[Webinar Recording] Using Imagery to Create Powerful, Impactful Presentation Stories

Try GoToWebinar free for 30 days, and save 20% on an annual subscription. Give it a try today.A picture is worth a thousand words and using imagery in your presentations does make an impact enabling your content to come alive. In this webinar, moderated by Editor Sharyn Fitzpatrick, we share tips on how to find the right imagery for your content and how to use it in a design. Microsoft PowerPoint MVP Nolan Haims showcases several design options for

Register on Nolan’s site, Present Your Story.com to get access to the handouts.

each slide and why it works. This is a perfect tutorial for the non-designer.

Topics include:

  • How to identify a good image from a bad image in your searching;
  • Harnessing the rule of thirds;
  • Creating “image sets” for consistency;
  • The power of transparency and gradients in PowerPoint;
  • Why you should cut the heads off people yes, really!;
  • Advanced image editing, no Photoshop needed;

The right way to compress files As a bonus, we explore where you can find images to use including sourcing across a variety of stock websites for all budgets.

About Nolan Haims:
Nolan runs Nolan Haims Creative, a visual communications and design consultancy that help organizations and individuals tell more effective stories with fewer words. As a Vice President and Director of Presentation for Edelman, he created and ran a department dedicated to raising the bar on visual communications and ensuring the firm showed up differently at pitches. During his tenure with Edelman, he oversaw nearly 500 high-stakes new business pitches as the firm grew by 64%. As a designer and art director, he has created high-end presentations for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, top foundations, and all the major television networks. Nolan trains organizations to think visually and to create and give more effective presentations. He speaks at national conferences and writes extensively on visual storytelling including at his own site, PresentYourStory.com. Microsoft has recognized him as one of only 11 PowerPoint MVPs in the U.S for his contributions to the presentation community. He is also one of three co-hosts for the Presentation Podcast.

Reader Questions: How Do You Bring PowerPoint Files Down to a Smaller File Size?

“by Nolan Haims, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP”

Bringing PowerPoint Files Down to Size

Hard drive capacities, cloud storage, and bandwidth keep increasing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can or should let our PowerPoint files increase in size unchecked.

Text, vectors (such as .svg and emf content) and animation won’t add much to your file size—in fact, I’ve seen 100-slide decks without any images take up just a couple of megabytes—but photos and video can quickly balloon the size of your presentations if you don’t take care.


You can begin to control file size by choosing smaller images, to begin with before inserting them into PowerPoint. JPEGs will generally be smaller than PNGs (but always use PNGs for logos and detailed illustrations), and presentations designed to be printed or shown on extremely high definition screens will want higher res images. I won’t go into all the technical details of pixel size here but will say that the easiest thing to do to make sure your image has enough resolution is to place it in your presentation and project or print it and judge quality with your own eyes. Unfortunately, this will tell you if it’s big enough, but not if it is larger than it needs to be.

And so, you may find yourself in a situation of wanting to reduce the size of your images after they have been placed in PowerPoint. The easiest solution is to select the image in question and then select “Compress Pictures” from the Format tab (or Picture Format tab on the Mac). Here you’ll find options for compressing the image at different levels of quality as well as checkboxes for deleting cropped areas of pictures and compressing ALL the images in the file or just the selected one.

You’re free to make use of PowerPoint’s built-in compression tools, but be warned that they’re just not very good in my opinion. In the words of my friends at SlideRabbit, PowerPoint’s compression tools are more like a hatchet rather than a scalpel. The compression results in clunky sometimes over-pixelized images. And once you compress everything, there’s no going back, so be sure you have made a backup of your file first.

NXPowerlite to the Rescue

If Microsoft’s tools are a hatchet, then the scalpel you want comes from a company called Neuxpower in the form of NXPowerlite—hands down the best compression software for Microsoft Office that there is. NXPowerlite comes in a few different forms for Mac, PC, desktop, enterprise, etc. It is not expensive and entirely worth the investment if you spend your days creating presentations. How it works I have no idea, but I can say that I use it all the time and the results are magical. The interface is drag and drop, and it is all very well thought out. I’ve seen 100MB files filled with images compressed down to 5MB with no visible loss of image quality. I should note that while it is compressing images, it is also compressing the PowerPoint file itself, removing old and redundant code and other items. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy here.


