Archives for November 2014

4 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a massive program with lots of capabilities built in, and there will always be things that not everyone knows about. Here are four awesome PowerPoint tricks we’ve found that 99% of people don’t know they can do in PowerPoint (including some of the pros):

#1: Break a table
#2: Break SmartArt
#3: Break up a list of bullets
#4: Resize and crop multiple pictures in one go

PowerPoint Trick #1: Breaking A Table

Breaking a table is the fastest way to get all of the information out of a table.

To break a table, simply:

  • Copy and paste your table as a Metafile (CTRL + ALT + V for the Paste Special dialog box).
  • Once you have a Metafile, simply ungroup it (CTRL + SHIFT + G) to break the table into shapes, lines and text boxes.

This will leave you with an individual text box for each entry in your table. From here, you can massage the pieces into your layout of choice.

This PowerPoint trick alone should radically increase the amount of things you can do in PowerPoint with your existing data.

PowerPoint Trick #2: Breaking SmartArt

SmartArt is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that it can quickly generate slide layouts, but it is a curse as it’s often a pain to format and work with. To bring SmartArt graphics back into a format that’s easier to manage, you can “break” it into shapes, lines and text boxes:

  • Simply select the SmartArt graphic, ungroup it by hitting CTRL + SHIFT + G.
  • Ungroup it a second time, and the SmartArt graphic is now simply a collection of shapes, lines and text boxes.

Now you can go ahead and massage the individual pieces into whatever slide layout you need.

PowerPoint Trick #3: Breaking Up A List Of Bullets

Everyone knows that you are not supposed to use long lists of bullets in your layouts, but the question becomes, what can you do with them without spending hours at the drawing board?

The fastest way to break up a list of bullets and generate layout ideas is to throw it into SmartArt:

  • SmartArt will force your bullets into the different SmartArt layouts (you get a live preview of the graphics), so you can quickly generate layout ideas for your bullets.
  • Once you find a SmartArt graphic that is close to what you want to work with, you can simply break the graphic apart (see #2).

I often use this technique to quickly break up my content, and end up combining two or three different SmartArt graphics into my final presentation layout, to create something unique and interesting.

PowerPoint Trick #4: Resizing And Cropping Multiple Pictures In One Go

How often have you had several pictures on a slide that were all different shapes and sizes and that you needed to make uniform to fit into your layout?

While cropping and resizing images manually is the more technically correct way to address this, it can be an extremely time-intensive and frustrating task. To shortcut your way through the process, simply throw the pictures into SmartArt:

  • Select the pictures that you want to resize, select the “Picture Layout” button, and choose a SmartArt graphic.
  • Just like with bullets, SmartArt will force all of the pictures into uniform shapes by cropping and resizing each picture for you.
  • Once you find a SmartArt graphic that is close to what you want to work with, you can simply break the graphic apart (see #2).

If you don’t like the cropping and resizing that SmartArt does, you can always manually adjust the pictures yourself afterwards.

With these 4 PowerPoint tricks, you now know more than what most PowerPoint users know they can do in PowerPoint, so welcome to the inner circle. For a video summarizing the 4 tricks, see below:

 

About the Author:

Taylor Croonquist is the shortcut and productivity guru for Nuts and Bolts Speed Training company, which helps companies build better PowerPoint slides in shorter time frames. Hailing from the home of Microsoft and Starbucks, he came up with the “One Armed Mouse” technique in order to be able to combine these two passions: PowerPoint-ing with a coffee in one hand and a mouse in the other. For more information about the company’s services, visit nutsandboltsspeedtraining.com

 

 

 

3 Tips for Handling Hostile Questions During Presentations

Chances are that you’ve seen the following happen more than once: A colleague builds a beautiful case to support his recommendation. Then comes the relentless questioner who pummels him with questions that seem to have nothing to do with the core case, and the colleague limps to a close as if he’d been attacked by war planes rather than stung by a B-B gun.

If you haven’t experienced this in real life, you’ve certainly seen it on TV press conferences.

People ask hostile questions for any number of reasons:

  • They disagree with what you have said or have wrong information.
  • You have not established credibility with them.
  • They’ve misunderstood you.
  • They think they are “saving the day” for everyone else or their entire organization.
  • Their personality makes them always look for the cloud in every silver lining.
  • They are angry with someone else and are taking it out on you—consciously or unconsciously.

Whatever the reason, your presentation success and credibility often rides on your ability to remain unruffled and walk away from the situation on a positive note with an air of confidence. Here are three tips that can help you do just that.

Rephrase a Legitimate Question… Minus the Hot Words and Hostile Tone

If the question is, “Why are you demanding that we submit these forms with an approval signature? I think that’s totally unreasonable,” try rephrasing it to emphasize its validity, and then respond:

“Why do we think the forms should have an approval signature? Well, first of all, the approval signature allows us to. . . .”

Don’t feel that you have to refute an opposing view in great detail, particularly if the hostile view is not well supported itself. Simply comment: “No, I don’t think that’s the case.” No elaboration is necessary.

