Archives for June 2016

PechaKucha: The Art of the Concise Presentations

Picture1PechaKucha: twenty slides, twenty seconds per slide, with the slides set to automatically advance to the next slide whether you are ready or not. When I saw this as a topic for one of the sessions at the 2011 Presentation Summit I decided that it was worth an hour of my time to find out more about PechaKucha.

My first thought was that it would be a great tool for developing presentation delivery skills, what I found out was that it does that and a lot more. The aspect of PechaKucha that took me by surprise was how effective it was in helping to hone my messaging skills. Developing a short presentation can take more time than developing a longer one because you have to be more precise and concise when you have less time. With PechaKucha, not only does your overall presentation have to be concise, each slide needs to be so as well.

The first, and only time so far, that I delivered a PechaKucha to an audience was at the 2015 Presentation Summit. I volunteered to create and deliver a presentation as part of the session at the conference because I had learned so much from watching others do it at previous Summits. It was while I was preparing to deliver my own PechaKucha that I learned how well it can help a presentation designer (content design, not slide design) learn to focus on each slide when creating a presentation. I have designed hundreds of presentations, however knowing that I could only have twenty seconds worth of content on each slide made this one unique. I wanted each slide to have a visual impact on the audience, and I wanted it to be something that they could understand quickly and once again focus on what I was saying.

Once I had decided on my content and created my slide deck, I started to practice delivering the presentation. This is Green light at pedestrian crossing lights closeup what I had originally thought was the benefit of PechaKucha, and I was not disappointed. Learning to control the pacing of my presentation so that the slide transitions matched (for the most part) what I was saying was difficult and rewarding. Too often we use the slides as an outline for our presentations, and PechaKucha forces you to learn your content inside and out, while at the same time helping you control the speed at which you deliver content to your audience.

When the time came for the session, the six of us who had volunteered lined up to deliver our presentations. Each of us had different strengths with regards to presentation design and delivery, and we were each looking to get different things out of volunteering. As an experienced presenter, I was focusing on having a clear message and smooth transitions from slide to slide. Other volunteers had little to no presentation experience; however, their slides put mine to shame, and they were looking for an opportunity to get a little experience as a presenter. During the hour, we all were able to get out of the session what we wanted, and that is one of the beautiful things about PechaKucha and PechaKucha events.

Pecha KuchaSample PechaKucha Event Posters

Yes, there are PechaKucha events, and there is even an international PechaKucha organization. You can find PechaKucha events in over 925 global cities, and I have heard that these events are well organized and a lot of fun. From what I have heard, the events are very different than some of the other, more formal presentation organizations. The nights typically have a theme, and the audience is out for entertainment and education, not to judge and critique the abilities of the presenters. These events often take place in bars and restaurants, and the casual atmosphere helps the presenters relax and helps keep the audience loose.

pechua goldJPGPechaKucha offers channels on their website which gives you a bird’s eye view of the creativity at work. Did you know that once a year on February 20th — the anniversary of PechaKucha’s founding — there are global events held to celebrate the proliferation of worldwide creativity, and the amazing connections started around the world? On the PechaKucha Global Night channel, don’t miss the enchanting video, “The Heroes Who Welcomed Me” by Luis Mendo. He shares his experiences in relocating to Tokyo and the people who helped welcome him to his new country.
Are you looking for a way to practice your presentation design and delivery skills? If so, consider PechaKucha. You don’t need a formal event to give it a try, you can create one on your own and deliver it in your living room. All you need is a desire to improve your skills as a presentation designer and presenter. It doesn’t matter what your slides look like or how well you present. What matters is your desire to learn and improve. Look for a local PechaKucha event, or organize your own. I think you might find out that the hardest part of PechaKucha is figuring out how to pronounce it.

About our author:
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAa6AAAAJDU0ZDczZDQ5LWFlYmEtNDZlMi1hODVlLThmYzFiYjJhZTUyMQJohn Rahmlow is a Retirement Planning Counselor in Vanguard’s Participant Education Department. His primary responsibilities include meeting with participants on a one-on-one basis and conducting group meetings on topics such as plan benefits, investment strategies and retirement readiness. Prior to becoming a Retirement Planning Counselor, John spent more than ten years as the Meetings Consultant in Participant Education. In that role, he was responsible for providing consulting and content design services for custom presentations for institutional clients. Before joining Participant Education in 2005, John was a team leader in Participant Services. John has been with Vanguard since 1998.

Rahmlow earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Delaware; a JD from Widener University School of Law; an LL.M. in Taxation and an Employee Benefits Certificate from Villanova University School of Law; and currently holds FINRA series 6, 63 and 26 licenses as well as the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation from the College for Financial Planning.

