this happen at a conference and the results were disasterous for the presenter. When selecting an RF remote, make sure that it has a unique ...
  • Issue #25 February 4, 2003 1. Buying a Slide Remote One of the things that sets polished presenters apart is the use of a remote control to advance slides. With the right remote control, it can seem like the slides are changing magically because the audience doesn’t see the remote. I have used one for years and highly recommend it. I am about to buy a new one and thought I would share some thoughts on what you need to consider when buying a remote control. First is to consider what you want it to do. Do you need to advance slides only, or will you need it to have full mouse control as well? The answer to this question will drive how large the device will be – the more functions you require, the larger it will be (and the more expensive it will be). Second, how will the remote communicate with the computer? The receiver for older devices connects to the serial port and communicates using infra-red light (like a TV remote). The newer devices have a receiver that plugs into the USB port ...
  • Issue #24 January 21, 2003 1. Picking Slide Colors In the Oct 8, 2002 issue of this newsletter I gave some information on how to pick colors for your presentation slides. My suggested color scheme is a dark navy or purple background with yellow and white text. This color scheme has a high contrast between the background and the text color and the colors used have positive emotional associations. Now you can see an example of a slide that uses these colors. I have taken the slide on selecting colors from my Seminar on CD and put it on the web site for you to see. Check it out at: http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/CD-demo.htm 2. Preventing Data Loss Due to Power Outage Before the summer storm season comes, I suggest you take steps to ensure that you do not lose any data due to a sudden power outage. I recommend that you get an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) in your office. This power device connects to a wall outlet and then you connect your computer, phone or other devices to the UPS. If the power from the wall is interrupted, the ...
  • Issue #23 January 7, 2003 1. Rate Your Presentation Slides Audit One of the things many people have asked me is: “How do I know if my presentation slides are any good?” We have all seen the bad slides – and some are truly worthy of the Hall of Shame. How do you make sure that yours are not in that shameful category? Use the free Rate Your Presentation Slides Audit I have on the web site. The audit is a 34 question evaluation of your presentation slides. Once you have answered the questions, compare your score to the legend to help you determine if you have done a good job. The audit covers areas such as the slide design (colors and fonts), slide text (text density, text builds and text movement), graphics & multimedia (graphics/clip art, copyrighted material, audio/video and charts), and ease of understanding (fit with topic and presentation map indicator). You are encouraged to use it and because it is a free download in Adobe PDF format, you can send it to others who would benefit from it. Let me know how you have ...

 

Year: 2002
  • Issue #22 December 17, 2002 1. Best Tips of the Year Here are the tips that I got the most comments on during the year (if the links listed don’t work when you click on them, just paste them into your browser): * PowerPoint shortcut keys Issue 1, Feb 26, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_feb_26_2002.htm * Controlling line breaks in PowerPoint Issue 5, April 23, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_apr_23_2002.htm * Paste vs. Paste Special Issue 7, May 21, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_may_21_2002.htm * Power of Right-Clicking Issues 11 & 12, July 16 & 30, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_jul_16_2002.htm http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_jul_30_2002.htm * Screen capture Issue 14, August 27, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_aug_27_2002.htm * Outlook vs. Outlook Express Issue 18, October 22, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_oct_22_2002.htm 2. Next Issue According to the bi-weekly schedule of this newsletter, the next newsletter would be scheduled to be issued on Dec 31st. But I am taking a break over the holidays, so the next issue will be out on January 7, 2003 and we will then resume our bi-weekly schedule. Until our next issue, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great start to 2003! 3. Book Discount and Contest Last week I let you know about the release of my book and a ...
  • Issue #21 December 3, 2002 1. Using Clip Art & Photos on Presentation Slides After text, the next most common element used on presentation slides are graphics – usually either clip art or photographs. When you use any graphic, make sure that you are using it because it adds to the point you are making, not just because you like it. Try not to pick the same clip art everyone has been using for years, choose some new ones that are stylish looking and have colors that contrast well with the slide background. Don’t use the animated clip art because it distracts the audience from listening to you. Photographs can be from digital photos you have taken or from collections. The resolution does not have to be too large if you are just displaying them in a presentation, usually 640×480 is fine. Be aware that photographs evoke more emotion than clip art does, so be careful in selecting photos that may bring out negative emotions from the audience. If you need to, you can modify the image by sizing it, cropping it or changing the colors ...
  • Issue #20 November 19, 2002 1. The Cost of Bad PowerPoint Recently I calculated the cost of the time that is wasted due to bad PowerPoint presentations and I was stunned to find out it was $252 million each day! How do I arrive at this figure? The New Yorker magazine reported a Microsoft estimate of 30 million PowerPoint presentations made each day. Using some conservative estimates of the number of people watching each presentation (4 people, average salary of $35,000/year) and the percentage of time wasted due to an ineffective message (25% of the average half-hour presentation) you arrive at a figure of $252 million per day in wasted time alone. In a recent article I expanded on this finding by looking at the four reasons we don’t like most PowerPoint presentations: we can’t figure out the point of the presentation, we can’t see what is on the screen, we can’t understand the points and we are distracted by what is on the screen. This new article is on the web site and it may be one article that you want to send to others. 2. ...
  • Issue #19 November 5, 2002 1. Selecting Fonts for Presentation Slides Your choice of fonts on your presentation slides can make a big difference in how easy it is to understand your message. I suggest you use a serif font (one that has the extra tails on each character, Times Roman is an example) for titles because it helps the viewer spend more time on the title, giving them context for this area. For body text, I suggest a sans-serif font (without the extra tails, Arial is an example) because the viewer reads it quicker and can return their focus to the speaker. For font size, I suggest 36 to 44 point fonts for titles, 28 to 32 point fonts for the main body text, and 24 to 28 point fonts for sub-points. Any font smaller than 24 point will be very hard for the audience to read. The best way to add emphasis to text on your slides is to use the bold effect on the text. Italics or underline text is tiring to look at for long periods of time, so use these effects ...
  • Issue #18 October 22, 2002 1. Outlook vs. Outlook Express Many new PC’s come with Microsoft’s Outlook Express as the default e-mail program so many people start using it because it is there and it does the basic e-mail functions. But when you add Microsoft Office, as many do, for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it asks you if you want to add Outlook. One of the readers of this newsletter asked me whether they should use Outlook or Outlook Express. In the article on the web site that I wrote in response, I suggested four reasons to use Outlook instead of Outlook Express: 1) Outlook has a contact database, task list and calendar in addition to the e-mail functionality, 2) Outlook synchronizes better with handheld computers, 3) Outlook’s e-mail features are more robust, and 4) Outlook interfaces better with other applications. If you have Outlook and are wondering if you should use it instead of Outlook Express, read through the article on the web site for more information. 2. Selecting the Right Chart on Presentation Slides A chart – a graph or table – is a great way ...
  • Issue #17 October 8, 2002 1. Advanced Usage of E-mail Signatures Recently while doing some consulting with one of the subscribers of this e-zine, I developed a new strategy for using signatures on e-mail. Usually we have one signature that we use on each e-mail (you are using a signature to build your profile, aren’t you? – if not, check my tip in issue 5 (April 23, 2002) in the newsletter archives on the web site). What I discovered is that you can have multiple signatures that can be combined in different ways. For example, you can have one base signature with your contact information and then one signature for each audience you interact with. You can set up the base signature to be automatically inserted and then insert the appropriate signature underneath the base signature depending on the nature of the e-mail. This allows you have a customized signature that appears as one single signature when the e-mail is received. Consider how this can help you target your message to different audiences. 2. Selecting Colors for Presentation Slides One of the biggest problems I see on presentation ...
  • Issue #16 September 24, 2002 1. Finding e-mails Most of you have get more e-mails than I do, and One of the frustration we all have is that when we have a large number of e-mails in a folder, it gets hard to find the one we are looking for. Fortunately, most e-mail programs have an advanced find feature that can find e- mails that contain certain keywords in the subject or text. For example, in Microsoft Outlook, there is an Advanced Find tools that allows you to specify what fields you want to search, which folders and what keywords you want to locate. The tool then finds all e- mails meeting your criteria in a list that you can then click on to expand any e-mail. You can use criteria on fields such as date sent, who sent it, the subject or the text of the e-mail. This allows you to find a required e-mail quickly and simply. 2. Adobe Acrobat compatibility tip If you are distributing documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, let me share an experience I had recently. When I released some of my ...
  • Issue #15 September 10, 2002 1. Keeping E-mails organized Have you ever tried to find all the e-mails on a particular project or from a key client. You search through your Inbox and it seems impossible. One way to make it easier to find e-mails on a certain topic is to organize your e-mails in folders. This is almost identical to how we organize files on our hard drive into folders. Simply create a folder for each project, client, location or whatever logical organization works for your situation. When you have finished reading an e-mail or responding to it, simply move it to the appropriate folder. You can also move e-mails that you have sent to the folder so you have a record of your replies as well. You can even set up sub-folders under a folder for clearer organization (I have a folder called Clients and then a sub-folder underneath for each client). When your e-mail program displays these folders, you can use the collapse/expand box to show all the sub-folders or hide them all. 2. Adjust brightness of pictures for data projectors If you include pictures ...
  • Issue #14 August 27, 2002 1. Screen capture Many times when you are trying to demonstrate a computer technique to someone in a presentation or document, it would be helpful to include a picture of the screen. There are specific screen capture pieces of software that will do this. But there is a technique that is built in to the Windows operating system that will allow you to capture a screen shot and include it in a document or presentation. The detailed instructions on how to use this feature are in an article I wrote recently for the web site. You can find it at http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com in the articles section. 2. PowerPoint Slide Navigator If you are doing a presentation and you want to jump to a certain slide, there is an easy way to do so in PowerPoint 2000 or higher. In slide show mode, right click the mouse button to display a menu of selections. Select Go and select Slide Navigator. This will bring a list of all of the slides in the presentation and allow you to select the one that you want to move ...
  • Issue #13 August 13, 2002 1. Forcing a PC to shut down It is inevitable that at some point in time your PC will just hang – stop working in the middle of what you are doing, no error message, it just freezes. If you have had this happen to you it is frustrating because you may lose the work you were doing. The bigger concern is what to do if it happens. The first thing to try is to press the Ctrl, Alt and Del key at the same time (the easiest way to do this is to hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and then press the Del key). This may allow you to shut down the problem program and restart the PC. If this does not work, then you will have to turn the power off. The way to do this on current PC’s is to hold the power button in for 5-10 seconds until the computer forces the power off and shuts down. Wait 30 seconds before you turn it back on. When the PC restarts, it will likely want to ...
  • Issue #12 July 30 2002 1. The Power of Right-Clicking (Part 2) When using PowerPoint, right-clicking gives you access to many options quickly. In Slide development mode, right-clicking on the background allows you to set the slide layout, color scheme and background graphics. If you right-click on a text box, you can set the font, colors and border. Right-clicking on a graphic will allow you to set the size, brightness and may allow you to change some of the colors in the graphic. On many slide objects the right-click will also allow you to set hyperlinks to other slides, files or web sites that are active if you click on the object in Slide Show mode. In Outline mode, the right-click allows you to collapse or expand the outline. In Slide Show mode, right- clicking gives you a menu that allows you to go to any slide in the show, hide the pointer and see speaker notes. Explore what other efficiencies you can find by right- clicking in your applications. 2. When Should You Upgrade Software? One of the questions I get often is how do I know ...
  • Issue #11 July 16, 2002 1. The Power of Right-Clicking (Part 1) I am always looking for ways to be more efficient when using software applications, and clicking the right mouse button is one way to do this. In this issue, I will deal with some of the features in Word and Excel, and next issue I will address PowerPoint. In Word, if you select a word and right click, you get a menu that allows you to change the font, paragraph properties and supplies you with alternative words from the thesaurus. If the selected word is misspelled, it automatically suggests the correct spelling and allows selection of the properly spelled word. If you right click inside a table in the document, it allows you to change the text direction, borders and table and cell properties. In Excel, right clicking on a cell allows you to insert or delete cells or rows, clear the contents of the cell or format the cell. There are more shortcuts available through the right click method, and I encourage you to right click in different places and situations in your ...
  • Issue #10 July 2, 2002 1. Keep Software Upgrade files Almost all software upgrade files, patches or service releases are now downloaded from the Internet. I always download the files to a common upgrade download directory on my hard drive so they are always in a common spot. Then, on a regular basis, I copy these upgrade files to a CD for permanent storage. The advantage to having the upgrades on CD is that if you need to reload software on your system for some reason, you have the upgrade files ready to install without having to download them again. 2. The Most Useful PC upgrade We are all looking to get more performance from our existing PC’s without spending a lot of time or money. I have found that the best single upgrade is to add memory to your computer. This has been the view of experts for a while, and I personally experienced this recently. My new laptop came with 128MB of RAM and I added 256MB to bring it to 384MB. I knew the performance should improve, but I was surprised at how much quicker ...
  • Issue #9 June 18 2002 1. Moving objects a small amount in a document In order to make drawing objects like lines and boxes line up in Word or PowerPoint, I usually set the Snap to Grid option on so that everything aligns. The only problem is that sometimes I want to move an object just a small distance, not a full grid movement. To move an object a distance less than a grid step, select the object (making sure that the four arrows symbol is shown) and use a Ctrl-arrow key combination – hold down the Contrl key (Ctrl on most keyboards) and use the arrow keys to move the object a small distance. This works for lines, boxes, pictures and text boxes. 2. Power protection on the road When I travel, I never know the quality of the power that I will get from a hotel room power outlet or a meeting room outlet. I always carry my own surge protected power bar for this reason. If a power surge or spike comes down the line, my equipment is protected and I avoid major trouble. I ...
  • Issue #8 June 4, 2002 1. Tips for backing up files to CD’s Having a backup of your key files is an essential part of any business strategy. For many small to medium sized businesses, backing up to a CD has become a great way to take care of this necessary task. There are many programs to copy files to a CD and all of them work quite well. Here are a couple of tips when using CD backups. First, make sure you label the CD after it is finished being created. I have found that the best instrument for writing on a CD is a Sharpie brand marker. They are permanent even on a CD and you can find them in almost any office supply store. Second, make sure you back up your e-mail files or folders. Check with your e-mail program on how to do this. Third, close all other applications and disconnect from the Internet when writing data to a CD, it increases the chances of a successful writing session. Lastly, if you are using a CD-RW disc that can be written to ...
  • Issue #7 May 21, 2002 1. Paste vs. Paste Special for copying text When we copy and paste text from one place to another or from one application to another we usually just use the shortcut keys of Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-V to paste without even thinking much about it. Sometimes you may find it useful to use the Paste Special feature instead of simply Paste. This feature is found on the Edit menu of your application and it will give you different options for pasting. One I find useful is to paste the text as unformatted text, which allows me to keep the font and other text settings of the destination document for the new text I am pasting in – this is particularly useful for pasting text from a word processor into a Web page design application. I also have used it to paste the text from a graphic into a document. Experiment and see how this may help you save time when copying and pasting. 2. Rate your presentation slides One of the areas that I work in is helping people make their presentation ...
  • Issue #6 May 7, 2002 1. Opening E-mail attachments Sometimes we receive e-mail attachments that we are expecting and we can’t open the document by double- clicking on it in the e-mail (you should always immediately delete any e-mail with an attachment that you did not ask for, it can be a virus). This happens when our e-mail program does not know which application should be used to open the file. One easy way around this is to save the attachment to your hard drive by right clicking on the attachment icon and selecting Save As… Then start one of your usual applications and you can then open the saved file. This works because your applications automatically recognize different file formats and convert them. I have two people who use WordPerfect and who regularly send me files and I use this technique in order to open them in MS Word. 2. Moving a projector away from a laptop When you are using a data projector and laptop to make a presentation, sometimes the laptop needs to be moved quite a way from the data projector due to the ...
  • Issue #5 April 23, 2002 1. Controlling Line Breaks in PowerPoint When you are entering text into a text box in PowerPoint, the text moves to the next line based on the right margin of the text box. Sometimes we want to move to the next line before the text reaches the right margin. Pressing the Enter key does not always work- if you are using bullets, it moves to a new bullet; if you have different spacing between paragraphs than between lines, it will look different. The way to move to the next line is to hold down the Ctrl key and then press the Enter key. This simply moves to the next line within the same bullet or text portion. 2. Uses for the E-mail signature One option on an e-mail program that is not used as well as it could in many cases is the ability to add a signature to the end of each e-mail that you send. Here are some ideas of items you may want to consider for your e-mail signature: – Your name and contact information – Your e-mail and web ...
  • Issue #4 April 9, 2002 1. One way to use a PDA to ease tax calculations Many of us have just finished filing our income taxes and one area that can be a real hassle is calculating the business use of our vehicle. The tax department wants to see what percentage of the distance we traveled during the year was business use and what percentage was personal use. To do this, you need to keep track of the start and end odometer readings for each business use trip. If you track this in a paper notebook in the glove compartment, at tax time, you need to enter all those figures into a spreadsheet – what a chore! I found that tracking the odometer readings on my PDA (personal digital assistant – Palm, Visor, Pocket PC, etc.) has made this much easier. I set up a note in the Notepad application that lists the month, date, starting odometer and ending odometer, each separated by columns and one line per trip. This way, at tax time, I simply import the note into a spreadsheet and it know how ...
  • Issue #3 March 26 2002 1. Important Adobe Acrobat Update If you are using Adobe Acrobat 5.0 to create Adobe PDF format files, you may run into a serious incompatibility with Microsoft Office 2000 and XP programs. The original macros that Acrobat installs into Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint cause those programs to crash either when starting up or shutting down. I had this happen to me and only discovered how to solve the problem by reading an article on the Microsoft support web site. Adobe has now fixed the problem and it is contained in an update to Acrobat called Acrobat 5.0.5. It is a free download from the Adobe web site ( http://www.adobe.com) and I consider it essential if you are running this version of Acrobat. Earlier versions of Acrobat (version 4 and previous) don’t seem to have this problem. 2. PowerPoint Viewer Issue If you do not have the full PowerPoint program from Microsoft, you can still view PowerPoint files using the free PowerPoint viewer. This is a free download from the Microsoft web site and allows you to display PowerPoint 97, and 2000 files. ...
  • Issue #2 March 12, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip If you are using a data projector, make sure you know how to properly turn it off and pack it away. Many data projectors require a cool down period where the bulb is not on but the fan continues to run. This is usually done by putting the projector in Standby mode. The cooling down is important because if the projector is moved when hot or warm, it dramatically increases the chance that the bulb will break – and at over $700 for most of the bulbs, this is something you want to avoid. Newer projectors have a new bulb technology that allows them to be moved immediately after being turned off, but be careful because they will still be very hot. Check with the owner’s manual of the data projector so you know what method to use. 2. Interesting way to use a Digital Video Camcorder In the process of putting together a CD product that required sound files, I faced the issue of how to record the sound at a quality that was good, but also ...
  • Issue #2 March 12, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip If you are using a data projector, make sure you know how to properly turn it off and pack it away. Many data projectors require a cool down period where the bulb is not on but the fan continues to run. This is usually done by putting the projector in Standby mode. The cooling down is important because if the projector is moved when hot or warm, it dramatically increases the chance that the bulb will break – and at over $700 for most of the bulbs, this is something you want to avoid. Newer projectors have a new bulb technology that allows them to be moved immediately after being turned off, but be careful because they will still be very hot. Check with the owner’s manual of the data projector so you know what method to use. 2. Interesting way to use a Digital Video Camcorder In the process of putting together a CD product that required sound files, I faced the issue of how to record the sound at a quality that was good, but also ...
  • Issue #1 February 26, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip There are many shortcut keys that you can use during a slide show in Microsoft’s PowerPoint program. You can access a full list of them by pressing the F1 key while in Slide Show mode, but here are some of the most useful. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very useful when you want to put the audience’s focus on you for a moment instead of your visuals. Ctrl-L or Ctrl-H – pressing this key combination turns the pointer off during the presentation. Which key combination works depends on which version of PowerPoint you have. Ctrl-L works for PowerPoint 97 and earlier, Ctrl-H works for PowerPoint 2000 and later. This will stop the pointer appearing if the mouse moves during your presentation. A – pressing the A key during a presentation makes the pointer appear or disappear. If the pointer does appear on the screen during your presentation, the natural inclination is to press the Escape ...
  • Issue #1 February 26, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip There are many shortcut keys that you can use during a slide show in Microsoft’s PowerPoint program. You can access a full list of them by pressing the F1 key while in Slide Show mode, but here are some of the most useful. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very useful when you want to put the audience’s focus on you for a moment instead of your visuals. Ctrl-L or Ctrl-H – pressing this key combination turns the pointer off during the presentation. Which key combination works depends on which version of PowerPoint you have. Ctrl-L works for PowerPoint 97 and earlier, Ctrl-H works for PowerPoint 2000 and later. This will stop the pointer appearing if the mouse moves during your presentation. A – pressing the A key during a presentation makes the pointer appear or disappear. If the pointer does appear on the screen during your presentation, the natural inclination is to press the Escape ...

 

All issues by date
  • Why SmartArt is often misused; Issue #326 December 9, 2014 At my workshops I suggest that people not use the SmartArt feature of PowerPoint. Example slides I reviewed at a recent workshop reinforced how this feature is often misused. The big issue is that most people pick SmartArt based on how nice it looks vs. whether it effectively communicates the correct message. Let’s start with one of the slides I saw in that workshop. The presenter was trying to show who would be involved in the oversight of an initiative. There are a number of representatives for the different departments or areas involved in the work. The problem is that the SmartArt diagram they selected is for a cyclical flow. There is no flow between the people in this group, so the diagram indicates the wrong message. When asked, the presenter said they picked it because it looked like a neat diagram. SmartArt was created in an attempt to make it easy for presenters to use visuals instead bullet points. The issue is that, like many lists of visuals, it is organized by type of diagram, not by what message you are communicating. ...
  • Finding and Using Vector icons in PowerPoint; Issue #325 November 25, 2014 Today’s article was inspired by a topic that fellow PowerPoint MVP Nolan Haims covered in one of his sessions at the recent Presentation Summit. When he was speaking about using icons, he stressed how vector icons are better than image icons. Today I want to explore this topic in some depth and give you resources to find and use vector icons in your presentations. Icons are an accepted way to communicate without words. We see icons everywhere today, from signs for the restroom/washroom, to pedestrian traffic signals, to icons on smartphones and websites. Here is an example from a recent workshop where I used icons to make a bullet point slide more meaningful.   Instead of creating icons on your own, which takes artistic talent, it is much easier to use ones that are available from artists who have shared their work under an appropriate license. There are three areas I want to address in this article: what icons you should look for, where to find vector icons, and how to convert common vector formats for use in PowerPoint. What icons to look for It ...
  • A presenter’s most important resource; Issue #324 November 11, 2014 What is the most important resource for a presenter? Some may say it is time. Time to prepare and the time spent delivering the presentation. Some may say it is knowledge. The knowledge of the topic and knowing how to communicate that message. And others would have different answers. I would say there is one resource that is more important than all of these. I would suggest that a presenter’s most important resource is the attention of the audience. Without that, a great message, meticulous preparation, and deep knowledge won’t ensure that the message is received by the audience. When it comes to the attention of the audience, there are three critical steps a presenter must take. First, they must capture the attention of the audience in the initial 120 seconds of the presentation. As I wrote in this article, presenters don’t have the luxury of spending the first few minutes introducing their team, thanking the audience for coming, and giving a long background history. Attention spans are short and you have to be clear on why the audience should care about what ...
  • Best of the Presentation Summit 2014; Issue #323 October 28, 2014 Two weeks ago I attended and presented two sessions at the Presentation Summit, the annual presentation design conference hosted by Rick Altman. As I usually do the first newsletter after the conference, here are a few of the best ideas from the conference. My first session was on creating visuals for financial presentations instead of the spreadsheets that are too common in those presentations. The number of people who attended the session, the number of questions they asked, and the comments afterwards all pointed out how big a need there is in this area. People who create financial presentations are desperate for ideas on what visuals will work better than the overloaded slides full of numbers. Three resources that you can access for free are this SlideShare on how to determine a good visual based on the message you want to communicate, this free ebook on presenting Excel data to executives, and the calculators I have created to create some of the visuals. To help those who deal with spreadsheets so much, I am holding a 75 minute webinar on December 4 ...
  • Confusing the message with supporting information; Issue #322 October 14, 2014 A recent consulting assignment was a good demonstration of the problem presenters run into when they confuse their message with the supporting information. My client was presenting to executives to suggest what they should do about a situation in one of their divisions. The problem was that she had structured the presentation so it listed all of the analysis she had done first. She started by describing the current situation, then talked about the staffing issues, the problems with the capabilities of the systems, and what activities were measuring up to standard or not. Finally she gave the conclusion of what she felt they needed to do to address the problems. Lots of details in every section. She said this was her summary for the executives. It was far from a summary. It was an overload of data. And the executives would have been overwhelmed and not taken any action. I worked with her to clarify what the key message was and what she wanted the executives to do in order to solve the problems. We presented the key recommendations first and ...
  • Have a backup story ready; Issue #321 September 30, 2014 While I was working with an executive earlier this year on an important presentation she was delivering at a conference, I realized how important it is to have a backup story ready. If you are relying on a story to illustrate a key point in your presentation, this may be advice you will want to act on today. The executive was going to use a story that involved the shooting of a young man who was a standout student and athlete. It was about how the relatives of this young man had turned the tragedy into a movement to reduce gun violence. A powerful story without a doubt. So why did I suggest she prepare a backup story? Because if there was a school shooting incident or a high profile shooting of a young person in the days before her speech, her use of the story of this family could be seen as insensitive or even offensive. She would never intend it that way, but some may take it the wrong way. If the audience reacts that strongly to a story, you ...
  • Discernment; Issue #320 September 16, 2014 Discernment is defined as making wise decisions or judging well. In order to make wise decisions as a presenter, you have to ask the right questions. Too often, presenters don’t ask key questions that help them determine the content and approach that will be most successful. Why don’t presenters ask the right questions? Often it is because of time and habit. In the corporate world today everyone is pressed for time. Presenters think they don’t have time to ask questions because there are many other priorities waiting. Nothing could be farther from the truth. By simply asking some key questions, presenters could save time they currently waste going down the wrong path resulting in more work. It is also due to habit. We tend to do things the way we have always done them. Most presenters don’t ask about goals, audience, or other important aspects. They start their preparation by selecting slides from previous presentations and trusting that a coherent message will somehow emerge. Too often it never quite emerges. (See this previous newsletter on the GPS approach to planning your message) At ...
  • Jargon and Acronyms; Issue #319 September 2, 2014 For a number of years I have been advising participants in my workshops to minimize the use of jargon or acronyms in their presentations to audiences that will likely not know what those terms mean. I didn’t fully realize how problematic these were until the results of my recent survey on the state of financial presentations. The respondents highlighted the use of acronyms in financial presentations as one of the biggest barriers to understanding the message. The use of acronyms is especially prevalent in technical or financial presentations. Acronyms are so popular in organizations that a number of companies have online databases of acronyms or publish dictionaries so their employees or staff can figure out what they mean. I was sent a slide once that had 20 different acronyms on it, with none of them explained! Why are acronyms and jargon such a problem? Because they create a barrier the audience must climb over in order to understand your message. And the reality is, most audience members won’t make the effort to climb over that barrier, so they leave not understanding your ...
  • Paperless handouts; Issue #318 August 9, 2014 The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and hybrid laptop/tablet devices in organizations has given presenters opportunities to move towards paperless handouts. A recent client experience had me re-examine methods that can work today. The attendees at this particular workshop are all regularly travelling and this has necessitated them moving to an almost totally paperless environment. They had all travelled to one city for the workshop, and instead of printing the handout, the organizer had emailed the PDF file to everyone. I wanted everyone to be able to take notes on the handout, so I reviewed the options. Default options in Windows & Mac In Windows, the basic Adobe Reader application does not allow you to add notes, called annotations in Acrobat, unless the file has been produced using an upgraded version of Acrobat. Saving your PDF file from PowerPoint or Word does not include this feature, so most people will not be able to use Acrobat Reader to add notes to your PDF handout. If the audience is all using Macs, the solution is quite simple. On a Mac, the PDF file will open by ...
  • Free Pre-Made Diagrams; Issue #317 August 5, 2014 Where do you turn when you want to use a diagram to show a sequence relationship or a relationship between entities (two of the six categories of messages I overview in this SlideShare deck)? Microsoft will tell you to use SmartArt. I suggest you don’t use SmartArt. It is inflexible, hard to edit, hard to customize, hard to animate, and not easy to select a diagram that communicates your message. Instead, I suggest you go to Diagrammer.com. This is a part of the Duarte.com site by the presentation experts at Duarte Design in California. I consider Duarte to be one of the top high-end presentation design studios in the world. Here is the step-by-step process to select, download, and edit a diagram from this collection. Step 1: Select the category Start at Diagrammer.com and select from one of the 14 categories of relationships shown. Read the description under the title to make sure you are selecting the right category. Step 2: Select the number of objects and 2D/3D Within the category, you select the number of objects you need and then whether you want 2D or 3D (please always select 2D). Note that ...
  • Review of a Data Viz Checklist; Issue #316 July 22, 2014 In the last six to nine months I have been paying more attention to the world of data visualization. This is the practice of showing data in a visual way that clearly communicates the message. This is important to presenters of financial, operational, and technical information. I have found this industry a good source of ideas that stretch my thinking. My Diverging Stacked Bar Chart Calculator originated in a blog post I read from one of the data visualization specialists who created the tool I am reviewing today. The tools data visualization practitioners use are more complex than what most corporate presenters will have or ever want to use. So I have been looking at what visuals or ideas from this industry can be incorporated using the basic tools of Excel and PowerPoint. Making the message clear with the visual is important regardless of what tool is used. A Data Visualization Checklist Stephanie Evergreen writes a great blog and together with Ann K. Emery, they published a Data Visualization Checklist in May. I was intrigued and today I want to share how I think presenters can apply it to slides they create. ...
  • When you should use a dual-axis graph; Issue #315 July 8, 2014 It is not uncommon to see a graph with two axes. But it is rare that the graph makes information easier to understand for the audience. It usually confuses the audience and obscures any message the presenter was trying to deliver. In this article I want to explain why dual-axis graphs are usually confusing and why, in my opinion, there is only one proper use for a dual-axis graph. Don’t use a dual-axis graph to cram more information on a slide The typical reason a presenter creates a dual-axis graph is to fit two messages into one visual, saving space and therefore being able to put even more on a slide. Information overload is the biggest issue in presentations today. Putting two messages in one visual makes the problem even worse. Here is an example from some analysis I am doing on corporate financial reporting (name of the company and other identifying information have been removed). The graph tries to show the change in earnings (EBIDTA) and the change in sales on the same graph. It uses green and red columns for change ...
  • Don’t start by copying previous slides; Issue #314 June 24, 2014 Participants in my workshops confirm it every time I ask. The most common way professionals start preparing their presentation is to copy slides from previous files. The presenter picks all the slides they think might be useful in this presentation. This is a big mistake that causes many presentations to be not nearly as effective as they could be. Why? Because when you start by copying previous slides, you have the steps you should be following in reverse order. You copy those slides into a new file, and then hope you can arrange them, and a few new slides, into some coherent message. This rarely works well. You end up with a message that does not flow, leaving the audience confused and the important message you needed to communicate goes unheard. Think like a GPS when planning your presentation What should you do instead? Think like a GPS unit. You’ve probably used a GPS, either one that is built-in to a vehicle, a handheld unit, or one on your smartphone. I think a GPS unit is a great analogy for how you should ...
  • Sources for Free Images; Issue #313 June 10, 2014 Photos are one of the types of visuals that many presenters include in their presentations. There are photos that are specific to our organization, like product photos, photos of our staff, screen captures of an internal system, and photos of our locations or facilities. We use these photos to illustrate a point we want to make about that product, team, system, or location. There are also photos we want to use that are more generic. We use these photos when we want to evoke an emotion or illustrate a broad concept. For these photos, we want to use what is called a stock photo. Stock photos are professional images taken to illustrate a general concept. Here is an example. Where can you find good stock photos that are free to use in your presentations? The one place you should not use is a search in Google Images. While a search on Google Images will return thousands of photos, in many cases, you can’t use the photo without first obtaining permission from the owner. Just because it is on the web doesn’t mean ...
  • Universal Indicators; Issue #312 May 27, 2014 Next week I am presenting a workshop to accountants in Vancouver. One of the points I will be making is that when you show a number that indicates the difference between a measured figure and a standard, you need to use an indicator so the audience knows whether this is a good number or not. Accounting or mathematical conventions don’t convey meaning When financial professionals use the output from Excel in their presentations, they often don’t pause to consider whether the audience will understand the default signs that Excel uses for numbers. A plus or minus sign indicates above or below zero, but does a plus sign always indicate a positive result? Not always. If there has been an increase in expenses, it is usually something to be concerned about, not celebrated. More confusing is accounting notation, where round brackets around a number indicates a negative number. Non-accountants don’t usually associate round brackets with the sign of a number, they usually think it means the hierarchy of operations when doing math (ask a grade school student about the BEDMAS rule). Universal indicators show meaning What ...
  • What presenters can learn from how TV shows start; Issue #311 May 13, 2014 When you watch a TV show these days, whether it is a half-hour sitcom or a one hour drama, how does it start? Why is that relevant to presenters? That’s what this article is all about. The change in TV shows In the past, TV shows started with a listing of the credits (actors, directors, writers, etc.) and a message about who was sponsoring the show. People kept watching because there really wasn’t any alternative. There were only three or four channels, so there wasn’t much else to select from. And there was no remote control, so changing the channel involved the work of getting up off the couch, walking over to the TV, changing the channel, and perhaps adjusting the antenna as well to improve the reception of the new channel. Too much work and not enough reward, so people watched the opening roll. Today, TV shows don’t start with credits. They start with a scene that gets you immediately involved with the story. Only after you have seen an exciting start to the story do they show the credits and the ...
