Archives for April 2012

The New iPad 3: Pass…Sigh

By Rick Altman

I have read all about the new iPad, watched the videos, read the white papers, held one in my hands, and test-drove it.

And I am disappointed beyond belief.

While I’m a Windows guy to the core, I own seven iPods and two iPads. I think it’s marvelous the way the user community invents uses for the iPad, and I credit Apple with this. The big gamble with the iPad was that its developers didn’t really know how consumers would use it. In many ways, they left it up to us to figure out what its purpose and applications would be. That gamble paid off, as restaurant servers now take our orders with it, hotel sales managers show rooms and suites to meeting planners with it, shoppers can dress up virtual manikins with it.

We users have largely determined how the iPad is to be used, and that’s the actual definition of “application.” In a sense, we are the killer apps for the iPad.

Presentations Community Left Out

But through this wonderful epiphany, the presentation community has been left out in the cold, and it is with sadness that I must conclude that the third iteration of iPad does nothing to address this.

I have written about this before.  I was dumbfounded to discover that the original iPad offered no support for remote advancing of slides. Here’s an excerpt from that February 2011 piece:

“I got so close — I transferred all of my slides, converted them accurately, and successfully projected them on screen. And now when it comes time to actually deliver the presentation, I am required to stand behind a lectern so I can stay close to the device? I have spent the last five years advocating against the use of lecterns. This little gadget was about to turn me into a hypocrite.

Here is where the irony becomes almost too much to bear. Can you imagine if Steve Jobs were tasked with presenting from his iPad? The master of modern-day presentation, having to stand behind a lectern?? Apple’s decision to not include a USB port with the first generation iPad has effectively prevented me from using it in my profession.”

The iPad 2 was a much better device than the original and I have enjoyed using mine. I am confident that I got a job the other day because I showed my portfolio on it — I looked cool doing it. I love leading small meetings with it, where we can all gather around it. And we all heard the rumors of Microsoft’s imminent support for Office on the iPad. This, coupled with the announcement of the third iteration, buoyed my hopes that this most significant of omissions would be addressed.

Instead, the iPad 3 has given us a nicer-looking screen, a faster processor, and a better camera. I’m still trying to find a single user who thought that the screen resolution was deficient, the processor slow, or the camera weak. Apple improved three areas that nobody felt were lacking in the first place.

And still no USB port.

To the legions of presentation professionals who watch technology with rapt interest, the iPad remains a curiosity and a toy. To the community of writers like me, who offer comment on the state of our art, the iPad remains on our can’t-recommend list. That’s a shame, because it could be so much more.


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  author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better.  For more information, visit his website at

10 Dynamics for Dealing with Disruptive Audience Members

By Dianna Booher

No matter how eloquent your delivery or how riveting your content, from time to time you will have to deal with disruptive audience members—those who arrive late, leave early, carry on side conversations with their teammates or disagree wholeheartedly. When that’s the case, try these tips and techniques for crowd control.

Side Conversations

Members of your audience may talk to each other for any number of reasons. Someone arrives late and asks a colleague for an update. Perhaps the customer’s technical representative wants to know where to find your diagrams in the printout. Or someone complains to a colleague that the room is too hot or cold.

If audience members’ energy is flagging, maybe they need a break. Or the person talking disagrees with you and wants others to know it. If you can determine the reason for a side conversation, you can handle it more appropriately.

Dynamic #1: Ignore Helpful Distractions

If someone explains something to a peer or “catches up” a late arriver and the conversation gives signs of coming to an end, try to ignore the distraction. In fact, the person engaged may be saving the larger group the distraction of a “replay” should the confused person ask you questions personally.

Dynamic #2: Acknowledge the Body Language of Those Who Disagree

Many side conversations erupt from disagreement left to smolder under the surface. If audience members make it a point with their body language to tell you they disagree–obvious head wagging, disgusted shuffling in their seats, glancing around the room trying to catch others’ eyes–they are dangerously close to exploding verbally.

If the talker wants to express an opposing view, offer that opportunity or at least acknowledge that position: “I know that some of you have experiences and ideas to the contrary, and you’ll be welcome to express those at the end of the presentation.” Such comments remove the urge for these naysayers to begin their comments too early to those seated nearby.

Dynamic #3: Stroll Closer to the Talkers Without Looking at Them

If you can tell two people are simply catching up on corporate gossip or chatting about personal issues, stroll in their direction as you speak–but without looking at them specifically. As all eyes follow your movement and as your voice grows louder and louder in their ears, the talkers will soon feel all attention focused on them, a pressure tactic that usually stops such conversations.

Dynamic #4: Call for More Audience Involvement

If you suspect that your talkers have lost interest in your presentation, change your game plan and call for more audience involvement. Take an opinion poll on your current point and reflect on the results. A moment for input and open discussion from everyone generally will break up the small pockets of side conversations as they tune in to see what they are missing from their colleagues.