While you can insert YouTube videos onto slides (PC-only) or even just hyperlinks to nonYouTube videos, in general, I recommend embedding videos as you never know when internet access will be spotty or unavailable. None of the above tools will help with compressing video, and unless you want to compress your videos outside of PowerPoint (by re-encoding them using video software), your only solution is to head to PowerPoint’s “backstage” File tab: Info and select “Compress Media.” Here you’ll be given options for levels of compression. In my experience, PowerPoint’s video compression is a bit better than the image compression, but you’ll just have to experiment and judge the results for yourself.

Final Tips and Tricks

Every once in a while, compression will still fail to reduce file size enough for your needs. In these cases, you can actually unpack a PowerPoint file by changing the file extension to .zip, unzipping it and navigating to the media folder to search through all the image and video assets used by the file. If you discover a 20MB image somewhere, you can target just that one item.

And if you find yourself expending time and energy trying to keep file sizes down, take a step back and ask if it is worth the hassle. If your file is too large to be included as an email attachment, you can always make use of services like WeTransfer, Hightail and Box to transfer large files to others. My typical workflow is to keep presentation files in Dropbox folders and then simply send a download link to clients for items that are too large for email.

Don’t forget to register for my free webinar on Wednesday, February 15 in which we’ll discuss much more about using imagery in your presentations.

About Nolan:

Nolan runs Nolan Haims Creative, a visual communications and design consultancy that help organizations and individuals tell more effective stories with fewer words. As a Vice President and Director of Presentation for Edelman, he created and ran a department dedicated to raising the bar on visual communications and ensuring the firm showed up differently at pitches. During his tenure with Edelman, he oversaw nearly 500 high-stakes new business pitches as the firm grew by 64%. As a designer and art director, he has created high-end presentations for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, top foundations, and all the major television networks. Nolan trains organizations to think visually and to create and give more effective presentations. He speaks at national conferences and writes extensively on visual storytelling including at his own site, PresentYourStory.com. Microsoft has recognized him as one of only 11 PowerPoint MVPs in the U.S for his contributions to the presentation community.


[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Geetesh Bajaj

Editor Sharyn Fitzpatrick and Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Geetesh Bajaj have a lively discussion about what are the latest trends in PowerPoint, tips for how to maximize your PowerPoint experience, and what features we hope Microsoft brings to Office 365.

About Geetesh Bajaj:

Geetesh Bajaj is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for over a decade now. He has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India. Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like concept, color, interactivity, and navigation–and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He has authored six books on PowerPoint and trains corporate clients on how to plan, create, and deliver presentations.  For more information on Indezine and Geetesh, click here.

How to Add Two or More PowerPoint Animations to One Object

Many people use PowerPoint animation sparingly—probably to make text animate while showing up on a slide or even for column charts, where individual columns animate. But did you know that you are not limited to the animation effects available in PowerPoint? You can actually combine one or more animations to happen at the same time for the same slide object, and thus create your own unique animation effect!

Follow these steps to learn more. We used PowerPoint 2016 for Windows, but these techniques work in most versions of PowerPoint released over the last ten years.

1. Select any object on your slide such as a shape. For our example, we selected a Rounded Rectangle shape, as shown in Figure 1, below.

Figure 1: Select any object, such as a shape

2. Now add an animation to this shape. We added a basic Entrance animation called Fade (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Add a Fade animation

3. Now deselect the shape if you want. Then select the same shape again, and now add an Emphasis animation called Spin (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Add a Spin animation

4. Now play the slide. If you click once, the Fade animation will play. Click again and the Spin animation will play.

5. Wouldn’t it be better if both animations played together? Yes, this is possible—to do so, access the Animation Pane and set both animations to Start with the With Previous event (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Play animations together with the With Previous event

6. Now also change the Duration of both animations to match (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: Use the same duration for both animations

We showed you how you can make two animations play at the same time. You can similarly combine as many animations as you need.



Tip: PowerPoint has four animation types: Entrance, Emphasis, Exit, and Motion Paths. You can combine any of these animation types but you cannot combine Entrance and Exit animations. Why? Well, that’s because you cannot enter and exit at the same time.


About Geetesh Bajaj:

He is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for over a decade now. He has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India. Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like concept, color, interactivity, and navigation–and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He has authored six books on PowerPoint and trains corporate clients on how to plan, create, and deliver presentations. For more information on Indezine and Geetesh, click here.