  • Diverging Stacked Bar Charts; Issue #310 April 29, 2014 When I first heard the name of this visual, diverging stacked bar chart, it seemed complex. As I learned more about it, I realized how valuable it is to know about this type of visual in business presentations. In this article I want to show you what this visual is and how you can use it in your presentations. Let’s start with an example of this type of visual: A diverging stacked bar chart is a bar chart that can have one or more segments on each side of a dividing line. The dividing line separates the two groups or categories of data. The above example has only one segment on each side of the dividing line (which is not explicitly shown) and the two groups of data are hardware sales (HW) and software sales (SW). The reason that this type of graph works well is that it allows the viewer to compare the relative size of each group of related data. Each group starts at the dividing line and moves either right or left. In the above example, it is easy to ...
  • Creating slides that print well in B&W; Issue #309 April 15, 2014 One of the participants at last Thursday’s workshop asked how the colorful charts and visuals I was showing would work when printed in grayscale on a black and white laser printer. For those who usually present with printed slides instead of projecting them on a screen, this is a real concern. Here is the issue with typical color slides printed in grayscale: As you can see in the grayscale printout, the two default chart colors are translated to shades of gray. Because both columns are a dark gray, the two columns are now much harder to distinguish from each other. Your slide that looked good in color, doesn’t look very good when printed in grayscale. Here are four ways to make your slides print well on a black and white laser printer. Select colors that are significantly different The problem with many templates and color schemes is that the colors look good on a screen, but don’t translate well to grayscale. Since the grayscale printing translates colors to shades of gray, use colors that are different enough that the shades they are translated to ...
  • Waterfall Graphs; Issue #308 April 1, 2014 One of the examples you see in this video on what people will learn in my workshops on presenting financial and operational data to executives, is a waterfall graph being used to show the components of the change between a starting value and an ending value. After I showed an example of a waterfall graph at a session last November in Vancouver, one of the executives attending immediately saw how much more effective it would be in her presentations. She told me last month that she has seen much better understanding from her audience since she started using this type of visual. When is a waterfall graph a good choice? Any time you want to show how different components contributed to a movement from a starting value to an ending value. It is often used to show the changes in cash position between the start and end of the year. It is also used to show what contributed to a change between a projected amount and the final approved amount. This visual works better than the typical spreadsheet that is used. ...
  • Numbers only measure a story; Issue #307 March 18, 2014 Why do presenters use so many spreadsheets and tables of numbers in their presentations? The answer I get from participants in my workshops is that the numbers and analysis are important. The audience needs to see all the numbers. In this article I want to explain why I think that the numbers are not as important as presenters think they are. What are the numbers really? They are measurements of something going on in the organization. It could be sales, inventory, shipments, headcount, square footage, or any of the literally thousands of things that get measured in every organization today. And by themselves, they don’t mean much. What we do is we compare the measured values to some desired state, such as last year’s number, a budget amount, a projection, an industry average, or other relevant number. Why do we do the comparison? Because we want to get a sense of whether the measured value indicates good or poor performance. So are these the numbers that are important? Not yet. Here is the key I want you to understand. Numbers, whether measured or ...
  • Make Numbers Visual; Issue #306 March 4, 2014 Last fall at the Presentation Summit conference, I started to evolve my focus, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I have come to realize that how I help presenters the best is to show them how to make the numbers in their presentations visual. To take the spreadsheets, tables, and overly complex graphs and turn them into visuals that clearly communicate the story behind the numbers. Today I want to share two initiatives I am launching in this area. When I have been preparing for a client workshop and creating slide makeovers of their slides, I have found that the slides most in need of help were the ones talking about financial or operational results. Yes, the overly wordy paragraphs on the slides need help too, but the ones that presenters struggle the most with are the numbers. Here is an example based on a makeover I recently created. It shows a table from Excel transformed into a proportional shape comparison that visually shows the message.   Presenters think they need to be a graphic artist to come up with ...
  • Are your slides Re-Tweetable?; Issue #305 February 18, 2014 What does Twitter have to do with effective slides in your PowerPoint presentation? A lot more than you think. This occurred to me last week as I was helping a client prepare a presentation for an upcoming investor conference. Twitter gives us an interesting way to measure how much of an impact a message makes when someone reads it. If they understand and like the message, they retweet it and mark it as a favorite. So why should this matter to presenters? Because we want the key messages in our presentation to have an immediate impact on our audiences. We want the audience to understand the messages, see how the messages impact their life or business, and act on those messages. Not that much different from what a good tweet does. So which tweets have the most impact? Those that have effective images attached. This research from Buffer shows that tweets with images received 89% more favorites and were retweeted 150% more than tweets without images. The most retweeted tweet of 2013 (Lea Michelle thanking fans for their support after the death ...
  • 3 Tips for making column graphs even clearer; Issue #304 February 4, 2014 In my workshops, I always recommend creating graphs in PowerPoint rather than copying them from Excel, because they are easier to edit and it avoids some of the problems of the entire spreadsheet being embedded into the PowerPoint file. Unfortunately, when you create a graph in PowerPoint, the default graph contains many distracting elements. In the workshop I show people what to clean up and this video shows you how to do the cleanup in PowerPoint. In this article I want to take the cleaning up of column graphs further by sharing three ideas based on information fellow PowerPoint MVP Nolan Haims of PresentYourStory.com shared at the Presentation Summit last September. “Fewer Distracting Pixels” A phrase Nolan used struck me as a guideline for further cleaning up of graphs. He said we should aim to have “fewer distracting pixels” on our slides. He applied the idea by suggesting we remove the tick marks on the horizontal axis for column graphs. The column already shows the audience what label is associated with which data. I would suggest that in many cases we can also ...
  • Using Amazon Storybuilder to outline a presentation; Issue #303 January 21, 2014 Late last year Amazon Studios introduced a tool that will be helpful for presenters. Amazon Studios is a movie studio that helps produce films for film makers. How would their tools relate to presentations? Like the stories that film makers tell, our presentations should tell a story. In this article I want to share how I think the new Amazon Storybuilder can help you outline the content for your story. In my workshops I always share my six step RAPIDS approach for planning your message. The P in the RAPIDS acronym stands for Presentation Outline. I show the participants how outlining your message with hierarchically arranged sticky notes is a great way to see the entire message at once. You may also have seen this in the seven day e-course that I offer new newsletter registrants. Here is the example I use in my workshops and the e-course: Up to now, there has been no easy online way to create these types of outlines. The Amazon Storybuilder tool (at http://studios.amazon.com/storybuilder) may be a great answer to this challenge. It is an entirely ...
  • 3 Steps to Lead Presentation Change in 2014; Issue #302 January 7, 2014 When I am delivering my workshops, a common concern is raised by the participants. They think that the ideas I share are great, they really like the slide makeovers I show them, but they are concerned that the new visuals they create won’t meet with management approval. So they don’t act on the information as much as their management would like them to. This article shares three steps you can use to lead the change in your own organization to create more effective presentations in less time. Step 1: Remind yourself and others of the financial impact of poor presentations No problem gets solved unless it is a big enough problem. So the first step is to remind yourself and others of the real cost of poor presentations. In a recent Chicago workshop, I showed the participants how the time wasted by the current way presentations are created is costing them millions of dollars each year. Any issue worth that much is one that management and others will be interested in addressing. Without putting a dollar figure to the cost of the ...
  • Proportional Object Collection Calculator; Issue #301 December 10 2013 Earlier this year I created an online tool to calculate the sizes of two shapes based on values that you input. This allows you to create a diagram with two proportional shapes. I wrote about this calculator in the June 11 issue of the newsletter and gave examples of the background and other links about this type of diagram. At the Presentation Summit in September, fellow PowerPoint MVP Glenna Shaw of visualology.net suggested that what I had created was good, but needed to go further. Glenna had written about the online tool in blog posts for Microsoft (see the June 11 newsletter for links), but she wanted it to do more. She wanted the tool to calculate the sizes of more than two shapes. This would allow it to be used when you have more than two values to compare visually. She also wanted it to be more generic, so the sizes could apply to any shape or image, not just squares, rectangles, and circles. Of course her ideas made perfect sense. So I went to work in my hotel room that ...
  • Celebrating 300 newsletter issues; November 26, 2013 Today I am celebrating the 300th issue of my newsletter. I have been writing this newsletter every two weeks for almost 11 years. I would not be able to keep writing if it was not for the support and encouragement that my loyal readers have shown. If you are not on the list yet, click here to sign up. To thank my subscribers and those who read my articles on my blog or website, I am offering a sale on my Kindle ebooks and reminding you of some of the free resources I offer you and all presenters on my website. In the US, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. A tradition started years ago is the Black Friday sale at many retailers the day after the holiday. That tradition expanded to Cyber Monday where online retailers get into the sale mode a couple of days later. So I decided to have an Issue #300/Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale on my Kindle ebooks. As a thank you to my loyal readers, I am cutting the price of my Kindle ebook series in half until ...
  • Show steps in a process; October 29, 2013 When you need to explain a process, whether it is a manufacturing process, process for handling expense claims, or process for installing a new system, there are steps you want to walk the audience through. The default template in PowerPoint leads many presenters to use a numbered list of steps: step one through to the final step. In today’s tip I want to show you some examples of visuals that can show a process better than a numbered list. Linear process with same type of activity The first example is for a linear process where each step is the same type of activity. Here is an example. Each step in this example is handled by the same department and in the same location. When the audience sees the same shape used for each step, they draw a conclusion that each step is the same type of activity. Use this type of diagram when you have a simple process that does not include different types of activities. Linear process with different types of activities When it is important for the audience to immediately see that there ...
  • Ideas from the 2013 Presentation Summit; October 15, 2013 Every year when I speak at and attend the Presentation Summit conference I come back with great ideas from other presentation experts that I can adapt or use in my own presentations. Last month the conference was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and in this article I want to share three ideas I picked up at the conference. The first idea came from Nolan Haims (www.PresentYourStory.com). He showed us a bullet graph, a type of graph created by noted visual expert Stephen Few. This is what a bullet graph looks like. What I liked about this type of graph is that it is a good substitute for a two series column graph when you want to compare values that are related. The example above is a good illustration of this as the projected value and actual value are related information. Instead of two columns side by side where the audience has to work to determine the difference, the bullet graph shows the comparison on top of each other. This makes it easier for the audience to instantly understand whether the actual value ...
  • Results of the 2013 Annoying PowerPoint Survey; Issue #296 October 1, 2013 To see the results of the latest Annoying PowerPoint Survey, click here. Share this:ShareEmailPrintTwitterLinkedInGoogle
  • Donut Graphs; Issue #295 September 17, 2013 For the last year or two I have noticed newspapers and magazines using donut graphs more often to show proportional data results. Donut graphs may look like they are hard to create, but they are actually built into PowerPoint, so any presenter can use them. Here is an example that shows how a donut graph can be used. In this article I want to talk about when you may want to use this type of graph and how to use it effectively. A donut graph is closely related to a pie graph. In fact, some people say a donut graph is just a pie graph with the center cut out. Both pie graphs and donut graphs show the proportional relationship of data. These types of graphs can show market share, responses to a question, proportional spending in a budget, or any data set where you want to show how much of the total each item represents. So a donut graph is a good substitute for a pie graph when you want visual variety in a presentation where there are many pie graphs. I ...
  • Three uses for a black slide; Issue #294 September 3, 2013 In a workshop last week in the Boston area a participant noticed that I effectively used black slides during the workshop and wanted to know more about how and when to use them. It is a topic I cover in the workshop, and in this article I will share with you what I told the group in Boston about using black slides. The basic premise of a black slide is that there is nothing on the screen for the audience to look at. In the absence of a visual, where does the audience naturally look? At the presenter. Now, as the presenter, you have 100% of the audience’s attention. Nothing is distracting them from what you are about to say. That is quite powerful. So when should you use a black slide? The first use follows from the focus that the audience will have just on you. Use a black slide when you want to tell a powerful story that illustrates your point. In my workshops, I demonstrate this use when I black the screen and tell a story about how the ...
  • The grammar of text on slides; Issue #293 August 20, 2013 Despite what some commentators say, I don’t believe that we should eliminate all text from every slide. In my workshops I explain that text on slides is necessary and helps the audience in many ways. In this article, I want to talk about the grammar of text on slides. I regularly get questions on this topic, and I have summarized my advice in this article. Before I start with my thoughts, let me address why this is an important topic. Why should we care about how the text is written? Does it really matter whether some text is sentence case and other is Title Case? Does it matter whether there are periods or not? I believe it does. Because the audience infers meaning from how the text is formatted, and they interpret our words differently depending on how we write them on the slide. As a presenter, we want our message to be as clear as possible, which includes making the words on a slide mean exactly what we want the audience to understand. I will start with the headline at the ...
  • Should you switch to 16:9 slides?; Issue #292 August 6, 2013 One of the big changes in the latest version of PowerPoint is that the default aspect ratio (ratio of width to height) for slides is 16:9. In all previous versions, the default aspect ratio was 4:3. Why the change? Because widescreen formats are becoming more popular for projectors and TVs used in presentations. So should you change your slides to this new format? In this article I want to suggest how to know when to make the change. This topic was prompted by a question from a fellow professional speaker and marketing expert Steve Slaunwhite. He was preparing for a set of upcoming presentations and asked me what aspect ratio he should use for his slides. His question made me think about what the best approach would be. After some thought, here’s what I suggested to him. First, ask the organizer of the event or the venue you will be speaking in what aspect ratio the projector or screen will be using. At the upcoming Presentation Summit conference, the organizer, Rick Altman, has already let us know that all the screens will ...
  • Updating the three “Tell Them” statements; Issue #291 July 23, 2013 There is a classic piece of advice that many presenters have heard when thinking about how to structure their presentation. The advice is to: “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.” I think this advice is outdated and in this article I’d like to propose a new version of the three “Tell Them” statements that I think will serve presenters, and their audiences, much better. Why doesn’t the classic advice work anymore? Because audiences expect better. If you simply repeat your message three times, it ends up coming off as confusing if the audience thinks that there are actually three different points. If the audience recognizes the three points as the same ones, this approach comes off as condescending because the audience thinks that you consider them not intelligent enough to understand it the first time. Neither of these audience reactions will get you to your goal of having the audience understand and act on your message. So what should you do instead? Here is my updated version of the advice: ...
  • Don’t put yourself in a cage of text; Issue #290 July 9, 2013 When audience members tell me in my Annoying PowerPoint survey that the speaker reading the slides is the most annoying thing about bad PowerPoint slides, some of the blame must be put on the “wall of text” slides that presenters use. Today I want to talk about how all this text puts the presenter in a cage and how you can get out of the cage. When a slide full of text appears on the screen, the focus of the audience goes to the screen and they start to read all the text on the slide. While they are reading, they can’t be listening to you. When they do return their focus to you, they have an expectation that you will cover everything on the slide in exactly the same order and to the same level of detail as they just read. As a presenter, you feel this expectation and you feel trapped in a cage created by all the text that the audience just read. You end up doing the only thing that will satisfy the audience’s expectation – you ...
  • Eliminate 75% of the numbers; Issue #289 June 25, 2013 Information overload is the single biggest issue in presentations today according to audience members I have surveyed. In my book, Present It So They Get It, I devote a chapter to five strategies for laser focusing your information to avoid the overload problem. One of those strategies is to eliminate data that is not relevant to the message. When I introduce this strategy in my workshops, I suggest that I believe in most cases, 75% of the numbers on a slide can be eliminated. This is met with skeptical looks, especially from financial professionals. How is this possible? First, I’d like to address how this overload of numbers occurs that leads us to having to eliminate 75% of the numbers. There is a lot of analysis that is done in Excel, and we want to include it in our presentations. Excel is the best tool to do the analysis. The problem comes when we go to put that information into a presentation. It is too easy to simply copy the cells from Excel onto a slide. And that is where we ...
  • Proportional Shape Comparison Diagrams; Issue #288 June 11, 2013 In February I launched a tool on my website that allows you to create diagrams like this: I refer to this type of diagram as a proportional shape comparison diagram because the size of the shapes allows the viewer to instantly compare the numbers each shape represents. These types of diagrams are popular in print media and are becoming popular in presentations. David McCandless uses a number of them effectively in his TED talk you can watch here. I think these diagrams work better than a table of numbers because the numbers make the audience do the math to compare the amounts, which is especially hard when the numbers are different by an order of magnitude or more. These diagrams also work better than pie or column graphs because the smaller number almost disappears on the graph due to the graph being limited to measurement in only one dimension. A proportional shape comparison diagram gives you two dimensions to work with and allows smaller numbers to be more easily compared to larger numbers. The challenge in creating these diagrams has been in ...
  • Be prepared: VGA is going away; Issue #287 May 28, 2013 For many years presenters have walked into a room and connected their laptop to the projector using a VGA cable. All that will change in the next two years. The VGA port is being phased out by computer manufacturers. In this article I want to suggest what presenters can do now to prepare for this change. Why are computer manufacturers making this change? It was announced in December 2010, so it is not breaking news. VGA is an analog technology which was good in its time, but better technology is now available. Digital technology provides a better quality image and supports higher resolutions. If you have a flat screen TV, you are likely using an HDMI cable to attach your devices. HDMI is a digital format and it is the primary way that video is transferred between devices and TVs today. I started to notice the changes that presenters need to be aware of more in the last six months. One of my clients in the media business only has flat screen TVs in their meeting rooms. There are no projectors around. ...
  • Context Before Conclusion; Issue #285 April 30, 2013 When you show a slide on the screen, the audience will naturally look at it and start to decipher it. When they believe they understand it, they turn back to the presenter to hear what they are saying. Notice the sequence. The audience comes to a conclusion about the meaning of the slide before they have heard a single word from the presenter. What if they came to the wrong conclusion? How easy is it to change their mind? Not very easy at all. In this article, I want to talk about how presenters can give the audience context before they come their own conclusion. The issue of the audience coming to the wrong conclusion about a slide can only happen if you display the slide with all the content on it from the start. This is the typical way that slides are presented unfortunately. As presenters we may think that the audience is listening to us as they are looking at the slide, but they aren’t. Brain research tells us that the audience can’t read and listen at the same ...
  • Word clues to better organize information; Issue #284 April 16, 2013 With information overload being the number one issue for audiences today, how can presenters better organize their information so it is easier to understand? I see hundreds and hundreds of slides for each customized workshop I do as I create the slide makeovers for that group. I have come up with four clues that I look for in the words being used on the slide that indicate an opportunity to better organize the message for the audience. One of the common mistakes I see presenters make is to have the same titles on a series of slides or use the word “continued” in the slide title. The problem is that this assumes that the audience can remember all the points across multiple slides and put all of the information together to figure out the message. The audience just won’t do it, even if they have a handout to refer to. Instead, have a slide to introduce this section that shows how the different parts are related. Then you can have one slide for each of the parts that you want to ...
  • Reduce the words in each point; Issue #283 April 2, 2013 In my latest book, Present It So They Get It, I provide five strategies for reducing the information in your presentation down to just what the audience needs to know. Information overload is the single biggest issue in presentations today, and in my workshops, this section on reducing information overload is always a popular one for the participants. Today I want to extend one of the strategies so it is even more applicable to many presentations. One strategy I share in the book and my workshops is the 3R’s strategy for reducing the number of bullet points on a slide. It works well, and people see how it can reduce a list of fifteen or twenty bullet points down to four or five. What I also discovered is that this strategy can be used to reduce the text within a bullet point as well. Sometimes I see slides where they have five or six bullet points on a slide, but each one is three or four lines long. All that text overwhelms the audience and they can’t figure out what the message ...
  • Raise the average two slides at a time; Issue #282 March 19, 2013 At the end of my workshops, I ask the participants if they have practical ideas that they can implement immediately to improve the effectiveness of their slides. Without exception, they all say that they have plenty of ideas they can use. In fact, the challenge is that they feel overwhelmed with everything they want to start doing to their presentations. If they tried to apply all the learning to all the slides in their typical presentation, it wouldn’t work. They would end up spending too much time and give up with few, if any, changes being made. I want the participants in my workshops to apply what they have learned, so I share with them an approach that will help manage the work of improving their presentations. I call it the “raise the average quality by working on the bottom two” strategy. Here is how it works. If you look at the average quality of all the slides in your normal presentation, it will be at a level that you know could be better. Some slides are good, some are average, and ...
  • Testing your slides; Issue #281 March 5, 2013 What does the audience think when they see a spelling error or other mistake on your slides? They start to wonder if you really took the time to look at your slides before you presented and they question how much you care about delivering a great presentation for them. A lot of the mistakes I see could have been prevented. In this article, I want to examine five common problem areas and how presenters can avoid them. Spelling and grammar On a slide I was sent for a workshop last fall, I found two spelling errors on one slide. One of them was the word “video” spelled as “vidio”. What does your audience think when they see spelling or grammatical errors? It is likely that your credibility will take a hit. A good way to catch these mistakes is to read the words on your slide in reverse order. By reading in reverse order, your brain won’t anticipate the next word and skip over it even if it is misspelled (you have probably seen some of these example paragraphs on the Internet ...
  • Five tips for preparing financial slides; Issue #280 February 19, 2013 Financial information is a part of many presentations today. Whether you are presenting the budget for next year, current project spending status, or any other financial information, resist the temptation to just copy a spreadsheet and paste it on a slide. Copied spreadsheets overwhelm the audience and leave them confused. At the Presentation Summit last fall, I shared five steps for creating effective financial slides and in this article I want to share them with you. Step 1: What is the point? Somewhere in all those numbers is a message you want the audience to hear. Start by determining what that message is. What is the point you want to make sure the audience understands and leaves with? Numbers are used to document a story that the presenter wants to share, and you need to be clear on what story you are trying to tell. Write a headline for your slide that summarizes this key point or message. Step 2: What numbers tell the story? Now that you know what story you are trying to tell, look at the numbers you have and determine ...
  • Design visuals vs. Content visuals; Issue #279 February 5, 2013 Some presenters think that adding visuals, especially pictures, will instantly improve their slides. I agree that visuals can improve your slides, but only if those visuals help communicate your message more effectively. In this article I want to discuss the difference between design visuals and content visuals. Let me start by defining each of these terms. A design visual is used to improve the appearance of the slide, and doesn’t really add to the point the presenter is making. A design visual is usually a photo or a graphic element. A content visual is one that helps the audience understand the point you are making and includes more that just photos or graphic images. When I was recently reviewing a set of slides for a client, my feedback was that they had used design visuals instead of content visuals. They had used pictures, but those photos were not related to the points being made. For example, they were talking about partnering with customers and they used a photo of a chess board. The image of a game that has a clear winner ...
  • Timeline Visuals; Issue #278 January 22, 2013 In a presentation where you have to share with the audience when some events happened or are planned to occur, don’t use a list of dates and descriptions. While accurate, a simple list does not help the audience to understand the time span involved and when the events occur within that timeframe. Instead, use a timeline visual. In this article I want to share some best practices for creating and using a timeline visual. A timeline visual does not denote length of an event, like a Gantt chart does. It shows when each event will occur. The visual includes a timeline to indicate the entire span that is being discussed, and shapes that indicate when each event happens. Here is an example from a recent presentation showing when certain research papers were published on a particular topic.   The timeline should have marks to indicate the beginning and end of each time period, for example, each month. Typically the timeline will be a horizontal line with small vertical lines to indicate the separations. Make sure the marks are evenly spaced by using the ...
  • Conference call presentations; Issue #277 January 8, 2013 Last year a client asked me for some ideas on how to effectively present when your audience is attending via conference call. You have sent your presentation to the audience members via e-mail, and now you go through it while the audience listens to your over the phone. As the presenter, you don’t control what the audience sees on their screen the way you do through a webinar. Here are the ideas I shared with my client. First, you will have to ensure that your slides have slide numbers. Use the PowerPoint feature that automatically numbers the slides. In PowerPoint 2007, the Slide Number icon is on the Insert tab. The reason you need the slide number is that it will be your only way to help keep the audience on track with where you are in the presentation. You can’t see what slide they are on so during the presentation give direction such as, “Now moving to slide eight.” When someone asks a question, you can ask them what slide they are asking about to make sure you understand the ...
  • Sharing your presentation online; Issue #276 December 11, 2012 Recently I offered some ways that you could turn your PowerPoint presentation into a video that could be sent to others or posted to the web (see article here). What if you want to just share the slides without the extra work to add an audio track? In this article, I want to share some ways to share your presentation so that others can easily view it. All of these methods work quite well no matter what platform the viewer is using, including mobile devices. One of the key issues to address when sharing your slides is the security of your slides. I don’t suggest making the PowerPoint file available to others because it has too many risks of being misused and it might accidentally reveal private information contained in embedded objects. If you want to simply e-mail the file or post it on your website for download, I suggest you convert it to a PDF format first. That way, the content is more secure (not perfect, but better than the PowerPoint file format). The following methods allow you to more ...
  • Paperless Handouts; Issue #275 November 27, 2012 Is it possible to replace the paper handouts we use for our presentations with a more environmentally friendly electronic version that the audience downloads in advance or just before we start? The answer is changing, and right now it would be a “maybe.” Electronic handouts can save money on printing, save the environment by using less paper, and be easily shared with others, extending the reach of your presentation. While electronic handouts have many advantages, there are some challenges, such as participants desire to take notes on the handouts and not everyone having the device or technology needed to use an electronic handout. Deciding on the format for the handouts is probably the easiest decision when moving to electronic handouts. The best format to use is the well-known Adobe Acrobat PDF format. This format is easy to produce from many programs, including the Microsoft Office suite. Second, this format is supported on almost all the platforms that your audience will use, including Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android, and Blackberry. With the full Adobe Acrobat software, you can create PDF files from source ...
  • Stand-alone presentations; Issue #274 November 13, 2012 This summer one of my clients asked me how to make stand-alone presentations effective. They often have to send their PowerPoint file to a prospective client without ever getting the opportunity to deliver the presentation in person or via web meeting. Since PowerPoint slides are supposed to be used to enhance the speaker’s message and not be a substitute for the presenter, I needed to look at this request in a different way. This use of PowerPoint is not a typical presentation situation, so I turned to the experts at creating stand-alone presentations, those who use slideshare.net. slideshare has been allowing people to upload PowerPoint files for years and they have even held contests for the best presentations. For most of the presentations, all the viewer sees is the slides, there is no narration for them. These contests attract top presentation designers and the resulting slides are very effective. I reviewed many of the contest winners and all-time most popular presentations to see what they had in common. I came up with seven ideas to make stand-alone presentations effective. When I shared ...
  • Don’t start with an apology; Issue #273 October 30 2012 It happens at too many conferences every day. A speaker starts with an apology, and by doing so, sets the wrong tone for their presentation. Apologies destroy your credibility with the audience and put you in the wrong frame of mind, which leads you to not deliver the presentation you had hoped. I see it happen so often that in this article I want to share the three most common apologies I hear and what presenters should do instead. The first type of apology presenters use is to apologize for their lack of ability presenting. They might say that they are nervous, not prepared, or aren’t very good at speaking. What this does is suggest to the audience that they are in for an uncomfortable experience. The audience has an immediately negative impression of what is going to be presented. If you have been asked to present at a conference and don’t have a lot of experience or comfort, make the time to prepare for the presentation. Plan your message and review it with others who are familiar with the audience and ...
  • Presenting legal/regulatory quotes; Issue #272 October 16, 2012 Yesterday I spoke to a conference of real estate and legal professionals about how to create more effective PowerPoint slides when giving training sessions. They commonly show quotes or regulations from legal documents in their training sessions. Often presenters end up just reading the text of a paragraph because there doesn’t seem to be any better way to present this type of information. In this article, I want to share some tips for presenting legal or regulatory quotes. As much as we would like to be able to avoid sentences or paragraphs of text on the slide, the reality is that we are sometimes required to show the entire text because it is important to discuss with the audience. One of the ways to focus the audience on an important phrase or words is to highlight them on the screen like you would use a highlighter on a page in a manual or book. While PowerPoint does not have a highlighter function, you can achieve the same result by having a rectangle appear using the Wipe animation effect behind the important ...
  • Repurpose your presentation as a web video; Issue #271 October 2, 2012 Presentation Tip: Repurpose your presentation as a web video If you read the statistics about online video, you will see that online video is growing dramatically. And it is not just people watching funny cat videos. Executives and professionals are watching video online and making decisions based on the content and quality of what they watch. Earlier this year I was hired to speak because a C-level executive watched my video online. The expectations of online video have changed. A slick professional video is not expected, and too fancy of a video could be seen as trying too hard to impress. Viewers are looking for insightful content, which you already have in your presentations. One of the quickest and most cost effective ways to create online video for your organization is to repurpose an existing presentation. Here are four ways you can create an online video from a presentation. Option 1: Use a product like Camtasia (www.techsmith.com) that records your screen and you speaking at the same time. This allows you to capture everything in your presentation, all the builds, animation and content. ...
  • Determining the goal of your presentation is hard; Issue #270 September 18, 2012 Presentation Tip: Determining the goal of your presentation is hard The foundation of every presentation should be a clear statement of the goal of the presentation. While I am sure you would agree with this, stating a clear goal is much harder than it seems. Don’t always assume that the first goal you come up with is the correct goal for the presentation. A few years ago a client who owns a boutique insurance agency came to me for help on an important upcoming presentation. He was pitching a policy to an organization and his competition was a large national insurance agency. When I asked Bruce what the goal of his presentation was, he quickly answered that it was for the Board of Directors to buy the policy from him instead of the competition. I questioned him on this goal because the other agency would be presenting after Bruce and it was not realistic for the Board to make a decision before seeing both presentations. The quick answer was not a realistic goal. After further discussion, we decided that the true goal of ...
  • Presenting software/website usage; Issue #269 September 4, 2012 Presentation Tip: Presenting software/website usage Have you seen a presenter attempt a live demonstration of software or a website? Too often the demo goes wrong, with the software locking up or the Internet connection not working. Even large companies like Microsoft and Apple have these problems happen to them. Instead of live demos, I suggest you use screen captures, which are more reliable and can be more helpful to your audience. When using screen captures, make sure that you get the best capture you can so it is as clear as possible for the audience. Use a high resolution monitor and make the browser or program window as large as you can. Consider using a zoom feature in the program or browser to make the screen image larger if it will not distort the image. When taking the screen capture, use the built-in features of the operating system, or use a program to capture the image. In Windows, there are two ways to copy a screen image to the Windows clipboard, which can then be pasted on a slide like any other image. ...
  • Presenting a Recommendation; Issue #268 August 21, 2012 Presentation Tip: Presenting a recommendation In most cases, there is more than one possible solution for a problem. When you have been asked to investigate possible solutions and present your recommendation, you want the decision makers to act on that recommendation. In this article I will discuss how to make the presentation effective and get them to take action. The one mistake that too many presenters make in this situation is to think that the audience wants to see everything you did to come up with the recommendation. They don’t need to see all the analysis. They need to see the conclusions you drew from that analysis, but not all the details. Focus your analysis on answering the question, “What conclusion can I draw from the research, calculations, and thinking that has been done?” How do you structure a presentation that gives a recommendation? I suggest that you start with the recommendation itself. Decision makers don’t want this to be like a mystery novel where you reveal the recommendation at the end. If you want them to take action, you need to give ...
  • Make slides easy to see; Issue #267 August 7, 2012 Presentation Tip: Make slides easy to see There is no point using slides if the audience won’t be able to figure out what is on them. While this may sound obvious, I see too many presenters create slides that the audience won’t be able to figure out because of problems with the slide design. You don’t need to be a graphic artist or designer to follow the simple guidelines in this article. The first guideline is around selecting colors. Many of you may have a template mandated by your organization and don’t think you need to worry about color selection. I think all presenters need to remember that the most important aspect of choosing colors is that they have enough contrast. Contrast makes one color easily distinguishable from another. It allows text to be seen on a color below, it allows one pie wedge to be easily distinguished from the wedge beside it, and it allows shapes to be seen on top of or beside each other. Even if you have an organization standard template, you will still select the colors for ...
  • Prepare for questions or concerns; Issue #266 July 24, 2012 Presentation Tip: Prepare for questions or concerns It would be rare for a business presentation to be given and have no questions from the audience during or after the presentation. I am not talking about keynote style presentations from the big stage, I am talking about the regular presentations we deliver in our offices and to clients. A presentation should be a conversation with the audience that includes questions being asked. In this article I want to look at how we can prepare for the questions the audience may have. Even though you may think that your presentation will be crystal clear, don’t count on every audience member understanding everything you say. If you are presenting something that is not expected, or is controversial, you know that you will be getting questions from the audience. If you are asking for a decision, the audience will definitely be asking questions to make sure they are making the right decision. Questions are a part of every presentation and we need to plan for them. In analyzing the audience during your planning for the presentation, take ...
  • How to use the “About Us” information; Issue #265 July 10, 2012 Presentation Tip: How to use “About Us” information In a past article I spoke about the way to structure a sales presentation and suggested that the information about your firm should come after you have demonstrated the solution to their problem. In this article I want to expand on what to do with the “About Us” information that too many presenters feel is essential to include at the start of a presentation. The first thing I would do is challenge you on how necessary it is to include a large amount of information about you and your organization. If you are delivering a sales presentation, you have been invited to present because they know who you are and think that you can provide a solution to their problem. You don’t get the chance to do a presentation if you are a stranger. So, based on what I just said, do I think you should have any information about your firm? Yes. But I think the information you provide must be relevant and in the right spot in the presentation. I think the worst ...
