Archives for November 2015

Presenting End Of The Year Data: Hacks With Tables And Charts

It’s been a good year and now it’s time to present your results in PowerPoint! Yeah…or yikes?   PXP_WatchNowIcon

Well before you chain yourself to your desk and try arm wrestling your PowerPoint tables and charts into shape, watch this interactive end of the year reporting webinar full of hacks, tips and tricks for fast tracking through these difficult object classes to get the data visualization you are aiming for. And start 2016 off with a few new tricks.

Taylor Croonquist, Nuts & Bolts Speed Training is back by popular demand to give us an hour full of fun and magic and he delivered an information-packed webinar featuring:

Abstract representation of blue pie chart and column chart. Illustration.

End of the Year Charting Tricks:

  • Avoiding over labeling – getting more out of your data visualizations by doing less
  • Defaulting your charts – how to set your formatting once and reuse it throughout your PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Excel models (one of the most underappreciated features of PowerPoint)
  • Flipping your charts – don’t waste time rebuilding it in Excel, just flip your chart or filter it in PowerPoint
    Creating totals on top of stacked column charts – your first step towards advanced charting techniques to build more accurate visualizations.

End of the Year Table Tricks:

  • Creating Excel formatting within PowerPoint (double underlines within a cell and the accounting style formatting)
  • Overcoming the 3 Phantom Spacing Menaces – the three invisible factors that affect how far you can customize your tables
  • Boxing up your tables for rock solid layouts and why this works better.

Our Speaker:


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


Charts and Tables - PresX (003)Nuts & Bolts – PresentationXpert Webinar Handout_01.20.2016

first page



Charts and Tables – PresX

Try a Window Instead of Full Screen for Slide Show View

powerpiont-tips-use-window-1Do you sometimes need to access other applications while you’re presenting? Here are some scenarios:

  • You’re doing a webinar and need to access the webinar interface.
  • You want to show a web page or application at some point in your presentation.
  • In response to an unexpected question, you want to show another presentation, spreadsheet or document.

One thing I’ve done for a while is to display the presentation in a window. Here’s what I did (until I discovered an easier way):

  1. Click the Slide Show tab.
  2. Click the Set Up Slide Show button.
  3. In the Set Up Show dialog box, choose Browsed by an Individual (Window)powerpoint-tips-reading-view-1
  4. Click OK.

Now, when you go into Slide Show view, PowerPoint opens in a window instead of full-screen. You can maximize the window but you’ll still have access to your taskbar, so it will be easy to get to other programs, including your browser. Ideally, you should be able to configure the taskbar so that it doesn’t appear unless you move your cursor down at the bottom of the screen (which is where the taskbar usually is).

In fact, you can resize the PowerPoint window to any size you want. The window is excellent for comparing animation in two presentations, for example, because you can place 2 windows side-by-side.

Reading View Gets You There

One of the problems with this setting is that it’s easy to forget and if you want to switch from a window to full-screen, you have to go back into the dialog box, which is a few clicks.

powerpoint-tips-reading-view-2If you have PowerPoint 2010 or later, you can get the same result using Reading view. You might not have noticed it — I didn’t until recently. The Reading View icon is just to the left of the Slide Show View icon at the lower-right corner of the screen and it looks like an open book.

Just click it to open your presentation in a window.

The next time you need access to multiple applications, try Reading View.

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

Do You Have This Time-Saving Button on Your QAT?

The QAT is the #1 customization tool and way to speed up design work. Recently I was using another designer’s computer and discovered an amazing button for the QAT, and it is unbelievable that it was not one of the first items I added when first customizing it!


This button opens the Custom Animation Pane. I predict that this button will save me 10 hours of design time in 2016! The animation pane is something I access continuously, and going to the Animations tab and then the Animation Button takes a lot of mouse movement and ultimately time. Now, if I need to review the animation on a slide (not necessarily add animation, just see what is on a slide and adjust timing in the Animation Pane) I click this button no matter what tab I am on and the animation information needed is there.