[Video] Dishing on Presentations 2017 with Nolan Haims, Rick Altman and Ellen Finkelstein


In this latest edition of Dishing on Presentations, editor Sharyn Fitzpatrick has great in-depth conversations with Rick Altman, host of the Presentation Summit, and Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs, Ellen Finkelstein and Nolan Haims. Topics discussed include visual storytelling, iconography, flat design trends, the Presentation Guild,  using 3D with Office 365, and so much more.  Enjoy!

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Sharyn Fitzpatrick
Editor, PresentationXpert
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Presentation Guild Releases its First Presentation Industry Benchmark Salary Survey Report


As you recently read here in the PresentationXpert October and November newsletters, the Presentation Guild is now a part of the scene. And this week, a first-of-its-kind salary survey report makes its debut.

A bit of background, in case you missed it. The Presentation Guild is the new nonprofit trade association for folks like us. I’m Tony Ramos, one of the Guild’s twelve directors, and a presentation designer since 1993. Guild members are more often found behind the stage rather than behind the podium. We carry titles like presentation designer or small business owner or (perhaps begrudgingly) the slide person.

We officially launched the Guild in October 2016 during the Presentation Summit after nearly two years of planning and preparation. The board combined its strengths as professional presenters, presentation designers, trainers, authors, and software experts to connect people like you, elevate our field, and improve the world’s presentations. No small task. To this end, we’re offering traditional association benefits like education, networking, and communications. We’ve created live webinars, webcasts, social media, forums, newsletters, and online classes. Future projects are underway, including publishing industry standards based on board and member input, professional skills certifications, software discounts, job postings, portfolio showcases, and other ideas. Maybe it’s that one idea you’ve wanted to bring to life but had no network to activate. (All the presentation entrepreneurs and innovators reading this? You’re welcome.)


Presentation Guild at Presentation Summit, October 2016

For now, achieving the right mix of community, training, and support is our daily goal. Long term, we want to help set the presentation professional in the public spotlight as an essential industry position. It follows that we need to see what that position looks like today. Time for a survey!

Salary Survey Released

In August and September 2016, the Presentation Guild conducted a first-of-its-kind salary survey. It consisted of 18 questions designed to benchmark the compensation characteristics of the average presentationist (an individual who works in the presentation industry). We received 133 responses to our email and social media invitations to US-based presentationists. Our resulting analysis is a 26-page report available as a PDF.

Key Highlights
  • We are most likely to be between 45–64 years old
  • We are 1.4 times more likely to be female than male
  • Three-fourths of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • We are 4.6 times more likely to work in New York or California than any other state
  • We are 1.5 times more likely to work in-house for a corporation than other work environments
  • We have an average of 15 years’ experience
  • Average annual salary range? See page 16 of your copy of the report
Data Worth Highlighting
What is your job title?

One item that’s always piqued my curiosity is job title. For a decade, I supported a department of dozens of people, and they had almost as many names and descriptions for me: PowerPoint specialist, presentation guru, graphics guy, slide jockey.

The good news is that our professional field is still new enough that the world has not yet settled on a label to categorize us. Eighteen job titlepercent of respondents go by Presentation Designer. Nine percent are called Graphic Designer. But 39% go by titles which were not among the options offered by name in our survey. What does this mean? I think (and hope) it means we still have the latitude to define ourselves in words and aim it toward the future. I’m not saying you should suggest your boss promote you to Vice President of Words and Images, but keep in mind that Guy Kawasaki invented his own title and role (Chief Evangelist) at Apple way back when.

More realistically, however, the question of job title can get complicated. Add the survey finding that, for the majority of us, presentation work is considered an adjunct responsibility and is not considered our primary job even though a majority of our work hours are spent on presentations. To be working on a variety of tasks which are not 100% presentations may be ideal for you, or maybe not so much.

If you’re your own boss (and another survey page shows that a good many of us are), your options are even greater. President or CEO or consultant are easily understood and useful in a business context. Yet I would not downplay the potential conversations you could initiate by calling yourself PowerPoint Wizard or Digital Storyteller or even Presentationist. It has worked for me.

What is the highest level of education you have completed?

Smart set, we are. Three-fourths of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher. What this means depends on your situation.
Let’s say you’re self-employed, either as a solo practitioner or head of a small design studio. Your advancement is not tied to your level college eof formal education as much as it would be in a large organization, generally speaking. You’re more likely interested in highly specialized training that can be put to immediate and specific use, such as learning VBA coding.

If you’re an employee at a big company, though, you might read this survey with different purpose and urgency. That purpose may be to demonstrate that you might be fairly paid or underpaid commensurate with your education level. (If you are overpaid, well, I might direct you to the lovely Shopping page of our website.)

