10 Places to Find Reliable Data for Presentations and Infographics

To find reliable data for presentations and infographics, you need to branch out beyond your everyday Google searches. The best data comes directly from the original source of the information, and your average Google searches typically only produce second-hand sources.

For quality data that you can confidently reference in your presentations, infographics, and other content pieces such as Ebooks and podcasts, check out the 10 resources below.

1. The Guardian Data Blog (official site)

Data journalism and data visualization from the Guardian

Tip: If you want to take your data savviness to the next level, sign up for the Presenting Data Master Class offered by The Guardian.

2. The United States Census Bureau (official site)

Quick, easy access to facts about people, business, and geography

Tip:  If you prefer to review data in a visual form, you’re in luck; The U.S. Census Bureau has a Data Visualization Library.

3. Kaiser Family Foundation Global Health Facts (official site)

Non-partisan source of facts, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public

Tip: Visit the graphics and interactive section of this site for videos, quizzes, and interactive infographics.

4. World Health Organization (official site)

WHO’s portal providing access to data and analyses for monitoring the global health situation

Tip: If you’re not sure where to begin on this tremendous site, start by reviewing the Publications section.

5. Data.gov (official site)

Home of the U.S. Government’s open data

Tip: Instead of heading straight to the Data section, start by selecting a Topic to focus your research.

6. Google Scholar (official site)

A simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature

Tip: After you enter your search query, use the filters to the left of the search results to weed out unusable materials.

7. Topsy (official site)

A social search and analytics tool

Tip:  Before you jump right into a search query via the homepage search bar, check out the Social Analytics section.

8. HubSpot Marketing Statistics and Data (official site)

All the marketing statistics you need

Tip: Download HubSpot’s resource, 120 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts, & Graphs.

9. Nielsen (official site)

Insights and data about what people watch, listen to and buy

Tip: To get started, check out the Top 10 lists.

10. Radicati Group (official site)

Quantitative and qualitative research on email, security, instant messaging, social networking, information archiving, regulatory compliance, wireless technologies, web technologies, unified communications, and more

Tip: Download the free executive summaries of their most recent reports.

About the Author:

Leslie Belknap is the marketing director for Ethos3, a presentation design and training company.  For more information about the organization’s services, visit www.ethos3.com

Each Time You Present a Lifetime of Baggage Comes With You

Recently I had an opportunity to do some personal presentation skills coaching with Michael. That’s not his real name but his story could be your story, your manager’s or maybe even your company president’s.

Michael certainly made a very polished first impression as he walked in.  He was well groomed and very executive looking in his well-tailored suit. “Feel free to take off your jacket,” I told him.  He politely declined.

During the first 15 minutes with a new client, I always spend some time to try to understand who’s sitting in front of me.  I learned a long time ago  I’m never just working in the moment – I’m working with the sum total of someone’s life experiences; both good and bad, acknowledged and deeply buried.

“I wasn’t completely honest with you about setting up this time.” he continued. “And there was a reason I kept putting off this personal coaching time. Even the thought of presenting is terrifying to me and has been for as long as I can remember.”

Not much explanation was needed.  You see, I had experienced this many times before over the years.

During one coaching session a senior executive recalled an extreme presentation embarrassment 50 years earlier as he stood in front of his 6th grade class…with everyone laughing.

After a speaking gig, a young senior account representative in a large PR firm pulls me aside and asks about her incapacitating fear in front of clients.  “I completely freeze up,”  she confides.  “What’s happening to me?”

Then out of the blue a few years back, a senior officer in a large company calls me looking for some insight into his debilitating anxiety when presenting to his Board; other presentation settings were never an issue.  His coping mechanism?  Xanax for the anxiety and avoidance whenever possible.

Baggage for All

We are all the sum total of our life experiences.

I find few people who relish presenting, but for most they find a way to cope, some surviving the moment at best. For others, however, the pressure of an important presentation brings back old tapes, deeply internalized embarrassments, harsh words or confidence that has been systematically dismantled over decades by the relationship with a parent.

