2 Ways to Salvage Your Presentation When ‘Jumping Slides’

The presenter, Jim, was happy and the audience seemed engrossed. Why? Jim’s story delivered at the beginning of his presentation had hit the target and had everyone’s attention.

It was around 20 minutes into his presentation and he still had another 25 minutes left. But Jim wasn’t aware of the time – he was just happy that his session was progressing well.

In the next 15 minutes Jim took some questions, answered them with attention to detail but he was only on his third slide. Jim had 25 slides in his presentation.

It was around that time that Jim realized his predicament and panicked. He realized that he still had not even started talking about his main topic. And that’s the story of many great presentations that start well, progress well, but end miserably.

Any guesses about what Jim did in his anxiety? He “jumped” slides.



How to Avoid Jumping Slides

What do we mean by jumping slides? Jumping slides is the act of moving between slides very rapidly, and in fact skipping many slides altogether.

If you’ve attended your share of presentations, you know how many presenters jump slides. To make this panicky act more kind to the audience, and also to  reassure themselves, presenters often offer excuses such as:

1. I know you are all busy and I don’t want to take too much of your time. Let me skip to the important part.

The audience will wonder,  “If you knew that we are all so busy, then why did you spend all your time with the not-so-important parts?”

2. These other slides mainly relate to the several issues we have already discussed – so let me get to the part that will benefit us the most.

The audience wonders, “If those slides contained issues we already discussed, then did the presenter not know about this little detail before he started? Does he expect us to believe that he did not know what was coming up in the subsequent slides?”

3. These slides are not required or valid for this audience. Let me skip to the slides that matter to you.

The audience is confused, “If those slides were not necessary, then why did they exist in the first place?”

The presenter is doomed if he shows all the slides – and he is in no better position even if he does not show them! What started as an amazing presentation has turned into a disaster, or in other words, a “lose-lose” situation.

I have sympathy for Jim. Yes he should have been careful with his time – but he is human, and humans make mistakes. So rather than criticize him, let’s look at two ways in which he can salvage his presentation.

Remember that Jim need not just use any one of these approaches – he can combine parts of both these approaches too.

1) He can be truthful.

Jim can admit to his mistake and say that he got carried away by his audience’s enthusiasm. He has to say this in a way that celebrates the audience’s enthusiasm rather than blaming it. And then he can ask the audience for more time – of course, if another speaker is scheduled to present after him, then that may not be an option.

Even if his speaking time does not extend, the act of being truthful will help him win the hearts of a fair percentage of his audience members, and he can then skip slides. But although he is still skipping some slides, this is not considered “jumping,” because the audience is now more involved with his decision.

This is not an ideal situation – but Jim is now only looking at making a better ending than a worse one.

To salvage this situation even further, Jim can ask everyone to leave their visiting cards with him – and he can then email them a copy of the slides and set up a phone call with them later!

2) He can be savvy.

How can being savvy help Jim? Well, if he knows the keyboard shortcuts for a program like PowerPoint, he can just jump slides without the audience being aware.

To do so, he can quickly press the numbers 2 and 3 in quick succession followed by the Enter key. That will get him straight to slide 23 without showing any skipped slides.

This approach is certainly not as truthful as the first option, but cannot be considered deceitful. Even now he can save time by skipping slides, and compensate by speaking about related topics. Every expert presenter will agree that the presenter is the presentation, not the slides.

And as long as Jim makes sure that his message is not diluted, he can manage with fewer slides.

But don’t use this trick of accessing slides by their numbers unless you have practiced it well and are confident of doing so. Also, this trick assumes that you know which slide you want to skip too quickly. This way of working, in turn, requires that you know your slides well.

Takeaways from the situation

Here are some takeaways from this scenario:

1. Always practice your slides before you present. This may seem obvious, but time your slides and also time your delivery. Also only prepare for around three- fourth of the time allotted to you, so that you have extra time to take questions – and also some extra time so that you never need to jump slides.

2. Know your slide numbers well. Create a sequence of your most important slides and memorize it – something like slides, 1, 3, 7, 14, 18, 22, 23, 24, and 25! That way you can use keyboard shortcuts only to show your most important slides.

3. Don’t get too carried away by the audience. And if you want to get carried away, ask their permission! The next time Jim gave a similar presentation, he responded to a question from one of the audience members, “That answer needs a fair amount of time. Can we make this presentation a little longer? If not, I can meet you later and give your answer the time it deserves.”

That works most of the time because the audience now decides whether they can give you the time they need!

Whatever you may do, make sure you only jump slides as a last resort.

About the Author:

Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint-related site (http://www.ppted.com) that provides designer PowerPoint templates.

Recorded Presentations: Add Speaker Video To Your Slides for a Personal Touch

Looking to create more of a live presentation feel on your recorded presentations? Consider using video of you speaking on one side of the slide while the other side is devoted to content to help create that effect. Here are some ideas for using these presentations:

  • For internal training, on your organization’s Intranet or LMS (Learning Module System)
  • On YouTube (or another video sharing site) for marketing or for clients
  • On your website to highlight you as a speaker or present your topic in a more engaging way

I call it a hybrid presentation because it puts speaker video next to typical slide content.