Either way, the majority of presentation professionals lack formal training in areas of presentation expertise. We clearly need more specialized training opportunities.


As a first-time survey, this was a rewarding endeavor for us at the Presentation Guild. We learned much about you, about the landscape we are in, and what is left to do. The last page features eleven points which plot out objectives we are embracing based on survey results. They include:

  • Establish clear and recognizable job titles
  • Develop and/or promote specialized training with CEU recognition
  • Develop a certification program
  • Encourage the inclusion of presentation design and presenting in college curricula
  • Promote the presentation industry
  • Survey those who hire presentationists so we can arrive at the table better armed, better trained, and ready to deliver a better value
Want a copy of the survey? Click here

Recognized and approved as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, the Presentation Guild welcomes all to join, regardless of experience or location.

About Tony Ramos

Square of 9261 smallTony Ramos is a founding director of the Presentation Guild. He has been using presentation software since 1993, when he started making terribly wordy slides for the world’s largest management consulting firm for nearly a decade.

Since then, he’s learned a bit about the art and science of it all. He began writing about what he and others were doing with presentation software. That now-defunct blog earned him four consecutive years of Microsoft’s MVP Award for PowerPoint.

Today, Tony tweets as The Presentationist (@tonyramos), volunteers time and labor for the Presentation Guild, and earns a living using PPT, Photoshop, and Illustrator for Fortune 500 clients, government agencies, and neighborhood garage sales. If you see him outside running with the dogs or biking with traffic, please honk and wave hi.

When Your Mariah Moment Happens


Did you hear the one about how powerful Mariah Carey’s voice is? You can hear it even when her mouth is not open. As you can imagine, there is no shortage of jokes about the singer’s epic fail on New Year’s Eve. Several have no doubt graced your Facebook or Twitter feed, you’ve seen the memes, watched the late-night show snippets, and probably discussed it with your friends and colleagues. How could it have happened, you might ask? Here’s the question I would prefer to be asked of presentation professionals?

What should you do when it happens to you?
Let’s clean up the facts just a bit before we begin, because while I believe that Carey is deserving of plenty of criticism, I want to make sure that it is fair. First off, she did not get caught lip-syncing. Lip-syncing is like playing air guitar: you go through the motions while the sound is produced elsewhere. Most live performances, especially in difficult environments, include a vocal track, over which the singer sings. That is what Carey was intending to do, but when her in-ear monitor went out, she lost her composure. The second fact, for whatever it is worth, is that she and her team warned the producers and stage managers of the balky transmitter pack well ahead of time and they evidently did nothing. The third thing to keep in mind is what a crazy and dynamic environment Times Square must have been. This would have been challenging for even the most consummate of professionals.

It’s easy to wonder why she couldn’t just sing the song without the benefit of her in-ear monitor? Shouldn’t a professional be able to do that? After all, it was her song! We can debate how demanding the environment was and speculate on whether she could hear the music at all, but that misses the point and brings us to the criticism of Carey that is most relevant to the presentation community: her image as a professional. You see, Mariah Carey is perfect. Her wardrobe is always perfect. Her hair impeccably coiffed. Her choreography painstakingly staged. Her background vocals exquisitely integrated. I recall when she was a judge on American Idol, many of the camera cuts to the judges’ table caught her fiddling with her hair. Everything about Mariah Carey’s on-stage persona is about being perfect.

And that’s the problem.
What do you do when you are supposed to be perfect but circumstances out of your control prevent it? What do you fall back on? There are no degrees of perfection–either you are perfect or you’re flawed. And that’s a really tough place to be as a performer, because of three axioms of our profession, which hold up across all public performances:

  • Audiences don’t want perfect presenters. They want people whom they feel are just like them.
  • Audiences respond best to presenters whom they feel are genuine and passionate.
  • Audiences root for presenters to succeed.

From this perspective, Carey was doomed from the very beginning. If your whole thing is perfection, what does that say about your ability to roll with punches? And unless you really are perfect in real life, does that stage persona evoke feelings of authenticity. No, this was a technical problem for which Mariah Carey was uniquely ill-equipped to handle.

Here is a continuum of possible responses to the situation:

  1. You stop performing, become visibly upset and frustrated and blame everyone around you.
  2. You stop, wait for the technology to be fixed, and if it can’t be, you continue anyway.
  3. You pretend nothing has happened and you fake it in the hopes that you make it.
  4. You apologize to the audience and tell them you’re going to do the best you can.
  5. You rally the audience to your side, you turn it into an experience, you start a singalong, you lead rounds, you laugh at yourself as you do a goofy dance, and in the process, you prevail over the moment.

