Dishing on Presentations with the Presentation Guild’s Echo Swinford and Sandra Johnson

Happy First Anniversary, Presentation Guild!  It has been a year since the Presentation Guild was launched at the Presentation Summit.  And what a year it has been.  Watch my “Dishing on Presentations” conversation with Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs, Echo Swinford and Sandra Johnson.  Listen to how it started, what they have accomplished and what the future plans are.

Behind the Scenes Look Of “PowerPoint: Designing Better Slides”

“Take care of my baby!”

Those were my parting words to my LinkedIn producer, Christen Beck, as I left beautiful Carpinteria on the way back to Chicago following a busy, cram-packed week recording PowerPoint: Designing Better Slides. I wasn’t trying to be funny or dramatic. I was dead serious. That course was my baby.


I’ve been making computer training courses now for over 10 years and for ten years I have wanted to make a course on PowerPoint slide design. But for many reasons, it just never happened (to say I am thrilled this course is out in the world now, is an understatement).

In the last decade, I’ve worked for a lot of people, some full-time as employee relationships, some as contractor gigs. I’ve seen it all, and not all of it is good. It seems I am contacted weekly by some “company” looking for some naïve contractor willing to work for peanuts, like a full-time employee but without any of the benefits, rights to their work, or royalties after the fact—all for the “exposure” it will bring to their name or a byline on their résumé.

Lynda|LinkedIn is not that way—they are the rare good guys in the business, willing to pay their instructors fairly and to make a course that enhances the learning experience for their learners.

As an instructor, I never heard my course referred to as a “product” or my students as “customers.” I had a message to communicate in my head and Lynda|LinkedIn wanted to help me with that task.


If you’ve heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” then so it also takes a village to make a quality video course. I’m not saying a solo act can’t do it (of course it might take a heck of a lot longer), but everything that goes into the process, to do it right and timely, takes a team of people.

My course, I’m glad to say, had a wonderful team. After my LinkedIn Content Manager, Marjorie Page, helped whittle down my lengthy outline (anyone who knows me knows I can talk for days about PowerPoint), I was paired with a skilled producer, someone who had a great interest in my course subject and a background in instructional design: Christen Beck.

Christen took on the roles of project manager, instructional designer, and my main contact within LinkedIn. Anything I could possibly need to create my course she’d connect me with the right team within LinkedIn to make sure I’d get it for recording day 1. It sounds like a crazy job, right—a lot to keep track of, and a lot of work? But she was completely awesome!

There was one clip in particular that I was having a really hard time getting right. I was on draft number 10 and almost to the point of tears when I hopped on a call with Christen and asked for her help because I was just out of ideas and couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say anymore. It was this introductory clip on color, (which is one of the unlocked videos you can view for free on and incidentally now one of my favorite clips).

The original draft was a random, rambled mess. I read it out loud to Christen once, then she read through it herself a couple of times and pulled out what she saw as the key main ideas or “takeaways” which we then began to rewrite it together.

Afterwards, I reorganized and rewrote the script around those main takeaways. In the final video, here are the three main color takeaways we present to viewers:

(1) Color should attract viewers; (2) color should contrast between other slide elements; and (3) color connects important elements on the slide, as well as throughout the presentation.

Without Christen’s help, I don’t think I could have communicated those ideas so succinctly, or organized a video that demonstrated what I had in my head in both a fun and “me” way that still made sense. But I do think we nailed it on this one clip.


When I tell people that I make computer training videos, they think it is the coolest job in the world. But when if I tell them I teach people how to use PowerPoint, they look at me horrified and respond, “Oh God! Why?” while slowly backing away. That is why I wanted to create a course that DIDN’T teach people how to simply USE PowerPoint; I wanted to make a course that taught people how to use PowerPoint better.

This isn’t a course for designers or master PowerPoint users. This course is for non-designers and introduces business professionals to beginning design concepts, to teach them to begin to see slides and space the way designers do. This course touches on time-tested, key design components and principles like space, unity, similarity, contrast, and hierarchy—all of which align to what I identify as three key presentation “pillars,” or three things that you just can’t ignore when designing effective visuals: your audience, your presentation environment, and your message.

And sure, there are some things that looking back I’d wish I’d phrased differently or added to the course (there always is). But I am glad that in the end this course, my baby, is alive and well, and published at and LinkedIn Learning.

Heather Ackmann is a PowerPoint MVP, an instructional designer, and author. She has written over 200+ hours of video training for Pluralsight,, ClipTraining, and other private companies, and is currently working on a master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction at DePaul University in Chicago. Her book, Conversational Office 2016, is available for free download compliments of

Throwback Thursday – Our Favorite Presentation Summit “Dishing on Presentations” Conversations


It is our favorite time of year…the annual Presentation Summit conference is coming up in about two weeks.

At the New Orleans conference, we interviewed speakers and presentation experts about the conference and other hot topics. So, I thought it would a good chance to go back and listen to some of our favorite conversations from that conference.

