Archives for October 2011

How to Create a Slide Master (or Two) in PowerPoint

By Ellen Finkelstein

I’ve discovered that many presenters don’t know how to use PowerPoint’s slide master. As a result, they create all sorts of workarounds like putting full-slide images on every slide (which makes for a HUGE file). This especially becomes difficult when they want more than one background. Let’s go through the process of creating a presentation with two backgrounds.

Before I start, I want to refer you to another tip of mine, “Create a better PowerPoint template.” That’s because I’ll use that template (actually a PowerPoint 2007/2010 theme) as the starting point. But you can start with the default template or theme if you want.

1. If you’ve saved a “better” theme or template, apply it. In PowerPoint 2003,  click Design on the Formatting toolbar to open the Slide Design task pane. You may need to click Design Templates. Then choose your template.

In PowerPoint 2007/2010, you would probably save a theme. To apply it, click the Design tab and select it from the Themes gallery.

2. Choose a color scheme or theme colors. “Try design variations” explains how.

3. Press Shift and click the Normal View icon at the lower-left (2003) or lower-right (2007/2010) corner of the screen to go into Slide Master view.

4. In 2003, start by formatting the Title Master if you want it to be different from the Slide Master. Then move on to the Slide Master. If you’re using 2007 or 2010, click the larger layout thumbnail – it looks like the Title & Content layout if you want your changes to apply to all layouts. Otherwise, apply changes to the layouts individually.

5. Make the changes you want to the background. You can right-click and choose Format Background or insert content on the Slide Master.

6. To create a second slide master in PowerPoint 2003, choose Insert>New Slide Master. If you don’t get a Title Master, with the new Slide Master selected in the left pane, choose Insert>New Title Master.

To create a second slide master in PowerPoint 2007/2010, from the Slide Master tab (which appears only when you are in Slide Master view), in the Edit Master group, choose Insert Slide Master. You’ll see a new, full set of layouts in the left pane.

7. I like to get rid of clutter, so I recommend deleting layouts that you won’t use in PowerPoint 2007/2010. Right-click a layout and choose Delete Layout. You can choose a new color scheme/theme colors for the second Slide Master if you want.

8. Repeat the process of designing your template or theme for the second Slide Master.

If you like the result, you might want to save it for future use with these steps:

Return to Normal view by clicking the Normal View icon.

–In PowerPoint 2003, choose File> Save As. From the Save as Type drop-down list, choose Design Template (*.pot). Usually, this puts you in the “official” Templates folder automatically. Then name the template and click Save.

–In PowerPoint 2007 & 2010, click the Design tab and expand the Themes Gallery. At the bottom, click Save Current Theme. Again, you should be in the “official” Document Themes folder. Name the theme and click Save.

See Step 1 for instructions on using your new template or theme for future presentations. To access both Slide Masters:

–In PowerPoint 2003, open the Slide Design task pane, where you can choose either of the Slide Masters for any slide. Select the slide, click the down arrow next to the Slide Master that you want, and choose Apply to Selected Slides.

–In PowerPoint 2007 & 2010, you’ll see both Slide Masters in the Design Gallery, so you can easily choose which one you want for any individual slide. Select the slide, right-click the theme in the Design Gallery, and choose Apply to Selected Slides.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is a noted presentations skill consultant and author of How to Do Everything with PowerPoint 2007 (and 2003), 101 Tips Every PowerPoint User Should Know, 101 Advanced Techniques Every PowerPoint User Should Know and PowerPoint for Teachers: Dynamic Presentations and Interactive Classroom Projects.  Her web site,, offers the free PowerPoint Tips Newsletter, a PowerPoint Tips Blog and many ideas that help PowerPoint users create more effective presentations.

Steve Jobs’ Untapped Speaking Potential

By Rick Altman

The world is surely a diminished place in the wake of the passing of Steven Paul Jobs. He is arguably the greatest public speaker of his generation, and while many analyzed and parsed his manner and tried to dissect the secret of his success, few succeeded.

He was great simply because he was.

As a professional observer of the craft, I admit to feeling a bit cheated. But not because I will never be able to witness him in action again; I feel cheated because I will not be able to watch him realize his potential.

Indeed, I believe Steve Jobs was only half as good as he could have been and I believe he was about to find that other half.

Why was Jobs such a great speaker? It’s a bit easier to answer that if you start with the end result: he compelled audiences to feel the weight of his message. He made people around him feel better about themselves, and he inspired others to look beyond their own perspective. He did all this with an impossible-to-imagine ease of accomplishment that defies explanation. This made him fascinating beyond proportion.