  • Create presentation visuals based on lessons from grade school; Issue #264 June 26, 2012 Presentation Tip: Create presentation visuals based on lessons from grade school This is the last week of school for our kids and many kids in North America are finishing or have just completed their school year. Some of the fundamental concepts we learn in grade school stay with us forever. As presenters, we can tap in to this shared knowledge base when designing visuals that are easy for our audience to understand. In this article I want to share some of these grade school lessons and how we can apply them to creating presentation visuals. One of the activities that we all enjoyed in our earliest grades in school was playing with blocks. We would stack them on top of each other to see who could build the tallest stack. We learned that a taller stack was better than a smaller stack. We can take this experience in to our presentation by creating a column graph to compare measured values. Audiences inherently understand that a taller column represents a larger, and presumably better, value. Many of us also have the experience of fighting ...
  • Solving problems caused by embedding; Issue #263 June 12, 2012 Presentation Tip: Solving problems caused by embedding Many presenters don’t realize that PowerPoint embeds or links to other files or information in ways that can cause problems. They may have experienced a PowerPoint file that has grown too large to e-mail to someone else, or linked files or videos don’t work when they take their presentation to another computer to present. In this article I want to explain how you can fix four of the most common embedding issues I see when dealing with PowerPoint presentations. Why is embedding such an issue? Because in almost all cases, there is no way the presenter knows about the restrictions or problems until after they have occurred. PowerPoint doesn’t give you warnings or notices to let you know that something won’t work the way you expect it to. You have to find out the hard way. One of the most common issues is your PowerPoint file growing very large after you add some photos. They could be photos of people or objects, but they make your PowerPoint file so large you can’t e-mail it. What is ...
  • Preparing for status update presentations; Issue #262 May 29, 2012 Presentation Tip: Preparing for status update presentations One of the most common types of presentations that professionals have to make is a status update type of presentation. You are working on an initiative or project and you need to bring a steering committee or management team up to date on what has been going on. While this type of presentation sounds straightforward, many presenters do not realize the opportunity and risk in this type of presentation. In this article I want to talk about how you can make your next status update presentation a success. The biggest risk in this type of presentation is not understanding the true goal of the presentation. The goal is not just to update the audience on what you have been doing. The goal is more important than a simple information sharing time. There are two goals that you should be considering. The first is to convince the group that the situation is in control, no changes need to be made, and the project/program/initiative should continue to be supported. Too many presenters assume that they still have ...
  • Don’t use numbers just because you have them; Issue #261 May 15, 2012 Presentation Tip: Don’t use numbers just because you have them You are a presenter who deals with a lot of numbers. Maybe they are financial results, operational analysis, or market research. You live in Excel and love spreadsheets. So, naturally, when you have to present to others, you include almost every number you have. Doesn’t everyone love numbers the way you do? Unfortunately, no. In this article I want to suggest what you should present instead of all the numbers. Let’s start with why presenters feel like they have to include all the numbers they have calculated.First, they believe that if they include everything, the audience will better understand what they are trying to say. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. A slide full of numbers makes most people mentally check out. The second reason presenters include all the numbers is that they feel that they have to show how much work was done. If they don’t show a lot of numbers, the audience won’t think they worked hard doing the analysis. Trust me, they will be able to tell whether you worked ...
  • Choose a boring font; Issue #260, May 1, 2012 Presentation Tip: Choose a boring font A lot of presentation designers have made comments in the last year or two about what font you should choose for your PowerPoint slides. Almost every designer suggests that you abandon the built-in fonts like Arial or Calibri. Why? They claim that by using a standard font, you won’t stand out. Instead of the fonts that they claim are overused, they suggest you find a cool font to download and use that instead. One article I read even suggested what search term you should use to locate a font that is appropriately cool. To understand why these designers make these suggestions, you need to know what type of presentations they typically work on. They are usually working on slides for a conference keynote presentation where the primary objective is to make the presenter look good. The goal of the presentation is rarely to convey important information or convince a decision-maker. When you are in that type of setting, where you can have absolute control over every aspect of the technology, you can probably get away with ...
  • Case study/Success story slides; Issue #259 April 17, 2012 Presentation Tip: Case study/Success story slides In any presentation where you are selling ideas, products or services, your audience will want to know that you can actually solve their problem. Just stating that you can solve the problem is not enough, you have to provide proof. One of the best ways to prove your capabilities is by sharing examples of past situations where you were successful solving similar problems. I call these case studies or success stories. In today’s article I want to share a four-part formula for creating slides that illustrate these powerful stories. Before I get to the four steps, I want to emphasize the reason you are using case studies. It is not to brag about the work you have done. Too often I see presenters use case studies as a way to boast about the big name clients they have worked for. Remember that the focus of the audience is not on being impressed by who you have worked for, it is on trying to find the best solution to their problem. This means that all of your ...
  • The one question a sales presentation must answer; Issue #258 April 3, 2012 Presentation Tip: The one question a sales presentation must answer Last week I was reviewing a sales presentation someone sent me. They are pitching their services to a major prospective client and they know that their competition will be strong. So how do they start their presentation? With slide after slide about their firm, with text and graphics copied from their web site. In this article I want to talk about why this type of presentation will likely fail, and what a sales presentation must answer in order to be successful. The presentation I describe above is typical and it suffers from the one problem that will doom a sales presentation to failure: not answering the one question a prospect absolutely needs to have answered. What a prospective client really wants to know is, “Can you solve the big, hairy, ugly problem I have?” Until you answer that question, they don’t care about the rest of what you have to say. You may argue that they need to know first about how great your firm is so they will trust you to solve ...
  • Essential iPad apps for presenters; Issue #257 March 20, 2012 Presentation Tip: Essential iPad apps for presenters Apple’s latest iPad was released last week and many presenters either already have an iPad or are considering purchasing one. I have had one for about a year (the iPad 2) and have found it very valuable for my work. In this article, I want to share what I consider to be some essential iPad apps for presenters. GoodReader – This is the first app I suggest you purchase when you get your iPad. It is a file viewer, but it is so much more than that when you dig into all the capabilities it has. I use it primarily as the best PDF viewer I have found. I have eliminated paper speaking notes and use a PDF copy that I view in GoodReader. One great feature is the ability to add handwritten notes to the PDF so I can make last minute updates to my speaking notes. GoodReader can also display images one at a time or in a loop. This means that you could even show your slides (as images) or photos from ...
  • Use pre-made slides to cut prep time; Issue #256 March 6, 2012 Presentation Tip: Use pre-made slides to cut prep time In a consulting assignment I am working on with a client in New York, we are developing a set of slides that can be re-used in many different presentations. It is a good idea because it cuts preparation time dramatically. In addition to creating your own slides, you can also download pre-made slides from different sources. In this article I want to discuss some sources of pre-made slides and what to do once you have downloaded them. In my newsletter last September, I shared that Microsoft allows you to download pre-made slides that include some great animation effects. The slides I spoke about can be found on Microsoft’s site here. There are other sites that allow you to download pre-made slides. m62 is an international presentation consulting company that has created a number of slides for you to download from their site here. My friend Geetesh Bajaj also has some pre-made slides you can download from his Indezine site. There are also sites where you can purchase pre-made slides like bizgraphicsondemand.com and charteo.com. The ...
  • Ten years of this newsletter; Issue #255 February 21, 2012 Presentation Tip: Ten years of this newsletter Ten years ago, on February 26th 2002, I sent out my first newsletter. Today, I am sending you issue 255. What a journey it has been these last ten years. According to my records, over 13,500 people have been part of the newsletter list at one time or another (over 8,200 are on the list currently). Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. Today I want to reflect on what I have learned and experienced writing this newsletter for you, my subscribers. In the first issue I covered shortcut keys when using Slide Show mode in PowerPoint, keeping cables organized with Velcro straps, and a book recommendation. Back then, the focus of my business was broader and included the different technologies we used to communicate, including all the Microsoft Office programs and related software and hardware. As the focus of my business has changed, the content of the newsletter changed. In the last year I have been sharing tips on many aspects of effective presenting, not just on PowerPoint, so ...
  • Don’t start your presentation with credits; Issue #254, February 7, 2012 PowerPoint Tip: Don’t start your presentation with credits Last week in a coaching session a client asked, “What is the best way to start my presentation?” She said that she had tried different methods and didn’t feel that they were working as well as she wanted. This question reminded me of what Nick Morgan said in his keynote presentation at the Presentation Summit last fall. In this article I want to talk about how to start your presentation, building off of what Nick suggested in his talk. How do most movies and TV shows start today? As Nick pointed out, it is much different than 15 years ago. In the past, a movie started out with the credits. It listed all the actors, the key production personnel, and other important people before you saw the first scene. Not today. In the first moments of any show, they have an exciting scene that immediately gets you involved in the story. After they have you hooked, they show a few credits. I agree with Nick that our presentations should be similar. If we don’t hook ...
  • Boring presentations are not the problem; Issue #253, January 24, 2012 PowerPoint Tip: Boring presentations are not the problem How many times have you heard that the problem with many PowerPoint presentations is that they are boring? This is a common refrain from the media and it used to justify why presentations should not use PowerPoint, or use some other hot presentation tool instead of PowerPoint. I heartily disagree that most business presentations are boring. The problem with most presentations is not that they are boring, it is that they are confusing. In today’s article I want to explain the difference and what we can do about the problem. A boring presentation is one that has no useful information for the audience and is a complete waste of their time. Does this type of presentation happen? Absolutely. But not very often. My experience is that the presenter does have something valuable to say to this audience. The audience has agreed to hear the presenter because they believe that there will be value in hearing what the presenter has to say. So what goes wrong? The big problem with too many business presentations is that ...
  • Effective dashboard slides; Issue #252 January 10, 2012 PowerPoint Tip: Effective dashboard slides At the start of the year many organizations are looking back to see how they did last year. They will use many different measures, and they may decide that they want to start tracking certain statistics that will make a difference in improving performance going forward. A common approach is to create one or more dashboard slides that give executives a quick snapshot of how the organization is performing. In this article I want to share some tips on creating effective dashboard slides. The term dashboard comes from vehicle dashboards that use indicators to show the status of such metrics as amount of fuel remaining, oil temperature, and battery power. An effective dashboard slide gives the viewer a single quick view of the performance of key areas in the organization. By glancing at the slide, the executive can quickly determine what areas need attention. Many dashboard slides contain stoplight indicators, with red indicating an area that needs immediate attention, yellow an area of concern, and green indicating acceptable performance. The first step in creating an effective dashboard slide ...
  • Spreadsheets Don’t Belong on Slides; Issue #251 December 20, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Spreadsheets don’t belong on slides Frequently people tell me that financial presentations include a huge spreadsheet that has been copied on to a slide. The text and numbers are way too small and inevitably the presenter says, “I know you can’t read this, so I’ll read it to you.” Spreadsheets don’t belong on slides. Today I want to talk about why not and what you can do instead. Why don’t spreadsheets belong on slides? Because a spreadsheet is an analytical tool, not a communication tool. We use spreadsheets because they are the best tool for analyzing numbers, doing calculations and comparing numerical information. A spreadsheet does those jobs well. It quickly allows us to do hundreds of calculations that would take hours if done by hand. It is so easy to do calculations that we may end up doing more analysis that gives additional insight into the numbers. So for this purpose, a spreadsheet is a great tool. But when it comes to communicating the results of that analysis to others, the spreadsheet is a terrible tool. It contains far too ...
  • The audience wants the conclusion; Issue #250 December 6, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: The audience wants the conclusion In my survey this fall of what annoys audiences about bad PowerPoint presentations, the clear message you sent was that too many presentations suffer from information overload. Whether it is text, numbers, or a combination of both, the excessive information causes confusion and lack of action by the audience. Today I want to address the issue of whether to present a little or a lot of your work in a presentation. It is likely that you have done a lot of analysis and many calculations in order to come up with the conclusions that you want to present. The common view is that it is important for the audience to hear about all the assumptions, steps in the process, formulas, and calculations. You may also be tempted to include who did each step, how long it took, when it was done and even what office location helped out. While all of this information may be important to you, the truth is that the audience doesn’t need to hear it all. What your audience needs to hear ...
  • Creating universal icons; Issue #249 November 22, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Creating universal icons When creating visuals, it can be helpful to sometimes use icons to represent items generically, such as people, cars, or objects. You could purchase vector icons from a site like istockphoto.com, but you can usually create your own custom icon using the drawing tools in PowerPoint. PowerPoint MVP Sandy Johnson did a session at the recent Presentation Summit demonstrating some of the new techniques in PowerPoint 2010. In today’s article, I’ll focus on the techniques you can use in PowerPoint 2007, since that is the version most people are using today. Why might you want to use a universal icon? I have used them in proportional diagrams, tables, or when I want to represent an idea, but don’t want the complexity of a photo to distract the audience from a simple point. Here is an example of one of my slide makeovers that used a universal icon: watch video on YouTube here. The first step is to design the icon you want to create. I suggest keeping it simple, because it will make it easier to create. Try ...
  • Three lessons learned from Pecha Kucha; Issue #248 November 8, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Three lessons learned from Pecha Kucha At the recent Presentation Summit, Ric Bretschneider did a session on Pecha Kucha, a presentation format that has gained a lot of followers in recent years. As part of his session, he asked a few people to volunteer in advance to demonstrate this technique. I was one of the volunteers and today I’d like to share three lessons I learned from the experience. First of all, I should explain what Pecha Kucha is. A Pecha Kucha is a twenty slide presentation that lasts six minutes and forty seconds because each slide is on the screen for only twenty seconds. The slides automatically advance, so the presenter has to time their remarks to coincide with the changing of the slides. There are evening events held in a number of cities where presenters prepare and deliver these types of presentations (find out more about the organization behind Pecha Kucha at www.pecha-kucha.org). The goal of a Pecha Kucha is to focus your message into a short presentation that still gets the point across. When I was approached with ...
  • Takeaways from the Presentation Summit; Issue #247 October 26, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Takeaways from the Presentation Summit Last month I had the privilege of speaking at the ninth Presentation Summit in Austin, Texas. It is the one time during the year that the presentation community gets together and shares ideas and best practices on creating and delivering effective presentations. In addition to being a speaker and connecting with colleagues, I attend to further my knowledge from the excellent speakers who present. Today I want to share three of the many ideas I took away from this year’s conference. Connie Malamed delivered a pre-conference workshop on visual design and one of the points I took away is how sketching taps in to our natural creativity. I am not an artist or designer, but I have often used sketches to determine what visual will work best for a particular situation. Recently during a consulting call, I was sketching different graphs as my client spoke about what he was trying to communicate in a specific slide. It helped to be able to visualize my thoughts and gave me new ideas as I sketched. You don’t need ...
  • Adding crosshatching fills to graphs in PowerPoint 2007; Issue #246 October 11, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Adding crosshatching fills to graphs in PowerPoint 2007 When I was presenting a course for accountants in July, a number of the participants mentioned that starting in PowerPoint 2007, they had lost the ability to fill graph segments with crosshatch patterns. This is important when printing graphs in black and white since shades of grey are hard to distinguish. The participants asked if there was any way to get back this important feature that had been eliminated. Today I want to show you a way to restore this functionality to PowerPoint 2007 and 2010. First, let’s start with what crosshatch patterns are and why you may need to use them. A crosshatch pattern is a series of lines on a white background that is used to fill a shape or, in the case of a graph, a column or pie wedge. There are usually patterns such as diagonal lines (in both directions and a combination), vertical and horizontal lines, and dots. A crosshatch fill is used to be able to distinguish the different parts of a graph, such as the ...
  • Results of the 2011 Annoying PowerPoint survey; Issue #245 September 27, 2011 Note: The results of the latest survey are available here. PowerPoint Tip: Results of the Annoying PowerPoint survey As I analyzed the responses and comments in the survey of “What annoys you about bad PowerPoint presentations?”, a clear theme emerged. Audiences are fed up with presenters who fill their slides with too much content and are then compelled to read it all to those seated in the room. Let’s look at the responses first and then the comments. In looking at what the 603 respondents said were their top three annoyances, it was clear that reading the slides is by far the top thing that presenters do that annoys their audience. This has been in top spot for all five of the surveys I have done going back to 2003. Moving up one spot from the last survey, the second most annoying thing is the presenter filling the slides with full sentences of information instead of summarizing the key messages in bullet points. And rounding out the top three, is the presenter using fonts that are too small to read, probably because they ...
  • Amazing pre-made animation effects; Issue #244 September 13, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Amazing pre-made animation effects At the end of this week I’ll be travelling to the Presentation Summit in Austin, Texas. It is the only gathering of presentation professionals and I look forward to seeing all of my colleagues and learning about the work they have been doing in the past year. One of the people that always gets a lot of attention is Julie Terberg, a presentation designer from Michigan. Her makeovers session is always packed and she has our jaws dropping at what can be done with PowerPoint. A couple of years ago she showed us some templates she was working on for Microsoft. She was designing more than just a look and feel template. This was a template that showed you how to create a certain effect using the drawing tools and animation effects in PowerPoint. We were amazed at what we saw and were looking forward to these templates being available for everyone to use. I had forgotten about this until recently when someone asked if there was a way to create a slide that made it look ...
  • How animating a graph makes it easier to understand; Issue #243 August 30, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: How animating a graph makes it easier to understand I spoke last week to a group of executives and one of the challenges that I saw in their presentations was the tendency to put spreadsheets on their slides when talking about financial topics. A graph is better than a spreadsheet to illustrate numeric information to your audience. Use a pie chart to show proportions, use a column chart to compare measured values, or use a line chart to show a trend. Showing the point instead of asking the audience to do math to figure it out is far more effective. By default, the graphs in PowerPoint appear all at once. In this article I want to suggest that by animating the elements of your graph, you can make it even more meaningful for your audience. When you build each part of the graph one at a time, it allows you to discuss just that data and the audience can focus on each point you are making. For example, you can show each set of data in a line chart so that ...
  • Saving money on technology purchases; Issue #242 August 16, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Saving money on technology purchases According to retail statistics, this time of year is now more popular for technology buying than Christmas. The back-to-school purchases for those heading to high school or college/university often include technology such as computers, software, tablets, and smartphones. Our kids have been using PowerPoint in school since grade 3, so we know how important technology is in schools today. Since we are all looking for ways to save money when making these large purchases, this article is about legitimate ways to reduce how much you spend when making technology purchases. Computer manufacturers have recognized the importance of getting students hooked on their brand early, so a number of them offer special educational stores as part of their offerings. Apple has an educational part of their website that offers discounted prices on many computers and tablets. The discounts are also available in their stores. Dell offers a student centre where you can save on their laptops and desktops. Check with your preferred supplier to see if they offer discounts for students, and ask retailers what offers ...
  • Presenting from someone else’s computer; Issue #241 August 2, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Presenting from someone else’s computer In my workshops it is common that participants ask about what they need to take into account when they must take their PowerPoint presentation to another computer on a USB drive instead of using a laptop. It may be that the room they are presenting in has a fixed connection between the projector and a computer in the room, they don’t have a laptop, or they want to travel lighter and use the equipment they know will be in the room. Today’s article gives some best practices when presenting from a different computer. First, make sure you have created your slides so that you minimize the chance of things looking differently on another computer. Ask what version of PowerPoint the computer has and save the file in the format for that version (this is especially necessary if your version is more recent than the version on the computer you are presenting on). Use standard fonts that will be on all computers, like Arial or Calibri so your text appears the way you designed it. Make ...
  • Breaking the habit of speaking to the screen; Issue #240 July 19, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Breaking the habit of speaking to the screen In the past, I have discussed the habit some presenters have of talking to the screen instead of the audience when using PowerPoint. In two previous newsletters (here and here), I suggest that the problem stems from presenters using the slides as speaker notes and needing to regularly look at the screen in order to remember what they are supposed to say. I suggested strategies such as setting up a monitor so you can see what is on the screen instead of turning around, and rehearsing so you know your material better. In today’s article I want to move the discussion to a higher level and talk about the mindset that can help break the habit of speaking to the screen. Recently I spoke to a group of accountants on why many financial presentations are so ineffective and confusing. It boils down to a need to shift our mindset to one of serving the audience instead of delivering the data. If you are speaking to the screen when delivering a PowerPoint presentation, I suggest ...
  • You need permission to use YouTube videos; Issue #239 July 5, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: You need permission to use YouTube videos One of the most frequent topics on the PowerPoint newsgroups and forums is how to include YouTube videos in a presentation. People find a cool video on YouTube and think it would be great in their presentation. In this article I’m not going to show you how to include a YouTube video in your PowerPoint presentation. I want to discuss the right way to get permission to do so. Permission, you ask? Why do I need permission? I thought anything on the Internet, especially YouTube, is free for the taking. Actually, this is one of the most common misconceptions around. Just because it is on the Internet does not make it free. Just like every other broadcast medium, like television or a movie theatre, videos are copyrighted by the creator, and you need permission to use the video in your work. So how do you get permission? You must ask for it. The challenge is how do you know who to ask? Here’s the best route I’ve found. Whenever you are watching a video ...
  • Using a tablet or e-reader for Speaker Notes; Issue #238 June 21, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Using a tablet or e-reader for Speaker Notes One of the sessions I’ll be presenting at the Presentation Summit conference this September in Austin, TX is on the topic of being more environmentally friendly with our presentations. While PowerPoint presentations are seemingly all digital, they tend to generate a lot of paper with the handouts, speaking notes, and flipcharts that are used in many presentations. In my session I’ll be showing techniques to eliminate the paper associated with many presentations. One of the techniques I’ll be showing is a technique that I have started to use that eliminates the speaking notes that I would print for each presentation and then promptly recycle afterwards. Instead of printing 30-50 pages of notes, I now carry those notes on my iPad and no trees are sacrificed for the presentation. Here are two ways to create speaking notes that you can carry on a tablet or e-reader device, like an iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or any of the other similar devices on the market today. If all you need is a preview of the upcoming ...
  • Editing old graphs in PowerPoint 2007/10; Issue #237 June 7, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Editing old graphs in PowerPoint 2007/10 One of the major changes between PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2007 is the way that graphs are created. In PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions, graphs were created by using a module called Microsoft Graph. Starting in PowerPoint 2007, you now use Excel to create graphs, which makes more sense since most of the data for graphs comes from an Excel spreadsheet. The challenge is that the old graphs and the new graphs don’t have the same format. Even though they may look very similar, a graph in PowerPoint 2003 is very different than a graph in PowerPoint 2007. If you try to edit a PowerPoint 2003 graph in PowerPoint 2007, you will find that all of the new options are missing and you only have access to a limited set of options that mimics the older approach to creating graphs. You can recreate the graph from scratch, but that could be a lot of work. My suggestion is to convert the old graphs to the new format. Double-click on the graph in PowerPoint 2007 and ...
  • Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Images to Find Photos; Issue #236 May 24, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Images to Find Photos In my workshops, whenever I speak about using photos in a presentation, someone always asks about Google Images. It is so easy to find pictures using the image search function of Google, why don’t I recommend it? Because in almost every case, it is more risky than presenters could imagine. Why? Because photos are copyrighted and you can’t use them without permission. Let me share with you one of two examples I shared in my webinar in March to illustrate the risks. An advertising firm was creating a blog post for a client. They needed a photo, so they did a web search and found one that would work perfectly. The blog post got uploaded to the client site and everything was fine. Until their client received a letter from a lawyer informing them of the copyright infringement. The client was not happy. It ended up costing the advertising firm $4,000 to settle the case when they could have purchased a photo for around $10. If you want to read the ...
  • Prepare for Problems so you Respond, not React; Issue #235 May 10, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Prepare for Problems so you Respond, not React At a conference in February I heard Bo Boshers share a story of two groups who faced the same situation and had very different reactions. One group saw a potential danger and reacted by running away. The other group had been prepared for challenges and, when confronted with the same potential danger, was able to stand and respond. In this article I want to talk about how presenters should be prepared for problems so when they happen, we respond, not react. If you are going to do presentations, you will at some point face a problem with the equipment, room, technology, sound system, audience, or any number of possible things that could go wrong. When something goes wrong, will you react and panic, grasping the first thought that comes to you in desperation, or will you respond, having thought through possible scenarios in advance, and handle the situation gracefully? I believe it is your choice. To be prepared to respond, the first step is to think through what could go wrong. Make a ...
  • Formatting text in a table; Issue #234 April 26, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Formatting text in a table Two issues ago I wrote about how to format text on slides because text will always be a part of our slides. Today I want to take the topic further and discuss the formatting of text in a table. Tables can be a great way to visually show a comparison between two or more items. In many cases, that table will include text, so we need to format it properly to make it easy for the audience to understand the comparison we are presenting. There are some aspects of text formatting that work the same in tables as in text boxes. The most important is the ability to use tabs to format text into columns or align the text in a particular way within a table cell. As I talked about before, you can use four different tab types to achieve the text alignment you want. You can also use the text highlighting technique I described to make text stand out. Another similarity between text boxes and table cells is a feature that was added in ...
  • Using Exit animation to reveal a graphic; Issue #233 April 12, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Using Exit animation to reveal a graphic The last step in my five-step KWICK method from my book The Visual Slide Revolution is to Keep the Focus of the audience.  The best way to do this is to build your points or slide elements one by one on the slide.  This works if you have created the visual, but it isn’t so easy if you are using a graphic that was supplied to you.  This article is about using a technique to reveal a graphic piece by piece. Revealing a graphic is like what our teachers used to do with overhead transparencies.  They would place a piece of paper over the transparency, covering up what they didn’t want us to see yet.  They would slide the paper down to reveal each point as they spoke.  This gives the same benefit to the audience as building elements on the slide, so we can use this technique with graphics that have been supplied to us for our presentation. The first step is to position the supplied graphic on the slide.  Make it as big as ...
  • Text formatting tips; Issue #232 March 29, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Text formatting tips Last Friday I did a web based training session for a consulting organization and one of the issues we discussed was formatting text on slides so that it was easy to understand.  Even though I try to help people use visuals instead of text, I know that text will still be an important part of our slides.  So today’s article gives a few tips on making that text easy to interpret. Let’s start with a common issue I see on slides, improper use of hanging indents.  This happens when you want to have text on a slide that is not in bullet points, so you just click the bullet point format button to turn off bullet points in the default layout.  Unfortunately, PowerPoint removes the bullet, but does not remove the hanging indent, which causes the first line of text to hang off to the left of the rest of the text.  The audience wonders what is wrong.  One solution is to adjust the indent settings on the ruler to make the first line indent marker line ...
  • Quickly adding iPhone or iPad videos to your presentation; Issue #231 March 15, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Quickly adding iPhone or iPad videos to your presentation Last week the new iPad2 joined the lineup of popular Apple devices that have video cameras.  The desire to use those videos in our presentation is a hot topic.  One of my consulting clients will be using his iPhone videos this year to show testimonials.  I used my iPhone to demonstrate taking and using video in a recent CSAE presentation.  And I included the topic in last month’s webinar on Incorporating Video in Your PowerPoint Presentations. So how do you use video from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in your presentation?  There are four steps I want to cover in this article.  One important thing to realize is that you don’t need to use iTunes to get your video off your device.  This means you can take a video and use it even if you aren’t at your home PC that you use to sync your iPhone or iPad.  Here’s how you can use these videos in your presentation. First, connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and wait for ...
  • Equipment to carry when presenting; Issue #230 March 1, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Equipment to carry when presenting I was speaking at the CSAE Trillium Chapter Winter Summit last Friday.  I brought a lot of cables and equipment because I was doing a live demonstration of how you can create a video for your web site using visuals you create in PowerPoint.  I normally don’t carry that amount of gear with me, but I do carry more than just my laptop and remote.  In today’s article I want to talk about three pieces of equipment that help me present successfully when travelling. I carry a 12 foot VGA extension cable in the bottom of my laptop bag.  Why?  Because it allows me to place my laptop where I can see it and work with it regardless of how the AV staff have set up the projector connection.  Typically the connection for the projector is taped down to the lectern.  I don’t speak behind a lectern because it creates a physical barrier between the audience and the presenter.  Instead, I use my extension cord to move the connection to a nearby table or chair.  ...
  • Why presenters spend way longer working on presentations than they need to; Issue #229 February 16, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Why presenters spend way longer working on presentations than they need to One of the issues I am often asked about during my workshops is the length of time it takes to create a PowerPoint presentation.  Many presenters bemoan the hours and hours it takes.  When I inquire as to what they are doing in that time, there are two big issues that are usually contributing to the length of time spent on preparing a presentation. The first issue is that they tell me they spend a lot of time revising and reorganizing their presentation.  Is it because they always deal with incredibly complex topics?  No, the root cause is that they don’t spend time on structuring their message at the start.  If you don’t spend quality time thinking about what you are going to say, you end up doing that thinking during the creation process instead.  And your thinking gets interrupted by working on slides and takes much longer than it should. Instead, block off some time before you even touch the computer.  Use that quiet time to reflect on ...
  • Can you solve presentation problems by switching tools?; Issue #228 February 1, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Can you solve presentation problems by switching tools? Many people acknowledge that far too many presentations are not designed or delivered nearly as well as they could be.  So how can we solve this problem?  The solution, say some, is to change the tools we are using.  Throw out PowerPoint because it causes the problems, they claim.  Instead, they say we should use tools like SlideRocket or Prezi, or even switch over to Keynote on the Mac, as one organization did. So will this finally solve the problem once and for all?  I haven’t seen any evidence that this rush to change tools solves the problem.  I recently got to see my first Prezi presentation live.  Prezi is the latest hot presentation tool that has captured attention.  It allows for non-linear presentations where you scroll across a large canvas, showing each visual in whatever order you want.  In comments made to me afterwards, and my own impression, it was clear that the dizzying scrolling movement did not make the topic any clearer, and actually distracted from the message. In all of ...
  • Structuring a presentation that sells effectively; Issue #227 January 18, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Structuring a presentation that sells effectively In my consulting work, I recently worked with three different CEOs on presentations where the primary objective was to sell their ideas or services.  The reason an executive hires me to work with them on a presentation is not because I am a designer who creates fancy looking slides.  They hire me because I work on the content of their presentation to make it effective and create slides that support the message (if you want to see if I would be a good fit for your organization, read this page).  Today I want to share a few ideas on making sales presentations more effective. The foundation is to get a clear structure as the starting point.  Let me use one of the recent situations as an example.  I asked the CEO to answer the three key structure questions.  First, what do you want the Board of Directors to do at the end of the presentation?  While this sounds like an easy question, it took some discussion before we came up with the specific action he ...
  • Switch the focus from the data to the audience; Issue #226 January 4, 2011 PowerPoint Tip: Switch the focus from the data to the audience A few months ago I advised a senior executive at a research firm on an upcoming presentation.  Today I want to share the advice I gave her because it can benefit all presenters who are sharing data with their audience. This executive was about to present data to a client and the desire was that the client understand what that data meant to their business.  This type of scenario is common to many analysts and other professionals who present internally or to clients.  She was struggling with how to make the data make sense.  As we chatted, the key issue became clear. She was focused on the data, where it came from, how it had been collected, and proving that the data was accurate.  All important aspects to her, but not important to the audience.  The audience didn’t care as much about the origins of the data as it did about what that data meant to their business.  They cared about what directions the data suggested, what this data implied for their ...
  • Using Infographics on Slides; Issue #225 December 14, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Using Infographics on slides A popular visual today is an infographic.  What is an infographic?  Based on definitions online, I would say that an infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge that presents complex information quickly and clearly.  The infographic does not simplify the information, it just represents it in a clear manner visually. Here is an example I used in one of my slide makeovers: Many infographics are complex, which is why using them in a presentation can be a challenge.  Showing the infographic all at once on a slide can be overwhelming for the audience because it is too much information at once, even though it may be visual.  The audience feels overloaded and the presenter has a hard time explaining each part of the infographic because the audience has trouble following along. So how can you use an infographic you have been provided with on a slide?  Reveal it piece by piece instead of showing it all at once.  By showing only one part at a time, the audience can focus on what you are ...
  • Finding high-resolution logos and research graphics for your presentation; Issue #224 November 30, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Finding high-resolution logos and research graphics for your presentation If you have ever had to put a logo on a slide, you know some of the challenges that exist.  If it is your own logo, you probably have a high-res image easily available from your marketing department.  But if it is a client or supplier logo, now you’ve got problems. You can go to their web site and grab the logo from their home page, but it is usually small and low resolution.  When you try to resize it to be large enough for the slide, it looks chunky, and not a good representation of that organization.  You could search for the logo on Google Images, but you might end up with the old logo and be embarrassed during the presentation when they point that out. How do you get a high-res logo from their web site?  You need to know where to look.  Some organizations actually have a logo download page, but most do not, and you need to be a little more crafty in your approach.  In this tip, ...
  • Solve your presentation delivery problems; Issue #223 November 16, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Solve your presentation delivery problems After you have planned your presentation and created persuasive visuals, you need to prepare to present your presentation.  In today’s newsletter, I want to share some of the delivery tips I most often use when answering questions from participants in my workshops. I’ll start with a good presenter evaluation feedback form I featured earlier this year from Jim Endicott of Distinction Services that you can find here.  As you look at the specific items that Jim suggests we use to evaluate presenters, pay attention to those parts of each item that are underlined.  The underlined phrases are the measurement criteria you should pay attention to when practicing before you deliver your presentation. The equipment we use to present still seems to give some presenters a challenge.  Make sure you practice connecting your laptop to a projector if this is unfamiliar to you.  The key connections to focus on are the video connection and your remote.  Make sure you know how to toggle the display so that is shows on both the projector and your laptop screen (check ...
