Free Halloween Clip Art
Boo! It's that time of year: the last day of October calls for scary Halloween clip art or photos to pepper throughout your PowerPoint presentations.
Ghosts, skeletons, skulls, bats, haunted houses, pumpkins, spiders, witches, and goblins... and all sorts of other creepy crawlies that go bump in the night! You can trick or treat yourself to some awesome Halloween graphics, available for free download at the following sites:
updated: September 28, 2007
Labels: images, PowerPoint Background, PowerPoint Templates
Daylight Saving Time Ends
Every time we go through the time change, I mess up at least one appointment in the following week. I'm either too late, or too early.
For a presenter, that's bad.
But this year is going to be different. I'm going to "fall back". I'm going to be a clock watcher. I'm going to be on time for everything this week.
And I checked: it's "Daylight Saving Time" and not "Daylight Savings Time". Either way, I wish that we could collectively pick a time and stick with it!
OpenOffice.org: Color Me Impress (ed)!
Yesterday, a nice woman from Maryland named Elisa called me. She needed to edit a PowerPoint file...only she didn't have Microsoft PowerPoint loaded on her computer. And of course, she didn't want to buy PowerPoint for a one time use, for one machine!
And she didn't have access to her software...so what to do?
I hadn't yet gotten around to reviewing OpenOffice.org's Impress product -- which claims to be able to open and edit MS PowerPoint files. But I downloaded the whole shooting match -- the whole Open Office Suite, a Sun Microsystems product which contains open source (oh yes, and totally free!) software that can open and edit every one of these Microsoft's office suite products -- PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and Access.
I started my download at 12:17pm this afternoon. By 12:30, I had loaded the entire suite. By 12:40, I had opened AND edited an old Microsoft PowerPoint file with OpenOffice Impress...and boy was I ever IMPRESSED!
Impress also lets me seamlessly save my PowerPoint files as a PDF file...this is a hugely great feature/benefit! Talk about a time saver! And the interface is nothing short of phenomenal, with tabs that let me click from Presentation View, to Outline View, Notes View, Slide View....So far, I'm so fabulously impressed.
And my exposure to this product has thus far been under one half hour! (Here are other more extensive reviews of OpenOffice 2.0
So here's my advice, Elise: go download Impress at OpenOffice.org
. You'll be able to open and edit that PowerPoint file...and do so much more.
And here's a reminder to students and others who are budget-strapped: it's a free download.
Go. Go now.
Bullet Point Haiku...
This morning on CNN, I saw an example of what I call "Bullet Point Haiku". The anchor was talking about travel off camera while the audience was treated to an elegant electric blue background with three bullet points that read something like this:
- Expect flight delays
- Don't travel to Florida
- Hurricane Wilma
Now that's Haiku in its truest sense: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables...and even a reference to something in nature or the seasons, which is part of this traditional Japanese poetry form.
As I drank my first cup of coffee, these three bullet points got me to thinking -- what if I designed an entire PowerPoint presentation using nothing but bullet point Haiku?
Imagine it: gentle new age music plays. Birds sing. Crickets chirp. A babbling brook meanders through the sound system. The first slide arises on the screen:
- Quarterly Report
- Sales are up; profits are down
- Let's blame Katrina
- People need our stuff
- Increased sales for rebuilding
- But fuel costs more
- The Fourth Quarter Plan
- People, let's control our costs...
- ...and raise our prices.
Quite frankly, these three slides could jolly well become the thoughtless, heartless boilerplate for just about every corporate webcast / slideshow / third quarter update I've seen this month.
Blaming Katrina for poor performance ... in almost Haiku form... seems to be all the rage. At least it's a step up from "the dog ate our financial statements" that was in fashion a few years ago.
But apparently, we've still got a long way to go....
What's on YOUR desktop?
My desktop wallpaper lets me personalize what I see: but decorating (or defacing?) the back of my notebook computer is all about what I want others to think about me.
Apparently, it's a growing fashion trend. (See picture at left from www.flickr.com
. What do you think? Decorating or defacing?)