This is easy to do with a wide-screen slide size. The wide screen gives you more room to put both pieces side-by-side.

Here’s an example of how it looks:

How Do You Play Video Across the Slides?

You can play a video without interruption across slides. (I explain how to play a sound file across slides in my post “Play music or narration throughout a presentation.”)

First, insert the presentation on the first slide where you want it by choosing Insert tab, then clicking Movie or Video.

Choose the video file of you speaking to place it on the slide. Keep the video selected.

In PowerPoint 2007, click the Movie Tools Options tab. In the Movie Options group, click the Play Movie drop-down list (it will probably show the Automatically option) and choose Play Across Slides, as you see here.


powerpoint-tips-side-by-side-speaker-video-slide-content-2Strangely enough, this is harder to do in PowerPoint 2010 and 2013. It’s similar to the procedure for playing a sound across files. Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Video Tools Playback tab and set the Start option to Automatically.
  2. Click the Animations tab and then click Animation Pane to open it.
  3. You’ll see 2 items, one that plays the video and a trigger that pauses it, as you see here. Click the Play item, click the drop-down arrow, and choose Effect Options to open the Play Video dialog box.
  4. In the Stop Playing section, click After and enter 999 (the max allowed, just to ensure that it plays throughout the presentation) or the number of slides during which you want the video to play.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box. The video will now continue to play across your slides.powerpoint-tips-side-by-side-speaker-video-slide-content-3

How to Turn Your Presentation into a Video


Unfortunately, when I tried to export the presentation as a video, it didn’t work. I saw the video on Slide 1 but it was gone for the rest of the slides. Even on Slide 1, it didn’t play–it was frozen. But the audio worked fine throughout. In the end, I used Techsmith Camtasia’s recorder to record the presentation in Slide Show view and edited out some white space at the beginning and end.

Other techniques for side-by-side video

You could do this another way. You could put all of your content on 1 slide and animate it to appear when you want it to. Of course, this would work only for presentations that have just a few slides, like the one I showed at the beginning of this blog post. Then you can sync the animation to bookmarks that you create on the video timeline. I explain this technique in “Sync animation with a video or audio.”

Or, you could divide up the video into segments and put a separate video on each slide. You would need to use video-editing software to do this. You wouldn’t need to animate or set transition timing and people could click through the slides as each video ended.

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 www.ellenfinkelstein.com


A Palette Primer: Picking Colors That Make Your Presentation Shine

With sight dominating our senses, it is no surprise that colors have come to hold so much meaning and importance in our culture. Consciously and unconsciously, we use color to signify our feelings: a red rose for our love, a yellow one for a good friend.

With colors so closely tied to emotion, and emotion so effectively increasing memory retention, it follows that colors are instrumental to powerful and memorable communication.

When selecting a main color for a presentation template, take into account the emotions that the content or brand should produce. Is the material meant to excite the audience, rile them up for a new product? Use a bright warm color (red, orange, yellow) to capture the energy of your message. If the material is about a trustworthy medical or financial service, use blues to convey reliability and fortitude. For more ideas on the right colors for your content, check out this awesome infographic from The Logo Company on how brand colors speak to our emotions.

Whether the starting point is a predetermined brand color or a color selected for its emotional qualities the next step to building a palette involves color theory.

Color theory starts at the color wheel, where our main hues are laid out showing the relationships between primary (red, yellow, blue), secondary ( orange, green, purple), and tertiary (red-orange, yellow- orange, etc) colors. The outer ring of the wheel is the fully saturated intensity of the color. As we move toward the center, the colors become less saturated.


There are several different methods used to combine colors from the color wheel to produce a pleasing look & feel. These methods for mixing and balancing colors are called harmonies.


Different color combination methods, or harmonies, produce a different feel. Here’s a look at some common harmonies, how they are constructed and how they can be used.

Complementary & Split Complementary color palettes are vibrant and striking. Complementary colors are across the color wheel from each other and provide high contrast. Split complimentary colors are those on either side of the hue directly across from your main color.


Analogous color palettes are pleasing to the eye and feel comfortable because they often occur in the natural world, like a sunset of pinks, reds and oranges. Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel.


Monochromatic color palettes are built by selecting different saturations of the same color. They feel simple and elegant, but lack contrast.


Triadic, Tetradic & Square color palettes use simple geometric shapes (triangle, rectangle & square,respectively) superimposed over the color wheel to determine color harmony. These palettes offer rich contrast and balance.


Putting Your Palette To Use

So now that the palette is selected, how do we use it?

Once you have your main colors selected, create a palette by adjusting saturation in your two main colors and adding in a neutral. This supplies some variance in the intensity of your colors, but you don’t want to go overboard. Using too many colors can dilute the cohesion of your palette. A limit of 5 or 6 is generally plenty.

Take the split complementary harmony, which is both pleasing to look at and easy to work with. This palette has three main colors. To create an intentional and polished look, one color should be dominant. The other two will be used as secondary and tertiary accent colors. To flush out this palette we can add variances of our main hues and a neutral for balance.

