Daylight Savings and Your Presentation
If you are presenting next week, take a look at your calendar...and your clock. On April 3, most areas in North America are "springing ahead" to Daylight Savings Time. This means that you get to sleep in an extra hour, so you won't be late for your 9 a.m. presentation on Monday.
Of course if you live in Arizona or South Bend, Indiana, you can ignore the above paragraph. Certain areas throughout the U.S. don't observe Daylight Savings at all. Just be mindful of your time zone next week!
Shadows on PowerPoint Objects
You can put a shadow on any object in Powerpoint...but how can you put the shadow exactly where you want it? And how can you get the shadow to change color or reveal a softer gradation than PowerPoint's built-in shadow settings will allow? Here's an easy way to accomplish this:
- Copy and paste your object. (Under "Edit", select "Copy" and then "Paste".)
- Set the fill of your copied object. (Under "Fill Effects", select the "Gradient" tab. Here, you can play with transparency, colors, and gradients of your object, so that you can get the exact look you like.)
- Send the newly-colored object to the back of your original. (Under "Draw", select "Order" and then "Send to Back".)
- Place the object anywhere you desire.
April Fool's PowerPoint?
For April Fool Fun with PowerPoint, try this easy trick in misdirection. Visit http://www.johnsleigh.com.au/CardTrick.htm , download the two slides, and follow the simple set-up procedure.
It's a sly twist on an old mind-reading, card trick joke. And while it may be worth an eye-roll, grimace, or groan from your audience -- this two-slide presentation can also serve as an amusing lead-in for a discussion on assumptions or taking symbols for granted.
It's G-Rated fun -- try it, you'll like it!
Simple PowerPoint That Sizzles!
Obviously, the postcard below didn't spend a lot in graphic design. But boy, was it ever effective
When I saw it, I instantly knew what to do. This direct mail piece contained a strong call to action and no extraneous information to confuse me: I went to the site immediately.
And I loved the cryptic tagline "...reporting the news the news won't report" -- brilliant
! An underground news blogsite! The name and tagline said it all, and the Courier, type-writer font appealed to my 40-something sense of nostalgia for old-style, underground reporting. You know, the kind where the writer talks about how "The Man
" is puttin' down "the people
Now, think about this kind of technique when you put together your next PowerPoint presentation. Your presentation doesn't HAVE to use every techno-gizmo to be effective. It doesn't have to be design or clip-art heavy.
Sometimes, simplicity sizzles!
Spring Break PowerPoint...
...or "how to keep the kids amused in the car, while sneaking in something educational!" If you have a notebook computer (also known as a laptop) that you're taking with you on your family roadtrip, why not build your own PowerPoint games? Easy, fun...and maybe even intellectually stimulating.
You can download a wealth of free PowerPoint game templates (many with content) for FREE at the following sites --
Have fun and Happy Easter!
Easter PowerPoint Backgrounds
Ah, spring at last! Time for birds, bunnies, blue skies, buds -- and Easter PowerPoint backgrounds and templates, of course!
You can download quite a few for free.
Here are six URLs with Free Easter PowerPoint offers --
Labels: PowerPoint Background, PowerPoint Templates
Dolphin Slide Show
I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we haven't seen much sunlight for the past 4 months. That's why I'm thrilled to have a client in Hawaii who sends me photos of her business -- wild dolphin swims -- in the middle of Michigan's bleakest season! You can see an online slide show of dolphins and other undersea marvels by visiting the Dolphin Journeys
Beautiful photos...just what the doctor ordered for a case of spring fever!
Practice What You Present
On Friday, I was getting my hair cut. Stacks of Cosmos, People, US, Family Circles, etc. awaited my inquiring mind! For every headline that promised
a simple diet that would allow me to be bikini ready by May
, there were at least ten recipes for cookies, candies, or pasta-laden with cheese dishes -- within the same darn magazine!
Now, I thought it was patently unfair to promise me a lean, buff body in one article; and then spend page after page showing tantalizing pictures and recipes of fat-laden snacks! It made me to seriously doubt the legitimacy of the miracle diet plan described a few pages earlier.
The point is: we all need to practice what we present. If I'm saying one thing, but visually present another, I'm going to confuse my audience. For example, if I say that communicating with my audience is important -- but I don't give my audience a chance to be interactive --- what am I really
Free PowerPoint Add-Ins
Visit the Office Tips
site, where you'll see both commercial and free PowerPoint add-ins. Some of the fab freebies include:
- Motion Path Tools
- Shape Console
- Music Span
- Word/Phrase Search
- Color Scheme Manager
- Live Web (insert & update web pages real-time into PowerPoint)
... and more. Worth a visit!
In general, I use PowerPoint handouts only in few key situations. Probably the most apparent use is to "hand out" slides and notes after
Not before. Not during. After
After all, you want people to pay attention to the live dynamic of the presentation. You don't want them flipping ahead, or potentially misunderstanding something, because it's not in context of a more holistic presentation.
Another fine use for PowerPoint's handout feature is for storyboarding. For example, I often like to use PowerPoint to storyboard a video presentation. I can usually step a client through the concept of a commercial or video using the handout feature. The client sees a rough sketch of how the image will look, with the narration or dialogue printed below the image.