Now sometimes, we catch a glimpse of other people's desktop wallpapers and get a revealing look at what they really
think or who they really
Imagine my surprise when an Ann Taylor- wearing, mid-fifties executive booted up her laptop on a video display and treated her audience to a very Goth -- and I mean dark, dirty, and disturbing -- wallpaper!
"Halloween," she choked nervously.
Nobody was buying it.
"Teenage son got a hold of my notebook?"
So let's say you don't decorate the outside of your notebook....what does your notebook desktop wallpaper reveal about you, your personality, your interests? And what kind of impact might it make on your audience if they caught a glimpse of it before, during, or after your presentation?
(I'll confess - the outside of my notebook is clean: no stickers. And I change the desktop wallpaper with the seasons or my mood. Today, it's a school of fish. Last month, it was a field of lavendar. Go ahead: psychoanalyze away!)
What's on YOUR desktop?
Sweetest Day and PowerPoint?
Sweetest Day is October 15 this year. Fancy that. I've been celebrating sweets every day.
But apparently, Sweetest Day is a midwestern US pseudo holiday. The only reason I know about it is because my local grocery stores are hawking it in a big way. Yesterday, my eyes were assaulted with bins of colorful candies. And with the cold, crisp weather coming on -- it's hard not to think of warm brownies and tasty, mouth-watering pumpkin pies.
At the very least, Sweetest Day might serve as an Autumnal culinary warm-up for Halloween.
And when it comes to the debate over PowerPoint v. Pastries, my online PowerPoint v. Pastries poll
currently shows that pastries are more influential when it comes to business presentations and relationship sales. So on Sweetest Day, you might want to skip the PowerPoint presentation...and head straight for the cookies!
Optical Illusions and the Presentation
Sometimes, I don't see what's in front of me. I see what I want to see.
Should I blame it on creeping middle-age farsightedness...or worse -- getting so set in my ways that I lock my vision firmly on past experience? Unwilling to open myself to the possibility of new experience?
If I'm becoming far sighted, I can go to an eye doctor and get a new prescription. Easy fix.
But what can I do if I refuse to see new information clearly... based on past prejudice?
Apparently, it's something we all do, to a certain extent. Consider the Land Effect (or the Retinex Theory described by Edwin Land in 1977). This effect refers to our tendency to see an object as a certain color, no matter what color the object might be. For example, if we have a an expectation to see an apple as red, we see a red apple, even if it's too dark for use to tell what color it really is. According to Land, the eye and the brain (the retina and cortex) form a single optical system -- so our past prejudice literally "colors" our world.
Or consider the Ponzo Illusion: where our eyes misjudge an object's size based on its background. Or the Zollner Illusion: where we perceive straight lines to be crooked.
It's important to recognize this human tendency if we're presenting new, mind-bending information. People (like me) get set in our ways. We see what we want to see... and judge on our past experience.
That's why I like to use optical illusions when I present new and potentially mind-shattering information. Using optical illusions as a warm-up to such a presentation can remind audience to use a bigger vision
when processing new information.
An optical illusion reminds us, "Don't believe everything you believe."
Get your head out of the past. Get in the here and now.
Happily, optical illusion examples reside everywhere on the internet. You can always do a Google
or Yahoo image search
and see thousands of optical illusions. And my favorite place to find out more about different illusions and their effect on the brain has got to be Wikipedia.org
.PS -- I seriously doubt if how we process optical illusions has anything to do with creativity.
Earlier this month, I received the now-classic "Face in the Coffee Beans
" illusion via email. This oldie purports to tell you how creative you are based on how quickly you find a creepy little face staring at you from among a pile of coffee beans. Although I saw the face instantly, I doubt that I'm any more or less creative than the gal who took a minute to find it, or the guy who couldn't find it all.
From what I understand, Ray Charles was a pretty creative guy. I'll be he couldn't find it, either.
Columbus Day PowerPoint
Did Columbus discover the Americas? Sure. He just wasn't the first.
It's kind of like how I discovered chocolate when I was around three years old. Surely, I was not the first to discover chocolate, but I thought my discovery was amazing, nonetheless.
So perhaps Columbus Day is a good day to reflect on our personal and professional
discoveries. Like chocolate. Or an amazing new bit of business information.
