In the past, I’ve blogged about "PowerPoint Out of Context" – where someone sends me a PowerPoint presentation instead of talking to me. For example, if I ask, "What does your company do?" you should be able to tell me in 30 seconds or less. It's called an elevator pitch, and it's a critical part of the sales and marketing conversation.
In fact, over at eWeek, columnist Jim Rapoza writes that he doesn't much like the notion of saving PowerPoint presentations (You can read why in his article "How to Save a Meeting") Mr. Rapoza’s main beef is that saving PowerPoint saves the talking points, but not the actual talk.
Point taken. So why is that people want to download PowerPoint files so badly? I have solid proof that they do: people actively download my past presentations every single day. They seek them out. They download in mass quantities. Provided with alternative to downloads (pdf files with show notes, for example) -- they still prefer the original PowerPoint presentation.
And each person who downloads is looking for something different. Some look for content, some for design, some for programming -- and some look to put PowerPoint presentations into their own context, for their own audiences. So, I'm not ready to give up saving PowerPoint presentations: if people want them, I'll keep saving them!
My responsibility is to save them wisely: to reduce PowerPoint bloat, to keep the files slim and trim as possible. And to provide a context for the content.
That's it. I rant about it a little in this 9.5 minute podcast. I also refer to the release of version 2.0 of PowerShrink (you can download a free trial at www.powershrink.com) .
ps-The PowerShrink people didn't pay me to review their product -- I just tell it like it is. It's a fast and easy way to reduce PowerPoint file size bloat without mucking up your original file.
Create Your Own Crossword Puzzle - Free!
I love games that let me learn something. I'm particularly fond of trivia and any kind of word puzzles.
Let's talk crossword puzzles.....Love 'em. And I read that doing crossword puzzles regularly helps keep an aging mind sharp, so I make a point of doing the big one in the Sunday morning paper every week.
So far, so good.
I got to marveling about what a talent it is to actually CREATE a crossword puzzle...it's quite a creative effort to make sure that all the words line up, down, and across...not to mention creating clues and themes within the puzzle itself. My hat is off to the clever puzzle creators that produce my Sunday treat!Create Your Own CrossWords...
And thanks to the Discovery Channel website, you can easily create your own crossword puzzles
! It's free and easy to use, too. Just think of the potential: teachers and trainers can create a weekly puzzle for students based on the week's lessons...
It's easy enough to create the puzzle and import it into Word or PowerPoint. You can print it, hand it out, and keep young and old minds agile. It took me only a few minutes to create a half-decent puzzle. (No where near as creative as the Sunday paper, but not bad!)Give it a go!
Download iTunes for free
I received an email yesterday that asked for clarification on podcasts
Forgive me: I know this will be longer than my usual post. But I feel that if one person is confused, there may be more! And honestly, most blog sites (like mine) have little orange buttons that say "XML" or "RSS" or "Syndicate this Site" or "Subscribe!"....but we never actually describe why
you should...or even how
No features, no benefits! That's not helpful! Shame on me!
To clarify: you can listen
to any of my PowerPoint podcasts right now. For free. All you need is a computer that plays mp3 files. (Basically, a soundcard and speakers, and free software like Real Player or Quicktime or any other audio player you might have.)
Nothin' fancy about listening to a podcast. Click on a link that leads to an mp3 file, then press play. Pretty simple.Subscribing
is something different. You can also subscribe to my podcast or blog right now...for free.
There are many sites that tell you "how" to subscribe, but they don't tell you "why". I'm going to (try) do both, and I'm going to (try) to be as brief as possible!"Why" Subscribe.
Subscribing is a big time saver. Subscribing means that you don't have to physically come to your favorite blog or news site every day to see if there is something new. If you're a subscriber, you check your podcatcher or feedreader, and quickly scan your headlines to see if there's something new.