Why would anyone pay the outrageous sums of a live concert?
I would tell you it is for the chance at No. 5 moments. As I think about my own concert experiences, the ones that are indelible are when unexpected things happened. Like when Paul McCartney started a song by singing the wrong lyrics, made his band stop, and then wondering if he had just happened upon something cool, a capellad his way through the mashed-up arrangement for a few bars. We ate it up. Or the time when Mick Jagger ran the length of the Candlestick Park outfield in the middle of Satisfaction, and Keith Richards dared him to not sing out of breath. They both cracked up and we ate it up. Or the time when the conductor of the San Jose Symphony Orchestra invited a seven-year-old boy from the audience to take over for him, making his musicians promise that they would try to keep time according to his direction. The pace became so fast that they could not keep up. And we ate it up.

Mariah Carey did not get past No. 1 and she made it worse in the following days when, instead of letting the whole thing blow over, her team defended her, lashed out at Dick Clark Productions (isn’t that a bit like blaming God?), and went so far as to suggest self-fornication to the producers for refusing to pull the performance from the West Coast telecast, destined to air three hours after the incident.

Let’s compare two singers. Let’s compare Mariah Carey’s response to New Year’s Eve with how Adele handled a complete sound failure during a 2016 performance. While Carey had a vocal track and complete accompaniment behind her (even if it was noisy), Adele found herself with no accompaniment at all.

Click here to watch the video at YouTube — it happens at the 2:30 mark.

Why is Adele so popular?
By her own admission, she misses notes all the time. And her range is just average. Is it incredible songwriting? Perhaps, but that is rarely the basis of the praise she earns. And her wardrobes are nothing like Mariah’s; they’re usually semi-frumpy dresses with sequins. And that’s just it: Adele is real. She can do something that less than 1% of the population can and for it, she earns obscene amounts of money, but she gives her audiences the powerful impression that she is just like them. Watch the clip to the end and listen to how she schmoozes them about the moment they had. I’ll issue a modest profanity alert, but you know what, that actually makes her even more real.

Thanks to Mariah Carey, our industry has a perfectly gift-wrapped new year resolution. Do not practice your polish, do not work on your image, and do not try to be the best dresser you know. Your audiences do not care about those things. Instead, ask yourself who you truly are and whether your audiences could recognize your most genuine qualities and characteristics. Ask yourself how you can manage all of the demands of a public presenter — the technology, the slides, audience expectation, and your own nerves — and reach a place where you are showing the room your most authentic self.

Above all, your authenticity puts you in a position to be the very best storyteller you can be, and that is your No. 1 aim.
In addition, finding your real self gets your audiences to a place where they can root for you, where they might be endeared by you. And it gets you to a place where you can confidently deal with the most unexpected circumstances of all. Stuff happens to everyone so it’s no big deal if it also happens to you.

Mariah Carey has not shown herself to be capable of finding that quality within herself. Here’s hoping that you can.

Rick-AltmanAbout Rick Altman

He is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. Rick is the author of 15 books. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the internationally-acclaimed learning event for presentation professionals.  An avid sportsman, he was not a good enough tennis player to make it onto the professional tour. All the rest of this has been his Plan B.

My 10 BEST Tips for Female Presenters to Rock It


It has been my experience and observation that women presenters tend to be more reserved and self-conscious. Female presenters tend to overthink everything and strive for perfection, even when perfection doesn’t exist. It’s a combination of things that make it more difficult for female presenters to begin, much less finish, a presentation. I have put together my list of advice that female presenters need to know.