My father is a Brother Knight with the Knights of Columbus, a past Navigator of the Fourth Degree. Dad is 86, and I know he will be celebrating new discoveries next week, as well.
After all, you are never too old for new discoveries.
So if you are giving a presentation next week, you might want to wish your audience a Happy Columbus Day. Encourage them to take a voyage of discovery with you in your presentation.
After all, Columbus was a master presenter. But it wasn't always that way....
In 1484, his "Enterprise of the Indies" presentation flopped when he gave it to King John of Portugal. But Columbus learned from his mistakes. A few years later, he gave his presentation to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. They gave him the funding he needed to finance his voyage to the new world.
No PowerPoint required!
Columbus learned successful presentation techniques. And he was willing to learn and truly go fearlessly forward...in more ways than one.
How can you channel the positive spirit of Christopher Columbus in your public speaking engagements next week?
(This year, the US observes Columbus Day on a Monday - October 10. But traditionalists like me will celebrate on its original day -- October 12.)
Cartoons and the Business Presentation
How do you feel about using cartoons within business presentations? I seldom use them, but I have seen them frequently. And with varying degrees of success.
I have yet to hear a presented business cartoon elicit wild, side-splitting laughter from a business audience. The best
I have heard are polite and possibly sincere chuckles. And the most I have ever given up is a wry smile.
And I'm a gal who laughs heartily. At almost anything
But given the business setting, a wry smile or a little chuckle is probably appropriate. Make the audience warm up to you or your subject a little. And maybe it is the best a business presenter can possibly expect.
(Please, somebody prove me wrong! I love to laugh!)
Sadly, most cartoon presentations I see have missed the mark by a huge margin (I'll tell you about the worst cartoon presentation I've ever seen later in this post. It was a doozy.
But I've also seen cartoons used successfully in business presentations. Here are three factors that make the cartoon-within-a-presentation work:First, the cartoon must be in context
. It can't just be this funny, unrelated thing that you throw in there. It actually has to have something to do with the topic at hand. The best cartoons connect your audience to your content...emotionally and positively.Secondly, the cartoon must be independent of explanation.
Good presenters don't read slides to their audiences: and they certainly don't read cartoons to them! If your audience didn't connect with your cartoon, don't even try to explain it to them. If you have to explain why something is funny: it is not funny. Move on.Thirdly, the cartoon must pack ONE hard visual punch
. One-panel cartoons tend to work better in business presentations than multiple-panel cartoons. As a presenter, you don't want to be speaking while your audience is reading. Either they'll ignore you while they're reading (bad) or get annoyed at you for yapping while they are reading (worse). You can always remain perfectly silent while waiting for your audience to read multiple panels...but there's a big
pitfall: certain audience members will always read faster than others. The speed readers will laugh first, which annoys or insults the slower readers. The slow readers will then pretend that they read the joke, but to protect their egos, they won't laugh.
"Oh, yeah, I read it. I just didn't think it was funny."
That's why cartoons with clear, simple graphics work better than long, wordy cartoons. In essence, the best business presentation cartoons are very much like good PowerPoint slide designs: high visual impact, few words.
As for my pick for the worst use of a cartoon in a business presentation: it has to go to the fellow who used a cartoon that depicted three different bodily emissions. And I'm not talking sweat or spit: these three emissions are typically only seen in private.
His presentation was beyond "thud". The audience emotion was horror, embarrassment, disbelief -- a wide variety of negative emotions. So even though the cartoon met 2.5 of my criteria above (in context, highly visual, emotionally connected with the audience), there's probably one more factor I should mention: keep it clean. The cartoon emotionally connected with audience, but not in a positive way!
And remember, cartoonists like to get paid for their creative efforts. I've seen too many cartoonists who have their copyrights violated. It is illegal to scan a comic strip that you find amusing and include it in a public presentation. You have to give credit (and/or cash) to the cartoonist.
So when you want to check out some high quality cartoons for use in business presentations, visit these four sites:
- Newsletter Cartoons Ted Goff offers reasonable rates for the use of his cartoons in business presentations. You can also get free cartoon feeds for your website.