Your answer will sound authoritative and final and will make the asker appear rude and argumentative if he or she rephrases and continues.

1) Upgrade the Tone

Avoid matching hostility with hostility; try to maintain a congenial tone and body language. The audience almost always will side (or at least respect and empathize) with the person who remains calm and courteous.  Keep in mind that how you answer questions will be remembered more clearly and for much longer than what you say.

2) Acknowledge and Accept Feelings

Try to determine possible reasons for any hostility. By acknowledging and legitimizing the feelings of the asker, you may defuse the hostility and help the other person receive your answer in a more open manner.

Examples: “It sounds as though you’ve been through some difficult delays with this supplier” or “I don’t blame you for feeling as you do, given the situation you describe. I’m just glad that has been the exception rather than the rule in working with this audit group.”

3) State Your Own Experience and Opinion

People can argue with your statistics, data, surveys, and facts indefinitely. But they cannot argue with your experience. It’s yours, not theirs.

After you’ve listened and acknowledged their opinion and feelings, feel free to end by stating your own in a non-confrontational way. “My experience has been different. Based on X, Y, and Z, it’s my opinion that ABC approach will work in our situation.”  Then break eye contact and move ahead.

Your audience will take their final cues from you.  Make them positive.

About the Author:

Booher Consultants, a communications training firm, works with business leaders and organizations to increase effectiveness through better oral, written, interpersonal, and enterprise-wide communication. Founder Dianna Booher is the author of 46 books, published in 26 languages. Recent titles include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate With Confidence! The Revised and Expanded Edition. For more information, visit www.Booher.com
Copyright © Booher Consultants; article used with permission.

Thinking of Doing a Google Hangout? Read This First

This is not going to be a technology article, so if that’s what you were hoping for… sorry. Nope, just good old fashioned presentation advice, but the kind you need when you’re going to be on camera.

I recently watched a Google Hangout where the content was all good, but the speaker’s on-camera performance left much to be desired.

Just a few simple adjustments would have made this presentation so much better, and I would have been able to focus on the content rather than the distractions of the visuals.

Here are some tips for you whether you’re live on a Hangout or shooting a DIY video for later upload.

1. Place your webcam at or above eye level

When you sit at your desk, your screen tends to be a little bit lower than eye level, unless you have a really high desk or a massive monitor. But when you shoot a Hangout or video, you don’t want to be looking DOWN at your audience, which is what will happen if you keep your monitor where it is.

If you’re using a laptop, elevate it on some books or a box, so that you’re looking directly into the camera or even looking up a bit. If you’re using a standalone webcam (anyone still use those?) position it the same way.

2. Actually look at the webcam

I’m shocked when I watch a video or Hangout and professionals who should know better are looking down at the screen instead of into the camera. Just because you’re looking at someone’s face on the screen doesn’t mean you’re making eye contact with your audience.

If you want to make eye contact (and your audience wants you to), you must look INTO the webcam lens.

This takes practice, and for some presenters it helps to tape a picture of someone next to the lens. The more you get used to talking into the camera, the easier it becomes.

3. Put on some powder

Yes, guys, even you. The last thing I want to see on a livestream is some sweaty, shiny guy on the other side. I’m the least likely person to tell you to wear makeup, because I don’t enjoy wearing it, and it’s actually one thing that keeps me from shooting as much video as I should.

But you don’t need full stage makeup, just a little something to even out a blotchy complexion and keep you from blinding the viewer. A little basic street makeup for women and at least some powder for men is required to keep you from looking either shiny or washed out on the screen. And guys, that powder will need to go on your pate as well, if you’re losing your hair. Just sayin’.

4. Pay attention to your backdrop

If you don’t have a nice backdrop at your desk, fake one. Ruth Sherman taught me to put a plant or some flowers behind me to liven up (and lighten up) the scenery, even if I have to put them on a step stool.

Your audience can’t see what’s holding it all up; they just want something pleasant and non-distracting behind you instead of saggy drab curtains, a mishmash of books and knickknacks, or a big piece of drywall (which is what you would see behind me at my desk if I let you!).

You don’t have to have a fancy studio setup or expensive lighting when shooting video or live Hangouts. But as a professional who wants to be seen as an authority and an expert, you do have to come across as someone who knows what they’re doing and has the confidence of a pro. And the last thing you want to do is distract your audience with these piddly but noticeable mistakes.

Making these little tweaks to your appearance and to your performance will make a subtle but important difference in how your audience perceives you, your credibility level, and overall, your ability to make a connection and build a relationship with your audience.

About the Author:

Lisa Braithwaite is a public speaking coach and trainer based in Santa Barbara, CA. She is author of the Speak Schmeak blog as well as the free e-book, Present Your Best: 11 Strategies for Magnifying Your Confidence, Both Onstage and Off.  For more information, visit http://www.coachlisab.com

How to Build an Interactive Infographic in PowerPoint

Lately we’ve been thinking a lot about pushing presentation software past simple slides. Keeping with the theme, we received an interesting challenge from one of our clients: an interactive infographic produced and executed in PowerPoint.

