PowerPoint and the Wicked Intro
What do you do when someone absolutely BOTCHES
the pronunciation of your name -- or worse -- calls you by the wrong
name entirely? And what do you do when someone introduces you in front of a crowd of several hundred people -- and
they read the wrong bio and
call you by someone else's name -- just as the first slide of your PowerPoint presentation hits the big screen?
It happened to me. In this less than 10 minute podcast
, I'll tell you how I dealt with it. And I'll also share some other "wrong name" stories, situations, and strategies in this little podcast.
I'm sure it has happened to you or someone you know. Jim gets called John, Liz gets called Beth, Paul gets called Peter -- little slips of the name happen all the time.
How do you handle it one-on-one? And how do you deal with it in front of groups? What are the two tips you need to know to play the "Sorry, Wrong Name Game?"
(Monday morning quarterbacks welcome! You can use the blog comments link at the end of this post to tell me if you think my approach was effective, or what I should have done instead.
American Music Awards and Annual Meetings
Earlier this month, I wrote about the concept of naming your company's annual sales meeting after the latest country music album
. But what about using the pop, rock, rap, or hip-hop categories to carry the theme for your annual event? Hmmmm... how would that work out?
Well, tonight is the annual American Music Awards
. Let's take a look at the top album names for the nominees in three categories to see if they would be appropriate choices for your corporate event:Favorite Album - Pop/Rock Category
- The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
- Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
- American Idiot - Green Day
Favorite Album - Rap/Hip Hop
Encore - EminemThe Massacre -50 CentUrban Legend - T.I.
Favorite Album - Soul/Rhythm & Blues
- The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
- Destiny Fulfilled - Destiny's Child
- Free Yourself - Fantasia
Now, I don't know about the actual lyrics or musicality of any of these songs, as I've not actually heard any of them. (I'm not a big pop music fan.) But as far as using popular album names as the theme for naming corporate annual events, I think we have one clear winner in each category.
My choices are obvious: "Breakaway", "Encore", and "Destiny Fulfilled" -- all three album titles have a positive connotation. You could refer to "Breakaway" sales, and "Encore" of a terrific performance in 2005, or an earnings "Destiny Fulfilled."Runners up:
When I think of Mimi, I think of the overly made-up gal on The Drew Carey Show. So I guess "The Emanicipation of Mimi" could work for a cosmetic company's annual conference -- highlighting a newer, more subtle approach to skin care. And "The Massacre" could quite possible refer to what a company will do their competition -- so there's that, I guess.
I know: it's a stretch.
But one thing's for sure: I'd steer clear of "American Idiot" as a conference theme!
And overall, I'm surprised that the music publishing industry still refers to these categories as "albums". Given that this is the year of the portable mp3 player and the advent of music downloads, the term "album" sounds rather quaint and old-fashioned. It's the old guard music industry clinging to a by-gone era, I suppose.
Not hip at all.
"Can you make your words explode and then fly off the screen in PowerPoint?" asked a student.
Sure you can!
It's all a matter of playing with your entrance, emphasis, and exit strategies in Custom Navigation. I came up with quite a few ways, and I'm sure you'll come up with even more.Here's how to get started:
- Click on "Slide Show" in the Menu Bar, and then "Custom Animation".
- Select the word or graphic you want to explode.
- In the Custom Animation Bar, select "Add Effect", then "Emphasis".
- Here's where you get creative. PowerPoint has a wide range of emphasis options. For example, you can pick "Wave" or "Flash Bulb" and get the precurser to the explosion. The point is to play until you find the effect you like!
- Select the timing you want. Selecting"after previous" will prevent you from clicking the mouse to get your effect.
- Select "Add Effect" again: this time, choose you "Exit" effect. Once again, play with it! "Pinwheel or "Zoom" might work nicely.
That's it! Basically, the idea is to find entrance, emphasis, and exit options that mimic the explosion effect you want. PowerPoint offers a ton of entrance, emphasis, and exit animation options - from subtle to exciting. Pick the one that works for you!
For grins, here's a free PowerPoint download example
that gets a little dramatic with the addition of a firecracker clip art...but hey, let's be safe out there, people!
Free Thanksgiving PowerPoint Backgrounds
How many people remember tracing around their hands to create a home-made cartoon turkey for Thanksgiving? This activity is a popular elementary school arts and crafts project around this time of year in the United States.
