Archives for October 2015

Here’s What PowerPoint 2016 Can (and Can’t) Do For You

It’s time to talk about PowerPoint 2016, since it’s been out for a few weeks now. Here’s a screenshot of it.

Different Look

With each release, the look is a little different. The tab titles are no longer all upper case and have returned to the 2010 (and previous) initial caps. Upper case letters are considered a little harder to read — keep that in mind when creating slide titles.

You have a choice of three color variations. The one you see above is called Colorful. To change the “Office Theme” — called that just to confuse you and make it sound like the type of Office theme that lets you create backgrounds, theme colors, and font sets — choose File, Options.

In the General category, choose one of the Office Theme options. Here you see the others: Dark Gray and White (which looks like PowerPoint 2013).

powerpoint-tips-powerpoint-2016-2      powerpoint-tips-powerpoint-2016-3

powerpoint-tips-powerpoint-2016-4a‘Tell Me What to Do’

There’s a new Help feature called “Tell me what you want to do.”  It’s at the upper-right of the PowerPoint 2016 window. While you can access the standard Help content there, the unique aspect of it is that when you type something and choose one of the options that are presented, PowerPoint opens the actual interface right there so you can use it.

It’s great for people of a certain age, like me, who read instructions and then can’t remember all the steps when I return to PowerPoint to actually try to do them.

For example, if I type “Save a theme” and choose Themes, I see the screen below, where I can actually choose Save the Current Theme.  I’m not sure how much I’ll use this — I know PowerPoint pretty well! — but I like the idea.


Use Smart Lookup

You can right-click a word and choose Smart Lookup to open the Insights task pane with links to definitions from Wikipedia and other places on the Internet. You’ll also get an image search. It’s all powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

General tip: Be very afraid of online image search! While the process tries to find images with Creative Commons licenses (for which you generally need to provide attribution), it’s often impossible to check the license.

6 New Chart Types

  • Treemap: Treemap charts are popular these days and they provide a hierarchical view of your data. The hierarchy levels are called branch, stem, and leaf. Each value is shown by the size of a rectangle. Treemap charts are good for comparing proportions and can show a lot of data in a small space. See the treemap below.
  • Sunburst: A sunburst chart also shows hierarchical data, but in layers around a center. A sunburst chart shows how one ring is broken into its components. See the sunburst below.
  • Box and Whisker: A box and whisker chart distributes data into quartiles, showing the mean and outliers. “Box” refers to a basic column chart, but lines extending above and below (whiskers) indicate variability outside the upper and lower quartiles. Any point outside those lines or whiskers is an outlier. Box and whisker charts are often used in statistical analysis.
  • Histogram: A histogram is a column chart that shows the frequency of data. It’s also used in statistical analysis. Bins are ranges, so the results show how many data points are in each range. You can use the Automatic option or specify your own bins by formatting the axis. See the histogram below.
  • Pareto (a histogram option): A Pareto chart is a variation of a histogram. The columns are shown in descending order and a line (actually a curve) shows the cumulative value of the columns. See the histogram/Pareto chart below.
  • Waterfall: A waterfall chart shows a running total that adds or subtracts subsequent values. You might use a waterfall chart for financial results, since income (positive values) and expenses (negative values) affect initial revenue. See the waterfall chart below.


A treemap chart


A sunburst chart


A histogram/Pareto chart


A waterfall chart

Easier Math Equations

Mathematical equations have always been difficult to create, with all of those numerators, denominators, square roots, squares, etc. I explained the old Equation Editor in “How to display equations and formulas in PowerPoint.” It’s so much easier to just write them, and now you can.

If you have a touch device, you can use your finger or  a stylus; if not, you can use your mouse. The only problem is that it doesn’t work too well. Here’s my attempt at the quadratic equation. Can you read my “handwriting” done with my mouse? People beat out computers, don’t they?


powerpoint-tips-powerpoint-2016-10More Shape Styles

When you insert a shape, you can quickly choose a style for it from the Shape Styles gallery. These styles have changed slightly — and I think Microsoft applied the change to 2013 as well, if you’re updated. I might be wrong about this. In 2007 and 2010, the last row is a 3D look and that’s now gone. (3D is now out of favor in design circles and I like the flat look, but sometimes the design police think they can tell us what we should like.)

There are now 5 more rows of styles, which are called presets. (I don’t know why they’re called that, as all of the styles are really presets.) What I do like is that some of them have transparent and semi-transparent fills.

Insert a Screen Capture Recording as a Video

In PowerPoint 2013, you could take a screen capture and insert it on your slide. Now, you can now include screen recordings as well! Go to Insert > Screen recording, select a region of your screen to record, and specify if you want to include the mouse pointer and audio. The click the Record button and record your video. You press Windows logo + Shift + Q to stop recording and then you’ll find the video on your current slide. If you have the most recent updates, this option is also available in PowerPoint 2013.

