How to Build an Interactive Infographic in PowerPoint

Lately we’ve been thinking a lot about pushing presentation software past simple slides. Keeping with the theme, we received an interesting challenge from one of our clients: an interactive infographic produced and executed in PowerPoint.

Why PowerPoint you might ask? Why not Prezi or Flash? For clients with a large sales team, introducing a new software across the board can be cost prohibitive. We needed a platform that the sales team was already comfortable with and which would allow the team to update numbers and figures on the fly.

PowerPoint was the clear answer, but since PowerPoint takes a lot of flack for its linear format, how could we make a truly interactive infographic?

We were up for the challenge. Here’s a sample of the finished product:

Interactive_PPT

Here’s how we did itand a few of the challenges we ran into along the way.

The first step was building the base infographic. The client needed to be able to edit text on the fly, so we pulled in our icons from Illustrator and built everything else natively in PowerPoint.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint | Main Image

Click for a Larger View

To keep things easy to edit, we put the base infographic into a master slide – this way any edit to the infographic would immediately populate through the file, eliminating the need to edit the base image on every slide.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint Expanded Data Slide

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Next we designed data detail overlays for the expanded information set to pop out from various data points. We gave the expanded information slides their own master style which included a fade effect. We designed the popouts and data visualization in the main slide editor – one slide per pop out.

Once we had all our info built out, it was time to build in some “interactivity.”

Truly, PowerPoint is built to be a linear presentation tool. The intent is that the speaker will advance one slide to the next without deviating from the plan.

There is one tool in PowerPoint that allows for some non-linear jumping: Hyperlinks (Insert > Hyperlink). The hyperlinking tool can be used to make richer and more informative presentations by linking slide elements to web pages, associated documents or slides within the presentation.

Our plan was to use inter-slide linking to create an interactive infographic piece. We wanted to link various data points to detail pop out slides so that the presenter could interact with his audience and pull up additional information. Here we ran into our first obstacle:

Obstacle #1: Hyperlinks Cannot be Applied to Groups

Our data points were all made up of a mix of design elements: icons, text boxes, lines, etc. Without group linking, we’d have had to link each element, leaving un-linked space between elements and bogging down our file. Instead, we needed a clean link that would allow the user to click anywhere over the group of elements and bring up the expanded data.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint Hyperlinks

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To get around the issue, we created a series of invisible boxes to overlay our data facts. Before we eliminated their fill, they looked like this. We then linked these boxes to the appropriate slides and made them invisible. Now clicking over any grouping hit these invisible link boxes, which brought up additional information, creating an interactive infographic.

Obstacle #2: Slide Transition Lag

Now our file is functional, but we were experiencing a lag between clicking a data point and the new slide coming up of several seconds. A lag this severe could potentially cause the user to panic during a presentation, clicking twice and confusing the file. Even more importantly, it indicates that PowerPoint it working too hard and could quit unexpectedly.

The problem was the sheer number of design elements on each slide. The base infographic contained so many shapes and images that PPT had to redraw for each slide.

Interactive Infographic Reorder Layers

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Since the client wanted edibility, we couldn’t use a static image, so we met half way. We pulled all the text off the slide and saved out the resulting image as a hi res .png file. We than imported that to a master slide and layered all the text over the image. To keep editing easy, all the text is in one group, so it can be easily brought to the front of all the clear link box layers and edited there.

Obstacle #3: Misclicks End the File

To move from each detail slide back to the main interactive infographic, we included a “close” button on each detail pop out that linked to a slide containing the main infographic. The user could then click on another data point to bring up a new detail slide.

A little playing revealed that any misclick, whether it be missing the “close” button or clicking a spot on the main infographic that was not covered by a link box, would end the file. PowerPoint was reading that misclick as a slide advance and, because we were on the last slide, it thought the presentation had concluded.

To resolve the issue, we added another clear link box. This one was the size and shape of the entire slide and linked right back to the main interactive infographic. A misclick now hit this link box, bringing up the same slide again and giving the user another chance to correctly hit his target.

In order to keep the other links clickable, the large link layer needed to be behind any other active links and in front of any text or images. Here’s what the full slide link box looked like on the detail slides before we removed the fill. It sits behind the “close” link and in front of any other elements.