[New Book] My PowerPoint 2016 by Echo Swinford

Echo Book

Retail Price: $24.99 Available via Amazon, Que Publishing, Microsoft and other stores

Echo Swinford Headshot

Echo Swinford Microsoft PowerPoint MVP

How many of us have the time to learn how to use our favorite software upgrades? It is with the best intention that we all try. But I needed to learn all about PowerPoint 2016 and Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Echo Swinford gave me the perfect primer to get started. Her new book, My PowerPoint 2016, a new “Content Update Program Update” book highlights all the new software updates added to the latest version of PowerPoint, and if you are new to PowerPoint, she gives you the basics on how-to-get-started.

After reading the book, which has easy-to-understand step-by-step instructions, I knew that I had not tapped the full power of PowerPoint 2016, and I couldn’t wait to get started. The presentation community had been buzzing about the updated features and tools: new office themes, Morph, Design, Charts, Smart Guide, video resolution, and more. One of my favorites is “Tell Me More” and “Insights.” Both help me find information and tools within the product or via the web. Having easy and quick access to information instead of trying to remember where to find it has saved me time and fewer gray hairs!

Echo and I spoke while she was on the road for a client. She shared with me that one of her favorite new features is the Office Theme, especially the black interface option. “Imagine being backstage supporting a client during a live event and the stark white interface is staring up at you, causing eye strain and headaches,” said Echo. “The black interface option is wonderful. Now, you have the option to do online editing in a better environment. It is easier on the eyes.” She shared an example:


New Fan Favorite, Morph enables to you to make smoother animations, transitions and object movements across your slide deck. You can create the appearance of movement in wide array of objects such as SmartArt, WordArt, charts, text, shapes, and pictures. Check out the quick intro video from Microsoft showing Morph and Design in action.

What intrigued me the most about the addition of Morph and the other new tools were how they were selected to be included. Echo explained to me that Microsoft listens to the presentation community and what features or tools they want to be added to the next version of PowerPoint or any of their products. They have even set up a “digital” suggestion box with User Voice so they could get feedback for product development.

Morph was the number one request from the community voting and got more than the 20 votes it needed. “This feature was added as a direct result of user requests, and it is just one of many. Another was Smart Guides, which is now more responsive and more visually intuitive and new options for Charts across Excel, Word and PowerPoint,” said Echo. “One of my favorites is the new ‘Design’ tool which offers you five ideas on how to layout your slides. This tool has bailed me out on many projects. No matter what your design capability is, this tool gives you great ideas and place to start if you need to remake slides or create a presentation,” she continued.

PPT Suggestion box

With changing financial reporting needs, Charts now include five new charts to visualize common financial, statistical and hierarchical data including Treemaps, Sunbursts, Histograms, Box and Whisper, and Waterfall.

group charting

“With these new charts, it is so much easier to visualize data. Formatting, including color changes, are simpler now,” said Echo.

With new features comes a learning curve for remembering how to use or getting a reminder again about the steps or where you can find this tool. The new “Tell me what you want me to do” option on your ribbon is a timesaver. You can enter a word or a phrase about what you want to do next.

tell me group

I really Echo Bookenjoyed Echo’s book, My PowerPoint 2016. I have been lucky to get to know Echo over the last few years, and it is clear in the content and the style of writing that this is “Echo’s Voice.” It was easy to read, a great reference even when you have a question, and it is succinct and to the point. Whether or not, you are new to PowerPoint or just getting to know PowerPoint 2016, this book is a must read and a great reference tool anytime you have questions.

If you register the book on Que Publishing website, you get free access to bonus chapters and workshop files. It is available via Amazon, Que Publishing, Microsoft Store, and other channels. The retail price is $24.99. So add this to your summer reading list…it will be well worth it.

Sharyn sig - first name

Sharyn Fitzpatrick

How to Embed Fonts In Your Presentation


One of the most popular question asked by our attendees during our Laura Foley webinar on May 18th was, “How do you embed fonts in a presentation.” Laura liked the question so much that she provided a more detailed answer.  Enjoy!

hand of sean SF signature





You can use beautiful font types that make a statement when you create your presentations. But, if the audience doesn’t have the same font installed on their computers, it will not display correctly and PowerPoint substitutes a similar font. How do I embed fonts in a presentation so I can fix this?

Laura FoleyLaura Foley

Why embedding fonts is a great idea…

Using non-standard fonts in your presentations makes them stand out. With the right fonts, presentations can look fresh and modern (even if the non-typographically inclined can’t exactly figure out why). But you’ll know why…it’s because you took the initiative to spend a few minutes locating and installing a fresh-looking font!

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Calibri, the humanist sans-serif typeface so familiar to users of Microsoft calibiri noOffice. But everybody’s using it, so if you are too then your presentations might look the same as everyone else’s. Here’s how to stand out from the crowd.

Calibri, you’ve overstayed your welcome.

In The Incredibles, the main villain, Syndrome, declares, “When everyone’s super, no-one will be!” It’s the same with Calibri. When everybody uses it, it ceases to be special. So if your presentations feature Calibri, which was once fresh and new, then they look like millions of other presentations. That whole “blending in with the crowd” thing might work for some people. But if you’ve read this far, I’m confident that you’re not satisfied with going with the flow. It’s time to customize your presentations with a non-standard font.

