Archives for March 2013

Art of Motion: Animation without Embarrassment ! (Free Webinar)

Wed, Apr 24, 2013 11:00 AM – 12:00 pm PDT/2 pm EDT       REGISTER NOW!

Take your pick, PowerPoint’s animation engine can be seen as one of the finest works of digital engineering everor as one of the most loathsome creations in history. Or both. That’s a pretty powerful software application that can evoke such a wide range of responses. As always, the real control is in the hands of the violinist, not the violin, and the type of concerto that you choose to compose has everything to do with your ability to recognize the true purpose of animated objects in your presentation. This session will help you appreciate properly-conceived animation.

Topics will include:
• The power of movement, for better or for worse
• When in doubt, use wipe and fade
• Sequencing data chunks for better understanding
• Creating trust with your audience

About Rick Altman: 
Rick Altman

Rick Altman is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. He is the author of 15 books. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the internationally-acclaimed learning event for presentation professionals (  An avid sportsman, he was not a good enough tennis player to make it onto the professional tour. All the rest of this has been his Plan B,


Simple Ways to Improve Sales Presentations

It happened again at a sales presentation I attended last week. When the presenter got to his last slide the presentation simply ended, with no crisp wrap-up conclusion or compelling summary thoughts for the audience. It was as if he failed to plan for one of the most crucial parts of his presentation.

Far too many sales presentations still end because the speaker simply runs out of slides. Instead, create a succinct summary slide to close your presentation, and know its slide number so if your presentation is cut short by that impatient executive or decision-maker, you can simply type in the slide number of your summary visual and jump to it — and your call to action. It will help you look polished and prepared.

It’s also common to have a mix of leadership levels attending sales presentations. Often times it is technical managers along with executive leaders, making it hard to target their specific content needs and respect their limited time. So consider starting your presentation by telling the audience your first 10 or 15 minutes will be a high-level, 50,000-foot overview of your product or service offering, and then you’ll take a short break.

If participants received all of the information they need in that opening period, tell them they can feel free to leave. If they want to do a deeper dive on content or ask questions, the next 30 minutes or so will provide far more detail.  This “audience segmenting” will go a long way toward keeping everyone happy.

What Do We Remember from PowerPoint Presentations?

During 2012, Dr. Carmen Simon, co-founder of Rexi Media, carried out a major research study on memory – specifically, on how many slides people actually remember from a typical PowerPoint presentation. The study was based on significant changes in information processing and delivery that have taken place in the past decade:

  • An exponential increase in the amount of information delivered, and the time spent consuming it.
  • A sense of being overwhelmed by the quantity of information available, while still craving more.
  • The ubiquitous use of PowerPoint, or PowerPoint styles (landscape slides, templates, bullet points) to deliver information.
  • Presentations that all look the same, making it very difficult for messages to stand out.

Over 1,500 participants were invited to view a short, online PowerPoint presentation of 20 slides. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the 26 conditions, which included different versions of the presentation. After 48 hours, they were asked to recall anything they could remember about the presentation.

There were several key findings:

  • Participants remembered on average 4 slides out of the 20.
  • Neutral images helped recall when compared with text only, but not to any great extent.
  • Participants remembered content according to a pattern, not just random slides.
  • Significant changes every fifth slide tended to aid recall.

What does this tell us? How can we use this information to improve our presentations? Carmen Simon suggests that there a number of important clues:

The Magic Number Four. Studies suggest that people can only hold about 4 or 5 items at a time in short term memory. The important thing is therefore to make sure that we point them at the right things to remember.

People remember the unusual. If everything in a presentation is equally intense (color, graphics, in your face etc), or equally bland (text, indentations and bullet points), we have no control over what, if anything, people will remember.

Concrete visual language aids recall. The most remembered slides in the study were those about what colors to wear or not to wear when presenting online (don’t wear red, don’t wear black, white or stripes, but pastel colors are good). In these cases, pictures might help, but most people can picture the text anyway without much help.

color coordinate Simon

Color coordinate your slides

Grouping your slides, “chunk” your presentation
. Sometimes this can be done by the color of the text or the background, or maybe by the use of a different set of images. Well thought-out connections between different parts of a presentation are more important than just pushing more content.

