Archives for June 2015

Marvelous Makeovers – Presentations Edition

youre-LATE-psd97874 …For the busy professional for whom everything is due yesterday.  

One of the objectives of design makeovers is to leave your audience members with their jaws on the floor, but we know that it is not entirely fair, showing you designs that you might not have the skills or the time to recreate. Besides, there is more to presentation design than creating pretty slides…much more. A good makeover takes into account the look and feel of the slides, the message being conveyed, and the reality of those in charge of the project. Taken directly from Rick Altman’s client files, these makeovers carry with them the hope that you will look at them and say, “Hey, I can do that.” As a special bonus, at no extra charge (i.e. you pay nothing more than the $0 that this webinar is costing you), Rick performs a makeover of our own webinar branding. Gulp…

  • Messages that are audience-centric, not presenter-centric
  • Surviving slides with too much junk on them
  • Content better left in handouts
  • When clean and consistent rule the day


Rick-AltmanHe is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. Rick 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.

Handout – Marvelous Makeovers


Create a Whiteboard in PowerPoint Using These Shortcuts

Have you ever wanted to make your presentations more interactive by scribbling notes on your slides? With PowerPoint you can use a combination of shortcuts to quickly get whiteboard functionality without leaving your presentation or using any other software.

This is not the ultimate whiteboard scenario, but it’s a great trick to have in your toolkit when you need to sketch something on the fly during a presentation or workshop.

Creating a Whiteboard Scenario in PowerPoint: Method #1

Step 1: Start Pen Inking Mode

While in Slideshow Mode (this will not work in the normal view of your presentation), hit CTRL+P on your keyboard to enable pen inking. Hitting the shortcut, your cursor becomes a red dot and you can now draw on your slides.

This shortcut works in all versions of PowerPoint 2007 and later, and with the pen turned on you can write on your slides, underline items, check things off in a list and more.

You also can change the color of the pen in the lower left hand corner of your screen, as pictured below.

Whiteboarding picture 1

While this by itself can be a great way to make your slides interactive, we’re not at the whiteboard scenario quite yet.

If you want to learn all of the inking shortcuts, see the video below for a demonstration:

Step 2: Select a Whiteboard or Blackboard

With your pen active (this does not work after the fact), you have two keyboard shortcut options for your whiteboard session.

#1: Hit “B” on your keyboard to turn your screen black, effectively giving you a blackboard.

#2: Hit “W” on your keyboard to turn your screen white, effectively giving you a whiteboard.

In this mode you can now write (or draw) on the blank canvas using your mouse, or if you are projecting with a tablet, you can draw with your finger or stylus (which is much easier).

For tablets, you are looking for the blackout slide option in the upper right-hand corner as pictured below in the iPad version of PowerPoint.

Whiteboarding picture 2

When you are done inking, just hit “B” or “W” to return to your presentation. From there, you can start your next session again by hitting the “B” or “W” shortcut again.

Just remember when blanking out your screen to first hit the pen shortcut (CTRL+P) if you want to write. Using the pen shortcut after blanking out your screen will automatically return you to your presentation.

Saving Your Ink

Using the freestyle whiteboard technique described above does not allow you to save your ink to your presentation. What you can do (this is a sneaky work-around of mine), is take a picture of the whiteboard session with your phone or camera before ending it.

So if you do want to save the ink from your whiteboard session, you will need to use a different method.

Creating a Whiteboard Scenario in PowerPoint – Method #2

This method involves setting up blank slides at the end of your presentation to use as a whiteboard or blackboard.

Step 1: Insert Blank Slides

At the very end of your presentation, add as many blank slides (with a white or black background) as you like.

Note: You don’t have to add them at the very end, although I do find this easier to remember and navigate to than throwing them somewhere in the middle of your deck.

Step 2: Start Your Slideshow and Start Inking

With your presentation in process, just jump to the blank slides when you want your whiteboard session to start.

Two keyboard shortcuts for quickly jumping between slides in Slideshow Mode are:

#1: Type your slide number on your keyboard (assuming you know it) and then hit ENTER

#2: Hit CTRL+S on your keyboard to launch the Navigate Slide dialog box, where you can then find and jump to your slide

You can see both shortcuts in action and more in the video below.

Now on your blank slides, all you have to do is hit CTRL+P to enable the pen and start inking.

Saving Your Ink

Once you’re done with your inking, you can simply hit ESC to end your presentation. You will then be given an option to save your ink as ink annotations.

