Friday thought: is it just me, or does the PowerPoint logo icon thingy look like PacMan munching some goblins?
PowerPoint Foreground Effects
An anonymous poster asked for clarification on PowerPoint foregrounds
and effects. Can anyone point to some examples?
Certainly, slowly dissolving a foreground element to reveal the entire image in the background can be an effective presentation effect.
Or, you can also choose to leave what is hidden to the audience's imagination
. This technique is becoming increasingly popular.
For example, suppose this picture is the image on your standard 10 x 7.5" PowerPoint slide with a white background:
Now, suppose you put the Mandala foreground in front of this image:
The slide now has a different feel. But...exactly how does it make you feel? Like you aren't seeing the whole picture? Or perhaps you might feel more focused on the subject? How can this effect help...or hinder...a presentation?
I'm also seeing quite a bit of what I call "The Twister Effect" in advertising (brochures, print ads, some TV ads, etc.) where quite a bit of the underlying image is hidden behind a series of circles. And some of the circles that would normally reveal "what lies beneath" are instead colored to match the company's corporate color or logo treatment.
With the "Twister" effect, perhaps the designer is trying to take common images in our visual landscape and turn them into icons. After all, thanks to increased computer usage, our eyes are becoming more accustomed to interpreting rounded graphic shapes as action events, icons that beg to be touched and clicked upon.
Could it be that the recent design trend toward using rounded rectangles and circles a visual cue to take the hard edges off technology, to make technology use seem more personal and touchable?
PowerPoint: the Motion Picture!
Imagine a motion picture based on a PowerPoint presentation. Imagine it being a hit at the Sundance Film Festival.
Imagine that Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation - "An Inconvenient Truth
" will be coming to a movie theater near you next month.
It could all happen. And why not?
I've often used PowerPoint as a tool to storyboard short videos and flash movies.
But consider this - if you paint a compelling visual picture with PowerPoint and combine it with persuasive, emotional narrative -- then why can't PowerPoint be a powerful springboard for telling your story in multiple media?
The Best Use of Bullet Points...
If there is an award for "Best Use of Bullet Points", it needs to go to Stephen Colbert and his team at "The Colbert Report" for their regular segment "The Word." If you haven't seen this masterful use of bullet points in a presentation, you must visit the Comedy Central website
It's highly entertaining. It's Friday. It's under three minutes. Go for it. Watch the video online. And learn how to use PowerPoint bullet points more effectively.
Mind you, this visit to Comedy Central is work-related. You can actually use Mr. Colbert's technique in a business presentation. I first used this technique myself over 10 years ago in an annual sales meeting...although nowhere near as effectively as Mr. Colbert and his production team!
The technique is quite simple. As the presenter speaks, a merry prankster "behind-the-scenes" either refutes or wisecracks about the speaker's commentary -- and usually in bullet point format.
Of course, the speaker is in on the prank. And the audience knows this, too. Aside from being funny and self-deprecating, it also builds a sense of camaraderie between the presenter, the production people, and the audience. You're all in this together, y'see....
One of the reasons we (the show producers) decided to use this technique ten years ago was because the speaker was talking about a dry, technical subject that was not going well in rehearsal. And no amount of speech coaching was helping to transform dry Mr. Monotone into a compelling speaker within a week's time frame.
We showed him slides of what we recommended doing "behind-his-back" as he spoke, and he dead-panned, "Yeah. That would be funny. OK. Do it."
Mr. Monotone never wavered in his delivery as we presented bullet points and thought balloons over his head as he spoke. The audience responded warmly: laughter and applause at exactly the right moments.
And after 2 days of corporate PowerPoint presentations and executive speeches, the results were in: Mr. Monotone amazingly won the highest evaluation for "best presentation".
Believe me: it wasn't his speech or his delivery.
It was his bullet points.
Save Gas with Webconferencing...
Reader's Digest asks its readers to save a gallon of gas
this week in celebration of Earth Day.
What a nice idea. And because of skyrocketing gas prices, folks who aren't even ecology-minded might be eager to look for ways to reduce their gas consumption, anyway.
RD.com suggests a few ways you can save a gallon this week -- but I have yet another suggestion.
Here's a great way to celebrate Earth Week:
Don't drive to work one day a week. Or don't drive or fly to attend a meeting.
What to do instead -- Teleconference. Or Webconference. You'll not only save on the gas it took to get to the meeting, you won't even have to shower...so you'll save gas from not using your gas-powered water heater, too!
Seriously, webconferencing and teleconferencing is becoming increasingly popular. If you haven't looked into it yet, please do. After you've built that face-to-face rapport with your clients, is there any reason that you absolutely MUST see them in person as much as you do?