Let’s start with our host, Rick Altman of Better Presenting. We caught up with Rick on the last day. He shared some thoughts on the conference and its community.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Carmen Simon

We chatted with Dr. Carmen Simon, who is one of the keynotes this year in Florida. I also interviewed her last month for Dishing on Presentations.  In the first conversation, we ask the brilliant Dr. Carmen Simon, a highly respected cognitive scientist point she made in her #PreSum15 keynote. She said that people only remember 10% of a presentation and they forget 90% of a presentation. Listen to what she says.

They also talk about what presenters to counter the power of the unexpected to enhance memory at #PreSum15

We asked Dr. Carmen Simon to share her most memorable presentations based on exceptional memory-based techniques. Carmen states she is always on the lookout for where she can find memorable presentations. She found one in a salt mine in Poland. Listen to her story!

Keith Harmeyer, Author, Smart Storming

Keith Harmeyer is a recognized thought leader on the topics of innovative thinking, creative problem solving, idea generation and advanced presentation and communication skills. An accomplished speaker and writer, Keith is the co-author of the book, SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas. He has shared his insights with an international audience of thousands of corporate professionals from a wide range of industries. In his interview with #PresentationXpert – Sharyn Fitzpatrick, Keith shared his own game changing life moment.

Nigel Holmes

The brilliant Nigel Holmes, known as the creator of infographics, was the morning keynote at the 2015 Presentation Summit. He wowed the audience with his humor and fun graphics and a tremendous knowledge base of what works and what doesn’t in creating informational graphics. He chatted with Sharyn Fitzpatrick after his keynote.

Our Community of Presentation Experts and Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs

Mike Parkinson, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP

We had a great discussion at #PreSum15 with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Mike Parkinson, about sales presentations and how to do them effectively.

Nolan Haims, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP

We caught up with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Nolan Haims at the 2015 Presentation Summit in New Orleans. Listen as they talk about the importance of imagery and how to use it like a pro.

Julie Terberg and Echo Swinford, Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs and Best Friends

#PresentationXpert ‘s Sharyn Fitzpatrick talked to these two amazing MVPs about their book. “Building PowerPoint Templates: Step by Step with the Experts,” a one-of-a-kind guide to building templates that work well beyond your desktop. It is easy to see how their camaraderie has really resulted in a great partnership – in business and in life.

Geetesh Bajaj, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP

We talk to Microsoft MVP Geetesh Bajaj about design trends in presentations such as “flat” designs.

We asked Geetesh to talk about how to manage expectations about managing your slides – either as too much info or not enough.

He talks about number of slides vs length of presentation.

Shawn Villaron, Microsoft

It was great to catch up with Shawn Villaron, Microsoft’s Partner Group Program – Analytics and Presentation PM – US. He chatted with #PresentationXpert’s Sharyn Fitzpatrick and shared what he and his team learn from the #PreSum15 attendees, what they will take back to their software team and more.

Taylor Croonquist

Taylor is an amazing wealth of knowledge about the nuts and bolts of PowerPoint. He has learned to push the technology to its limits. We asked him to share his tips on how to maximize pictures in PowerPoint. He shares his advice with us in three video conversations.

John Ramhlow, Vanguard

John Rahmlow shared his thoughts on the #PresentationXpert webinar series with Sharyn Fitzpatrick and Dave Zielinski.

I can’t wait to see what the conversations are this year.  So stay tuned for more “Dishing on Presentations“.   See you in Florida later this month.



Sharyn Fitzpatrick

[Webinar Recording] Our Experts Answered YOUR PowerPoint Questions!

They came to save the day! We have experts from The Presentation Guild who answered your questions – the easy ones, the complex ones, and the tech questions.  

Watch the webinar recording and learn from our amazing rock star panelists – Stephy Lewis, and Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs – Ric Bretschneider, Steve Rindsberg, and Sandra Johnson.

Remember. If cartoons and comics taught us anything during our youth, it was that a team of cape-wearing superheroes was more powerful than anything. One could fly, another could shield, and another could wrangle the truth from a bundle of lies. They did their magic, but by the end of the hour, they left you as a better kid, helping you see the power within you.

Today, as a presentation pro, you might still long for a bright red phone with one button that summons your team to save your project from disaster. We don’t have that, but we have the next best thing.

Introducing our new series — Ask the Experts. We’re assembling panels of experts just for you, made from top talent in various specialties, and focused on your questions and needs. Your benefit will be immediate and direct.Fair warning — there may or may not be panelists wearing capes and masks.

 The Presentation Guild has created a great resource list for you – Download it.

Ask the Experts Panel Bios:

I Hate My Company’s PowerPoint Template! What Can I Do?

In a recent Billion Dollar Graphics class I was asked, “What happens if I’m railroaded by my company’s PowerPoint template?” Meaning, “What happens if I’m forced to use my company brand standards and templates even if I don’t like them?” My answer may surprise you. However, before I share my solution, let’s conduct an experiment.

Question 1: How many of the following 40 logos do you recognize?

Question 2: What package delivery company do you think of when you see this (brown) color?

Question 3: Which color is associated with Home Depot’s brand?

Question 4: Which row of logos are colored correctly (i.e., are the correct brand colors)?

For this reason, when making a presentation, I recommend picking one of two paths:

  1. Use your company’s brand, because it is either building mindshare or already has, which elicits feelings of trustworthiness.
  2. Use your audience’s brand, which is known, and similarly, elicits feelings of trust.