Never hold or stop your presentation to accommodate them or you will lose the rest of your group. Always start on time, letting latecomers ask others what they missed later. Otherwise, you will “train” your attendees that you do not mean what you say about the stop and start times. In fact, some organizations have “trained” their entire employee population not to take meeting start times or training class times seriously.

Dynamic #5: Use a Buffer If You Must

On certain occasions, you may decide to deviate from the start-on-time rule so that a key decision maker who is still out of the room does not miss an important point. A good technique for “having it both ways” is to begin the session on time but start with a buffer (such as cartoons or a humorous anecdote related to your point) so that the latecomer arrives in time to hear your “real” topic opening.

Dynamic #6: Use a Common Clock

When announcing a break, clearly state the restart time and point to the wall clock; this helps attendees remember the time better. Or rather than giving an exact time to return and confuse everyone whose watch is not synched with yours, state: “Please look at your watches. We’ll start the presentation again in 12 minutes.”

Dynamic #7: Remove the Dropout Zone

Having extra empty chairs at the back of the room for latecomers solves the distraction problem for the short term but prolongs it for the long term. Those who arrive late at the beginning or late after breaks can sit there and not traipse down front, distracting everyone in the middle of your presentation.

On the other hand, in the long run, others observe that latecomers are accommodated–that these extra chairs remain at the back and allow attendees to arrive late and leave early with minimal (they think) distraction. So as the session drags on, more and more people do just that–arrive late and take a seat in the dropout zone.

Hecklers in the Cheap Seats

Generally, hecklers who create a real distraction gain the hostility of the group and provoke sympathy for you.

Dynamic #8: Move Physically Closer to Them Before Your Session Begins

Your tendency may be to do the opposite. Making direct eye contact, approaching them, and courteously asking why they are protesting your presentation may defuse their hostility. At the least, your sincere approach will decrease the probability that they will be rude to you personally–even if they never consider changing their views.

Dynamic #9: Move Away from Them After Your Session Begins

If the hecklers are to the side or otherwise visible to the audience, casually move in the opposite direction so that the eyes of the audience members will follow you, and the hecklers will drop out of their line of vision.

Dynamic #10: Unmask Them

If you are expecting a hostile audience and protocol dictates that you must allow them the floor, you can always ask attendees for their names, titles, and organizational affiliations at the beginning of the presentation. Having lost their anonymity and chancing repercussions from their organization or embarrassment for their family, they are often hesitant to express their hostility openly.

You typically can end any dialogue with disruptive audience members with this comment: “There are individuals and groups who may see things very differently. I can accept that. I hope they can.” Then move on with your presentation in a dynamic way.

Never ask hecklers a question and give them the opportunity to state their views to the group or put you on the defensive.

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

Why People Don’t Remember You

By Mark Satterfield

To set the stage for what I’m about to share, let’s focus on something that would appear to be “a blinding grasp of the obvious.”

In order to get more referrals, people need to know who you are and what you do. You need to be top of mind when opportunities arise for people to send business your way. Now, if you sell a tangible product, this may be relatively easy. Need tires? Go to Bob.

But what about when you sell services, especially high-value services that don’t lend themselves to a 10-second elevator pitch?

The reality is that if you sell complex solutions, it’s difficult enough to get people to understand what you do in the first place, much less enable them to remember what you do a few days later.

For example, I sat next to a very nice person on the plane and asked him what he did, to which he replied that he was a “supply chain consultant.” Sounds very impressive. Probably quite complex. I imagine he most likely has an advanced degree and considerable experience in the field. I further imagine that companies pay him a considerable amount of money for his expertise.

There’s only one problem: I don’t have any idea what he does.

I don’t share this story with you to belittle the person or to point nagging fingers at him. As I say, he seemed smart, down to earth, and there’s no doubt in my mind he probably is good at what he does.

I just don’t know what that is.

Since I was curious, I decided to ask him how he got new clients. Not surprisingly he said all of his business came from referrals. When I asked him how that worked for him, his answer was surprisingly candid.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag,” he replied. “On the one hand, the quality of clients I get from referrals is great. They’re positively predisposed to me and what I do. I find that I’m not selling my services but simply explaining what I do. That’s real comfortable for me, since I’m not an in-your-face kind of salesperson. But, that said, I just don’t get as many referrals as I need. I might get one or two a month and then nothing for the next three months. I’m not sure why.”

Trying to be helpful, I asked him to tell me a bit more about what a supply chain consultant does. To mix metaphors, my ears glazed over after 30 seconds. His response included something about “optimizing the distribution channels between the core manufacturing center and the consumer experience.”