PowerPoint with Rounded Corners
Yet another PowerPoint fashion trend! Presentations with rounded corners have been all the rage in design for the past few years. We're seeing rounded corners everywhere.
You can create this effect in PowerPoint by inserting a small gif with transparent rounded corners
over each slide of your PowerPoint presentation... and make adjustments as necessary.
Or you can create pictures with rounded corners from within PowerPoint itself.
Here's how to do it in 4 easy steps:
- Draw a rounded rectangle using "AutoShapes" in the "Draw" Toolbar.
- Select your shape, then choose "Fill Color" and "Fill Effects".
- Click on the "Picture" tab, and select a picture from your hard drive.
- Click on "Insert", then "OK".
You can add images and text on top of this image...or add a drop shadow...or adjust the images transparency...or any number of other effects. And of course, you don't have to be trendy and use the rounded corner effect only -- you can use the same technique with any Autoshape or hand-drawn shape you wish.
do we love rounded shapes so much? Maybe it's because we don't like to hurt ourselves on sharp edges! Blogger Rich Ziade speculates
on this growing trend and shows examples...
You frequently hear about PowerPoint backgrounds...but what about PowerPoint foregrounds?
Sure, text and graphics and such are all in the foreground. But what about using a .gif image with transparent "holes" in different shapes to reveal only what you want to reveal on your slide?
I offered a circular foreground
the other day for a circular Manadala experiment...but you can also create any number of foregrounds for your presentations....in any number of shapes, colors and sizes.
Simply insert the foreground you create over slides where you might want to reveal only a portion of your slide. Use .gif images with transparent "holes" to show only the areas you want to reveal.
If you feel attracted to the idea of creating and delivering a round PowerPoint presentation
, you may wish to learn more about the Mandala style of presentation.
Here are two phenomenal links:Tibetan Sand Mandala construction
- See the beauty. Enjoy the impermanence.The Mandela Project
Participate in a cyber art project.
PS - The Mandala style of presenting doesn't necessarily have to be new-age kooky. It CAN be business appropriate.
PowerPoint isn't Square...
PowerPoint doesn’t even have to be rectangular.
Sure, PowerPoint defaults to a landscape presentation, 10 x 7.5. But nothing and nobody says you have to present from within those particular dimensions.
So how about creating a PowerPoint Mandala? I am rather fond of the idea of preparing PowerPoint presentations within a circle -- and giving an audience a round performance. This can let your audience confront their own characterization of “being presented to”…at the exact moment that they are experiencing your show.And here is something else to consider --
Psychologist Carl Jung encouraged patients to draw their visions not on a rectangular piece of paper, but from within a circle. Dr. Jung felt that drawing within a circle elicits images that correspond more closely to your inner self: your true feelings and thoughts. He felt that drawing this Mandala – Sanskrit for “center” - was therapeutic. And beyond drawing a Mandala, you can possibly even feel more centered and more quickly achieve your potential -- just by viewing the Mandala you create.
Give the non-conventional approach to presentations a try: download this Mandala.gif
file with a transparent hole in the center. Place it over your standard 10x 7.5 PowerPoint presentation. Adjust your graphics and words.
What belongs in the circle? Which colors? Objects? Text? What items flow outside of the circle?
Play with it a bit. You might be astonished.
How can this particular creative approach make you a better presenter?
Labels: PowerPoint Tricks
PowerPoint and Hollywood
Big Media Backlash:
In this 3 and half minute video, TJ Walker explains why you might not want to "go Hollywood" with your PowerPoint presentation.
One of the nicest things about the internet as a medium is that we get to hear and see messages from outside the realm of Hollywood or New York. I know the internet scares big media because it fragments their markets and messages.
But it's great for audience members.
As an audience member, it's wonderful to have more and deeper niches to explore. For example, I'm not terribly interested in watching yet another shallow TV show about what it's like to be 20-something and living in New York or Los Angeles.
That's just me, though. Lots of people like that stuff. Hurray for them.
But as for me, I can turn to the internet and find a niche site that can entertain and educate me for hours by providing unique content with interesting voices. Now, these are people, opinions, and points of view from all over the world...big and small towns...and these messages will probably never make it to the US mainstream.
I've read many terrific stories that will probably never be published by a big New York publishing house or produced in Hollywood. And I have heard stunning international music that will never get picked up by a major label and played to death on the radio. I've downloaded this music online, and I've bought it out of the trunks of cars...directly from the artists themselves.
Record companies hate that.