Google, your main source for awesome fonts!

There are loads of websites where you can find free fonts. Ignore them all and head right on over to Google Fonts. Here, you’ll find well-thought-out font families that contain boldface, italics, ligatures and all kinds of amazing typographical goodies. But the main thing is that here you will find a typeface that 10 billion other PowerPoint users AREN’T using. Oh, and did I mention they’re all free?


1. Follow the instructions on Google Fonts to download your chosen font.
2. Unzip the file
3. Double click on the .TTF file.
4. Click on Install

These are the steps I follow to install fonts on my PC. Your operating system might be different, so if this doesn’t work for you then you’ll need to look up how to install fonts on your own PC.

Embedding a font in your PowerPoint presentation

It’s very easy to embed fonts into individual presentations. By embedding the fonts, you ensure that they will look the same when opened on other systems even if they don’t have your custom font installed.

  1. Click on the File tab in the ribbon then select Options.
  2. Click Save on the left side of the dialog box that appears.
  3. Under Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation on the right, put a check next to Embed fonts in the file then choose Embed only the characters used in the presentation (best of reducing file size) or Embed all characters (best for editing by other people).
  4. Click OK and continue saving normally.


The bad news for Mac users

The Mac version of PowerPoint doesn’t allow you to embed fonts. I guess it’s just too complicated to ensure that embedded PC fonts display the same on a Mac and vice versa.

About Laura Foley:
As 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 Wrap-Up: More Q & A with Laura Foley

In our May 18th webinar, Cheating Death by PowerPoint with presentation designer Laura Foley, the questions were coming faster than we could share them with both Laura and the attendees. Our presenter was kind enough to answer many of the webinar questions so we could share them with you.

To watch the webinar and get the handouts, click here

Do you have any tips for a “welcome” slide that might be used during opening speeches, etc. but not actually referenced directly?

It’s always a good idea to have your organization’s logo, the name of your presentation, your name and your contact information on your opening slide. Repeat this at the end of the presentation so people know how to get in touch with you if they have questions.  See example below:

CDbyPPT-From Awful to Awesome

Do you have font recommendations? Including size

Think of a slide as a billboard. If you have to slow down to read it, then the type is too small. While I have no set and fast rule for point sizes of type on a slide, I try to make the text very large so that people can read it no matter how far away from the screen they may be.

I notice you use a lot of Orange against a white background. Has this combination been proven successful or just your preference?

It’s one of my corporate colors.

How do you work with (around?) a mandatory company template or one that is a very generic company background?

I use the typeface and colors specified in the template, but I’ll usually never use the established text boxes and bullet points. I prefer to use very large text on a slide and no bullet points. Also, you can make text bold, italic, or all caps to give it many different looks while still using the same typeface.

Are gradients opportunity or threat?

Now that flat design is the rage, I don’t use as many gradients. When I do, they’re very subtle. Any gradient and highlight that makes a graphic look three-dimensional or glasslike also make it look dated.

Could you comment on using company logos and names, etc. in the footer?

Do it if the client demands it. Otherwise, you can just use it at the beginning and the end of the presentation. By deleting the standard header and footer, you free up a lot more slide real estate to be used for information.

What do you think about decorative themes? For example, if we create a title slide that looks like a movie poster (maybe an ocean theme to discuss a “deep dive” into a subject)…do you think keeping ocean imagery on every slide is cohesive and engaging, or purely decorative and distracting?

There’s nothing wrong with being creative with your slides. But if the theme is as you suggest a “deep dive,” that’s just another way of saying an in-depth view of a subject. I wouldn’t carry the “deep dive” analogy through every slide, maybe just the title. Make sure that the design of your slide reflects the content of the presentation, not the type of presentation it is.

What is the best font to use for numbers (like in charts)?

The same typeface that is standard for the template you’re using.

What are your thoughts on using custom (non-standard) fonts?

It’s amazing! Your presentations will look different from everyone else’s, which helps make them memorable. For more ideas, and step-by-step instructions on how to do it, click here.

About Laura Foley:
As 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.

[Video] The Science of Memorable Presentations

Have you ever been so bored by a presenter that you missed his or her entire point? Don’t let that presenter be you. Award-winning author, Ed Muzio of Group Harmonics, has been an advisor and educator to professionals at all levels from individual life coaches to the Fortune 500. His analytical approach to human productivity is part of his formula for success. In this video, Ed describes the science behind getting someone’s attention and then converting that attention into a long-term memory. Put this to use in your next presentation and your audience will leave with your message – not with a yawn.

Ed Muzio is the author of the award-winning books Make Work Great (McGraw-Hill, 2010) and Four Secrets to Liking Your Work (FT Press, 2008). He is a leader in the application of analytical models to group effectiveness and individual enjoyment. to founding Group Harmonics, Ed was President and Executive Director of a human services organization, and a leader, mentor, and technologist within Intel Corporation and the Sematech consortium.

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