Mixing the two results is a watered-down version of each. It is often unidentifiable as either brand because of brand elements conflict. Mixing is only acceptable when done judiciously for a specific, clear purpose (e.g., to identify roles). Be consistent and make professional choices.

If your company’s brand standards and templates are unprofessional, politic for a change. Show examples of good company-branded PowerPoint templates. Share the benefits of making the switch. In the meantime, unless your company’s template is egregiously bad (I mean really, really unprofessional), use it.

Your personal bias for or against your company’s template and brand (assuming you are not the target audience) is eclipsed by the power of mindshare. Mindshare builds trust and trust is needed for almost every presentation to be successful. Even if you fail to achieve your goal after presenting, you are still building mindshare and improving the odds of future success.

So, my short answer to presentation professionals who don’t like their company’s PowerPoint templates is to use it, because you want your company to become a recognizable brand. It takes time to build mindshare and it’s absolutely worth it.

About Mike Parkinson, Microsoft MVP, CPP APMP Fellow:

Mike is one of 16 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. He is a PowerPoint and visual communication expert, a professional speaker, an educator, and an award-winning author. He regularly conducts workshops and creates graphics, presentations, and content for companies like Microsoft, FedEx, Xerox, Dell, and Boeing, as well as at learning institutions and small organizations. In 2015, Mike sold (a PowerPoint graphics product) so that he could focus on helping others achieve their presentation and educational goals.

Mike owns Billion Dollar Graphics ( and 24 Hour Company (, and authored a successful visual communication book (Do-It-Yourself Billion Dollar Graphics). Contact Mike at to learn more.


[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Dr. Carmen Simon

Dr. Carmen Simon is an accomplished cognitive scientist and author. Her book, Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions, showcases a groundbreaking approach to creating memorable messages that are easy to process, hard to forget, and impossible to ignore using the latest in brain science. She helps businesses use brain science to create memorable messages. Editor, Sharyn Fitzpatrick spoke with her about her book, her new company – Mezmy – and what her keynote speech at Presentation Summit will be.

29 PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Go to the eLearningArt blog, to get a free eBook of all 29 expert PowerPoint tips + additional bonus tips. You can also get some free PowerPoint images, graphics, and templates.

PowerPoint is an extremely powerful tool when used correctly. But when you’re new to it, it can feel like it’s just blank screens and bullet points. It can take years (or decades) to fully master it.

But I decided to save you some time…

I asked the world’s leading PowerPoint experts the following question:

What’s your single best PowerPoint tip, trick, or hack?

Below you’ll see responses from some amazing PowerPoint gurus, including top authors, speakers, instructors, bloggers, and even a handful of PowerPoint MVPs and Microsoft employees!

Here’s a two-minute video that summarizes all 29 PowerPoint tips:

Enjoy the full tutorials by scrolling below or jump to these sections:

Summary | Presentation Approach | Design | Shortcuts | Delivery | Setup | Beyond Presentations

PowerPoint Presentation Approach Tips
  1. Use the Tell ‘n Show method: a headline with a single point and media to support it

To get your audience to understand and remember what you say, use the Tell ‘n’ Show(SM) method.

Use the slide title to tell your point–what you want them to remember. For example, write “3rd quarter sales rose 5% over last year” instead of just “3rd quarter sales.”

Then use the rest of the slide to show your point with an image, animation, graph, or diagram.

Research has shown the students who see slides done like this do better on tests and similarly, your audience will “get” your point more quickly and easily. They’ll be more engaged, too.

Ellen Finkelstein is the President & Owner of Ellen Finkelstein, Inc. She is one of only 12 Microsoft designated PowerPoint MVPs in the United States and is the author of one of the most popular blogs on the web.

  1. Don’t open PPT until you have a clear message

Don’t launch PowerPoint until you have a clear message. Many people launch PowerPoint, think what they want to present, add slides, then think again, and add slides again.

To compare with an analogy, they are on a fun journey, driving their car, stopping wherever they want, and then driving to wherever they fancy. It’s good to have an amazing journey–but a journey without a destination will get you nowhere.

Continuing this analogy, a “clear message” is the destination where you want to go, and you want to take your audience along with you. So, make sure you have a message before you begin creating your slides.

Geetesh Bajaj is the Owner of He is a PowerPoint MVP and the author of the Indezine blog, one of the most visited PowerPoint and presentation websites.

  1. Start with the end-scenario in mind

As a designer, I recommend you think more about the end scenario than the beginning.

Practical considerations – is this a printout, email attachment, onscreen presentation, interactive discussion tool or a combination of those? Where will it be seen – in a stadium, boardroom, café, at their desk?

Then consider the conceptual considerations – who is your audience and what do they currently think about your topic? What would you like to change in that thinking? Based on what you know about them, how can you change that thinking?

Write those things down, then build your presentation with that at the forefront.

Tom Howell is the Agency Director at Synapsis Creative. He was recently designated a PowerPoint MVP by Microsoft. His presentation blog is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their presentation design.

  1. Tease the audience by revealing info in parts

Do you struggle to hold your participant’s attention – especially when your training topic is dull and boring?