Once you do that, your annotations will be saved to your slides as objects that you can then edit by opening up the Ink Tools Tab in your Ribbon. To open the Ink Tools tab, navigate to the Review Tab and select “Start Inking.”

Whiteboarding picture 3

Ink Currently Can’t Be Saved on the iPad

And it sucks…one of the easiest places to add ink to your slides and you can’t save it!

Although I’m sure they will fix this in a future update, the current version of PowerPoint on the iPad (version 1.9.3) does not allow you to save your inking sessions (which I assume is the same for the Android version of PowerPoint).

So yes, you can draw ink on your slides using your tablet, but you currently cannot save the ink (regardless of how you try to do it). You will have to go back to the sneaky method of taking a picture of your screen.

So that’s how you can creatively use PowerPoint shortcuts (and a few clever workarounds) to create your own whiteboard or blackboard in the middle of a presentation to create a more interactive audience experience. While probably not the best fit for a keynote address, it’s a handy trick to have in your tool kit  if you’re working with a small group or demoing things from a desk.

Editor’s Note: To learn more PowerPoint shortcuts like these and tips for using them, visit Taylor’s blog.

About the Author:

Taylor Croonquist is a co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, which aims to make working professionals at least three times faster in PowerPoint. For more information on the company, visit the Nuts and Bolts website

The Presentation Mistake You Don’t Want to Make

I do my best to turn off my speaking coach voice when I attend a presentation. I stay in the moment and focus on being a SAM (spectacular audience member) for the speaker. Most of the time I enjoy the speaker and the speech.

But every once in a while my inner coaching voice will not shut her pie hole.

A few weeks ago I attended an event with a well-known speaker giving a 20-minute talk. She launched into her talk about 5 Tips for Success. My inner coaching voice began to howl, “Do the math.” Five points divided by 20 minutes = 4 minutes per point.

And that’s with no intro or conclusion.

You can’t develop a strong, actionable point in your presentation in four minutes. You can try, but it’s going to be forgettable swill or you’re going to go way overtime (which this speaker did.)

Now, ask me if I remember any of her five points? Not a one. Ask me if I had to sneak out early because I was going to be late for my next appointment? Yes, yes I did.

The bottom line is: Your presentation is not a blog post.

When a presentation is crafted like a blog post, it leaves the audience out of the picture. It doesn’t take into account how people process and more importantly remember information.

When you’re reading a blog post such as this one there is a tendency to skim, look for the bold words or images that stand out. You’re skimming right now, aren’t you?

When you’re reading, if something catches your fancy, you SLOOOOOOOW down and read it more carefully.  If something cOnFuSeS you, you reread that sentence. If something bores you (zzzzzz), you get out of dodge and click away.

In a speech, the audience is at the mercy of the speaker. The audience can’t control the flow of the information. They can’t slow down the speaker if something interests them. They can’t interrupt and ask the presenter to repeat what they just said if they get lost. They can’t escape (easily) if the speaker is boring them.

It’s your duty as a speaker to understand how the audience is going to receive and interpret your message. You’re their guide. Your job is to help them understand and take action on your message.

To make that a heck of a lot easier for you, do this as you prep for a speech:

Focus on One Big Idea

The BIG IDEA is the ONE (just one) takeaway from your speech that you want the audience to remember and be buzzing about after your presentation.

It should be simple, succinct, and specific. Every point in your speech should lead the audience to that Big Idea.

The problem with “tip-style” speeches is that they are generally disjointed and tied together by a vague notion (like be more successful). At the end of the speech it’s like you just read a Buzzfeed article. And do you remember the last Buzzfeed article you read? No? Me neither (but I’m sure it was about cats).

The big idea gives your presentation focus and a way for your audience to spread your message.

Close the Presentation Gap

The presentation gap is the difference between what you want to say as a speaker and what the audience actually needs to hear from you.

Your speech needs to be a bite-size experience of YOU and your expertise. When a speech is crafted like a blog post, the mentality is to “PRESENT ALL THE THINGS.”

Each and every audience member shows up to a presentation because they have a problem that your expertise can solve.

When you give them a smattering of everything, they leave without knowing what to do rather than going out the door primed to take that next action step.

Do the Math on Your Time

You’ve got to do the math on how much time you have to make each of your points.

Recently I worked with a lovely woman who booked a big gig. She was excited and when she told me her title I though “Oh for the love of god, how are we going to make this work.”