To add, go to FILE > OPTIONS > QUICK ACCESS TOOLBAR. In the POPULAR COMMANDS list, the 6th item down is ANIMATION PANE. Select it and click the add button to place it on your QAT.


Hopefully everyone has discovered this wonderful button and already have it on your QAT (and are now seriously wondering how good I really am at that PowerPoint program). Just sharing my experience and hopefully helping others not feel left out by not having the Animation Pane button on their QAT.

About the Author:

Troy Chollar has been an MVP for PowerPoint, awarded by Microsoft, annually since 2004. He enjoys all aspects of visual design and has a special focus on speaker support presentations that involve dynamic animation, multimedia integration, high impact visuals, and collaboration with AV teams to make it all come together. For more information, visit TLC Creative Services


13 Costly Sales Messaging Mistakes

Any one of these 13 sales messaging mistakes could be costing you money. From failing to find persuasive messaging, to telling your story in a boring way that makes prospects switch off, to arming sales people with the wrong sales tools – if you make these mistakes, your sales will suffer.

Features and Functions

People may well need to know what your solution can do, but remember 1) they probably don’t need all the finer detail 2) they want to know what your solution can do for them. The best way to talk about features is to use them to justify the claims that you make about benefits.

Selling the Solution Too Early

If your prospect hasn’t been convinced that they should buy a widget at all, there’s no point trying to persuade them that your widget is the best one. First, sell the category (whether to buy this type of thing at all), then sell your solution (which one to buy).

‘Let Me Tell You A Bit About Our Company…’

You may well have 84 locations, a $6.7 billion turnover, and 22,000 employees, 5 divisions, and a share price of $21. Great. So what? If there’s a sales message in there, then bring it out explicitly. If you just like talking about your own company stop, and ask if it’s interesting to listen to.

No Repetition

As much as we wish our key sales messages were instantly memorable, they rarely are. Without repetition, they just get forgotten. Got some key messages that really explain why prospects should choose you? Repeat them so they can be remembered.

Any Questions?

If you pitch, you need to ask for the business. Try to close, uncover objections, rinse and repeat. It isn’t enough to put up a boring slide with a photo of an audience and ‘Any Questions’ written on it and to hope that the prospect will reveal their thinking. You need to try and take control of the sales process, and to try and advance to the next stage.

No Clear Next Step

Not every sales meeting ends in an order, and nor could they. Sometimes you just want to be given a chance to run a study, start a trial, access the decision-maker, or to be put onto a short-list. These objectives each require different sales messaging, because they each offer their own level of commitment, level of risk, and set of decision-making criteria.

No Differentiation

It’s not enough to talk about valuable benefits when your competitors all claim to deliver the same benefits. Does everyone in your market ‘enhance productivity’ or ‘reduce risk’? If so you need to think about 1) what allows you to do these things better 2) what benefits you offer that others can’t.

False Assumptions About Competitors

Maybe you are particularly proud of a certain feature. But before you assume that it’s unique – check. There’s nothing that undermines your sales messaging like claiming “we’re the only company who have Feature A’ when your prospect just heard from your competitor that they have it too. Think you would never make this mistake? Maybe, but we’ve seen it before. It’s one reason why it makes sense to interview new hires who just came from competitors.

So What?

Not every point of differentiation is interesting to your prospects. Maybe you are global – but if they only operate in one country, will they care? Maybe you are the oldest company in the market. Does it matter to customers that your competitor is five years younger? Focus on things where you have an advantage and that your prospects care about.

Thrown Over the Fence

Sales messaging only works if sales people use it. That means (a) involving the sales team in shaping your messaging, in particular learning from their experience with customers (b) cutting the bull, the jargon, and the business-speak (c) understanding the sales cycle so that what gets created actually relates to a particular interaction during the process.

Poor Quality Sales Tools

Sales messaging lives in the tools and sales content that are given to sales people to use. The best messaging that’s then written in text-heavy PowerPoint slides won’t work. Your sales tools need to be easy to use, look great, and use visuals that help prospects “get” what you’re saying.