The hand turkey is a great Thanksgiving Day visual icon. After all, "hand-made" is what Turkey Day is all about! While adults get creative in the kitchen with home-made treats, the child's turkey drawing needs to hang on the refrigerator for inspiration.
So why not download this free Thanksgiving PowerPoint presentation that contains two "hand made" PowerPoint backgrounds? You can click on any of the bold link text in this paragraph to download your free Thanksgiving presentation. They contain the two "hand-made" Thanksgiving PowerPoint backgrounds you see above and below this post.
Please gussy up the turkey and the finger pilgrims - they need your creative input: text, feathers, pumpkins, corn, pies...and all the trimmings! Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Country Music Awards and Annual Sales Meetings
Many years ago, I remember a colleague saying that you couldn't go wrong if you picked a current country music album title as the overall theme for your annual sales conference.
Hmmmm....I wonder if that still holds true. The CMA Awards (Country Music Association
) are tonight in New York: which album name is the best bet for your corporate sales conference theme?
- Be Here - Keith Urban
- Feels Like Today – Rascal Flatts
- Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
- Somewhere Down In Texas – George Strait
- There’s More Where That Came From – Lee Ann Womack
I'm not familiar with the lyrics or music of any of these songs. But "Be Here", "Feels Like Today" and "There's More Where That Came From" might make excellent corporate sales meeting themes.
"Live Like You Were Dying" might work for a pharmaceutical or metaphysical sales conference. And I don't know, but I expect that "Somewhere Down in Texas" could work well as a theme for the US oil industry or any other corporation that profited mightily from the Katrina disaster.
And I'd definitely steer clear of this year's nominees for best country music video:
- Alcohol - Brad Paisley
- As Good As I Once Was - Toby Keith
- Days Go By - Keith Urban
- I May Hate Myself In The Morning - Lee Ann Womack
- When I Think About Cheatin - Gretchen Wilson
So much for the corporate pep rally! Looks like my old coworker was right: stick with the album cover title. But avoid the actual songs.
PowerPoint Colors and Design
Color is a powerful PowerPoint design element. Your audience responds to colors in an emotional, subconscious way. What does your choice of PowerPoint backgrounds or font colors communicate to your audience?
Here are the emotions that the different colors evoke here in North America:Red
– This color evokes excitement, heat, and power. That is why red is often used as a call-out or accent in PowerPoint slides instead of a main PowerPoint background color: too much red, and you’ll feel hot and bothered – more “burned out” than “heated up.”Orange
– Orange indicates friendliness, action, and ability. Like yellow and red, orange is a hot color that is often used to emphasize a point. Like red, too much orange can be overwhelming to our senses.Yellow
– Yellow conveys cheerfulness, freshness, and originality. Seldom used as a background, yellow is very popular as a text color on a darker background.Green
– Green reminds us of nature, and using green is more personal and intimate than coldly professional. Green conjures up images of trees and nature: it’s a color that is often adopted by environmentalists and environmental causes or products.Blue
– Blue is the most popular PowerPoint background color
. Feng shui experts tell us that blue conveys knowledge and intelligence. Darker blues are perceived as more formal than lighter blues.Purple
– Purple is prevalent among the new age, spiritual crowd. It is frequently associated with spirituality, luxury, and prosperity.Brown
- Implies age, integrity, and solidly wholesome qualities. Think of words written on aged paper, the earth, or whole grain bread: if it’s brown, it’s old-fashioned goodness.Black
– Black is the color of mystery, strength, depth. Like blue, black is a popular business background color for PowerPoint slides.White
–White is everywhere: we call the space where there are no objects “white space” even though the space might not be the actual color white. That’s because white represents purity, clarity, order, and cleanliness. It’s a popular background and accent color.Important Note:
different cultures respond to colors in different ways. Here in North America, black is the color of mourning: but in Asia, the color white is associated with death.
15 Tech Tips for 2006 Business Communicators
Some technology-driven business communication rules seem too obvious not to know. Yet, we continue to see breaches in good business communication manners (not to mention good sense) being violated with alarming frequency.
In 2005, I witnessed quite a few communication technology blunders: so I started a “do and don’t” list. Most are grounded in evolving “good communication technology manners” – while some are intended as more practical career advice.
And I’ll admit it: some of these are merely my own peeves. I was more peevish than kindly to the fellow with the iPod earbuds who wouldn’t answer the ringing office phone because “hey, the song wasn’t over, yet, man…and that’s what voicemail is for, anyway.”