A built out split complementary palette might look like this:


Adding more hues of your main colors doesn’t change the harmony that you’re using, but you will want to make sure you’re establishing balance. Color balance in the composition will create a more polished and professional-looking piece.

One easy rule of thumb for balancing your colors is the 60-30-10 Rule. Using this compositional guideline, sixty percent of the color on a given slide will be the dominant color. Use it for big shapes or recurring elements. The secondary color should make up about thirty percent of the color, while the tertiary color is used only for small accents and “pops” to grab attention.


Of course, not all content or brand guidelines will fit nicely into the 60-30-10 rule, so don’t be afraid to use your judgment. The best and worst thing about working with color is that there are very few hard & fast rules. The main tenets are: not too many , not too few and do it if it looks good to you.

Whether designing for website, marketing collateral or presentation, a good color palette begins to tell the story immediately and subliminally. Evoking emotion through color increases the effectiveness and memorability of the content. Selecting the right color palette for the message and the content is vital to communicating to the audience on both an intellectual and emotional level. Working with a color palette is a subjective matter, but starting from a solid palette and keeping balance in mind will set you off on the right track.

To read more about design theory in general and presentation design in particular, visit our blog, Visual Sugar.

About the Author:

Bethany Auck is the founder and creative director of SlideRabbit. SlideRabbit designs killer custom presentations and infographics.

Body Language Lessons From the Republican Debate

I was going to watch the first Republican debate anyway, but when CNN’s Gary Tuchman called and wanted me to watch it with him and comment – in order to provide a 3-minute segment on Anderson Cooper 360 Friday night – well, that sounded like more fun than chewing marbles and I couldn’t resist.

The ground rules were no politics, no rhetorical analysis (because all rhetoric is political) – just body language. And my immediate caveat is an important one to repeat here: we humans are much better at reading the body language of people we know well than people we don’t. That’s because we establish a base line of behavior with people we see often, and we notice the variations.

With relative strangers, it’s harder to tell if a particular twitch is base line or a strong indicator of some emotion. So my readings need to be taken with a giant pinch of the proverbial salt.

All that said, it was great fun to watch 10 people make their case to the American electorate – 10 people under enormous pressure, extremely high stakes, and very bright lights.

And that, of course, is why it is interesting to study body language in situations like the debate. We’re bound to see some fascinating behavior because people do reveal things under stress. But remember the caveat – these five lessons are provisional only, given my relative lack of familiarity with the candidates in questions.

OK, no more equivocation. Here are my five body language lessons from the first debate of the 2016 Presidential election season.  These lessons will be useful for anyone under stress, or lights, or scrutiny.

1. Come out strong. There’s no question in my mind that Donald Trump was the dominant figure in the debate in terms of body language, and he took charge right from the very start by being the only one to raise his hand in response to the question about supporting the eventual nominee.

Again, I’m not taking a position on the politics. Please, skip the hate mail. I’m just saying that Mr. Trump sucked most of the air out of the room by beginning with a strong emotion and a willingness to stand alone. On television, strong emotions play well; gentler emotions get run over. Mr. Trump’s take-no-prisoners approach to the moderators and his competitors meant that he was the most charismatic figure on the stage. Remember: charisma = focused emotion.

Mr. Trump was the most focused.

2. Everyone gets nervous. It’s what you do with it that counts. Governor Kasich took the longest to settle his nerves and give an emotionally consistent answer. The result? In body language terms, he looked weak. The problem with showing nerves is two-fold. First, you look timid, and everyone knows that the Commander-in-Chief needs to be cool, not timid, under pressure.

Second, you look inconsistent – and that’s potentially more serious. We want to know, can we trust this person who’s claiming our vote? And in the short run, our test for trust is consistency – of content and body language, words and emotion. So, if you say, I strongly believe in this policy or that idea, but you look nervous, it looks inconsistent, and we don’t trust you.

Of course, we expect people to start out a little nervous – that’s only human. But we also expect you to settle down after a few minutes, because that’s also human. So if you don’t get there after an answer or two, we start to wonder what’s wrong.

3. Don’t defer. One of the most interesting body language ‘tells’ of the night came from Governor Bush. In one of his first answers, he talked about his father and brother. When he mentioned both of them, he tipped his head to one side – a sign of deference.

Now, it’s natural for Governor Bush to defer to his father and brother – both have been presidents, after all. But deference doesn’t look like strength, and we typically look for strength from our candidates in these debates. Especially if you’re trying to differentiate yourself from nine other strong leaders. So for an early answer to be deferential is a strategic and body language mistake.

4. Don’t forget to breathe. One of the subtlest and most important signs of strength and authority comes from the voice. When we get nervous, we tend to breathe in shallow gasps, or forget to breathe at all. The result is that the voice gets strangled or nasal – or both. Dr. Carson’s voice was both strangled and nasal, and it undercut his authority.

To sound in charge, you have to breathe deeply from your diaphragm and support your voice.

