Archives for July 2016

[Webinar Recording] Slide Diets: Before & After Design Tricks to Slim Down your Content

Are you slides “over-stuffed” with too much content? Are they readable? Or, is the type so small, you need to include a magnifying Citrix sponsorship adglass to read it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then watch this recorded webinar from PresentationXpert with designer Bethany Auck. It is the perfect chance to learn how to slim down your slide content.

Learn how to take those over-stuffed slides and transform them into bite-size snacks – easier for your audience to digest and enjoy. Bethany uses real-life before & after examples to explain how to reduce content without losing data and meaning. The focus is on producing clearer visual communication to be a better and more effective presenter. Discover how to produce better slides, how to reduce content to the essentials, and how to streamline your presentation design, better communicating the important content.

Handouts:   Slide Diets Webinar Handout

Aboutbethany_square_300dpi (1) our Presenter, Bethany Auck:

Bethany has been working in the presentation design industry for nine years. She cut her teeth at small litigation consultancy where she consulted on major trials helping her clients build persuasive narratives and poignant demonstratives. Bethany founded SlideRabbit in 2012 to bring high-quality design to all industries at low-cost levels.  Her email is



Hot off the Press! Microsoft Announces Zoom for PowerPoint 2016

Subway Tunnel With Blurred Light Tracks In The Gallery - ConceptThis week, Microsoft announced additional features for Office 365 (Windows) which continue to push the power of Office to a more effective and integrated level. For Word 2016, they added a digital writing assistance which gives you advanced proofing and editing by leveraging machine learning, natural language processing and input from their linguistics experts. This is a great companion to the new Researcher feature which helps you start a paper and manage the content. Outlook got an upgrade as well with better inbox management and @name options for smarter cataloging.

PowerPoint 2016 on Windows desktop also has a new feature to continue its evolution. Introducing Zoom, a new way to present your slide content without having to exit show mode. You can now navigate in and out of any slide or section. This will enable you to make your presentation more interactive, depending on your audience. You can now use Zoom to build summary slides, based on the depth of your content and the use of sections. So imagine having dedicated sections in your presentation, then Summary Zoom is a good option. Or use Slide Zoom if your deck has only a few slides.

Want to see Zoom in action? Then take a tour by watching the YouTube video they just released with Zoom.

Let me know what you think of this new feature and how you are using it.


Using Stock Imagery Like the Pros and Where to Find it!

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Before the internet and e-commerce sites, the world of stock photography was an intimidating and wallet-draining world of printed catalogs and rights-managed images with few suppliers— Getty Images and Corbis being the two biggest. Royalty-free imagery that could be bought outright and used in most any situation was a significant advance, although initially, it was still quite costly.

These days, there are hundreds of sources for stock photography at all price levels—even for free—so, you have few excuses for using low resolution, cheesy or outright stolen imagery.

But Wait, Why Do I Have to Pay for Imagery in Presentation Anyway?

Okay, let’s get this issue out of the way. There are many who believe that when it comes to presentation, one has the right to use any image from any source without permission or payment. Well, if you’re a 12-year old making a slideshow to convince your parents that you really deserve a dog, and those slides will never leave the confines of the family room, then I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re probably okay using anything you can find online, much in the same way that that 12-year old could make a similar collage from cut up magazine photos. But when you start venturing out beyond the family room, things are a bit different.

The fact is that you simply do not have the automatic right to use an image just because you found it on the internet. Photography, like most artistic creations, is generally owned by someone. Yes, there are “Fair Use” cases such as parody, news reporting and educational instances where you might not need to pay to use a normally licensable image, but I’ll leave that determination to you, your lawyers and possibly the courts.

If you are engaged in business and have paid for the hardware and the software to help create a presentation slide, then you are in a position to also pay for stock imagery. And as we’ll see, it does not have to cost an arm and a leg.

Reverse Image Searches

If you find an image on a stock site, that image is for sale. But if you find an image through a Google search, things get murkier. Just because someone else has put up an image on their website, doesn’t mean they have done so legally. Just because an image has been used legally by a news site, doesn’t mean you can take it for your own different use. There are images that are truly free (such as public domain and Creative Commons imagery which we’ll discuss shortly), but most images on the web are owned by someone. The best thing to do is to research the original source or find out if the image is for sale on a stock site by using a reverse image search such as TinEye. A reverse image search will show you everywhere the image is used online, and very often, this will lead you to a place where you can legally license it.

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So, how much will it cost? I’m going to categorize sources for stock imagery into three categories: Expensive, Cheap and Free.


“Expensive” is a relative term. It might seem pricey to purchase three images for $1,000, but if those images are used for a huge days-long employee conference costing well into the six figures and become a part of themed title slides, then $1,000 isn’t that much. Spending $2,400 for an annual subscription to Shutterstock may seem like a fortune until you consider that price entitles you to 750 downloads a month. $0.27/image all of a sudden seems quite the bargain.

