Change the Conversation...
Yesterday, I posted a blog
(and a podcast
, and a pdf file
!) about changing your PowerPoint presentation into a PowerPoint conversation
. The word "conversation" is hugely important, so I'll say it again --- conversations can change the world.
about this at my other blog site, too.)
And there's also tremendous power in your little
As a former president of my local chapter of the League of Women Voters, I learned the importance of conversation, coffee, and cookies. Those are the 3c's of any effective grassroots campaign!
The folks at Live 8
are smart marketers. They know that changing the conversation at the grassroots level is critical for changing a worldview.
Believe it: your littlest conversations can change a worldview. I urge you to visit one.org
, view their video
, and sign their pledge...right now. The G8 conference is in 7 days, so you need to sign right away.
Thanks for changing the conversation!Live 8One.org
New! Free PowerPoint Presentation!
This free download really puts the "multi" in multimedia:
1. It's a PowerPoint Presentation!
2. It's a PDF file!
3. It's a Podcast!
4. It's an online article!
1 and 2 Above. The PDF file
is actually a PowerPoint presentation with notes. It was created as a ~10 minute PowerPoint presentation to give to a group of sales people in a sales training seminar...right before we were scheduled to break for snacks (you'll see why at the end!)
3. Podcast: Because this Power Point presentation was so short, I converted it to a short, 8.5 minute podcast (available here
). Doesn't sound the same in an empty room, though. It needs a live audience.
4. Online article. Since my notes were about 1,000 wordsI went ahead and submitted the speech as an article. I'll have to wait & see if it gets picked up anywhere...
Hope you enjoy it!
Effective PowerPoint Techniques...
I saw a wonderful PowerPoint presentation earlier this month...the presenter pulled off the interactive, conversational approach with style and grace. Here's how she did it:
I was in a (small) audience of four. Since the group was so intimate, the presenter had us pull our chairs in a circle around her.
She had her "PowerPoint" slides in her lap - a short stack of 11x17-inch cards. White foam board.
"I only have these boards to make sure I cover everything I'm supposed to cover in the next 20 minutes," she began.Nice, I thought. I know how long this is going to last. And it's cozy. She gave us coffee and sweets, too!
The presenter continued:
"I'm just going to talk with you about what our organization is all about, and I'll hold the slides out for you to see, but I can't see them myself, 'cause they're on my lap. If I forgot to cover something on the slide or if you have any questions, just ask."Sweet. She's going to look at us, not her slides. That means she knows her material. And she's got us looking at her, and briefly glancing at the slides to see if she forgot anything. She's got the interactive, conversational thing going on!
Our presentater presented flawlessly. She was nice, but not particularly polished.
Didn't matter. She more than made up for it with a warm, friendly personality. Her "slides" were not flashy -- they were a simple two color affair with some graphics and a few scant words and quotes on each page. Short, relevant: benefits, features, about us, call to action. That was it.
We asked lots of questions along the way. We felt so comfortable and at ease, that two of us hung out for coffee and conversation and signed up for her organization's program afterward.
You know it's true: a conversation-packed coffee klatsch
can be way more effective than a cold, impersonal delivery with flashy animation and sound effects.
A 50% conversion rate can't be wrong!
Take a Tip (or Ten) from Toastmasters!
Toastmasters International lets you download a free PDF "Ten Tips for Successful Public Speaking". Here's an excerpt from their tenth tip:"Gain experience.
Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. "
Yep. You can sit down, research and design a PowerPoint presentation or practice a speech in front of a mirror all day long....you can read blogs like this one, or tinker with tutorials....
...but nothin' beats experience.
Get your bad self in front of an audience. Get experience. Start presenting!
Perspector, PowerPoint, and Two Freebies!
What can YOU do over lunch hour? Well, let me tell ya what I did....I ate two sloppy joe sandwiches, downloaded a free trial of Perspector
, answered three phone calls, edited four online articles for a client, tested Perspector (a little) by tinkering with an abandoned PowerPoint presentation.
Let me back up a little: I read the press release about Perspector
slightly before lunch. Perspector is a PowerPoint add-in that lets you easily insert animated, 3D images into PowerPoint presentations.
"Neat," I thought, as I hit the download button and went to grab a sandwich.
Then the phone started ringing. My stomach started growling with hunger while my in-basket was piling up with must-complete deadlines and a customer laid out requirements for a new project. As I narrowly avoiding dripping barbecue sauce on my keyboard while munching and editing, I thought that giving Perspector any kind of fair trial would prove particularly daunting.