In what other ways do you use PowerPoint handouts effectively?
Endangered Animal Slideshow
For a good, old-fashioned slide show, there's nothing like looking at a series of wonderful animal photos, complete with captions to enhance your understanding. Go see recent World Photos - AP
to see a photo of a truly unique animal (a Philippine Tarsier measuring 4-5 inches - believed to be the world's smallest primate.)
After you (and your children or students) finish reading the caption, you can click on the "At the Zoo" link to view a wonderful slideshow featuring lynx, leopards, polar bears, pandas, and more.
Now that's a good old fashioned slide show, internet style.
The (Good) Old-Fashioned Slide Show
OK. I'm showing my age here, but I remember a time when "slide show" meant that an aunt, uncle, cousin, friend (etc.) was going to subject our family to endless slides of their latest vacation. We'd sit in the dark in our living room as the proud presenter showed us an endless array of poor photos of historical monuments and natural wonders. Slide shows were mostly excruciating affairs.
Consider today. The slide show has largely been replaced by video: an endless array of poor videography combined with horrifying transitions and special effects, sadly meant to pepper and punctuate the presenter's perplexing point. Why does Uncle Bill's fat face need to be grinning foolishly and uncomfortably in front of a beautiful waterfall? And why do I need to see this horror?
My point is this: if you're creating a slide show or video -- please consider the audience. Here's one way to tell if your presentation is an exercise in vanity or something that your audience is truly interested in viewing:
Let your audience take control of the slide clicker or video remote. Let them control the pace.
If they're clicking forward rapidly and you feel the urge to tell them to stop because you haven't finished narrating the poignancy of a visual -- this can tell you so much. It can mean that your images are falling short (visuals should largely speak for themselves). It can also mean that you're too long-winded. Or, it could mean that your audience just plain isn't interested.
You can make your presentation much more interactive, conversational, and fun when you let the audience participate. Other than Q&A, giving up control can be creatively refreshing. It lets you look at your presentation with your audience's eyes, which can increase your perspective.
(I particularly like Ofoto Store
for viewing family vacations. You get to post your photos and let your family look at your pictures when they are ready, willing, or able to do so.)
PowerPoint out of Context...
It happened again. A prospect sent me a PowerPoint file, with the notation: "Take a look at this, it explains everything you need to know about our company and our products." And I get 22 slides of...something? I have no idea what any of it means. It's gibberish to me.
This reminds me of a time in college when an acquaintance who missed a week of class asked if he could borrow my notes. I was busy. I shrugged, gave them to him and told him to knock himself out.
After the exam, he was furious. My notes did not help him understand the material at all. After all, my notes were meant for me. They were MY study aid. I didn't take notes with his point of view in mind. If he really wanted to understand the material, he would have a) attended class (beside the point) or b) asked for a study session with the professor and shown a serious interest in the material.
The point is twofold: 1) PowerPoint does not usually speak for itself. It's a visual aid for a conversation or presentation. Shoving it at someone out of context of the conversation is fairly useless as a communication device: it's a presentation, so PRESENT it! 2) Your audience, like my college friend, does not want to struggle to interpret a message that's crafted for an internal audience. Test your message and presentation on someone who is unfamiliar with your company's offer or material.
Before your present...
...get the facts straight.
I know: it is tempting. Someone sends you a fascinating story via email, or an amazing picture... and you want to use it in your speech or PowerPoint presentation. But before you include it (or worse, email it to dozens of your friends, family, and colleagues); find out the original source. So much of what gets emailed to us by well-meaning friends and family members turns out to be in the category of urban legend, scarelore, or glurge.
One of my favorite sites to get started on the "search for the truth when something seems too strange to be true" is http://www.snopes.com
. This site categorizes many of the late-breaking stories that end up in your inbox: you can easily find out what is true and what is not.
PowerPoint Buzzword Alert
Business presenters: watch out for business buzzwords, the jargon that kills effective communication. How do you know if you're buzzwording? Visit the Business Buzzword
site to see how many buzzwords might be peppered throughout your PowerPoint presentations. These are the kinds of phrases that can make your audience members cringe.
I heard too many of these phrases today (on a Friday, no less!) Starting with "leverage" and finishing with "net-net". Oh well, maybe next week can be jargon-free.... happy weekend!
Do PowerPoint tags
really help you find what you're looking for on the internet? How often do you use technorati or tagging tools to help find fresh PowerPoint content?
Inquiring minds...I really want to know!
Time for Easter PowerPoint templates yet?
Yesterday's blog pointed to a neat design site with a free e-book download. Using some of the author's recommendations, I quickly created a spring-inspired, Easter PowerPoint Template
: pastel colors, with easter egg shapes.
And two days ago, I wrote about using PowerPoint flashcards
. I combined the two ideas to create the beginnings of a math quiz. Why not ring in spring with a fresh palette of pastel colors....and a pop quiz in math? Add your own Q & A, and start popping!
PowerPoint Template Design Tips
Before and After Magazine has a great, free PDF download
that shows you how to create compelling design cover patterns (even if you have limited design skills!)
This pdf file (requires Adobe Acrobat) is short, easy, well-written and well-designed....and it's totally free! You can use it as the author suggests -- to make report design covers -- but think about using some of his techniques for your PowerPoint templates, as well.