Although I didn’t have a good understanding of what he did (actually, I had no understanding of what he did), I did have a pretty good sense of why he wasn’t getting more referrals.

If I don’t “get” what you do, it’s going to be difficult for me to be helpful, despite how much I want to be. So how can we make it easier for people to truly understand you?

One way was brought home to me the following week, again on a plane trip.

“So what type of work do you do?”

“I’m a supply chain consultant.” (What were the odds?)

“I’m afraid I don’t know what that is.”

“Well, suppose you’re in the chicken business. They’re pretty perishable things, and I don’t know if you’ve ever unwrapped a chicken you’ve bought at the grocery store that’s gone bad, but it’s not an experience you want to repeat.

“Anyway, the tricky part is, how do you get the chicken from the farm to the retail store, in less than three days, all ready for cooking and smelling nice? That process has a lot of moving parts, a lot of people involved, actually a lot of different companies, and if one thing breaks down from farm to grocery store, the whole thing turns into an enormous foul-smelling hairball real quickly.

“So basically what I do is to look at all the steps in the process and try to figure out if there is some way we can do them faster, better, less expensively, or more efficiently.”

What a difference! I found I was both paying attention to what he was saying and I actually understood it. Understood it well enough that I’m able to retell it to you.

So what was the difference? Two people in the same business. Both intelligent. Both probably good at what they do. However, I’m probably only going to refer business (and I actually do know a VP of Operations he should be talking to) to one of them. Why does the second guy get the referral?

He told me a story.

That’s the power of what I refer to as your “unique sales stories.” They not only enable people to understand what you do, they also enable them to repeat your story to others.

Brad Mitchum is the VP of Operations I mentioned above. I don’t know what will happen as a result of putting him and my seatmate together, but I do know it wouldn’t have happened if my seatmate hadn’t told me his own unique sales story.

About the Author:

Mark Satterfield is the author of “Unique Sales Stories: How to Persuade Others Through The Power of Stories.” Get Satterfield’s latest mini-book on how to implement a marketing system by visiting

Reprinted from the Training Magazine Network

How to Create Your Own Custom Shapes in PowerPoint

PowerPoint 2010 has a new feature that’s very hard to find, but that people are praising over and over. It’s called Custom Shapes, and it’s a set of four tools that you can use to create your very own shapes. Why do you need Custom Shapes?
  • To make your slides unique.
  • For the flexibility to communicate your message in the way that works best for you and your audience.
  • For a professional, designer (custom-made) look.

Usually, Microsoft highlights new features, but the Custom Shapes tools aren’t even on the ribbon! As a result, many people don’t know about them. First, I’ll tell you how to add them to your Quick Access toolbar, which is at the top-left corner of your PowerPoint window.

At the right of the Quick Access toolbar, click the down arrow and choose More Commands.

In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, you’ll see a Choose Commands From drop-down list at the top. Choose Commands Not in the Ribbon to make the Custom Shape commands easier to find.

Scroll down the list of commands until you get to “Shapes.” You’ll see 4  commands–Shape Combine, Shape Intersect, Shape Subtract, and Shape Union. Select Shape Combine and click Add. Do the same with the other 3 commands that start with “Shape.”


Click OK to close the PowerPoint Options dialog box. The commands are now on the Quick Access toolbar.

What can you do with these tools? Almost anything! Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Union adds two shapes together
  2. Subtract subtracts them; select the one you want to keep first
  3. Intersect keeps just the intersection between the two if they overlap
  4. Combine cuts out the intersection between multiple shapes but also makes the result a freeform so you can edit points

In this post, I’ll show you a simple example using the Shape Union command.

How to use Union to create a simple custom shape

Let’s say that you want to create a SmartArt diagram, but can’t find the shape you want. You want a space for a small, circular photo at the left, some text in the middle, and an arrow at the right. Here’s what you sketched on a napkin:

Here are the steps to create this shape:

  1. Insert a circle. (Remember, you can press Shift as you drag the circle on the slide to make sure it’s a perfect circle, not an oval.)
  2. Insert a rectangle to the right of the circle. Resize and move it so that it looks like the above image. You’ll see the outline around each shape, but don’t worry about that now.
  3. Insert an isosceles triangle. To get the shape you want, you need to rotate it to the right. Press Shift and drag the little green rotation circle to the right. Then resize and move the triangle so that it matches up to the right side of the rectangle.

Your shapes should look like this:

1. Select all 3 shapes and click Shape Union on the Quick Access toolbar. (The command button isn’t active unless you select at least 2 shapes.)

Your new, custom shape looks like this:

Go ahead and add a photo (I added another circle on top and filled it with the photo) and text. You can add text to it, just like any shape that comes with PowerPoint!

Here’s the final result:


Now go forth and create your own custom shapes!

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein can train you or the presenters in your organization to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information, visit her website at

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