Why PowerPoint you might ask? Why not Prezi or Flash? For clients with a large sales team, introducing a new software across the board can be cost prohibitive. We needed a platform that the sales team was already comfortable with and which would allow the team to update numbers and figures on the fly.

PowerPoint was the clear answer, but since PowerPoint takes a lot of flack for its linear format, how could we make a truly interactive infographic?

We were up for the challenge. Here’s a sample of the finished product:

Interactive_PPT

Here’s how we did itand a few of the challenges we ran into along the way.

The first step was building the base infographic. The client needed to be able to edit text on the fly, so we pulled in our icons from Illustrator and built everything else natively in PowerPoint.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint | Main Image

Click for a Larger View

To keep things easy to edit, we put the base infographic into a master slide – this way any edit to the infographic would immediately populate through the file, eliminating the need to edit the base image on every slide.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint Expanded Data Slide

Click for a Larger View

Next we designed data detail overlays for the expanded information set to pop out from various data points. We gave the expanded information slides their own master style which included a fade effect. We designed the popouts and data visualization in the main slide editor – one slide per pop out.

Once we had all our info built out, it was time to build in some “interactivity.”

Truly, PowerPoint is built to be a linear presentation tool. The intent is that the speaker will advance one slide to the next without deviating from the plan.

There is one tool in PowerPoint that allows for some non-linear jumping: Hyperlinks (Insert > Hyperlink). The hyperlinking tool can be used to make richer and more informative presentations by linking slide elements to web pages, associated documents or slides within the presentation.

Our plan was to use inter-slide linking to create an interactive infographic piece. We wanted to link various data points to detail pop out slides so that the presenter could interact with his audience and pull up additional information. Here we ran into our first obstacle:

Obstacle #1: Hyperlinks Cannot be Applied to Groups

Our data points were all made up of a mix of design elements: icons, text boxes, lines, etc. Without group linking, we’d have had to link each element, leaving un-linked space between elements and bogging down our file. Instead, we needed a clean link that would allow the user to click anywhere over the group of elements and bring up the expanded data.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint Hyperlinks

Click for a Larger View

To get around the issue, we created a series of invisible boxes to overlay our data facts. Before we eliminated their fill, they looked like this. We then linked these boxes to the appropriate slides and made them invisible. Now clicking over any grouping hit these invisible link boxes, which brought up additional information, creating an interactive infographic.

Obstacle #2: Slide Transition Lag

Now our file is functional, but we were experiencing a lag between clicking a data point and the new slide coming up of several seconds. A lag this severe could potentially cause the user to panic during a presentation, clicking twice and confusing the file. Even more importantly, it indicates that PowerPoint it working too hard and could quit unexpectedly.

The problem was the sheer number of design elements on each slide. The base infographic contained so many shapes and images that PPT had to redraw for each slide.

Interactive Infographic Reorder Layers

Click for a Larger View

Since the client wanted edibility, we couldn’t use a static image, so we met half way. We pulled all the text off the slide and saved out the resulting image as a hi res .png file. We than imported that to a master slide and layered all the text over the image. To keep editing easy, all the text is in one group, so it can be easily brought to the front of all the clear link box layers and edited there.

Obstacle #3: Misclicks End the File

To move from each detail slide back to the main interactive infographic, we included a “close” button on each detail pop out that linked to a slide containing the main infographic. The user could then click on another data point to bring up a new detail slide.

A little playing revealed that any misclick, whether it be missing the “close” button or clicking a spot on the main infographic that was not covered by a link box, would end the file. PowerPoint was reading that misclick as a slide advance and, because we were on the last slide, it thought the presentation had concluded.

To resolve the issue, we added another clear link box. This one was the size and shape of the entire slide and linked right back to the main interactive infographic. A misclick now hit this link box, bringing up the same slide again and giving the user another chance to correctly hit his target.

In order to keep the other links clickable, the large link layer needed to be behind any other active links and in front of any text or images. Here’s what the full slide link box looked like on the detail slides before we removed the fill. It sits behind the “close” link and in front of any other elements.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint Link Layer

Click for a Larger View

PowerPoint is often dismissed as a necessary office evil incapable of producing attractive and unique presentations. But with a little creativity and know-how, PowerPoint can be an accessible and powerful platform to create engaging and advanced marketing pieces, including interactive infographics.

About the Author:

Bethany Auck is the founder and creative director of SlideRabbit, a presentation design boutique specializing in custom presentation development and infographics. SlideRabbit builds persuasive narratives and poignant demonstratives into powerfully-branded custom presentation layouts. The company serves an international client base and specializes in litigation presentation development, sales and marketing presentations and corporate communication presentations. For more information about SlideRabbit’s services, visit http://sliderabbit.com/

Pin It on Pinterest