And it’s precisely these moments that I realize that no matter how good I may be as a personal presentation coach, I am woefully inadequate in untangling issues that have ensnared people for most of their lives.

So my counsel to them and maybe you is pretty much the same.

I can help them work on the outside and very visible manifestations of their fear. But for the stuff on the inside, presenters owe it to themselves to better understand what’s going on, if for no other reason than to live a more fulfilling life. One that isn’t metered by fear and anxiety.

So whether you’re simply a survivor of anxiety or have never turned the corner on overwhelming fear, know this…personal victories in this area can and do happen.

I’ve seen breakthroughs change people’s lives through a partnership of a coach and a clinician, all focused on helping individuals overcome the things they fear most. Deeply held anxiety slowly mitigated not only by meaningful insight, but also a client seeing with his or her own eyes a more confident, polished presenter on the video playback in front of them.

They can’t believe it’s them.  Old tapes slowly rewritten.  Self-defeating scripts joyfully discarded. Confidence blossoming.

And most of us have experienced this important truth – avoidance is not a very successful strategy.  Because presenting our thoughts and ideas to others will be something we will be asked to do the rest of our lives. And there simply aren’t enough places to hide.

So if this article strikes a little close to home for you… maybe it’s time to go to “baggage” claim.  Check your tag carefully, and finally find someone to help you carry it all to the curb.

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 www.distinction-services.com

4 Presentation Design Trends: Fads or Here to Stay?

Change is inevitable. Over the last decade, the presentations we produce, the tools and processes we use and the industry as a whole has evolved. Specifically, presentation graphics and methods for making them are changing.

As with all change, some will stay with us (e.g. the Internet) and others are merely a fad (e.g. the pet rock). The following are today’s top four presentation design trends:

1. Infographics

2. Flat Design

3. Photographs

4. Visual Metaphors

Let’s determine if they are here to stay.

1. Infographics

The ubiquity of infographics has spilled into the presentation industry. It is important to note that the strictest definition of an infographic is any graphic that clarifies or explains.
Recently, the term infographic has become synonymous with a specific style of graphic (and not a definition), rendered as an aesthetically simple and flat image using quantitative data to educate and persuade.

Displaying PowerPoint_Infographic_web.jpg

Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (www.GetMyGraphic.com)

A successful infographic requires its content and messages to be clear and concise so the final graphic is simple and easy to follow. Unfortunately, many presentation infographics I have seen are cluttered and confusing. The message is unclear and text has been replaced with a smattering of ambiguous icons and symbols.


Use infographics sparingly in your presentations. Do them well or don’t do them at all.  Start with a simple message. All content must support that simple message. Use simple
icons your audience will recognize. Images should complement and highlight your content and not distract or muddle your message. Infographics work best when quantitative evidence tells a clear, compelling story.

The push to get to the point and provide (quantitative and qualitative) proof is here to stay. However, the current infographic aesthetic is a trend. As with all aesthetic trends, it will evolve over time.

2. Flat Design

Flat design is seen as the modern graphic style due to the popularity of small electronic devices. To improve content legibility on hand-held devices, aesthetic embellishments such as highlights, depth, and shadows were eliminated.

The opposite of flat design is realism (skeuomorphism).

Displaying Flat-vs.-Realistic_web.jpg

Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (www.GetMyGraphic.com)

Both styles have pros and cons. For example, flat graphics are associated with newer design; therefore, applying this style subconsciously conveys the message that your company and solution are modern and innovative. Because of its plainness, flat design is often less expensive and time-consuming to produce. On the other hand, flat design can oversimplify or under explain critical pieces of information. Flat graphics limit aesthetic choices, making it difficult to highlight important or subtle concepts.

Skeuomorphism can communicate the realness of your solution. Because realistic visuals are often considered more labor intensive and superior than simple designs, using a more realistic style can improve the perceived quality of your company and solution as well as demonstrate your commitment to the project.


