PowerPoint

Obama vs Romney: Too Late for PowerPoint?

I was giving a presentation yesterday to a group of 30 major account sales professionals from a global company. For many in the room, English was their second language, so there was somewhat of a gap in our communication. Greater than the adjustments I made to my content and delivery—speaking slower, repeating key ideas, checking in with them often—were the powerful slides I created filled with photos, models, graphics, and quotes that added to the storyline and significantly narrowed the gap between us. After fifty slides I asked them which slides they remembered, and everyone in the room had a few favorites. It got me to thinking…I wonder why Obama and Romney don’t get on-board with PowerPoint? I wonder if these kinds of richly designed visuals would support their appeal to their listeners and reach the broader culture.

Then this morning I came across this article: 71 Compelling & Surprising PowerPoint Tips from the Pros, which, as the title suggests, lists 71 tips all presenters and PowerPoint users should know.

Since it’s already too late for either candidate to re-think their speaking strategy for this election, perhaps we can all just muse on the possibility of the candidates applying some of the 71 compelling tips in the future. It may make future elections more interesting.

Show Off Your PowerPoint Design Skills (and win some cool prizes too!)

Visual aids like PowerPoint are an important part of any business presentation. When done correctly, they strengthen your presentation by boosting audience understanding. In fact, research shows that listeners remember key messages conveyed with the help of visual aids more than six times better after a period of three days than they do messages that were simply presented verbally. The following visual helps put the numbers in perspective.

Retention After 3 Hours Retention After 3 Days

Tell only

70%

10%

Show only

72%

35%

Show and Tell

85%

65%

Do you want to show off your skills at creating effective PowerPoint slides? My friends at www.Presentation-Process.com are hosting a Creative Diagram Contest 2012. To win, all you have to do is create a visual presentation slide and tell them how you did it.

First, create Before & After Slides: Take a screenshot of a 'usual' slide. Makeover the slide with your most creative diagram idea in PowerPoint. Take a screenshot again. Write a few lines on how the diagram solves the issues with the 'usual' slide. Tell if your diagram can be used to represent any other business situation as well.

Next, create a short Tutorial (optional): Write a simple step-by-step tutorial for your diagram idea.

Finally, enter the contest: Fill in the contest entry form and upload your screenshot images. That's it!

Of course, your idea needs to be original. Their panel of judges (Ellen Finkelstein, Geetesh Bajaj, Wendy Russell, Dave Paradi, Elizabeth P. Markie, and Doug Serrano) will decide the final grand prize winners. You can also get your friends to vote on your submission and win the prize for the most popular entry.

The contest started Wednesday, May 23rd and runs until Wednesday, June 20th. You could win one of over a dozen prizes, including 750+ PowerPoint Charts & Diagrams (CEO Pack) or iSpringPro Professional PowerPoint to Flash Conversion. So get your creative ideas flowing and start designing. You could be the lucky grand prize winner! Get your entry form and full contest details here.

A Public Speaking Lesson from My Sister

I’ve been on vacation in Maine for the last few weeks. Our family has a house in a small coastal village where we come every year. I love being in Maine, so far away from the bustling Bay Area where I live. It’s a quiet retreat, a respite from the traffic, noise and density of city life. My sister met me here last week. She’s from Miami, so she too enjoys the peace and solitude. Together, we quickly settled in to a quiet routine of morning walks, time on the water, long conversations, afternoon naps and lots of reading.

Our village is small and quaint with only a handful of houses. When my sister and I arrived, only a few of those houses were opened. The summer season starts late in this part of Maine. But even with so many houses still dark and bordered up, it’s a safe and quiet place.  

One night we went to bed early and quickly fell asleep. At around 2:15 a.m., I heard a loud banging noise and then the sound of footsteps clomping up our driveway. In a fog of sleep, I listened to the heavy footsteps. “It must be a deer or moose,” I thought. I pulled the covers over my head and sunk deeper in my bed. Then I heard the footsteps walk down the porch steps and back down the driveway. All was quiet again, but I tossed and turned for the next 45 minutes thinking I should get up and make sure I locked the porch door.