  • Tools for working with audio or video to include in your PowerPoint presentation; Issue #222 November 2, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Tools for working with audio or video to include in your PowerPoint presentation The latest version of PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2010) includes built-in audio and video editing tools that make it almost like a media editing software program.  But what about the vast majority of us who don’t have the latest version?  Today I want to share some of the tools I have used that will help you edit, convert and show audios or videos during your presentation, no matter what version of PowerPoint you have. The first tool is used to convert videos into the preferred PowerPoint format of WMV (Windows Media Video format).  It is called Any Video Converter and is available at www.any-video-converter.com.  When you go to download it at their web site, make sure you go to the free downloads page in order to get the free version.  I like this software because it is no cost, and does a great job of converting many different formats.  It even allows you to convert online videos from YouTube as well.  This is important if you are showing a YouTube ...
  • Creating a video of your presentation from your slides and an audio recording; Issue #221 October 19, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Creating a video of your presentation from your slides and an audio recording Today’s tip comes from some work I’ve been doing coaching a couple of professional speaking colleagues on how to create a movie of a presentation for use by their client on the web for ongoing training.  It is also one of the topics I’ll be covering in my Presentation Summit session today. To create a movie from your slides, you can go the high-end route and use software like Camtasia to record the slides and audio from the presentation as it is going on and create the movie.  But this is software that you may not have and you may not be allowed to purchase and install it on your computer. Instead, I’ve been showing them how to create a movie from an audio track and the images of their slides.  It starts with recording the audio for the movie.  The easiest way to record audio is using Audacity, a terrific free audio editor available here. Save your audio file as an MP3 file using the Export function in ...
  • An alternative to using video in a web presentation; Issue #220 October 5, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: An alternative to using video in a web presentation Earlier this year a professional speaking colleague called on me to help her with an upcoming webinar.  It was her first significant webinar for clients and she obviously wanted it to go well.  One of the elements she wanted to include in her presentation was a video clip that illustrated some of the ideas she wanted to communicate.  Today I want to share with you the approach I recommended that will allow you to get the benefit of a video clip without actually showing it during a webinar. Why not just embed the video on a slide and show it like you do in a live presentation?  On all the webinar platforms I’ve used video seems to be a big problem.  In my experience, video over the web does not work well when embedded on a PowerPoint slide.  It works better when played in a media player outside PowerPoint, but it still suffers from stutters due to the limitations of the bandwidth on a live transmission.  The reason watching videos like ...
  • How less on your PowerPoint slides makes it easier for you to communicate your message; Issue #219 September 21, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: How less on your PowerPoint slides makes it easier for you to communicate your message I was speaking with a new client recently about how they felt “free” when using the type of persuasive visuals that I suggest presenters create and use.  Here is her story and lessons that all presenters can learn. My client is a senior executive at a large firm and is regularly speaking to fellow executives and staff.  The typical slides used at this organization are packed with text, as are too many slides I see.  Bullet paragraphs detail almost everything the presenter is going to say.  When she presented with these slides, she said she felt fearful.  I wasn’t surprised. You see, when you have slides packed with information, it puts you in a cage as a presenter.  You have boundaries of what you can say based on what is on the slide.  The audience can see all these points and expects you to cover each point in the order it is on the slide and to the level of detail shown.  These slides set an ...
  • Deciding what data to show in your presentation; Issue #218 September 7, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Deciding what data to show in your presentation When a presenter dumps data on their audience and expects the audience to figure it all out, they are setting themselves up for disappointment.  The “data dump” presentation is not effective communication.  So if you’ve done a lot of analysis and the research to back up your points, how much of it should you put in to your presentation? Let’s start with why too many presenters think they need to include every piece of data in their presentation.  I think it comes from when we were in school.  Remember the teacher always saying, “Make sure you show your work.”  In school, the teacher needed to see all your work so they could evaluate whether you understood the material or not.  If you just show an answer, they don’t know how you got the answer and can’t be assured that you grasped the concepts they were teaching. But the workplace is different. As professionals, our presentations are not an attempt by our bosses to check if we know our job. They do that evaluation ...
  • Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 2; Issue #217 August 24, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 2 In the last newsletter we discussed options for pasting a summary table of results from Excel on a slide to present numerical information.  While showing a table of numbers is one option for presenting this type of data, it is not the only option, nor is it the best option in many cases.  Today I want to explain other best practices you can use to present numerical information from Excel. If you are showing a trend in some data or comparing a few figures, use a graph in PowerPoint instead of a table of numbers.  If you show a table of numbers and expect your audience to do the math to figure out the difference in magnitude between the numbers, they won’t.  Audiences won’t do the math.  Instead, use a graph to illustrate the differences in the numbers.  Don’t feel that you have to re-type the data and risk making a mistake.  Just copy and paste the data from Excel to the PowerPoint graph data table.  If you ...
  • Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 1; Issue #216 August 10, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Options for using Data from Excel on PowerPoint Slides – Part 1 Excel is commonly used to perform calculations or financial analysis.  I use it frequently for these purposes, as I am sure you do.  While Excel is a great tool for performing numeric analysis, it is not intended to be a presentation tool.  If you show a large spreadsheet on the screen, people get overwhelmed quickly and tune out. In a two-part series, I am going to share my best practices for using the information from our Excel analysis in a presentation.  In today’s first part, we’ll talk about using a table of numbers from the spreadsheet on a slide.  Next time, I’ll cover ways to use the data other than the copy and paste approach we’ll cover today. If you shouldn’t just copy and paste the entire spreadsheet on a slide, what should you do instead?  Create a summary table.  Any analysis we do should result in us answering a question that prompted the analysis.  How are this year’s results compared to last year?  How are results compared to ...
  • Using quotes effectively on your slides; Issue #215 July 27, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Using quotes effectively on your slides You want to use a quote to illustrate your point, so you type it out on a PowerPoint slide.  Like most presenters, you show the slide and immediately start talking about how this quote illustrates your point.  Unfortunately, the audience is still reading the quote while you are speaking, so they don’t hear your insights.  They come up with their own interpretation when they are reading the quote, which may not match what you wanted them to get out of it. When you are using a quote, you need to give the audience context before you show the quote.  They need to know the background, such as when it was said, under what circumstances, where was it said, who is saying it, why is this person important, what happened just before it was said, or why the person said it.  Giving context prepares the audience to interpret the quote in the right way. When you show the slide with the quote, pause, turn towards the screen and stay silent for the few seconds that it takes to ...
  • Why do presenters change the organization’s template?; Issue #214 July 13, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Why do presenters change the organization’s template? I had a conversation recently with a client who is looking to update their organization’s PowerPoint template.  The one they have now is out of date, but of more concern is that everyone seems to be creating their own slide design.  The organization’s branding is getting lost in the variety of looks that have no consistency. The modification of corporate slide templates is a common problem for many marketing departments.   As presentation coach Richard Petersen has said to me many times, most templates last about 30 minutes before someone in the field changes them.  The question is why this happens when so much work has been put into creating a slide look that is well designed and helps project a uniform image. As I explained to my client, I think that presenters change the slide template because they haven’t been told why decisions were made.  In my opinion, it is a failure to educate the presenters who use the template.  If they understood the reasons behind choices of fonts, colours, branding and positioning of ...
  • Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 2; Issue #213 June 29, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 2 Last time I gave the first six steps in a twelve step program for breaking the addiction that many presenters have.  They have become accustomed to packing their slides with text and data and mostly reading the slides to their audience.  They know others have somehow managed to use visuals effectively in presentations, but they need some help to break the habit. I hope these steps will help you or someone you know to start to make the changes that will help improve your presentations, and lead to even greater success.  These first six steps dealt with making a decision to change and committing to the work it will require, and you can read them here.  The next six steps, which is the focus of today’s newsletter, address how to make the change. I have asked for assistance to address my shortcomings.  Knowing that this will take time and effort, I have asked for approval at work and home for time and funding to get the training ...
  • Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 1; Issue #212 June 15, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Break Your Addiction to Ineffective PowerPoint Presentations One Presentation at a Time – Part 1 The twelve step program created by Alcoholics Anonymous has been used as a model for many people to break their addiction to alcohol, drugs and other destructive behaviours.  It has been adapted to many situations to deal with different problems people have.  I started thinking about these steps when I was considering how to stop people from creating and delivering PowerPoint presentations that are ineffective and damaging to their careers. So today I am giving you the first six steps of my twelve step program for breaking the addiction that many presenters have.  They have become accustomed to packing their slides with text and data and mostly reading the slides to their audience.  They know others have somehow managed to use visuals effectively in presentations, but they need some help to break the habit they have. I hope these steps will help you or someone you know to start to make the changes that will help improve your presentations, and lead to even greater success.  These first ...
  • Being too emotionally invested in your slides leads to less effective presentations; Issue #211 June 1, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Being too emotionally invested in your slides leads to less effective presentations I’ve spent some time thinking about the different reasons why presenters don’t create presentations that are as effective as they could be.  One of the reasons is that too many presenters start their preparation by creating their slides.  They spend a lot of time getting all the text and numbers just right on every slide.  And when somebody suggests a more effective visual approach, they resist, and end up using the original, overloaded slides. Why the resistance?  Because they are heavily invested emotionally in the slides they spent so much time creating.  It is human nature to resist changing something that we put a lot of time and effort in to.  We think that since we spent so much time on it, there is no way we are just throwing it out and starting over again.  Our emotions take over, and it has nothing to do with the rational logic that the new approach is better at effectively communicating our message. To help prevent this from happening, I always ...
  • How to create a consistent look when many sources are contributing slides to a presentation; Issue #210 May 18, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: How to create a consistent look when many sources are contributing slides to a presentation In a recent workshop, one of the participants raised the challenge they have when assembling slides from different sources in the organization into one presentation. They said that often you can immediately tell that the presentation has been drawn from different sources just by the look of the slides, even though they are all using the corporate template. I asked them what tips them off when they look at the slides and we came up with a list of items I want to share in this article. Look for these formatting and content aspects of your slides to make sure you create a presentation that looks consistent and not like it has been thrown together from different presentations. Length of bullet points: When some slides use a few words and other slides use full sentences, it is easy to tell that the source is different. Aim for an average of six words per bullet point and make sure that it is just a key idea, not ...
  • Use these two techniques to get the exact shape you want in a diagram; Issue #209 May 4, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Use these two techniques to get the exact shape you want in a diagram PowerPoint has a wealth of drawing tools that allow presenters to create a vast array of diagrams to illustrate their points. It is clear from the questions I get in workshops that many presenters are under the mistaken impression that you need to use fancy graphics software or illustration package to draw diagrams. Not at all. PowerPoint has all the tools most presenters will ever need. In this article I want to share two techniques that can be helpful in creating the exact shape you want for an illustration. The first situation is when you want to use shapes to illustrate the size of two items because you want the audience to see how much larger or smaller one item is compared to the other. Sometimes using proportional shapes is a better illustration than a graph. For example, you might want to show two rectangles that represent the size of a market in two different countries. You need the shapes to be properly proportioned because the ...
  • So what’s all the fuss about the backchannel?; Issue #208 April 20, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: So what’s all the fuss about the backchannel? A lot has been written recently about incorporating the backchannel into presentations. If you aren’t familiar with the term “backchannel”, it refers to comments people in the audience are sharing with the world via Twitter and other social media sharing sites. In my opinion, all this talk has little relevance for most presenters. Here’s why. First, in order to consolidate the comments about a presentation, Twitter users attach a hashtag to their tweet. Usually it is a tag associated with the event as opposed to each specific presentation. For example, all of the comments at last year’s PowerPoint Live conference were tagged with the #pptlive hashtag. This is now common with many large conferences. But that’s the thing. Only conferences assign a hashtag. There is no way every project update presentation, sales pitch, or training program in an organization is going to have its own hashtag. So for most presentations, the mechanism for consolidating comments doesn’t exist. And I don’t see most regular presenters creating a hashtag for every presentation they do. Second, ...
  • “You know, it’s just like…”; Issue #207 April 6, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: “You know, it’s just like…” One of the reasons that presenters don’t use visuals instead of text is because they don’t know what visual to use to explain the point they are making. Business professionals tell me all the time that they aren’t graphic artists or designers, so how can they come up with a visual? In my book “The Visual Slide Revolution”, I list 38 words or phrases and the clues they give as to what visual will work as a good replacement for all the text. Recently, I came up with an additional insight. I was preparing a workshop for a client and I realized how powerful the following phrase can be when thinking about visuals. We often use this phrase, “You know, it’s just like …” during conversations when we are trying to explain a concept, idea, process, object, or pretty much anything that the other person is not familiar with. We use this phrase to frame the new item in a way that is easy to understand for the listener. Let me break this phrase down into ...
  • Corrupted PowerPoint file; Issue #206 March 23, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Corrupted PowerPoint file I got a panicked call recently from a past workshop participant. She supports presenters who were out on the road doing a major presentation in venues across the country. Whenever they started the presentation, its gives them the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD as it’s known). It is likely that the PowerPoint file got corrupted. How could it have happened and what can you do about it? Here are some thoughts. The problem may have occurred because they are running the file from a USB drive. I always suggest that you copy your presentation from a USB drive to your computer’s hard drive for two reasons. First, it runs faster. Second, the file can get corrupt if you pull the USB drive out of the computer without properly ejecting it. Many people don’t properly eject USB drives and it can cause major problems. They also suggested that when they tested the presentation at the office, they had not tested it with the presentation remote. It is always a good idea to test with as close to the exact ...
  • Using diagrams created in drawing tools; Issue #205 March 9, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Using diagrams created in drawing tools In the last couple of months I’ve seen some new drawing tools come out that allow you to create your own diagram or drawing and use it on your slides. One was tweeted by Johanna Rehnvall, and is a program called Simple Diagrams at http://www.simplediagrams.com/home. The other is an online tool called Lovely Charts at http://www.lovelycharts.com that Donna Gunter wrote about in SpeakerNetNews. In both cases, you use the tool to create your diagram and then export it or output it to a graphic that you insert on your slide. Today’s tip is on what you do with that graphic to make it effective on your slide. One challenge with a graphic file is that it comes in to your slide as a single image. You can’t animate parts of it like you could if you built the diagram in PowerPoint itself. So when you present the diagram, it comes on all at once and you have to work harder to keep the audience’s attention focused on the part of the diagram you are ...
  • “How Many Slides?” is the wrong question to ask; Issue #204 February 23, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: “How Many Slides?” is the wrong question to ask I often get asked in workshops, “How many slides should I have for an x minute presentation?” And I’ve now come to the conclusion that this isn’t even the right question to be asking. In the past, when we put up a slide and spoke to it, we counted the number of slides. Today, I think the relevant measure is how many different visual impressions are used. By a visual impression, I mean something different on the screen for the audience to look at. For example, let’s say you have one slide and it has a headline and three images with text underneath each image. To explain each point individually, you build the slide so each image appears with the corresponding text. I suggest that you would then have four visual impressions: 1) the slide with just the headline, which introduces the topic you will be talking about, 2) the slide with the first image and text added, 3) the slide with the second image and text added, and 4) the ...
  • A method for effectively presenting a graph image from another program; Issue #203 February 9, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Drawing on top of graphs Graphs that you create in PowerPoint are easy to work with and present because you can animate them easily.  But not all of our graphs will be created in PowerPoint.  Sometimes we will need to use a graph that has been created in a graphics program and saved as an image file, posted on a web site or included in a PDF file.  We may also deal with technical graphs that are output to image files from special software programs.  We don’t want to, or can’t, recreate these graphs in PowerPoint, so how do we present them effectively? The problem with graphs that are images is that you can’t animate them. They are a static image and can’t be broken into series of data like you can with a graph created in PowerPoint. With a PowerPoint graph, you can build it piece by piece to explain the data one at a time. A graph image can’t be built piece by piece. You could try to recreate the graph in PowerPoint, and I have done that ...
  • Three helpful tips to use when creating and editing PowerPoint slides; Issue #202 January 26, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Little tips that make a big difference It is usually the little things in life that can make the biggest difference. Like a small change to our routine can help us gain more time for priorities such as family. And when using PowerPoint, sometimes the small tips make the biggest impact. When I was consulting with a CEO and her assistant recently, we covered some major ways to upgrade the visuals they were using. In addition to the makeovers that they will be incorporating, they found a few of the small tips I shared particularly useful. These tips are ways to use PowerPoint that, once you discover them, you see how valuable they will be to you. So today I am going to share the three tips that they found the most useful. The first tip is about how to preview your slide show without going into full Slide Show mode. To enter Slide Show mode, you can press the F5 key to start at slide 1 or you can hold the Shift key down while pressing the F5 key ...
  • Five slide project update presentation; Issue #201 January 12, 2010 PowerPoint Tip: Five slide project update presentation How many executives really want to sit through a 45 slide project update presentation? The one where the presenter details every little item and confuses the heck out of them? My guess is that no executives want to spend their valuable time that way. So what do you do instead? Today’s tip demonstrates how you can apply my ideas around more effective communication using persuasive PowerPoint visuals to a situation many of us are in. It doesn’t matter whether you are a formal project manager or just managing the projects that are part of your role, we all have to report on how our projects or initiatives are going. Let me suggest that you use only five slides to update executives on your project. “Five slides!” you exclaim. “That’s not enough to detail everything we have been doing!?!”. I know, but frankly an executive doesn’t care about the minutia, they care about results. Too often as presenters, we create presentations that show what we have been doing instead of what the audience really wants, which ...
  • Best slide ever; Issue #200 December 15, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Best slide ever While I was at the PowerPoint Live conference in October, I was interviewed by Ron Galloway, who is doing a documentary film on PowerPoint. Here’s how he describes the film: “Regarding Powerpoint” will attempt to put the program’s influence on business, education, and thinking into meaningful context. The film will be out early next year, but it is one of the questions he asked me that I want to expand on in today’s tip. Ron asked me, “What is the best PowerPoint slide you have ever seen?” I thought for a moment and came up with an answer that he wasn’t expecting. And it may be one that you’ll find surprising as well. I said the best slide was a black slide, where there was essentially nothing on the screen. Now that may seem like a strange answer, but let me explain why I said it. I believe that slides should only be used to enhance your message, not to take over your message. Too often, presenters make the slides the message and, in reality, the audience doesn’t ...
  • Sequence of Information matters; Issue #199 December 1, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Sequence of Information matters Research by Michael Posner reported in John Medina’s book Brain Rules shows why the typical sequence of information is not helping our presentations be as effective as they could be. I’ve been sharing this with my workshop audiences this year and I’d like to share it with you in today’s tip. The usual sequence is to methodically share every piece of supporting data we have in a logical order and present the conclusion after all the data has been shared. For example, a typical persuasive sales presentation would list each feature of the product or service and then present the conclusion that the product or service is the best to solve the problem at hand. So why is this not as effective as it could be? Because the audience doesn’t know where you are headed. By the time you get to the conclusion, they have forgotten the different pieces of data and don’t necessarily know how the data supports the conclusion. With confusion comes lack of action. Research by Michael Posner suggests that audiences recall better and ...
  • Issue #198 November 17, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: More results from the Annoying PowerPoint Survey Note: the latest survey results can be found here. I’ve already reported on what audiences find most annoying based on the survey completed by 548 people. The text overload epidemic continues and the number one annoyance again is the presenter reading the slides to the audience. I’ve now gone through the hundreds of comments that people wrote in – it took up nine pages of 10 point type! It is clear that the annoyances extend beyond just the overload of text. The comments did reinforce the text issue, with many expressing frustration at reports that are copied on to slides and read to the audience. But here are five more areas that presenters need to address in order to improve their presentations. Poor Presentation Skills The comments were very clear that this is a big issue. One respondent captured it well when they said, “The presenter lets the technology, not the content, become primary.” Audiences get annoyed when the presenter places more importance on the slides than the basics of communication, such as ...
  • Issue #197 November 3, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Top Ideas from PowerPoint Live I’m back from PowerPoint Live and today’s tip is about the top ideas I learned while at the conference. First off, the conference is changing its name. It is now known as The Presentation Summit, reflecting the evolution of the content beyond just software features to many other techniques and ideas that presentation professionals need to know about. The next conference is Oct 17-20, 2010 in San Diego. I went to an excellent session by Echo Swinford on creating templates in PowerPoint 2007. She gave a clear workflow to follow and explained how we can create a theme in PowerPoint that can carry colors and fonts over to Word and Excel for even greater consistency in our communications. I see so many problems with templates designed by professional designers who don’t know the secrets Echo shared. Echo is going to create a series of video programs that every marketing, design and presentation professional should watch to save themselves and their colleagues hours of frustration in working with templates. I’ll let you know when the ...
  • Issue #196 October 20, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Results of the Fourth Annoying PowerPoint Survey The message from my biennial survey of what annoys audiences about bad PowerPoint presentations is that audiences are fed up with the overload of text on slides and how that text causes presenters to read the slides to them. A total of 548 people responded to the survey over a six week period. Can we trust those who responded? I sure do. Over 65% of them said they see more than 100 presentations a year, so they know what they like and what is annoying. In the survey, I list twelve annoyances and ask people to select the top three. Here are the details of the top five things that annoy audiences about bad PowerPoint presentations. The percentages refer to what proportion of the responses listed that item and the percentages don’t add up perfectly since some people selected more or less than three. The speaker read the slides to us 69.2% Text so small I couldn’t read it 48.2% Full sentences instead of bullet points 48.0% Slides hard to see because ...
  • Government Photos you can use; Issue #195 October 6, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Government Photos In almost every workshop that I do, someone asks where you can get great photos to use in your presentation. I always mention Microsoft’s online library of images that is accessible through PowerPoint, stock photography sites such as istockphoto.com and pictures you take yourself. Today I’d like to discuss another source that is available free of charge in most cases. Governments have staff who take photographs as part of their jobs, and many times these photos are quite good. Fortunately, these photos also belong to the government and the various departments and agencies have generously made a lot of these photos available for use without charge. You do have to read their licensing terms, but it normally just asks that you include a short source description at the bottom of your slide in small font. Here is a photo of a sunrise in Alaska from the NOAA Photo Library listed below (taken by Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps). The availability of these photos varies from country to country, and today I’ll use the US government as the example of ...
  • Issue #194 September 22, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Upgrading from PowerPoint 2003 to 2007 I am planning to buy a new laptop next year after the new Core i7 chipset comes to laptops. One question I am struggling with is whether to load the 2007 or the 2003 version as my primary Office version. I still plan to load both versions and run one of them via a virtual machine as I do now so that I can demonstrate the proper version in my workshops. But the primary Office version will be the one I work in most of the time. I am currently running Office 2003 as my primary version. Why would I run a version that is at least six years old? Because my surveys show that most corporate clients are running Office 2003 and a number are running even earlier versions, like 2000. The cost of upgrading is one expense that many organizations are putting off until the economic situation changes. But an even bigger cost is the cost of retraining because the user interface is so different between Office 2003 and 2007. If ...
  • Issue #193 September 8, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: What’s new this fall Summer is over for those of us who have kids. Our kids started back to school today and I know many others started back in the last few weeks. As children all over the world start discovering new ideas and embark on new learning adventures this month, I wanted to let you know about what is new for you this fall. First, I’ve launched a new version of the seven day e-course that all new subscribers to the newsletter receive. It has been totally rewritten and the focus is on helping your PowerPoint presentations be more effective. It includes the latest ideas I have been working on and has links to resources for more detailed information. If you’d like to check it out (and I suggest you do), you can access all the lessons at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/ecourse. Next, it is time to do my survey on what annoys you about bad PowerPoint presentations. I’ve done this survey every two years since 2003 and it always forms the basis of much discussion and insight. The chief reason ...
  • Creating a customized Excel presentation; Issue #192 August 25, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Creating a customized Excel presentation Recently a presenter called who wanted to know if PowerPoint could accept inputs and do calculations while in Slide Show mode. While this is far beyond the capabilities of PowerPoint, I was able to help with an idea that I want to share with you today. If you are doing a presentation where you want to enter inputs, such as financial figures, and show the audience the result of calculations in real-time and possibly as a graph, this technique will enable you to do so. It leverages PowerPoint’s ability to hyperlink to another file type and have that file open in the proper program. In this case we will use Excel and have it function almost like it is PowerPoint, hence the title of this tip being an Excel presentation. Here’s how this works. First, set up an Excel spreadsheet that has the inputs at the top of the sheet. Format the sheet so the font is large enough to see when projected, usually at least 18 or 20 point. If you want to show the ...
  • Issue #191 August 11, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Confirming your colors have enough contrast Recently I commented on a blog post regarding colors that are used on slides. The writer had made some suggestions on colors to use or avoid based on the color wheel used by graphics professionals. While this is a good first level approach, we have all seen slides that are unreadable due to the choice of colors. I don’t have a design background, and I am guessing you are probably like me. How can we make sure that the colors we choose will be seen easily? The most important factor in making slides readable from a color perspective is not whether you choose a light or dark background. It is whether the colors you choose have enough contrast with each other. You can choose a white background and if you use light pink letters, your audience won’t see the text. Similarly, you can choose a navy blue background and if you use dark green text, it’s as good as not even there. In many workshops, people often point out that they can’t select ...
  • Issue #190 July 28, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Capturing screens and using on slides Last week I was presenting to a conference of educators in Washington, DC and the topic of screen captures came up. Some of the sample slides they sent for my workshop makeovers contained screen shots that could be improved, so today I’ll share some tips on capturing the screen and using it on your slides. This is helpful when demonstrating a web site, showing how to complete a form in Word, or any other application you need to show during your presentation. There are at least four ways to actually capture the screen, depending on what software you have. The first two methods work in any version of Windows. By pressing the PrintScreen key (sometimes abbreviated to PrtScrn or something similar), Windows captures the entire screen and copies the image to the Windows clipboard, allowing you to paste it on your slide. If you want to capture only the current application, say your browser without seeing other applications or the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, hold down the Alt key and ...
  • Three techniques to save time creating or editing PowerPoint slides; Issue #189 July 14, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Time savers when editing slides We all want to be as efficient as possible, so today’s tip shows you three ways I use to save time when creating and editing my workshop and conference PowerPoint slides. They might be new ways to use features that you already know or features you didn’t know PowerPoint had. Read, enjoy and use them to create your next presentation in less time. Format Painter – This tool allows you to format a series of objects, whether they are text boxes or shapes, using the same attributes such as font face, font size, fill color and a number of other attributes. Here’s how it works. Format one of the objects exactly how you want it to look. Select this object. Click on the Format Painter toolbar button that looks like a paintbrush. It is on the default Standard toolbar in PowerPoint 2003 and on the Home ribbon in PowerPoint 2007. Then, to apply this format to another object, click on that object, even if it is on another slide. If you have a lot of ...
  • Keyboard shortcuts when editing slides; Issue #188 June 30, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Keyboard shortcuts when editing slides In past issues on the newsletter, I’ve shared some tips on keyboard shortcuts you can use when in Slide Show mode. If you missed some of the past issues or want to remind yourself of those tips, click here. Today I’ll share a few keyboard shortcuts to use when creating and editing your slides. One of the tips I share in my workshops that most people tell me is new information to them, is how to break a line at a specific word when writing a headline (or any text). Just press Shift+Enter (i.e. hold the Shift key down and press Enter). This is different than simply pressing the Enter key, which gives you a new paragraph. The Shift+Enter key combination breaks the line and uses the line spacing instead of the paragraph spacing. It may look pretty darn similar on your screen, but line spacing is smaller than paragraph spacing and that difference will appear much larger when projected to a big screen in a boardroom. Another tip I share in my workshops is to ...
  • Three steps to reformat a presentation with a new slide design; Issue #187 June 16, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Reformatting a presentation Often in my workshops, someone shares how they struggle when trying to merge slides from different presenters into one presentation or when they have to reformat a presentation using a new slide design. What should be easy turns into a nightmare with content moving all over the place and hours spent reformatting each slide by hand. In today’s newsletter I want to share a few tips that can help when you find yourself in this situation. The first thing I suggest you do is check the Slide Layout of the existing slides. This is the one area that causes more problems than almost any other area. Unfortunately, most presenters don’t know that they should select the appropriate layout when they create a slide. They just use the default bullet point layout and delete or move items until they get the slide they want. The problem is that once you apply a new design to a slide, it wants to use the underlying layout and it moves things back to where they are supposed to be. So, before ...
  • Issue #186 June 2, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Equipment to carry when presenting When I travel to deliver customized workshops or speak at conferences, I carry the normal equipment for a presenter: my laptop, presentation remote and projector if required. In today’s tip, I want to share with you a few of the other pieces of equipment I carry that come in handy when travelling. I know all of these are perfectly OK to carry on an airplane since I regularly have my laptop bag searched when going through security. The first item I carry is a VGA extension cord. Mine is 15 feet long. It allows me to move my laptop away from a podium or projector. Too often, A/V people position the cord to connect the laptop to the projector in places that cause a problem as a presenter. One common setup is the cord taped to a podium, which I never use because it creates a barrier between the audience and myself. The other common situation is a short cord right beside the projector, which is blowing hot air right into my laptop, overheating ...
  • Getting the audience excited before your presentation; Issue #185, May 19, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Getting the audience excited before your presentation This is the description for the session I will present at the Annual Conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) next month in New Orleans: “Too many HR presentations look like the text of a manual was copied onto the slides. How can you create persuasive visuals when you aren’t a graphic designer? This session will show you a five-step process for creating persuasive visual slides that allow you to present in a conversational manner.” Why do I share it with you? Because it illustrates how we can get the audience excited about our message before our presentation even starts. If you are presenting before colleagues or managers internally, in front of prospects and clients, or at conferences as I do, you want the audience to walk into the room positively anticipating what you will say. You can achieve this with a well-written description of your presentation that is included in a program, agenda or brochure. I have learned a lot about writing descriptions of my work from the world of direct ...
  • Handout that is not a slide printout; Issue #184 May 5, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Handout that is not a slide printout Recently I delivered a one hour concurrent session at a conference. Obviously I can’t deliver the same amount of information in one hour that I can in my customized full-day workshops for organizations. When I do a shorter presentation, I also consider whether I need to take a different approach to my handout. Normally in my half-day or full-day workshops, my handout is a printout of most of my slides so that the audience doesn’t have to write down every point I am making and has the space to take notes on how they will implement the ideas I am sharing. Many people take these notes and keep them beside their desk for quick reference whenever creating a presentation because they have enough detail to act as a memory jogger about what I discussed. With a one hour presentation, I take a different approach. I don’t view it as a training session, but more of an overview of ideas with a few details. It is not a scenario where people will be taking detailed ...
  • Being prepared for computer failure; Issue #183 April 21, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Being prepared for computer failure Last month I had an experience that I wish you never have – my computer operating system got corrupted. Of course, this happened a few days before I flew to Los Angeles to do a post-conference workshop at an association conference. I caused the problem by disconnecting an external hard drive while the computer was hibernated without properly ejecting the drive first. You have probably been told not to do this with USB flash drives, trust me, heed the warnings. I am pretty much back to full speed with my laptop, so I can now share the lessons I learned from going through this experience. Lesson #1 is to always have a full backup of your system. I have an automatic image backup run every morning while I get ready and have breakfast. An image backup allows me to recover everything, including the operating system, if the hard drive crashes. I also use an online backup system that saves any changed data files every few minutes during the day so that my data is always ...
  • Plan the follow-up to your presentation to increase the impact of your message; Issue #182 April 7, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Plan your follow-up Is your presentation done when you stop speaking and the audience has left the room? It shouldn’t be. Research published in the book “Brain Rules” by John Medina shows that people remember the information better if they are re-exposed to it after your presentation. This means that your presentation should consist of the time you have with the audience plus a planned follow-up to reinforce your message. So what does a planned follow-up look like? You can plan to send one or more follow-up e-mails to the audience members to remind them of some of the key ideas and direct them to more resources or implementation ideas. You can prepare a special report extending the ideas and mail it to the audience members two weeks after the presentation. You can schedule a conference call or web meeting to answer any questions that have come up. Or you can create a series of videos to reinforce your message and make them available over the web. Let me share what I have changed in my approach to presentation follow-up. In ...
  • Issue #181 March 24, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Different uses for the tool PowerPoint is used as a tool to create many different outputs: projected slides, flipbook presentations, reports and even memos. Last week during a session in Los Angeles, I suggested that although there are different outputs from the same tool, there are a number of things that are common when using PowerPoint to create clear communication. No matter what output you will be creating, it needs to be structured so that it makes sense for the audience. Before you start using PowerPoint, determine what your presentation goal is, where the audience is now, and what points you need to make in order to move them from where they are to where you want them to be by the end of the presentation. The second common aspect is clear design. Your slides need to use colors that have enough contrast so that the audience can easily see them, the font you use needs to be big enough to be easily read, the slides need to be uncluttered and the focus of the design should be in ...
  • Handling mistakes on slides; Issue #180 March 10, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Handling mistakes on slides Last week I made a mistake on a slide and someone noticed during the session. I had typed the 13th of the month instead of the 10th in a visual. How did they know I was wrong? Because the explanatory text on the slide and what I said were not consistent with what my visual showed. This happens to all presenters, no matter how careful we are. The key is how you respond when someone points out the mistake. Unfortunately, this seems to rattle some presenters. If you are a little nervous, this could throw a big wrench in your wheels. But don’t worry. It is actually a good sign when people are asking questions like this because it shows they are interested and have a desire to better understand your point. So what should you do? First, pause a moment to determine whether what they are saying is correct. You may even want to ask them to explain what they see as incorrect because you may not be able to see the error. This can get ...