- New Yorker Cartoons The New Yorker offers its classic business cartoons for use in your PowerPoint presentations. They have a sale going on - $19.95 per cartoon.
- Andertoons Mark Anderson offers cartoons for your presentations and webfeeds.
- Glasbergen Cartoonist Randy Glasbergen has more than 1,000 business and computer cartoons at his website.
Anybody know of any more good (clean) business cartoons?
Labels: fun, PowerPoint Presentation
When I hear people say "PowerPoint Background", I usually think of the graphic or color of the slide. You know -- what's in the background of the slide.
But here's another kind of PowerPoint Background
- the history of PowerPoint, as presented by Wikipedia.
Here are some interesting, "Did You Know" PowerPoint Historical Factoids:
- About 30 million presentations are made with PowerPoint every day.
- The prototype program was called "Presenter".
- The first version of PowerPoint was released in 1987 for Apple Macintosh.
- Micrsoft purchased PowerPoint in 1987... for only $14 million.
- Microsft released a Windows / DOS version in 1988.
- Key competitors for PowerPoint include Apple's Keynote &
Impress by OpenOffice.org.
People make fun of PowerPoint all the time: but we can't seem to help ourselves from using it. It's cheap and easy. And it can be the fast food of business communication....if we let it.
PowerPoint is one of those software tools that screams for staff development and training. The program itself is fairly inexpensive: but using it poorly causes a tremendous amount of pain.
But think of what using PowerPoint wisely can accomplish! The ability to excite, inform, and persuade! It's the information age, man! Spending a couple hundred bucks on a piece of software is peanuts compared to the power of spreading a compelling idea. And at 30 million presentations every day, we've got a lot of ideas flying around.
How effective are they at truly hitting home with their audiences? Thirty million opportunities every day to change the world....so what happens?
Great speakers often shun PowerPoint. They've learned how to keep audience attention without it.
Poor speakers often rely on PowerPoint too heavily, as if gee-whiz technology and impressive design could replace great content and character.
So I'm not thinking about mere technical training. I'm thinking that the bulk of professional development for PowerPoint users would be better be spent in "How to Perform" or "How to Speak in Persuasively in Public" types of classes.
How's this for an idea: a Zen PowerPoint class titled "How to Give an Electrifying Business Presentation"?
The concept: the only way you can pass is if you don't use PowerPoint at all...yet you must give a completely persuasive presenation that incites your audience into taking some kind of action.
That's the kind of PowerPoint training I'd like to see. How about you?
PowerPoint and Scrapbooking
Why not use PowerPoint for digital scrapbooking projects?
It could be because some folks prefer the tactile experience of touching their stencils and paper cut outs. I can relate: although I keep an online journal, I also keep a pen and paper notebook.
It's also a sensory and creative experience to use different media. The act of feeling the paper products, using your hands to cut shapes is quite different than manipulating digital images with a mouse and keyboard.
I particularly admire the more abstract, cloth scrapbooks that end up being quilts or bedspreads. Is today's scrapbooking party yesterday's quilting bee? I don't know.
I do know that there are plenty of free scrap book resources online, where you can download templates, stencils, and kits for your real world scrap book buzz...and you can use these digital elements for your digital PowerPoint scrapbooking, as well.
Check out seven fine sites for your scrapbooking fix:
- 2 Peas in a Bucket - about 9 free kits to download, as well as a selection of modestly priced kits. The free kits have very beautiful, coordinated themes with matching elements
- All About ScrapBooking - advice and articles about scrapbooking, as well as a circle cutter template available for free download
- Sample Layouts - get ideas for your next scrap book by looking at sample layouts in a variety of categories.
- Scrapbook Templates - Just tons of scrapbook elements, all available for free download.
- The Little Pillow - Lots of pdf frame downloads for your personal scrapbooks. Cute, too! Pandas and polka dots, baby ducks, back-to-school, teen frames, and more!
- Create-A-Face is a free windows application that lets you build and print unique paper doll faces.
- Hewlett Packard's Madagascar Scrapbook Kit - if you liked the movie "Madagascar", HP lets you download some free Madagascar Scrapbook themes.