When I finally forced myself out of bed, it was 3 a.m. I looked out the window and saw a woman in black running gear jogging on the road in front of our house. She was holding a large flashlight that illuminated the road in front of her and her German Sheppard. “That’s odd,” I thought. I had never seen this woman or her dog before. But something about a woman in black and a very large dog gave me some sense of peace. I assumed all was well once again and was back in bed and asleep in minutes.

The next morning my sister walked into the kitchen bleary eyed. “I’ve been up all night,” she said. “Did you hear that loud banging? I was scared to death! I would’ve come to get you but I was terrified to leave my room. I was even too afraid to turn on my light or call for help!” She proceeded to tell me the details of her arduous and fretful night.

Then I told her my version of the story. Not wanting to alarm her, I mentioned that I thought the footsteps were from a four-legged creature like a deer or a moose, and the banging could have been the animal stepping mistakenly onto our metal bulkhead.

“No,” she said, “it sounded more like someone was pounding on the front door—right under my room.”

Why did my sister and I have such different reactions to the same event? How could fear be experienced so differently in two people who shared the same gene pool and similar life experience? Not wanting to tax my brain too much since I was on vacation, I chalked it up to our reading choices.  

While my sister was spending a few hours each day engrossed in a terrifying crime novel and closing her door tightly at night to protect herself from her imagination, I was reading “The Happiness Project.” My sister was terrified, couldn’t leave her room, turn on the light, or scream for help. I, on the other hand, was in a meadow with Bambi, Stomper and the rest of the Disney crowd, pulling the covers over my head and wishing the danger away.

Now, you may be asking, “what could this story possibly have to do with public speaking?” A lot! As you know, I see public speaking lessons everywhere. So here are a few public speaking lessons that also apply to life:  

  • You are not alone: Struggling and veteran presenters often feel that no one understands the pressures, fears, or challenges they face. In truth, no matter how alone you may feel, someone out there shares and understands your experience…and can help. Reach out to others when you need help.
  • You are what you read: We hear the adage “you are what you eat,” but for those of us who love words, “you are what you read.” Fill your mind with positive words, images and themes especially before giving a presentation. Watch what you consume intellectually as well as biologically. There are benefits and unknown toxins in both.
  • When danger and uncertainty strike, take action: Sometimes, despite your best preparation, things go wrong during a presentation. Don’t let it rattle you. Listen to your survival instincts and let your head lead you out of the paralyzing fear.
  • Gather data: When you walk into a new situation, or if you hear the footsteps of uncertainty coming your way, get up and look for answers. Facts can quell your fears and at the very least let you know what you’re up against. This will give you a chance to take control. And when you do, you will feel much better about the situation.

After my sister flew back home, I had lunch with some friends from town and they mentioned the incident. In fact, it’s now the talk of the town: “The Higgins’s called the police and reported that someone was banging on their front door,” my friends said. The state police are 45 minutes away, which explained the police woman jogging through the neighborhood with her German Sheppard 45 minutes after the incident. And lucky for us the “prowler” was caught. It turned out he had too much to drink and was just looking for a place to crash.

Now, my neighbors have arrived, the houses are no longer boarded up, and I’m sleeping soundly in the dark night. The moral of the story? In public speaking and in life, reach out to others before pulling the covers over your head.

This blog is part of my Wednesday for Women blog series, where I feature stories, resources and information to help women gain greater influence, power, and confidence in their professional and personal life. Please enjoy these weekly Wednesday blogs and forward them to the powerful women in your life.

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Need a Remote for Your Next PowerPoint Presentation? There’s an App for That

I work with many people who give PowerPoint presentations.  And no matter how experienced they are, invariably a few of them forget to bring (or don’t own) a remote control for advancing their PowerPoint slides.  As such, whenever I’m working with clients I always take extra remotes with me and usually end up giving them away.  I go through remotes faster than infants outgrow clothes. I was recently on my latest search for the newest, highest quality and best priced PowerPoint remote.  You can imagine how delighted I was to learn that there’s an app for that.  It’s called the i-Clickr PowerPoint Remote, and it’s available for use on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (Apple iOS 3.1 or later), Android, Windows Mobile 6, and Windows Phone 7. 