  • Issue #179 February 24, 2009 PowerPoint Tip: Using FLV videos in PowerPoint There are two types of video files that do not work well in PowerPoint for Windows: MOV QuickTime files and FLV Flash video files. In a previous newsletter I dealt with how to play QuickTime videos in PowerPoint (if you missed that issue, click here to read it in the archives). Today I will deal with Flash video files. Flash video is the most popular video format on the Web because virtually every browser has the Flash player installed and the video plays automatically. You may have a Flash video file on your web site that you’d like to use in your presentation, but you will run into two problems. First, how do you get the video off the web and on to your computer. Second, how do you get the video file to play in your presentation. Let’s address each of these. To get the Flash video file off the web and on to your computer, you may need to follow one of the following methods. If you can right-click on the web ...
  • Issue #178 February 10, 2009 Don’t misinterpret Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint: In a blog post at http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html, Guy Kawasaki says: “Before there is an epidemic of Ménière’s in the venture capital community, I am trying to evangelize the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.” Ever since this blog post, commentators have used it to justify a call to reduce the number of slides in all types of presentations. But I think most of these commentators are misguided. Let’s look at what Kawasaki actually said. He said the rule applies to venture capital presentations and “any presentation to reach agreement”. OK, hands up, how many of you are almost always doing presentations where you expect to reach an agreement in that meeting? What, almost no hands up!?! Exactly my point. Most of the presentations that ...
  • Using Motion Path Animation; Issue #177 January 27 2009 PowerPoint Tip – Using Motion Paths One of the features of PowerPoint that has the potential to annoy the most is the animation feature, where you can make elements of the slide move. It is annoying when the animation does not add to the message being delivered. Having every bullet fly in may look “cool” as a presenter, but audiences find it annoying. Probably the worst use of animation I have seen was on a slide from a salesperson. They were showing the prospect the inside sales team that would be supporting the prospect after the sale. The slide had the four people in the group, with their picture, name and areas of expertise. To build the slide, the salesperson had each of the head shot pictures bounce in to place. It made the staff look totally unprofessional! I asked the salesperson if they had ever shown those four people how he presented them to prospective clients. After a long pause, he changed the subject. So why would you want to use movement animation? Because sometimes it explains something better than you could ...
  • Issue #176 January 13 2008 PowerPoint Tip: What’s in your Deleted Scenes special feature? Recently I was watching a movie on DVD with my family. As with many DVDs today, it included a special feature with Deleted Scenes. As the director usually explains, these scenes were originally shot with the intention of being in the movie, but during the editing stage, they found that the scene did not move the story along or develop a character in the way that they thought it would. Since it wasn’t a strong enough scene, it was cut. In your presentations, what would be in the Deleted Slides special feature? Too often, that special feature would be blank. I see many presentations where the presenter should have cut some slides and material that wasn’t strong enough in moving the audience to understand the message. But they left in every slide and the presentation has dips where the audience loses focus during a weak spot. Not cutting out material also leads to presentations that are longer than they need to be. I rarely, if ever, hear a complaint that a presentation ...
  • Issue #175 December 23 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Where to get inspiration for slides We are about to celebrate Christmas at our house and many of you are celebrating this or other special occasions at your home during the holidays. One of the best loved parts of this time of year for our family is the light and holiday displays seen at so many houses and parks. We make it a tradition to drive down one particular road Christmas Eve on our way back from my parents’ house because of the great displays they have. What do holiday lights have to do with your presentations? More than you may initially think. You see, holiday displays and your presentations both need to have visual appeal, and we can learn from some of what we observe at this time of year and, in fact, any time we see visual artists at work, whether it is outdoors, in the theatre or in a studio. One idea from a holiday display we saw this weekend is how to simulate movement of an object on a slide. The light display was one ...
  • Issue #174 December 9, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Take time to update your slides In the next few weeks as my travelling starts to slow down and I have more time in the office, I’ll be doing something that I suggest you do as well. I’ll be reviewing and updating the slides that I use in my workshops. Today’s tip is about why you should update your slides and how to do it. In my book, The Visual Slide Revolution, and in my teaching, I suggest that you can cut your preparation time dramatically by using a library of standard slides that will cover about 70-80% of the material you normally deliver. But you can’t just create the slides once and assume that they will last forever. I suggest at least every six months you freshen the slides with new ideas. This way, it keeps your material current and it keeps your delivery fresh because you are always integrating new ideas. Where will these new ideas come from? From your experience. In the past six months, go back and see what slides you have created to customize ...
  • Issue #173 November 25, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Please don’t speak to the screen It happens far too often. It happened again last week – speaking to the screen instead of the audience. We are in the process of attending high school open house nights in order to figure out which high school will be best for our son. The first one we attended last week was for a school that has an international curriculum and one of the areas they said they stress is communication. So the coordinator stood and faced the screen as she spoke, usually reading what was written on each slide. At least she used a microphone so we could hear her. Why does this happen so often and what can we do about it? In this newsletter I’m covering some more strategies to use so you can avoid speaking to the screen. I gave some strategies six weeks ago, but it seems like more are needed. First, let’s look at why it happens. There are a number of reasons, but most common are the inability to see what is on the screen ...
  • Issue #172 November 11, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Shortcut keys when presenting In the workshops where I cover the topic of presenting your persuasive visual slides, one of the areas that gets the most interest is the shortcut keys you can use while you are delivering the presentation. In today’s tip I want to alert you to some of the most useful shortcuts and when you would use them in a business or professional presentation. Probably the most useful key when presenting is the “B” key. Why? Because it allows you to toggle to a black screen at any time. Why would you want to hide your wonderfully created slides? Because sometimes the greatest power comes from the audience focusing only on you. Take away the visual, and they focus more intently on what you are saying. Any time the visual is not relevant to what you are saying, like in a story or when you are answering a non-related question, press the “B” key on your keyboard to make the slide disappear. The “B” stands for the colour “Black”, so if your operating system and PowerPoint ...
  • Where to get PowerPoint help; Issue #171 October 28, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Where to get PowerPoint help When I am giving workshops, participants will often ask me how to accomplish a specific task in PowerPoint. I’m not a technical expert in all the minute details of PowerPoint, but I can answer most of their questions. For those who haven’t been in a workshop yet, I’ve put together short “how-to” videos available here to help out. But where do I go to figure out a question that I don’t know the answer to? Today’s tip will point you to the same sources I use for technical help. First stop is the PowerPoint FAQ list at http://www.rdpslides.com/pptfaq/index.html . It is created and maintained by Steve Rindsberg, one of the Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs. If you are having a problem with PowerPoint or are wondering how to do something specific, chances are Steve or one of the other MVPs who contribute have already written an article on it. If it has to do with an error message or a technical issue, I head over to the Microsoft support site at http://support.microsoft.com. This allows you to narrow your ...
  • Issue #170 October 14, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Stop looking at the screen What is so darned interesting on the screen? That’s what I was asking myself at a recent conference as I saw speaker after speaker looking at the screen repeatedly during their presentation. It’s not like anything had changed on the screen – it wasn’t that they had put up a new point or moved to a new slide. They just regularly looked at the screen. It was almost like they were wondering if the screen was still there or what was displayed had changed without them initiating it. I got to thinking why they would be doing this. I think it is because they needed to remind themselves what point they were discussing. If this is the case, let me suggest some better ways to go about making sure you cover what you need to for each topic in your presentation. First, position your laptop so that you can see it when you are facing the audience. If you need to sneak a peek at what is on the screen, look at your laptop ...
  • Issue #169 September 30, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using photos when telling stories Last week at the PowerPoint Live conference, more than one speaker emphasized how important it is that we tell stories when we are presenting instead of reading slides full of text or data. I agree with them and this issue I want to talk about how we can enhance our stories by using photos. What a photo can do is transport your audience right into the story with you. Photos work at an emotional level, which is where stories work as well. With the detail of your stories, you help the audience form an image in their own mind and feel what you felt when the story happened to you. A photo helps take the audience there more rapidly and makes it more real. Here are some examples of photos that can transport your audience. If you are talking about a location, such as a field of flowers or a busy city, a photo can take them there. If you are talking about a time of day, like sunrise or late afternoon, photos take ...
  • Issue #168 September 16, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Going green when creating presentations Last newsletter we looked at ways to be more environmentally responsible when creating handouts for our presentations. This time we’ll look at some tips when developing our presentations. 1. Plan before you create The more time we spend at the computer, the more electricity we use. So, instead of starting your presentation by sitting at the screen and typing away, spend some time planning the structure of what you want to say first. Let me share an example with you. Yesterday I finished my slides for my presentation next week at PowerPoint Live. But earlier this month I sat down with some sticky notes and outlined the structure and what support I needed for my main points. When it came time to create my slides, I spent less time at my computer because I had already outlined what needed to be on my slides. Not only does this save on the electricity you use, but it saves you time and lets you get on to the things you’d rather spend your time on. 2. ...
  • Issue #167 September 2, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Going green with your presentation handouts In this issue of the newsletter and the next issue, I’ll be sharing some ideas on how we can all be more environmentally responsible when it comes to preparing and delivering our presentations. Today I’ll cover what I consider to be the biggest area of potential savings – handouts. Next time I’ll cover some tips on creating our presentations. Here are some tips to help you be more environmentally sensitive when using handouts – and they will probably save you money as well. 1. Print four slides per page Too often presenters print handouts using the three slides per page format with lines beside each slide. In addition to being less visually dense and easier for audience members to take notes on, the four per page option can use up to 25% fewer pages. 2. Print using Pure Black & White The default when printing slides with a colored background on a black and white laser printer is “Grayscale”, which converts each color to a shade of gray and uses a lot of ...
  • Issue #166 August 19, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: What to look for in a web presentation service Next month I am presenting at PowerPoint Live on how to design and deliver a web based presentation and the differences from a presentation where the audience is in the room. I was looking back at the webinar I did for SpeakerNetNews that covered some of these topics and one area I am not going to cover at PowerPoint Live is the area of selecting a web presentation service. So I’m going to share some of my thoughts on that topic today. The objective today is not to convince you to lean towards one particular service or another. It is to give you some criteria to consider when you have to make that decision. With the cost of travel by any means increasing rapidly, we will all be doing web- based presentations in the future. If you are already using a web conference service, this may help you evaluate if you are getting the best value from who you currently use. Criteria #1 – Cost Structure There seem to be ...
  • Issue #165 August 5, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using a Venn Diagram One of the types of visuals that I review in my workshops is the Venn diagram. These diagrams were created in 1881 by John Venn as a way to represent relationships in the branch of mathematics known as set theory. The basic Venn diagram used in presentations shows two partially overlapping shapes, usually circles or ovals, and text to show what belongs to only one shape and what is common to both shapes. Why might you want to use it in your presentation? Here are two situations where it helps clearly explain your point. The first is when you are trying to show an overlapping relationship. It could be amongst roles, departments or product features. The key message is to show how some elements of each individual role/department/product are unique and some are the same as the other role/department/product. The Venn diagram makes these distinctions visually clear for your audience. A second situation is when you are showing the intersection of ideas. A common example right now is to show one circle that represents efficiency ...
  • Create professional looking diagrams by using techniques that line up things perfectly; Issue #164 July 22, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Align & Distribute for consistency On one of the makeover slides I created for a workshop I am giving tomorrow, I created a Gantt chart to show the implementation timeline for the service that was being sold. When you are creating a timeline by hand, it is important to space out the time periods evenly or else the visual does not look correct to the audience. To make it easier, I used a feature that is one of the subjects of today’s tip – the distribute feature. Aligning, having multiple objects lined up at the top, bottom or along one side, and distributing, having multiple objects evenly placed either horizontally or vertically are two important tasks that are hard to do by hand. If you have ever tried to arrange multiple pictures on a wall lining up the right edges or the tops, you know what I am talking about. This has always proven stressful for me as my wife expects me to be able to measure, nail the hook in and everything to be perfect. But few of us ...
  • Issue #163 July 8, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Summer Reading List for Presenters With the early July holiday over for those of us in the U.S. and Canada, it is the official start to summer. Many of us will be taking some time off in the next two months and today I want to share with you my recommendations for a book to take with you to the lake, camp or wherever you might be spending a few days relaxing. I know that you want to take a fiction book with you to escape from the daily grind of work. And you should take such a novel. But if you also want to pack a business oriented book, I’ve got four that I suggest you consider. The first is a book I read a few years ago and is by the man who has done probably more research in the area of using multimedia to teach than anyone else. The book is “Multimedia Learning” by Richard E. Mayer. While this is an academic book and a little drier than you might like, it does contain valuable insights ...
  • Issue #162 June 24, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Playing Quicktime videos in PowerPoint When you start incorporating video in to your PowerPoint presentations, you will likely hit one of the roadblocks that many presenters find frustrating. It has to do with video file formats. There are many video file formats. Some of the most popular ones you will see are AVI, WMV, and MOV. The problem is with the last file format, the MOV format. It is the Quicktime format created by Apple. It is a good format for quality and size of file, but it unfortunately does not work well in PowerPoint on Windows. The reason the MOV file format is so common is that it is the default format on Apple computers. But if you are working on a Windows machine, why should that matter? Because almost every video editing or production company uses Apple computers for video work. They are usually much better at that task. And your video company is likely going to give you an MOV file as the final output. If you try to insert it like any other video in ...
  • Issue #161 June 10, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: When to give handouts Many times you will give a handout with your presentation. It is often a copy of your slides, but it can contain other documents as well. I recently posted an article on my web site that talks about some best practices for creating handouts. The full article is at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/creatinghandouts.htm Today I want to deal with one of the most contentious questions I get when it comes to the topic of handouts. When do you give out the handout – before or after you speak? Some will argue that you always give it out after you speak. They say that if you give it out before, people can read ahead and know what you are going to say. If everything you are going to say is on your slides, this is true. But you know that my philosophy is that your slides should be visuals that guide a conversation with the audience, not a transcript of everything you are going to say. So my approach is to give a handout before I speak. I have ...
  • Issue #160 May 27, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Distributing your presentation in PDF format More and more presentations or handouts are being distributed in PDF format so that they can be viewed on any system and look the same. I always provide my clients with a PDF handout so that when they print it, I know it will look the same as when I created it. Those who receive the PDF file can then easily e-mail it to others who did not attend the presentation. Today’s tip gives you four ideas on how you can make a PDF copy of your presentation be more than a simple printout of your slides. Note that these ideas require you to have a full copy of Adobe Acrobat, not just the free Reader application. But if you are going to create PDF documents, you probably have the full Acrobat already. If you want to have your audience (and I use the term audience to mean anyone who is opening the PDF file to review it) look at more information on a web site, add a hyperlink to a slide. There ...
  • Issue #159 May 13, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Learn From Great Presentations One of the best ways to get better at presenting is to watch other presenters who are better than yourself. It is a time-tested principle that is true in many endeavors, be it sports, music or business: watch the best and learn from them. Today I want to point you to a web site that contains the audio and many times a written transcript of what scholars have deemed to be the top 100 speeches of the modern era. The web site is http://www.americanrhetoric.com/newtop100speeches.htm and is a great source of material for being inspired at how spoken words can literally change lives. I encourage you to visit the site, bookmark it and visit regularly to spend time listening to the greatest speeches of our time by people like Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, FDR and many others. As you listen to their speeches, pay attention to the following as points to remember and incorporate when you speak. The first thing you will notice about every one of these speeches is the passion ...
  • Issue #158 April 29, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using PDF files during presentations In my latest article that has been posted to the web site, I talk about how we can increase interaction in our sales presentations. I talk about the difference between a lecture style of presentation (one-way communication only) and a more interactive presentation. I then give four ways to get the audience involved to have more of a conversation. One of the ideas is to hyperlink to a PDF document, and that’s what I am going to expand on today. The full article is at: http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/increasinginteraction.htm . When you display a brochure in the Adobe PDF Reader, it usually opens showing the full page, which is usually far too small to be able to read or explain. So what you will need to do is zoom in on the area that you want the audience to focus on. You can use the percentage zoom drop down list, but the zoom is focused on the center of the page, which may not be where you want to zoom in on. Instead, click on the ...
  • Issue #157 April 15, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Using Hyperlinking Last newsletter I pointed you to an article on designing presentations for delivery via a web conferencing system. Today I follow that up with an article on delivering that presentation via the web facility. The full article is on my web site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/deliverwebsalespresentation.htm (if the link doesn’t work because it is too long, just go to the articles page on the web site and you’ll see it there) In today’s newsletter I want to expand on one of the topics in the article. Too many times when we want to bring content from outside PowerPoint into our presentation, we see a distracting technique used. The presenter exits their presentation, we see them start up another application, find their file, open it and then continue. There is a much cleaner way to do this – hyperlinking. In PowerPoint, you can add a hyperlink to any text or shape. By selecting the text or shape, you can then click Insert – Hyperlink in PowerPoint 2003 or PowerPoint 2007. You will see the options for hyperlinking to files or ...
  • Designing and Delivering Non-Linear Presentations; Issue #156 April 1, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Designing Non-Linear Presentations Yesterday I posted a new article on the site that gives best practices for designing sales presentations to be delivered over the web. Web delivery of presentations is growing rapidly and these tips will help your next web presentation be a success. At http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/designwebsalespresentation.htm you can read the full article. (if the link doesn’t work because it is too long, just go to the articles page on the web site and you’ll see it there) In today’s tip I want to expand on one of the ideas I mention in the article: non-linear presentations. Whenever I discuss this in my workshops it is one of the ideas that my audiences find the most intriguing. You can deliver a non-linear presentation in person or over the web. Let me start by recapping what it is before I give you some tips when planning to present this way. A non-linear presentation is one where you give the audience control of the sequence of topics. Instead of going through the topics in the order you have planned, you give them a ...
  • Issue #155 March 18, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Video Best Practices This past week I posted a new article on the web site about best practices when using video clips in sales presentations. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling an idea to your boss or selling a multi-million dollar package of products and services to a client, video can be a great addition to your presentation. In the article, posted on the site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/videoinsales.htm I talk about four best practices that you should follow when adding video to your PowerPoint presentation. In the newsletter today I want to expand on a few of the ideas I shared. In the article I talk about how one of the easiest ways to capture your own video is to use the video mode of your digital camera. It used to be that there was only one video mode, but most cameras today have multiple settings. The question is, What resolution should you use? The best compromise between quality and file size is usually 640 x 480, known as VGA resolution. It looks good when projected and keeps the ...
  • Issue #154 March 4, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Photo Best Practices Last week the Presentation Xpert newsletter published one of my new articles on using product photos in sales presentations. If you want to read the full article, you can go to http://editor.ne16.com/htmleditor/viewOnline.asp?FileID=147429 Today I want to expand on a couple of the ideas in the article. One of the tips I shared is to resample your photos before inserting them on a slide. This is something I have discussed before and the purpose is to keep the file size small while maintaining high quality photos. One question that also comes up that I didn’t discuss in the article was what file format to use when saving pictures to be inserted on a PowerPoint slide. Most digital cameras save photos in the JPG format, which is a compressed format that maintains quite good quality. If you get professional photos taken, they may be provided in the TIF format, a high quality format that is not compressed much. My suggestion is to use the JPG format to save photos before inserting them on slides. It gives you good ...
  • Issue #153 February 19, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Radio station WIMTT Have you been listening to radio station WIMTT lately? What? You aren’t familiar with that station? Worried that it doesn’t broadcast in your local area? Well it is available in every local radio market in the world and it is the single most important station for presenters to listen to. The programming is key to effective presentations, but far too many presenters ignore the valuable content it provides. What is station WIMTT? It is a radio station you don’t listen to with a traditional or satellite radio. It is a station you listen to with the radio in your head. The call letters WIMTT stand for “What It Means To Them”. The focus of your presentation is the audience, and if you aren’t listening to their needs and desires, your presentations will fail. Don’t spend your time thinking of what you want to say, spend your energy thinking of what your points mean to the audience. Look at things from their point of view, not your own. Excited about a feature of your product? They don’t ...
  • How to determine if the font on your slides is big enough; Issue #152 February 5, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Is Your Font Big Enough? One of the questions that comes up often in my workshops is “How big of a font should I use?” The answer is … It depends. You certainly don’t want to do what I have seen twice in the past 18 months. These two presentations have set the record for smallest font used on a slide in my experience. They used a five point font. No, that is not a typo. Five (5) point! And they expected the audience to be able to read it. So how do I answer the font size question? I did the research to come up with a way that I could determine an appropriate font size. I started by considering visual acuity. This is the term used for how well we see. It is what the optometrist measures using the eye chart that starts with the large “E” at the top and smaller lines below. They determine your visual acuity based on how tall a letter you can clearly see at what distance. It is important that we have the letters ...
  • How to make slides that are accessible for those with hearing or sight impairments; Issue #151 January 22, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Making Accessible Slides Last year I worked on a project for my publisher, Prentice Hall, that was interesting and highly informative. The topic was how to make PowerPoint presentations accessible to those who have hearing or sight impairments. It is a requirement on some college campuses and we would all do well to be aware of some of the ideas in order to be able to make our messages accessible to everyone in our audiences. In today’s article, I want to share some of the key techniques for making your PowerPoint slides accessible. Not only will these ideas help when you have someone who is visually or hearing impaired in your audience, but in many cases the suggestions will make your slides clearer for everyone. First, pay attention to the design of your slides. Make sure you have selected colors that have enough contrast. Someone who has trouble seeing needs a high degree of contrast between text or shapes and the background. Use the Color Contrast Calculator to check the contrast of the colors you select. Use sans-serif fonts that are ...
  • Issue #150 January 8, 2008 PowerPoint Tip: Identifying Possible Visuals This is a milestone issue for the newsletter as it is the 150th issue. And I’ll take this occasion to announce that my next book is scheduled to be ready mid to late February and will be available in both e-book and printed formats. The topic is how to create persuasive visuals. More on the book in future newsletters, but today’s tip is one of the topics I discuss in more detail in the book. One of the biggest obstacles I hear to creating visuals instead of text on PowerPoint slides is that people don’t know what visual to create for the point they are making. They think that you need a degree in graphics or need to be a really creative person to come up with the appropriate graphic for different situations. I disagree. I suggest you listen carefully to the language you use to describe the point that you are making. The words or phrases you use will give you all the clues you need. No degree required. Anyone can do it. Let’s look ...
  • Issue #149 December 11, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Animation Using Reveals Recently I needed to animate parts of a graph. I tried the animation tools in PowerPoint, but they would not allow me to reveal the parts of the graph the way I wanted to. If this happens to you when wanting to reveal parts of a graph or a graphic, here is an option to consider. The technique involves thinking in a different way. Instead of the normal approach of animating each element to come on to a slide, this approach reveals the elements that are already on the slide, but are covered up by other elements. It is like we used to do with overhead transparencies when we would cover part of the transparency up with a piece of paper and reveal each point by moving the paper. There are two ways to implement this technique. The first is to begin by saving the background as an image. Then, add this image to the slide. Size it so that the image covers up the entire slide (it now looks like the slide has nothing on ...
  • Issue #148 November 27, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Smaller imported PDF images Earlier this year I shared a technique for including PDF content on a PowerPoint slide. In issue 135 on May 29 I showed how the capture tool in Acrobat can be used to move content from a PDF file to a slide (see http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/archives.htm for this and all back issues). If you are including a lot of PDF content, you may have seen your file size grow. One way to reduce the size of PowerPoint files that contain graphics is to use PowerPoint’s built-in feature to compress graphics. I have used this to compress files up to 96%. But this does not seem to help when you have these PDF images in a PowerPoint file. If file size is of critical importance to you because you need to e- mail the file to others, you may need to use a modified technique that will allow a smaller file size. Here are the steps you would follow: 1. Capture the PDF content using the Acrobat capture tool as you normally would. Make sure that the capture ...
  • Issue #147 November 13, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Wide screen laptops Almost every laptop sold today is a wide screen model. The native display resolution is great and allows you to put applications side by side when working. The problem is that most projectors are not wide screen and are lower resolution. This can cause frustrating display problems for presenters when the higher resolution is sent to a projector that doesn’t handle it very well. There is something you can do about this potential problem. In PowerPoint, you can set the Slide Show Resolution to be different than the regular resolution that your laptop normally uses. This is helpful because now you can output a resolution that is more compatible with projectors and have less issues when presenting. This setting is in the Set Up Show dialog box. I set my Slide Show Resolution to 1024 x 768, which is commonly known as XGA resolution and is the most common native resolution for projectors in use today. What this means is that when I switch to slide show mode, my display switches to the XGA resolution and ...
  • Issue #146 October 30, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Text Heavy Slides Annoy Audiences Survey Says In the third Annoying PowerPoint Survey that wrapped up a week ago, the major conclusion is that we are suffering through an epidemic of overloaded text slides – and we are not happy about it. The survey results point to the need for presenters to increase the use of relevant visuals to replace text and allow more of a conversation with the audience instead of a recitation of the slide text. When asked to select the top three things that annoy them about bad PowerPoint presentations, the respondents cited the following as the most annoying: The speaker read the slides to us – 67.4% Full sentences instead of bullet points – 45.4% Text so small I couldn’t read it – 45.0% While the top ranked issue has not changed in the three surveys (previous surveys were done in 2003 and 2005), what stood out clearly this time was that the top three annoyances all relate to overloaded text slides. And the rest of the annoying characteristics were ranked well behind these top ...
  • Issue #145 October 16, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Visual Slide Definition This past week I created a new definition of a visual slide that captures where my position is different from some others. Here is my definition: “A visual slide is not the absence of text; it is the presence of a visual that encourages a conversation with the audience.” Now some people have stated that PowerPoint slides should never have text on them – visuals only. And we have all seen the paragraphs of unending text on too many slides. I think those are the two ends of a spectrum. While it is important to know where the extremes of the spectrum are, I am not sure living there is the best approach. I prefer something in the middle. In my definition, I deliberately chose to define a visual not by what is missing, but instead by what is present that is of greatest value. Let me explain. A visual is not of value simply because there is no text on the slide. The lack of text does not add to the benefit that the audience ...
  • Starting with a standard set of slides speeds presentation creation; Issue #144 October 2, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Standard Set of Slides One of the ways to spend far less time creating PowerPoint presentations is to create a standard set of slides to draw on when creating your presentations.  Why is this such a good idea?  Let me share why I use this technique to drastically cut down on the time I spend creating each new presentation when I speak at a conference or deliver a workshop. One objection I hear regularly to this idea is that having a standard set of slides eliminates the opportunity to customize presentations. And today you need to create custom presentations if you want to survive in the highly competitive business marketplace. I agree that you need to customize, but having a standard set of slides doesn’t hinder your ability to do so. By a standard set of slides what I mean is a set of slides that covers the majority of the common ideas that you present. It is not intended to be restrictive. It allows you to have a library of slides you commonly use to save time creating every new, ...
  • Issue #143 September 18, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Throw out some slides Like most professionals, you are an expert in your field and you are asked to speak on the same or similar topics frequently. To save the time of recreating all your slides from scratch, you have a file that you usually use and it works pretty well. Let me encourage you today to throw some of those slides out. Why? Because I know (and you do too) that you have improved and you can think of more effective ways of presenting certain points. So why keep using the same old slides? Throw out the ones that don’t work and create new slides. Your whole presentation will get better as a result. Every few months I do this for my slides. About two months ago when the last revision was made, I threw out over 50 slides. Why? Because there was a better slide that had been created or I had newer material that was stronger than the points on that slide. Let me give you a couple of examples. I eliminated some slides in the ...
  • Issue #142 September 4, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Ideas from 5,000 years ago We can learn valuable lessons from how humans communicated 5,000 years ago. At that time, formal written language was not well established, so how did people communicate? They used pictures and stories. They drew a picture on a cave wall and told the story of what was depicted, whether it was hunting, family relationships or other important ideas. One of the ideas I’ll be sharing at the Think Outside The Slide workshop later this month in Seattle is what we can learn from this method of communicating. Today, let me share a high-level lesson learned by thinking about communicating through cave drawings. Some people might refer to cave drawings as primitive. I am not sure I agree. I think what people even back then realized, is that visuals are powerful communication vehicles. So they drew with detail and used vivid colors. They did it so well that the drawings still exist today. Once the drawing was complete, they told the story of the event they depicted. The story referred to the drawing, but added ...
  • Issue #141 August 21, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Create a custom image As we start to move towards using more visuals in our presentations, we have the desire to create better and better graphics. And this is good, as long as better does not mean more complex. We need to keep them simple and meaningful for the audience. Does this mean we have to hire a graphic designer though? I don’t think so. Many times we can create custom images for our slides by combining multiple elements to create a new image that shows exactly what we want to communicate. And combining elements is easier than it sounds. Let me use an example from a recent client presentation. The client wanted to explain how two competing ideas needed to be balanced in order to achieve the optimal result. Instead of stating it simply as text bullet points, I created an image by combining text and a photo. I took a photo of an old balance scale, the type they used in shops a hundred years ago. Then, I added semi- transparent text boxes on each of the ...
  • Issue #140 August 7, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: The Value of Preparing Early When you travel, it is almost inevitable that you will see someone working on their presentation in the airport waiting area or on the airplane. Inevitably, they will get off the plane, jump into a rental car and drive to a meeting room where they will present that set of slides. By leaving the preparation to the last minute, you don’t give yourself four advantages that preparing early gives you. First, when you prepare early, you leave yourself time to let the ideas percolate in your mind. You can review your presentation without being rushed and make revisions. This makes your presentation better. Presenters regularly tell me that they thought of a great way to present an idea after the presentation and wished they had thought of it before they presented. By preparing early, you give yourself the time to think of these great ideas. If you have ever arrived at the presentation site and realized that you have forgotten a cord or piece of equipment, you know the next advantage of preparing early. ...
  • Issue #139 July 24, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: How Many Features Do You Need To Know? Recently we had a family picture taken on my wife’s side of the family. We assembled at her parent’s house and a photographer we know, Larry, came to take the picture outside. Everything went exceedingly well – the weather was perfect and smiles abounded. After we were done, we all went back into the house for refreshments. One of the reasons we have used Larry in the past is his ability to touch up a photo using Photoshop. He and I were talking about this in the house after the photo shoot and I had assumed that he was a Photoshop expert user. Turns out he only really knows the eight or so functions that he needs to make photos look amazing. As I thought about it later, that makes perfect sense. I teach that you don’t need to know every feature of PowerPoint, only the ones to be effective at presenting in your role. That’s why most top presenters only use about 20-25% of the features at most. It’s also ...
  • Use a map to show geographic relationships; Issue #138 July 10, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Why Not Use a Map? If you have geographic based data to present, it is important to organize it into a logical manner for the audience. Usually this means organizing it left to right in west to east order so that the data on the slide is the same order as the regions or territories would be if you looked at a map. Typically this will be a column graph with the western data starting on the left moving to the far right where we find eastern data. A recent client slide from a Canadian client is a perfect illustration. They were showing market share in each region. They used a column graph and had one bar for BC, one for Alberta, one for the Prairies, one for Ontario, one for Quebec and one for the Atlantic provinces. It was a well designed slide. But it could have been even more effective. When showing market share, a pie chart is a great visual because the proportion is instantly clear to the audience. But how do you create a pie graph ...
  • Issue #137 June 26, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Research on Slide Titles In the newspaper recently I saw a short mention that a study was done recently that showed that a sentence as a title of a PowerPoint slide was found to be more effective. So I did the research and found the paper that this report was based on. And as is all too common, the reporting greatly simplifies what the paper really said. It is a paper that discusses what the authors call “Assertion- Evidence Slide Design” (the paper is online at http://www.writing.eng.vt.edu/slides.html). This is basically an approach that uses a sentence as the title of the slide and a visual as evidence to support the assertion made by the title. In their tests, they compared the effectiveness of slides using this design method to slides with short phrase titles and bullet points only. They found a significant increase in understanding with the slides that used their design. Not a surprise I must say. But here is where the reporting went astray. The report suggested that the conclusion is that the title change was ...
  • Four tips to make it easier when collaborating on the creation of a presentation; Issue #136 June 12, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Collaborating on Presentations In my consulting work, I get a chance to collaborate on developing presentations with people in many different geographic locations. Sometimes it is face-to-face and other times it is done virtually. Collaborating on presentations instead of doing it yourself is becoming more common. Today I have some tips for making collaboration work no matter if you are in the same room or oceans apart. Tip #1 Get on the same version If at all possible, everyone should work on the same version of PowerPoint that will be used to present with. I had a situation earlier this year with a client where their older version of PowerPoint did not support some of the animation and transparency features that I had used in designing the slides. In this case I had to design down to the version they were using. Tip #2 Use viewer if necessary One solution to different versions of PowerPoint being used is to use the PowerPoint Viewer to be able to see the presentation as it has been designed. The Viewer is available for download from ...
  • Capture part of a PDF document for use on your PowerPoint slide; Issue #135 May 29, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Use PDF Capture Tool I’ve worked with two clients recently who produce a lot of material in Adobe’s PDF format for marketing purposes. This is quite common today as more companies switch from printed materials to online versions that can be printed as needed, downloaded from a web site or e-mailed. Marketing departments spend a lot of time creating these materials and you should take advantage of their work in your presentations. While you could ask for the source file so that you have all the graphics, charts, tables, etc., that’s not usually the easiest approach. Since most of the pages will have been created in high end page layout software, you will be getting files that you likely would have a hard time using. The easier approach is to use the PDF version of the document. With a PDF version, you always get it looking the way the designer intended it to look and don’t have to worry about having a fancy graphics program to read it. And most of the time it is easy for the designer to ...
  • Issue #134 May 15, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Use Gantt chart for Timelines In a number of presentations that I have worked on for clients they want to show a timeline of events as a background for their comments. It may be developments in the industry, evolution of a competitive landscape or as simple as external world events that influence their situation. This proves to be a bit of a challenge for many since often these events are not point in time events but are developments that may have taken months or years to occur. Some have used a bulleted list with each bullet containing a date and the text of the event or development. The challenge with this format is that it does not make it easy to get a sense of overall timing because the gap between the dates in the list may not be consistent. It also does not allow for an easy way to show how long something took if it developed over, say, 2 years. Another attempt was to have a timeline of years through the middle of the slide and ...
