Archives for March 2016

Keep your Audience Riveted by Adding Anticipation to Storytelling

Everyone including PresentationXpert wanted me to share my opinion about two new features in PowerPoint 2016 -Morph and Design – that are available if you have Office 365 (meaning that you pay a monthly subscription) and you belonged to one of these free programs:powerpint-tips-storytelling-anticipation-loop-300x199

  • Office Insider: For consumer Office 365 customers (individuals)
  • First Release: for commercial Office 365 subscribers

But I couldn’t get access to it! It was very strange and I was the only PowerPoint MVP who didn’t have it — although others had difficulties earlier on. I got messages saying I didn’t have access to PowerPoint! Other messages said that my account didn’t exist. Read on and I’ll tell you what happened…

Did that make you want to read on?
When you tell a story, you can keep your audience glued to their seats by starting the story, interrupting it, telling them you’ll finish it at the end and then going on to other material. Of course, the story needs to be relevant to your topic. In this case, my story’s topic isn’t relevant, but it’s a model for the topic of this post. Perhaps you scanned down to the bottom of the post to read the end! But in a presentation, people have to wait until you finish the story. This is a powerful technique to keep their attention. You can use it for training, sales, and even internal proposal and progress presentations.

Why is storytelling so powerful?
By itself — without an interruption — storytelling is powerful because everyone loves a good story! We’ve grown up with stories and they put us in an enjoyable mood. And once we hear the beginning, we want to know the end.
Stories are also a way to provide a specific example. Generalities are fine, but they’re hard to relate to. You’ve probably heard how fundraisers find that they raise more money when they tell the story of one starving child than when they provide statistics about how many children are starving.

This technique is called a loop
Starting a story at the beginning and not finishing it until later on is called a loop. You can say, “We’ll find out what happened later on” or something like that. The story’s conclusion should make the same point as your presentation. In other words, the point of the story should illustrate the main point of your presentation.

Some storytellers use nested loops, creating 2 or more stories. This is common in TV episodes, where there are multiple sub-plots. You can use anticipation in many ways. For example, the title of your presentation can be intriguing:

  • How I Overcame Death by PowerPoint
  • Why I Couldn’t Get Access to Morph & Designer
  • What I Discovered When I Asked People on the Street about Their Smart Phones

Then you can start the story, interrupt it, and finish it at the end.  I have an older blog post about how to create intriguing slides that you might also find interesting. So try using interrupted stories in your presentations and see what results you get!

Have you used this looping technique in your presentations? What was your experience? If not, think of a way you can use it in your next presentation.

Oh, and you want to know what happened, right? After contacting Microsoft people for months via email, I called support. After 4 hours with 2 people, I was finally able to access the right version of Office 365 but it still wouldn’t update to the version with Office Insider or First Release. (By the way, you no longer need those programs to access Morph or Designer.) Finally, someone from Microsoft gave me a back-door method of installing Office 365 directly from Microsoft servers and that worked! So, a blog post on Morph and Designer, 2 great new PowerPoint features, will be coming out soon. Watch for it!

About Ellen Finkelstein:

EFinkelstein_by_rikk-smallllen Finkelstein is a recognized expert, speaker, trainer, and best-selling author on PowerPoint, presentation skills, and AutoCAD. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, newsletters, and blogs. She is a PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional).There are only 37 PowerPoint MVPs in the world, and only 9 in the United States. Her Web site, offers a hug assortment of tips, techniques, tutorials, and articles on these topics.


[Webinar Recording] Cheating Death by PowerPoint: Slide Makeovers

Picture4From too much text to confusing graphics to garish colors, there’s a lot that can go wrong with slides. The trouble is, cheating death by PowerPont largemany people don’t know how to design clean, simple slides that communicate their messages. If you know what ugly slides look like but don’t know how to fix them, the Cheating Death by PowerPoint: Slide Makeovers webinar is for you.

Professional presentation designer and PowerPoint consultant Laura Foley of Laura M. Foley Design takes you step-by-step through a variety of slide makeovers. Using the principle of Analyze and Synthesize, she will teach you how to tackle those difficult slides and redesign them to make them more effective and better looking.

You’ll learn how to creatively edit your content and organize information to create better slides. By the end of the webinar, you’ll have the tools you need to transform slides from awful to awesome!

This webinar was sponsored by GoToWebinar. Try GoToWebinar free for 30 days, and save 20% on an annual subscription. Give it a try today.