There is a time and a place for both flat and realistic graphics. With a skilled designer, you can mix both into one template to reap the benefits of each style. For example, you could use flat icons with realistic graphics within your slide deck. Be sure that your decision to choose flat and/or realistic graphics is driven by objective goals (e.g., legibility, customer perception/preference, messaging, brand standards).

3. Photographs

It is common to see a slide with a single photograph and minimal—if any—text. Using a single image to reinforce or replace content places more emphasis on emotional factors. Less textual content (e.g., bullets, sentences, paragraphs) also forces audiences to turn their attention to the presenter.

Displaying pict_web.jpg

Slide courtesy of Fotolia (Fotolia.com)


Dominant photographs are here to stay for three reasons:

1. The focus is on the presenter to give the narrative.

2. Pictures tell stories. Stories are one of the most powerful presentation techniques because stories are felt not heard.

3. It is a relatively inexpensive, easy approach to slide design.

The style of the photographs, placement, and cropping will evolve with stylistic trends of the time. (Because this aesthetic approach does not work well for technical information, expect related slides to be text and graphic-based.)

4. Visual Metaphors

Using a visual metaphor, simile or analogy helps the audience understand complex information. For example, explaining a transition plan to an audience unfamiliar with the concept is challenging at best. Using a visual metaphor, such as a bridge, improves understanding by using a familiar concept that shares characteristics with that which is being compared. A deeper understanding improves retention, adoption and persuasion.

Displaying slide2_web.jpg

Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (www.GetMyGraphic.com)


Popular books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational help presenters use behavioral psychology and learning theory to evolve best practices in our industry. We will see more sophisticated visual metaphors, similes and analogies as presentation design matures.

Because they are stylistic trends, expect the popularity of infographics and flat design to wane over time but remain far into the future. The lessons presentation designers learn from these stylistic trends will be folded into future trends.

Using more sophisticated photographs, images, icons, and graphics will increase. Sites like Get My Graphic (http://www.getmygraphic.com), Fotolia (http://fotolia.com) and iStockPhoto (http://www.istockphoto.com) make it easier to add professional clear, compelling graphics and photographs to slides. The more these approaches are proven effective, the more we will see of them.

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.

For a Great Presentation, Practice the 10/20/30 Rule

Guy Kawasaki is a technology guru and venture capitalist who listens to a lot of presentations from entrepreneurs seeking money for start-up ventures.  The overwhelming majority of the presentations he hears are, as he says, “crap.”

And so he demands that all presentations at his business, Garage Technology Ventures, follow what he calls the “10/20/30 rule.”  It’s a rule that should be embraced by anyone  who wants to connect with audiences.

The rule states that all presentations should be limited to 10 slides, 20 minutes, and have no words on the slides smaller than 30-point type.  I love the rule because it keeps you out of the weeds by forcing you to keep your message focused on key issues.

1) Limit Your Presentation to 10 slides. Too many of us create presentations by opening up PowerPoint, picking a template, and typing. Before long, we have a “presentation” with 40 slides.

I was coaching an executive once as he prepared to speak at an industry event.  He arrived at our practice session with 60 slides for a 45-minute presentation.  Flipping through, I noted that every slide was loaded with bullet points.

“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Would you want to listen to this presentation?”

“Well . . . , ” he muttered, seeming startled. “I guess not.”

His presentation was packed with too much information.  Limiting your message to 10 slides forces you to answer the question “What do I really want to say?” PowerPoint has no template for that question.

2) Speak For No More Than 20 Minutes.  When Kawasaki listens to a pitch for start-up capital, he allocates an hour.  Limiting the pitch to 20 minutes allows for 40 minutes of Q&A. As Kawasaki knows, all presentations improve with lots of Q&A.

Last weekend I went fishing in Tampa with a guide named Rick. He told me that one way he markets his business is by giving presentations on how to catch fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I usually speak for about fifteen minutes and then take questions,” he said. “I’ve found that people have a lot more fun at my presentations when they get to ask questions.”

That’s a nice lesson in hooking an audience from a professional fisherman.

3) No Slides with Words Smaller than 30-Point Type.  For many people, this seems impossible. You can’t get more than five or six words on a line with 30-point type.