  • Issue #133 May 1, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Beyond Templates Many of you will be familiar with the idea of using a template to give your slides a common look. A Master Slide sets the background color, text colors and fonts and any branding on the slide. This way, every slide has a consistent look and the audience is not distracted by changing slide appearances. Some organizations take this idea one step further and create a style guide. Your template is one part of a style guide, but it goes further than just the look and feel. A style guide can contain elements such as: 1) Guidelines on when to use different slide masters If you are creating presentations that have distinct sections, such as a workshop, seminar or longer session, you may want to create multiple slide masters so that the graphical look indicates to your audience what this slide is about. For example, you may have one slide look for the start of a section and another slide look for introducing an exercise. This type of graphical cueing can increase the engagement of your ...
  • Issue #132 April 17, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Finish Strong, Not Long You have heard it said many times that the most important parts of your presentation are the start and the end. Presenters spend time thinking about how to introduce their topic and engage the audience. Certainly important to do. But too many times presenters end their presentation weakly, leaving a poor impression that sinks their presentation despite what they had said earlier. The most common ways to end a presentation are also the worst possible ways to do so. I see way too many presentations finish with a slide that says “Questions?” or “Thank You!” in big bold type in the center of the slide. This is the worst way to end your presentation, especially if you are doing a persuasive or sales presentation. Why? By saying “Thank You”, all you have done is thank them for sitting through your presentation, where do you go from there? If you end with “Questions?”, you have just invited the audience to question what you have told them. It suggests that they should have questions about your ...
  • Issue #131 April 3, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Color Contrast Calculator One of the most common audience complaints about PowerPoint slides is that the presenter picked colors that don’t have enough contrast. This means that text, lines, shapes or graphs can’t be seen well on the slide and the message is negatively affected. If you don’t have a background in design, how do you ensure that the colors you have chosen have enough contrast? This same complaint was made about early web sites, so the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created a standard that tests the contrast between two colors. There are actually two tests. The first is for color brightness contrast. This measures the difference in brightness between two colors. The second test is for color difference, which measures the difference between the attributes of two colors. Both tests are calculations that use the Red, Green and Blue (RGB) attributes of the two colors to determine if there is enough difference between the two colors. The RGB attributes of any color are easily seen in the Custom tab of the color selection dialog box when ...
  • Issue #130 March 20, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Ideas for More Visuals I have been talking recently to more and more clients about how to get away from text or number filled presentation slides and move towards using visuals to represent the ideas we are sharing. This ranges from sales staff to finance professionals to admin assistants. Today’s tip is a web based resource that can help stimulate your thinking about what visual could represent the point you are making. The web site is a project from some academics who are studying ways to represent concepts visually and it is an interesting site. The specific page I suggest as a resource is at: http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html . This page contains a large number of potential visual ideas organized into categories based on the periodic table of elements (there’s the academic influence showing through). Notice that they have organized the visual methods (as they term them) by color to represent what you are trying to visualize (data, concept, strategy, etc.) and they have added letter colors and symbols to further categorize the methods on the basis of process vs. ...
  • Issue #129 March 6, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – What The Audience Really Needs Too many times presenters assume they know what their audience needs. And too many times they are wrong. I remember a presentation I did a couple of years ago where I made this mistake. I had a conversation with the person who had booked me and I felt that I knew what they wanted. I prepared my presentation but as I was on the stage, I could see that I wasn’t hitting the mark. And the evaluations showed it. A few months later a fellow professional speaker reinforced for me the need to dig deeper to find out what the audience really needs. So now I regularly use online survey tools to find out what topics the audience wants me to cover and I structure my presentation accordingly. The past two weekends I spoke in Nashville and Las Vegas for the same organization. And the presentation was so successful because of my preparation, specifically my audience research. When they asked me to speak, I suggested that we do an online survey of the ...
  • Issue #128 February 20, 2007 PowerPoint Tip: Protecting Your Slides from Changes You have spent a long time getting your slides just right – everything is in place, colors work, animation builds to emphasize the key points and visuals speak louder than text. Now you have to send it to a colleague or distribute it to others. The risk is that all that work will be for naught when someone else decides to change something on the slide. I have spoken and done consulting in the investment management industry where compliance is a large concern and the risk of slides being changed is a real threat. Other industries have similar compliance risks. Even if you don’t have a compliance issue, the risk of your carefully crafted message or visuals being altered and an important client not getting the right message can be even more scary. Just telling people not to change the slides doesn’t work. There are a couple of things you can do to reduce or prevent changes. First, use the grouping feature to lock the positions of graphical elements. I use this for callout ...
  • Issue #127 February 6, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Taking Pictures for use in PowerPoint Photographs are becoming more and more common in presentations and for good reason. Photos can cut to the emotion of a point far better than text or clip art ever can. And with the popularity of digital cameras, it is now easier than ever to use our own photos as part of our presentations. When you are taking photos, keep these ideas in mind. 1. Frame the photo Most photos have the subject of the photo, whether it is a person or an object, in the direct center of the frame. It is often more interesting to have the subject off center in one of four spots in the frame. Imagine the frame of the photo is divided by four lines into nine boxes like a tic-tac-toe board. Try to have your subject at one of the spots where the lines of the grid intersect. This will make for a more interesting shot and put the subject in context with the background. 2. Make sure the subject is in focus With our photos projected ...
  • Issue #126 January 23, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – Using Hyper-links One of the topics I discussed in a presentation on future trends in presentations last month was the use of hyper-links to create non- linear presentations and include other content in our presentations. The ability of PowerPoint to link to content within or outside the current set of slides allows you to create and deliver a more flexible presentation customized to what your audience needs at that moment. Let’s look at some of the options hyper-linking gives you. 1. Link to a slide in your presentation By linking to another slide in the existing presentation, you are able to jump between topics in the order that the audience wants to hear them. This is usually done by creating a menu slide and then giving the audience a choice of where they want to go from there. It can also be used when an audience member asks a question that you have anticipated and you jump to a prepared slide for the answer to that question. Then you can jump back to where you were in the presentation. 2.Link ...
  • Issue #125 January 9, 2007 PowerPoint Tip – How Attitude Affects Your Presentation When you are presenting, certainly your message and key points are important. But perhaps as important is your attitude towards your audience and your material. Attitude is not something that most of us consciously consider on a daily basis – but perhaps we should. I am sure we have all seen presentations that suffered from a lack of interest in the topic by the presenter or contempt for the audience by the presenter. In either situation, the presenter may have tried to hide their true feelings, but the audience can pick it up in an instant. I have been thinking more about attitude since I have been reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s new book “Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude”. Jeffrey is someone I have admired for a number of years for his straightforward style and his approach to business. It doesn’t hurt that he started switching to visual slides for his presentations years ago, well before many others were thinking about it. This book is about how you can create a Yes! attitude in ...
  • Issue #124 December 12, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – The most likely cause of video failure Last week when I was speaking at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers Convention in Vancouver, one of the trends I talked about was the increasingly common expectation of audiences to see multimedia incorporated into presentations. On the Oprah Winfrey show last week viewers saw Al Gore go through some of his slides on global warming and one of the reasons his presentation is so effective is that he integrates visual media so well into his story. While incorporating video seems straightforward, there is one problem that comes up more often than any other. You create the presentation on your computer and then send it or move it to another computer that you will present from. You go to show the video or play an audio track and it doesn’t work. In most cases it is because the link is an absolute link instead of a relative link. Let me explain. When you insert an audio or video clip it actually doesn’t insert the media file, it links to where the ...
  • Issue #123 November 28, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Detailed Handouts without Packed Slides One reason presenters pack slides with too much text and information is that they claim that since they will be printing the slides as their handout, they will need the audience to have the detail for future reference. But what happens is that the barrage of information on the slide overwhelms the audience and the presentation is a failure. There is a better way. Instead of overloading text on your slides, design a slide file that has both detail slides and properly designed visuals that can serve both show and print purposes. Here’s how you can do it. For each topic, create two slides. The first one you will display during the presentation and it should be visual, not packed with text. The next slide should contain any detailed information you want the audience to have to refer to after the presentation. This second slide will never be shown during the presentation. It is there for printing purposes only. Then, for each of the detailed slides, click on Slide Show – Hide Slide. ...
  • Issue #122 November 14, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Downside of Dashboards One of the recent trends in executive presentations is to create what is know as dashboard slides. A dashboard slide is a way for executives to get a quick view on projects, initiatives, financial or other measurements of interest. It is usually designed to have a red, yellow or green light beside each item indicating the measure of that item against a standard. In some organization they have even created these displays on internal web sites so the displays are updated in real time. While this sounds like a good idea, I have two key objections to the way most of these slides are created. First, if you ask a presenter how the color has been calculated, i.e. what constitutes a green, yellow or red, they can’t answer your question because they don’t know. Someone programmed a set of calculations on a spreadsheet or in some other tool that spits out the color rating for each item based on a complex formula of factors. The presenter simply reports the rating. This does not serve executives ...
  • Issue #121 October 31, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Scary Slide Mistakes Today is Halloween for many and it brings to mind thoughts of scary things. I want to share with you today some of the scary mistakes I have seen presenters make so that you can avoid these mistakes. Is there text there? – When I was working on a presentation for a client in the travel industry once I came across a slide for a ski resort that demonstrated what not to do when putting text on a picture. The slide had a gorgeous picture of a snow covered mountain top – but then they put white text on top of the picture. Of course the letters on the snow disappeared, leaving a confusing partial phrase. The lesson here is that the best way to add text to a picture is to use a semi-transparent screen behind the text so the text has a contrasting color to make it stand out. Where’s the exit? Let me out now! – A lesson in presentation structure was illustrated brilliantly by an agenda slide that I saw. This ...
  • Issue #120 October 17, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Equipment Failure If you are going to use PowerPoint to present, at some point in time you will have to deal with the equipment failing. You may not have had this happen to you yet, but you will. Even though the equipment is far more reliable than it was when I started presenting with computers and projectors over 10 years ago, it is not perfect. And I like to say that it is not a matter of “if” you will experience equipment failure, it is only a matter of “when”. That’s why I am doing a webinar this Thursday on handling problems during your presentation. The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what happens, you need to keep going. The audience is there to hear your message and they expect you to deliver it no matter how many equipment problems occur. This means that you should be mentally and physically prepared to deal with various types of failures, from projectors to computers to sound systems and every other component you use. I have ...
  • Issue #119 October 3, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Customizing tricks The days of canned presentations are over. Oh, they’ve been over for a while now, just some presenters haven’t realized it yet. So how can you quickly customize your presentation to exactly what the audience needs with little effort each time? Use these two simple tricks. First, many presenters have a large file of slides and select only the ones they want for each presentation. This is a smart idea. But instead of copying out the ones you want each time, here is another approach. Hide the slides you don’t want to show. To hide a slide, right-click on it in the list of slides on the left side of the screen. In the sub-menu that appears, click on Hide Slide. You will now see the slide number in the list has a diagonal line through it. This means that the slide is still there, but it will not be shown in Slide Show mode. This way, you show only the slides you want without a lot of effort. If you are going to print the ...
  • Issue #118 September 19, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Equipment Connections In my webinar this week on Setting Up for a Worry Free Presentation, one of the items I will be covering is how to connect the equipment you will need for your presentation. I’ll go into more details on the webinar, but want to outline some of the most important basics today. The two most important pieces of equipment you will likely be using are a projector and your computer. The most obvious connection is to connect the display port of the computer to the display input of the projector. This is usually done using a cable that connects to the VGA port of the computer and a computer input port on the projector (sometimes a VGA port and sometimes a special port for that projector). Two other connections seem so obvious that they are usually taken for granted – the power cords for the projector and the laptop. While it may seem obvious, I have seen people struggle to figure out why the projector isn’t working when it was simply the cord not being plugged ...
  • Issue #117 September 5, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Photo Entrance Loop Summer is over for most as the kids are back in school and we look forward to the last third of the calendar year. I hope many of you were able to take some time off in the last few months to recharge and rest up. Most people take photos while they are on vacation and with the popularity of digital cameras, the number of photos we take has exploded. We were away for 20 days last month and took almost 2,000 pictures! With digital pictures being so easy to take and select the best to show others, why not think of using a loop of digital pictures as an entrance show for an upcoming conference presentation you are involved in. Fall is a prime time for conferences and if you are speaking at one or helping prepare someone’s presentation, this is a way to make the presentation stand out from the start. What I mean by a loop is a set of say 10-15 photos that automatically change from one to the next and ...
  • Issue #116 August 22, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Graduated Color Backgrounds One of the most popular ideas I shared on my webinar last month about creating your own custom PowerPoint template was to use a graduated background instead of a solid color. I find graphics in the background, such as pictures or logos, too distracting – and so do audience members based on the surveys I have done. If the background is too busy, people focus on the interesting details in the background instead of on your content. So a clean background is better. But many people commented that a solid color background was a little too flat and boring. And I agree. So I suggest a graduated background where the color at the top gradually changes to the color at the bottom. While this is a better idea than a flat color, too many times I have seen the color choices make a graduated background look worse than any distracting picture could ever do. Think green graduating to red and you get the picture. The trick to picking two colors to use in a graduated ...
  • Issue #115 August 8, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: Making Your Point Stand Out with a Photo As I have written many times before, using pictures can illustrate your point much better than words in some cases. Just be sure that when you use a picture, the point is clear. A recent slide reminded me of this. The presenter was using a picture that covered almost all of the screen. It showed 3 objects, two incorrect examples and one correct example. The difference was very slight and in terms of the large picture, the section of difference in each object that the presenter was emphasizing was perhaps 10-15% of each object. The presenter verbally pointed out the differences and the audience had to figure out where on the picture the difference was shown. I suggested some changes that made it much clearer for the audience to tell what the difference was and made the point much stronger. I took the one picture and broke it into three pictures, one for each example. For each example, I zoomed in on only the section of the object that was being ...
  • Issue #114 July 25, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: The Challenge with White Backgrounds I am often asked what color background someone should use for their PowerPoint slides. Many organizations use a white background because it prints well. That’s fine if you only print your presentations, but if you will be projecting your presentation, a white background can cause problems. Here are a few observations from a recent presentation that used a white background. The room was well lit, and turning down the lights wasn’t really an option since it would have made the room too dark for the audience to stay awake. Strong room lighting washes out colors, so the text color, even black, appears washed out and harder to see when using a white background. Second, a white background is the dominant color the audience sees, which is quite bright and can tire their eyes, making it harder for them to devote their full attention to you and your message. And finally, it is very hard for a projector and screen combination to create a true white color (it is one of the hardest colors to ...
  • Issue #113 July 11, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: What to look for in a travelling projector I have been asked twice recently about what specifications or features I would consider when purchasing a projector to take with you to present to small to mid sized groups (2-100 people). Since this is likely of interest to more than the two people who asked, I thought I would share my response in case you are considering a similar purchase. There are three criteria I stress above others: 1) 4 lbs or less weight – you will notice & feel every ounce as you carry this equipment in airports or in buildings. Don’t let anyone tell you that a 5.5 lb projector is just a little more than a 4 lb one – it is almost 38% heavier and your arm will tell you after only a few trips. 2) minimum of 2,000 lumens brightness – lumens is how they measure how bright a projector is and with at least 2,000 lumens, you will be able to present in almost all lighting situation without having to turn down any lights. ...
  • Issue #112 June 27, 2006 25 Time Saving Tips E-book As you know, all of the past newsletter are archived on my web site. But many of you don’t have time to search the over 100 issues for time saving tips. So I did it for you and have produced a 16 page summary of what I believe are the top 25 tips that will save you time when using PowerPoint – some even I had forgotten. And I have decided that it will be my gift to you. Just go to http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/25tips.htm and you can download your copy. I am also giving you permission to send it to as many people as you would like to – so think of colleagues, associates, customers, suppliers or friends who would benefit and e-mail it to them. Thanks for your support over the years. Share this:ShareEmailPrintTwitterLinkedInGoogle
  • Issue #111 June 13, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: Transitioning between sections Not long ago I talked with a customer who got some feedback after a recent presentation that concerned her. The comment was that it was too jolting when she moved from one section to the next in her presentation. She wanted to find a way to make the transitions smoother between the sections. Since she doesn’t use any text on her slides, the traditional text Agenda slide approach would not fit with her presentation. I gave her an idea to use the same agenda slide concept in a slightly different way. If you have multiple agenda items and want a non-text approach, you might want to try this out. Here is what I shared with her. If she has six sections to cover, I suggested she show an Agenda-like slide at the start to give a roadmap of where she was going but instead of listing the sections in text, use six pictures, one to represent each section and arrange them in a circle. Then, when she switches to a new section, bring back the context ...
  • Issue #110 May 30, 2006 PowerPoint Tip: Aligning at a decimal Many presentations involve slides containing numbers, whether they are financial figures or measurements of other key indicators. If these figures include decimal places, the clearest way to show the numbers is by aligning them at the decimal point. This way, the audience can easily compare numbers by looking at the figures to the left and right of the decimal point. Unfortunately, the default alignment when you use the Tab key to try to align numbers is left alignment of the starting number. Some people try to use leading spaces to attempt to create decimal alignment, but it never works properly and looks strange to your audience when the numbers are almost aligned but not exactly. Here’s how you can have perfectly aligned numbers on your slides. 1. Click in the text box or placeholder that you want to align the text in. 2. Turn on the Ruler (if it is not displayed at the top of the screen already) so that you know where to set the tabs by clicking on View -> Ruler 3. On the left ...
  • Issue #109 May 16, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Using a picture to fill a graph Graphs are one of the most effective ways to show numerical data in a presentation. The visual can bring the data to life and really highlight the important point you are making. In all graphs, you should use emphasis to direct your audience to the specific part of the graph that is making the point. It is not good enough to just show the graph and hope the audience figures it out. One good way to emphasize your point on a graph is to use a graphic arrow to point to the specific line, bar, column or pie slice that is your point on the graph. Another way, and my personal favourite, is to use color to emphasize the important part of the graph. For example, in a column chart, I will make all of the other columns appear with just a line outlining the column, but no fill color. Then, for the important column that makes my point, I will fill it with a color that contrasts with my background ...
  • Issue #108 May 2, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Breaking down complex diagrams In quite a number of presentations, especially ones involving steps or processes, slides full of text could be replaced with diagrams that visually show a flow or relationship. Some situations are commonly seen as diagrams, for example an organization chart has become the standard for showing organizational reporting relationships instead of listing names on a slide. And diagrams do a good job of helping your audience understand a flow, process or relationship between items or concepts. The challenge comes when you have a complex situation and the diagram is quite involved. One example may be when you are trying to show the flow of a call in a call centre. A decision tree diagram is a great way to show the decisions and options that an agent will have to consider when dealing with each type of call. But you can see how this diagram could get massive very quickly. If you displayed the large diagram on a slide, you would have to shrink it so small that no one in your audience would ...
  • Issue #107 April 18 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Adding Audio Clips to Your Presentation Last issue we talked about video in your presentation, this issue we will cover audio clips. First, when would you want to use an audio clip over a video clip? Well, sometimes you can’t get a video clip because of the circumstances or because you don’t have the equipment at hand. Also, sometimes it is the sound and not the visual that is important, like when using a clip from a radio show or noise from nature. And sometimes you want to use music which doesn’t require any visual with it. So, what do you need to be concerned with when wanting to use audio. First, the quality of the clip is critical because when amplified, any distortion in the sound will be magnified. Get the best quality clip you can find. Second, save the audio in either the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format or the popular MP3 format. Both are high quality compressed formats that work well in PowerPoint. Don’t use WAV files unless it is a very short clip since ...
  • Issue #106 April 4, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Biggest issues with video on slides This past Saturday I attended a conference for parents that was hosted by our school board and was once again reminded of the challenges that many presenters face when trying to incorporate video into their presentation. In one of the sessions I attended, the presenters wanted to start with a clip from a Disney movie (I didn’t want to ask if they had permission to do so). They started by dropping out of the PowerPoint show mode and trying to run the DVD from a media player application. It hadn’t been set up properly, so they had to restart the media player, then start the DVD playing from the beginning, fast forward through the parts they didn’t want to use (we saw all of this by the way) and finally got to the clip they wanted to show. We watched and when it was done, my one question was, “What did that add to our experience?” The point of the clip could have been made with one sentence and the clip did ...
  • Issue #105 March 21, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Web Presentation Delivery Tips Last issue I shared some tips for doing presentations remotely. This time I want to focus on tips for a presentation delivery method that is gaining momentum quickly – the web presentation or sometimes called a webinar. I have held these and now have a web meeting facility that I use to train individuals or groups without the expense of travel (e-mail me for more details or visit http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/webtraining.htm). As I defined last time, a webinar is where the audience sees your slides in their browser and listens to you on a conference call. You are controlling the slides while you are speaking on the phone. You do need a service to present in this way and a few of the big names in this market are GoToMeeting, WebEx and Live Meeting. When doing a web based presentation, keep these tips in mind. No matter how fast your connection is or how fast your participant’s connection is, there will be a slight delay between when you “push” the slide to the service and when ...
  • Issue #104 March 7, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Remote Presentation Delivery tips I define a remote presentation as one where you send your slide file to your audience in advance of your presentation and they view and control your slides on their own computer as they listen to you on the telephone. This is different than a webinar where the audience sees your slides in their browser and you are controlling the slides while you are speaking. If you do remote presentations, here are some tips to keep in mind. When you are sending your file, remember that many e-mail systems will not accept an attachment larger than 4 MB, so if you have large photos that have not been resampled or large emedded audio files, your e-mail attachment may be stripped off before the recipient gets it. Also, if you are e-mailing a large file to many people in an organization, you run the risk of overloading their e-mail server with the size of the attachments. A better approach is to put the file on your web site or a shared corporate drive and provide ...
  • Issue #103 February 21, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Results of Presentation Delivery Survey Last month I conducted a survey on how presenters deliver their PowerPoint presentations. Thank you to the 250 people who participated. I have analyzed the numeric data and written comments and concluded the following. Both the numerical and written data reinforce trends that I have seen emerge over the past few years. The majority of presentations are still delivered with the presenter standing up using projected slides. But that depends on the location of the presentation and we are starting to see it change. Outside the organization, it is more likely that a presentation will be printed and delivered due to the logistical challenges and the need for personal connection, especially in sales situations. We are starting to see, and will continue to see, the growth of remote presentations. It has started for internal presentations, but will grow to also include external presentations as the cost of bringing people together grows (hence the new web-based training service I introduced above). This will become a more important consideration for presenters and designers. That’s why ...
  • Issue #102 February 7, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Research on Effective Presentations Late last year I was contacted by the membership chair of the Infocomm International Presentations Council because she had seen my work and thought I could contribute to their group. Infocomm International is the world-wide trade association for the A/V industry. Last month I joined the council and have become aware of the many great things they are doing. One of the resources that is available to anyone is a site called the Visual Being blog at http://www.visualbeing.com . In addition to being able to listen in as experts in the industry discuss current ideas and trends, there is also a section on the site that summarizes academic research that is being done into what is effective in presentations. More and more, researchers in universities are investigating how digital media is being used communicate in person and on the web. And these studies are giving us insight into what will work best for our audiences. One of the Presentations Council members, Robert Befus, has set up a part of the Visual Being site, called ...
  • Issue #101 January 24, 2006 PowerPoint Tip – Vertical Text Sometimes on a diagram or graph you will need to make text go vertical instead of the default horizontal direction. Let’s look at how you can do that. There would be two scenarios that you might have. First, you want to have simple text go vertical instead of horizontal – it can up or down. The easiest way to accomplish this is to first create a text box with your text in it (click Insert -> Text Box and type in the text). Then, you can use the green rotation handle located above the text box to rotate the entire box. Grab it with your mouse and drag it around either direction until the text looks like you want it to. If you want to restrict your rotation to increments of 15 degrees (so you can have it perfectly vertical, or even at a perfect 45 degree angle), hold the Shift key down while you drag the rotation handle. An alternate method is to right-click on the text box and select Format Text Box from the ...
  • Issue #100 January 10, 2006 PPT – Search Templates for great images In two weeks I’ll be doing my web tutorial on Using Digital Photos and one of the topics I’ll be covering is where you can find photos on the web. Microsoft has a large number of photos on their Office Online web site, but one of the undiscovered spots for great photos is the templates that they offer. Microsoft has an Office templates site that offers templates for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If you go to the site at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default.aspx, you can search for the word PowerPoint and a term that describes the type of photo you are looking for, like sales for example. In the results, you will see a set of PowerPoint templates that contain images that may be useful for your presentation. To extract the photo, download the template and save it on your computer. Open it up in PowerPoint. The images are likely on the Slide Master. Click View -> Master -> Slide Master. Click on the master that contains the image you want to use (there may be a ...
  • Issue #99 December 13, 2005 PPT – Saving Slides as Pictures Sometimes we get a PowerPoint slide show from a friend or colleague and it contains a full slide sized photo that we would love to use on one of our slides or as a graphic for another purpose. If we get permission to use it (you always need to have permission to use an image before using it), the next chore is to save the picture as a graphic file so we can import it on to our slide. You can do this in a couple of different ways. First, you can save the slide as a JPG using the File -> Save As command and selecting the JPG file type in the Save As Type drop down list. This saves the current slide or all slides as JPG graphic files which you can then import or use elsewhere. Another choice is to copy the graphic and paste it into a graphic program. To do this, make sure the slide thumbnails are showing in the Slide/Outline pane usually on the left of your screen (if ...
  • Issue #98 November 29, 2005 PPT – Picture File Format Photos are becoming a more important part of our presentations. In order to connect emotionally, photos are so much more effective than plain text. So if you are going to use photos, what file format should you use? There are many formats out there, including TIF (high quality, allows transparency, large file size), BMP (high quality, very large file size) and EPS (used for print applications, many can’t be used in PowerPoint). But I have found the best format for use in PowerPoint presentations is the JPG file format. It is a compressed format, so it creates small files, but it does lose some quality due to the compression. In my experience because of the resolution of computers and projectors, the loss in quality is not noticeable. And the reduction in file size is a greater benefit to presentations because the presentation file is easier to distribute and runs quicker. A recent experience with a fellow professional speaker, Laura Stack illustrated the differences in file formats. She was having a problem with a large graphic file ...
  • Issue #97 November 15, 2005 PPT – Inserting Pictures Is there a “correct” way to insert a picture on a PowerPoint(R) slide? Yes, there actually is. First, let me share the incorrect way – unfortunately this is the way that far too many people use. The wrong way to insert a picture on a slide is to copy and paste it from another place, whether that is a photo viewer, graphics program or any other application. Why is this the wrong way? Let me illustrate with a recent example. Richard Peterson, my good friend and North America’s Presentation Coach, sent me a file he had trouble with. It was from one of his clients and at least half of the pictures were replaced with a white rectangle that said that QuickTime was needed to view the pictures. After some research, I figured out that they had used Copy & Paste to insert the pictures on a Mac platform. When you Copy & Paste on a Mac, it embeds Quicktime parts into the picture on the PowerPoint(R) slide. This can cause problems as we discovered. But it ...
  • Issue #96 November 1, 2005 1. PPT – Version Issues Many readers have told me that they create their presentations on one computer and present from another – either a colleague’s laptop or a PC connected to the projector in a conference room. When taking your carefully crafted presentation to a different computer, you can have all your work be ruined by version differences. A recent example from a reader e-mail is a perfect illustration. They create the presentation on a machine with PowerPoint 2002, but the machine connected to the projector only has PowerPoint 97. This causes no end of headaches as a number of features are not supported and the resulting slides look awful. What can you do in a similar situation? First, there are known issues when trying to display a PowerPoint file on a previous version and the worst incompatibility in recent years is with PowerPoint 97. One solution is to upgrade the display computer to the latest version of PowerPoint and the problem will vanish. This may be too expensive or take too much time to be complete before your presentation. ...
  • Issue #95 October 18, 2005 1. Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results Last week I gave you a preview of the results from the Annoying PowerPoint survey I did last month. I have now analyzed the 415 written comments and prepared a full article of the results. There were many areas covered by the comments, but three areas stood out. First, it appears that many presenters still don’t know how to use the equipment. Examples include starting your presentation or laptop while connected to the projector (slip a book in front of the lens if you need to, just don’t block exhaust vents from the projector) and even some presenters who don’t know about Slide Show mode and deliver in Normal mode (this one even surprised me). Second was the poor design of so many slides. This covered color and fonts as I expected, but it also included an area that I find a lot in my consulting practice – the slide layout. Many people commented on how presenters don’t use the slide master and layouts to keep a consistent look to the slides in the presentation. The ...
  • Issue #94 October 4, 2005 1. Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results Preview Thanks to the almost 700 people who completed the survey on what annoys you about bad PowerPoint presentations. The full survey results will be coming in the next issue because I have over 400 written comments to pour through and analyze. But I wanted to share the results of the first question on the most annoying aspects of bad PowerPoint presentations. The top of the list did not change from the last time I did the survey (in 2003), so it looks like I still have lots of work to do in order to rid the world of these annoyances. If your organization needs help in these areas, let me know so I can come and rescue you from “Death by PowerPoint”. Here are the top annoyances: The speaker read the slides to us 61.9% Text so small I couldn’t read it 47.1% Slides hard to see because of color choice 42.7% Full sentences instead of bullet points 39.0% Moving/flying text or graphics 24.8% Overly complex diagrams or charts 22.3% Remember that everyone was asked ...
  • Issue #93 September 20, 2005 1. PPT – Remote Presentations With business travel declining due to costs and other factors, presentations that would traditionally be held in a conference room have been forced to change as well. More presentations are being delivered remotely, either through a webcasting technology or by teleconferencing with each person having a copy of the slides in advance. If you are delivering presentations where most of the people are not in the same room, there are some things you need to keep in mind. First, the involvement of the Internet in the process will create some limits. Whether it is trying to send large files to others or transmitting complex graphics or motion across the continent or the world, The limits placed on Internet traffic needs to be considered. You will also have to use new techniques to engage your audience since they know you can’t see them and they will be multitasking while you are presenting. Finally, you will have to ensure that each graphic is clearly explained since you won’t be able to point at anything on the screen and ...
  • Issue #92 September 6, 2005 1. PPT – Non-linear presentations One of the knocks that PowerPoint has taken is that it forces a presentation to be linear. What this means is that you as a presenter have to follow the slides in the order that they are in the file without deviation. Critics say that this limits the presenter from addressing new directions that come up or from changing the presentation order on the fly based on the needs of the audience. I had a well known speaker mention this to me at the recent NSA convention and I decided to write an article explaining exactly how you can make non-linear PowerPoint presentations. With a little thought and preparation, you can create and deliver a presentation that is presented in a different order every time based on the needs of the audience you have in front of you that day. If the boss wants to skip to a particular section, you can do it seamlessly and look like you were anticipating the request. If you want to jump out to Word to capture participants ideas, you ...
  • Issue #91 August 23, 2005 1. PPT – Animate multiple objects There are times when you want to animate multiple objects on a slide at the same time. For example, sometimes I will have a diagram where I want to emphasize three spots on the diagram using circles that show the important areas. If I animate each circle one at a time, I have to click three times to get all three circles on the screen. One option you have when animating multiple objects is to change the animation sequence to have items come on automatically with the previously animated object. This can be set after you animate each object and it allows the three circles to appear at the same time, but it requires a fair amount of work to animate each circle and then go in and change the timing for the second and third circle animations. A quicker way to achieve the three objects coming on together is the following. Select each object you want to animate together by clicking on the first object, then holding the Ctrl key down when clicking on ...
  • Issue #90 August 9, 2005 1. PPT – Save Remote Batteries When I first got my latest remote presentation device (the Interlink RemotePoint Navigator by the way, and it is still the best in my opinion) I was concerned about battery life. And in the first few months, I had to replace the batteries after what I thought was not a lot of usage. So I started carrying an extra set of batteries and was concerned about how many batteries I would go through. The next set lasted quite a bit longer, so I was perplexed as to why that would be. Now I wasn’t sure how long to expect the batteries to last. Well I think Ed Rigsbee, a fellow professional speaker has revealed the secret at a recent presentation he did. We were setting up his equipment and I saw him take out his remote (the same model I use) and he proceeded to install one of the batteries, but only one. I asked why he was doing that and he explained that if you take one battery out, the remote won’t work in ...
  • Issue #89 July 26, 2005 1. PPT – Power On Sequence With the advances in laptop design, I thought it did not matter any more what order you turned on your presentation equipment. But a recent experience proved me wrong. It used to be that you needed to turn on the projector before your laptop so that when the laptop started up, it would be able to recognize that the projector was connected and set the display properly. But many laptops now have video systems that recognize a projector no matter what order the equipment is turned on or connected. But recently I helped a presenter with a new laptop who could not get the projector display working properly. It turns out that we had to shut down everything and it only worked when the projector was on before the laptop. So the lesson here is that most newer laptops don’t care what order you turn on the equipment, but if you are having a problem getting things to display properly, try restarting everything by turning the projector on first. 2. Outlook – Archive vs. Compress I recently ...
  • Issue #88 July 12, 2005 1. PPT – Turn Off Wireless For those of you who have a wireless connection built in to your laptop (which is anyone who has purchased a laptop in the last two years probably), beware of a problem I saw recently during a presentation. While the presenter was setting up, he commented that he had a wireless connection in the meeting room. This is quite common now that many hotels offer free wireless Internet connections throughout the hotel. He proceeded to set up and later started his presentation. The wireless connection continued to be live during the presentation and it caused a problem about half way through. On top of one of his slides popped up a message that his computer had downloaded an update to his virus software and it was now installed. The only way to get rid of the message was to click on the OK button in the message window. What happened is that since the virus software saw a live Internet connection, it kept checking for updates every few minutes (most virus software packages do this ...