People crave novelty. If you want a presentation to attract attention, find out what your audience would consider to be novel. People are more likely to remember what they find new and surprising, rather than what they find familiar. Where information differs from what we would expect, we sit up and take notice.

Repitition aids recall Simon

Repetition aids recall


Repetition and alliteration helps. The most memorable slides in the research all used the word “wear.” Using the same word, or finding three or four words that begin with the same letter to stress your key points will probably make the ideas stick in the mind.

People remember negative advice (what not to wear) better than neutral or positive content. However, at the same time, it played on their vanity – do this, or don’t do this in order to “look good.” Another frequently remembered slide suggested presenters should not lean back in their chairs as it made them appear short and fat. In a society that craves positive images, ego enhancing content attracts extra attention, and aids recall.

Ego boosting content Simon

Ego-boosting content

For more information about this topic, download a fully referenced paper  on the Rexi Media research.

About the Author:

Rexi Media, a presentation skills consulting company based in San Francisco, works with over thirty specialists in the field of advanced presentation techinques.


How to Insert Audio Clips in PowerPoint 2010

When you insert an audio clip into a PowerPoint slide, you can control its volume, set it to play looped, or even hide the audio icon. These are some of the advanced options available for any inserted audio clip in PowerPoint. Remember that these advanced options only exist so that you can use them when they are required, rather than using them just because they exist!

Let me now explore these options:

  1. Open your presentation, and navigate to the required  slide where you have already inserted an audio clip. Select or double-click the audio clip to bring up the two contextual Audio Tools tabs in the Ribbon. These two tabs are Format and  Playback — click the Playback tab to activate it, as shown  highlighted in red within Figure 1.Fig 1 Geetesh March
    Figure 1: Audio Tools Playback tab of the Ribbon2. Within the Audio Tools Playback tab, locate the Audio Options group, as shown in Figure 2.

Fig 2ab Geetesh march

Figure 2: Advanced audio options within the Audio Tools Playback tab

Within this group you’ll find the advanced audio options. Let us explore them as marked in Figure 2 above:

A. Volume:  This button enables you to set the volume for your audio clip. Click the downward arrow within the Volume button to open the Volume drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 3. Within the Volume drop-down gallery choose one of the following options: Low, Medium, High, and Mute.

Figure 3 Geetesh March

Figure 3: Volume drop-down gallery

Note that you are restricted to set the volume at only the Low, Medium and High levels within the Volume drop-down gallery. On the other hand, you can set the volume to whichever level you want by clicking on the Volume button on the Player Controls bar below the actual audio clip on the slide, as shown in the bottom right of Figure 4, below.

Figure 4 Geetesh march

Figure 4: Volume button in the Player Controls bar

B. Start: Here you can specify how you want your audio to start during your presentation. Click the Start list to bring up a drop-down list, as shown in Figure 5.

figure 5 Geetesh march

Figure 5: Start drop-down list

There are three options within the Start drop-down list:

1) Automatically: Play your audio when the slide (containing the audio) appears in Slide Show view, automatically.

2 ) On Click: Plays your audio by clicking on the audio itself in Slide Show view.

3) Play across slides: Plays your audio across the slide. You can learn more about this option in our Sound Across Slides in PowerPoint 2010  tutorial.

C. Loop until Stopped: Plays your audio repeatedly and continuously when the  active slide is shown.

D. Hide During Show: Select this check-box to hide your audio clip graphic in Slide Show view. This option makes sense       only if you set the Start option for the audio to be Automatically or Play across Slides. On the other hand, if you choose On  Click, you should never pair that with selecting the Hide During Show check-box — if you do so, you won’t be able to see anything you can click!

E. Rewind after Playing: Select this check-box to rewind your audio once it has played during your presentation. This can be useful if you need to play an audio clip more than once while you are still presenting the same slide which contains that audio clip.

3. Choose options based on your requirements. Make sure  you save your presentation.

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.