Into this “Expensive” category, I put sites like Shutterstock, Thinkstock, and iStock. Sites such as these offer subscription plans or image packs (i.e. five downloads for $50) and some like CavanImages do offer a la carte downloads, although this model can get pricey at up to $500 per shot.

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Also in this category are sites for rights-managed imagery such as Getty and Offset, but in general, I would suggest staying clear of this for presentation. Unless you really know what you’re doing, it gets complicated and expensive and is best left to more commercial ventures like advertising.


The next category down is what I call “Budget” sites. These operate similarly to the “Expensive” sites some with subscriptions, image packs, and a la carte, but at far more discounted rates. At Dreamstime, 123RF and BigStock, you can purchase images for as little as $1 each. Images are $1 at Canva as well, but here you can actually create presentation slides along with banners, posters, and other items.

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What differentiates the above two categories? Mostly quality and choice of imagery. It is possible to find a beautiful professional image at one of the discount sites, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.


Lastly, we have sources for completely free imagery. MorgueFile is one of the biggest, but you can also find free imagery at FreeImages and FreeRangeStock. EveryStockPhoto is a search engine that helps discover free imagery around the web.

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Some sites also operate on a “freemium” model, giving you access to certain content gratis, and asking payment for other. is one such site where you can subscribe and be sent packs of themed images a few times a month (about a dozen in each set), but access the entire historical archive costs $15/month. has beautiful, professional imagery that I’ve used, but the downside is that their library is very limited.

Also in the free category is public domain imagery such as the historical archives at The New York Public Library and Library of Congress. And then there is Creative Commons Imagery—content that creators have designated for public use generally with various caveats such as providing attribution. There are multiple levels of CC licenses, and it is still up to you to determine if you are allowed to use the image under the specific CC license. CC imagery can be found via an advanced search at Flickr, at Compfight and Wikimedia.

Stock Imagery Plug-ins for PowerPoint

Using stock imagery in presentation legally has become much easier in recent years. In fact, both Pickit and Shutterstock have created official add-ins for Microsoft Office that allow you to search and insert images all from within Office applications.

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To see the plug-in in action, take a look at the video below.

Read more about these options here.

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Where Can I Find a List of Stock Imagery Sources?

If you would like a more comprehensive list of sites and resources for stock imagery and other graphic assets, you can download a list from my site after subscribing and getting access to the downloads page.


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 presentations that are more effective. 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.


Presentation Slide Design: How To Prune Your Text

We recently had a great time teaching presentation slide design theory and practice at the Colorado Non-Profit Association‘s Technology Summit, focused on creating more impactful slides and how to reduce text to make better slides.

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Why is Reducing Text Important?

Your audience cannot read and listen at the same time. We are visual creatures, so our brains prioritize sight over hearing. This means your audience is reading your slide as you’re talking through your points. We read faster than we talk, so when they finish and tune back into you, you’re going over information they’ve already read. Instant glassy-eyed boredom ensues and you’ve lost your audience… to your own slides.

So how do we take back control of our presentation? By taking a more discerning editors pen to your content, you can better communicate with your audience and keep their attention. We call this process text pruning: reducing words without losing meaning.

How to Prune Text Without Losing Meaning

Here is a typical client text-heavy slide:

auck 1 This slide commits some pretty serious transgressions against presentation slide design. Of course, it’s all text and it’s several points on one slide. But it’s not possible to create ideal slides at all times for every presentation.

So if we did need all this text on one slide, how could we trim down the content so that it is more impactful?

As we reviewed earlier, this is all about reducing the text as much as possible. We want to move from spoken or written style language, to presentation style. The text should be boiled down to its leanest and most direct form. Here are a few of the red flags we look for to find text that can be pruned.


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Obvious information is the first to trim from your slides. See Red Flag 1: this is clearly a background information slide. There is no need to take space up in the title with this unnecessary clarifier.


Now that we’ve removed the extraneous information, our title is “Tourette Syndrome.” Yet, as you look at Red Flag 2 and through the rest of the bullets, you’ll see the syndrome named another 7 times. This kind of redundancy is a good indicator that there is some pruning to be done.

Written/Spoken Language

A lot of the wordiness we see in slides, ends up in there because people write their slides as they would a script. When we write that way, unnecessary connectors and qualifiers sneak into the bullets. Red Flag 3 shows a wordy approach to a simple concept. See the after below for the “presentation writing” version of this information.

Inferable Information

At Red Flag 4, we see one of the sneakiest, text-heavy offenders. When you’re writing the presentation all this information might seem important to note. But remember, you’ll be up there to explain the result or impact of your facts. The fact here is that “symptoms persist into adulthood for 10 – 15% of patients.” That means that “many” (85 – 90%) of affected children outgrow it. Don’t crowd up you slides with information that is easily inferable

auck 3Final Product

Here’s the final text for our slide. We’ve trimmed out about half the words without losing any of our information!

We’ve boiled down our wordiness to informational phrases only. This slide is now ready to go into the design process, where we can add visual interest. There are several design tricks to make basic text more memorable and impactful.