Subscribing is also wonderful because it's PRIVATE. When you subscribe to my blog or podcast (or anyone elses!), you don't have to give out any information to me, like your name or email address. It's push v. pull: with an email newsletter, I'd be pushing
content at you, whenever I
felt like it. With a blog and feedreader (or podcast and podcatcher), you're
pulling content...so you get new stuff when (and if) YOU want it. You can feel more secure, because I don't have any of your private info to potentially add to the spam problem. (Not that I would!)"How" to Subscribe (written content)
There are tons of feedreaders (or feed aggregators) out there that let you subscribe to blogs or podcasts: if you have a My Yahoo!
or My MSN
account, for example, you can subscribe to feeds and see their headlines whenever you log in to these accounts. Other feedreaders include Bloglines
(this isn't an all inclusive list...just two of the most popular.) Get a free account at any one of these sites, then start subscribing to blogs that you like."How" to Subscribe (audio AND written content).
And if you want to subscribe so that you can both read articles AND listen to podcast content, you'll need a special kind of feedreader called a podcatcher. Popular podcatchers include iPodder
, Doppler Radio
...and the recent addition of the very popular iTunes
the part where my would-be subscriber got a little mixed-up (and I totally understand why -- it's not like all this is patently straightforward!) is that he believed that you have to PAY to use iTunes to listen to my content.
Let's clear that one up right away! You don't have to pay anything to listen or subscribe to my podcasts with iTunes! It's free, free, free!
iTunes is a free
podcast aggregator, with a nice, easy to use interface. If you want to subscribe using iTunes (for free!), here's how:
- Download iTunes - Version 4.9 .
- Install it.
- In the "Advanced" menu, click on “Subscribe to Podcast…”
- Enter the feed URL for your favorite blog(s) or podcast(s). For example, the feed for this blog is - http://feeds.feedburner.com/Maniactive . Cut, copy, and paste it in!
- Press Okay.
- Double-click on the episode you want to hear. (It might take a minute or so for iTunes to slurp down the content).
It's free, and it's pretty easy! And it opens a world of free audio content for you to enjoy. And it's not just *my* blog that's free: there are tens of thousands of sites with free content to explore.
And if you're a parent or teacher, you're pretty much honor-bound to give this podcasting thing a whirl. You've got to have at least a basic understanding of what your kids might be listening to (it's not all G-Rated!)
The added bonus of using a podcatcher like iTunes or iPodder is that if you or your kids have a portable mp3 player (like an iPod or iRiver or Shuffle or what have you...), you can set your podcatcher to automatically load it up with fresh content...perfect to listen to while you're on the go...on your commute to work, or while you're on the treadmill...
Enjoy it! Hope this clears things up a little. Let me know if you have further questions...
PowerPoint Charts and Stats Presentations
How many times have you seen a statistical chart in a PowerPoint presentation? Too many times to chart, probably!
I gotta admit it: sometimes I'm something of a stats junky. Yes, I can get excited by statistics, and I try to convince my clients to get excited about their numbers, too.
Numbers help us tell a good story.
As an audience member, you look at the charts, or look at the numbers...and the speaker builds a story about what the numbers mean. The speaker explains why the numbers are the way they are, and tells a story about how those numbers are going to look in the future.
Numbers help us hypothesize.
So, if you're looking for stats to use in your presentation, look about you. Exciting numbers are all around you -- company financials, sports stats, web log files -- you don't have to look very long to find interesting statistics, the raw data that can help you shape the story for your next presentation.
I particularly like http://www.fedstats.gov
- its a gateway to statistics from over 100 U.S. Federal agencies. Wheee-- what a powerful research tool!
And I like to see stats in a variety of ways: rows of numbers. Pie charts. Bar charts. Line charts...I love them all.....
...Except for 3-D charts on an x/y plane....or in a pie chart. These are really starting to bother me.
Frankly, I just don't see the point. The 3d effect doesn't do anything to clarify the numbers for me. It only adds an unnecessary layer of visual complexity to what should be a straightforward story. I think the reason that people use the 3D effect in their XY charts is simply because PowerPoint makes it easy to do so.