There’s a secret technique I use that works like a charm every time. It is…

“Tease your audience by revealing your information in parts”

Let me give you an example…

Want to present a Framework?

Present just the skeletal structure first. Explain the context. Then reveal the first step. Explain.

Then reveal the next step and so on.

Your audience can’t take their eyes off, till you finish your explanation.

Why does this work so well?

Studies have shown that as humans – we experience ‘tension’ when we leave things incomplete.

We feel subconsciously compelled to pay attention to the task till we see it finished. It’s called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

Try it in your next presentation. All you need is to apply a simple custom animation to your visuals – to reveal information in stages.

Ramgopal is the Director and Co-Owner of PrezoTraining. He also runs a popular YouTube Channel focusing on PowerPoint.

  1. Don’t open PowerPoint first. Instead, sketch on a notepad

The first step on PowerPoint is…don’t open PowerPoint.

Sketch out your presentation on a notepad (regular or digital) and plan the whole thing.

Then rewrite, numbering and ordering your thoughts. That’s your slide order.

Doug Thomas is a Video and Webinar Creator at Microsoft. He has created and appeared in over 250 videos at

PowerPoint Design Tips
  1. Use transparent overlays on images for text contrast

My favorite trick to do in PowerPoint is to create transparent overlays over slides, videos, photographs in PowerPoint!

First, you create a rectangle to cover up the slide > Then you set it to a solid color or a gradient > You right click, set the transparency of each color to around 20% or any value you like depending on the project > and there you have it!

You can dim photos, create duo-tone overlays, darken, brighten, add exposure, add a vignette or do pretty much anything regarding colors with this type of object!

The best part is – you can freely copy it between slides or even separate PowerPoints! Awesome to know about and use 

Andrzej Pach is an Online Instructor for Udemy & Skillshare. He also hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels to focus on PowerPoint with over 2 million views and 19,000 subscribers.

  1. Go big with visuals. Bleed photos and videos to the edge

Go big with your visuals.

My top tip to presentation designers of all levels is a simple, elegant, and often overlooked technique: bleed your inserted photographs and videos all the way to the edges.

Insert your image. Scale (don’t stretch!) and crop appropriately. If next is necessary, set it in a semi-transparent shape with sufficient contrast against the text color.

Think about some of the best presentations you’ve ever seen. Think also about your favorite movies and TV shows. Their images take up all available screen space. Yours can too.

Tony Ramos is the Director of the Presentation Guild and the Owner of He was the first blogger on the internet to cover PowerPoint topics. Tony is an expert designer and producer of PowerPoint presentations and proposal graphics.

  1. Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tools

Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tools.

Bethany Auck is the Founder and Creative Director of SlideRabbit. As a presentation and communication specialist, she helps clients build high-quality presentations, from basic slide design to complex animations and infographics.

  1. Structure clean layouts by using a grid system on slide masters

Keep your layouts clean and well-structured by implementing a grid system with guides on the pasteboard of your master slide.

Stephy Lewis is a Senior Designer for Aerotek and a Director of the Presentation Guild. She is a top visual designer of presentations and websites.

  1. Find a beautiful, fresh font pair. One for headers and one for body

When I create PowerPoint tutorials on YouTube I am always thinking about techniques that would be simple to implement and yet would have the biggest positive impact.

So, if you have 2 minutes to transform your presentation from good to awesome, I would suggest looking at your fonts.

Find a beautiful, fresh looking font pair (one font for the headers and one for the body) and you can instantly change how your presentation feels and looks like.

I am planning to do a video soon on this topic, so please visit my YouTube channel soon, if you are interested in awesome font pairs for your ppt  Good luck everyone!

One Skill (aka Kasparas Tolkusinas) is the CEO of One Skill PowerPoint Tutorials. He hosts one of the most popular PowerPoint YouTube channels, with over one million views and 14,000+ subscribers.

  1. Create an arrow with broken SmartArt

I have an easy favorite that I often use. You know the arrow type that looks like a Nike Swoosh logo? The ones that start at a point then become thicker as they softly curve up or down? I have an easy hack that uses broken SmartArt to create such an arrow.

Of course, if you have the newest version of PowerPoint (2016/Office 365), you can insert this arrow style as an icon, but it’s not easily editable (other than to recolor). Do this instead: 1) Insert > SmartArt > Process > Upward Arrow (or Descending Process) | 2) Ungroup | 3) Ungroup again | 4) Delete all extra shapes and text boxes, leaving only the arrow.

You’re left with an adjustable arrow that allows you to use the yellow handles to change the swoosh width and arrow head size. Rotate, Flip Vertical, Flip Horizontal, or resize to further customize.

Sandra Johnson is the Owner and Chief Presentation Officer at Presentation Wiz and is Vice President of the Presentation Guild. She has also been designated only 1 of 12 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States.

PowerPoint Shortcuts, Tricks, and Hacks
  1. Power-crop photos with SmartArt

The favorite hack is Power Cropping a bunch of photos in seconds.

(1) In PowerPoint select a bunch of odd sized (or shaped) photos
(2) Navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
(3) Open the Picture Layout drop down
(4) Select a SmartArt layout (Bending Picture Semi-Transparent Text is my favorite)
(5) CTRL+SHIFT+G to ungroup the graphic twice.

