Archives for March 2012

3 Lessons You Can Learn from Your TV Weatherman

By Jim Endicott

I’ve always gleaned a lot of coaching fodder from TV newscasters. When they are comfortably behind their anchor desks and able to shuffle papers and keep their hands occupied, they’re pretty smooth. But put them in front of their news desks to do a promo spot or a special feature and watch their hands.  They simply don’t know what to do with them!

If you’ve ever had to speak from behind a lecture, then you’ve experienced the same predicament – anxious hands find nervous things to do and make no mistake – you’re sending signals of low confidence whether its true or not.

But for this article, I want to shift gears a bit to the weather guy or gal. Their spot usually comes at the end of the newscast and depending on what they have to say – you’ll either hate them or love them.

Here’s what I want you to see next time you’re watching the weather. They have an electronic device in their hand. You hardly know it’s there but many are masters of its use.  Somehow they are making you believe they are able to highlight temperatures, change 3D settings, switch views and push high pressure zones out to sea with their fingertips.  Although the technologies are evolving – for most they are using the small remote devices to advance pre-created images and animations.  (Sound familiar?)

Here are 3 lessons that every presenter can learn from their local weather person:

1) They don’t point their control device like a phaser weapon, they subtly click the button as they gesture to the screen.  What is the perception?  They are somehow seamlessly creating change by their spoken word. No fanfare. No stop and point or technical pauses while they explore the buttons on their remote – just smooth and seamless interaction.

Here’s the lesson.  If you’re still using an IR remote during your presentations, ditch it for an RF device and practice it’s stealthy use until people forget its in your hand.

2) They always know what’s coming next because their gesture anticipates the change.  If you want to fall into the category of master presenter, do the same. For example, gesture to the screen from bottom to top (while you click your remote while it still rests at your side) and let your audience observe the bar chart growing from bottom to top.

Other ideas?  Touch elements on screen as you click and highlight them. There are endless variations on this but here’s the point – make your technology transparent and anticipate.

3) Their audiences are more important than storm clouds. Can you imagine a weather man who doesn’t take his eyes off of a weather chart?  He wouldn’t have a job very long.

Weatherpeople never lose track of the fact that there are a few hundred thousand people behind the camera lens. And you as a presenter may momentarily create focus on the screen, but the vast majority of your interaction will be eyes-to-eyes-to eyes.  Not screen to floor – to foreheads – to screen – to ceiling tiles –to screen –and then maybe to eyes.

So you’ve got your homework.  Watch your weather man or woman tonight. Watch how covertly they use their small touchpad to change the screen. That is precisely how skilled and practiced you need to be.  Because good presentations are seamless and your technology will never be as important as the connection you make with your audience.

About the Author:

Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching.  For more information about his firm’s services, visit

20 Top PowerPoint Design Tips

In order to create an amazing PowerPoint presentation, you have to learn the process of effective presentation design. After four years of blogging, I’ve written a number of posts designed to help presenters create better, visually engaging and effective PowerPoint presentations. As all blogs posts do, some resonated better than others and often provided great discussion in the comments.

Instead of forcing you to sift through my site, page after page, I have aggregated 20 of my best blog posts, including the five most viewed post written in 2011, to help you become a better PowerPoint presentation designer. Post types include specific presentation design techniques, book reviews, tips, methods, and more.

So without further adieu, here are the best PowerPoint presentation design posts from Presentation Advisors to make you a better presentation designer in 2012.

The 5 Most Viewed Posts in 2011:

  1. 20 Steps to Become a Presentation Design Hero – There’s no set path to become a presentation designer, but here are a few steps I’ve taken to get where I am today.
  2. 5 Tips to Perfect Your Slideshare Presentation – SlideShare has been a godsend for sharing PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and more. But just because Slideshare is a good platform, does not mean your presentation will be seen without some extra work. Follow these tips to make sure it looks great.
  3. Alternatives to PowerPoint – I write a lot about PowerPoint design, but it’s not the end-all-be-all to effective presentations. Here are a few options if you’d like to take a different route.
  4. 5 Reasons Your Last Presentation Bombed – Yes, presenting isn’t all rainbows and smiles. Some of them don’t go as planned, and others flat out bomb (whether you realize it or not). It happens to the best of us, even me. Here’s a few reasons why that may have happened.
  5. If No Bullets in My PowerPoint, Then What? –  If you read a lot of presentation blogs, you’ve heard numerous authors (including myself) preach about the necessary demise of bullet points in PowerPoint. However, one common complaint of readers (rightfully so) was that there were few specific alternatives. Here are over a dozen.Here are the rest of my top blog posts:
  1. 5 Ways to Start Your Presentation Off Strong – You’ve got seconds to grab your audience’s attention, and only a few minutes to keep it. Technology has made it even worse where you’re competing with audience members dual-tasking on their computers or smartphones. Learn how to grab their attention quickly in this post.
  2. 100 Presentation Tips – Here are 100+ presentation tips for preparation, design and delivery to make your next presentation your best, as well as a few extra submitted by readers. There’s a link to download the list as a PDF as well, which you’re welcome to pass along.
  3. PowerPoint Design Methods – There’s much discussion about the best PowerPoint design method.  How many slides should be used?  What font size?  How fast should I transition through them?  I’ve insisted that there is no right PowerPoint method. This post includes a few popular PowerPoint presentation design methods and theories that have worked well for some established presenters.
  4. The Best Presentation Design Tool – Here I reveal my most useful tool to aid in finding effective presentation imagery. Best of all, it’s free.
  5. A New Spin on the Old Agenda Slide – I had just recently sat in on a presentation that used, like many others, a bullet-point agenda slide with black text on a white background.  I decided to show how, with just a few steps, an agenda slide could be improved [before and after images included].  I credit the inspiration to Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen method and an agenda slide I saw during a live presentation of his I attended.
  6. Breaking Down Steve Jobs’ WWDC Keynote Presentation – We all mourned the passing of Steve Jobs on October 5th, 2011. We’re all lucky to have lived while he changed the technology landscape again and again. In June of 2010, Steve Jobs took the stage for another magical keynote experience (not just a presentation). I decided to break it down for you all of you, highlighting his approach to the WWDC 2010 keynote presentation and what elements create the masterpieces we are used to seeing.
  7. PowerPoint Before and After – Various Slide Types – Often it’s useful to see not only the finished product, but the original product as well. In this post I show you some of my personal slide redesigns, including before and after shots with my commentary on the process of designing each slide.
  8. 5 Ways to WOW at Your Next Presentation – We’re all trying to find a way to rise above the rest – to separate ourselves from the crowd. There seems to be a common path that most presenters take, and the trail is painfully worn down. Use some of these tips to give your audience something they don’t expect at your next presentation.
  9. What’s Wrong with PowerPoint Templates? – Templates and me have a love-hate relationship.  I love to hate them…especially those found within PowerPoint (there are a few nice ones on Keynote).  It’s not necessarily the visual design, it’s the tired, played-out road that the templates bring most presenters down.  I wanted to write a post that not only highlighted some of the pitfalls of using a template, but also the advantages of going “freestyle.”  Some good comments as well.
  10. The Effective Use of White Space in Advertising – I’m a huge fan of utilizing white space (or blank space and isn’t necessarily white).  I wrote this post to highlight some great uses of white space in popular ads, as well as how it can be applied to presentation design.
  11. Book Review – Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina – One of my favorite books of 2009 was Brain Rules.  This book not only breaks down the mysteries of the brain using language that we all can understand, but many of the rules apply to presentation design (namely catching and keeping your audience’s attention).  In the post I highlighted three of those rules that you can apply to your presentation tomorrow.
  12. Reducing the Amount of Text on your PowerPoint Slides – When clients come to me, they often have a presentation completed, however it’s full of bullet points and absent any vibrant imagery. Here I walk you through the process of how I remove the text and add appropriate imagery, while still conveying the main idea of the slide.
  13. Book Review – The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – Steve Jobs was one of the greatest presenters working the keynote stage. Carmine Gallo breaks down his presentation style and teaches you how to be great in front of any audience.
  14. 5 Bits of PowerPoint Advice that will Land You in Presentation Prison -Bad presentation design tips are a dime a dozen, and I’ve heard all the excuses.  Here are 5 bits of presentation advice that you should avoid at all costs.
  15. Perception and PowerPoint Design – Your audience may perceive you in many different ways.  Some may find you interesting, while others may be fighting to keep their eyelids open. Are your PowerPoint presentations leading the audience to perceive you in the wrong way?  
    About the Author:

    Jon Thomas is the founder of Presentation Advisors, a presentation design and training firm based in southern Connecticut. For more on his company’s services, visit his website at

5 Stupid Presenter Tricks to Avoid

By Nick Morgan

Speakers do stupid things, like any other group of people. The problem is that they subject whole audiences to boredom and, yes, pain as a result. So it’s not only the speakers themselves who suffer. In an effort to mitigate the suffering, here are five of the most egregious stupid speaker moves.  If you know someone who perpetrates these, tell them! Stop them!

You’ll be doing the windowless meeting room world a huge favor.

1.  You Can’t Read This, But…..

As regular readers you will know one of my particular pet peeves is badly done Power Point.  Well, the worst offense is all too common. The speaker throws up a slide (I choose the phrase deliberately) and it contains a dozen lines of text, or a chart that has dozens of boxes, labels, and tiny data points.  Then the speaker says, “You can’t read this, but what it’s saying is…..”

If you know we can’t read it, why are you showing it to us?

2.  ‘Guess What’s In My Head’ Questions

There’s a truism in the legal world that you should never ask a witness a question to which you don’t know the answer.  I’m sure that’s good advice, but when you’re working with audiences, you should never ask a class of questions that involve haranguing the audience about things that you know better than they do. “Why isn’t it a good idea to choose the red ones over the green ones?”  Questions of that sort are “gotcha” questions and they kill audience enthusiasm and participation.