  • Don’t let self-doubt creep in.Women are infamous for self-doubting their capabilities and shrivel at the thought of stepping in front of other people to talk. This doubt leads to feelings of inability to perform and allows the mind to wonder how listeners will judge and criticize. Women can do everything that men can do, and sometimes better, you just have to trust yourself that you know your subject matter and are extremely qualified to give this presentation.
  • Overcome the fear of public speaking.The chronic thoughts of self-doubt generally morph into full blown presentation anxiety complete with sweating, nausea, tension, and sickness. Even if fearful presenters get enough courage to step in front of others, they usually cringe and fold into themselves and struggle to finish. The fear of public speaking is a perceived fear, where the brain has been trained to react in a way that demonstrates one is inferior, you can overcome it with a little effort. You can avoid not only the fear but all of the feelings that go along with it. (Check out my article 5 Quick Tips to Overcome Presentation Fear.)
  • Stop overthinking.Women are well known to change their mind a time or two, but they also tend to overthink the situation. The debate on what to talk about, can I afford to leave this out, how do I explain the situation and not babble on and on, can leave your mind in debate for extended periods of time with no resolve.
  • Stop the madness!All of this thinking, wandering, and debating can make you tired before you even get to the presentation site. Ladies, we have a big job to do, and nobody is more qualified than you to do it. Any presenter has a single obligation to fulfill, and that is to educate the audience and ensure that the listeners walk away with information that is helpful to them; ladies just do it with more grace and poise.

Here are my best tips for female presenters to let go of the self-doubt and overcome the fear of talking to other human beings.

  1. Prepare – Yes, you need to include the necessary points without any extra, and you can solve this with index cards. Writing one idea per card and laying them all out on a table can help the most indecisive presenter fully see what is necessary and what is not. Write it up in an outline and you have officially begun the presentation plan.
  2. Evaluate – Every presenter needs to take a step away and think for a minute to evaluate the plan. You are looking for reassurance that your presentation is not overflowing with content, that it includes stories and examples, and follows some logical order to ensure that you know where you are going, and your audience can easily follow along with little effort.
  3. Prep until comfortable – This advice is different for every person, so you will have to figure out what is the right amount of preparation for you to feel comfortable. You want to practice your presentation as many times as necessary that you can easily recall it without notes. Do not resort to memorization because this will cause many additional complications, trust me.
  4. While you are still in preparation mode, now is the perfect time to go to the restaurant or hotel where the event will take place and get a good look, maybe even take some pictures of your own to study back at the office. If you are preparing for an event out of town, ask your contact person to send you pictures of the room or at least a sketch of the setup. Knowing this information will allow you to visualize the situation in practices and strategize where is the best place to stand for maximum effectiveness.
  5. Dress for success – Plan out your wardrobe in advance, taking into consideration what the atmosphere of the presentation site will be like and if you’ll be wearing a mic. (It can get complicated running a lavaliere microphone cord through some outfits.) Take into account the decor of the room, and what you expect the audience to be wearing. Check my blog, What Do I Wear for My Presentation, where I go in depth on how to weigh your options.
  6. Arrive early – One of my personal anxieties is not the presentation itself, but the travel to get there. Regardless of whether the travel time includes a simple car trip or a plane ride, you want to make sure that you have arrived early. If you have confused the location, then you have time to fix it, otherwise knowing that you are where you are supposed to be is a relief in itself and now you are not out of breath from running and rushing.
  7. Meet the audience – Arriving early has its benefits because you have the time to take a few deep breaths and to meet new people. You are meeting the people that sacrificed their time away from work or family to see you present. You are meeting new friends that will be rooting you on and are excited to learn the new things that you have to teach. Most importantly, having the opportunity to meet the audience means you are no longer speaking to strangers; you are talking to new friends and knowing that tiny piece of information can turn your presentation from a lecture into a conversation just like speaking to any friend.
  8. Own the room – Imagining that you are wearing your power suit can make you feel powerful. According to a 2010 study, taking a high-power pose, one that takes up maximum space with your body can make stress hormones ineffective. Take a quickcapture potty break and psych yourself up, a one-person pep rally. You have done all of the necessary steps to make this happen; you are in control. Now is the time to own the room!
  9. Celebrate because you did it – You followed through on the commitment and not only did you fulfill your obligation, but it was much better than you thought it would be. Maybe you even had fun and would consider presenting again in the future. Revel in the lives that you have enriched with your message and how all of that stress was for nothing. Concentrate on how interested the audience was the entire time you spoke and that they had so many questions about applying the lesson to their individual situations. Remember that for at least this moment, you were the teacher, and you made a difference.
  10. Debrief & improve – After the celebration (maybe it even includes champagne) it’s time to think about the situation as a whole from an objective point of view and debrief with notes on what went well, and what can be improved. Consider any moments that you had to rephrase something because it wasn’t clear, or you had to add something that wasn’t supposed to be there but was, in fact, necessary. Remove any pieces that you initially thought were necessary, but weren’t. Now is the time to pull the index cards back out that weren’t incorporated into this presentation and think about how you can integrate them into a future presentation.


img_8893-682x1024Erica Olson, founder of Speak Simple, has delivered 1,000+ presentations, coached hundreds, and won her clients millions of dollars. She is an author, professional speaker, interpreter, and presentation coach that helps her clients become comfortable when presenting and relate with their audience. Erica specializes in helping with technical professionals to simplify their message to engage audiences and win new work and includes strategy, preparation process, learning styles, simplification, & delivery. Her book, Speak Simple – The Art of Simplifying Technical Presentations, and her self-guided presentation course, SpeakU, are great resources for her numerous clients, many of whom Erica has helped to win millions of dollars in new work via bid presentations, thought leadership presentations, and increased keynote speaker fees.

