Archives for December 2014

How to Customize Colors in Slide Masters

I see lots of messy presentations when I work with my clients. One of the areas that tends to be a disaster is the slide master. Some of the problems I see are:

  • powerpoint-tips-customize-colors-4Multiple slide masters caused by copying and pasting slides from other presentations and choosing the Keep Source Formatting option.
  • Objects put on the slide master so that they appear on slides that shouldn’t have them, which are then covered up on the slide.
  • The opposite: objects that should be put on the slide master put on every individual slide — or many of them — making for a huge file.
  • Lack of the needed custom layouts in the slide master, requiring manual adjustments on many slides.

Colors Are An Easy Fix and Time Saver

But one problem that I almost always see is that the slide masters use the default colors — colors that are not used in the presentation — and this means that the colors of objects need to be manually changed on each slide. These objects include shapes, charts, SmartArt diagrams and more.

Once you have the colors you need, creating slides will be much quicker and they’ll look better, too.

Here’s the procedure for customizing colors in PowerPoint by setting your theme’s color to the colors you actually want to use.

Decide on your colors.  If you don’t have colors from other materials, such as your website, read “Find colors for your PowerPoint theme colors.” Also see “Copying colors from a website.”

In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click the Design tab and choose Colors. In PowerPoint 2013, click the View tab, then click Slide Master and then choose Colors.

At the bottom of the list, choose Customize Colors. If you aren’t particular about your colors, or you don’t have exact specifications, you can choose one of the options on the list that is similar to what you want and then choose Customize Colors. the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, type a name for your theme colors at the bottom. The first four colors are dark and light options for text and background. Often, you can leave these as is — PowerPoint uses them to make sure that your text is always a good contrast against your slide background.

The last two items are for hyperlinks and followed hyperlinks. PowerPoint uses them when you add a hyperlink to text. I rarely hyperlink text — I prefer to hyperlink shapes and put the text on the shapes because I don’t like the look of the underlined text. So I usually just change Accents 1 through 6. These are your main colors for shapes, charts, etc.

Click each of the accent colors in turn and choose More Colors. In the Colors dialog box, click the Custom tab if it isn’t displayed. The custom tab is where you can specify Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color specifications.


Type the Red, Green and Blue numbers (they can be from 0 to 255) in the appropriate text boxes. You’ll see the resulting color under the New label. Click OK.

Back in the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, click Save. (To edit existing theme colors, right-click the set from the Colors drop-down list on the ribbon and choose Edit. This opens the Edit Theme Colors dialog box, which is the same as the Create New Theme Colors dialog box.)

In PowerPoint 2013, on the Slide Master tab, click the Close Master View button.

You’ll probably want to save the result as a theme, especially if you’ve made other changes to the slide master. On the Design tab, click the More button at the right side of the Themes gallery and choose Save Current Theme. In the dialog box, type a name and click Save. Your new theme will now be available on the Design tab in the Custom section.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is a PowerPoint MVP who 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, visit her website at

9 Ways Salespeople Leave Money on the Table with Virtual Presentations

That quota you’re carrying…does it ever get lighter? I didn’t think so. Read on.

Whether you love or hate web and video conferencing, you’re leaving money on the table if it’s not in the go-to-market arsenal of your business.

To make the most of your time, money, and relationships, avoid these 9 mistakes:

Mistake #1: Abandoning face-to-face meetings

“Present to anyone anywhere, save travel costs” has been the mantra of the conferencing industry for a long time.

It is not that this is not true. It’s just that it would be irresponsible to the sales profession to abandon face-to-face meetings.

Mistake #2: Not using web/video conferencing at all

In a recent session working with a team, one rep piped up with, “But I like to meet people, shake hands, get to know them.” I didn’t even have to reply, because one of his teammates chimed in, “Yeah, but my customers are sometimes saying, ‘Can’t we avoid getting everybody together and just knock this out in a web meeting?”

It is equally irresponsible to avoid web and video conferencing. You actually increase the service you provide when you save your prospects and customers time and money.

Mistake #3: Using web/video conferencing every time you make a phone call

Just because your specialty is field sales doesn’t mean you don’t use the telephone, right?

Here’s the big “but”: Using web or video conferencing is a visual extension and/or improvement of that phone call…but do not waste time putting together PowerPoint or scheduling a video conference if it’s not needed.