And please join me on Wednesday, August 24th at 11 am for my webinar, Slide Diets: Before & Afters of Design Tricks to Slim Down your Content.  Register.

About Bethany Auck:

bethany_square_300dpi (1)


Bethany has been working in the presentation design industry for nine years. She cut her teeth at small litigation consultancy where she consulted on major trials helping her clients build persuasive narratives and poignant demonstratives. Bethany founded SlideRabbit in 2012 to bring high-quality design to all industries at low-cost levels.


How to Increase Your Salary by Getting to a Point

Research has shown that the single best indicator of success – for any profession – is how often you are asked to deliver presentations.

According to Estienne de Beer, author of “Boosting Your Career,” those who give more presentations tend to have higher salaries than those who give fewer presentations.


This means that good presentation skills are not a “nice to have” skillset, but instead are mandatory if you intend to move up in your organization and eventually make more money.

This is further confirmed by research firm, IDC. After combing through 14.6 million job postings, they identified the ability to synthesize, present and communicate information as one of the primary skills that is required for the top “high-growth, high-wage occupations that will account for 11.5 million new hires and 28 percent of job growth by 2020.”

That means that if you’re not working on your communication and presentation skills…well, you’re missing out – big time.

So what does it mean to be able to synthesize, present and communicate information?

It means being able to create compelling presentations with clear messages. But many presentations given fall short – mostly because they forget to make a point.

So let’s dive into a few rules to help you get to your point, and eventually, help you march up the ladder faster.

Rule #1: The Rule of Two’s

Lots of people use pie charts to communicate their information, so let’s start right there.

On the left-hand side in the graphic below, you can see a classic example of what you might put up on your slide. But what you’re trying to say is what is highlighted on the right-hand side.

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And notice how much clearer your data is when you boil it down like this.

If you used the example on the left, not only would the audience have no idea what you’re trying to say, but you yourself might forget what you wanted to point out during the presentation. However, if you used the graphic on the right, I bet you would know exactly what to say and that the audience would immediately know that 70% of the web traffic is organic.

And that’s exactly what putting the “Rules of Two’s” in action looks like.

When presenting your data as a pie chart, the “Rules of Two’s” means that you can only show two data points (even if you have to consolidate your information as I did above). By boiling your data down into just two data points, you create a crystal clear visual to help you make your point.

To go deeper into the “Rule of Two’s” and some other aesthetic guidelines I have for using pie charts, watch the short 5 minute YouTube tutorial, 2 Pie Chart Tips – What’s the Point of that Slide?!

When getting to the point of your slides, the first step is to get rid of the extra complexity as we did here with the Rule of Two’s. The next rule will help you get to a more impactful point.

Rule #2: The Magic is in the Middle

When synthesizing, presenting and communicating information, it’s important to remember that context is often what drives home the point of your slides.

And context is created by simply taking your data point, fact or figure, and comparing it to something else.

For example, just having a single data point (like 70% of our traffic is from a single source) is next to meaningless without context. Chances are that your audience it somewhat familiar with your topic; but they may not know how important 70% is. Is it high? Is it low? Has it improved?

So the first step is to add some more data points around your original one.

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And now this is where the “Magic is in the Middle” rule comes into play. The context (and thereby, the point you are trying to make), can be found in the space between your data points.

For example, if the graphic below was on your slide, you would want to address what happened there in between the two data points. What happened to make the purple 2015 number become the blue 2016 number on the right?

There was a 40% growth in traffic…the “Magic is in the Middle!”

Depending on your point or recommendation, you could further dive into things like:

  • What does the growth rate mean?
  • Is it sustainable? Why or why not?
  • What should your company do to continue the rapid growth?
  • What should your company do to stop the rapid growth?

And that’s the beauty of using context and then highlighting the difference to shake out a point. It gives you room to tell your story, make your recommendations, and present and communicate your information better.

The better you can synthesize, present and communicate your information, the better off your slides are going to be – and the better off your career is going to be!

For additional help with the “Magic is in the Middle” and more examples, see the short 5-minute YouTube tutorial below.

For additional help with how to better present your information by using storytelling (like turning your data points into memory glue), see our blog post on 15 storytelling tips.

Getting to Your Point to Increase Your Salary

Learning how to effectively synthesize, present and communicate information is a lifelong learning process, but it all starts with understanding how to make a point.

In this post, I covered a few rules you can apply to a wide variety of data visualizations to help you get to the point of your slide. As a quick recap, those rules are:

  • The Rule of Two’s – Boiling down complicated pie charts into only two pieces of information that you can highlight, contrasting one with the other.
  • The “Magic is in the Middle” – When comparing two pieces of data, focusing on the difference between the two data points and why it’s important enough to put it up on your slide in the first place.

At the end of the day, remember that data points are static…they don’t create themselves and they don’t explain themselves. People are what makes data talk. So staying focused on what caused one data point to turn into another is always the first step to presenting your information and crafting an interesting story.

You audience, your boss, and your wallet with thank you!



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

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