Webinar Programs: Ready, Set, Go!


In our December 1st webinar, professional speaker and moderator, James Hilliard offered us his extensive insights on creating the perfect webinar right formula in his Webinar Bootcamp event. If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here and download the handouts.

Now that you have a good foundation for creating a winning formula for a webinar, let’s think bigger and figure out how to get there. Think webinar program! Why? Strive to create a webinar program and individual webinars that provide actionable knowledge and information to your audience. Virtual online events or webinars are a growing tool that we are using to market and sell to a target market; train their employees or customers, and more.

Ready, Set, Action

You need to think of each webinar and your program as a series you are producing.  You need to become a producer and set each picture3webinar up through a well-defined process. It is important to select the right speakers as your talent to tell the story that fits your business and content.  Use a checklist to make sure that you don’t miss any of the opportunities or strategies to make your webinar program and each webinar a success.  Approach each webinar as a scripted presentation with engaging interactions and polling built into the plan.

A webinar program is more than one event.  At PresentationXpert, we have created a Xpert Thinking Webinar Program and the days of the webinar are called Webinar Wednesdays. This strategy is one way you can connect with your target audience with events they look forward on each Webinar Wednesday.  A large percentage of our webinar audiences have attended more than one of our webinars. We appreciate and value that loyalty. Our goal has been to connect our community with Xperts that deliver actionable knowledge and we have accomplished that, thanks to a wonderful community of speakers and readers.

You need to think about the experience pre-live event, during the live event and post-event.  You want to create content that will entice them to register.  And start to think of it as a production because it is one.  A well-planned webinar program will work if executed successfully.  You need to understand the ins and outs of webinar production – pay attention to the details including technical, promotion, and implementation.  Follow pre-designed, customized webinar process that fits your business.  It is important to outline and detail each step.  Wondering what steps you need to put in place to create an effective program?  Here is one example, a visual way to look at creating your own production process.

picture4When they attend the live event, make sure to reach out to them in chat, use polls, and other interactive tools.  The goal is to keep the conversation going so that they get the most out of the live event. We do an ice breaker exercise in the fifteen minutes, prior to the live webinar.  It is one of my most favorite parts as you really get to know your attendees and what they are looking for from the webinar content. In the live event, plan interruptions so that the webinar is not just a one-way dialog.

Ask them to raise their hands, take polls, and share their own experiences. Follow this up with social media using a hashtag strategy, if this is a public webinar.

I have done over 2,000 webinars and I have found that the reasons why webinars are successful are because I produce them like a live program.  Understand the ins and outs of webinar production – pay attention to the details including technical, promotion, and implementation. Follow pre-designed, customized webinar process that fits your business.  Here is a formula that I use for setting up webinars:


I create a production worksheet for each webinar.  Each webinar is created from a Word template I have customized for each series.  It is a list of everything you need to produce, promote and moderate a live webinar.   It is important to outline and detail each step. Here is a sample:
Here is a list of what I capture:materials

  • Name and contact information
  • Social media account links
  • Headshot
  • Bio
  • If they have books include link to Amazon and a cover photo
  • Technical Leads and their contact info
  • Abstract of the webinar content with a suggested title
  • Confirmed Date and Time for Live Webinar
  • Confirmed Date andTime for Dry Run Practice
  • GoToWebinar (GTW) Abstract
  • GTW Confirmations and Messages Scripted
  • GTW Log-ins for each person/ per event
  • Handouts Identified
  • Website Catalog Page
  • Website Catalog Excerpt
  • Creative such as website ads, newsletter ads, etc
  • Email HTML Content including subject lines
  • Social Media Content
  • Social Media Calendar
  • Post-Event Activities
  • YouTube Abstract
  • GTW Abstract post-event
  • Catalog abstract
  • Catalog Excerpt
  • Project Schedule with due dates and assignments

If you want a copy of my template, please email me.