5. Gesture first, then speak. One of the most dramatic gestures of the night came from Governor Walker, who was discussing babies and abortion. He cupped his hands together as if cradling a tiny child. It was a visually arresting gesture, and would have been very effective if it had come in the right sequence. The way our brains work is that we gesture first, when we’re doing it naturally, then speak, because gestures come from the unconscious mind.

Governor Walker was thinking consciously about his gesture, so it came a split second after he started talking about abortion. The result was that the gesture looked fake. If you want to look real, gesture first – then speak.

There were many, many more lessons in body language, both good and bad, from the first Republican debate. I’m embedding the CNN clip which addresses a few more of those, below, so that you can get a flavor of what we talked about. The good news, for body language nerds like me, is that the 2016 election season has begun, and that means many opportunities to learn from the best and the worst of body language under stress. Stay tuned!

Click here for the link to my analysis of body language in the debate.

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 www.publicwords.com

Create Grids of Tiled Images With SmartArt Picture Layouts

Can you imagine creating this slide in under 5 minutes?


Well you can, using SmartArt Picture Layouts.

 SmartArt Picture Layouts

Few people use or even know about the SmartArt picture layouts. They help you lay out multiple images in a preset pattern. They even crop the images for you! But you can change the cropping if you want. You can use them for:

You can probably think of more uses.

You’ll probably need to make some minor adjustments, but the final result should take less than 5 minutes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Choose your layout. I used Title Only.
  2. Choose Insert, Pictures if the photos are on your computer or Insert, Online Pictures if you have them in an online account. Mine are in Flickr which is connected to PowerPoint, so that’s where I went. I was able to search for “hand” and get a number of images showing hands.
  3. Spowerpoint-tips-grid-tiled-images-2elect the images that you want. Nine images worked well for me, but you can remove images easily. I started with 11 and then saw that they wouldn’t fit. Click Insert. The images appear on the slide, all selected.
  4. Click the Picture Tools Format tab and then choose Picture Layout. You’ll see the gallery of SmartArt Picture Layout options. You can hover over various options to see what they’ll look like. Choose one of the options that has large boxes, because these emphasize the images rather than text. Instantly, you have a grid of images, all the same size!
  5. If necessary, click the border of the SmartArt object and then resize and move it to fit on your slide.
  6. Then add the text. You can click the small arrow on the left side of the SmartArt border to open the text pane and add the text there. It’s quicker! If you aren’t using the text pane when you create SmartArt — any kind — you should try it out.

Making Adjustments

Here are 2 quick adjustments that I made. They use new shortcuts/techniques that you may not know.

  1. Some of the layouts put the text outside the image or on a solid shape, but this layout uses a semi-transparent text box. I like that, but I thought that the level of transparency was too high for good legibility.  I clicked one of the boxes, right-clicked and chose Format Shape. In the Fill section, I reduced the transparency to 35%. Then I selected the next box and pressed the F4 key (repeat). I continued in that way to change the transparency of all the boxes–it took just a few seconds.
  2. The cropping of one of the images didn’t suit me. It was a photo of a hand holding a match, but the light at the end had been cropped off. You can easily change the placement of a cropped image. I selected the image, clicked the Picture Tools Format tab, and clicked the Crop button. Then I simply dragged the image downward (press the Shift key to avoid moving diagonally) until the tip of the light was in the picture. Finally, I clicked outside the picture to end the cropping process.

    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 www.ellenfinkelstein.com

Why PowerPoint’s Critics Have it Wrong

I have a lot of designer buddies who think that PowerPoint is the most cumbersome, clunky piece-of-junk software that’s ever been written. When their clients come to them wanting a new PowerPoint theme or a redesigned presentation, they say “No problem!” Then bust their humps learning how to use PowerPoint so they can get through the project and keep on pretending they provide a full range of graphic design services.

Not me.

I’ve always liked PowerPoint. When I worked in an ad agency, I got all of the PowerPoint jobs because nobody else wanted them. Now that I have my own company,  I specialize in PowerPoint. Not “presentation design,” not Keynote and not Prezi. Plain old PowerPoint. And business has never been better.

Whether you’re an in-house designer, work in a design agency or run your own business, specializing in PowerPoint is a smart move. Here’s why:

#1 Other designers hate PowerPoint

PowerPoint is the world’s number-one presentation design software. Millions of people with no design background whatsoever create presentations every day. That means that there are potentially millions of opportunities to redesign these presentations or help people create new ones. Yet many designers turn PowerPoint business away because they never wanted to learn how to use the software. “Ew, Microsoft!”

Two words: job security. If you become a PowerPoint specialist then you get all the PowerPoint work that other designers don’t want. They don’t know what they’re missing, because…

#2 PowerPoint lets you be creative

PowerPoint has a lot going on. How many other tools allow you to manipulate photos; play with audio and video; draw complex shapes; create interactive, clickable files; and build sophisticated animation?

Not only can you create slides in PowerPoint, you can make movies and even do page layout. When you’re designing a slide, you’re solving the same kinds of problems designers have always tackled: How can you simplify complicated subjects? How do you effectively tell a story? What is the best composition for this particular layout? How can typography be used to get the message across? The only difference is that the medium is primarily onscreen.

