Archives for September 2015

Live from the 2015 Presentation Summit…One-on-One Interviews

graphic for videos on website

Live from The Presentation Summit…#PreSum15

Nolan Haims, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP – @Nolan Haims

Want to learn more from Nolan about imagery?  watch nowWatch the recording of his free webinar, How to Use Imagery Like a Pro!  

One-on-one with Graphics and Sales Presentation Guru, Mike Parkinson


Nigel  Holmes, author and keynote speaker @Nigelblue

Three part interview with Dr. Carmen Simon, Rexi Media

Dr. Carmen Simon – Rexi Media – Interview, Part 1


Dr. Carmen Simon – Rexi Media – Interview, Part 2

Dr. Carmen Simon – Rexi Media – Interview, Part 3

Day 2, The Presentation Summit #PreSum15

Shawn Villaron, Microsoft – Partner Group Program Manager, Analytics and Presentation PM- US

Three Part Interview with Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training @Nuts_BoltPPT

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, Part 1

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, Part 2

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, Part 3

Three Part Conversation with Microsoft MVP, Geetesh Bajaj – @Geetesh

Geetesh Bajaj discusses design trends – Part 1

Geetesh talks with #PresentationXpert editor, Dave Zielinski about number of slides vs length of presentation. – Pt 2


Microsoft MVP Geetesh Bajaj shares tips at #PreSum15 on managing expectations

PreSum 15 and Webinar Attendee,  John Rahmlow shares his thoughts on the PresentationXpert webinar program


Author and Keynote Speaker,  Keith Harmeyer

Rick Altman, Host – Presentation Summit

Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs, Julie Terberg and Echo Swinford with Sharyn Fitzpatrick, PresentationXpert

Presenting Technical Data? Do it in Viewer-Friendly Ways

For people presenting scientific or technical information, there are often specific tables and numbers they wish to show: Descriptive data, summary statistics and regression results, for example.

Sometimes those details need to be presented, but far too often they are packed in tables with 20 columns and 40 rows as if anyone in the audience can see them.

Presenting the data-heavy table to a room of your colleagues is inherently different than asking someone to crack open your paper and read it on their own. Your reader can dig in and examine the 20-column, 40-row table you’ve included in your written report, but it’s not going to show up very well on a projector in front of 50 people.

The purpose of that dense table is to allow your reader to examine the detailed, actual values of your analysis. When you show it to your audience, however, it’s no longer able to examine it in the same way because there are too many small numbers and they are busy trying to listen to what you have to say.

Tables can be used, of course, but always be mindful that your audience may not be able to see the details projected on the screen.

Consider this fictional table of regression results. Do you expect your audience to actually read it when you put it on the screen? If so, when they do so, do you expect them to listen to what you have to say while they are squinting to read all the variable names, coefficients, standard errors, footnotes, and interpret the statistical significance?

Even if you give them a silent moment or two to absorb the information (and how much time is enough?), how do you know they are absorbing the information or conclusion you want them to?



As an easy, first step to creating more effective tables for presentations—but still one that provides too much information for your audience to easily understand—is to apply what I call a Layering approach. In the Layering approach, you present elements one at a time, building to the final slide. This approach can be used with bullet points, with graphs, with equations, with any detailed set of information you wish to present.

In this case, we can split this table into four, or maybe even five, separate slides. Instead of the single slide above, therefore, we end up with the following set of four.





Another approach to presenting detailed information is to rethink your table altogether. Carefully consider which numbers you actually want to show to your audience and that will help you convince your audience (without biasing their understanding or perception of your work) of the value and importance of your results.

Once you have identified the most important numbers—and you’ve been working with your data for some time already, so you have presumably already identified them—then just show those values.

For example, if you are sharing a set of results that include some estimates that are not central to your story and perhaps not particularly important (for example, monthly dummy variables in a regression model), leave them out of your presentation. Your audience can ask you for details if they like or they can find the details in your written paper should you have one.

One alternative to the huge table shown above, therefore, is to show just those important variables and that best help convey your content, story, and conclusion. Even here, however, there is a lot of information on the slide—parentheses, brackets, asterisks—all of which can make it difficult for your audience to see the information while they listen to you discuss the implications of your findings.


Instead, perhaps try using color to highlight statistical significance, or a particularly interesting result. You can simply say, “the darkest cells here are those that are statistically significant at the 1% level” instead of asking your audience to read the standard errors and navigate their way through everything on the slide.