Content is king

Working on the presentation, you should host a content creation meeting with the speaker where you will outline key points for messaging, identify key creative assets, and set up the logistics such as providing company PowerPoint templates and setting due dates for content. Think about the experience from the attendee’s perspective and use that to guide your content. Divide the presentation and the webinar into manageable steps. Outline the content and process for each step so nothing gets missed. Here is an example you could use as a guide:


Handouts are an important way to deliver your content. Do you just PDF your slides and share them? Is there useful information provided? Think outside the box when it comes to handouts. Rick Altman did a fabulous webinar for us on “Surviving Handout Hell”. It is worth your time to watch it.


Quality is important when you create your content. Make sure that your speaker delivers visual elements that can make their presentation flow. No “Death by PowerPoint” allowed! Work with them to ensure consistency and style of the presentation. Make sure the message is coherent, consistent, and concise. Ensure that the ideas that are clearly conveyed; data is convincingly displayed; charts and diagrams enhance the logic and flow of the presented work; and that those visual elements- images, animation, background, color, and text – deliver the content message. And please proof-read the presentation and provide edits to make the content look professional.


Sometimes an audience is quiet and you have no questions. One trick I always use it to the speaker prepare questions in advance that they think an audience would ask when they deliver the content. Use them to create an interactive dialog with the speaker(s). And in the case where you have a speaker, who might have intermittent internet connectivity, make sure they provide the answers to some of the questions. You may chuckle but in January 2016, Taylor Croonquist did a webinar for us from Thailand. We lost him for three minutes. I took the questions and answered them as if they were audience questions. No one knew but Taylor and I (and now you all). Prepare with a Plan B, and a Plan C!

Most of all, enjoy it!  Webinars are a lot of fun and can be very engaging.


Sharyn Fitzpatrick,                        Webinar Chick






Shopping for Holiday Presentation Templates: Free, Paid or Make Your Own

Happy group people in santa hat at Xmas business party.

It’s the holidays and you must create that presentation for the holiday party or the company celebration. And you are so busy still trying to catch up on shopping, decorating your house, and working on those projects due at the end of the year. And having that PowerPoint slide or template would be a big help. So what are your options?

Option 1: Use a Free Template

Picking one may be your hardest option. There are a lot of free PowerPoint templates available online. You might be required to register or to watch a short video commercial which is not unusual on free games, templates or apps.

Check These Out:

Free PowerPoint Backgrounds: Click on each one to download the template




PowerPoint to DVD Website: 


Download Christmas Template 1
Download Christmas Template 2
Download Christmas Template 3

There are many others to choose from on their site so go explore. 

Check out this Hanukkah Template from PPTTemplate.net


Download any of these free templates from SlideLikes.com or KingSoft.

Option 1: Buy a Holiday Template

Presenter Media:  They offer packages as low as $39 per month which include over 10,000 images to choose from including holidays. Here is a sample of their animated templates. 


Option 3: Build Your Own

Yes, you like the templates that are available but you want something that you can brand or present as your own. So, let ‘s look at some choices. First,  you could use a template that you found online for free but change the colors or add something else to make it your own. Struggling with ideas. This is where PowerPoint’s Design Option will inspire you. Just open a new slide deck. Insert  your picture and if you PowerPoint 2016, the magic happens and you see options to consider


Still looking for some inspiration. That is when I use the command Insert online pictures. These offer royalty free images or ones that can be reused under Creative Commons attributes licenses.

None of the ones I could find on Bing were what I was looking for nor did I feel they were high quality. So, I went to Big Stock.com to search on New Year’s and there were over 57K choices.


I searched for the most popular and settled on two that I liked. 2017 is the year of the Rooster so using that imagery is different and fun.


Using the Windows Photo editor, you can play with your images and discover options such as those in the picture below:



I also brought it into PowerPoint and looked for inspiration but it really didn’t help with this rooster picture.


Let’s look at the other Rooster Picture as well.rooster-ppt-desng-optoin-2

I decided to make my own version of these pictures and from there, make my own templates.  First, here are the two pictures with the PXpert logo added:


And here is how I used each one in a PowerPoint template.  The Design Feature definitely gave me good ideas to start with and adapt.


What PowerPoint Design suggested



What I changed it to…


How I changed it with the second picture and changing the color

So there is no limit to what you can do so be creative, have fun and enjoy the holiday season!

Sharyn sig - first name


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