While I haven’t tried the app yet, the features and possibilities seem beneficial for busy presenters.  For example, from your Smart Phone, you can have complete control of your PowerPoint presentation, including animations.  You can navigate through your slides with finger swipes and taps, track your presentation time with an onboard clock, and even set a presentation alarm so that your Smart Phone will alert you with a silent buzz before your time runs out. 

To use the app, though, you need a WiFi connection to your host PC or MAC.  So if the venue you’re presenting in doesn’t have WiFi, the remote won’t work (meaning you can’t rely on this app as your only remote option). Therefore, you’ll want to make sure to have a Plan B.

Realize, too, that looking down at your screen can keep you from looking at your audience, so it will take some practice to get used to this sort of remote so you don’t sacrifice your delivery skills.  Additionally, holding a bulkier tool like a phone instead of a more streamline remote unit will limit your use of gestures.

Still, for a one-time download fee of $9.99, this app could definitely come in handy when you’re getting ready for a presentation and realize you forgot to pack a remote.

If anyone has tried this app, I’d love to hear your feedback on how it worked for you.

The PowerPoint Revolution: PowerPoint Karaoke and Pecha Kucha

The PowerPoint Revolution continues! Every few months another contender appears in the marketplace, attempting to poke a hole in the thick skin of the 800 lb slideware-gorilla that dominates meeting rooms across the globe. I don’t believe that there is anything inherently wrong with PowerPoint, but it has undoubtedly become the software program everyone loves to hate.

 

For instance, American-born statistician and Yale Professor Edward Tufte wrote a popular essay denouncing PowerPoint’s ability to provide quality analytics. The worth of PowerPoint as a diagnostics tool may be debatable, but the fact that slideware presentations almost always lack entertainment value is undeniable. If companies insist on creating PowerPoint presentations that lack creativity and bore audiences, then they’d better be ready for backlash.

 

Besides prominent voices like Professor Tufte, groups of presenters have taken it upon themselves to re-format their presentations into light, image driven and entertaining events called PowerPoint Karaoke and Pecha Kucha (pronounced “pe-chak-cha”). Could this be a big leap towards the demise of dense, mind-numbing, inaccessible slides?

 

Let’s take a look…..

 

 

PowerPoint Karaoke is a spin-off from traditional Karaoke; However, instead of singing songs, participants give a presentation about an unfamiliar topic with slides they’ve never seen—a random, impromptu PowerPoint presentation. Think charades with words. No rehearsal, no preparation. For those of you who like to wing it and let the creative juices flow, this activity is for you.

.

PowerPoint Karaoke is not only fun, but can be a great training tool for those looking to improve with improv and sharpen their rhetorical presentation skills. It is also a great team building activity or party game…with or without a glass of wine.

 

Take a look at the PowerPoint Karaoke Tournament website to see some hilarious videos of past presentations. And if you’d like to host your own PPTK event, you can download some very bad slides here.

  

Pecha Kucha was created in 2003 by two Japan based architects who wanted to give architects, designers and other creative types a way to informally present their ideas in a more engaging, dynamic manner. Presenters speak for twenty seconds (the slides change automatically) using just 20 slides, a format called “20x20.” The total presentation time is 6 minutes and 40 seconds, so these presentations are concise to say the least.

 

The official Pecha Kucha website will tell you what it’s all about, provide videos of past presentations, locate upcoming events, and more. Also, here you will find a Pecha Kucha guide that will help you get started.

 

 

So what do you think? Is the dinosaur nearing extinction? And will the revolution be televised?

On the Road: My Experience Teaching PowerPoint

On the Road: My Experience Teaching PowerPoint

 

This is a guest post from Kirk Mossing, PowerPoint™ Consultant and Trainer.