Another alternative is to rethink the entire table itself and use a graph instead. Creating content that better taps into the natural tendency to recognize and remember information presented visually will help your audience better focus on your content and ultimately better remember your conclusions.


Here are three possible ways to use a graph instead of a table.


Show those important estimates for each variable in the four models


Add asterisks to that basic slide to denote statistical significance


Or use errors bars to accomplish a similar task as the asterisks.

Depending on how much detail you want to cover, you could then apply the Layering technique to the slide and show, say, the four estimates for the first model, then the estimates for the second model, and so on.

A final technique to present detailed information such as that shown in the table is to provide a handout. Be careful, however, because the moment you provide your audience with a piece of paper is the moment they start reading it and stop listening to you.

If you’re in a smaller room, you may be able to circulate the handout when you reach the point in your presentation when it’s needed. Or, you can pass it out at the beginning and set the audience’s expectations by telling them the handout they have in front of them won’t be needed for another 20 minutes or so and that you’ll let them know when to bring it out.

There are many times when presenting detailed information, statistical results, or data will be an important part of your presentation. But keep in mind that if your audience struggles to see your material, they are going to stop listening to you and not buy into your content. Focus your audience’s attention on the specific content you want to show them and visualize that content so they are more likely to recognize it, remember it, and act upon it.

About the Author:

Jon Schwabish is an economist, writer, teacher, and creator of policy-relevant data visualizations. He is considered a leading voice for clarity and accessibility in how researchers communicate their findings. He hosts the PolicyViz Podcast, which focuses on data, open data, and data visualization, and co-hosts the Rad Presenters Podcast which aims to improve people’s presentation skills. He is currently writing a book with Columbia University Press on presentation design and techniques.


To Win a Final Pitch, Show How Much You Care

There’s a saying among sales people that goes, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

But when you’re one of two or three firms delivering a presentation for a big project, I don’t think it’s quite right. I think it should read, “In a beauty contest, no one cares how much you know. They only want to know how much you care.”

In other words, when you’re on a shortlist competing for an opportunity, your expertise is irrelevant.

Everything in that final presentation needs to be focused on one thing: showing that you care about the client.

Expertise is Irrelevant in a Beauty Contest

Let’s say that you’ve made the shortlist to present for a chance to represent a bank in a lawsuit. At stake for the bank are millions of dollars and months of horrendous publicity.

You should not include in your presentation a discussion of your experience with these types of lawsuits. If you’ve made the shortlist, the client already knows your credentials.

“You don’t even get in to see us if you’re not qualified,” one general counsel told me. “In the final stage, we just want to know who we like the best.”

And to make your prospect like you, every move should say, “We care.”

Speak Directly to the Client’s Key Issues

The first way to say “we care” is to customize your presentation around your client’s challenge. If you’re competing for a chance to represent a bank in a major lawsuit, every word of your presentation should be about your plan to help this client win.

One general counsel told me about hearing several presentations from firms competing for a chance to represent the company. The winner presented a detailed, heavily researched, litigation strategy. “They told us their plan for winning our lawsuit,” she told me.

By contrast, the firm’s long-time counsel took the client for granted and only presented a list of qualifications. The general counsel told me, “When they left, I looked at my colleagues and said, ‘Well that sucked.’”

Giving a detailed plan for the prospect takes work. But it shows that you care.

Your Passion for Their Work Needs to Show in Your Voice

“Our work should speak for itself. How we say it shouldn’t matter.”

I hear comments like that all the time. But it’s not true. Great firms look the same from the prospect’s perspective. Passionate delivery can separate you from the competition by showing how much you care.

I once watched four construction firms compete for a chance to build a new elementary school in Boca Raton, Florida. One project manager talked about growing up down the road from where the new school was to be built. He seemed excited about the chance to build a school in his old neighborhood.

The listeners could see that he truly cared for the project. His firm won.

How Much You Care Should Show in Your Rehearsal

Your actual performance during the presentation screams whether your care or not. To perform well, you need to rehearse. Did you care enough to rehearse transitions between team members? Did you care enough to keep your presentation tight? Did you care enough about them to leave enough time for Q&A? Did you care enough to make sure that everyone sticks to a common theme?

If you really want to win, show you care.

About the Author:

Joey Asher is president of Speechworks, a selling and communication skills coaching company in Atlanta.  His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations is available now. For more information, visit the Speechworks website.