Handout: CDbyPPT-From Awful to Awesome – PXpert – Foley

About Laura Foley:

Laura FoleyAs the Cheater of Death by PowerPoint, Laura Foley provides training and presentation design services to help people communicate their ideas and be better presenters. She has worked with Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, General Dynamics, Juniper Networks, Harvard Business School, DST, Eloqua, EMC, TE Connectivity, and VMware and has conducted training sessions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College, the Central Mass Business Expo, and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Her speaking engagements include HOW Design Live, the largest conference for creative professionals in the world. A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Laura has over two decades’ experience in presentation design, marketing, and copywriting. She lives in Central Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Laura serves as Cubmaster and Den Leader for Hubbardston Cub Scouts Pack 12. It’s like herding cats, but more rewarding.


[Webinar Recording] Creating an Effective Presentation Story with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Nolan Haims

Vintage Inscription Made By Old TypewriterIn this recorded webinar, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Nolan Haims guides you through creating your own persuasive presentation structure step by step and reveals each question that needs to be answered along the way. From the very first and most important determining piece of information (it’s not what you think…) to identifying your audience, creating singular messaging, calls to action, simple ideation techniques and easy outlining.

You learn how to define your “Point A” and your “Point B,” how to write your presentation bumper sticker and how to use certain PowerPoint tools to your advantage to stay organized. Nolan also discusses what makes good a header and how to avoid jargon and business-speak.

Persuasive Presentation Structure Worksheet

About Nolan Haims:

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.


How to Create a Clickable (Choose Your Own Adventure) Table of Contents Slide

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a sleek and efficient way of navigating to the various sections of your presentation without ever having to exit from presentation mode?

In this article, I am going to show you step-by-step how to create a visually appealing Table of Contents slide which will allow you to jump around to specific sections of the presentation seamlessly.

This “Prezi-like” clickable Table of Contents slide can be particularly handy when:

  1. You have a lengthy presentation and want the flexibility of presenting various sections in a non-linear fashion.
  2. An audience member asks you to “go back” to a particular section of your presentation, and you want to find it quickly.
  3. You want to add some playfulness to your presentation.

Here’s a short 3-minute video that shows how it works:

Step #1 – Design Your Table of Contents Slide

 The first thing you need to do is create your Table of Contents slide. You can design this slide however you wish but just remember to make it visually appealing. Displaying text only on the slide is not going to cut it. Add some icons, images, etc. to make this slide stand out.
Clickable Table of Contents Image - 542 Width
Step #2 – Design All Your Section Header Slides
Section Header Image - 542 Width
Next, for each section of your Table of Contents slide you will need to create a section header slide. For example, if you have 12 sections in your Table of Contents slide you will need to create 12 section header slides (like the one seen in the above image).
Step #3 – Create Your Hyperlinks
Create your Hyperlinks Image - 542 Width
Next, for each section within your Table of Contents slide you are going to hyperlink it to its corresponding section header slide. You do this by right clicking the section header, select “Hyperlink”, select the “Place in this Document” Tab (on the left), and then choose the slide that you are going to hyperlink to. Repeat the process for all the remaining sections within the slide. Make sure to watch video at the beginning of the article, if you haven’t already, so you can see all the steps in action.
Step #4 – Optional Bonus Tip: Hyperlink All Your Slides Back to the Table of Contents Page
Hyperlink Back to the Table of Contents Slide - 542 Width
You may also want to have each slide in your presentation link back to your Table of Contents slide. This way you won’t have to exit out of the presentation mode to get back to your Table of Contents slide.
You do this by first creating some type of element (a shape, icon, image, etc.) that you then hyperlink back to the Table of Contents slide by following the same steps mentioned in step #3.
The beauty of creating a clickable (choose your own adventure) Table of Contents slide is that it gives you the flexibility of skipping to any section in your presentation with a single click of the mouse. No more fumbling through your entire deck to find the particular section you are looking for. It also adds some playfulness to your presentation that your audience craves. After all, who didn’t like reading those “choose your own adventure” books as a kid.
adamgryshirtAbout Adam Noar:
Adam Noar is the founder of Presentation Panda, a presentation design firm that develops presentations that truly stand out. He also writes about tips and tricks for creating beautiful looking slides including his book, Slides Made Simple. If Adam isn’t writing or building award winning presentations with his team of experts, you’ll find him playing soccer, surfing, or taking a long run along the San Diego coastline. For more information about the company’s products and services, visit

Transparent Hyperlinks in PowerPoint

There are many people who add hyperlinks in PowerPoint slides all the time. Some do it for obvious reasons, such as

Link Network Hyperlink Internet Backlinks Online Concept

to link to other slides in the same presentation. Others do it to make PowerPoint more powerful as a presenting tool – they hyperlink to other presentations or even to Excel files or PDFs. Ultimately, hyperlinks add value to your presentation.