What I find equally fascinating about the man is the qualities of great public speaking that he did not exhibit. If you were to add up all of the reasons why he was effective, compile lists of his qualities, there would be one that is conspicuously absent:


He gave very little of himself. As wonderful as they were, his product announcements and state-of-the-technology addresses were consistently devoid of personal glimpses. It is clear that he worked very hard at them, that he practiced diligently, that he mastered the craft, and that he dedicated untold effort to this mastery. But you would not come away from them with any heightened sense of knowing better the man. He almost never made his speeches personal; he almost never let you in.

Those who knew or studied Jobs would attest to his being intensely private. Most of us learned more about his personal life in the five days since his passing than in the previous three decades. His having been an orphan, his having fathered a child prior to his marriage to Laurene Powell, his having dated Joan Baez. While these personal factoids were not closely guarded, neither were they well known. With few exceptions, Steve himself offered none of them. I always wondered how amazing it would have been if he had.

I chalked it up to the crafted facade of the CEO of arguably the most enigmatic corporation in the world. I really wanted to believe that it was calculated, that the Jobs mystique would make product launches, and the products themselves, all the more tantalizing. And as a result, a part of me actually looked forward to his resignation.

As is so often the case, once people are out of the game, they tend to let a bit more of their hair down. They open up more, they share more, they are more honest with and about themselves. I was so looking forward to Jobs’ first public appearance post-resignation. I had it in mind that it would be a true coming out, that he would make it more about himself.

Were that to have happened, I believe his speeches would have become even more powerful. Is that even possible? That’s the scary thing — I think Steve Jobs could have been twice as effective as he was. Imagine all of the personal stories he could have shared about his time with Apple, about those heady early days, about creating all of that insane greatness. All of the things that he never allowed in his product demos and MacWorld keynotes.

It is the exception that proves the rule: watch this under-the-radar speech he gave for 2005 Commencement from Stanford University. It is more formal than his keynotes, as he stands behind a podium and reads from a script. But focus on the substance — listen to how he weaves his personal stories into his message. And imagine if he had done that at MacWorld all those years.

It’s almost scary to imagine how impactful his speeches could have been. And I feel cheated that we will never know.

About the Author:

Rick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He runs the acclaimed Presentation Summit conference, formerly known as PowerPoint Live, and is the author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better.  For more information, visit

3 Tips for Giving Bad News in Tough Times

By Dianna Booher

The volatility in the stock market during the past few weeks—along with the pundits on TV—reminds me of the Chicken Little fable. Just in case you’ve forgotten this classic, let me refresh you: One day, Chicken Little is walking in the woods when an acorn falls on her head. “Oh, my goodness!” she says, “The sky is falling! I must go tell the king.” On the way to the palace, she meets Henny Penny going into the woods to hunt for berries. “Oh no, don’t go!” she says, “I was just there, and the sky was falling! Come with me to tell the king.” So Henny Penny follows her.

They follow along until they meet Cocky Locky, who was going into the woods to hunt for seeds. “Oh no, don’t go!” says Chicken Little. “I was just there, and the sky was falling! Come with me to tell the king.” So Cocky Locky follows her and Henny Penny.

They follow along until they meet Turkey Lurkey going into the woods to look for berries. Same drill.

Finally, they meet up with Foxy Woxy, who asks where they’re going. Same warning from the feathered friends. But instead of following Chicken Little, Foxy Woxy says, “I know a shortcut to the palace.” Rather than the palace, he leads them to the entrance of the foxhole, where he plans to gobble them for dinner.

Just as they are about to enter, the king’s hunting dogs rush up growling and howling. They chase the fox away and save Chicken Little and her other fine-feathered friends. The smart king gives her an umbrella to carry for future walks in the woods.

So what’s the moral of this fable? Consider the credibility gap the next time Chicken Little warns colleagues about impending danger.

People shy away from those who jump to conclusions without checking the facts and who worry rather than weigh options. Worry leads to poor judgment and hasty overreactions. Nor are people attracted to those who practice hand-wringing and preach doom and gloom.

A message of despair goes against human nature and the need to hope for the best.

Mature optimism is a cornerstone of healthy living. So when you’re habitually communicating that “the sky is falling,” people draw the conclusion that you’re overwhelmed, unprepared, and incapable of dealing with situations. None of which leads to building your credibility.

That said, neither do people subscribe to the Emperor-Has-No-Clothes philosophy.