2 Ways to Salvage Your Presentation When ‘Jumping Slides’

The presenter, Jim, was happy and the audience seemed engrossed. Why? Jim’s story delivered at the beginning of his presentation had hit the target and had everyone’s attention.

It was around 20 minutes into his presentation and he still had another 25 minutes left. But Jim wasn’t aware of the time – he was just happy that his session was progressing well.

In the next 15 minutes Jim took some questions, answered them with attention to detail but he was only on his third slide. Jim had 25 slides in his presentation.

It was around that time that Jim realized his predicament and panicked. He realized that he still had not even started talking about his main topic. And that’s the story of many great presentations that start well, progress well, but end miserably.

Any guesses about what Jim did in his anxiety? He “jumped” slides.



How to Avoid Jumping Slides

What do we mean by jumping slides? Jumping slides is the act of moving between slides very rapidly, and in fact skipping many slides altogether.

If you’ve attended your share of presentations, you know how many presenters jump slides. To make this panicky act more kind to the audience, and also to  reassure themselves, presenters often offer excuses such as:

1. I know you are all busy and I don’t want to take too much of your time. Let me skip to the important part.

The audience will wonder,  “If you knew that we are all so busy, then why did you spend all your time with the not-so-important parts?”

2. These other slides mainly relate to the several issues we have already discussed – so let me get to the part that will benefit us the most.

The audience wonders, “If those slides contained issues we already discussed, then did the presenter not know about this little detail before he started? Does he expect us to believe that he did not know what was coming up in the subsequent slides?”

3. These slides are not required or valid for this audience. Let me skip to the slides that matter to you.

The audience is confused, “If those slides were not necessary, then why did they exist in the first place?”

The presenter is doomed if he shows all the slides – and he is in no better position even if he does not show them! What started as an amazing presentation has turned into a disaster, or in other words, a “lose-lose” situation.

I have sympathy for Jim. Yes he should have been careful with his time – but he is human, and humans make mistakes. So rather than criticize him, let’s look at two ways in which he can salvage his presentation.

Remember that Jim need not just use any one of these approaches – he can combine parts of both these approaches too.

1) He can be truthful.

Jim can admit to his mistake and say that he got carried away by his audience’s enthusiasm. He has to say this in a way that celebrates the audience’s enthusiasm rather than blaming it. And then he can ask the audience for more time – of course, if another speaker is scheduled to present after him, then that may not be an option.

Even if his speaking time does not extend, the act of being truthful will help him win the hearts of a fair percentage of his audience members, and he can then skip slides. But although he is still skipping some slides, this is not considered “jumping,” because the audience is now more involved with his decision.

This is not an ideal situation – but Jim is now only looking at making a better ending than a worse one.

To salvage this situation even further, Jim can ask everyone to leave their visiting cards with him – and he can then email them a copy of the slides and set up a phone call with them later!

2) He can be savvy.

How can being savvy help Jim? Well, if he knows the keyboard shortcuts for a program like PowerPoint, he can just jump slides without the audience being aware.

To do so, he can quickly press the numbers 2 and 3 in quick succession followed by the Enter key. That will get him straight to slide 23 without showing any skipped slides.

This approach is certainly not as truthful as the first option, but cannot be considered deceitful. Even now he can save time by skipping slides, and compensate by speaking about related topics. Every expert presenter will agree that the presenter is the presentation, not the slides.

And as long as Jim makes sure that his message is not diluted, he can manage with fewer slides.

But don’t use this trick of accessing slides by their numbers unless you have practiced it well and are confident of doing so. Also, this trick assumes that you know which slide you want to skip too quickly. This way of working, in turn, requires that you know your slides well.

Takeaways from the situation

Here are some takeaways from this scenario:

1. Always practice your slides before you present. This may seem obvious, but time your slides and also time your delivery. Also only prepare for around three- fourth of the time allotted to you, so that you have extra time to take questions – and also some extra time so that you never need to jump slides.

2. Know your slide numbers well. Create a sequence of your most important slides and memorize it – something like slides, 1, 3, 7, 14, 18, 22, 23, 24, and 25! That way you can use keyboard shortcuts only to show your most important slides.

3. Don’t get too carried away by the audience. And if you want to get carried away, ask their permission! The next time Jim gave a similar presentation, he responded to a question from one of the audience members, “That answer needs a fair amount of time. Can we make this presentation a little longer? If not, I can meet you later and give your answer the time it deserves.”

That works most of the time because the audience now decides whether they can give you the time they need!

Whatever you may do, make sure you only jump slides as a last resort.