It’s a great little PowerPoint hack that not a lot of people know about.

Taylor Croonquist is the Co-Founder of He is the guru of time-saving PowerPoint tips. If you want to be blown away by how fast someone can whip a PPT into shape, check out his blog or videos.

  1. Use Ctrl + arrow keys to nudge objects on the screen

Here’s a quick and easy one I share in my PowerPoint for eLearning 101 classes:

Want to move something just a smidge using the arrow keys? You may notice that it’s hard to get to just the right spot using the arrow keys.

Try holding down the [Control] key with the arrow keys and watch as your slide objects move by just a pixel at a time.

AJ Walther is the Chief Creative Officer at IconLogic. She is also the instructor for several PowerPoint courses: PowerPoint for eLearning 101 and 201, and the author of 2 PowerPoint books.

  1. Use SmartArt to break bullet points into text boxes

Use SmartArt as a tool to eliminate bullet points and “chunk” your information out visually.

Select your text box of bullet points and either right-click or choose from the Home tab “Convert to SmartArt.” Select a SmartArt graphic that contains horizontal boxes. Select the newly created SmartArt containing your text, right-click and ungroup it twice, giving you text in rectangles.

Now, delete any extraneous SmartArt items (i.e. arrows) and format the boxes however you like. Voila, you have magically turned a page of bullet points into visual chunks—much easier to read!

Nolan Haims is the Principal of Nolan Haims Creative. He leads a team of visual design professionals dedicated to all types of visual communication. Nolan blogs at Present Your Story and hosts the popular Presentation Podcast.

  1. Create “smokey letters” with PPT’s new Morph transition

Magic Smoky Letters!

I recently went on a crazy experimentation spree (channeling my inner mad scientist!) with the Morph transition and discovered this bizarre but very cool “smoky letters” trick.

Let’s say, for instance, that you want the word TEXT to come out as smoke from a chimney (or fireplace, tailpipe, cigar, teapot, magic lamp, etc.).  You first put a picture of the chimney on your slide.  Next, you create smoke “seeds” by inserting a rectangle and editing one of the points (Format – Shape – Edit Points) – then making 4 copies of this rectangle (one for each letter in TEXT).  Make these “seeds” tiny and transparent, then place on top of the chimney (where you want the smoke to come out).

Next, duplicate the slide and on this new slide, delete the “seeds” on the chimney.  Then, vectorize the word TEXT (by writing it in a text box, putting it on top of a colored rectangle, selecting both objects and going to Merge Shapes – Fragment and deleting the stuff around TEXT).

Finally, add a Morph transition to the second slide, and you’re done!

Simply view in presentation mode and prepare for your jaw to drop… check out this trick with more details and examples here.


Lia (aka P-Spice) is the queen of PowerPoint animations and tricks. She hosts the most popular YouTube channel on PowerPoint, with over 4 million views and 36,000+ subscribers. She is also the author of the Spicy Presentations blog.

  1. Convert text to an image if the custom font might not be installed.

One of my favorite frustration-busters involves a workaround when I know my client won’t have a custom font installed.

For example, if the slide would benefit from a gorgeous script as an accent element, I will turn that piece of text into an image.

I do this by selecting the font as an object, copying it and then pasting it as a picture (either right click to paste or use the paste button in the Home menu).

Now I know the “text” will display as designed on any computer.

Lori Chollar is the Co-Founder of TLC Creative Services, Inc.

PowerPoint Presentation Delivery Tips
  1. Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes

I’m a College Professor and use PowerPoint for Lecture notes.

Many students want detailed lecture notes, but get bored quickly reading mountains of text on a slide.

So, I use the “Notes Pages” panel for detail while keeping the slides simple – I urge students to read the notes which may contain more information than given in a lecture.

If printing out the slides, it is essential to use “Notes Pages” print layout option.

Dr. Eugene O’Loughlin is a Lecturer in Computing at the National College of Ireland. He also hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels that covers PowerPoint topics and has over 12 million views and 26k+ subscribers.

  1. Leverage “Presenter View” and “sections” when there are multiple presenters

Increase the power of Presenter View with PowerPoint Sections.

Sections are used to organize slides within a presentation by grouping slides and giving each group a name.

In addition, Presenter View leverages these Sections that can be seen in Presenter View’s Grid Layout.

When running a presentation with multiple presenters, or an awards show with multiple award categories, I add lots of PowerPoint sections. The ability to minimize live-show stress and find the correct section to jump to is amazing!

Troy Chollar is the Co-Founder of TLC Creative Services, Inc. He is also a Microsoft designated PowerPoint MVP, PowerPoint blogger, and host the popular Presentation Podcast.

  1. Use “triggers” to create interactive presentations

Create interactive presentations with triggers to start animations through hot spots on a slide.

You can reveal specific parts of a diagram, make something change color by clicking it, or give people multiple choice questions and have the correct answer pop-up.

It takes seconds to do and works brilliantly, particularly with visual slides.

Right click on any animation, choose Timing, then Triggers in the pop-up window, and choose which object you click to start (trigger) the animation.

You can have multiple triggers on one slide and multiple animations triggered by the same object.

It makes compelling and effective presentations.