Promoting Your Presentation with Purpose

After hours, hours and hours of work – simplifying, streamlining, storytelling, and creating – you finally have a final product: A beautiful, brilliant, compelling presentation. Hopefully, your first delivery of it went smoothly, and has continued to get better over time.

But, hold on – the work’s not over quite yet. Now, it’s time to get as many eyeballs on your presentation as possible. Because without those eyeballs, the power of your presentation is severely limited. Just think of how many people in the world would love the opportunity to see it!

So, let’s talk about how you can go about sharing your epic presentation with an audience outside of those who you’ve presented to in person. Well first, grab ahold of the low-hanging fruit:  your social media channels. Which means Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, SlideShare, LinkedIn, Pinterest, maybe even Reddit. Hopefully, you already have a substantial following on those channels – a following that’s interested in you and your presentation’s topic.

Also, prior to posting your deck on all those social media channels, make sure you’ve made it online-friendly. If you’ve sagely followed advice to create slides you can speak to, you’ll probably need to add more text to each slide to ensure that it makes sense as a standalone. And you might also want to cut out some slides here and there to keep it streamlined and quick to click through. Remember that an online audience is going to be an especially distracted one, so cut out anything fluffy or non-essential.

With any luck,  you’ll get a great response after exhausting those channels, and hopefully, your well-crafted call to action will be acted upon as you had designed.

From there, it’s time to get creative and start thinking outside the box about how you can maximize your presentation. Are there any upcoming speaking opportunities you could sign up for to present to a different audience? How about existing or potential clients who would appreciate seeing the presentation?

Maybe you have a strong lead who’d be impressed if you sent over a well-designed, engaging presentation that gave him or her a better look into your business? Schedule some time to brainstorm where this kind of potential lies. Don’t underestimate the power of your presentation; people love clicking through beautifully designed, interesting material, which is precisely what your presentation offers.

Lastly, keep in mind how resourceful SlideShare is in providing you a detailed level of feedback on your deck. It automatically captures all sorts of analytics, including number of downloads and embeds, total views, favorites and more. And when the viewer comes to the end of the deck, a lead capture form pops up, so your viewer has the opportunity to contact you for more information. Needless to say, SlideShare is the ideal place to learn who’s been looking at your presentation and who’s been particularly engaged by it.

The main takeaway here is to do whatever you can to get as many people as possible to look through your presentation. Don’t limit the number of people who see your presentation to just those in your audience, but rather, work to capitalize on the amount of work you’ve put into your presentation by sending it and posting it to as many people as possible.

The world wants to see what you have to say, so make sure you give them the chance.

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 the company’s services, visit

The Phenomenon of Attention

We no longer have four-year-olds in the house, so the most profound and egregious examples of limited attention span no longer occur on an hourly basis here. That said, I have spent the past three months examining and being fascinated by the impact that attention span has on our society and on the profession of presentation.

I started with our remote control. We were early adopters of digital video recording, having purchased one of the first 100 TiVo units ever made. (We still own it, and I just sold a car I kept for 19 years, but that’s another column about a different dysfunction.) Creating a better interface for television viewing is an artform and avoiding commercials a privilege.

This is why we hold in such low regard our current cable television provider. Comcast’s OnDemand offering is fine for being able to watch shows when we want, but everything else about it is horrible. There is only one speed of forward and rewind, the menu is completely linear with many layers of depth, and worst of all, shows from many major networks now stream with the fast-forward control disabled.

I was full of praise for companies that created commercials with DVR watchers in mind. Knowing that we would zip through them, they created lots of still images and persistent branding. I remember one Nike commercial that was nothing more than slow-moving montages of athletes and the swoosh. Even at 3x speed, you could glean the meaning.

But without any fast-forward controls, I get so angry at the constraints placed upon me, I now use the five-minute jump button and then rewind back to leapfrog over the entire commercial block.

Understanding Attention: Key to Presentation Success

Am I ingenuous for having outsmarted my cable provider or am I just pathetic? What does it say about me and my attention span that I cannot sit through a few lousy commercials? What does it say about you that you could probably relate to all of my television angst?