Instead, ask open-ended questions about the audience’s experience.  “Which have you found work better in your life, the red ones or the green ones?”

3.  ‘It’s All About Me’ Introductions 

I have seen an astonishing number of speeches start with the speaker going into a 5 – 10 (15!) minute description of himself and his company. That’s not only boring, it’s rude. It’s bad enough in a conversation when someone you’ve just met insists on talking only about himself, but in front of an audience the offense is compounded because the audience has no escape options.

If you’re not going to be introduced by someone else, then begin the talk with a brief frame for why the topic is important to the audience.  Then, once you’ve established what’s in it for them, spend one or two minutes – no more – telling the audience very briefly why you’re passionate about the subject.

4.  Sales Pitches Disguised as Presentations  

I was at a conference recently where one of my competitors was presenting the afternoon before I had the keynote address. Naturally, I attended his talk, curious as to what he would talk about, and anxious not to repeat advice if he had already given it.

I was appalled to discover that all he talked about was advertising his business and what clients would get out of working with him. “This is how our patented method for improving your company’s communications works….” Once again, this is a rude and thoughtless way to proceed with a captive audience.

5.  Not Waiting for the Audience

How many times have you sat in an audience and watched a speaker ask a question, only to answer it himself after waiting a nanosecond or two for a response. Getting none, the speaker plows ahead, creating a perfect feedback loop that entirely eliminates the need for the audience.

Why ask questions if you’re not interested in what the audience thinks? People often ask me how long they should wait, and the answer is 6 full seconds.  If you count 6 seconds out in your head, by the time you get to the end of that seemingly interminable sequence, someone will speak.  Promise. Don’t answer your own questions. You’re just telling the audience it doesn’t need to be there.

That’s my list for today.  I confess to having committed one or two of these myself, partly why I know them so well.  What stupid speaker tricks have you, ahem, witnessed?  Friends don’t let friends make these mistakes!

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and 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. His passion is to connect the latest brain research with timeless insights into persuasive speaking in order to further our understanding of how people connect with one another. For more information on his company, visit


How to Adapt Your Slides for iPad Presenting

By Geetesh Bajaj

One of the many ways in which you can adapt your PowerPoint slides to an iPad friendly format is by converting all your slides to pictures. This approach will work well for slides that have no animation or multimedia -– and the good news is that great presentation slides can be created without animation or multimedia of any sort.

The bad news is that this is a one-way street -– and if you want to make any changes to your slides, you will have to edit your original presentation and convert the slides again to individual pictures.

Figure 1 shows the 16 slide presentation I started with — these are all slides from a Photo Album presentation, and each slide has a photograph and caption. Your slides may be like more conventional PowerPoint slides, and it does not matter because the process for all types of slides is the same.

Slides for iPad 02

Figure 1: All slides ready to be exported from PowerPoint

To convert your individual slides to pictures in PowerPoint, you summon the Save As dialog box and choose JPG or another graphic format as the file type. We have instructions on exporting your slides as PNGs in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows, and the process works the same way to export JPGs in any PowerPoint version on both Windows and Mac. You will ultimately end up with plenty of pictures that are suffixed with their original slide numbers –- the first slide in your 16 slide presentation will be named Slide1.JPG, and the last slide will be named Slide16.JPG.

Of course you may not have 16 slides — that’s just the number of slides that I started with, as shown in Figure 1 above.

At this time, it is a good idea to rename your first 9 slides so that Slide1.JPG now reads Slide01.JPG (see Figure 2 below).

Slides for iPad 02

Figure 2: JPGs exported from PowerPoint

Thereafter place these slides in a folder that is indexed by iTunes. To learn more about how iTunes indexes picture folders, search the term add photos to iTunes library on Google. Depending upon which version of iTunes you are using, or if you use Windows or a Mac, the process may differ. Apple also has a great tutorial called Syncing photos using iTunes.

The next time you sync your iPad (both iPad 1 and 2) with your iTunes, the slide pictures will be copied, and available within your iPad’s Photos app.

Once you have synced your iPad, launch the Photos app on the device to see if all your slides have been imported as pictures –- also make sure that they are sequenced in the order you want to show them as slides, as shown in Figure 3 below.

Slides for iPad 03

Figure 3: Your slides on the iPad

Thereafter you can show these picture slides off your iPad -– moving on to the next slide is as easy as moving on to the next picture. And since the Photos app is AirPlay aware even on iPad 1, you can use it with an Apple TV or even a VGA cable connected to a projector. This may not be the most elegant way to transport your PowerPoint slides to an iPad, but it does work.

Note: Even though Apple’s documentation says PNGs are supported by the Photos app on iPad, and by iTunes to sync, I found that iTunes ignored all PNGs — that may be just a coincidence but JPGS do work the best.

About the Author:

Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint- related site ( that provides designer PowerPoint templates.

Geetesh also is the author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies and three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac.

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