But all businesses should mandate this rule. Smaller type  is so hard to read that it becomes distracting.

To me, corporate America tolerates tiny type on slides in the same way that mill town residents tolerate the stench that fills their community.  It’s so prevalent that everyone just gets used to it and no one even notices anymore.

But your slides will be far more effective if you minimize your bullets and keep your type size big.

And if you follow the 10/20/30 rule, your presentations will be a breath of fresh air to all.

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.

How to Customize Colors in Slide Masters

I see lots of messy presentations when I work with my clients. One of the areas that tends to be a disaster is the slide master. Some of the problems I see are:

  • powerpoint-tips-customize-colors-4Multiple slide masters caused by copying and pasting slides from other presentations and choosing the Keep Source Formatting option.
  • Objects put on the slide master so that they appear on slides that shouldn’t have them, which are then covered up on the slide.
  • The opposite: objects that should be put on the slide master put on every individual slide — or many of them — making for a huge file.
  • Lack of the needed custom layouts in the slide master, requiring manual adjustments on many slides.

Colors Are An Easy Fix and Time Saver

But one problem that I almost always see is that the slide masters use the default colors — colors that are not used in the presentation — and this means that the colors of objects need to be manually changed on each slide. These objects include shapes, charts, SmartArt diagrams and more.

Once you have the colors you need, creating slides will be much quicker and they’ll look better, too.

Here’s the procedure for customizing colors in PowerPoint by setting your theme’s color to the colors you actually want to use.

Decide on your colors.  If you don’t have colors from other materials, such as your website, read “Find colors for your PowerPoint theme colors.” Also see “Copying colors from a website.”

In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click the Design tab and choose Colors. In PowerPoint 2013, click the View tab, then click Slide Master and then choose Colors.

At the bottom of the list, choose Customize Colors. If you aren’t particular about your colors, or you don’t have exact specifications, you can choose one of the options on the list that is similar to what you want and then choose Customize Colors.

http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/estore/5-valuable-training-webinars-2013.htmlIn the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, type a name for your theme colors at the bottom. The first four colors are dark and light options for text and background. Often, you can leave these as is — PowerPoint uses them to make sure that your text is always a good contrast against your slide background.

The last two items are for hyperlinks and followed hyperlinks. PowerPoint uses them when you add a hyperlink to text. I rarely hyperlink text — I prefer to hyperlink shapes and put the text on the shapes because I don’t like the look of the underlined text. So I usually just change Accents 1 through 6. These are your main colors for shapes, charts, etc.

Click each of the accent colors in turn and choose More Colors. In the Colors dialog box, click the Custom tab if it isn’t displayed. The custom tab is where you can specify Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color specifications.


Type the Red, Green and Blue numbers (they can be from 0 to 255) in the appropriate text boxes. You’ll see the resulting color under the New label. Click OK.

Back in the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, click Save. (To edit existing theme colors, right-click the set from the Colors drop-down list on the ribbon and choose Edit. This opens the Edit Theme Colors dialog box, which is the same as the Create New Theme Colors dialog box.)

In PowerPoint 2013, on the Slide Master tab, click the Close Master View button.

You’ll probably want to save the result as a theme, especially if you’ve made other changes to the slide master. On the Design tab, click the More button at the right side of the Themes gallery and choose Save Current Theme. In the dialog box, type a name and click Save. Your new theme will now be available on the Design tab in the Custom section.

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 her website at www.ellenfinkelstein.com

9 Ways Salespeople Leave Money on the Table with Virtual Presentations

That quota you’re carrying…does it ever get lighter? I didn’t think so. Read on.

Whether you love or hate web and video conferencing, you’re leaving money on the table if it’s not in the go-to-market arsenal of your business.

To make the most of your time, money, and relationships, avoid these 9 mistakes:

Mistake #1: Abandoning face-to-face meetings

“Present to anyone anywhere, save travel costs” has been the mantra of the conferencing industry for a long time.

It is not that this is not true. It’s just that it would be irresponsible to the sales profession to abandon face-to-face meetings.