Really? That’s what voicemail is for? I don’t quite agree!
Maybe we all need to be clear about appropriate business use for new technologies. Some might seem obvious. And you might agree vehemently or disagree vociferously with others -- or you may even want to express peeves/advice that didn’t make the list!
Hey, man: that’s what the “comment” button at the bottom of a blog is for, anyway!
Feel free to add, subtract, agree, and disagree with any of the following 15 items:
- Don’t put more than 20 words on any PowerPoint slide. Use compelling graphics to drive your point home.
- Turn your cell phone off when you’re meeting with clients. If you forget, don’t answer it when it rings. Simply turn it off abruptly.
- Don’t listen to music on earbuds in your office. Answer the phone when it rings, instead of letting it roll to voicemail. Don’t assume that your boss knows that listening to Coldplay is more important than promptly serving customers.
- Get to know the security guards. Someday, you will forget your digital ID badge, and you’ll need real people to vouch for you.
- Don’t communicate anything really important…like “I quit” or “You’re fired” over the phone or email. Do it in person.
- Use commuting time well. If you’re driving, listen to informational or instructional podcasts or more in-depth radio news like NPR. If you use public transportation, you can read, do paperwork, listen to your portable mp3 player or work on your laptop…but don’t yap on your cell phone.
- Don’t use your cell phone to ease the boredom of your commute by calling friends and colleagues to catch up. If you really like your friends and coworkers, you’ll call them when you really have something to say.
- Send callers directly to voicemail when you are out of the office. Don’t make people wait five rings to get your recording.
- Use spell check. Just don’t rely on it completely: it doesn’t catch everything.
- Don’t complain about jet lag. Drink lots of water and take a nap on the plane.
- Do be quiet. Don’t bray on your cell phone in public places…including public rest rooms.
- Don’t leave long, rambling voice mail messages. Be concise.
- Turn off the cute little noises on your office computer. They’re distracting.
- Don’t email people huge attachments without their consent. Use services that let recipients elect to download your monstrous files.
- Do leave relevant blog comments! Comment spam stinks!
Armistice, Remembrance, Veterans Day...
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchill
November 11 is Veterans Day here is the United States. It's a federal holiday, and I have no (live) presentations scheduled. However, I am planning to be an audience member on this day, and I am certain I will be reminded of the day's importance at least a few times.
It's quite fitting. Though I live in the U.S., I'm also a Canadian, where we know November 11 as Remembrance Day. And in France, it's called Armistice Day.
Three names...but in principle, November 11 is dedicated to remembering the people who fought during times of war. It's not so much a call to patriotism, but a call to remember and honor all people who have served in the armed forces. It's a day for the entire world to remember
Nonetheless, here in the U.S., I'm sure I'll see lots of visuals of the American flag and graves. If I was in Canada, I'd probably see lots of red poppies along with the flying maple leaf. Those are traditional visuals...
And I'm sure many speakers will even ask for a moment of silence. Entirely appropriate.
After all, it's quite important to remember. Even if you have never fought in a war, you undoubtedly know people who have. November 11 is a day to honor their sacrifice.
So even though you may not be presenting (like me), it can be quite a brave thing to simply listen....and remember.
(My own salute to Veterans Day is a short story in pdf format. The visual I use is the apple. I call this piece "An Apple for Remembrance Day
." I wrote this story to honor the life of veterans from the rural communities of Michigan.)
PowerPoint Fashion Trends for 2006
PowerPoint fashion trends? You betcha.
We HAVE come a long way since the 1990’s, baby. Find out what is hot
and what is not
in the 2005-2006 fashion season for PowerPoint presentations.
What's in vogue? And what's passe?
Listen to this oh-so-brief podcast
(under 8 minutes) to find out what is hip and trendy in presentations -- and why --before you design and give your next PowerPoint presentation.
Hint: good communication is always in fashion!
High-Tech Heckling for PowerPoint
Remember Mystery Science Theater (aka MST 3000)? As I recall, 'twas a clever cable TV show, where we see the back of the heads of three characters in the front row of a theater. As a B-movie played on screen, the audience was treated to a running commentary of the three characters. The enjoyment was not in watching a cheesy B-movie, but in hearing the characters poke fun at the large screen action.