  • Issue #87 June 28, 2005 1. PPT – Feedback Forms If you do presentations that include a feedback form or other paper that you want returned after the presentation, don’t include it as the last page of your handout. In the past, I have had my feedback form copied as part of my handout. The form was stapled to the rest of the handout as a single package. What inevitably happened was that a number of people would turn the entire handout over and take notes on the back of the handout. Which was actually the back of the feedback form. So when it came time to fill out the feedback form, they would not fill it out because they wanted to keep the notes they had made. Now I always have a separate feedback form so it gets returned at the end of the seminar. If you have forms such as employee benefit forms, project feedback forms or sales followup forms, ensure that they are separate from any other handouts you give so that you get the forms back at the end of your presentation. 2. ...
  • Issue #86 June 14, 2005 1. PPT – Delivery Tips During the delivery of a PowerPoint presentation, there is a lot you can do with the keyboard that will enhance the audience experience. Here are some of the keystrokes that you can use while in Slide Show mode. Ctrl+H – this key combination will prevent the pointer from coming up on the screen during the presentation if your mouse is moved. This can save you from having the arrow dancing across the screen while you are talking. A – pressing the A key during a presentation makes the pointer appear or disappear. If the pointer does appear on the screen during your presentation (because you forgot to use Ctrl+H above), the natural inclination is to press the Escape key – but this stops the presentation! Pressing the A key toggles the pointer on and off, so it can be used to turn the pointer off if it comes on. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very ...
  • Issue #85 May 31, 2005 1. PPT – Save Prep Time If there is one thing that I see more than anything else when reviewing PowerPoint presentations it is the failure to use the proper tools in setting up a master slide to make creating and editing the presentation easier. So many times I see each slide having the background, colors, fonts and layout individually set. Not only is this time better spent on something else, it almost always causes the slides to look inconsistent when displayed because the alignment of graphics or text boxes is slightly different each slide. When people are paying me to improve their presentation, this is one area I end up spending a chunk of time on. How can you solve this issue? Simple, spend time setting up the master slide first. Click on View->Master to display the slide master. Here is where you can set the color scheme (click on Format->Slide Design and click on Color Schemes), the fonts (select the text in the placeholder and click Format->Font) and the layout (you can size or move the text placeholders by ...
  • Issue #84 May 17, 2005 1. PPT – Hyperlinking Sometimes in a PowerPoint presentation you will want to run a file from another application. This may be a video or a file from an application like Excel or Word. PowerPoint does allow you to create hyperlinks from text or other objects, but to activate them, you usually need to move your mouse to the link and click on it to start the link. This mouse moving across the screen is distracting for the audience. I use hyperlinks in my Compelling PowerPoint seminar to show a few of the Video Tutorials I created that illustrate a particular point I am making. I want it to appear seamless when I present, so I searched for a way to launch the link without using the mouse. Here’s what works for me. Since the video tutorials are Flash files played from an HTML page, what I really need to do is launch the HTML page and then the coding on that page will do the rest. So I have created an Action button (by clicking on Slide Show->Action Buttons and ...
  • Issue #83 May 3, 2005 1. PPT – Template Searching It amazes me how popular it is to search for a pre-made PowerPoint template. In fact, searching for a template or background is second only to searching for the term PowerPoint! There is a whole industry now dedicated to creating and selling PowerPoint templates. This obsession with templates disturbs me because there seems to be this misconception that if I just get the right look to my slides, the message will be great. Hogwash! Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, your slides need to be attractive and not ugly, but content is way more important than look. If people would invest the time working on structuring their message, finding good backup for each key point and practicing their delivery, we would not have so many bad PowerPoint presentations. Now this viewpoint is not going to endear me to the PowerPoint template industry, but I think it is important for our audiences. Many of these fancy backgrounds include multiple images which look “cool”, but only end up distracting the audience from the key text or ...
  • Issue #82 April 19, 2005 1. PPT – Control Audio Playing When you insert an audio clip on a PowerPoint slide, it will ask you if you want the clip to play automatically or not. If you click YES, it will start playing the clip when the slide is first displayed. This may be exactly what you want. But in other situations, you want the audio clip to play at a certain time as you explain something on the slide. I do this in my Compelling PowerPoint seminar when I play an audio clip example after I have explained how it was recorded. I want to give my audience some context before they hear the clip. In order to control the playing of the audio clip, you need to click NO when PowerPoint asks you if you want to automatically play the clip. By default, PowerPoint will then play the clip only if you move your mouse over the clip on the slide and click on it to start the clip playing. This is awkward during the presentation and distracting for your audience. But there is ...
  • Issue #81 April 5, 2005 1. PPT – Easily Duplicate Object When you are drawing a diagram, do you spend a lot of time reformatting each object? I have found a way to save a bunch of time when creating similar objects. Let’s use a common example. I am drawing a process diagram that has 8 boxes, all should be formatted to look the same since they each represent a step in the process. I create the first box and get the size, color and font to look exactly the way I want. Now I need to create the next seven boxes. I could copy and paste each one, but the paste routine in PowerPoint positions the object on top of the one you are copying. It makes it hard to grab the right object and move it to a new position. Here’s an easier technique. Position your cursor over the object you want to copy, in this case my perfectly formatted box. Hold the Control key down and click you left mouse button down and drag the object to the spot you want it to ...
  • Issue #80 March 22, 2005 1. PPT – Recolor Photos One of the tutorials on the Using Images video tutorial is on changing the coloring of a photo. I think that this is a largely unknown feature, so I thought I’d profile it today. It allows you to take any photo that you have inserted on a slide and change it to suit your needs. There are four choices. First is Automatic, which uses the coloring that the picture has when originally inserted. Second is Grayscale. This option converts the colors in the original picture to shades of gray. It is like taking the picture on black and white film in a camera. The third option is Black and White. This is a little confusing because this option turns all colors to only black or white, no shades in between. It is not like using black and white photo film, it is more like an artistic appearance. The final choice is Washout, which puts a white screen over the picture and is best used for washing out a photo that you are using as a background ...
  • Issue #79 March 8, 2005 1. PPT – Excel screen shot If you have to show numeric data from Excel on PowerPoint slides, you will be interested in this tip. Many times we want to use a table of data from Excel on a slide. If you simply select the cells in Excel, copy the selection and paste it into PowerPoint, you will get a PowerPoint table that may or may not look like the table of data that you want. It may reformat the figures, change the layout or do other things that you don’t want it to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take a picture of the cells instead of copying them into a PowerPoint table? Well, you can. To do so you use a little know feature of Excel called Copy Picture. Here’s how it works. First, select the cells in Excel that you want to copy. Then, hold the Shift key down and click on the Edit menu. You will see some new options, including the Copy Picture option. Click on the Copy Picture option and it opens a ...
  • Issue #78 February 22, 2005 1. Selecting hidden objects When drawing a diagram or using images, many times we layer items on top of each other for a number of reasons. You may have two photographs placed on top of each other, one of a young person and one of how they look today. The animation is set to display the current photo over the younger one. Or you may have two objects in a diagram overlapping to show a part of a process or structure. In both cases, selecting the object that is in the background can be difficult or impossible. Most people move the object on top out of the way to select the object below and then have trouble putting the top object back in place where it was. Well, there is an easier way. PowerPoint allows you to cycle through every object on the slide by selecting one object and then using the Tab key to cycle through every object – text or graphic – on the slide. You can also use the Shift+Tab key combination to cycle backwards through the objects. ...
  • Issue #77 February 8, 2005 1. PPT – Media file names I recently ran into a problem on a consulting assignment that I think serves as a good lesson for anyone using audio or video files in PowerPoint presentations. The client had a video clip that had been converted to the Windows Media video format (which is the preferred format, by the way, because it is small and plays well in PowerPoint) that would not play when inserted into a PowerPoint presentation. They sent it to me and it ran fine on my computer, so I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I tried reconverting the file a number of different ways, but it still didn’t run on their computer. I ended up going to their offices and it would run on some of their computers, but not others. I just couldn’t figure out what the issue was. It seemed that some of the computers may have had a problem with the way PowerPoint was installed because they had all the latest service packs installed, so it wasn’t that they were missing some bug fixes. ...
  • Issue #76 January 25, 2005 1. PPT – Play Audio over many slides A number of people have asked how they can get an audio segment to play over a number of slides. What they are usually trying to do is have background music play while they go through a series of slides. By default, when PowerPoint inserts an audio clip, it stops playing the clip when you go to the next slide, regardless of whether the entire audio segment has finished or not. But you can change this default behavior. The trick is in setting the animation settings for the audio item on the slide. After you have inserted the audio clip on your slide, it will ask you whether you want to play the clip automatically or not. If you say Yes, the audio clip plays as soon as the slide appears. If you say No, the audio clip plays when you click on it with your mouse while the slide is displayed (a future tip will explain how to get the audio clip to play on the click of the advance key). Neither ...
  • Issue #75 January 11, 2005 1. PPT – Navigating with the keyboard Since the popularity of Windows grew so many years ago, the reliance on the mouse to navigate and complete tasks in a program has grown. New computer users may not even be aware that before the advent of Windows, everything was done using key combinations on the keyboard. In many cases, the keyboard can still be used to perform many functions, and it may be quicker to do it with the keyboard than reaching for the mouse. Here are some ways to navigate within PowerPoint using the keyboard. Ctrl+Enter: The Ctrl+Enter key combination (hold down the Control key and press the Enter key) will allow you to jump to the next text box on a slide. This can be extremely useful when entering the text for slides. On a new slide, press Ctrl+Enter to move to the first text box, usually the title. Type in the title, press Ctrl+Enter again to jump to the bullet point text box, type in your points and you are done entering the slide text without touching the mouse ...
  • Issue #74 December 21, 2004 1. PPS Files Got a question from a subscriber recently on what the difference is between a PPT (normal PowerPoint) file and a PPS (PowerPoint Show) file and if the PPS file was secure from any changes. You will likely encounter PPS files if you get a presentation via e- mail or download it from a web site. The value of a PPS file is that when you double-click on the file to open it (or open it on a web site), it automatically goes into the Slide Show mode of PowerPoint and appears to only use that mode, since when the show is over, it exits PowerPoint. While it appears secure and is indeed the best way to distribute a PowerPoint slide show to others, it is not as secure as it first appears. A PPS file can be opened from PowerPoint by clicking on the File menu item and then clicking on the Open menu option. If you select the PPS file to open in the file dialog box, it will open the file in the normal editing mode ...
  • Issue #73 December 7, 2004 1. Keeping PPT updated Recently, I have had a few questions from subscribers asking if PowerPoint has particular bugs that don’t allow certain graphics, audio, or video to play properly. These questions happen on a regular basis and my advice is always to first see if you have all the latest updates for PowerPoint. This fixes most of the problems that people have. Unlike Windows, Microsoft Office (and, therefore, PowerPoint) does not automatically check for updates. This means that unless you manually check for updates, you may miss a critical update that solves a problem that occurs in PowerPoint. I had a situation earlier this year where a client was having problems seeing a graphic I had created for them and I couldn’t understand what the problem was. That was until I asked them to send me a screen print of what they were seeing. Only then did I realize that what they were describing was completely different than what I was seeing. I checked the Microsoft Support Knowledgebase and discovered that the problem had been fixed in one of the ...
  • Issue #72 November 23, 2004 1. How Many Slides? What would you think of a 35 minute presentation in which the presenter showed 115 slides? If you are like most people your reaction to that first sentence was something along the lines of “Oh my gosh! That must have been horrible!” Recently, I reviewed a videotape of this presentation for a client – and it was very effective. The presenter is one of their top sales professionals and I could see why. Now you might be asking, “How can that be possible??” Well, most, probably 85-90% of his slides were product photos that were presented in an almost video like way. At one point he showed 8 slides in under 15 seconds to demonstrate how certain features of the product were built. It taught me a valuable lesson that I want to share with you. Up to that time, I subscribed to the idea that each slide should be shown for two to three minutes on average. And I still think for the average text based slide the traditional rule still applies. But this experience opened ...
  • Issue #71 November 9, 2004 1. Presentation Coaching By now most of you have figured out that I am an expert on PowerPoint and using it to effectively communicate a message to an audience (that’s why a number of you have asked me to consult or do workshops). But I know enough to know that I am not an expert in every aspect of presentations. I am an expert at presenting my PowerPoint ideas, but I would not say that I am an expert at coaching others on presentation skills such as how you stand, gestures and filler words. I think you should work with experts in each area of presenting, so I have partnered with a presentation coaching expert named Richard Peterson, who has many years of experience helping executives and professionals deliver more powerful presentations. Richard helped me this summer prepare for an important presentation in Arizona, so I know how good he is. I recently interviewed Richard on how to create more impact when delivering a presentation. I recorded the interview and have posted it on my web site for you to listen ...
  • Issue #70 October 26, 2004 1. Clip Art License In a presentation I was at earlier this year the presenter stated that you cannot use Microsoft’s clip art in your slides or documents if you are charging money for them. This surprised me, so went to the Microsoft clip art site and here is the relevant part of what they say in their license: “You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and license, display and distribute them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following: You may not sell, license or distribute copies of the Media Elements by themselves or as part of any collection, product or service if the primary value of the product or service is in the Media Elements.” (you can read the whole text at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/tou.aspx) So what does this mean for the average business presenter? It means that you can indeed use the Microsoft clip art or other media elements in your presentations, books and CDs as long as what you ...
  • Issue #69 October 12, 2004 1. Drawing Perfect Squares or Circles in PowerPoint In many cases, I want to draw a square or circle in PowerPoint and when I use the rectangle or oval drawing tool, I just can’t get it perfectly square or a perfect circle. I just can’t seem to get it just so. If you have had this problem, I am here to share an easy solution to this issue. As you are drawing the square or circle, simply hold the Shift key down as you are drawing and it will keep the proportions perfect. For example, to draw a perfect circle, click on the oval drawing toolbar button (the drawing toolbar is the one usually located at the bottom of the PowerPoint window). The cursor changes to a plus (+) sign. To draw the oval, position the cursor where you want the oval to start, then hold the Shift key down and click the left mouse button down and drag it to where the other side of the circle should be – keeping the Shift key held down the whole time. You ...
  • Issues #68 September 28, 2004 1. Turning Photos into a PowerPoint show A subscriber recently asked me if there was a way to easily create a PowerPoint show of the digital pictures from his daughter’s wedding. PowerPoint is a great way to share photos from any special occasion. Even funeral homes are starting to see families create self-running shows to honor a loved one. PowerPoint 2002 and higher has a feature that makes this very easy. In a new slide show, click on the Insert menu item, click on the Picture menu option and click on New Photo Album from the sub-menu. This will take you to a dialog box where you can select pictures from your hard disk, set up each picture the way you like it, and then when you click the Create button, it creates a slide for each picture. Now you have a PowerPoint show you can save and send to others or set up to run in a loop at a family gathering. This is one of the techniques that I will be including in a new product I am working ...
  • Issue #67 September 14, 2004 1. PowerPoint backgrounds It seems today that there are many companies and web sites selling PowerPoint backgrounds or templates. Many have been created with wonderful graphics or designs, but I find many of them too busy or the colors do not offer enough contrast with common text colors. If you want to create your own background, many people suggest you need to get a high end graphics package like Adobe Photoshop and spend hours learning how to use it to create complex graphical backgrounds. While I do own Photoshop, I don’t recommend everyone rush out and buy it just for this purpose – that would be a waste of your money. I prefer to create my own backgrounds and to keep it simple. This allows me to make changes easily and to select easily contrasting colors for text and diagrams. It also allows all changes to be made using the tools that PowerPoint or MS Office already supply. If you click on the Format menu item in PowerPoint and then click on the Background menu option, you will see the current ...
  • Issue #66 August 31, 2004 1. High-resolution screen shots I have written before about ways to take snapshots of your screen and include them in PowerPoint presentations or documents (see the Aug 27, 2002 issue in the archives – archive link at the bottom of this newsletter). If you are using the screen shot for a presentation the resolution will be fine since it will be captured in the same resolution as you want to display it in. But if you need to print the screen capture as a large graphic in a document at high resolution, it may not look as good since printers have a higher resolution than your screen does. You may have noticed the pixelation effect when scaling up a graphic. Pixelation is when the system enlarges each pixel and the graphic looks muddy and jagged. The system does this because it only has a certain number of pixels to work with. If you had more pixels to work with, the pixelation effect would not happen. But how do you get more pixels than the original graphic has? If you (or a ...
  • Issue #65 August 17, 2004 1. Don’t put text at the bottom of your slides When you are designing your PowerPoint slides, leave the bottom 10-15% of the slide blank or for footer graphics or logos. Many room setups have the bottom of the screen so low that anyone past the front row can’t see the bottom 10-15% of the screen because of the heads in front of them. You will see the audience members bobbing and weaving to try to see around the heads in front of them when you put your points too low on the slide. I was in the audience at a recent presentation and saw this happen. I suggest using this space at the bottom of your slides for your web site address, your logo and perhaps the client logo as well. You may even put a horizontal line at about that spot to separate your points from the slide footer information. I had this room setup problem happen to me recently and this is what I did. During the pre-presentation checks, I tested how my slides looked by sitting half ...
  • Issue #64 August 3, 2004 1. PowerPoint keys during Slide Show I had an e-mail and phone chat with a new subscriber recently discussing how to use some keys during the delivery of a PowerPoint presentation. You can get a full list by pressing the F1 key while in slide show mode, but here are a few of my favorites: <slide number> then Enter – you can quickly jump to any slide by typing the slide number using the number keys and then pressing the Enter key. I have used this to skip ahead in my presentation when running tight on time and the audience does not know that I just skipped some slides. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very useful when you want to put the audience’s focus on you for a moment instead of your visuals. Ctrl-L or Ctrl-H – pressing this key combination turns the pointer off during the presentation. Which key combination works depends on which version of PowerPoint you have. ...
  • Issue #63 July 20, 2004 1. Resizing Graphics in PowerPoint In previous issues of the newsletter I have discussed how you can resize and resample graphics (especially digital photographs) before you insert them on a slide. The advantage of using a graphics utility like IrfanView is that the file you insert on your slide is much smaller and this makes your PowerPoint file much smaller. Today I want to extend the discussion by talking about how you can resize the graphic once it is in the slide. One important tool is the cropping tool, which allows you to cut off some of the slide so you show only the part you need to show. I discussed this before, and as a recap, to get to the cropping tool, click on the graphic to select it. If the Picture toolbar does not automatically display, click on the View menu and click on the Toolbars menu item and select the Picture toolbar. The cropping tool is the icon on the Picture toolbar that looks like two plus signs. When you click on it, it turns the cursor into ...
  • Issue #62 July 6, 2004 1. Uses for the Slide Sorter view in PowerPoint Most people use the default view in PowerPoint, known as the Slide view or Normal view, which allows you to easily edit your slides. And for most purposes, it is the best view to work in. But if you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to explore the Slide Sorter view. You can access this view by clicking on the View menu and clicking on the Slide Sorter menu item or you can click on the Slide Sorter view toolbar button at the bottom left of the screen (it looks like four slides in a box configuration). This view displays all of your slides as miniature slides. It does not allow direct editing of the slides, so you may ask why you would want to use this view. One thing I use it for is to get a sense of the overall flow of my presentation. I am checking for logical sequence from one slide to the next. The main use for the view is that you can move slides to ...
  • Issue #61 June 22, 2004 1. Text formatting in PowerPoint The default formatting for the body of a slide in PowerPoint is to have bullet points for each idea. While this is usually a good idea, in this tip I want to share some ideas on how you can have a little more control over the formatting of the text on a slide. When you are typing along and the text is too long to fit on one line, PowerPoint will automatically wrap your text to the next line (sidebar point: try to observe the 6 x 6 guideline when creating bullet points – no more than six words per bullet point and no more than six bullet points per slide in order to make the bullet points short and powerful and the slide readable – see my article on writing powerful bullet points on the web site for more details). If you want to make the line break at a certain point, hold the Shift key down and press the Enter key. This Shift+Enter key combination starts a new line within the same bullet point. ...
  • Issue #60 June 8, 2004 1. Resetting PowerPoint Slide Design I am sure many of you have had (or will have) this experience with PowerPoint. You get handed someone else’s file to “fix up and put into the company template”. You look at it and it is the dog’s breakfast – text boxes not properly positioned, titles not where they are supposed to be, colors are not at all the standard ones and so on. If you have ever manually adjusted a set of slides, let me share an easier technique that I used once again recently with a client. In a previous issue of the newsletter (March 30, 2004 – see the archive link at the end of the newsletter to access any back issue), I explained how you can reapply a slide layout to control the look of the slide from a content point of view. Well you can do something similar for the slide look from a color and design point of view. If you click on the Format menu and click on Slide Design, you will get the Slide design task pane ...
  • Issue #59 May 25, 2004 1. Fix to PowerPoint Custom Shows bug In previous issues of this newsletter you have read how I think that the Custom Shows feature of PowerPoint is one of the most useful features because it saves a lot of time when you present slightly different versions of a presentation. To recap, the Custom Shows feature allows you to select slides from your file to show in a particular order and save that list so it can be shown again. You don’t have to create a new file and copy slides over, and if you make a change to one slide, all Custom Shows using that slide have the new version because they are all drawn from the one slide file. But there has been a bug in the Custom Shows feature that I reported on earlier. It occurs when you delete a slide that is in a Custom Show. PowerPoint no longer allows you to edit any of the Custom Shows that contained that slide. Well, in Office XP/2002 Service Pack 3 (known as SP3), they say that they have fixed ...
  • Issue #58 May 11, 2004 1. Aligning objects in PowerPoint When I have more than one text or graphic object on a slide, I always find it hard to line them up perfectly. I just can’t seem to do it by hand, and I am never really sure whether they are perfectly aligned. I was just trying to do this last week for a client. I was arranging two rows of photos of their staff on a slide and needed to have the photos lined up horizontally and vertically so it didn’t look all jagged. When I have this need, I use the built in object alignment feature of PowerPoint. To use this feature, you select each object to be aligned in one of two ways. You can select the first object by clicking on it and then holding the Ctrl key down while clicking on the other objects. Or, you can select the arrow cursor in the lower left corner of the screen on the Drawing toolbar and draw a selection rectangle around the objects (when you use this method, make sure all of the ...
  • Issue #57 April 27, 2004 1. Spicing up PowerPoint Charts An article I saw recently at PC Magazine talked about how to make Excel charts look more fun by adding graphics (such as a picture of a hamburger) as the fill color for bar charts. This allows you for example to show a stack of burgers the height of which represents the data value. It turns out that the same techniques work for PowerPoint charts. To use a graphic as the fill for a bar or column chart, first create the chart using the chart tools and accept the default fill colors. Then, right click on the chart and select to edit the chart from the popup menu that appears by clicking on Chart – Edit. Click on the data series you wish to change (may need to click on it more than once to select the data series). Now right click on that data series and choose to Format Data Series in the popup menu. On the Patterns tab, click on the Fill Effects button to open the Fill Effects dialog box and click on ...
  • Issue #56 April 13, 2004 1. Making Smaller PowerPoint files Recently I have been working with a couple of clients to prepare better PowerPoint presentations and in both cases they were including graphics. What happens far too often is that including graphic files, such as digital photographs or scanned art, will increase the PowerPoint file size dramatically because the graphic file is so large. So much in some cases that the file cannot be e-mailed because it is too large. Let me share two techniques that can help reduce the PowerPoint file size when including graphics. The first is to reduce the size of the graphic files before you even import them into PowerPoint. You should resample them and resize them down to 72 or 96 dpi resolution and about 300-400 pixels wide in most cases. You can do this with the great utility at http://www.irfanview.com (I have written about this great utility in a previous version of the newsletter – if you don’t already have it, get it, you will love it). If you have already imported the higher resolution graphics and now realize that ...
  • Issue #55 March 30, 2004 1. Restoring PowerPoint Slide Layout Have you ever copied a slide from one PowerPoint presentation to another and then found it doesn’t look like the other slides you created? It is not aligned quite like the others and now you have to manually try to correct it. Last year I had a client that ran into this problem all the time. One person created the slides, then another was to put it into the corporate template. They would spend a lot of time struggling with the reformatting until I showed them that there is an easier way. Whenever you create a new slide, you are prompted to select the slide layout for the new slide (in a dialog box in PowerPoint 2000 or earlier, in the Slide Layout task pane in PowerPoint 2002 or above). The Slide Layout specifies the generic layout for the slide – whether there is a body text box, columns, etc. Well, you can reapply the slide layout to an existing slide if you want to. This will reset the text boxes and graphics to the default ...
  • Issue #54 March 16, 2004 1. Split text across slides in PowerPoint One of the biggest problems identified in the “What Annoys People About Bad PowerPoint” survey was too much text on a slide. I suggest you observe the six by six guideline, which states that there should be no more than six words in each bullet point and no more than six bullet points per slide. This guideline ensures that the text will be large enough to read when projected. PowerPoint has a feature that can help you keep a reasonable amount of text on each slide. If you find that you have been typing bullet points on a slide and suddenly realize that there is too much on the slide, there is a way that PowerPoint can automatically split the text into two slides. If you click inside the area of the text, as if you were going to edit it, the AutoFit Options button will appear, usually on the lower left side of the text box. The AutoFit Options button looks like two horizontal lines with an arrow above and below pointing towards ...
  • Issue #53 March 2, 2004 1. High-Speed Internet at Hotels – part 3 We have looked at the type of service you will get at hotels and how to connect, now let’s see what things we have to keep in mind when using the service. Depending on what service they use, you may or may not have a true IP address. Why does this matter? Because if you want to do a video conference through a web cam or do a web conference with application sharing, an external IP address is essential. To tell if you have an external IP address in Windows, click on the Start button and then on the Control Panel. Click on Network Connections and open your Ethernet connection. On the Support tab or the Properties item, it should tell you your IP address. If it starts with 192.168, then you do not have an external IP address and web conferencing will not work (The 192.168 indicates a router device between you at the Internet). You also need to make sure that you have an up-to- date virus package running at all ...
  • Issue #52 February 17, 2004 1. High-Speed Internet at Hotels – part 2 Last issue we looked at how to tell what type of service you will get, this time we will look at how to connect when you get to your room. When you get to the room, they will likely have one of two ways to connect to the high-speed service. Most have an Ethernet connection and some also offer a USB connection from the high-speed device for those without an Ethernet port. Some offer wireless access as well, but I always prefer a wired connection since it is faster and more secure. They will likely have a cable in the room (check the desk drawer or the closet if it is not attached to the high-speed device) but some do not. Even if they do have a cable, it may not be long enough to reach from the port to your desk location. So I always carry my RoadWired Ethernet/phone retractable cable I mentioned in December. After you connect your laptop, follow the instructions to connect to the service. Sometimes if it is ...
  • Issue #51 February 3, 2004 1. Removing Spyware If you have had your web browsing suddenly slow down or you have noticed that strange things happen when browsing, you may have run into a problem I had last fall – spyware. Spyware is a term referring to programs that are usually installed without us realizing it. It may be installed by a program that loads from a graphic you click on, hidden in a utility you download or attached to file sharing applications. The purpose of these programs is to feed information about your browsing to third parties, which use them primarily for advertising purposes, but may be using them for worse. Last fall I had a problem with a program that took over my browsing experience. It would highlight certain words on pages and turn them into links to other sites. It would automatically open new sites based on words I typed in to the address bar. It took me a while to figure out what was going on and I still don’t have any idea how this program got onto my PC. If you ...
  • Issue #50 January 20, 2004 1. Insert Slides in PowerPoint Do you ever wish there was an easy way to combine slides from different PowerPoint presentations into one file? Many of us want to reuse a slide or many slides from one presentation in a new presentation and this tip will show you an easy way to do it. First thing you need to do is to go to the presentation you want the slides to be inserted into (the destination presentation) and click on the slide you want to be before the inserted slides. Then, click on the Insert menu item and click on the Slides from Files option. You will see the Insert Slides from Files dialog box. To find the source presentation, click on the Browse button and find the file you are looking for. The dialog box will then display small images of all of the slides in that file. You can select which slides you want to import by clicking on the first slide and holding the Ctrl key down as you click on each subsequent slide that you want to ...
  • Issue #49 January 6, 2004 1. Sounds Alike Find in Word I don’t know if this happens to you, but it does to me. I am working in Word and I want to find a name or word in the document but I can’t remember exactly how to spell it (happens to me with names a lot). I try different combinations, but seem to never have any luck. Well, there is a better way. It is called the sounds alike search. It is an option in the Find feature and here is how it works when you are in a Word document. Click on the Edit menu and click on the Find menu option and you will see the Find dialog box (or press Ctrl+F to go straight to the Find dialog box). The regular Find options are displayed, but you can click on the More button at the bottom of the dialog box to reveal additional search options. Then check the box beside Sounds Like to search for words that sound like the search entry but are not necessarily spelled that way (for example, there ...
  • Issue #48 December 23, 2003 1. Negative Cropping of Graphics I ran into a situation earlier this year where I was working with graphic files (diagrams of equipment) supplied by someone else. Whenever I inserted them into a document, the tops of the titles were cut off just a bit. It looked odd and it appeared that the entire word was there, but somehow the top edge of the inserted graphic cut off the top of the words. As an experiment, I tried setting the cropping of the graphic file to a negative value (-0.2 inches). And lo and behold, the rest of the titles appeared! If you are working with graphic files where one or more sides appear to be cut off slightly, right click on the graphic in Word or PowerPoint. Then select Format Picture. In the Picture tab, enter a small negative value for the cropping of the affected sides, or use the down arrow in the Crop From boxes for top, bottom, left and right. When you click on OK, see if this has solved the problem. It is also a reminder ...
  • Issue #47 December 9 2003 1. Access to desktop from TaskBar Many times I will be working on something and need to access an application on my desktop to look something up. Then I have to minimize all my open windows to get to the desktop. I thought there must be an easier way, and it turns out there is. I saw this idea first in the WUGNET newsletter (www.wugnet.com). It creates a Desktop toolbar in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen which then allows you access to the program on your desktop without minimizing open applications. To put the Desktop Toolbar on your taskbar, right click on your taskbar and click on Toolbars and click on Desktop. This will put a new Desktop icon in your taskbar. It is a good idea to resize the new toolbar so that all you see is the word Desktop – you can do this by grabbing the left edge of the toolbar in the taskbar and dragging it to the right until only the Desktop word is shown. Now a double right arrow is shown beside ...
  • Issue #46 November 25, 2003 1. Best Fit for columns If you need to resize a word table column or an Excel column, here is a quick tip on how to set the column width to fit the longest text in the column. Place your mouse on the right column border and the cursor will change into a double arrow, with one arrow pointing left and one pointing right. Double click the left mouse button with the cursor in the double arrow mode and the column width will automatically change to fit the width of the data in the column. This works in both Word and Excel. Of course if you do this and realize that due to one very long string your column is now far too wide, remember that you can click the undo button (the button in the toolbar that looks like an arrow swooping counter clockwise) or click on the Edit menu and click on Undo to return the column to the previous width. Then you can manually move the right column border by dragging it to the right so the column ...
  • Issue #45 November 11, 2003 1. Using Images on Slides Last issue we talked about using the IrFanView tool to improve the quality of your images in PowerPoint slides or Word documents. Loyal subscriber Dick Larkin passes on a great tip to add on to what we discussed last week. In addition to getting the best quality image, he suggests that whenever you use an image/photo/web screen shot on a PowerPoint slide, that you highlight what you want people to look at. He makes an excellent point. Many times we put an image on the slide and when we show it, we either walk to the screen and try to point out what we want the audience to focus on (which blocks some people from seeing what we are pointing out) or we use a laser pointer and wave it all over the screen. A better approach is to use a callout arrow to point to the important item or put a box or circle in a contrasting color around the important part. An even more advanced technique is to use a graphics program to cut ...
  • Issue #44 October 28, 2003 1. Better looking graphics One of the common complaints about graphics used in presentations or on web sites is the poor quality. Even if you scan in an image at high resolution, it seems that most graphics end up looking awful. It is usually because the size or resolution has not been properly adjusted. I recently helped someone with a photo they put on a web site that took up most of the page and took forever to load because it was 2MB. The size of the graphic is the easier of the two areas to understand because we can just look at the image and see what size it is. If you take a large picture and simply use the sizing handles to make it smaller, the image appears the correct size, but the problem is that the graphic file is still the same size, making the presentation file huge. The second issue is with resolution. This refers to the number of dots per inch in the picture. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. Where ...
  • Issue #43 October 14, 2003 1. Advice on Upgrading to MS Office 2003 In just over a week or so, Microsoft will officially release the latest version of their Office suite of applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook being the most common programs. There will likely be a lot of hype about the new versions of these popular applications. The big question you need to answer is: Should I upgrade? My advice is not yet. I have read many reviews about what is new in Office 2003 and most of the changes benefit large organizations that want to tie into corporate databases (Outlook 2003 is much better than the previous version, but you can’t just upgrade that one application). When I look at any new version of a key application, I consider the four ideas that I outlined in my article about upgrading software on the web site (see the full article at http://tinyurl.com/qtiw). And in this case, the key issue is that there is not really enough in the new version to make me upgrade from Office 2002. And with any new release, I ...