Mistake #4: Not saving your client time

Once during a training session for a Fortune 500 team, one of the reps was giving me a hard time (“It’s not like being there,” like I’ve never heard that before).

I didn’t have to answer him. One of his peers spoke up, and she said, “Joe, I’ve got clients asking for it. Sometimes we can just get something done in 30 minutes. They don’t have to go book a conference room or feel like they’ve have to ‘do lunch.’ ”

Mistake #5: Not being ready with a backup plan

Imagine this: Flight number one is late, and you missed the connecting flight for your presentation.

Rescheduling the presentation doesn’t have to be your only option. (Read these tips for being ready to present virtually while traveling).

Mistake #6: Not accelerating the sales cycle

Having all the decision makers and influencers in the room isn’t always possible. Doing more appointments and/or making more calls take more time.

Answer: Get everybody in the same virtual room.

Mistake #7: Not including other team members

If the deal’s large, the sales engineer or senior exec will travel with you, but many times the appointment doesn’t warrant that. Unless all they needed to do was join virtually.

What’s the value of your CTO dropping in for 10 minutes to provide a personal comment? High.

Mistake #8: Not adapting to the medium

A change in the medium of communication changes the experience for both you and your clients. Any change of medium loses something (everybody gets that), but it also gains something.

Learn your virtual presentation tools. You’ll likely discover something you can do better virtually than in-person.

Mistake #9: Not growing your presentation design skills

Of the brain’s computing power allocated for our five senses, half is dedicated to vision. It’s a cliche’, but sometimes a picture is literally worth a thousand words, and research proves that complex or intangible ideas are often better communicated visually.

Why does this grow in importance online?

You don’t “work the room” in the same way. There is more focus on your slides to communicate key ideas.

The bottom line

Web and video conferencing isn’t the answer to world hunger, but when you look at it through the eyes of business owner and value creator, they are uniquely irreplaceable assets in your bag of tricks.

As some total slouch named Sun Tzu put it,

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

About the Author:

Roger Courville speaks, trains, consults, and writes about psychosocial effectiveness when communicating via web, audio and video conferencing. He is a  veteran of the web conferencing industry (since the modem days of 1999) and has taught tens of thousands people worldwide, reaching thousands more with writing appearances and interviews. For more information about his services and thought leadership, visit Roger’s website, The Virtual Presenter

PowerPoint’s Upgrade for the iPad: Pros and Cons

Last month Microsoft announced that it was offering free upgraded versions of its Office software for iPhones and iPads. This is big news, because until recently people were only able to view, not edit, Office docs on their iDevices.

Microsoft saw the writing on the wall and decided to go with a “freemium” model. Users can still do a lot of stuff with the free versions, but for all the premium features you need to pay for an Office 365 subscription.

So what can you do with the free version of PowerPoint on an iPad? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

A Different Experience

I didn’t test the iPhone version of the PowerPoint app because I knew that the tiny size of its screen compared to that of the iPad would quickly drive me crazy. I opted for the eyeball-friendly iPad version.

I found the experience of designing a presentation on a tablet kind of like using an Etch-a-Sketch. Once I got used to it, though, things went pretty smoothly.

It’s clear that Microsoft set out to transform PowerPoint into a native iPad app. There are certain tablet-specific commands, such as pinching the screen to zoom in and spreading your fingers out on the screen to zoom out, that are helpful. The interface is clean and intuitive, making it seem right at home on an iPad.

Some of the Highlights:

  • You can link your Dropbox account to the app so that you can access your presentation from any device.
  • Your files are set to autosave, so you don’t have to keep remembering to save your work (unless you’re a masochist, in which case you can disable the autosave function).
  • When you open existing presentations on the iPad, all of the transitions and animations are preserved.
  • In Slide Show mode there is a “laser pointer” that you can access by holding your finger down on the screen.
  • It’s easy to add video, shapes, tables, and pictures to your presentations.

Some of the Lowlights:

While they weren’t enough to make me want to skim my iPad out the window, I did notice a few bothersome details worth mentioning.

  • Once you insert a slide, its layout seems to be set. I couldn’t find any way to change slide layouts other than to start over with a new slide with the layout you want.
  • Audio is not supported in the PowerPoint app. Get ready for silent movies!
  • You need to have an Office 365 subscription to be able to see your slides in the Presenter View, with the notes.
  • You can only use photos and clipart that are already on your Camera Roll or Photo Stream. Unlike with the desktop version, there’s no access to the image library.