Hyperlinks have pros and cons. We already discussed the pros. The disadvantage with a hyperlink raises its head when you don’t want to click on a hyperlink, but the audience knows that there is a hyperlink you don’t want to click! How do they identify a hyperlink? Look at Figure 1, where the underlined text clearly represents a hyperlink.


  Figure 1: A conspicuous hyperlink

You can overcome this problem by making this link transparent, as in “invisible”. However, it should still be a link!

Follow these steps to learn how you can create transparent links in PowerPoint:

1. Insert a shape that covers the text you want to use as a hyperlink, as shown in Figure 2 below.





                                                     Figure 2: A Rectangle shape covers text

2. Now add a hyperlink to this shape. You can create hyperlinks to within the presentation, outside the presentation, and to web pages. Test your link in Slide Show view.

3. We now need to make the Rectangle invisible while still making the link work. To do so, right-click the shape and choose the Format Shape option from the resultant contextual menu (see Figure 3).














Figure 3: Format Shape

4. This action will open the Format Shape Task pane shown in Figure 4. In older versions of PowerPoint, you may see a Format Shape dialog box instead.

You essentially need to change your fill to 99% transparent and your line to invisible. To do so, make sure you select the Solid Fill radio button (highlighted in red), set its Transparency to 99% (highlighted in blue), and choose the No line radio button (highlighted in green).


Figure 4: Change fill and line attributes

5. Your text will also now be visible behind the transparent Rectangle (see Figure 4). Test your link in Slide Show view.

Why 99% Transparent?

Why did we use the 99% Transparent option, and not choose the No Fill option instead? That is because of compatibility with older versions of PowerPoint. In PowerPoint 2013 or newer versions, even a No Fill option will get you the hand cursor when you hover over the hyperlink in Slide Show view (see Figure 5). However, in older versions, a 1% Opacity value (that is what 99% Transparency means!) is needed to get the clickable cursor.






Figure 5: Hover to see the cursor

Old habits die hard, and we still recommend that you use 99% Transparency rather than No Fill. Moreover, there’s no harm in making sure that everyone is happy!


Geetesh2Geetesh Bajaj is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for over a decade now. He has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India. Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like concept, color, interactivity, and navigation–and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He has authored six books on PowerPoint and trains corporate clients on how to plan, create, and deliver presentations.  For more information on Indezine and Geetesh, click here.

Preparing for Your Presentation: A Step by Step Calendar Guide

Presentations are still the last place winners when it comes to allowing the right amount of time to prepare and develop for an important meeting or pitch. They are the first place champions when it comes to the level of impact they are expected to produce. This dichotomy is a never ending battle, and one that makes our pulses race (no pun intended!) here in our agency, and within the greater presentation landscape. However, from the hundreds of presentation requests and solutions created, we’ve benchmarked the following calendar guide with tips that will better prepare you on the time to allow for developing your next, winning presentation.

The big Due Date day, the 15th, circled on a white calendar with a red marker, as a reminder of the date your project must be completed and submitted or the date you expect to deliver your baby

1. Always start with your due date and work backward!

When I say the due date, I mean the date you’re going to be giving the presentation- in the room, on a webinar, etc. This day should never be used for anything else, other than making sure you’re wearing the right attire, and having eaten a proper breakfast. My due date for this example is going to be: April 1st.

2. Next, start with what day it is currently.

So, this is where it gets exciting. If you say your current date is March 30th, then your procrastination skills need an alignment job. The start of any presentation should never be this hairline close to your due date. Anything starting and ending within the same week is even dangerous. In our case, the real current date is Feb 24th.

3. Calculate the total dates available.

tany calendarBreak out the calendar and do this manually, or a better way is to go to: Time and Date Website to get this answer. In our case, the total is 37 days. From these 37 days, exclude weekends and holidays, and the real answer is 27 days.

Now that we have the total days in mind, we can take a look at estimating how long it’s going to take to build out the elements that go into making a presentation:

Element 1: Template
Every presentation needs a solid backbone, which is the template. If you’ve been using a template that offers little structure or brand infusion, then it this would be a good time to consider developing a new one. A good template range typically falls between 12-15 slide types. Elements should include company branding (logos, colors), a selection of visual elements (icons, photography), and proper slide programming for slide numbers, footnotes, etc.
Days to allow: 3

Element 2: Total Presentation Time
The length of time you’re allowed for your presentation is going to navigate your storyline and how many slides you’re going to develop. For our example, it’s an hour long presentation, and we’ll allow an average of 2 minutes per slide, for a total of 30 slides.
Days to allow: (n/a)