But....if it's an x and y chart, I feel the graph should be in two dimensions, too. (Unless you're trying to be frothy-cute, like a USA today style chart. I actually like those...yes, it's a layer of visual complexity, but it actually adds something to the story.)
Am I alone here? I see so many 3d effects in PowerPoint bar chart presentations lately that it's driving me a little mad. It shifts my focus off the story, and makes the information harder to digest.
How do you feel about stats presentations, particularly the 3d effect?
3 Things Teachers Know About Game-Based Learning...
As we march briskly into the "Back to School" season, let's take a closer look at playing games in presentations.
Teacher, trainers, and other professional educators are experts at using multiple choice games or Q&A in their presentations. Done well, game-based presentations can increase audience attention as well as content retention.
Most teachers can successfully pull off being a poised quiz show master of ceremonies AND an effective educator at the same time! Find out how they do it in this brief, 10.5 minute podcast
, where I discuss the"Three Key Elements You Need to Successfully Incorporate Games into Your Presentation"
Long title. Short podcast!Listen to it today!
Podcast Show Notes:
In this podcast, I make reference to quite a few people and/or their websites. In case you didn't catch their URLS (or I didn't throw them!), here are the links to their websites:
1. Blogger Paul Gimbel, who maintains a "Technological Implementation Secrets" blog. You can read Paul's musings at http://spaces.msn.com/members/paulgimbel/
2. You can find out more about animated quiz show host Al Morale and get a free trial of Game Show Presenter Software at http://www.presentationgames.com . Try it: it's a hoot!
3. Hillsborough Township School District - The Four PowerPoint Game Show Templates I mentioned are available at http://www.hillsborough.k12.nj.us/edlinkspowerpoint.htm
4. Management Consultant and Master Presenter Tom Peters has a website and blog at http://www.tompeters.com . You can download his masterful PowerPoint slide sets for free at this site, as well.
Of Space Shuttles, Submarines, and Public Speaking...
What do space shuttle missions, submarine voyages, and PowerPoint presentations all have in common? Why, planning and preparation, of course!
Whether you're an astronaut, sailor, or presenter -- planning and preparation are key elements to overcoming fear. (It also helps to have the best in technical support and thousands of people praying for you!) In this 10 minute, 30 second podcast
- a snake slithers across my foot,
- a wild boar and I have a face-off, and
- I dangle over the edge of a 50-foot cliff.
Clearly, I know something about fear! Hey, I even speak in public to earn my livelihood! And I'm not fearless. I'm a big old chicken. Honestly.
So how can we keep fear from negatively impacting our lives? And what is it that we really
Is it really public speaking that you fear: or something else entirely less psychotic and way more manageable?Download this podcast
, where I outline a two-step process for overcoming any fear. It really works! Try it!
PowerPoint and the Family Meeting...
I only know of "family meetings" as a sitcom device, where a self-important teen or parent calls a family meeting as a matter of exposition. Apparently this hackneyed sitcom feature has leeched into the real world. Imagine real families, scheduling regular family meetings. How bizarre. Mary Hanna writes about it in a funny article called "Power families use PowerPoint to make points
Obviously, I'm not from a power family. We never have formal "family meetings" where we discuss our life's goals and objectives in a business-like setting.
In my world, important family conversations occur ad hoc
and always...or at least over the course of the regular family events: meals, playtime, vacation, bathtime, bedtime, etc.
Important family discussions go down way better that way. Discuss goals while staring dreamily at stars. Chat about the day's activities over dinner. Share plans over breakfast.
And we absolutely never discuss anything of familial importance over PowerPoint slides!
"How was you day, dear?" needn't elicit a precise, blow-by-blow status report. My friend Oud says this bizarre behavior might be a function of busy families doing too much, not sharing enough meals together...so they contrive a way to stiffly communicate. If that's the case, then these people need family counseling, not family meetings!
Do most real people call formal family meetings? Really? How freaky is that?