But not so. I opened a PowerPoint file that I had previously abandoned -- and there was Perspector, neatly integrated into my PowerPoint program.
"Just for fun," I thought...and quickly added a few 3D images to my abandoned PowerPoint presentation. (I had begun designing this presentation as a kiosk to keep my audience mildly amused during breaktime during tax season, but had to cancel my appearance due to a family emergency. Hence the PowerPoint file abandonment...)
Anyway, I found out in 14 minutes (really) how easy and fun Perpector is to use. It has a vast library of 3d images to insert, animate, and otherwise play with and manipulate at will. However, I didn't do Perspector much justice in my abandoned presentation (How could I? 14 minutes? Not nearly enough time to play with all its cool features.)
Someday soon, when I have more time, I'll play with Perspector some more. I found the tour
that tells me how to use Perspector, but really -- it's so intuitively easy to use, you might not even need it.
So, here are the two freebies I mentioned in the title of this post:
1. Click the link here to download your thirty day free trial of Perspector
2. Click here to download the abandoned tax time PowerPoint presentation
Phone's rocking again. Gotta motor.
Free PowerPoint Background: The Flirtini!
I don't drink martinis. Nor do I get into a whole host of other yuppie drinks like the Flirtini
. I guess I'm not very trendy...maybe it's because I don't get HBO.
(I figure if I want to watch people practice swearing, posing, and posturing, I can always go visit a local playground or beach. There, I can witness almost the same adolescent language and antics...for free. )
However, I wholeheartedly support a happy hour. In fact, I can get behind more than just an hour...I espouse living an entirely happy life!
That's why this free PowerPoint background
is so important!
Well, it's important symbolically, at least.
If you're giving a longish presentation, your audience will want to know when they get their breaks, how long they last, where they can fill up on snacks, will there be an open or cash bar, do they have to forage for their own lunch, where's the washroom, etc.
For excellence in presenting, it's important to inform people about the availability and timing of their creature comforts. For example, as an audience member, I was unable to fully focus on a presentation last month because I was concerned about my growling stomach. When would we ever break for lunch? Where was I going to eat?
A good portion of my mind was filled with such mundane thoughts. And as such, I lost focus on the presenter.
If only the presenter had told me when we would break and what the lunch plans were, I'm certain her presentation would have been ever more so riveting!
Hmm. It's Thursday morning and I'm thinking about Happy Hour already. I wonder if my Midwestern work ethic is sliding into summer mode...
Howard Hughes, PowerPoint, and You.
There's a very cute man in my washroom RIGHT NOW! He's ripped out the fixtures and floor, and is in the process of putting on a coat of Kilz to prep the walls for a fresh new coat of yellow paint! (Whew! The smell! I think I'm going to get a little high from the fumes!)
But what does my bathroom re-design have to do with Howard Hughes, PowerPoint, and You?
Well, you can listen to this 7minute, 16second PowerPoint podcast
to find out!Hint
: Other possible titles for this blog post: --
"It Ain't Perfect, It's PowerPoint!"
"You'll Never Get It Right, and You'll Never Get it Done!"
"Going from Dark Green to Bright Yellow: Heaven!"
"Your PowerPoint Makeover"
PowerPoint Backgrounds on the Lighter Side
In PowerPoint, you can easily lighten a background photo so that you can put dark text in front of it. This can be a high impact visual technique! Here's how:
- Select your picture with the mouse.
- Select “Format Picture” from the Picture Toolbar
- Select the “Picture” Tab
- Select “Washout” from the Image Control “Color” drop down boxes.
Remember to send your Washout Picture to the back (Draw, Order, Send to Back). That way, the washed out picture will be in the back, and you can type darker text right over it (see example below.)
How to Be Famous for Being Famous!
In mixed groups, the conversation often falls to current events. Last Sunday, over dinner and drinks, my little mixer began a heated discussion of our mutual disgust (yep, we discussed our disgust) with Famous People
who are Famous with a Capital F. You know who they are...
These folks are Famous
, yet they have no particular talent or admirable quality. Yet, the media fills our valuable mind space with their tiresome exploits. My dinner companions revealed how to become famous for being famous. It's a simple, two-step process:
- Make sure you have no real talent, but that you are either reasonably good looking or have a thoroughly obnoxious personality. Maybe both.