Mistake #2: Not using web/video conferencing at all

In a recent session working with a team, one rep piped up with, “But I like to meet people, shake hands, get to know them.” I didn’t even have to reply, because one of his teammates chimed in, “Yeah, but my customers are sometimes saying, ‘Can’t we avoid getting everybody together and just knock this out in a web meeting?”

It is equally irresponsible to avoid web and video conferencing. You actually increase the service you provide when you save your prospects and customers time and money.

Mistake #3: Using web/video conferencing every time you make a phone call

Just because your specialty is field sales doesn’t mean you don’t use the telephone, right?

Here’s the big “but”: Using web or video conferencing is a visual extension and/or improvement of that phone call…but do not waste time putting together PowerPoint or scheduling a video conference if it’s not needed.

Mistake #4: Not saving your client time

Once during a training session for a Fortune 500 team, one of the reps was giving me a hard time (“It’s not like being there,” like I’ve never heard that before).

I didn’t have to answer him. One of his peers spoke up, and she said, “Joe, I’ve got clients asking for it. Sometimes we can just get something done in 30 minutes. They don’t have to go book a conference room or feel like they’ve have to ‘do lunch.’ ”

Mistake #5: Not being ready with a backup plan

Imagine this: Flight number one is late, and you missed the connecting flight for your presentation.

Rescheduling the presentation doesn’t have to be your only option. (Read these tips for being ready to present virtually while traveling).

Mistake #6: Not accelerating the sales cycle

Having all the decision makers and influencers in the room isn’t always possible. Doing more appointments and/or making more calls take more time.

Answer: Get everybody in the same virtual room.

Mistake #7: Not including other team members

If the deal’s large, the sales engineer or senior exec will travel with you, but many times the appointment doesn’t warrant that. Unless all they needed to do was join virtually.

What’s the value of your CTO dropping in for 10 minutes to provide a personal comment? High.

Mistake #8: Not adapting to the medium

A change in the medium of communication changes the experience for both you and your clients. Any change of medium loses something (everybody gets that), but it also gains something.

Learn your virtual presentation tools. You’ll likely discover something you can do better virtually than in-person.

Mistake #9: Not growing your presentation design skills

Of the brain’s computing power allocated for our five senses, half is dedicated to vision. It’s a cliche’, but sometimes a picture is literally worth a thousand words, and research proves that complex or intangible ideas are often better communicated visually.

Why does this grow in importance online?

You don’t “work the room” in the same way. There is more focus on your slides to communicate key ideas.

The bottom line

Web and video conferencing isn’t the answer to world hunger, but when you look at it through the eyes of business owner and value creator, they are uniquely irreplaceable assets in your bag of tricks.

As some total slouch named Sun Tzu put it,

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

About the Author:

Roger Courville speaks, trains, consults, and writes about psychosocial effectiveness when communicating via web, audio and video conferencing. He is a  veteran of the web conferencing industry (since the modem days of 1999) and has taught tens of thousands people worldwide, reaching thousands more with writing appearances and interviews. For more information about his services and thought leadership, visit Roger’s website, The Virtual Presenter

PowerPoint’s Upgrade for the iPad: Pros and Cons

Last month Microsoft announced that it was offering free upgraded versions of its Office software for iPhones and iPads. This is big news, because until recently people were only able to view, not edit, Office docs on their iDevices.

Microsoft saw the writing on the wall and decided to go with a “freemium” model. Users can still do a lot of stuff with the free versions, but for all the premium features you need to pay for an Office 365 subscription.

So what can you do with the free version of PowerPoint on an iPad? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

A Different Experience

I didn’t test the iPhone version of the PowerPoint app because I knew that the tiny size of its screen compared to that of the iPad would quickly drive me crazy. I opted for the eyeball-friendly iPad version.

I found the experience of designing a presentation on a tablet kind of like using an Etch-a-Sketch. Once I got used to it, though, things went pretty smoothly.