About the Author:

Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint-related site ( that provides designer PowerPoint templates.

Recorded Presentations: Add Speaker Video To Your Slides for a Personal Touch

Looking to create more of a live presentation feel on your recorded presentations? Consider using video of you speaking on one side of the slide while the other side is devoted to content to help create that effect. Here are some ideas for using these presentations:

  • For internal training, on your organization’s Intranet or LMS (Learning Module System)
  • On YouTube (or another video sharing site) for marketing or for clients
  • On your website to highlight you as a speaker or present your topic in a more engaging way

I call it a hybrid presentation because it puts speaker video next to typical slide content.

This is easy to do with a wide-screen slide size. The wide screen gives you more room to put both pieces side-by-side.

Here’s an example of how it looks:

How Do You Play Video Across the Slides?

You can play a video without interruption across slides. (I explain how to play a sound file across slides in my post “Play music or narration throughout a presentation.”)

First, insert the presentation on the first slide where you want it by choosing Insert tab, then clicking Movie or Video.

Choose the video file of you speaking to place it on the slide. Keep the video selected.

In PowerPoint 2007, click the Movie Tools Options tab. In the Movie Options group, click the Play Movie drop-down list (it will probably show the Automatically option) and choose Play Across Slides, as you see here.


powerpoint-tips-side-by-side-speaker-video-slide-content-2Strangely enough, this is harder to do in PowerPoint 2010 and 2013. It’s similar to the procedure for playing a sound across files. Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Video Tools Playback tab and set the Start option to Automatically.
  2. Click the Animations tab and then click Animation Pane to open it.
  3. You’ll see 2 items, one that plays the video and a trigger that pauses it, as you see here. Click the Play item, click the drop-down arrow, and choose Effect Options to open the Play Video dialog box.
  4. In the Stop Playing section, click After and enter 999 (the max allowed, just to ensure that it plays throughout the presentation) or the number of slides during which you want the video to play.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box. The video will now continue to play across your slides.powerpoint-tips-side-by-side-speaker-video-slide-content-3

How to Turn Your Presentation into a Video


Unfortunately, when I tried to export the presentation as a video, it didn’t work. I saw the video on Slide 1 but it was gone for the rest of the slides. Even on Slide 1, it didn’t play–it was frozen. But the audio worked fine throughout. In the end, I used Techsmith Camtasia’s recorder to record the presentation in Slide Show view and edited out some white space at the beginning and end.

Other techniques for side-by-side video

You could do this another way. You could put all of your content on 1 slide and animate it to appear when you want it to. Of course, this would work only for presentations that have just a few slides, like the one I showed at the beginning of this blog post. Then you can sync the animation to bookmarks that you create on the video timeline. I explain this technique in “Sync animation with a video or audio.”

Or, you could divide up the video into segments and put a separate video on each slide. You would need to use video-editing software to do this. You wouldn’t need to animate or set transition timing and people could click through the slides as each video ended.

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


How to Use Imagery Like the Pros with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Nolan Haims


Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Nolan Haims delivers a very informative how-to webinar on how to use imagery that is powerful, visual and perfect for the content you want to deliver.

He addressed the following:

  • What makes a good presentation image?
  • What kinds of pictures should I avoid?
  • Where can I get professional stock photography?
  • Do I have to pay for imagery?
  • What do graphic designers know that I don’t?
  • Do I need Photoshop? (No!)

In this webinar, he showed us how to source and use imagery in presentations, covering both technical and design considerations. Watch it and you’ll learn tricks for professionally editing imagery within PowerPoint as well as proven graphic design principles to make your imagery as dynamic and effective as possible.

About Nolan:
nolan-side-shotWith more than 20 years’ experience in the field of visual communications, Nolan helps organizations and individuals show up differently and tell better stories with fewer words. Most recently as a Vice President and Director of Presentation for Edelman, he helped the world’s largest public relations firm consistently win multi-million dollar pitches by communicating more visually. As a designer and art director, he has created high-end presentations, keynote addresses and pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, top foundations, and all the major television networks. Nolan trains organizations to think visually and to create and give more effective presentations. He speaks at national conferences and writes extensively on visual storytelling. Microsoft has recognized him as one of only 11 PowerPoint MVPs in the U.S for his contributions to the presentation community. In a past life, Nolan was an award-winning magician and juggler and performed with the Moscow Circus and Vermont’s Circus Smirkus before turning to the theater. He directed and wrote professionally, creating stories on stages in New York and around the country for a decade.


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