Richard Goring is the Director at BrightCarbon. He creates compelling and persuasive presentations using visuals and diagrams. Richard also blogs at the Bright Carbon blog and has a post on this trigger technique mentioned above.

  1. Use a formatted “Notes” page for presentation handouts.

I open the most eyes when I discuss how to use the Notes page to create handouts that are contained within the same PPTX file as the slides.

Most people have never spent even a second in the Notes master so they never knew you could globally reformat the Notes pages to allow them to better accommodate the creation of handout pages.

Rick Altman is the Director of R. Altman and Associates and the Conference Host of The Presentation Summit. If you looking to create PowerPoints that don’t suck, he literally wrote the book on it.

PowerPoint software and hardware setup tips
  1. Add “align” to your Quick Access Toolbar

Tired of eyeballing that slide to see if all the objects are all even or in the same grid? That is why my favorite tip is to make Align one of your favorites on your QAT.

Imagine a slide that might introduce three speakers’ headshots and captions but they are not aligned or equidistant from each other. Let’s fix it.

Select all three objects – click on the first object, then press and hold CTRL when you click on the others.  You can also use SHIFT and your mouse to draw a box over what you want to align – I call it a “Lasso”. To arrange the three headshots, click on the Format Tab in the Picture tools, you will see an option to align objects. You can choose to center objects horizontally, vertically or to a box of text.

You do the same when working with shapes, text boxes, SmartArt graphics, and WordArt by selecting Format in the Drawing Tools.

The result:  your objects snap to the grid and the smart guide lines that appear on your slide will help confirm it.

Sharyn Fitzpatrick is the Editor of PresentationXpert and the Chief Marketing and Webinar Guru at Marcom Gurus. She also lives in my home town (Los Altos), is a raving Penn State fan, and a former competitive swimmer!

  1. Customize your “quick access” toolbar with frequently used buttons

I don’t have a ton of keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint, but I do customize my toolbar.

When I do that (right-click on the toolbar at the very top of the window), I can add any button I want, especially the alignment buttons, which makes life a lot easier when you’re working with different slide objects such as text, images, and graphs.

In Excel, my favorite keyboard shortcut is CTRL+1 (CMD+1 on Macs), which will bring you to the Format menu. And it works for everything–cells, line charts, bar charts, axis labels, gridlines, whatever you need.

Jonathan Schwabish is the Founder at and a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute. He is well known in the presentation community for his presentation book Better Presentations and his expertise in data visualization.

  1. Name screen elements on the “Selection Pane” for easy design layering and more

The Selection Pane is one of PowerPoint’s best-kept secrets.

By default, it’s hidden in the “Select” menu on the “Home” tab.

I add it to my Quick Access Toolbar and keep the Selection Pane open anytime I’m working in PowerPoint.

Once open, you can name all the objects on the screen. This really helps when you’re trying to change the layering order of the objects, add animations, and more.

You can also hide objects by clicking the “eye” icon next to each object. That’s helpful for revealing objects beneath that layer.

Without the selection pane, both layering and animations are next to impossible.

Bryan Jones is the Founder and President of eLearningArt. He runs a stock photo and template site to help people build better presentations and graphics. He also blogs frequently about eLearning, PowerPoint, and presentations.

  1. In a dark working environment, change the default interface for more contrast

When I’m working in a dark environment (at night in my office, backstage at a conference, etc.), I find it extremely helpful to change PowerPoint’s interface from the bright white and orange to black or at least dark grey.

To do this, click File, then Account, then select Black or Dark Grey from the Office Theme drop-down.

Note that _these_ Office Themes control your interface elements such as the Ribbon and the workspace; they aren’t the same Office Themes that you may think of when we talk about PowerPoint templates and themes. (Thanks for naming everything the same, Microsoft!)

Echo Swinford is a PowerPoint Corporate Presentation and Template Expert at Echosvoice. She is designated as 1 of only 12 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. Echo also authored a book on building PowerPoint templates and is the President of the Presentation Guild.

  1. Get a good external mouse. One with a scroll wheel can zoom in and out

A comfortable external mouse is a must-have for quick toolbar navigation and graphics editing.

Make your work even speedier by choosing a mouse with a scroll wheel. In PowerPoint, hold the Ctrl/Command key and scroll forward or backward to change the Zoom level. Go from the big picture to the smallest details in an instant.

Julie Terberg is a Presentation Expert, Visual Communicator at Terberg design. She is a designated Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, author of a book on creating PowerPoint templates, and is the Art Director for the Presentation Guild.

Think beyond PowerPoint presentations

  1. Think of PPT as a tool beyond liner presentations

Strangely enough, my best tip/hack is to start seeing PowerPoint as a tool that can do much more than linear presentations.

Here are a few examples:

1) Produce better visuals & handouts at the same time by moving text to the notes pane, and design your Notes Master so it has your corporate colors and logo

2) Use PowerPoint’s screen capture tool (PPT2010 and up), or screen recording tool (PPT2013 and up) to create quick tutorials without needing other software

3) Get to know the drawing/shape tools to create your custom graphics and save them as images.

Chantal Bossé is the Owner of CHABOS, Inc. where she helps clients, such as TEDx speakers, maximize their presentation impact. She is also a designated Microsoft PowerPoint MVP.