Higher Video Resolution

When you export your presentation as a video, you can create a file with resolution as high as 1920 x 1080. This is ideal for large screens. If you have the most recent updates, this option is also available in PowerPoint 2013.


…and more

If you keep presentations on OneDrive or Sharepoint there are also new options for easier sharing, better collaboration, and improved version history.

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

The Art of Presenting Has Changed…Presenters, Not So Much

Let me transport you back to 1984 for a moment…

Back then I was working for the largest presentation graphics service bureau in the world.  There was no PowerPoint.  No electronic projectors or wireless remote devices. And the idea of video, audio and music were still relegated to insanely expensive corporate videos.

The art of presenting…well, let’s just say it was in its formative years.

When people wanted presentation visuals for a big event, they typically brought in a stack of hand-scribbled pages of pie charts, bullet slides and idea illustrations.  My job was to somehow decode it all and assign it to a computer artist camped on a $50,000 computer graphic workstation.

And when my team had done their job (at $240/hr), we delivered trays of 35mm slides or high resolution transparencies (foils) to the clients to the tune of $7,000-$10,000.

And God help the client who had the misfortune of spelling someone’s name wrong; it meant more console create time (at 200% rush charges), an E6 run for the slides and a courier to run the replacement slide across town!

Fast forward to 2015 and so much has changed…

Now, everyone can create presentations on their computers or tablets.

Presentations can be delivered “virtually” around the planet.

A massive, media-rich presentation can fit on a tiny thumb drive.

And electronic projectors are the size of a pack of cigarettes.

But what about the flesh and blood presenter? How have today’s presenters evolved to the next level and the advice offered them?

A clue might be found in a USA Today article written recently for college students. The author identified some common complaints that must be avoided at all costs because of their prevalence in the business world today.

  1. Reading each word of your slide show aloud.
  2. Designing a distracting slide show.
  3. Failing to make eye contact.
  4. Speaking longer than necessary.

What the…?

If I asked my clients 30 years ago to name their top presenter complaints, guess what I would have heard? Sadly, the very same stuff. So it begs the question – if the tools around the presentation process have evolved so dramatically in the last three decades – why haven’t presenters?

Here are 3 reasons why and what needs to change:

Presenters still have no time to do things right.

The promise of technology always seems to come with the implied benefit of giving us time back. That never really happened with creating a presentation and magically we just expected PowerPoint to pick up more of the heavy lifting.

So if you’re like most companies, nearly all the preparation time for an important presentation is still spent just figuring out what’s going to be said.  And the skills to deliver the message in front of the room? Untouched for decades. Presenters need to develop a trusted support team to handle the more mundane details around presentation creation to free them up to do their part more effectively – confident and engaging execution.

Presenters aren’t often even sure what “right” should look like.

Just like a professional golfer’s caddy becomes key in offering timely advice that keeps them on top of their game, presenters desperately need people to help them make wise decisions about their presentation approaches too. Presentation consultants (internal or external) can be your executives’ communication ‘caddy’ if they are allowed to be.  It may just be time to get an objective set of eyes on the whole process, planning to delivery.

And executives…. time to let it go.

Presenters are still made out of the same stuff.

Fear is still a very primal instinct. Today, however, it’s not a T-Rex outside our cave that puts a lump in our throats, it’s a room full of eyes all fixed on you and the next words out of your mouth.

So is that emotion understandable? Certainly. But too often we’ve allowed the fear of presenting and the fear of change and self-examination to paralyze things that need to happen. Perhaps it’s time for executives and managers everywhere to suck it up and embrace the fact that what you say and how you say it matters.  It matters to the people counting on you. It matters to important outcomes. Good enough is no longer good enough.

It’s time to swallow your pride (and perhaps fear) and get some help.

Maybe 30 years from now we’ll all be talking about how amazingly better presenters are  – but I really doubt it.  Just like I can count on Taylor Made who makes the driver in my golf bag to come up with a must-have ($400) enhancement every year, the fact is golf clubs will still always require someone to actually swing them.

And so will presentations.

Yes, a lot of changes have occurred since the early days of presenting. But it’s time to take our presentation game to the next level.  And that next step will not have anything to do with things that get plugged into a wall or run off a battery.

About the Author:

Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching. For more information about the company, visit

7 Easy Steps to Becoming a PowerPoint Animation Ninja

There are two types of people in the world: those that use animation in PowerPoint and those that don’t. Here’s how to strike the right balance between too much and too little animation in your presentations.

So let’s take a look at our two groups of people. The over-animators have a tendency to go overboard – these are the people that get their company profiles to boomerang in. Never use the boomerang animation. Ever. The under-animators have slides that look like they’ve tried to cram War and Peace on one slide, and Anna Karenina on the next. The audience reads what’s there, tunes out the presenter, and then sends chin selfies to their friends.But there’s a simple lesson both kinds of people need to know: animation is a key part of storytelling in your presentations.