When a serious situation develops, leaders do not resort to pep talks and platitudes, pretending that all is well. Leaders know that words shape thought. They provide healthy diets of hope while acknowledging a negative situation. All change—personal or organizational—begins by seeing reality and then creating a vision to improve upon it.

So in the midst of bad news, keep in mind these three guidelines:

1. Acknowledge the Truth

If the economy is free-falling, say so. If sales are sinking, say so. If your team is performing poorly, own up to the numbers. If the organization looks lousy beside the competition, come clean about the market feedback.

Nothing opens people’s minds and raises their estimation of your credibility like admitting the truth—and nothing decreases your credibility like ignoring the obvious or blaming, demonizing, or scapegoating others. You understand how pathetic that makes politicians look if you’ve ever heard them try to explain away election results after a dramatic loss or listened to CEOs try to explain away poor earnings after failure to achieve their goals.

Small people run from responsibility. Strong people shoulder it.

2. Stop Sugarcoating the Unknown and Unknowable

“You’ll do fine!” “Everything’s going to be fine—just wait and see.” “It’ll all work itself out. It always does.” Such are the assurances parents give their kids. You expect them and even appreciate them—at age thirteen. But to an adult hearing such platitudes from bosses, colleagues, or friends who could not possibly know the future and how a situation will actually turn out, the remarks sound empty, if not insulting to our intelligence.

That’s not to say you can’t offer comforting words. You can and should. But to be helpful and consoling, they should be the right words. Strive to get past the clichés and all-will-be-well platitudes to meaningful comments that comfort and help. Leaders can acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers. Most important, they feel powerful enough to sustain people with their presence rather than empty promises of “all will be well.”

3. Focus on Options

In a negative situation, leaders focus others on positive alternatives and actions with the power of their words. If you’re communicating about a tanking economy, the alternative may be to encourage listeners to change investment strategies. If you’re communicating to comfort employees after personal property destruction because of a weather-related disaster, you may encourage them to consider rebuilding in another area. If you’re announcing a layoff––in addition to communicating concern––you may focus them on the option of new training or maybe contacts to start their own company.

To increase your credibility in a bad-news situation, ditch a down-in-the-mouth demeanor. Become a thought leader with helpful straight talk about the substantive issues.

About the Author:

Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase productivity and effectiveness through better communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational. Her latest book is Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader. For more information, visit

5 Quick Ways to Organize a Presentation

By Nick Morgan

Too many people structure their presentations by pulling together slides and then assembling them like a deck of cards, in what seems like an OK order. That usually means that no one except the presenter can divine where the speech is headed.

That’s a bad idea.

At the heart of a successful presentation is a clear structure. Which one should you use? The best structure for what you’re trying to do depends on the nature of your talk. Following are five possible situations in the organizational world for which you might be called upon to present; pick the one that best suits your actual situation.

1. You might be called upon to report progress. In that case, use the following structure:

1. Describe the issue or assignment, including why it’s important
2. Describe the critical outstanding problems
3. Prioritize them, and describe how they’re being addressed
4. Describe successes to date – positive progress made
5. Close with action steps

2. You might be called upon to recommend a strategy. For that situation, here’s a good structure:

1. Define the objective
2. Describe the current conditions
3. Describe the desired state
4. List the possible strategies, with pros and cons of each
5. Identify best one, describe next steps

3. You might be called upon to persuade your audience of the excellence of a particular product, service, or idea – a sales talk. Here’s how to organize that one:

1. Frame the need that the product, service, or idea addresses
2. Describe the need in more detail
3. Describe the ways in which your solution addresses the need
4. Describe the benefits of buying in to your solution
5. Get agreement on a next step

4. You might be called upon to choose among several alternatives. Here’s the best way to present:

1. Frame the situation
2. Describe the criteria for success and prioritize them
3. Describe alternatives
4. Compare to the criteria and eliminate alternatives that don’t meet criteria
5. Recommend best remaining alternative

5. You might be called upon to teach a procedure or a skill. In that case, proceed as follows:

1. Frame the skill in terms of its importance to the audience
2. Explain the skill or procedural steps involved
3. Get the audience to try some aspect of the skill or procedure
4. Review and summarize, including anything the audience did not try
5. Describe what the audience can do on its own to acquire the skill or procedure

About the Author:

Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and presentation skill coaches. In his blog he covers modern communications from a variety of angles, including the latest developments in communication research, the basic principles and rules of good communication, and the good and bad speakers of the day. For more information, visit

Pin It on Pinterest