  1. Export to video and PDF to make content portable and reach a wider audience.

Exporting to video and PDF is a quick and easy way to make your content much more portable and mobile-friendly to reach a wider audience.

The PDF option allows you to totally rethink your documents and make the switch to interactive “e-books”.

The video option gives you a super flexible MP4 video file that you can use virtually anywhere.

To see an example of each, visit this tutorial.

Mike Taylor is a Learning Technologist at Mindset Digital, as well as a former Community Manager at Articulate He is also a frequent speaker and popular blogger.

  1. Hyperlink between slides to create a non-linear experience

Hyperlinking: Many who build eLearning with PowerPoint rely too much on the default linear slide 1- slide 2 -next-next-next setup.

Learning to hyperlink across slide decks enables you to build interesting interactions like branching simulations and quizzes with scaffolded feedback.

It takes patience and thinking through but isn’t technically difficult.

Another tip: Figure out how to do the planning/layout the way that works best for you: I like to use Post-It notes I can move around. Others like to draw it out, and still others use the PPT flowcharting tools.

Jane Bozarth is an E-Learning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina. She is the author of several popular books, including Better Than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-Learning with PowerPoint.

  1. Build clickable prototypes and hyperlink from any object to other slides

Creating prototypes is tough, right? Difficult software, expensive too.

But wait…

Do you realize that PowerPoint can be used to build prototypes?

One of the coolest and simplest features that you’ll find in PowerPoint is the ability to put hyperlinks on any object on your slide and have it link to other slides.

This way you can mock up any kind of e-learning, interactive job aid, software simulation or app you’d like and get a real feel of how it would work. Just create the screens you need for your prototype, add clickable areas (transparent shapes are great for that!) and voila!

Jeff Kortenbosch is a Performance Consultant at Bright Alley. He’s a PowerPoint guru and has a series of YouTube videos where he teaches users how to draw in PowerPoint.

29 PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks Summarized

PowerPoint Presentation Approach Tips

  • Use the Tell ‘n Show method: a headline with a single point and media to support it | Ellen Finkelstein
  • Don’t open PPT until you have a clear message | Geetesh Bajaj
  • Start with the end-scenario in mind | Tom Howell
  • Tease the audience by revealing info in parts | Ramgopal
  • Don’t open PowerPoint first. Instead, sketch on a notepad | Doug Thomas

PowerPoint Design Tips

  • Use transparent overlays on images for text contrast | Andrzej Pach
  • Go big with visuals. Bleed photos and videos to the edge | Tony Ramos
  • Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tool. | Bethany Auck
  • Structure clean layouts by using a grid system on slide master. | Stephy Lewis
  • Find a beautiful, fresh font pair. One for headers and one for bod. | One Skill
  • Create an arrow with broken SmartArt | Sandra Johnson

PowerPoint Shortcuts, Tricks, and Hacks

  • Power-crop photos with SmartArt | Taylor Croonquist
  • Use Ctrl + arrow keys to nudge objects on the screen | AJ Walther
  • Use SmartArt to break bullet points into text boxes | Nolan Haims
  • Create “smoky letters” with PPT’s new Morph transition | Lia (P-Spice)
  • Convert text to an image if the custom font might not be installed | Lori Chollar

PowerPoint Presentation Delivery Tips

  • Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes | Dr Eugene O’Loughlin
  • Leverage “Presenter View” and “sections” when there are multiple presenters | Troy Chollar
  • Use “triggers” to create interactive presentations | Richard Goring
  • Use a formatted “Notes” page for presentation handout.  | Rick Altman

PowerPoint Software and Hardware Setup Tips

  • Add “align” to your Quick Access Toolbar | Sharyn Fitzpatrick
  • Customize your “quick access” toolbar with frequently used buttons | Jon Schwabish
  • Name screen elements on the “Selection Pane” for easy design layering and more | Bryan Jones
  • In a dark working environment, change the default interface for more contrast | Echo Swinford
  • Get a good external mouse. One with a scroll wheel can zoom in and out | Julie Terberg

Think Beyond PowerPoint Presentations

  • Think of PPT as a tool beyond liner presentations | Chantal Bossé
  • Export to video and PDF to make content portable and reach a wider audience | Mike Taylor
  • Hyperlink between slides to create a non-linear experience | Jane Bozarth
  • Build clickable prototypes and hyperlink from any object to other slides | Jeff Kortenbosch

This article was written by Bryan Jones and originally appeared on the eLearningArt blog, where you can get a free eBook of all 29 expert PowerPoint tips + additional bonus tips. You can also get some free PowerPoint images, graphics, and templates.



[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Peter Arvai, Prezi’s Co-founder and CEO

In this month’s “Dishing on Presentations”, PXpert editor, Sharyn Fitzpatrick chatted with Prezi’s co-founder and CEO, Peter Arvai while he was on vacation in Sweden, visiting the farm he grew up on. It is timely that we spoke with Peter because Prezi has been in the news quite a bit over the last few weeks. We talked about how Prezi Next was created with feedback from their 85M users, the thoughtful acquisition of Infogram and how it fits into their product roadmap, the presentation industry and the role of cognitive thinking, and the Harvard study results. We hope that this is the first of many conversations we have with Peter. His passion and deep thinking about the medium comes through – he is an engaging speaker. To learn more about Prezi, go to


What Wins When Giving Presentations: The Slides or the Speaker?