- Spend a lot of money on marketing.
I found out that I am not alone in feeling quite annoyed that I even know of these Famous
-for-nothing people. I know who they are, and what they did. You do, too, probably.
And yet, I would rather not know of them. But hang it, their exploits are omnipresent. I cannot help but know. After all, I read. I listen to the radio. I watch TV. I surf the internet.
I am assaulted with a barrage of people I would rather not know.
I do not name them in this 5 minute podcast
. I will not give them any more attention. But I do comment on the phenomenon of being popular for no other reason than marketing....and perhaps the Famous Person's sad, pathetic need for international attention.
Don't Use Dad's Tie Template!
Don't use the Dad's Tie Design Template
on Father's Day! (It comes as a standard template with MS PowerPoint.) I don't know about you, but my Dad's tie doesn't look anything like Microsoft's idea of Dad's tie (see picture below).
So instead, create your own memories. Take pictures, invent stories. That's a better way to pay homage to Pop!
In my family, Dad's the creative storyteller, so I need to at least
attempt to honor his creativity in planning Father's Day.
Hmm. I could make an abstract representation my love for Dad in barbecue sauce on the white tablecloth that covers the picnic table.
Or draw a likeness of his face in crayon on the dining room walls. (Dad would love that. Not to mention Mom. I remember them being really excited about that burst of creativity when I was three.)
Oh, wait: I know. I'll post a picture of my Dad on my blog. This picture was taken exactly eighty years today
. (OK, give or take a few days. This is his First Communication picture, so it was probably taken in May, not June.)
How about THIS for Dad's Tie? It doesn't look anything like the tie in the classic PowerPoint template, does it? And ain't Dad cute?
Although, judging by the look on his face, he wasn't crazy about that tie, either!
Happy Father's Day, Pops!
The Ultimate in FREE Research....
A newspaper publisher reminded me of this: you don't **have** to register for the NY Times or many other online newpapers to access their archives or articles. Here's how:Get a local library card.
Then, go visit your local library's URL. Depending on your library, you can enter your card number and access hundreds of online newspapers, archives, databases, and research tools....without the hassle of registering for the news sites' "free" registrations.
(Hurray! This means no passwords to remember! No email onslaughts begging you to subscribe for a fee! No micropayments for accessing archives! Those three represent the real cost of "free" registration at many of the news and research sites!)
My Kent County Library
Card here in Grand Rapids Michigan is just fabby. I can have one stop shopping for most of my presentation research needs. I keep my library card number handy, in a word file on my computer (just in case I don't have my handy library card on my person!)
Cut, copy, paste: and I'm researching hundreds of sites for free! Wheeee!
Public libraries ROCK!
Labels: content ideas
Online Presentations and Mindmapping...
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my love of Mind Mapping, a technique where you associate and organize your concepts graphically, instead of in a typical linear fashion. Mind mapping can help you create new and more interesting combinations of ideas, and can serve as a great creative exercise. Mind maps can also become great presentations all by themselves.
Here's a wonderful example
created by cartoonist Scott McCloud. Instead of writing an article, giving a PowerPoint Presentation, or even creating a linear online cartoon, Mr. McCloud creates an engaging flow-chart of his ideas and narrative; punctuating his thoughts with expressive graphics and whimsical pauses.
I Can't Stop Thinking! #6
Let me ask you this: for you next presentation, how can you use elements of the mind mapping style to let your audience more fully absorb your rich ideas?
Best Presentation Fonts Ever!
What are the best fonts to use in your PowerPoint presentations? After all, the font you use can have a BIG IMPACT on the look and feel of your presentation.
So which fonts should you use? Specialty fonts? Common fonts? And what's the difference?Specialty Fonts.
Many designers will advocate for a specialty font that makes your presentation look very unique. But there's a huge problem with using a specialty font: if you email your presentation to someone who does not have your font installed on their machine, your presentation will default to a system font, anyway. All your work to make your presentation look special will be for nothing.
Worse, your presentation will look like a mess to your email recipient! Fonts, running all over.
However, you CAN get around this by embedding your fonts when you save your PowerPoint presentation. However, there's a down side: embedding fonts will drastically increase your file size....and if you're emailing a presentation, you'll want to keep your file sizes as slim as possible. Another workaround: you can use the "Package for CD" or "Pack and Go" features within PowerPoint and pack all the files (including fonts and graphics) within your presentation -- but the down side here is that each option increases the amount of work you have to do in order to save your presentation. Worse, you'll have to MAIL your CD...or increase the amount of directions you give to your email recipient if you decide to "Pack and Go".Common Fonts.
