Archives for July 2013

The Best PowerPoint Trick You Don’t Know About

PowerPoint has some amazing drawing tools that let you create all kinds of illustrations. But sometimes it can be frustrating when you group text with an object to create an image because when you go to make it bigger or smaller the text remains the same size.

That’s because you’re just resizing the text block, not the text itself. Bummer, right? Well, guess what—it’s possible to transform text into scalable graphics using the “paste as picture” command.

Before you think I’m just writing about some random PowerPoint command that you’ll never use, let me give you some examples of how useful this command can be. Many years ago I worked at a company that created a lot of manuals for clients, and our desktop publishing software of choice was PowerPoint (yes).

To personalize the manuals, we’d draw pictures of reports with the clients’ names on them then paste them as pictures and use them as spot illustrations. Another way we’d use this command was to create little calendars with the session dates highlighted.

Here’s what they look like (I can practically draw these in my sleep now):

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Report drawn in PowerPoint

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Calendar drawn in PowerPoint

We’d create these graphics larger than what we needed, then we’d cut and “paste as picture” so that we could make them tiny and put them where we wanted in our documents.

You can also use the “paste as picture” command to resize charts and graphs if it turns out that you’ve made them too big or if you want to use them as illustrations.

All you need to do to access the “paste as picture” command is to right click anywhere on a slide after you’ve either cut or copied something. The window looks like this:

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Paste as Picture command

The yellow arrow is pointing at the little clipboard icon on the right after Paste Options; that’s the “paste as picture” command.

It’s important to note that when you paste something as a picture the text becomes uneditable, so be sure to save your source graphics just in case you need to make changes. As if that ever happens.

Here’s a short video that shows this command in action and gives you some ideas on where you can use it:

About the Author:

Laura Foley is a graphic designer and creative thinker who enables her clients to communicate effectively with their presentations. She specializes in Cheating Death by PowerPoint, transforming PowerPoint decks into dynamic marketing tools through training, consulting, and presentation design. Laura has helped people in organizations in a wide variety of fields, from high-tech to consumer products to higher education. For more information, visit

The Specific is Universal

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi!
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

What’s the best way to reach the widest possible audience with your words?

Most speakers seem to assume that casting a wider net will increase their catch. They speak in generalities and abstractions so the audience can take the ideas and apply them to their own specific cases.

They speak of committed monogamous relationships, instead of telling us a tale of two lovers. They describe methods of maximizing production efficiency, instead of telling us specifically how we can work smarter. They announce the necessity of off-shoring certain administrative management tasks, instead telling us who, exactly, is going to be let go.

Sometimes, of course, they are using euphemisms to avoid taking responsibility for saying what they really mean. Sometimes, their purpose is to cover their own a—-, by trotting out every possible argument or forecast.

Often though, I think they speak in generalities out of a well-meaning, but misguided, fear that the more specific they are, the more of their audience they will exclude.

They’re afraid if they speak of one specific industry, those in other industries won’t find it relevant. They’re afraid if they outline one specific problem, some who don’t suffer from that will tune them out. They’re afraid that describing a limited and specific situation won’t interest the vast majority of the audience, who may not have experienced that situation and probably never will.

In fact, the opposite is true. The more specific and concrete you are with your words and examples, the more relatable your message will be to your audience.

A single case study will often illuminate the solution to a problem better than reams of business school theories. A single personal story is often more convincing than the most logical and well-supported, but abstract, argument. A single clear example will often stick better in your audience’s minds than a dozen that cover every possible permutation of the issue.

The specifics of the case are generally not the point of what you are saying. It is the more general principles and practices that those specifics illustrate that are the message of your speech or presentation. The more specific and concrete your examples are, the better your audience will understand, relate to and remember that message.

Of course, Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t saying that freedom should only ring from Colorado’s Rockies or California’s slopes. He wasn’t saying that freedom should only ring from Stone Mountain or Lookout Mountain. He wasn’t saying that freedom should only ring from the hills and molehills of Mississippi, or even just from the mountains.

He was using those specific locations, each with its own historic and cultural overtones, to say that freedom should ring everywhere.

The message is universal, but it’s the specifics that make it concrete and relatable.

About the Author:

R.L. Howser  is a speaker, writer, university professor and journalist with more than 30 years of experience as a professional communicator. He teaches presentation and communications skills at Tokyo University of Science (Tokyo Rika Daigakku), Hosei University and the Kenichi Ohmae Graduate School of Business. R.L. also was the 2010 Toastmasters Japan Champion of Public Speaking. For more from his blog, Presentation Dynamics, visit

4 Ways to Find The Right People Images

A client of mine needed images of people to make his presentation come alive. But he couldn’t find the diversity he needed. And he’s in the field of education, which has more females than males. So I came up with 4 ways to find the people images presenters need.

1) Take Your Own Photos

Go around your office and ask people if you can photograph them. That way, you’ll get a representative group. Usually, people are happy to oblige, but give them time to spruce themselves up!

2) Use Silhouettes

Silhouettes are great when you don’t want too much detail. In this way, the audience can imagine the diversity. If you search PowerPoint’s image library for “silhouette,” you’ll find an excellent selection if you’re willing to scroll through all the sports silhouettes.

You can break up some of the images (crop them down to one person) and use the Remove Background feature to leave only the silhouette.

Geetesh Bajaj at  also has a great selection of silhouettes. Use the search box on Geetesh’s website to search for “silhouette” and you’ll discover a great resource.

3) Create Icons

You can create your own modern icons that can be gender and color neutral. I have a blog post showing one idea here.

4) Buy Photos

If you’re willing to spend some money, you can usually find a wide range of photos that suit your purposes.  I like BigStockPhoto for its great selection and reasonable prices.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is a noted presentation design consultant and trainer, a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and author of top-selling books in the presentations field. For more information, visit

A Compilation of Favorite Presentation Quotes

Call us geeks if you like, but we like presentations. We flip through presentations on SlideShare, even when they’re about things we don’t understand. We read books on public speaking, just for fun. We seek out quotes on presenting daily, in the off chance that one will be relevant and inspiring to one of our clients.

Speaking of which, we thought we’d share what we consider to be some of the more poignant and timeless quotes out there on public speaking:

“There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” – Dale Carnegie

Preparation is always the difference. Here’s to no regrets, and doing what you set out to do!

“Mere words are cheap and plenty enough, but ideas that rouse and set multitudes thinking come as gold from the mines.” – A. Owen

One of the biggest obstacles to delivering a great presentation is too much humility, or small thinking. It doesn’t matter what you’re speaking about: if you or someone else has asked for the opportunity to discuss the topic, it matters enough to be treated as an idea of profound importance. Passion always shines through.

“Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.– Sir Winston Churchill

We think he meant that brevity counts, and that the more what you say reflects common or ancient principles, the more easily you can persuade your audience.

“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.”  – Wayne Burgraff

We thought about this, and think it’s true. Great presentations are a labor of love.

“There are certain things in which mediocrity is not to be endured, such as poetry, music, painting, and public speaking.” – Jean de la Bruyere

Public speaking is an art, and like all arts, we seek extraordinary experiences when we see it.

Presenting is a craft as old as time, and great men and women have long observed some of the irrefutable laws of public persuasion. The next time you’re putting a deck together, take a moment to read some words of wisdom. These principles have stood the test of time, and they apply even to today’s modern business environment.

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, visit

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