Let’s allow ourselves a few moments to commiserate, but then let’s acknowledge that we humans don’t want to be forced to do things. We don’t want to be told what we can or cannot watch, what is or is not important, and what we should or should not pay attention to.

We’re not terrible because of this; we’re just human. So why are you reading about this in a newsletter devoted to presentations? Because understanding attention is key to crafting and delivering successful presentations. It plays out on levels that have profound implications for presentation designers, slide makers, and speakers.

At the design level, the attention span of your audience members could be the most important determinant of how you tell your story. If you have 15 minutes to make a pitch for a round of venture capital, you would be well advised to avoid the slides in your deck entitled “Mission Statement,” “About Us,” and “Our Unique Expertise.”

At the speaking level, busy executives will give up on you if you indulge in framing and context, however good your intentions are. Time is the most important resource to most decision-makers; understand that and you’re off to a better start than most.

One of my favorite quotes relating to this is from Mark Twain (of the hundreds of quotes attributed to him, this one really does belong to him): “If you want me to speak for an hour, I’m ready now. If you want me to speak for 10 minutes, I’ll need two weeks in order to prepare.”

The creation level is where the most fascinating dynamic in all of this plays out, as PowerPoint, Keynote, and Prezi users struggle with the most effective use of motion and animation. While usually with the best of intentions, content creators often misfire when considering the use of motion. They know about the limited attention spans of audiences and often believe that a bit of flash and sizzle is just what is needed to keep them interested.

It’s actually the opposite, because remember, people don’t like being told what to do, what to pay attention to, and where to look. Abuse of animation is the poster child for these problems.

I regularly demonstrate this in my workshops by standing off to one side of the room while telling people that I have complete control over their attention. I then make a rocket ship fly across the slide and watch as every single head turns to the screen. I call it my Universal Axiom No. 1 of PowerPoint: when stuff moves on screen, audience members have no choice but to look.

Your success with motion and zoom rests almost entirely with your understanding this powerful dynamic. Your audience is completely at your mercy when you use tools of motion so it is up to you to use them wisely and appropriately. If you abuse this privilege, you risk creating deep resentment. If you employ it properly, you create the promise of trust, and trust might be the most powerful of all emotions that you could ever hope to evoke in your audience members.

It’s a bit ironic that, with respect to presentation experiences, PowerPoint’s Animation tool can be responsible for the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs. And so much of it traces back to your understanding of attention and audience members’ willingness to entrust you with theirs.

Now what did I do with my remote? Time’s a wasting and there’s a Breaking Bad marathon starting…

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 is host of the Presentation Summit conference and is author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better. For more information visit

The Location of Your Presentation Screen Sends a Message

The presenter is the most important element of any presentation, but where the presentation screen is located can send a different message.

Most presenters place the projection screen in the center-middle of the room, forcing the presenter into a corner and setting up competition for the audience’s attention. Whenever you can, move the screen into the upper-right front corner of the room to send a message that you’re the principal focus of the presentation, not your PowerPoint slides or Prezi visuals.

That added space you create up front will also allow you to move around more easily and better engage with your audience. All of which helps to humanize your approach and put the spotlight where it belongs, on you the speaker.

Smart Talk: Making Powerfully Persuasive Presentations

In this talk, you’ll learn Dr. Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence and how to practically apply these principles to persuasive presentations. Ultimately, facts are not the way to best lead, motivate, and inspire. Powerful persuasive presentations instead, rely on effective audience analysis, solid storytelling, and figurative language.

PowerPoint – Turn it on and then turn it off


The most common scenario with presenters with PowerPoint is on before they start speaking and never off until they are done. The projection area is always filled with an image or text that competes with the presenter. Try this technique. Do not show your first slide until several minutes into your presentation. Let the focus of attention be on you and your message. Once the audience is familiar with both, then introduce your slides. The end of your presentation should get the same treatment. End your slides before finishing your presentation. Let the focus be on you and your message as you wrap thing up.

Charles Greene III
Presentation Magician
Washington, DC

The Science Of Influence


Here is my Prezi which I use with boards mainly in retail and professional services sectors.

Hope you find it interesting


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