Her title was “10 Ways to Hack Your Creativity” (not the real title except for the 10 Ways part). The presentation was 45 minutes, which meant 4.5 minutes per hack and that just wasn’t going to happen.

Her ideas were complex. They needed stories. The audience needed to know what do with the hack after they heard it. There was no way to deliver on the promise of this title without leaving the audience underwhelmed by the quantity.

So what did we do? We changed the title and created a presentation that closed the presentation gap and focused on the BIG IDEA.

When I prepare a speech I use the 10-10-80 rule to judge my time. 10% of the presentation is dedicated to the introduction, 10% to the conclusion, and the remaining 80% focuses on the meat of the speech.

If you’re giving a 20-minute talk, 2-minute intro, 2-minute conclusion, 16-minutes on the body of your speech.

It’s a great rule of thumb to know what you have time to cover and then craft your speech accordingly.

The bottom line is your speech is not a blog post. Your job as a speaker is to make it easy for the audience to process, understand, and take action on your message.

And that’s how you create a speech that leaves the audience buzzing about you and your message instead of thinking “there’s 20 minutes of my life I won’t be getting back.”

About the Author:

Michelle Mazur, Ph.D., is the CEO of presentation skills company Communication Rebel and the author of Speak Up for Your Business. The speakers she works with have gone on to book speaking gigs across the United States, raise 3x the amount of money expected for the launch of a charity, and speak in front of world leaders and First Ladies. Her writing has appeared in Fast Company, PR Daily, the SlideShare Blog, Business2Community and She Owns It.

Add Power to Your Message with Better Slide Titles

When I work with clients I sometimes find that their slide titles are boring and even meaningless. Here are some ways to make your titles more powerful and descriptive.

Use verbs when writing titles

I recently worked with a client from a Fortune 100 company on a presentation about how to work with clients. This presentation also was part of a request for a promotion. I can’t show you the actual presentation, but I wanted to share with you something I discovered…using verbs in your slide titles makes your point much more clearly and powerfully.

Why is that?

When you add a verb (or even a gerund, a verb with “ing” at the end), you make the title more like a sentence. You go from a fairly meaningless combination of words to a phrase that actually conveys something. Audience members can read the title and understand immediately what you’re trying to say with your slide content.

Adding action to your slide titles makes them speak to your audience and they become more powerful.

Here are some before and after slide titles (modified for privacy):

Field Reps Sales Transition
Enhance, grow and refine field rep businesses

Barbara Doe: Proven Qualities of Responsibility, Relationship Building and Lasting Collaborations
Barbara Doe: Connecting the needs of sales reps with internal corporate partners

Regional Sales Rep Development
Focus on regional sales rep strengths

Opt for specific over generic

Think of your slide title as a newspaper headline. It makes a statement that entices you to read the article. Your audience doesn’t need to wait or scrutinize the slide to figure out your point. Instead, they get it instantly and turn their attention to you for elaboration. Here are some before and after examples:

Evidence Based Research–Benefits
The Transcendental Meditation program reduces blood pressure

Plasma Cortisol
Plasma cortisol concentration reduced

Post-secondary compliance growth
Our goal is 100% post-secondary compliance!

Outcome of low back pain in general practice
Only 25% recovered from low back pain after 12 months

 Write the way you speak

We often write differently than we speak. When we write our language is more formal; when we speak we’re more informal. A funny thing happens when people create slides for a presentation. They’re writing so they use a more formal style. That ends up sounding stilted when we speak it. It’s also less direct, less clear.

That’s why I work 1-on-1 with my clients. I find that if they just hand over some slides with text on it I don’t really understand what they are trying to say. But if they speak out a slide to me and we can have a discussion about it, then I can help them rewrite the text on the slide so that it’s more direct and therefore clearer.

It can be hard to write the way you speak, but that’s what you need to do when you’re preparing for a presentation. I recommend that you record yourself giving the presentation and listen to the recording. Then rewrite the text on the slide to be more like your speech and less like a newspaper article or report.

This rewrite should include:

  • Omitting unnecessary words
  • Using simple words (not overly complex words or jargon)
  • Being direct (not beating around the bush)
  • Stating the point clearly

Here’s an exercise for you. Go back over a past presentation and edit each slide title so that it actually makes a statement–the main point of your slide. I think you’ll find that the presentation is much clearer!