  1. Directions

Ninja Step 1

If you have things like arrows, timelines (in fact anything with a direction), or if you’re using a Wipe, Fly In, Peek In, make sure you change the direction of the animation to match!

2. Overlap

Ninja Step 2

If you have content flying in, try not to have it overlap other content: this makes your slide look messy and will distract your audience.

3. When You Can’t Fly, Peek

Ninja Step 3

Bearing this in mind, if having content Fly In would mean it overlaps something else, use a Peek In animation instead.

For the keen ninjas among you, try and design your slide with a mask over the element that will Peek In: this gets rid of that nasty gradient entrance.

4. Smooth Ends

Ninja Step 4

On motion paths and Fly Ins you can have your animations finish with a smooth end.

Opening up your Effect Options and dragging the slider fully to ‘smooth end’ will make your animation look a lot more natural.

5. Duration

Ninja Step 5

Some animations default to 0.5 of a second, others default to 2 seconds. It’s rare that you will need the full 2 seconds to make your point. You can normally get away with making these  effects 0.5 of a second too. On the whole try and keep your animation sequences to 6 seconds maximum.

6. Delays and Disappearing Acts

Ninja Step 6

Delays are a really bad idea because even if you rehearse your content perfectly, there’s always a chance something will happen to make you miss your cue. But you can pace the flow of information with clicks instead.

The same goes with getting rid of elements on a slide – if you’re going to make content disappear, have it happen on a separate click so you give your audience the best chance of noticing.

7. Keep Your Friends Close…and Your Animator Closer

Ninja Step 7

Don’t be afraid of animations, keep them in a nice, handy place in PowerPoint and use them to tell your story, but good watchwords are: if a fade will do, then that’s good enough!

We put all our animation shortcuts in a handy ribbon of convenience: add animations or replace animations and the best news is that you can download it too!

Ninja Conclusion
About the Author:

Hannah Brownlow turns words into pictures and helps BrightCarbon’s clients get their message across with engaging visuals.




Sales Presentations Can Be Technical Presentations, and Vice Versa

Clients often tell me that they have to present to an audience of engineers, so the presentation should not be a “marketing” presentation.

The misinterpretation of this is: we are engineers presenting to engineers, so we can get away with text-heavy slides and diagrams full of numbers. We engineers understand each other. As soon as we add pictures or try to make the presentation more visual in other ways, we lose credibility.

What is really going on is this: if you are selling a high tech product there is no way you can avoid well, talking about the technology. But the high tech world is full of presentations written by people who do not really understand the technology, for an audience who does not really understand the technology.

These presentations lack substance but are rich in marketing buzzwords. Engineers will recognize them in a second, and don’t want you bring “one of those.”

We need to eliminate two misconceptions:

  • Technical presentation content cannot sell
  • A senior (and/or) sales presentation audience does not understand technology

Here are two things I do to create technical sales presentations:

  • Insist on explaining how it works in human language without “black boxes” or “secret sauces.” The Einstein quote about a six- year- old who can understand everything if told in the right way applies here.
  • Very focused data visualization. Technology advantages are often beautifully simple: things are faster, cheaper, smaller. Rather than writing a bullet point “we are 33% smaller,” include that very complicated chart that shows the full richness of your research, but add 2 big bold lines that are 33% apart.

About the Author:

Jan Schutlink is an internationally recognized designer of high-stakes presentations and founder and CEO of Slide Magic, a design app that makes it easy for the layman to design powerful business presentations. He worked for almost a decade with McKinsey & Company advising Fortune 500 CEOs about strategy. This makes him one of the few people in the world with the rare combination of skills: visualization talent and business understanding.

Pitch Perfect! How to Make Successful Sales Presentations!

BoringPresentation_WebMake winning sales presentations. Learn the tricks the pros use to get audience agreement and sell a product, solution or idea. Use the latest behavioral psychology and neuromarketing techniques. Use what you learn during this webinar to make a clear, compelling presentation that gets buy-in and improves your success rate. It’s easy—when you know how to do it.

  • Discover the three reasons people buy
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  • Learn the latest behavioral psychology and neuro-marketing techniques
  • See how to get audience agreement
  • Get the recipe for persuasive presentations

This webinar with sales and presentation guru, Mike Parkinson, is recommended for those who develop or deliver sales presentations and presentations that are meant to persuade the audience to take a desired course of action.

About Mike Parkinson:

Mike2015_bigMike Parkinson is an internationally recognized visual communication and presentation expert, solution and strategy expert, award-winning author, trainer, and popular public speaker. He is a key contributor on multi-billion dollar projects and helps Fortune 500 companies improve their success rates. Mike shares his expertise through books like Billion Dollar Graphics, articles, and online tools. He is also a partner at 24 Hour Company (, a premier creative services firm.

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