Element 3: Storyline
Scripting the content for your presentation is going to take up the largest part of your total time. It’s the most important piece because it’s the heart of it all. A great way to start is by using a Word Document and then narrowing and filtering your story down to its core messages. Remember, researching and sourcing your content properly will take up time as well.
Days to allow: 8                                                                                                                                                                                        
Element 4: Drafting a Visual Outline
Using your finalized storyline, copy and paste your content into your template, as well as any visual elements that help inspire your messages. Don’t over analyze this step from a creative point of view. Allow this time to for your visual freedom and storytelling to guide the bones of these slides.
Days to allow: 2

Element 5: Designing Your Slides
Once you feel comfortable with your visual outline, this next step can be daunting if you’re not a pro. However, it’s best to keep in mind a few tips:

  • Keep your on-screen text limited
  • Use enough visuals to fill up your canvas
  • Don’t be cliché, choose font sizes large enough for all viewing types, combine key stats and images
  • And most importantly- create as much consistency with the style of your design across all slides.

Days to allow: 5  

Element 6: Edits and Revisions
A good rule of thumb we’ve found is allowing for 3 rounds of edits and revisions. Round 1 allows for first impressions, round 2 allows for updates and changes, and round 3 for finishing touches. A good suggestion for this time is to review and collect feedback with someone who’s unfamiliar with your presentation- these fresh eyes are invaluable for perfecting the final touches that are needed before you face your real audience.Presentation graphic
Days to allow: 3

Element 7: Rehearsal
Once the final presentation is locked and finalized, it’s time to rehearse and become familiar with navigating the slides along with your speech. Like designing your slides, this step can also be daunting if you’re not a pro. But keep in mind these few tips: rehearse silently and pace yourself through each slide, remember to articulate and reinforce your main key points, and time yourself and keep under the time limit- which is always a safer place to be than running over.
Days to allow: 4

Time Check-in
With taking into account all these elements, we landed at 25 days, out of our 27 total. We were able to meet our presentation deadline and feel well prepared for it too! It is amazing how much time can go into creating a presentation when you really break it down, and our example is just one that mimics the vast amount of circumstances and situations affecting presentations out there. But our key takeaway is that more time should be allowed and considered when developing a presentation- because it’s a well-developed one that always wins the race.

TanyWith over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion to push the boundaries on developing latest techniques and solutions drive her creativity to bring the very best in the industry to her clients. As an educator, she has been a featured speaker at several events in the Detroit area focusing on the evolution of presentations in today’s marketplace and digital landscape. You can reach her directly at her email: or by visiting her website at:

Presentation Storytelling: Meet Microsoft Sway

Microsoft’s new online program called Office Sway is another presentation program, but it is not PowerPoint. In fact, it is not even remotely similar to PowerPoint, and that’s great because this difference provides Sway with a new platform and no comparisons are needed!

So what exactly is Sway? Sway has been designed from the ground up to be more of a storytelling presentation program rather than something you will use for slides in your next boardroom meeting where every slide has a chart. Well, if you wanted you could still use Sway for those typical presentations, but PowerPoint probably would work better!

Sway 1Sway is easy to use, does not require any download or installation since it is a program that runs within your browser – and it lets you create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more by combining text and media to create an online presentation. Make note though that a downloadable version of Sway is available for mobile devices such as iPads and Windows tablets.

You can view and edit Sways from almost any modern web browser. You can also share Sways directly from within the browser via so that others can discover and share them. Clearly, there’s so much to learn about!

There are several tutorials on the Sway site at that will help you get started.sway 3

The first step though is for you to sign into your Sway account. If you have a Microsoft account, then you already have a Sway account! A Microsoft account contains credentials you use to sign into any of Microsoft’s services such as Hotmail, Outlook, XBox, Live, Zune, etc. Once you sign into Sway for the first time, you will see content uploaded by others. Why? That’s because you still need to create your own Sway!

Are you a little confused about how we are using the term “Sway” in this article? Yes, we do refer to both the program itself and the presentations created as Sways. You will understand what we mean via the context in which the term has been used in a sentence.

sway2To create a new Sway, you will click on the prominent Create New option, highlighted in red in two places within the screenshot on the right.

You can also create a new Sway by importing a Word, PowerPoint or PDF file. To do so, click the Import button shown highlighted in blue within the screenshot. You can sign out of Sway by clicking on the three dots shown highlighted in green. This will bring up the menu shown in the screenshot below where you can choose the Sign out option.

You can learn more about how Sway evolved in an interview with Chris Pratley, who is General Manager for Microsoft Sway.


 Geetesh Bajaj iGeetesh2s an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for over a decade now. He has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India. Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like concept, color, interactivity, and navigation–and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He has authored six books on PowerPoint and trains corporate clients on how to plan, create, and deliver presentations.  For more information on Indezine and Geetesh, click here.


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