Archives for February 2014

Tips and Tricks for Creating “Persuasive” Presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP Ellen Finkelstein

“Do you create persuasive presentations, webinars, or videos?”

No doubt you’ve attended presentations or webinars where the presenter read the text from slide after slide — and you started high-persuasion-wave-slide-300x222checking your email. Was it persuasive? No, IT WAS BORING! But this happens all the time. Do YOU know how to create a presentation or video that entrances and persuades?

Let Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Ellen Finkelstein show you how to be persuasive! Discover simple techniques based on solid research that everyone can learn! See great before-and-after examples that you can use as models. You’ll hear how one marketer used these techniques to increase his conversion rate from 50% to 70%.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

**Why you shouldn’t put what you say on your slides – contrary to what you see all the time!
**Why images are much more persuasive than text
** The three PowerPoint problems that almost all marketers make and how to fix them
**How to tap into your audience’s emotions so they will make the decision to buy


Ellen_smallEllen Finkelstein is a recognized expert, speaker, trainer, and best-selling author on PowerPoint, presentation skills, and AutoCAD. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, newsletters, and blogs. She is a PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional).There are only 37 PowerPoint MVPs in the world, and only 9 in the United States. Her Web site, offers a hug assortment of tips, techniques, tutorials, and articles on these topics.

In Presentations, Normal Isn’t the Same as Effective

New normal is a frequently heard phrase these days, describing everything from the tough economy to instability in the Middle East to the make-up of the modern family. I’m thinking maybe it’s time for a new normal in presentations because the old normal isn’t working very well.

Too many times I hear my clients say, “…but that’s the norm…that’s what’s expected…” when explaining why they continue to follow bad presentation practices.

But when did the norm become synonymous with effective?

Let’s look at some of the worst “normal” practices and consider what might make for a new normal.

The Norm: Using copious bullet points, filling up each slide until there’s almost no white space left.

The New Normal: Using only key words and phrases, not sentences, on slides. Drastically reducing word slides in favor of visuals (charts, graphs, illustrations, pictures) and more dialogue with the audience.

The Norm: Reading from the slides. Continually turning to the screen to read so one’s back or side is to the audience.

The New Normal: Being well enough prepared that reading the slides isn’t necessary. Making continual eye contact with the audience to engage them and read their reactions.

The Norm: Using filler words — ums, ahs, you knows — to the extreme both in the middle of and between sentences.

The New Normal: Replacing filler words with a pause to gather thoughts and let the audience absorb what’s been said. Practicing enough before the presentation so the delivery flows smoothly without the crutch of filler words.

The Norm: Handing out the PowerPoint deck as a take-away.

The New Normal: Recognizing that the slides and handouts serve two different purposes. In keeping with having less detailed slides, providing a more detailed handout that includes information/resources that will be useful to the audience after the presentation.

Moving from the norm to a new normal doesn’t happen overnight. If a major change isn’t feasible or comfortable, gradually may be the best way to implement improvements in your presentation practices.

Then step by step the norm will become so much more effective.

About the Author:

Kathy Reiffenstein is the founder and president of And…Now Presenting!, a Washington D.C.-area business communications training firm, which offers a suite of public speaking and presentation skills programs geared to creating confident, persuasive speakers. Visit Kathy’s website at to subscribe to her bi-weekly presentation tips or her blog where you’ll find fresh insights on public speaking that are engaging, sometimes irreverent and always practical.

How to Work Faster in PowerPoint

When I work with clients in 1-on-1 coaching, I use webinar software so we can work together on a presentation. Sometimes I wield the mouse and sometimes my client does. Because I work in PowerPoint so much, I use the fastest way possible — at least as far as I know. But when my clients take over, I often see them use slower ways of accomplishing a task.

So here are my best tips for working faster in PowerPoint.

The Ribbon Is Often the Slowest Way

For many tasks, the ribbon isn’t the way to go. Take font changes, for example.

To change the font or its color or size, use the mini toolbar. When you select text, the mini toolbar appears. At first it’s semi-transparent but if you move your cursor over it, you’ll find tools for quickly changing the font and its properties.

Because the mini toolbar is close to the text, you’ll find it faster to make common changes there than to go all the way up to the ribbon. And if you aren’t on the Home tab, using the ribbon is especially slow.

The ribbon has more tools than the mini toolbar, so sometimes you have to use it, but avoid it when possible.

Right-Click Is Your Friend

Right-clicking is often the fastest was to get the result you want:

  • To change a slide’s layout, instead of going to the Home tab and choosing an option from the Layout button, just right-click off the slide and choose Layout, then the option you want.
  • To reset a slide’s layout, right click off the slide and choose Reset Slide.
  • To open the Format Shape task pane or dialog box, right-click the object and choose Format Shape.powerpoint-tips-work-faster-2

Love Your Keyboard Shortcuts

The fastest way to get the job done is often a keyboard shortcut.

To save your presentation, don’t use the ribbon. Better than that is the Quick Access toolbar at the top of the PowerPoint window. But by far the fastest way is to press Ctrl + S.

To copy any object and paste it, I see many people right-click and choose from the shortcut menu. But it’s much faster to use Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V.

We all make mistakes. When you do, press Ctrl + Z to undo your last action. You can do this any number of times.


On the other hand, you often want to repeat an action. You can’t repeat every type of action, but when this works, it’s amazingly fast. Press F4 or Ctrl + Y to repeat your last action. For example, you can change the color of a shape to blue and then select other shapes and press F4 to change their color to blue, too.