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,

Embedded Videos in PowerPoint Not Playing? Use This Fix

How marvelous that the recent versions of Office automatically embed videos into PowerPoint instead of linking them. And how frustrating when you bundle up your nicely self-contained multimedia presentation and someone else reports that the videos don’t play on their PC.

This is an issue we’ve come across many times over the years, and it can be very tricky and time consuming to troubleshoot. We’ve developed a little tool that can be used to identify the most appropriate video format to use when embedding videos in a presentation that’s going to be used by someone else.

At the heart of all the trouble is a little thing called a codec (or coder-decoder, or compressor-decompressor). Essentially, codecs encode and translate your media to make it suitable for storage and playback – and there is an assortment of different ones.

Hair-pulling/beard-scratching occurs when the codecs used to create or convert a movie file on one PC are not installed on the target PC.

When PowerPoint comes across a media file in a presentation, it uses Windows Media Player to attempt to play it, and if the codecs don’t match up, it can’t decode the data and the clip won’t play. To compound the villainy, media is now encoded in many different containers (e.g. avi, wmv, mp4, mov), each of which can make use of different codecs.

This becomes a big issue because the folks who make or convert media files are likely to have a huge range of available codecs on their machine, whereas the folks who need to play the media may have “factory-standard”  codec installations with far less flexibility.

This all came into sharp focus on a recent project in which we had embedded a dozen video clips into a presentation only to find that the user could not play a single one of them. So I developed a test file to see what ‘flavor’ of movie they would be able to see. Instead of going back and forth converting the videos over and over again and sending them off for the client to test, I made a PowerPoint show that includes short video clips in various container/codec combinations, and you can download it now from our Resources page.

Simply email the ppsx file and ask the recipient to open it and follow the instructions. All being well, there will be at least one or two clips that play correctly, and those clips will tell the viewer which container and codec combination worked for them.

Armed with this intel, you simply need to get hold of a freeware video converter (I heartily recommend AnyVideoConverter for this), and apply the correct settings to convert the video into the right format. Then insert it into the PowerPoint and everything should run like a cinematic dream.

About the Author:

With ten years’ experience developing presentations for industry-leading companies all over the world, John Bevan heads up the visualization department at BrightCarbon Ltd, specializing in transforming raw data and text-based content into dynamic and compelling visual slides. BrightCarbon creates persuasive, clear and compelling presentations for B2B and B2C sales, internal and external training, online and on-demand presenting, as well as interactive tablet presenting.

Test Post 2

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The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined

PXP_WatchNowIconBusiness communication exists to move business forward. In a perfect world, that work is efficient and effective. Now, think about the last presentation or meeting you attended. Was it efficient and effective? No? You’re not alone. It’s time for a new approach, one that is practical and flexible enough to work in a variety of situations.

In this webinar with author Greg Owen-Boger, you will be introduced to the concept of The Orderly Conversation, OrderlyConversationDropShadow1-e1378476873997which is a type of communication that combines a carefully organized message with flexible, spontaneous delivery. This means that while you prepare, you need to look ahead to the uncertainties of the conversation, and once the conversation starts, you need to adapt what was planned to what’s happening in the moment. And this is why the traditional approach of one-way speechmaking, which we all learned in school, falls short in the business setting.

This session is not about tips and tricks. Instead, it’s a serious, big-picture look at group communication. It’s about the skills and techniques you use to achieve your goal and manage the process effectively and efficiently.

In this webinar, we examined:

  • Engagement, thinking on your feet, and managing a genuine Orderly Conversation
  • Techniques to frame the conversation to provide context and relevance
  • How to prepare to be spontaneous
  • Skills for encouraging participation in the conversation while controlling the message
  • New language for coaching others


About Greg:

Greg owen boger headshot with sPACEGreg Owen-Boger is the Vice President of Turpin Communication, a presentation and facilitation training company in Chicago. He started with Turpin as a cameraman in 1995, and quickly moved on to instructor/coach, project manager, account manager, and now VP. Trained in management and the performing arts, he brings a diverse set of skills and experience to the organization. Prior to joining Turpin, he was a Project Leader for a boutique consultancy that uses live theatre to initiate the leadership development process.

Greg is the 2015 President of ATD, Chicagoland Chapter (formerly ASTD). He is a frequent blogger, popular speaker, and the co-author of The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined. He is among many thought leaders who contributed to the book Master Presenter: Lessons from the World’s Top Experts on Becoming a More Influential Speaker.



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