And a few years back, Joi Ito
wrote longingly of the "hecklebot" - a wifi method of letting audience members anonymously heckle -- er, provide valuable feedback -- to conference speakers as they perform on stage. So much for waiting for the evaluation after the conference! Hecklebot lets the speaker know what's on the minds of the audience right away.
Right now, you can anonymously heckle post- conference: even if you've never even attended the event. Check out this set of slides at Flickr
-- and as you click on prev
in the slide show set -- you'll see the running list of commentary (posted by individuals) on each slide shown at Microsoft's introduction of its new Windows Live platform in San Francisco on November 1, 2005.
Think of MST: each Microsoft slide gets its share of commentary and criticism at Flickr
. And much of it is on target -- as well as amusing. Never mind that a slide is taken out of context and offered up for commentary: this type of criticism can be quite enlightening.
(In the early 1990's, I remember Microsoft's new software demos as v. exciting stuff. I don't know what the heck happened in San Francisco this year...)
Face it: if sound bites are frequently taken out of context by the media, we also need to look at visual bytes...like our PowerPoint slides.
The kind of criticism at MST and FlickR (not to mention the hecklebot or other wifi commentary) is very subjective, and gets right to the nuances of performance....there's no doubt how the audience REALLY feels! As presenters, we can learn a lot from this type of heckling and use it to improve our images and as well as our delivery.
And it's certainly more polite than throwing tomatoes or yelling insults during the presentation.
My web stats showed a spike in activity today. A little research, and I found out that I'm in position number three at ask.com
for the term "PowerPoints".
How strange, I thought. Did I misspell the word "PowerPoint" on that page? I went into my site. Nope, I spelled it right.
In fact, other than this blog posting, nowhere on this site do I use the term "PowerPoints." Not that I'm a grammarian or anything, but I'm pretty sure that you don't pluralize software names.
If I want to pluralize, I can say "PowerPoint presentations" or "PowerPoint templates" or "PowerPoint backgrounds" or "PowerPoint files" or whatnot. I don't say "PowerPoints", inasmuch as I wouldn't say, "I have two Words, three Excels, etc."
Rather, I'd say, "I have two Word documents and three Excel Spreadsheets." Or just plain Word files or Excel files....you get the drift.
So now I'm wondering about two things:
- Since quite a few people search for "PowerPoints"...am I wrong? Should I refer to PowerPoint presentations as just "PowerPoints?" Is this the new slang, hip thing?
- And since I haven't used the phrase up 'til now, why would the Butler at Ask.com decide that my site was the go-to site for that term?
Closed Captioning for PowerPoint?
After listening to an exciting speaker talk about internet advertising, my client/companion said,
"I didn't get it. The guy kept talking about paper clips. What do paper clips have to do with internet marketing?"
Uh-oh. My colleague misunderstood.
The presenter was saying "Pay Per Click" not "Paper Clip".
It would seem that the presenter's entire message was lost on my client. I was left in the position of re-interpreting the entire PowerPoint presentation.
But I understand my client's misunderstanding: "pay-per click" isn't a phrase where he had any familiarity, so his ears just picked up what he thought was the right word. Conversely, I am very familiar with the term, and my brain put it into the context of the presentation.
So what happens if you are presenting and using a term that is common in YOUR industry or YOUR profession...but the term has not quite hit the mainstream lexicon? It would probably help a bunch to a) include the written word in your PowerPoint presentation and b) enunciate very clearly.
I'm a big fan of "closed captioning" on TV. It is not because I'm hard of hearing (I'm not), but because the current trend in acting doesn't seem to put a priority on articulation. I am quite certain that young actors no longer take elocution lessons. Anyway, my brain gets exhausted with the strain of piecing together what might
have been said....so I just put on closed captioning for reinforcement.
Here's an example: I love Sean Penn's acting: such an expressive face! But I can't understand a single word he says. So I wait for his movies to come out on DVD so that I can appreciate his acting with closed captions. I'd love it if Mr. Penn spoke more clearly, but perhaps that is part of his technique: he wants you to be able to understand his emotions independent of words. In Mr. Penn’s case, mumbling is likely a creative choice, not an impairment in articulation.
For the moment... let us assume that you do not have the acting skill of a Mr. Sean Penn. Suppose you cannot just feel
the emotion of a pay-per-click ad, and that your audience will not have complete emotional, if not intellectual understanding of the subject.
Learn to enunciate. And provide written re-inforcement -- i.e., closed captioning for PowerPoint!