 

What do Audiences REALLY Think About PowerPoint?

 

Travelling across the nation and working with clients like Google and Stanford University, I routinely ask my students one key question: “As an audience member, what do you hate most about PowerPoint?” And 100% of the time I hear: “There are too many words on a slide.” Followed up with: “I can’t read it.”

 

Therefore, when you’re a presenter, you first need to determine the purpose of your PowerPoint and build your slides around that. Know your audience. For a live audience, the purpose is to support the speaker and the presentation, and to do that you only need to develop main points. However, if you are sending it to people as a handout that they can peruse on their own, then you can load up on the details.

 

For both of these options I recommend that you:

A.     Create two separate presentations OR

B.     Put the bulk of your data in speaker notes AND

C.    Use hyperlinks to link to other documents or the web.

 

In either case, one best practice to use is this: Write all the content in the speaker notes first and then take out the key words or phrases and move them to the slide. (Select text and Control drag to copy the text and drop it into a slide.)

 

What Makes a Slide Visually Appealing?

Memorize and live your PowerPoint life by these four points:

 

1.     Contrast (imagine someone wearing black pearls against a black dress): Contrast includes using color, font size, bold, italic, etc. effectively.

2.     Consistency (would you wear old tennis shoes with a suit or evening gown?): Consistency is why there is a template, why you keep the same look and feel throughout, why you stay away from clip art and use photographs and why you strive for optimal structure and organization.

3.     Alignment (imagine a crooked picture on the wall…how off does it have to be to be annoying?): This is all about how you Draw/Align or Distribute text and images. You can use the ruler, guides, etc. to help you. To copy something and keep the alignment, use Control SHIFT drag. If you just want to move it, hold down the shift key while dragging. If you want to resize a picture proportionately, hold down the shift key and resize.

4.     Proximity (grouping like things together…imagine a restaurant menu with one line spacing and font size): The proximity of tables, boxes, white space, etc. help separate content and make it easier to absorb and retain information.

 

2007 vs. 2003 Tips

Many people are not using Office 2007 yet. In order for those in versions 97 to 03 to work with a document created in 07, you should save your presentation in compatibility mode. To do so, click Save As/Save as type: PowerPoint 97-2003 Presentation. Note: you will lose some 07 functionality.

 

Another option is to download a converter to see and work with .pptx (07) files without having 07. You can do so here.

 

When working in different versions of PowerPoint, you will find that you are unable to copy slides from one presentation to another if you have one open in 03 and the other in 07. The trick to this is to open both in 07 or both in 03 and then move the slides.

 

Finally, remember that 07 is based upon ribbons instead of drop down menus, which are the equivalent of a toolbar in an earlier version. However, many options can be found by right clicking instead of hunting around on the ribbons.

 

Final Trick for the Road

Control Shift C and V = Copies and pastes formatting then use F4 to repeat

 

My best suggestion for learning new tricks is to practice one at a time, over and over, until you can do it without thinking about it.

By following these suggestions and mastering the tricks, you, too, can be a PowerPoint master and ‘wow’ your audiences every time.

 

Feel free to contact me! You can also be on my Tips and Tricks email list if you like.

Kirk Mossing

Power PowerPoint

kirk@kirkmossing.com

408-242-0278

Success with Slides: A PowerPoint Presentation Guide (Part 2)

In part one of this two-part post, we talked about the seven sins of PowerPoint. If you missed it, you can read it here. So now that you know what not to do when preparing your slide deck, here are the seven virtues of what you should do to create informative, entertaining and memorable slides that will motivate your audience to action

Success with Slides: A PowerPoint Presentation Guide

During the last month I have seen some seriously challenged PowerPoint Slide decks. For a while there things were looking up in Silicon Valley; people were using more pictures, less text, more color, and congruent graphs. But I’ve recently noticed there are still pockets of stubborn “old school” PowerPoint users who simply refuse to change. I feel for their audiences who are craning their brains to stay tuned and awake.