But finding and grooving on your own small niche is much cooler
than merely digesting a performance or piece of art that some big city media machine produces like pabulum and tries to shove down your throat with its heavy-handed marketing tactics.
And isn't telling your friends about the cool niche you found using your "word of mouth power" a LOT more deliciously effective than say, purchasing a big-media produced TV commercial?
Don't buy into the big media machine.
Go ahead and find your own interesting niche. Or create your own....
Find all the cool people and sites in Beijing, China. Check out the architectural marvels in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Listen to music from fabulous musicians from the Cameroon. Stop to wonder why so many Lithuanians are spectacular visual artists. Watch an online video produced in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Spend some quality time on the internet, and Hollywood and New York seem very tired, indeed.
Put PowerPoint in Your iPod
My most FAQ in 1Q-2006?
"How can my audience members who have video iPods get my PowerPoint presentation into their nifty little devices?"
By "PowerPoint presentation", my questioners mean the real deal -- not just the slides or .ppt file...but the actual presentation
- complete with narration.
I'm particularly heartened that educators (professors, teachers, corporate trainers, etc.) are doing most of the asking...it means that they're focusing on the desires of their audience. They've recognized that a growing number of students are actively using iPods....and that portable multimedia use is likely to grow over the coming years.
And if students have iPods, it's likely that they use iTunes to download music and other content. Apple computer announced in January 2006 that it has sold over 42 million iPod units...so if you are a presenter, educator, marketer, or communicator...it's time to start learning how to deliver content in the manner your audience is most likely to receive it.To start:
If you're an educator, why not ask your students to subscribe to your blog, so that they can download your latest presentation to their iPods...complete with your narrative, animation, etc? If students subscribe through iTunes to your class notes at the beginning of the semester, every time you post fresh content to your blog, it will automatically be downloaded to their iPods.
Apple gives you written instructions
on how to make your presentations iPod-ready. And as a brief example, I've put together a 5 minute 40 second PowerPoint Presentation that I converted to an iPod-acceptable m4v video at 320x240 -- so that when you use iTunes to subscribe to this very feed
and hook up your iPod to download fresh feed content...this PowerPoint presentation should automatically show up in your video iPod.
(You can also click PowerPoint Podcast
right now to view the presentation directly on your computer, without sending it an iPod.)
At the moment, converting a PowerPoint presentation to an iPod ready video isn't a one or two click affair. But with the iPod's growing popularity, it's going to get easier as time goes by.
And business bloggers and online marketers - take note. What are you doing to get your product information and sales presentations iPod ready?
Your customer base is actively seeking content for their iPods. What are you providing them?
Should We Rename the "Chalk Talk"?
Some of my favorite presentations this year have been decidedly low-tech. We used to call these presentations "chalk talks" -- because presenters would stand up in front of a black or green chalkboard and send up a dust storm by scratching their ideas on a chalk board while they gave their pitch.
However, I haven't seen an actual "chalk" board room in years: maybe over a decade. As more presenters and audience members started using computers and digital projectors, all that chalk dust presented technical hazards. Most chalkboards and chalk have been replaced by white boards and dry erase markers.
The omnipresence of computers and technical wizardry made real "chalk talks" a thing of the past. And if you've ever seen a real chalk talker who had an affinity for this particular medium, it was a wonder to behold...think of those amazing sidewalk artists
who use chalk and cement as if they were pastels and canvas.
Today, a gifted business or educational chalk talker has all but lost his or her venue. The chalk talk is a dying -- if not dead -- art form. Today, we sketch out our ideas with stinky dry erase markers on white boards or flip charts...but I still call these types of presentations "chalk talks".
So my question: do we pay homage to this dying and rhyming form of presentation by continuing to call it a "chalk talk"... or do we rename it to reflect the stench of dry erase and white board?
My dad still continues to call the refrigerator an "ice box". I still often say "dial" a phone, although I haven't actually used a dial in decades. Will the term "chalk talk" live on...or will it be replaced by another catchy term?
PowerPoint in a Bag...
Talk about fashion trends in PowerPoint...who would think that the latest, hippest trends would come out of Grand Rapids, Michigan?
The same folks who brought us the "Bubble Bag" (remember the handbag with the live goldfish swimming in it?) are now bringing us the hip and trendy MultiMedia Bag
"...conceptualized in Grand Rapids, Michigan and custom made in Rome, Italy."
The hip leather handbag features a seven inch LCD screen with a battery, remote, two headsets and a battery charger -- all in a slim 13 x 10 x 4 package. And all for only $799.95.
I'm not making this up. You can check out the bag... and its online video... at the Bubble Gear