#3 Your work can make a big difference for your clients

People use PowerPoint to score new sales, close deals, get investors interested in their new businesses, introduce new products, influence public opinion, teach, build membership etc. Great presentations can help organizations prosper.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to give your clients an advantage over their competitors? Professionally written and designed presentations can be so much more effective than those done by people with no formal training.

I hear it from my own clients all the time that after we’ve worked together their presentations are more effective, they’re seeing better results from their sales calls, their audiences have an easier time understanding complicated subjects and so on. I derive a lot of satisfaction knowing that I’m giving my clients a competitive edge.

There are a lot of opportunities to do creative, exciting work using PowerPoint. So I have come to love it when designers complain about clients who have PowerPoint projects they don’t want to do.

“Send them my way,” I always tell them. “Send them my way.”

About the Author:

Laura Foley helps people become more fluent in PowerPoint through workshops, consulting, and presentation design services. She has developed presentations and provided training for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Juniper Networks and the Harvard Business School. Her Cheating Death by PowerPoint training has been featured at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.  For more information, visit www.lauramfoley.com

How to Look Sleek With Smooth PowerPoint Transitions

A major problem that people have when creating presentations is a lack of fluidity and cohesiveness between slides. Not only do smooth transitions make the deck more aesthetically appealing, they also remove interruptions in the flow of information, which can give an audience an opportunity to tune out. Below I will discuss some transition techniques from a basic to a more advanced skill level. Test some of these out on your next presentation and seduce your audience into a state of both relaxation and attentiveness.

The Simple Fix 
Since people are generally more concerned with the style and content of their slides, they generally tend to neglect the transitions tab on their PowerPoint ribbon.

PowerPoint 2013 Transitions
PowerPoint 2010 Transitions


Applying these basic transitions is a simple and fast way to make your presentation look just a bit better. Look at the examples below to see the difference a fade transition can make. Without a transition, moving between slides feels a bit glitch and unplanned. Although it is a small touch, the transition makes things feel more professional. You can even check “apply to all” to quickly add this effect to all the slides in your deck.

Speaking of professionalism, if that is the look you’re going for I’d be careful when using the other preset transition effects. Even some that appear to be more basic such as wipe can look funny when applied to branding template. Not to say that you shouldn’t use them, but pay attention to how it affects any objects you may have on the top and bottom of your template.Some of the fancier ones may look cool on a slide or two if they have a specific relevance, but your audience is going to get sick of seeing the screen “shatter” or break into “random bars” if you use these effects throughout the presentation. Remember, you want to look sleek and smooth, not like a child who has just been given computer privileges in elementary school.

More Advanced Tricks

My personal favorite way to tie two slides together is to keep one (or more!) objects on screen from one slide to another. I like this because it forces you to use the same symbols to talk about the same topic, which facilitates understanding for your audience members. Below is a short presentation I’ve created to demonstrate some of these different techniques for you.


Slides 1-2

For this transition I kept the toy horse from the first slide to the second slide, but I shrunk it and moved it over to the left so I could add information to the story.

Start out by copying the object from the first slide to the second slide. It should paste in the exact same spot from which you copied it. If this is giving you trouble for some reason, you can also duplicate the slide (by pressing CTRL + D while the desired slide is selected) and deleting out all unwanted objects.

Now it’s just a case of manipulating the object to the right size and location. To shrink the horse and move it over to the left, I used a simultaneous combination of a motion path and grow/shrink animation. In order to do this, copy the object again. Now adjust the copy to the new desired size and location.

motion path and resize

Now is when those tiny little gray lines on your screen come in handy…also known as drawing guides. When you select the copied image (the one which is the size and position you are aiming for) four white boxes will appear around the edges.

Line up the drawing guides so they are centered within these boxes. This will give you an exact center point of your object. Knowing this will make your life much easier in the next step, because motion paths start and end points are concerned with an object’s centre.

Add a motion path animation that suits your needs (right, left, up, down, etc.). Now adjust the end point so that it is perfectly lined up with the center point that you’ve created with your drawing guides.

drawing guides

In order to resize the object you’ll have to do a bit of math. Open up the format tab and compare the sizes of the two objects. Calculate the percentage of size increase or decrease between your two objects.

Now add a grow/shrink animation on the object you are manipulating, and right click effect options in the animation pane. Adjust the size change to match the proportions.

Finally it’s just a bit of fine tuning. Ensure that both the motion path and the grow/shrink are occurring simultaneously by right-clicking on the grow/shrink and selecting “with previous.”

With both the motion path and the grow/shrink selected, right-click and select “effect options.” Adjust the smooth start and smooth end so that it is the matches for both animations. How much of a smooth start and a smooth end you apply is up to you, but make sure it is the same for both otherwise the effect will look jerky.

smooth start smooth end

For more information on how to master this and other tips, click here for all of our PowerPoint tricks

Slides 2-3

For the transition between second and third slide, the toy is already where I want it to be, however it isn’t facing the right direction. This is an easy fix.

Copy the object from the previous slide (so you are copying the copy you made last time) and paste it on to the succeeding slide.