Earlier this year, Pulse Design Studio was chosen as 1 of 12 design companies to ‘pitch’ to a group of local decision makers responsible for hiring talent for their creative business needs. The event was held at dPOP! at the Chrysler House in Detroit, sponsored by several well-known organizations including Pure Michigan Business Connect, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, and the Detroit Crain Content Studio.

Each company presenting was given a total of 3:00 minutes to pitch, utilizing no more than 10 PowerPoint slides. For a presentation company like ourselves, this was the chance to put our talents to the test.

What I found interesting about the event, was the buzz amongst the audience after all the presentations were given. The universal question people were pondering was when it comes to giving a presentation, what’s more effective? Is it the slides or is it the speaker?

This honestly wasn’t the first time I had heard this dilemma. It’s a common question I get asked all the time no matter what size presentation or event I’m helping a client prepare for. It’s like tug of war, in which one side seems determined to win, but no one actually does.

My answer boils down to this- it’s neither the slides or the speaker. It’s the story. This is the primary and universal foundation that will engage and resonate with your audience far beyond anything else. But what exactly does that mean?

During our presentation, we included a slide to speak to this universal truth:

Understanding your story, and how to connect that with your audience is becoming an invaluable element for any presentation these days. Why? Here are three key reasons driving this truth:

  1. Time. Our time is getting increasingly limited (as in our 3:00-minute example) to engage with one another. Having an hour or more to pitch a product or an idea is going to be a thing of the past.
  2. Competition. The number of businesses on the landscape compared to 10 years ago has grown and will continue to grow. Digital online marketplaces and growing technologies will add more and more pressure on companies to stand out, and compete with one another.
  3. Decision Makers. Engaging with key decision makers is no longer about being together in the boardroom. Connecting with your audience across time zones and the increase of file sharing will continue to impact how engaging and stand-alone your presentation should be.

Following the event, an article got published by Daniel Duggan, a Crain’s Detroit Business editor who said, “…I asked a few people, informally, afterward about what pitches they liked best. The ones that rose to the top were those who were talking more about the big picture and making the pitch more about telling a story.”

So, next time you find yourself in the position to craft a presentation, start with what your ‘story’ is, rather than what the copy or graphics should be. You’ll find yourself delivering a much more effective presentation to your audience, and most importantly one that they’ll tend to remember the most.

About Tany Nagy:

With over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion

With over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion for pushing the boundaries on developing latest techniques and solutions drive her creativity to bring the very best in the industry to her clients. As an educator, she has been a featured speaker at several events in the Detroit area focusing on the evolution of presentations in today’s marketplace and digital landscape. You can reach her directly at her email: or by visiting her website.

Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear—That’s a Stupid Strategy

After my podcast show on overcoming the fear of public speaking, I was curious how many people still think that it is a good idea to picture their audience in their underwear.

So I asked a question to find out if people already knew that there are better ways to overcome their number one fear. Man, I was dead wrong. I got comments about picturing the audience members as watermelons, pandas, and, of course, in their underwear. You’ve got to be kidding me! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of cool underwear. I got dozens of them, but I don’t think this is something you want to have a mental picture of when speaking in front of an audience.

Here’s the deal. What if you, like many speakers (including me), feel more nervous and embarrassed to picture the audience half-naked? Is there a more effective solution? Oh yes! The reason most people fail to overcome their fear of public speaking is that they are not willing to do the quick and dirty work. Because of this, many of us struggle for the rest of their lives.

The Illusion of Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear

There is a difference between picturing and fantasizing. If you imagine your audience taking all their clothes off and remaining only in their underwear smiling at you, that is not picturing; that is fantasizing. Don’t do it in front of your audience. That’s not the kind of picturing that gets over your public speaking anxiety.

A Better Way to Picture Your Audience

Picture that you are talking to your friends in the living room; you share interesting life stories and see your friends enjoying every moment of your speaking. They applaud and say, “You’re amazing!” How do you feel? I don’t feel nervous. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel confident. I feel relaxed. I feel comfortable.

Next time when you feel nervous about speaking in front of an audience, picture your audience as your friends:

  1. You are sharing a life-changing message with them.
  2. Your focus on helping the audience improve their lives.
  3. You are having a conversation with them. With this transformational mindset, you will overcome the fear of public speaking and build your confidence quickly.

Now, it’s time to paint a new mental picture. This time, get your audience fully dressed. Picture your audience as your friends, and watch yourself speaking with confidence.


About Jonathan Li

Public Speaking Coach and Author, Jonathan Li helps online entrepreneurs overcome the fear of public speaking. He is the host of The Expressive Leader, a weekly podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs including Chris Brogan and Nancy Duarte. He believes every online entrepreneur can overcome the fear of public speaking. In his book, The Expressive Leader, he discusses how to deliver your message effectively, confidently, and have the impact you want on the audience. Want to see Jonathan in action – then watch his speech as a TEDx speaker.

You can receive effective and powerful public speaking training from Jonathan at


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