It’s clear that Microsoft set out to transform PowerPoint into a native iPad app. There are certain tablet-specific commands, such as pinching the screen to zoom in and spreading your fingers out on the screen to zoom out, that are helpful. The interface is clean and intuitive, making it seem right at home on an iPad.

Some of the Highlights:

  • You can link your Dropbox account to the app so that you can access your presentation from any device.
  • Your files are set to autosave, so you don’t have to keep remembering to save your work (unless you’re a masochist, in which case you can disable the autosave function).
  • When you open existing presentations on the iPad, all of the transitions and animations are preserved.
  • In Slide Show mode there is a “laser pointer” that you can access by holding your finger down on the screen.
  • It’s easy to add video, shapes, tables, and pictures to your presentations.

Some of the Lowlights:

While they weren’t enough to make me want to skim my iPad out the window, I did notice a few bothersome details worth mentioning.

  • Once you insert a slide, its layout seems to be set. I couldn’t find any way to change slide layouts other than to start over with a new slide with the layout you want.
  • Audio is not supported in the PowerPoint app. Get ready for silent movies!
  • You need to have an Office 365 subscription to be able to see your slides in the Presenter View, with the notes.
  • You can only use photos and clipart that are already on your Camera Roll or Photo Stream. Unlike with the desktop version, there’s no access to the Office.com image library.

The Bottom Line

This is a free app with some amazing functionality. Even if you don’t opt for the paid Office 365 subscription, you can still create, edit, and present professional-looking slides from your iDevice.

About the Author:

Laura Foley helps people to be more awesome at PowerPoint through workshops, consulting, and presentation design services. She has developed presentations and provided training for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions/General Dynamics, 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. Laura also has been a featured speaker at HOW Design Live, the largest conference for creative professionals in the world. For more information, visit her website at www.lauramfoley.com

Perfectionism and Public Speaking

Is it good to be a perfectionist? Perfectionists would say yes, of course; it leads to better results in work and life.

The psychologists say it leads to misery, and a higher risk of suicide. A specialist in the field, Professor Gordon Flett of York University, has written a book on the subject, and a recent article in Review of General Psychology. The titles are revealing: Perfectionism: Theory, Research, and Treatment. And the recent article: The Destructiveness of Perfectionism Revisited: Implications for the Assessment of Suicide Risk and the Prevention of Suicide.

Those titles at least let you know how Gordon feels about the personality trait.

Of course he’s right. As someone who has struggled with perfectionist tendencies all his life, I know what it means to endlessly replay scenes in my head of things I have done that could have – should have – gone better.

Perfectionism is especially troublesome for public speakers. Speakers have good days and bad days like everyone else; they just have them in front of a crowd. So if we weren’t already perfectionists before we started speaking, we might well become more so. Who wants to make mistakes publicly?

The other day, in a speech, I was talking about emotion and meetings – showing up with a clear, focused emotion as a way of increasing your impact and charisma in the meeting. It’s the subject of one of the chapters in my new book, Power Cues. I got a question from the audience: “You’ve given the examples of excitement, or anger, as possible emotions to focus on before a speech. It strikes me that it’s hard to think of many others. That seems a bit narrow in range. Can you suggest a few more appropriate emotions?”

In retrospect, I could have laughed it off, or asked the audience for suggestions, or even teased the questioner for having such a limited emotional palette. Instead, I stood there, rooted to the spot, unable to think up any other emotions. (Fear or empty-headedness didn’t seem like worthwhile suggestions.)

It’s one of those moments that perfectly captures the problem with being a perfectionist public speaker. You feel that it’s your job to be able to answer all the questions the audience has, perfectly. When you can’t – because you’re human – you beat yourself up afterward for being imperfect. Forever, or at least until a fresh failure drives the previous one out of your head.

I love Professor Flett’s list of “ten signs your a perfectionist,” below. I check most of them off, including number ten, which was really hard to leave in the blog post as is, in order for you to get the joke.

1. You can’t stop thinking about a mistake you made.

2. You are intensely competitive and can’t stand doing worse than others.

3. You either want to do something just right or not at all.

4. You demand perfection from other people.

5. You won’t ask for help if asking can be perceived as a flaw or weakness.

6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.