Copy the object again and use go to Format>arrange>flip horizontal to make the image about face.

Now add an exit fade animation to the old copy, and an entrance fade on the new copy

Open up the animation pane, and right click so on the entrance fade animation, select “with previous” to make the two animations occur at the same time.

Personally I think this looks better if you put a slight delay between the fade out and fade in. I put a 0.25 second delay on the fade in.

Now you have to play with the alignment a little. Every object will be different, so try a few options to see what looks best. Some objects may look great right on top of one another. My toy horse looked best with the new copy a little right of center.

about face


Slides 3-4

This transition is a bit different than the previous too. Instead of manipulating an image I am manipulating what looks to be like the background. In reality it is a rectangle fit to the size of the slide and filled with the texture, but when you are in show mode it appears to be the background. The rectangle hasn’t done anything up until this point in the presentation, but now I’m going to move it in order to give off a panning effect.

Note: If you aren’t familiar with the “arrange” functions, this is where you go in order to play around with the layers in your slide. Select your background rectangle and go to arrange>send to back.

Start out with a slide that is completely blank other than your background rectangle.

Use a motion path to make the rectangle move in the desired direction. In the example I used down. I recommend sticking to either up, down, left or right in order to keep things looking neat.

Adjust the motion path to the exact desired ending position. You may want to pick back up on our tricks from slides 1-2, and make a copy of the rectangle in order to get a better idea of where you want it to be. For PowerPoint 2013 users this adjustment process will be easier because of the ghost that appears when you are playing with motion paths. I recommend using a copy anyway in order to spatially plan the rest of your slide.

These simple tricks help to make a simple PowerPoint presentation look more professional and polished.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Stodolski of Bright Carbon makes visual representations of information that would otherwise be far less exciting and engaging. She also is a proud member of the company’s newly-initiated USA team.


3 Ways to Determine What Your Audience Really Wants

Knowing what your audience truly desires is a critical success factor for any presentation meant to motivate or persuade. In order to influence your audience, connect your content to their wants and needs. Poorly informed assumptions about your audience’s hopes and fears results in an ineffective presentation.

This is the process I use to define audience desires:

1.    Ask the right questions
2.    Research
3.    Understand human behavior

1. Ask the right questions

Your audience will not change unless the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. You need to show how change is better than the alternative. To do this, you need to know your audience’s goals and challenges.

Assuming you have a dialogue with your audience (or someone representative of your audience), ask open-ended questions. Let them share as much as possible.


The following are effective open-ended questions to discover more about your audience’s goals and challenges:

1.    What is going on?
2.    Can you be more specific? Give me an example.
3.    How long has this been a problem?
4.    What has not solving the problem cost you?
5.    If you could wave a magic wand, what would the solution look like?
6.    Why haven’t you done this (solved the problem)?
7.    How do you feel about that?

Dr. Robert Frey, author of Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses, asks prospects and current customers a specific question, “How would you paint a picture of success now and going forward?” He listens closely to his audience’s response. His goal (and your goal) is to learn about the audience’s current state, what caused the current challenges, and what is the desired outcome—short and long term.

Recently I was teaching a workshop. In an effort to explain the difference between a feature and a benefit, I asked attendees to tell me why they own a drill. Most said, “To make a hole.” Surprisingly, one attendee replied, “To keep my father-in-law from coming over.”

When she needed a drill in the past, her father-in-law would arrive, drill in hand, and overstay his welcome. I would have never guessed her specific benefit had I not asked.

Because people can be guarded with information related to their hopes and fears, I ask them to tell a story about their challenges. Through stories people relive their challenge. Most importantly, they will relive how it felt to encounter and try to overcome it. Emotional responses reveal more about true desires and personal fears so you can uncover how to connect your solution with their objectives by listening to their story.

Images are another way to get to the heart of a challenge. Sketch a solution and you will quickly discover disconnects between your suggestion and what the audience really desires. You do not have to be a great artist like Michelangelo to do this. Draw a rough sketch and walk your audience through your idea. Then ask them, “What am I missing?”

Images are another way to get to the heart of a challenge. Sketch a solution and you will quickly discover disconnects between your suggestion and what the audience really desires. You do not have to be a great artist like Michelangelo to do this. Draw a rough sketch and walk your audience through your idea. Then ask them, “What am I missing?”


2. Research

Search online for articles and information your target audience has posted. Explore relevant websites, blogs and LinkedIn groups. Find people who have a relationship with your audience and ask questions (e.g., friends, colleagues, vendors). Seek different perspectives. The more you understand their world, the more likely you are to determine their real goals and challenges.

My research helps me choose words and images for my presentations that reflect the audience. In turn, they will see themselves in my presentation and connect the content to what they really want.

3. Understand human behavior

Behavioral psychology teaches us that decisions are not as logical as we want them to be. In fact, all decisions our audiences make must involve their emotions. Our audiences’ choices are driven by a combination of conscious and subconscious (emotional) thoughts.