Of course, to delete anything on a slide, select it and press the Delete key. If that object contains text, you need to click the border so that you delete the object and not just some of the text in it.

I see many people spend a lot of time dragging objects to move them a small distance. They move it too far, then try to move it back a little bit. Instead, use the 4 arrow keys; you’ll have a lot more control. To move an object an even smaller distance, press Ctrl while you tap the arrow keys.

Customize the Quick Access Toolbar


The Quick Access toolbar is at the upper-left of your screen. It comes with a few buttons on it but you can add more. The advantage of doing this is that these buttons are available all the time, no matter which ribbon tab is active.

To customize the Quick Access toolbar, click the arrow at its right end, shown by the red arrow above. You can quickly choose from some common options. To find more, choose More Commands.

Note that you can also choose the Show Below the Ribbon option which is helpful when you add so many buttons that they run into the part of the title bar that says the name of the presentation.

When you choose More Commands, the Options dialog box opens with the Quick Access Toolbar category active. You can choose commands from the left side and click the Add button to add them to the toolbar. Then, you can use the Up and Down arrows on the right to move the buttons around so that they’re in the order you want.

I always want a New, Open and Save button there and also add a couple of commands that aren’t on the ribbon at all. I’ve seen professional designers with buttons going clear across the screen.


About the Author:

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

You Only Have to Be Courageous for 20 Seconds

How many times have you wanted to do or say something, and you just chickened out? It seemed too awkward, too embarrassing, too intimidating, too dangerous.

The other night we watched the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” and in one scene, Benjamin Mee encourages his son Dylan to reconcile with a girl he likes but has had an argument with. Here are his words:

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Isn’t this the truth? If you can get past that resistance, that fear, that lack of confidence, and say what you need to say or do what you need to do, you’ll get a result one way or the other. The result may be reward or rejection, but at least you KNOW.

And the very act of facing your fear, of taking courageous action, will be a reward in itself. Knowing you can do it is (and can do it again and again and again…) is well worth fighting your self-doubt.

If you never speak up, never take a risk, nothing will change and you’ll never know what might have been, what great things could have happened.

Will you raise your hand in the meeting? Will you make eye contact with the handsome stranger? Will you click the button to join the program that might take your business to a whole new level — but costs more than you’ve ever invested in yourself?

You only have to be courageous for 20 seconds. Will you take the leap?

About the Author:

Lisa Braithwaite is a public speaking coach and trainer based in Santa Barbara, CA, and author of the Speak Schmeak blog. For more information, visit

Just Because You Said It Doesn’t Mean It Was Heard

“I swear I said that they’d see incremental sales growth,” said Angela as she sat down to review her video with me.

Angela was a participant in a recent Mastering Your Presentations workshop. My colleague Dale Ludwig was the lead instructor, and I was the participants’ video coach. My job is to guide participants through video review, focusing on (a) what they’re doing well, (b) where they could improve, and (c) identifying skills and techniques that will work for them.

So, there was Angela (not her real name). She was confused and frustrated because her classmates claimed she hadn’t mentioned how her buyer would gain incremental sales growth if he would approve the promotion she was recommending. “That was the whole point of the presentation!” she said.

“Let’s watch the video and see,” I said. So I popped the video in and we watched.

About 20 seconds into her presentation, there it was. “See?” she said. “I knew I’d said it.”

So, if Angela had said the words why then hadn’t her classmates heard them?

The problem is that Angela wants to be perfect. She’s very concerned about looking silly and mentally monitors everything she says and does. She described it as “being in my head.” Unfortunately, this has led her to rehearse every presentation to find the “right” way to make a point.

This graphic shows a distressed presenter. Angela sees herself in the image. This presenter is thinking:

  • Did I say that correctly?
  • My voice sounds strange.
  • My hands feel heavy.
  • What’s on my next slide?

As I coached Angela, I helped her realize that merely getting the words out isn’t enough. She must say them to SOMEONE. She needs to look people in the eye (not over their heads as she’d been told), see their faces, look for their understanding, and react accordingly.

This is the same thing that happens in everyday low-stakes conversations. But for Angela, the pressure of having to deliver a perfect presentation pulls her out of the moment and into her head.

On the other hand, the presenter shown at right has an outward focus. He’s:

  • Speaking with his audience, not at them
  • In the moment
  • Seeing faces and responding
  • Self-aware
  • Connected with the individuals in the room
  • In control
  • Comfortable

In short, he is engaged. He knows instinctively what to do and say, just as he does in everyday low-stakes conversations.

“This all makes sense to me,” said Angela, “but how can I do it?”

“The answer lies in turning your focus outward, toward the individuals you’re speaking with,” I said. “Take a moment to breathe and survey the room. Look them in the eye. Make the connection. Look for their reaction. Remember, this has nothing to do with your performance and everything to do with their understanding.”

“I like that,” she said. “I’m going to write that down. It’s not about my performance. It’s about them.”

Luckily for Angela, the class wasn’t over and she had another opportunity to deliver her presentation later that day. And what a difference. She was terrific. She was engaged. She made her points clearly and conversationally. She wasn’t nervous.

The proof of her success came from one of her colleagues when she said, “I finally understood what you were trying to say. Your buyer would be nuts not to approve this promotion.”


About the Author:

Greg Owen-Boger is vice president of Turpin Communication, a presentation skills consulting company based in Chicago, and co-author of the book, The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined. For more information about the company or the  book, visit

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