7. You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.

8. You are highly aware of other people’s demands and expectations.

9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people.

10.You noticed the error in the title of this list.

Perfectionism freezes you up, afraid to risk making mistakes. But public speaking is one big risk, and it’s never perfect. There is always something to go wrong, whether it’s the sound, or the lights, or the slides, or the speaker, or the talk – there are simply too many human moving parts for the whole thing to go perfectly.

Of course you have to try to do your best. But once you put your speech out there, you have to be willing to let go of your perfectionism. For the sake of your mental health, as well as your performance.

Focus instead on the guts of your talk, your purpose, your passion — why you’re there.  Get that across, and damn the perfection.

Peter O’Toole, as incandescent an actor as ever trod the boards, holds the distinction for being the performer who has been nominated more times for an Academy Award than anyone else, without winning: eight. Imperfection, in a nutshell. Yet the world would be a much, much poorer place without his performance in Lawrence of Arabia. Yes, he was nominated for Lawrence, and no, he didn’t win. The others include: Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and Venus. By any standard, an extraordinary body of work. Yet not perfect.

In 2002, the Academy gave him one of those Lifetime Achievement awards – a consolation prize. I hope he wasn’t a perfectionist, because it would have galled him.

Just as for acting, in public speaking perfectionism is the enemy. Embrace instead the imperfect, the human, and the lively.  Embrace passion, not perfection.

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

4 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a massive program with lots of capabilities built in, and there will always be things that not everyone knows about. Here are four awesome PowerPoint tricks we’ve found that 99% of people don’t know they can do in PowerPoint (including some of the pros):

#1: Break a table
#2: Break SmartArt
#3: Break up a list of bullets
#4: Resize and crop multiple pictures in one go

PowerPoint Trick #1: Breaking A Table

Breaking a table is the fastest way to get all of the information out of a table.

To break a table, simply:

  • Copy and paste your table as a Metafile (CTRL + ALT + V for the Paste Special dialog box).
  • Once you have a Metafile, simply ungroup it (CTRL + SHIFT + G) to break the table into shapes, lines and text boxes.

This will leave you with an individual text box for each entry in your table. From here, you can massage the pieces into your layout of choice.

This PowerPoint trick alone should radically increase the amount of things you can do in PowerPoint with your existing data.

PowerPoint Trick #2: Breaking SmartArt

SmartArt is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that it can quickly generate slide layouts, but it is a curse as it’s often a pain to format and work with. To bring SmartArt graphics back into a format that’s easier to manage, you can “break” it into shapes, lines and text boxes:

  • Simply select the SmartArt graphic, ungroup it by hitting CTRL + SHIFT + G.
  • Ungroup it a second time, and the SmartArt graphic is now simply a collection of shapes, lines and text boxes.

Now you can go ahead and massage the individual pieces into whatever slide layout you need.

PowerPoint Trick #3: Breaking Up A List Of Bullets

Everyone knows that you are not supposed to use long lists of bullets in your layouts, but the question becomes, what can you do with them without spending hours at the drawing board?

The fastest way to break up a list of bullets and generate layout ideas is to throw it into SmartArt:

  • SmartArt will force your bullets into the different SmartArt layouts (you get a live preview of the graphics), so you can quickly generate layout ideas for your bullets.
  • Once you find a SmartArt graphic that is close to what you want to work with, you can simply break the graphic apart (see #2).

I often use this technique to quickly break up my content, and end up combining two or three different SmartArt graphics into my final presentation layout, to create something unique and interesting.

PowerPoint Trick #4: Resizing And Cropping Multiple Pictures In One Go

How often have you had several pictures on a slide that were all different shapes and sizes and that you needed to make uniform to fit into your layout?

While cropping and resizing images manually is the more technically correct way to address this, it can be an extremely time-intensive and frustrating task. To shortcut your way through the process, simply throw the pictures into SmartArt:

  • Select the pictures that you want to resize, select the “Picture Layout” button, and choose a SmartArt graphic.
  • Just like with bullets, SmartArt will force all of the pictures into uniform shapes by cropping and resizing each picture for you.
  • Once you find a SmartArt graphic that is close to what you want to work with, you can simply break the graphic apart (see #2).