  • Issue #42 September 30, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Hoaxes Almost every month (or more frequently) I get an urgent e- mail from someone saying that they are sorry that their computer seems to have a virus and it was probably transmitted to my computer. The e-mail they send tells me to look for a certain file and delete it if I find it on my computer. If you ever get e-mails like this be very skeptical – almost every one of them is a hoax. The first thing I do when I receive one of these e-mails is to check out one of two sites that list these hoaxes. The first spot I check is the Symantec web site at http://securityresponse.symantec.com and check the Hoaxes link at the bottom of the page in the Reference Area. This list is well organized and tells you what to do if you have already acted on the e-mail and deleted a file. The other site to check is http://www.truthorfiction.com, which also has a good list and will tell you if something is true. By deleting some ...
  • Issue #41 September 16, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – High-Speed Connections Many of you, like I, have a high speed connection to the Internet at home, through a cable provider or through a DSL connection from a phone company. It makes using the Internet so much better to have a high speed connection, but there are dangers that you must protect yourself from. In order to offer this high speed link, your provider has set up a permanent (or semi-permanent) connection from your computer to the Internet. This means that anyone else on the Internet can access your computer if they know (or guess) the address that your provider has set up. There are many shady characters out there who have set up programs to scan all the addresses to find out who has a computer available on the other end. And when they find you, they can connect to your PC and find out what you have on your computer. Scary thing. But you can protect yourself. If you have a high speed connection, you should always have a hardware firewall to protect ...
  • Issue #40 September 2, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Spam This time in the ongoing discussion on how to keep your computer safe, I want to talk about dealing with spam. Spam is the term used to describe the unsolicited e-mail that we all receive. Some reports suggest by the end of this year, there will be more spam e-mails sent per day than legitimate e-mail! What everyone wants to know is “How do I stop all this stuff!?!” Well, you can’t stop it, you can only manage it. Some software programs or services promise to stop it, but when these filters delete messages, they unfortunately also delete some legitimate e-mails because of the rules they use. There are two major strategies that I have found most useful in combating spam. The first is to keep your e-mail address away from where spammers harvest addresses. If you participate in newsgroups, never put your e-mail address in any posting. Also, don’t reply to spam messages that you get because then the spammer knows your e-mail is valid and you will get even more. Some people ...
  • Issue #39 August 19, 2003 1. Problems Opening Attachments in OE If you have problems opening attachments using Outlook Express (OE) v6, my wife and others have had this problem as well and I want to share the solution with you. It has to do with a setting in the software. In OE v6, if you click on the Tools menu item and click on the Options menu selection you get the Options dialog box. Click on the Security tab. About one-third of the way down there is an option that says “Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus” – if this option is checked/selected, you will get the blocking behavior. Just uncheck that box, click OK and exit OE and start it again. Then you should be able to open the attached file. If you are running a good virus program, you should not need that option anyways – you are running Norton AntiVirus or equivalent, right? See the next story for more information on keeping your computer safe from viruses. 2. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Viruses It ...
  • Issue #38 August 5, 2003 1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Backups This is the start of a series of tips I will share over the next few months all aimed at keeping your computer safe from the multitude of things that can happen to it. The first item I want to address is the issue of regular backups. I suggest you do a full backup of your important data files at least every month. By data files I mean your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. not your applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Include in that list your e-mail folders so that all those e-mails are backed up. To be safer, you can do an incremental backup every week (see the May 13 issue of the newsletter for a good way to do this). This incremental backup catches only those files you have changed since the last backup. The best way to store backups today is to copy the files onto a CD, called burning them to a CD. Windows XP includes a utility to do this, but you can also use products such as Nero ...
  • Issue #37 July 22, 2003 1. Searching for an E-mail Thanks to all who responded to the survey on your e-mail inbox. As of last night when I wrote this issue, 113 people had responded. When looking at how many e-mails are in your Inbox, 77 people said 100 or less and 17 more said 101 to 250. What these statistics tell me is that 83% of you clean out your Inbox regularly, probably into folders for certain topics or projects. This means that when you go to find an e-mail, you are searching across many folders. Let me share a quick tip on how to search across many folders at once in Outlook (since 63 people (56%) said they use Outlook). In the Advanced Find dialog box in Outlook, you can click on the Browse button and then check off as many folders as you want to search. Remember that the more folders you select the longer the search will take. One alternative approach to spending time moving e-mails into folders is to hold all non- spam incoming mail in your Inbox. Then, every quarter, ...
  • Issue #36 July 8, 2003 1. Searching the Web If you get frustrated trying to find a specific e-mail, a file or text in a document, the next few issues of the newsletter will be particularly relevant for you. I will be sharing excerpts from my latest e-book titled “The 20% You REALLY Need to Know About Finding Information on Your Windows PC”. Today I want to explain the differences between web search sites so you can decide which one would be best for you. The first type of search site is known as a portal. A portal site is one where people submit sites for review and if the search site staff think the site is of value, they add it to their index of sites. The best examples of portal sites are Yahoo!, MSN and dmoz. The advantage to portal sites is that they tend to exclude many of the useless sites out there. The disadvantage is that you will only find sites that have been submitted, so many useful sites may be missed. Some portal sites now charge to be listed, so you ...
  • Issue #35 June 24, 2003 1. Major changes in PowerPoint 2002 animation Many times one wonders what really changes between the different versions of Microsoft’s major applications. When it comes to PowerPoint, there were two major changes that happened when they moved from the 2000 version to the 2002/XP version (called 2002 here). The first is the use of the task pane for many functions. This is a new Office XP standard and it allows for many functions such as choosing clip art, selecting the slide layout or selecting slide colors to be done in a task pane. This really replaces many of the dialog boxes that we used in PowerPoint 2000 and puts the parameters to choose from in a vertical box covering the entire right side of the screen area. I actually find this a convenient way to work. The other major change they made is a change for the worse in my opinion. They completely rewrote the animation feature. They now allow animation when a slide elements enters the slide, while it is on the slide and when it leaves the slide. They ...
  • Issue #34 June 10, 2003 1. Printing Black & White PowerPoint handouts One of the most common questions I get when doing PowerPoint presentations or workshops is how do you get your handouts to print so nicely in black and white. If you accept the default print options in PowerPoint, a dark background with light text ends up looking awful when printed on a black and white printer. This is one of the ideas I cover in my “The 20% You REALLY Need To Know About PowerPoint” books (see the link above to buy the 2000 or 2002 version). One suggestion I saw recently had you creating two different PowerPoint files with different color schemes in each – no way should you waste your time with that approach. When you go to print your handouts, select the “Pure Black and White” checkbox in PowerPoint 97 or 2000 or select the “Pure black and white” option in the Color/grayscale drop down list in PowerPoint 2002. What this option does is convert the background to white and the text into black. All graphics are printed using grayscale. If ...
  • Issue #33 May 27, 2003 1. E-mail attachment limits In an effort to cut down on the huge volume of viruses and spam, many Internet Service Providers are putting limits on the attachments you can send or receive. Generally, the restrictions relate to size of the attached file and the type of the attached file. I am seeing many restrictions at the 4 to 5 MB file size limit and almost all executable files are forbidden. This causes a problem when you want to send a large presentation file or PDF document. The only way around this is to cut the file into pieces and send multiple e-mails with one piece of the file per e-mail. When the receiver of the e-mails saves the file piece from each e-mail to the same directory, they can then assemble the pieces. The best way to do this is to use a program that is designed for this purpose. One of my clients imposed these restrictions recently and I looked long and hard for a good program and finally found one. It is called Splitter and I like it ...
  • Issue #32 May 13 2003 1. Adding contacts in Outlook One of the things I don’t do as well as I should is add new contacts to my Contacts list in Outlook. One simple way to add a contact when they have sent you an e-mail is to use a right-click technique. When you are viewing the e-mail, right click on the sender’s name at the top of the e-mail. A small menu pops up which has an option to Add to Contacts. Click on the Add to Contacts option and this person will be added to your Contacts list with the name and e-mail address from the e-mail. The full Contact dialog box will be opened so you can fill in any other information that may be in the e-mail such as address or phone number. 2. Creating incremental backups We all know that we should do regular backups to protect our valuable data from loss if our computer fails. For some people, doing a full backup takes a long time and so they don’t back up as often, leaving them vulnerable to data loss. I have ...
  • Issue #31 April 29, 2003 1. Hotel Phone Charges Tip When you are travelling, the cost of dialing in to get your e-mail can add up quickly as hotels now have charges for local calls. At $0.75 to $1.25 per call plus taxes, it is not hard to rack up charges very quickly. One strategy for reducing your overall cost is to investigate sometimes using your Internet provider’s toll-free number (if they offer one). Many Internet providers offer a toll-free 1-800 number for use when you can’t access a local number. There is usually a surcharge for using it, about $6.00/hr or so. If your hotel allows 1-800 calls with no charge (as many do), it may be cheaper to pay the surcharge from your Internet provider than the hotel’s local call charge. For example, if you are just checking e-mail and are connected for 4 minutes, the toll-free surcharge at $6/hour is only $0.40, compared to the hotel charge of almost double that amount. Check your situation to see if this will save you money when travelling. 2. Optical Mouse on Shiny Desk If you own ...
  • Issue #30 April 15, 2003 1. Followup on Remote Purchase Some subscribers have asked whether I have purchased the new remote control that I mentioned a few issues ago. Indeed I did purchase the RemotePoint Navigator and I am very pleased with it. In fact, I was at a conference just after I got it and the closing keynote speaker ended up using my remote because his new one wouldn’t work reliably. I did run into one issue that I thought I should share here for others to be aware of. Depending on where your USB port is located on your computer, you may get interference with the remote from nearby parts. The USB port I plugged my remote into is right beside the power supply and the power supply caused minor interference. I switched to the other USB port, but switching my mouse to the USB port beside the power supply caused display problems. I solved the problems by purchasing a small USB hub which allows me to plug both the mouse and the remote into the hub, which is then plugged into the USB ...
  • Issue #29 April 1, 2003 1. Outlook contact tracking If you use Outlook, one of the most powerful, but often overlooked features is the ability to use the Contacts list as a contact tracking database. This feature allows you to add notes about phone calls, meetings, etc. to a contact. Because Outlook also manages your e-mail, it adds a feature to integrate all e-mails to or from this contact as well. In the Outlook Contact folder, double click on a contact to display the contact record fully. Click on the Activities tab and the system will automatically search for any e-mails to or from the e- mail address you have specified for that contact and list them for your reference. It searches all mail folders, so you will see those you have sent, received and even deleted. Note that this may take a while depending on how many e-mails you have in your folders. To explore what other activities you can use, click on the Actions menu item and click on New Journal Entry. You can then see what types of entries you can add and ...
  • Issue #28 March 18, 2003 1. PDF File Mistakes Many people are now creating Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) format files for all sorts of documents – from proposals, brochures, reports and even invoices. It is easy to create an Acrobat PDF format file and the great benefit is that the file can be viewed on any platform that supports Acrobat PDF, which includes Windows, Mac and Unix. Here are some common problems I have seen with these files. The most common mistake I see made is thinking that by default the file is secure – it can’t be changed. This is not true. In order to secure a PDF file, you need to set the security options from the Document Options menu. The second big mistake is in not using bookmarks. This is such a great feature. You can set jump points to specific pages in your document so the reader can jump to whatever is important to them, not necessarily what you consider important. In concert with the bookmarks is setting the open options so that the reader sees the bookmarks when they ...
  • Issue #27 March 4, 2003 1. Tele/Video conference tips With travel for meetings reducing all around the world, organizations are making increasing use of tele-conference or video-conference meetings. These can be a great substitute for a face-to-face meeting if you follow some simple guidelines. Before the meeting, make sure you know how to use the equipment and you have tested it. I can’t even guess at how many of these meetings don’t occur because someone didn’t know how to connect everyone on the phone or get the video equipment to work properly. Send all materials that you will want to refer to well in advance – usually 3 to 7 days ahead and follow up 24 hours ahead to make sure everyone got the materials. Always have page numbers and document titles on each document so it is easy to refer to a specific item in a document. Set out ground rules for the call in advance and have the moderator of the call enforce them. Right before the call, make sure you have everything ready on the table or desk in a quiet place and ...
  • Issue #26 February 18, 2003 1. Remote Interference Problems Last issue I talked about what to look for in a remote control for presenting. This time I want to share some potential problems with using remotes due to interference. With infra-red remotes, the receiver can have problems receiving the signal if there are certain types of fluorescent lights in the room or there is a neon light too close. I had this happen to me in two rooms. One solution that sort of worked for me is to shield the receiver with a piece of cardboard to try to reduce the interference. Subscriber Paul Collier reminded me after the last issue of a potential problem with radio frequency remotes. Because they have a long range (50 to 100 feet) and they transmit through solid surfaces such as walls, you may be in a location where another remote user can inadvertently control your presentation with a remote in another room! Paul saw this happen at a conference and the results were disasterous for the presenter. When selecting an RF remote, make sure that it has a unique ...
  • Issue #25 February 4, 2003 1. Buying a Slide Remote One of the things that sets polished presenters apart is the use of a remote control to advance slides. With the right remote control, it can seem like the slides are changing magically because the audience doesn’t see the remote. I have used one for years and highly recommend it. I am about to buy a new one and thought I would share some thoughts on what you need to consider when buying a remote control. First is to consider what you want it to do. Do you need to advance slides only, or will you need it to have full mouse control as well? The answer to this question will drive how large the device will be – the more functions you require, the larger it will be (and the more expensive it will be). Second, how will the remote communicate with the computer? The receiver for older devices connects to the serial port and communicates using infra-red light (like a TV remote). The newer devices have a receiver that plugs into the USB port ...
  • Issue #24 January 21, 2003 1. Picking Slide Colors In the Oct 8, 2002 issue of this newsletter I gave some information on how to pick colors for your presentation slides. My suggested color scheme is a dark navy or purple background with yellow and white text. This color scheme has a high contrast between the background and the text color and the colors used have positive emotional associations. Now you can see an example of a slide that uses these colors. I have taken the slide on selecting colors from my Seminar on CD and put it on the web site for you to see. Check it out at: http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/CD-demo.htm 2. Preventing Data Loss Due to Power Outage Before the summer storm season comes, I suggest you take steps to ensure that you do not lose any data due to a sudden power outage. I recommend that you get an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) in your office. This power device connects to a wall outlet and then you connect your computer, phone or other devices to the UPS. If the power from the wall is interrupted, the ...
  • Issue #23 January 7, 2003 1. Rate Your Presentation Slides Audit One of the things many people have asked me is: “How do I know if my presentation slides are any good?” We have all seen the bad slides – and some are truly worthy of the Hall of Shame. How do you make sure that yours are not in that shameful category? Use the free Rate Your Presentation Slides Audit I have on the web site. The audit is a 34 question evaluation of your presentation slides. Once you have answered the questions, compare your score to the legend to help you determine if you have done a good job. The audit covers areas such as the slide design (colors and fonts), slide text (text density, text builds and text movement), graphics & multimedia (graphics/clip art, copyrighted material, audio/video and charts), and ease of understanding (fit with topic and presentation map indicator). You are encouraged to use it and because it is a free download in Adobe PDF format, you can send it to others who would benefit from it. Let me know how you have ...
  • Issue #22 December 17, 2002 1. Best Tips of the Year Here are the tips that I got the most comments on during the year (if the links listed don’t work when you click on them, just paste them into your browser): * PowerPoint shortcut keys Issue 1, Feb 26, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_feb_26_2002.htm * Controlling line breaks in PowerPoint Issue 5, April 23, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_apr_23_2002.htm * Paste vs. Paste Special Issue 7, May 21, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_may_21_2002.htm * Power of Right-Clicking Issues 11 & 12, July 16 & 30, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_jul_16_2002.htm http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_jul_30_2002.htm * Screen capture Issue 14, August 27, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_aug_27_2002.htm * Outlook vs. Outlook Express Issue 18, October 22, 2002 http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com/newsletter/newsletter_oct_22_2002.htm 2. Next Issue According to the bi-weekly schedule of this newsletter, the next newsletter would be scheduled to be issued on Dec 31st. But I am taking a break over the holidays, so the next issue will be out on January 7, 2003 and we will then resume our bi-weekly schedule. Until our next issue, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great start to 2003! 3. Book Discount and Contest Last week I let you know about the release of my book and a ...
  • Issue #21 December 3, 2002 1. Using Clip Art & Photos on Presentation Slides After text, the next most common element used on presentation slides are graphics – usually either clip art or photographs. When you use any graphic, make sure that you are using it because it adds to the point you are making, not just because you like it. Try not to pick the same clip art everyone has been using for years, choose some new ones that are stylish looking and have colors that contrast well with the slide background. Don’t use the animated clip art because it distracts the audience from listening to you. Photographs can be from digital photos you have taken or from collections. The resolution does not have to be too large if you are just displaying them in a presentation, usually 640×480 is fine. Be aware that photographs evoke more emotion than clip art does, so be careful in selecting photos that may bring out negative emotions from the audience. If you need to, you can modify the image by sizing it, cropping it or changing the colors ...
  • Issue #20 November 19, 2002 1. The Cost of Bad PowerPoint Recently I calculated the cost of the time that is wasted due to bad PowerPoint presentations and I was stunned to find out it was $252 million each day! How do I arrive at this figure? The New Yorker magazine reported a Microsoft estimate of 30 million PowerPoint presentations made each day. Using some conservative estimates of the number of people watching each presentation (4 people, average salary of $35,000/year) and the percentage of time wasted due to an ineffective message (25% of the average half-hour presentation) you arrive at a figure of $252 million per day in wasted time alone. In a recent article I expanded on this finding by looking at the four reasons we don’t like most PowerPoint presentations: we can’t figure out the point of the presentation, we can’t see what is on the screen, we can’t understand the points and we are distracted by what is on the screen. This new article is on the web site and it may be one article that you want to send to others. 2. ...
  • Issue #19 November 5, 2002 1. Selecting Fonts for Presentation Slides Your choice of fonts on your presentation slides can make a big difference in how easy it is to understand your message. I suggest you use a serif font (one that has the extra tails on each character, Times Roman is an example) for titles because it helps the viewer spend more time on the title, giving them context for this area. For body text, I suggest a sans-serif font (without the extra tails, Arial is an example) because the viewer reads it quicker and can return their focus to the speaker. For font size, I suggest 36 to 44 point fonts for titles, 28 to 32 point fonts for the main body text, and 24 to 28 point fonts for sub-points. Any font smaller than 24 point will be very hard for the audience to read. The best way to add emphasis to text on your slides is to use the bold effect on the text. Italics or underline text is tiring to look at for long periods of time, so use these effects ...
  • Issue #18 October 22, 2002 1. Outlook vs. Outlook Express Many new PC’s come with Microsoft’s Outlook Express as the default e-mail program so many people start using it because it is there and it does the basic e-mail functions. But when you add Microsoft Office, as many do, for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it asks you if you want to add Outlook. One of the readers of this newsletter asked me whether they should use Outlook or Outlook Express. In the article on the web site that I wrote in response, I suggested four reasons to use Outlook instead of Outlook Express: 1) Outlook has a contact database, task list and calendar in addition to the e-mail functionality, 2) Outlook synchronizes better with handheld computers, 3) Outlook’s e-mail features are more robust, and 4) Outlook interfaces better with other applications. If you have Outlook and are wondering if you should use it instead of Outlook Express, read through the article on the web site for more information. 2. Selecting the Right Chart on Presentation Slides A chart – a graph or table – is a great way ...
  • Issue #17 October 8, 2002 1. Advanced Usage of E-mail Signatures Recently while doing some consulting with one of the subscribers of this e-zine, I developed a new strategy for using signatures on e-mail. Usually we have one signature that we use on each e-mail (you are using a signature to build your profile, aren’t you? – if not, check my tip in issue 5 (April 23, 2002) in the newsletter archives on the web site). What I discovered is that you can have multiple signatures that can be combined in different ways. For example, you can have one base signature with your contact information and then one signature for each audience you interact with. You can set up the base signature to be automatically inserted and then insert the appropriate signature underneath the base signature depending on the nature of the e-mail. This allows you have a customized signature that appears as one single signature when the e-mail is received. Consider how this can help you target your message to different audiences. 2. Selecting Colors for Presentation Slides One of the biggest problems I see on presentation ...
  • Issue #16 September 24, 2002 1. Finding e-mails Most of you have get more e-mails than I do, and One of the frustration we all have is that when we have a large number of e-mails in a folder, it gets hard to find the one we are looking for. Fortunately, most e-mail programs have an advanced find feature that can find e- mails that contain certain keywords in the subject or text. For example, in Microsoft Outlook, there is an Advanced Find tools that allows you to specify what fields you want to search, which folders and what keywords you want to locate. The tool then finds all e- mails meeting your criteria in a list that you can then click on to expand any e-mail. You can use criteria on fields such as date sent, who sent it, the subject or the text of the e-mail. This allows you to find a required e-mail quickly and simply. 2. Adobe Acrobat compatibility tip If you are distributing documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, let me share an experience I had recently. When I released some of my ...
  • Issue #15 September 10, 2002 1. Keeping E-mails organized Have you ever tried to find all the e-mails on a particular project or from a key client. You search through your Inbox and it seems impossible. One way to make it easier to find e-mails on a certain topic is to organize your e-mails in folders. This is almost identical to how we organize files on our hard drive into folders. Simply create a folder for each project, client, location or whatever logical organization works for your situation. When you have finished reading an e-mail or responding to it, simply move it to the appropriate folder. You can also move e-mails that you have sent to the folder so you have a record of your replies as well. You can even set up sub-folders under a folder for clearer organization (I have a folder called Clients and then a sub-folder underneath for each client). When your e-mail program displays these folders, you can use the collapse/expand box to show all the sub-folders or hide them all. 2. Adjust brightness of pictures for data projectors If you include pictures ...
  • Issue #14 August 27, 2002 1. Screen capture Many times when you are trying to demonstrate a computer technique to someone in a presentation or document, it would be helpful to include a picture of the screen. There are specific screen capture pieces of software that will do this. But there is a technique that is built in to the Windows operating system that will allow you to capture a screen shot and include it in a document or presentation. The detailed instructions on how to use this feature are in an article I wrote recently for the web site. You can find it at http://www.communicateusingtechnology.com in the articles section. 2. PowerPoint Slide Navigator If you are doing a presentation and you want to jump to a certain slide, there is an easy way to do so in PowerPoint 2000 or higher. In slide show mode, right click the mouse button to display a menu of selections. Select Go and select Slide Navigator. This will bring a list of all of the slides in the presentation and allow you to select the one that you want to move ...
  • Issue #13 August 13, 2002 1. Forcing a PC to shut down It is inevitable that at some point in time your PC will just hang – stop working in the middle of what you are doing, no error message, it just freezes. If you have had this happen to you it is frustrating because you may lose the work you were doing. The bigger concern is what to do if it happens. The first thing to try is to press the Ctrl, Alt and Del key at the same time (the easiest way to do this is to hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and then press the Del key). This may allow you to shut down the problem program and restart the PC. If this does not work, then you will have to turn the power off. The way to do this on current PC’s is to hold the power button in for 5-10 seconds until the computer forces the power off and shuts down. Wait 30 seconds before you turn it back on. When the PC restarts, it will likely want to ...
  • Issue #12 July 30 2002 1. The Power of Right-Clicking (Part 2) When using PowerPoint, right-clicking gives you access to many options quickly. In Slide development mode, right-clicking on the background allows you to set the slide layout, color scheme and background graphics. If you right-click on a text box, you can set the font, colors and border. Right-clicking on a graphic will allow you to set the size, brightness and may allow you to change some of the colors in the graphic. On many slide objects the right-click will also allow you to set hyperlinks to other slides, files or web sites that are active if you click on the object in Slide Show mode. In Outline mode, the right-click allows you to collapse or expand the outline. In Slide Show mode, right- clicking gives you a menu that allows you to go to any slide in the show, hide the pointer and see speaker notes. Explore what other efficiencies you can find by right- clicking in your applications. 2. When Should You Upgrade Software? One of the questions I get often is how do I know ...
  • Issue #11 July 16, 2002 1. The Power of Right-Clicking (Part 1) I am always looking for ways to be more efficient when using software applications, and clicking the right mouse button is one way to do this. In this issue, I will deal with some of the features in Word and Excel, and next issue I will address PowerPoint. In Word, if you select a word and right click, you get a menu that allows you to change the font, paragraph properties and supplies you with alternative words from the thesaurus. If the selected word is misspelled, it automatically suggests the correct spelling and allows selection of the properly spelled word. If you right click inside a table in the document, it allows you to change the text direction, borders and table and cell properties. In Excel, right clicking on a cell allows you to insert or delete cells or rows, clear the contents of the cell or format the cell. There are more shortcuts available through the right click method, and I encourage you to right click in different places and situations in your ...
  • Issue #10 July 2, 2002 1. Keep Software Upgrade files Almost all software upgrade files, patches or service releases are now downloaded from the Internet. I always download the files to a common upgrade download directory on my hard drive so they are always in a common spot. Then, on a regular basis, I copy these upgrade files to a CD for permanent storage. The advantage to having the upgrades on CD is that if you need to reload software on your system for some reason, you have the upgrade files ready to install without having to download them again. 2. The Most Useful PC upgrade We are all looking to get more performance from our existing PC’s without spending a lot of time or money. I have found that the best single upgrade is to add memory to your computer. This has been the view of experts for a while, and I personally experienced this recently. My new laptop came with 128MB of RAM and I added 256MB to bring it to 384MB. I knew the performance should improve, but I was surprised at how much quicker ...
  • Issue #9 June 18 2002 1. Moving objects a small amount in a document In order to make drawing objects like lines and boxes line up in Word or PowerPoint, I usually set the Snap to Grid option on so that everything aligns. The only problem is that sometimes I want to move an object just a small distance, not a full grid movement. To move an object a distance less than a grid step, select the object (making sure that the four arrows symbol is shown) and use a Ctrl-arrow key combination – hold down the Contrl key (Ctrl on most keyboards) and use the arrow keys to move the object a small distance. This works for lines, boxes, pictures and text boxes. 2. Power protection on the road When I travel, I never know the quality of the power that I will get from a hotel room power outlet or a meeting room outlet. I always carry my own surge protected power bar for this reason. If a power surge or spike comes down the line, my equipment is protected and I avoid major trouble. I ...
  • Issue #8 June 4, 2002 1. Tips for backing up files to CD’s Having a backup of your key files is an essential part of any business strategy. For many small to medium sized businesses, backing up to a CD has become a great way to take care of this necessary task. There are many programs to copy files to a CD and all of them work quite well. Here are a couple of tips when using CD backups. First, make sure you label the CD after it is finished being created. I have found that the best instrument for writing on a CD is a Sharpie brand marker. They are permanent even on a CD and you can find them in almost any office supply store. Second, make sure you back up your e-mail files or folders. Check with your e-mail program on how to do this. Third, close all other applications and disconnect from the Internet when writing data to a CD, it increases the chances of a successful writing session. Lastly, if you are using a CD-RW disc that can be written to ...
  • Issue #7 May 21, 2002 1. Paste vs. Paste Special for copying text When we copy and paste text from one place to another or from one application to another we usually just use the shortcut keys of Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-V to paste without even thinking much about it. Sometimes you may find it useful to use the Paste Special feature instead of simply Paste. This feature is found on the Edit menu of your application and it will give you different options for pasting. One I find useful is to paste the text as unformatted text, which allows me to keep the font and other text settings of the destination document for the new text I am pasting in – this is particularly useful for pasting text from a word processor into a Web page design application. I also have used it to paste the text from a graphic into a document. Experiment and see how this may help you save time when copying and pasting. 2. Rate your presentation slides One of the areas that I work in is helping people make their presentation ...
  • Issue #6 May 7, 2002 1. Opening E-mail attachments Sometimes we receive e-mail attachments that we are expecting and we can’t open the document by double- clicking on it in the e-mail (you should always immediately delete any e-mail with an attachment that you did not ask for, it can be a virus). This happens when our e-mail program does not know which application should be used to open the file. One easy way around this is to save the attachment to your hard drive by right clicking on the attachment icon and selecting Save As… Then start one of your usual applications and you can then open the saved file. This works because your applications automatically recognize different file formats and convert them. I have two people who use WordPerfect and who regularly send me files and I use this technique in order to open them in MS Word. 2. Moving a projector away from a laptop When you are using a data projector and laptop to make a presentation, sometimes the laptop needs to be moved quite a way from the data projector due to the ...
  • Issue #5 April 23, 2002 1. Controlling Line Breaks in PowerPoint When you are entering text into a text box in PowerPoint, the text moves to the next line based on the right margin of the text box. Sometimes we want to move to the next line before the text reaches the right margin. Pressing the Enter key does not always work- if you are using bullets, it moves to a new bullet; if you have different spacing between paragraphs than between lines, it will look different. The way to move to the next line is to hold down the Ctrl key and then press the Enter key. This simply moves to the next line within the same bullet or text portion. 2. Uses for the E-mail signature One option on an e-mail program that is not used as well as it could in many cases is the ability to add a signature to the end of each e-mail that you send. Here are some ideas of items you may want to consider for your e-mail signature: – Your name and contact information – Your e-mail and web ...
  • Issue #4 April 9, 2002 1. One way to use a PDA to ease tax calculations Many of us have just finished filing our income taxes and one area that can be a real hassle is calculating the business use of our vehicle. The tax department wants to see what percentage of the distance we traveled during the year was business use and what percentage was personal use. To do this, you need to keep track of the start and end odometer readings for each business use trip. If you track this in a paper notebook in the glove compartment, at tax time, you need to enter all those figures into a spreadsheet – what a chore! I found that tracking the odometer readings on my PDA (personal digital assistant – Palm, Visor, Pocket PC, etc.) has made this much easier. I set up a note in the Notepad application that lists the month, date, starting odometer and ending odometer, each separated by columns and one line per trip. This way, at tax time, I simply import the note into a spreadsheet and it know how ...
  • Issue #3 March 26 2002 1. Important Adobe Acrobat Update If you are using Adobe Acrobat 5.0 to create Adobe PDF format files, you may run into a serious incompatibility with Microsoft Office 2000 and XP programs. The original macros that Acrobat installs into Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint cause those programs to crash either when starting up or shutting down. I had this happen to me and only discovered how to solve the problem by reading an article on the Microsoft support web site. Adobe has now fixed the problem and it is contained in an update to Acrobat called Acrobat 5.0.5. It is a free download from the Adobe web site ( http://www.adobe.com) and I consider it essential if you are running this version of Acrobat. Earlier versions of Acrobat (version 4 and previous) don’t seem to have this problem. 2. PowerPoint Viewer Issue If you do not have the full PowerPoint program from Microsoft, you can still view PowerPoint files using the free PowerPoint viewer. This is a free download from the Microsoft web site and allows you to display PowerPoint 97, and 2000 files. ...
  • Issue #2 March 12, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip If you are using a data projector, make sure you know how to properly turn it off and pack it away. Many data projectors require a cool down period where the bulb is not on but the fan continues to run. This is usually done by putting the projector in Standby mode. The cooling down is important because if the projector is moved when hot or warm, it dramatically increases the chance that the bulb will break – and at over $700 for most of the bulbs, this is something you want to avoid. Newer projectors have a new bulb technology that allows them to be moved immediately after being turned off, but be careful because they will still be very hot. Check with the owner’s manual of the data projector so you know what method to use. 2. Interesting way to use a Digital Video Camcorder In the process of putting together a CD product that required sound files, I faced the issue of how to record the sound at a quality that was good, but also ...
  • Issue #2 March 12, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip If you are using a data projector, make sure you know how to properly turn it off and pack it away. Many data projectors require a cool down period where the bulb is not on but the fan continues to run. This is usually done by putting the projector in Standby mode. The cooling down is important because if the projector is moved when hot or warm, it dramatically increases the chance that the bulb will break – and at over $700 for most of the bulbs, this is something you want to avoid. Newer projectors have a new bulb technology that allows them to be moved immediately after being turned off, but be careful because they will still be very hot. Check with the owner’s manual of the data projector so you know what method to use. 2. Interesting way to use a Digital Video Camcorder In the process of putting together a CD product that required sound files, I faced the issue of how to record the sound at a quality that was good, but also ...
  • Issue #1 February 26, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip There are many shortcut keys that you can use during a slide show in Microsoft’s PowerPoint program. You can access a full list of them by pressing the F1 key while in Slide Show mode, but here are some of the most useful. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very useful when you want to put the audience’s focus on you for a moment instead of your visuals. Ctrl-L or Ctrl-H – pressing this key combination turns the pointer off during the presentation. Which key combination works depends on which version of PowerPoint you have. Ctrl-L works for PowerPoint 97 and earlier, Ctrl-H works for PowerPoint 2000 and later. This will stop the pointer appearing if the mouse moves during your presentation. A – pressing the A key during a presentation makes the pointer appear or disappear. If the pointer does appear on the screen during your presentation, the natural inclination is to press the Escape ...
  • Issue #1 February 26, 2002 1. Presenting Using Technology Tip There are many shortcut keys that you can use during a slide show in Microsoft’s PowerPoint program. You can access a full list of them by pressing the F1 key while in Slide Show mode, but here are some of the most useful. B – pressing the B key during a presentation turns the screen black, pressing it again returns you to where you were before. This can be very useful when you want to put the audience’s focus on you for a moment instead of your visuals. Ctrl-L or Ctrl-H – pressing this key combination turns the pointer off during the presentation. Which key combination works depends on which version of PowerPoint you have. Ctrl-L works for PowerPoint 97 and earlier, Ctrl-H works for PowerPoint 2000 and later. This will stop the pointer appearing if the mouse moves during your presentation. A – pressing the A key during a presentation makes the pointer appear or disappear. If the pointer does appear on the screen during your presentation, the natural inclination is to press the Escape ...