Herbert A. Simon, Nobel Prize winning scholar at the Carnegie Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, studied corporate decision-making and found that people often ignored formal decision-making models because of time constraints, incomplete information, the inability to calculate consequences and other variables. Intuitive judgment was the process for most decisions.

Neurologist Antonio Damasio reviewed research on patients with damaged ventromedial frontal cortices of the brain, which impaired their ability to feel but left their ability to think analytically intact. Damasio discovered that the patients were unable to make rational decisions even though their ability to reason was fully functional. He concluded that reasoning “depends, to a considerable extent, on a continual ability to experience feelings.”

For example, would you buy from someone you did not trust? Trust is an emotion. We feel it in our gut (subconscious). The science behind making decisions proves that, although we are not logical, we are mostly predictable in the choices we will make.

Understanding human behavior gives you insight into why your audiences choose what they choose. It helps you select which intrinsic elements must be addressed (and how) to improve the likelihood of a win.  I recommend reading the following books to learn more about behavioral psychology and how to use it to create effective proposals:

1.    Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely
2.    Nudge, Richard H. Thaler
3.    The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

I use graphics to make clear, compelling, award-winning presentations. My understanding of human behavior supports the benefits of visual communication. For example, based on mountains of research (and personal experience) the quality of the presentation communicates the quality of the content and the presenter.

Humans cannot isolate emotions from decision-making. Knowing how our audiences think improves success by connecting stated goals with unstated desires.

By far, the best path to understanding what your audience really wants is by asking the right questions; however, science tells us that our audience may not want to or may not be able to articulate their true wants or needs. For this reason, use research and an understanding of human behavior to fill the gaps and connect the dots for your audience. Do this and you will be more successful.

About the Author:

Mike Parkinson is an internationally-recognized visual communications guru and presentation expert, professional trainer and award-winning author. He is a partner at 24 Hour Company, which specializes in proposals and presentations. His Billion Dollar Graphics website and Get My Graphic website share best practices and helpful tools.

Use Pop-Up Text To Highlight Slide Content

powerpoint--tips-add-pop-up-text-to-explain-slide-1Sometimes you need to explain a specific area of a chart or diagram. This is hard to do either by just talking about it or adding general text, because neither points to the specific area you are referencing. One choice many presenters make is to use a laser pointer. The laser pointer has a couple of disadvantages:

  • You have to face the slide with your back to the audience.
  • It’s almost impossible to keep the pointer still, distracting the audience.

A better option is to add an arrow or circle around the area and animate it it to appear when you click anywhere on the slide. The problem with this solution is that you may not always want to discuss the chart or diagram in the exact same way. So if you have 3  arrows, sometimes you want arrow 3 to appear first but other times you want arrow 1 to appear first. With simple animation, the animation always occurs in the same order.

Another issue is that you might want the shape (such as the arrow or circle) to contain text and those shapes make it hard to fit much text.

So how do you add pop-up text that can appear in any order you choose?

The Power Of Triggers

Triggers let you specify that an animation happens when you click an object on the slide. So you can control in which order an object appears.

I think that a great use for triggers is to add explanations to a chart. There’s one problem though – the chart isn’t made up of separate objects and I don’t usually recommend pulling it apart,  in case your data changes or you need to change the layout. So instead you can put invisible or almost invisible objects nearby and click on them.


Here’s the original slide. It uses the 2-Content layout so that the chart is on the left and the explanation is on the right. But this makes the chart too small to see clearly and as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t an easy way to specify which part of the chart each line of text relates to.


Instead, you could use callouts, which are shapes that point at something and are meant to hold text. Here’s what the slide looks like with the callouts.


I think this is a better slide because the chart is much clearer (bigger) and the comments now point to the right place. Here are the steps to making the callouts appear when you want them to:

  1. Create the callouts with their text. You’ll find them from the Shapes gallery, under Callouts. I used the Rounded Rectangular Callout. You can not only resize them, but drag the little yellow square or diamond at the point so that it points where you want it to.
  2. Display the Animations tab.
  3. Select one of the callouts. Click Add Animation and choose Appear from the Entrance section. (In PowerPoint 2007, choose the Animations tab and click Custom Animation. Choose Add Effect, Entrance, Appear. If Appear isn’t on the list, choose More Effects, then choose Appear and click OK.)
  4. Do the same for the other callouts.
  5. Create a shape that you’ll click to trigger the animation. It can be any shape. Drag it on top of the area that you want to bring attention to. Note: When you add the shape, make sure that the chart isn’t selected, because you can lock it inside the chart–a frustrating situation in some cases. Also, you might have difficulty selecting the shape later–in that case, either click off the chart and drag a selection that includes the entire shape or select any object and press the Tab key to cycle through the objects.
  6. You can make the shape invisible by right-clicking and choosing Format Shape. Then set its line to No Line and set its fill to any color, increasing the transparency to 100%. If you discover (after setting the trigger) that you can’t find it, set it to 98% or 99% transparency or give the shape a color that is almost the same as your background (a very light gray worked well on my white background). 
  7. powerpoint--tips-add-pop-up-text-to-explain-slide-4Tip: You’re going to have to select which object you’ll click to make the trigger work and with several callouts and several objects to click, it can be hard to figure out which is which. So start naming your objects. On the Home tab in the Editing group, click Select, then Selection Pane.
    Click the object you wanted to select to see it highlighted in the Selection pane. Then click that object, select the default name and choose another one that is more meaningful. Do this for all of your shapes and you’ll have an easier time of it. Here you can see the names I gave my objects.
  8. In PowerPoint 2010 and 2013, click Animation Pane on the Animations tab to display it. In all versions (2007  & later), select the 1st callout and you’ll see it selected in the Animation pane. Click the down arrow to its right (in the Animation pane) and choose Timing to display the Timing tab of the animation’s dialog box.
  9. powerpoint--tips-add-pop-up-text-to-explain-slide-5Click the Triggers button if its options aren’t visible and choose Start Effect on Click of. Then click the down arrow to the right and choose the shape you created–the one you want to click to make the callout appear. Then click OK. Repeat this process to connect all of your callouts with all of your clickable shapes. Here you can see that my callout will appear when I click the object called “advances.”
  10. People often don’t want all of the callouts on the slide at once and you can add animation to make them disappear. One way to do this is to add an animation to the callouts that makes them disappear and set the trigger to the same objects that make them appear.
    In this way, you can click once to make the callout appear and again to make it disappear. To add a Disappear animation to a callout in 2010 & 2013, select it and choose Add Animation on the Animations tab. Then choose Disappear from the Exit group. In 2007, choose Add Effect, Exit, Disappear.  Finally, apply a trigger in the same was you did before.

Watch the Demo!

Here you can see how I run through this slide, clicking to display a callout and again to make it disappear. I could do that in any order.

 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 www.ellenfinkelstein.com

How to Do Custom Image Cropping in PowerPoint

We’re often asked whether it’s possible to ‘cut out’ images in PowerPoint. Well the good news is that it is, and the even better news is that I’ve written this guide to show you how it’s done.  

To Crop an Image to a Square or Rectangle

1. Select your image.

2. In the Picture Tools ribbon, select ‘Crop’

3. Resize the cropped section using the Black V handles that appear, resize the image itself by using the white circle handles, and move the image within the cropped area by dragging the image itself.

Monkey 1


To Crop an Image to a Simple Shape (a circle, triangle, arrow etc.)

1. Select your image.

2. In the Picture Tools ribbon, click on the small arrow underneath the ‘Crop’ button to display more options.

3. Choose ‘Crop to Shape’ from this menu, and select whichever shape you require.

4. By default, PowerPoint stretches your chosen shape to cover the entire image. To change the size, shape or position of the cropped area, click on ‘Crop’ again.

5. Resize and reshape the cropped section using the Black V handles that appear, resize the image itself by using the white circle handles, and move the image within the cropped area by dragging the image itself.


This technique can also be used to highlight an area on an image (as shown below). Before you begin, create a duplicate version of your shape and apply an effect to it (such as recoloring, blurring, etc.). Place this version of your image behind the one you want to crop. Make sure you line both images up before you start on step one.

To Crop An Image to a Custom Drawn Shape (not in the Autoshapes menu)

1. Draw a custom (Freeform) shape over your chosen image, tracing out the part of the image you want to keep. Here I’ve drawn around the monkey. The freeform tool is found in the Autoshapes menu. To create a shape, make regular clicks along the outline of your chosen object to drop points – think of it like a child’s dot-to-dot picture.


2. Make sure you close the path of your custom shape by double-clicking after your final point is dropped. If you don’t, right-click on your shape, choose ‘Edit points’, then right-click again on any of the points you’ve made and click ‘Close Path’.

3. Once you’re happy with the outline you’ve created, you need to fill your shape with a version of your image. Right-click on the original image and click ‘Copy’ (or press Ctrl+C on your keyboard) this will copy it to your clipboard.

4. Now select your drawn shape and right-click on it. Choose ‘Format Shape’.

5. Select ‘Fill’ then ‘Picture or texture fill.’

6. Click on ‘Clipboard’.

7. By default, PowerPoint shrinks your image to fit inside your shape. To change make it look right, you need to stretch the image inside your shape back to its original size.


8. Click on your shape, then click ‘Crop’ from the Picture Tools ribbon.

9. Use the white circle handles that appear to stretch the image to match the original behind it. Don’t move the black V handles or you’ll lose your drawn shape.


10. Once the image inside you shape matches the one behind, you can delete the original image from behind (or leave it there and apply an effect to it as I suggest above). You can also remove any outline that might your freeform shape may have had.


If your freeform shape doesn’t look quite right, you can right-click on it and select ‘Edit points’. This will allow you to move individual points to alter the outline until you get it right.

If your shape’s edges look a little jagged, you might want to add a drop shadow or apply the ‘soft edges’ effect. This will blur the edges a little, giving it a slicker look. You can now sit your cropped image on top of another, or leave it just as it is – either way, it’s a cool technique that you’ll use time and time again.

About the Author:

Kieran Chadha is a senior consultant for Bright Carbon, bringing cinematic magic to the company’s presentations and traveling the world training and coaching.

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