If you don’t like the cropping and resizing that SmartArt does, you can always manually adjust the pictures yourself afterwards.

With these 4 PowerPoint tricks, you now know more than what most PowerPoint users know they can do in PowerPoint, so welcome to the inner circle. For a video summarizing the 4 tricks, see below:


About the Author:

Taylor Croonquist is the shortcut and productivity guru for Nuts and Bolts Speed Training company, which helps companies build better PowerPoint slides in shorter time frames. Hailing from the home of Microsoft and Starbucks, he came up with the “One Armed Mouse” technique in order to be able to combine these two passions: PowerPoint-ing with a coffee in one hand and a mouse in the other. For more information about the company’s services, visit nutsandboltsspeedtraining.com




3 Tips for Handling Hostile Questions During Presentations

Chances are that you’ve seen the following happen more than once: A colleague builds a beautiful case to support his recommendation. Then comes the relentless questioner who pummels him with questions that seem to have nothing to do with the core case, and the colleague limps to a close as if he’d been attacked by war planes rather than stung by a B-B gun.

If you haven’t experienced this in real life, you’ve certainly seen it on TV press conferences.

People ask hostile questions for any number of reasons:

  • They disagree with what you have said or have wrong information.
  • You have not established credibility with them.
  • They’ve misunderstood you.
  • They think they are “saving the day” for everyone else or their entire organization.
  • Their personality makes them always look for the cloud in every silver lining.
  • They are angry with someone else and are taking it out on you—consciously or unconsciously.

Whatever the reason, your presentation success and credibility often rides on your ability to remain unruffled and walk away from the situation on a positive note with an air of confidence. Here are three tips that can help you do just that.

Rephrase a Legitimate Question… Minus the Hot Words and Hostile Tone

If the question is, “Why are you demanding that we submit these forms with an approval signature? I think that’s totally unreasonable,” try rephrasing it to emphasize its validity, and then respond:

“Why do we think the forms should have an approval signature? Well, first of all, the approval signature allows us to. . . .”

Don’t feel that you have to refute an opposing view in great detail, particularly if the hostile view is not well supported itself. Simply comment: “No, I don’t think that’s the case.” No elaboration is necessary.

Your answer will sound authoritative and final and will make the asker appear rude and argumentative if he or she rephrases and continues.

1) Upgrade the Tone

Avoid matching hostility with hostility; try to maintain a congenial tone and body language. The audience almost always will side (or at least respect and empathize) with the person who remains calm and courteous.  Keep in mind that how you answer questions will be remembered more clearly and for much longer than what you say.

2) Acknowledge and Accept Feelings

Try to determine possible reasons for any hostility. By acknowledging and legitimizing the feelings of the asker, you may defuse the hostility and help the other person receive your answer in a more open manner.

Examples: “It sounds as though you’ve been through some difficult delays with this supplier” or “I don’t blame you for feeling as you do, given the situation you describe. I’m just glad that has been the exception rather than the rule in working with this audit group.”

3) State Your Own Experience and Opinion

People can argue with your statistics, data, surveys, and facts indefinitely. But they cannot argue with your experience. It’s yours, not theirs.

After you’ve listened and acknowledged their opinion and feelings, feel free to end by stating your own in a non-confrontational way. “My experience has been different. Based on X, Y, and Z, it’s my opinion that ABC approach will work in our situation.”  Then break eye contact and move ahead.

Your audience will take their final cues from you.  Make them positive.

About the Author:

Booher Consultants, a communications training firm, works with business leaders and organizations to increase effectiveness through better oral, written, interpersonal, and enterprise-wide communication. Founder Dianna Booher is the author of 46 books, published in 26 languages. Recent titles include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate With Confidence! The Revised and Expanded Edition. For more information, visit www.Booher.com
Copyright © Booher Consultants; article used with permission.

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