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

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.

Presenting Technical Data? Do it in Viewer-Friendly Ways

For people presenting scientific or technical information, there are often specific tables and numbers they wish to show: Descriptive data, summary statistics and regression results, for example.

Sometimes those details need to be presented, but far too often they are packed in tables with 20 columns and 40 rows as if anyone in the audience can see them.

Presenting the data-heavy table to a room of your colleagues is inherently different than asking someone to crack open your paper and read it on their own. Your reader can dig in and examine the 20-column, 40-row table you’ve included in your written report, but it’s not going to show up very well on a projector in front of 50 people.

The purpose of that dense table is to allow your reader to examine the detailed, actual values of your analysis. When you show it to your audience, however, it’s no longer able to examine it in the same way because there are too many small numbers and they are busy trying to listen to what you have to say.

Tables can be used, of course, but always be mindful that your audience may not be able to see the details projected on the screen.

Consider this fictional table of regression results. Do you expect your audience to actually read it when you put it on the screen? If so, when they do so, do you expect them to listen to what you have to say while they are squinting to read all the variable names, coefficients, standard errors, footnotes, and interpret the statistical significance?

Even if you give them a silent moment or two to absorb the information (and how much time is enough?), how do you know they are absorbing the information or conclusion you want them to?



As an easy, first step to creating more effective tables for presentations—but still one that provides too much information for your audience to easily understand—is to apply what I call a Layering approach. In the Layering approach, you present elements one at a time, building to the final slide. This approach can be used with bullet points, with graphs, with equations, with any detailed set of information you wish to present.

In this case, we can split this table into four, or maybe even five, separate slides. Instead of the single slide above, therefore, we end up with the following set of four.





Another approach to presenting detailed information is to rethink your table altogether. Carefully consider which numbers you actually want to show to your audience and that will help you convince your audience (without biasing their understanding or perception of your work) of the value and importance of your results.

Once you have identified the most important numbers—and you’ve been working with your data for some time already, so you have presumably already identified them—then just show those values.

For example, if you are sharing a set of results that include some estimates that are not central to your story and perhaps not particularly important (for example, monthly dummy variables in a regression model), leave them out of your presentation. Your audience can ask you for details if they like or they can find the details in your written paper should you have one.

One alternative to the huge table shown above, therefore, is to show just those important variables and that best help convey your content, story, and conclusion. Even here, however, there is a lot of information on the slide—parentheses, brackets, asterisks—all of which can make it difficult for your audience to see the information while they listen to you discuss the implications of your findings.


Instead, perhaps try using color to highlight statistical significance, or a particularly interesting result. You can simply say, “the darkest cells here are those that are statistically significant at the 1% level” instead of asking your audience to read the standard errors and navigate their way through everything on the slide.


Another alternative is to rethink the entire table itself and use a graph instead. Creating content that better taps into the natural tendency to recognize and remember information presented visually will help your audience better focus on your content and ultimately better remember your conclusions.


Here are three possible ways to use a graph instead of a table.


Show those important estimates for each variable in the four models


Add asterisks to that basic slide to denote statistical significance


Or use errors bars to accomplish a similar task as the asterisks.

Depending on how much detail you want to cover, you could then apply the Layering technique to the slide and show, say, the four estimates for the first model, then the estimates for the second model, and so on.

A final technique to present detailed information such as that shown in the table is to provide a handout. Be careful, however, because the moment you provide your audience with a piece of paper is the moment they start reading it and stop listening to you.

If you’re in a smaller room, you may be able to circulate the handout when you reach the point in your presentation when it’s needed. Or, you can pass it out at the beginning and set the audience’s expectations by telling them the handout they have in front of them won’t be needed for another 20 minutes or so and that you’ll let them know when to bring it out.

There are many times when presenting detailed information, statistical results, or data will be an important part of your presentation. But keep in mind that if your audience struggles to see your material, they are going to stop listening to you and not buy into your content. Focus your audience’s attention on the specific content you want to show them and visualize that content so they are more likely to recognize it, remember it, and act upon it.

About the Author:

Jon Schwabish is an economist, writer, teacher, and creator of policy-relevant data visualizations. He is considered a leading voice for clarity and accessibility in how researchers communicate their findings. He hosts the PolicyViz Podcast, which focuses on data, open data, and data visualization, and co-hosts the Rad Presenters Podcast which aims to improve people’s presentation skills. He is currently writing a book with Columbia University Press on presentation design and techniques.


To Win a Final Pitch, Show How Much You Care

There’s a saying among sales people that goes, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

But when you’re one of two or three firms delivering a presentation for a big project, I don’t think it’s quite right. I think it should read, “In a beauty contest, no one cares how much you know. They only want to know how much you care.”

In other words, when you’re on a shortlist competing for an opportunity, your expertise is irrelevant.

Everything in that final presentation needs to be focused on one thing: showing that you care about the client.

Expertise is Irrelevant in a Beauty Contest

Let’s say that you’ve made the shortlist to present for a chance to represent a bank in a lawsuit. At stake for the bank are millions of dollars and months of horrendous publicity.

You should not include in your presentation a discussion of your experience with these types of lawsuits. If you’ve made the shortlist, the client already knows your credentials.

“You don’t even get in to see us if you’re not qualified,” one general counsel told me. “In the final stage, we just want to know who we like the best.”

And to make your prospect like you, every move should say, “We care.”

Speak Directly to the Client’s Key Issues

The first way to say “we care” is to customize your presentation around your client’s challenge. If you’re competing for a chance to represent a bank in a major lawsuit, every word of your presentation should be about your plan to help this client win.

One general counsel told me about hearing several presentations from firms competing for a chance to represent the company. The winner presented a detailed, heavily researched, litigation strategy. “They told us their plan for winning our lawsuit,” she told me.

By contrast, the firm’s long-time counsel took the client for granted and only presented a list of qualifications. The general counsel told me, “When they left, I looked at my colleagues and said, ‘Well that sucked.’”

Giving a detailed plan for the prospect takes work. But it shows that you care.

Your Passion for Their Work Needs to Show in Your Voice

“Our work should speak for itself. How we say it shouldn’t matter.”

I hear comments like that all the time. But it’s not true. Great firms look the same from the prospect’s perspective. Passionate delivery can separate you from the competition by showing how much you care.

I once watched four construction firms compete for a chance to build a new elementary school in Boca Raton, Florida. One project manager talked about growing up down the road from where the new school was to be built. He seemed excited about the chance to build a school in his old neighborhood.

The listeners could see that he truly cared for the project. His firm won.

How Much You Care Should Show in Your Rehearsal

Your actual performance during the presentation screams whether your care or not. To perform well, you need to rehearse. Did you care enough to rehearse transitions between team members? Did you care enough to keep your presentation tight? Did you care enough about them to leave enough time for Q&A? Did you care enough to make sure that everyone sticks to a common theme?

If you really want to win, show you care.

About the Author:

Joey Asher is president of Speechworks, a selling and communication skills coaching company in Atlanta.  His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations is available now. For more information, visit the Speechworks website.


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