The Wrong Star of the Story

Who’s the star of your story? Is it your products? Your company? It should be your prospect. Something has changed in the world and your prospect is facing a difficult challenge. They try to overcome the challenge ‘the old way’ but didn’t manage it. They get help (from your company – the Obi-Wan Kenobi figure), and overcome the challenge to enter a better world. It’s a story – but it’s a story about them. Not your company.

‘Show Up and Throw Up’

You have your sales messaging written. You know what you want to say. Great. But you need to tailor your message to your prospect. You don’t decide in advance what you want to say before meeting somebody, and insist on telling them 20 things about yourself without waiting for their response. So why do it in sales? Don’t forget that sales is about conversation, not telling your prospects everything you could possibly say without pausing for breath.

About the Author:

Joby Blume is a managing consultant with BrightCarbon, a company that helps sales and marketing teams create effective sales tools. That primarily means presentations, but it can also mean dynamic animations or visual conversations – anything that uses BrightCarbon’s visual storytelling abilities.

Last-Minute Changes to Presentations: More Harmful Than You Know

Public speaking means – for most people – stress and a sudden flurry of decision-making under stress. The conference organizer tells you the audience is larger – or smaller – than expected. How should you adjust?

The MC suddenly informs you that they’re running late, and it would be great if you could get your talk done in 30 minutes instead of 60. Do you adjust or insist on your full hour?

You walk out to the podium and find that the stage people have put a plant in the way of half your sight lines. How do you work around the new vegetation?

And then, even more critically, there are the thousand little adjustments that you’ll need to make as you actually give your presentation. Are you pausing enough? Is the audience getting what you’re saying? Are they zoning out – would it be a good time to take a few questions in order to take the temperature of the assembled folks?

And remember to wait for that joke – it always works. Whoops – they didn’t laugh. How to cover than one?

And on and on. One of the less heralded aspects of public speaking is that it involves non-stop decision-making in the moment on the day, as well as a series of less pressured decisions running up to the actual event.

As a speaker, I’ve felt that pressure. And as a coach, I’ve seen it affect speakers over the years in a variety of ways. Some people seem to do better under stress, of course, and some do worse – but is there any pattern to it? Is it all individual variation, or are there some general rules we can find that will help us navigate the treacherous terrain of public speaking decisions?

With these questions in mind, I was particularly interested to find a study that addressed decision-making under stress. Stress turns out to affect us in counter-intuitive ways. It’s not what you’d expect, and the insight contains a useful lesson for public speakers.

What the study found was that we tend to become more optimistic in our decision-making under stress. The gambler that bets it all. The politician that agrees to an unenforceable agreement. The public speaker that decides to do something dumb that he imagines will work beautifully!

What happens is that, like teenagers, we focus more on the positive aspects of the imagined outcome than the negative. We get unrealistically enthusiastic, in other words. We learn more from positive feedback than negative. We ignore the negative aspects of a choice in favor of the positive.

When I saw this study, something clicked. I was suddenly reminded of a pattern of behavior I have seen over and over again in my speakers – the tendency to make a last-minute change to the script, or some aspect of the presentation – imagining that the outcome will be vastly better.

My reaction has always been alarmed (at least to myself) because I know the benefits of putting on the show that you’ve rehearsed, and the dangers of last-minute changes that you don’t have time to adequately take on board.

My experience is that those last-minute changes produce minimal improvements at maximum risk to all concerned. It’s far better to rehearse the presentation you thought was good a week ago, and deliver it with confidence, than it is to wing it at the last minute with an ill-digested, tacked-on change made in the stress of adrenaline and the impending deadline.

Now I have neuroscience to back me up. Of course, there are times that last-minute changes do have to be made. Stuff happens, and has to be accommodated. But when in doubt, go with the plan. The one you know. The stress is warping your judgment and making that last-minute tweak look better than it actually is.

Steel your nerves, stay the course, and do your job. You’ll thank me later.

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

Pin It on Pinterest