Archives for May 2012

Use Dynamic Transitions To Connect Slides

By Ellen Finkelstein

Here’s a common scenario. You have a table of Excel data and you need to discuss it in detail at a meeting. But there’s no way it will fit on one slide. What are your options?

  1. You could print out the data so people can see it up close. I recommend doing this when necessary.
  2. You could split the data onto 2 slides and use a dynamic transition between them. Dynamic transitions are new for PowerPoint 2010.

What’s a Dynamic Transition?

A dynamic transition has two special features:

  1. The transition applies to your slide content, but not the background. This makes your content seem to move independently from the background.
  2. The transition works backward when you move to the previous slide.

You don’t need to add the transition to the first slide of a set.

I recommend using transitions very sparingly. When a presentation has a transition applied to all slides, I find it distracting. Don’t you? You want your audience to focus on the content, not the special effects!

But occasionally, a transition can actually help your audience understand what you are saying. When you need to span data over two or more slides, the Pan dynamic transition can help.

Here are two slides that provide historical data on health expenditures in the United States. In many cases, a chart (graph) would work better, but let’s say that your audience wants to analyze the specific numbers, so you need to use a table. You can see that this data wouldn’t fit on one slide, because it covers a span of 20 years.


Two points:

  • You want to be able to go back and forth between the slides during your discussion
  • The image of the wheelchair is on the slide master, so it’s part of the background. It isn’t on the slides themselves.

Here are the steps to apply the Pan transition in PowerPoint 2010 between 2 slides:

  1. Select the second slide.
  2. On the Transitions tab, click the down arrow at the right side of the gallery to expand it.
  3. In the Dynamic Content section, choose Pan.
  4. Click the Effect Options button (to the right of the gallery) and choose From Right. (If your data is long, rather than wide, choose From Bottom.)


Display your first slide and go into Slide Show view. Click and you’ll see the 2nd slide move in from the right. There will be a little bounce, which I dislike, but you can’t get rid of it. Notice that your background doesn’t move! (You won’t notice this unless you have something on your background.)

Now, press the left arrow or Backspace key on your keyboard. The first slide moves in from the left, giving the impression that the 2 slides are connected. This helps your audience understand the connection between the 2 halves of the data.

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 about her services, click here.

How to Use Analogies in Presentations

By Scott Schwertly

If used correctly, analogies can greatly strengthen and nuance a presentation. Like most vague literary terms that we haven’t thought twice about since high school, it’s helpful to start with a definition: An analogy is a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. It’s essentially a complex metaphor, and it’s certainly one of the best ways to clarify dense, difficult information for your audience.

Here are some tips on how to use analogies effectively in presentations.

Statistics Don’t Stick

We’ve discussed at length ways to effectively use statistics. None of those methods involve simply stating a statistic and moving on. Statistics don’t stick with audiences; people don’t remember cumbersome data if it’s not presented in a framework that provides meaning for them.  Chip and Dan Heath reinforce this in their book Made to Stick, writing, “Statistics will, and should, almost always be used to illustrate a relationship. It’s more important for people to remember the relationship than the number.”

Using appropriate analogies is an effective way to establish that relationship. They cite the Beyond War movement in the 1980s as an example of using a compelling analogy to provide context for an abstract idea.

The group was on a mission to prove to people the real danger of nuclear weapons, and they needed to make this abstract, vague notion a tangible one. They did this at various ‘house parties’ by dropping BBs into a metal bucket. The representative dropped one BB in the bucket to represent the Hiroshima bomb, and then spoke to the calamitous effects of that event.

Then he dropped ten BBs in the bucket, representing the power of the missiles on one nuclear submarine. Last, he dropped 5,000 BBs in the bucket, one for every nuclear warhead in the world.

This analogy provided a poignant framework for the audience. They would remember for a long time the haunting sound of the BBs hitting the metal, and that sound would be forever tied to the impact of a nuclear weapon.

Vague, abstract information doesn’t stick with audiences. Tangible, visual analogies do.

Scale and Topic Matters

One of the most important considerations when dealing with analogy is scale. It’s imperative to choose the right scale, which means selecting the most tangible one as possible. We’ve all heard analogies with a scale “reaching from the Earth to the Moon x amount of times.” That can be an appropriate scale if you’re dealing with a very large statistic, but if you’re talking about a few miles, that scale would be much too large.

Choose a framework for your analogy that imparts a compelling impression on the audience. They should come away from your analogy with an ‘Aha!’ or ‘Wow!’ reaction because the comparison feels so tangible.  

And be sure to choose an appropriate analogy in terms of topic. If you’re speaking to Europeans, soccer might be a great analogy to invoke when talking about percentages. But if you’re speaking to Americans, maybe football would be better. Make the analogy easy for the audience to relate to as well as understand. Don’t forget that your audience’s needs are the most important thing. Fashion your analogies accordingly.

Use Wisely

Regardless of all the benefits of using analogies, proceed with caution when crafting a presentation with one. Remember that your audience doesn’t know what you know as well as you do, so keep everything as simple as possible. It’s easy to mislead or confuse people with a convoluted analogy, so put yourself in the audience’s shoes before you decide if it works or doesn’t.

The whole point of using an analogy is to make things easier to understand, not more difficult, so use them only when you’re dealing with recondite material. Don’t make something more complicated than it needs to be.