The Bottom Line

This is a free app with some amazing functionality. Even if you don’t opt for the paid Office 365 subscription, you can still create, edit, and present professional-looking slides from your iDevice.

About the Author:

Laura Foley helps people to be more awesome at PowerPoint through workshops, consulting, and presentation design services. She has developed presentations and provided training for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions/General Dynamics, Juniper Networks and the Harvard Business School. Her Cheating Death by PowerPoint training has been featured at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Laura also has been a featured speaker at HOW Design Live, the largest conference for creative professionals in the world. For more information, visit her website at

Perfectionism and Public Speaking

Is it good to be a perfectionist? Perfectionists would say yes, of course; it leads to better results in work and life.

The psychologists say it leads to misery, and a higher risk of suicide. A specialist in the field, Professor Gordon Flett of York University, has written a book on the subject, and a recent article in Review of General Psychology. The titles are revealing: Perfectionism: Theory, Research, and Treatment. And the recent article: The Destructiveness of Perfectionism Revisited: Implications for the Assessment of Suicide Risk and the Prevention of Suicide.

Those titles at least let you know how Gordon feels about the personality trait.

Of course he’s right. As someone who has struggled with perfectionist tendencies all his life, I know what it means to endlessly replay scenes in my head of things I have done that could have – should have – gone better.

Perfectionism is especially troublesome for public speakers. Speakers have good days and bad days like everyone else; they just have them in front of a crowd. So if we weren’t already perfectionists before we started speaking, we might well become more so. Who wants to make mistakes publicly?

The other day, in a speech, I was talking about emotion and meetings – showing up with a clear, focused emotion as a way of increasing your impact and charisma in the meeting. It’s the subject of one of the chapters in my new book, Power Cues. I got a question from the audience: “You’ve given the examples of excitement, or anger, as possible emotions to focus on before a speech. It strikes me that it’s hard to think of many others. That seems a bit narrow in range. Can you suggest a few more appropriate emotions?”

In retrospect, I could have laughed it off, or asked the audience for suggestions, or even teased the questioner for having such a limited emotional palette. Instead, I stood there, rooted to the spot, unable to think up any other emotions. (Fear or empty-headedness didn’t seem like worthwhile suggestions.)

It’s one of those moments that perfectly captures the problem with being a perfectionist public speaker. You feel that it’s your job to be able to answer all the questions the audience has, perfectly. When you can’t – because you’re human – you beat yourself up afterward for being imperfect. Forever, or at least until a fresh failure drives the previous one out of your head.

I love Professor Flett’s list of “ten signs your a perfectionist,” below. I check most of them off, including number ten, which was really hard to leave in the blog post as is, in order for you to get the joke.

1. You can’t stop thinking about a mistake you made.

2. You are intensely competitive and can’t stand doing worse than others.

3. You either want to do something just right or not at all.

4. You demand perfection from other people.

5. You won’t ask for help if asking can be perceived as a flaw or weakness.

6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.

7. You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.

8. You are highly aware of other people’s demands and expectations.

9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people.

10.You noticed the error in the title of this list.

Perfectionism freezes you up, afraid to risk making mistakes. But public speaking is one big risk, and it’s never perfect. There is always something to go wrong, whether it’s the sound, or the lights, or the slides, or the speaker, or the talk – there are simply too many human moving parts for the whole thing to go perfectly.

Of course you have to try to do your best. But once you put your speech out there, you have to be willing to let go of your perfectionism. For the sake of your mental health, as well as your performance.

Focus instead on the guts of your talk, your purpose, your passion — why you’re there.  Get that across, and damn the perfection.

Peter O’Toole, as incandescent an actor as ever trod the boards, holds the distinction for being the performer who has been nominated more times for an Academy Award than anyone else, without winning: eight. Imperfection, in a nutshell. Yet the world would be a much, much poorer place without his performance in Lawrence of Arabia. Yes, he was nominated for Lawrence, and no, he didn’t win. The others include: Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and Venus. By any standard, an extraordinary body of work. Yet not perfect.

In 2002, the Academy gave him one of those Lifetime Achievement awards – a consolation prize. I hope he wasn’t a perfectionist, because it would have galled him.

Just as for acting, in public speaking perfectionism is the enemy. Embrace instead the imperfect, the human, and the lively.  Embrace passion, not perfection.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and presentation skill 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. For more information about his coaching services or books, visit

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