It's much faster and easier to use basic fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. Because almost everyone has these two fonts installed on their machines, your presentation will display as you intended. Your designer may tell you that it's not as exciting as using a specialty font, but you can be assured that it will look acceptable on most machines. And hey, as long as the content is great and the type face is easy to read and legible, people will look favorably upon a more common font face.For more fun with fonts, visit:1001 Free Fonts
- download free specialty fonts for your next presentation!Indentifont
- this site lets you identify a font from a sample by answering a series of questions. Let's say you want to match an existing typeface -- simply answer a series of fun questions, and you'll get an answer at the end! (The answer I got for my sample was wrong -- but then again, I had limited information! But I got a great alternative, so I'm happy...)Lee Hopkins
blogs about typefaces today, and recommends an excellent workshop by Kathleen Yoshida titled Avoiding Font Fiascos
. It's an excellent tutorial (in pdf format) that offers a wealth of fun information in 28 easy-to-read, interactive pages.What The Font!
If you find yourself wondering what font your favorite business uses in their logo, slogan, or advertising -- you can upload their ad graphic and (usually) get an answer. If you can't, the site has a forum of font enthusiasts that may be able to help you uncover an answer.
Have a Font-Filled Friday!
Frank Lloyd Wright
It's Frank Lloyd Wright's Birthday! Here's a free PowerPoint template with a Frank inspired background. Enjoy!
Frank Lloyd Wright Presentation - Stripped of Content
The End of .ppt?
PowerPoint files usually have the .ppt extention for presentations, and the .pot extension for templates. How is this going to change in the next year and a half, and why?This article
at Information Week
explains why Microsoft is working to change the ppt extenstion to xml in the coming years.Hint
: Microsoft has a reputation for bloat, and in the age of internet, oversized files can choke up bandwidth. Find out why XML may become the file extension of choice for your PowerPoint presentation files.
Flag Day PowerPoint
June is usually all about grads, dads, and brides...and not necessarily in that order! But Microsoft won't let you forget that June 14 is Flag Day, and it offers a free, no strings-attached download
of a rather patriotic PowerPoint template.
In fact, as long as everything is coming up roses in June, why not download free floral PowerPoint
templates as well?
Valedictorian or Salutatorian: What's the Difference?
Graduation speech trivia question
: what's the difference between valedictory and salutatory? At first pause, you might think (as I did) that a valedictorian commencement speech is given by the top ranking senior at graduation, and that the salutatorian address is the duty of the second banana. But it ain't necessarily so....
According to my Merriam Webster Page-a-Day calendar
, here's the real scoop on the word "valedictory".
valedictory adj: of or relating to an act of bidding farewell: expressing or containing a farewell.
And on the "did you know" side of the calendar, we have this:
"Valedictory addresses delivered by earnest young valedictorians at high school and college graduations are as much a rite of spring in the United States as Memorial Day. While we cannot say where the first valedictory address was given, we do know that the word was an institution at places like Harvard and Yale by the mid-1700s. Since a valedictory speech is given at the end of an academic career, it is perfectly in keeping with the meaning of its Latin ancestor, valedicere, which means "to say farewell."
So, let's look up "valedictorian" at Merriam Webster Online. Here, we have:
valedictorian noun: the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises.
It would appear that the meaning of the root verb "valedictory" got changed quite a lot when it became a noun! And the same is true of the word salutatory. At Merriam Webster, the dictionary definition is:
salutatory adj: of or relating to a salutation : expressing or containing a welcome or greeting.
But when we look up the word "salutatorian", we get this:
salutatorian noun: the student usually having the second highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the salutatory address at the commencement exercises.
Note the word "usually" prefaces the definition in both valedictorian and salutatorian. Giving the valedictory speech to the high ranking senior has simply become a tradition, and has nothing to do with the original meaning of the word.
A valedictorian says farewell. A salutatorian says welcome. It is only a relatively recent tradition to look at class rank and standing to determine who gives the valedictorian and who gives the salutatorian address.
Like the Beatles said, "You say goodbye, and I say hello!"
Let me ask you this: How many people are going to see a valedictory or salutatory PowerPoint presentation at a commencement exercise this month? ;)