And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, beware of bringing analogies full circle, or referring to them at several different times during your presentation. The meaning can easily get confused, and you can lose the audience by inducing a ‘Wait, what is he talking about?’ moment.

Use analogies wisely, and only when it will, without a doubt, help your audience more fully understand your presentation.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company.  From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information about Ethos 3, visit

Why You Don’t Need to Tell ‘Em What You’re Going to Say

By Nick Morgan

The oldest chestnut in public speaking advice is to “tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell ‘em what you said.” The idea is that repetition will hammer things home to your audience and help them remember.

Unfortunately, that’s bad advice today for a number of reasons. First of all, the only thing that your audience will get when you go at them with a hammer is a headache. Audiences these days are extremely sensitive to having their time wasted, and they’re easily distracted.

So when you start with that agenda slide (tell ‘em what you’re going to say) their attentions immediately wander, they pick up their phones, and you’ve lost ‘em.

Instead, launch right in with a framing story or an idea that will grab their attention and at the same time tell them why they’re there. That’s what audiences want to have answered right away – not what you’re going to say, but why they’re there. 

After that, the art of public speaking is the art of deciding what NOT to say. The urge, when you combine expertise, adrenaline and an audience, is to tell that audience everything you know. Unfortunately, long after the audience’s enthusiasm has waned, because they’re overloaded with information, you’ll still be going strong — because you love the subject!

So you need to decide what the one vital idea is that you want to get across. And one more thing: your emotional attitude toward that idea.

A great presentation is composed of two things: one interesting idea and the speaker’s emotional attitude toward that idea. It’s that simple. Don’t lard up your speech with caveats, asides, extras, nuances, added thoughts, one more thing, or anything else. Stick to your well-honed subject and make your attitude clear and your audience will love you.

Even more important, they’ll understand you. And remember what you say.

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

Are Your Key Takeaways a Needle in a Haystack?

By Jim Endicott

Imagine for a moment I hid a set of keys for a new Lexus in one of those personal storage lockers at Portland International Airport. And all you had to do is find the specific door, put in the key and it’s all yours!

My job?  I just had to explain to you how to get you there through the busy and hyper-distracting environment of an international airport. It’s not that I want to make it hard for you to find – to the contrary – I really want you to find it. But we may have a challenge. I like to use words to explain things. Lots of them.

Show you a map….you get it. But give you a turn-by-turn (bullet-by-bullet) set of instructions and…well, your Lexus may be waiting for a while in the parking lot.

This metaphoric dilemma is what presentation audiences experience every day of the week. If they didn’t know better, they just might suspect you were working overtime to make sure there was no way they could possibly “get” the really important stuff you intended for them.

The problem? You’ve been ruminating with that message for days, maybe weeks. They have mere minutes to understand your intent. You labored over your presentation slides for hours …they have 30-seconds to figure one out.

We’ve come a long way in being able to develop good presentations – yet in some ways have not progressed very far at all. Despite our enhanced ability to fade, pan-zoom, create motion, append media, present online, present offline and choose from an ever growing array of design layouts and shape effects, we’ve lost track of our prime directive.

(Seek to ‘do no harm’ comes to mind but perhaps there’s something even more important.)

At the end of the time you’ve been given…after all the collective hours of invested effort and energy…and at the conclusion of precious time invested by your audience to disengage from other priorities and be present…they must remember.

And this is where we too often let them down. We think software features = recall. They don’t.  We believe graphical embellishments by themselves create message clarity…they can not. And like someone who has relied on a cane long after the pain subsided, it has become an unfortunate part of who we are and what we do.

The process has somehow become more important than the outcome and we’ve abrogated a job that is ours and ours alone: creating message clarity and simplicity so others can truly understand.

So consider this personal challenge…

What if your personal compensation for the entire month was dependent on one single thing?

Here it is. If those sitting on the receiving end of your next presentation could remember and repeat back a simple few points they believed you wanted to get across, you got paid. If they could not or struggled to somehow distill those things out of the 40 or 50 points of emphasis you made during your presentation – your check went into a drawer until they could.

What would your next presentation look like?

I’m guessing your visuals would get amazingly simple. And those dozens of points you previously wanted to communicate? They somehow refined themselves down to a few simple ideas illustrated in visually rich ways and underscored with personal stories to make them powerfully relevant.

And the close? A single word or two on screen, reinforced and related to their lives.

Desiring to communicate so much, we often end up giving audiences nothing at all.

So I will leave you with a few simple things:

  • Set Clear Expectations on slide #1 and deliver on your promise.
    Where are you taking them and what’s the prize at the end of the journey?
  • Make the Path Simple & Straight
    Create a simple closing slide first which becomes the litmus test for all you say and be clear how the journey relates to the prize. (50-slide presentations are easy to create. 10-slide presentations are the mark of a great communicator.)
  • Let Your Audience Know When They’ve Arrived
    Many presentations seem to end simply because the presenter ran out of slides. In the simplest of terms and in the briefest amount of time, conclude your presentation by serving them up on a platter what you want them to remember and why. Simple. Crisp. Straightforward.

Ok, so I don’t really have a Lexus waiting for you at the Portland airport and there is no locker with a key. But the point is hopefully crystal clear. Don’t make it hard for your audience to walk away with something important. Clear away the visual and messaging obstacles to real understanding.

And most of all: Remember why you’re there in the first place.

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

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