Interactive Infographic PowerPoint Link Layer

Click for a Larger View

PowerPoint is often dismissed as a necessary office evil incapable of producing attractive and unique presentations. But with a little creativity and know-how, PowerPoint can be an accessible and powerful platform to create engaging and advanced marketing pieces, including interactive infographics.

About the Author:

Bethany Auck is the founder and creative director of SlideRabbit, a presentation design boutique specializing in custom presentation development and infographics. SlideRabbit builds persuasive narratives and poignant demonstratives into powerfully-branded custom presentation layouts. The company serves an international client base and specializes in litigation presentation development, sales and marketing presentations and corporate communication presentations. For more information about SlideRabbit’s services, visit http://sliderabbit.com/

Use Analogies to Lift Presentations to Another Level

During this past holiday season, my 8-year-old son, Jake, asked me why the story of Hanukkah was so important. I told him that Hanukkah celebrates a miracle that happened long ago in an ancient Temple. In the Temple they needed to keep the candles lit, but there was only enough oil to keep the lamps burning for one day. Yet, the oil lasted — not one or two, but eight days! It was a great miracle, which is celebrated every year.

Jake was unimpressed and returned to his cartoon. How could I possibly make this relevant and relatable to a modern day 8- year-old in terms he could understand?

I asked him to imagine that we were taking an eight-day trip. He’d brought along his iPod, but had forgotten the charger, and his battery had enough power for just one day. Surprisingly, the battery never died, and he had power for the entire trip to play games and listen to music.

In an instant, he got it. He said, “That would be a miracle!”

Power of Analogy

This is a perfect example of how analogies can transform a message, concept, or technical topic into terms someone else can understand. Analogies are powerful, because they allow us to convey complex or technical information and ideas to an unfamiliar audience.

Here are five benefits of using analogies. They:

1.     Make the complex simple

2.     Identify similarities and differences

3.     Bridge new ideas to familiar ideas

4.     Add believability

5.     Connect topics to the audience members’ lives

In her new and much buzzed-about book Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg likens the careers of men and women to something we can all relate:  “Imagine that a career is like a marathon … a marathon where both men and women arrive at the starting line equally fit and trained. The gun goes off. The men and women run side-by-side. The male marathoners are routinely cheered on: ‘Looking strong! On your way!’ For women, however, the shouts are: ‘You know you don’t have to do this!'”

This vivid analogy creates a powerful mental picture that helps make her message stick.

Why does this matter?

Every day we need to inform and influence audiences through writing and speaking. In your career, the extent to which you are effective at doing both will be a major factor in your success.

Analogies are one of the more powerful devices in your arsenal of effective communications tools. By using them, you help make your message clear, simple, believable, relevant and memorable.

Your analogies will be most effective if they are:

•Visual – paint a picture the audience can connect with.
•Relevant to all audience members and diverse – use diverse analogies instead of just one type (like sports) to ensure that you connect with them universally.
•Memorable and repeatable – the more witty and provocative the better.

Consider the analogy used by economist Nigel Gault of IHS Global Insight, when interviewed on NPR on March 8:

“The sequester is an unnecessary dose of cold water when the economy would otherwise be gathering steam.” He created a terrific mental picture to which everyone can relate.

Another example of a great analogy was used by Ellen Ernst Kossek, co-author of CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age.

Commenting on the decision by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to abolish telecommuting, Kossek said, “Abolishing telework is like canceling the prom because some immature people spiked the punch bowl.”

Wow! This analogy is impactful because it’s visual, relevant and memorable! It’s something that sticks in the mind, and is likely to be repeated.

About the Author:

Amy Glass is Director of Training and a Senior Facilitator at BRODY Professional Development, for 30 years providing professionals with a competitive advantage in the areas of presentation power, facilitation & meeting effectiveness, writing for impact and relationship management. For more information on BRODY’s programs and services, or to subscribe to monthly newsletters or receive a  free eBook, go to BrodyPro.com or call 215-886-1688. ©2013 Reprinted with permission

 

Improve Your Presentations, Two Slides at a Time

At the end of my workshops I ask participants if they have practical ideas that they can implement immediately to improve the effectiveness of their slides. Without exception, they all say that they have plenty of ideas they can use. In fact, the challenge is that they feel overwhelmed with everything they want to start doing to their presentations.

If they tried to apply all the learning to all the slides in their typical presentations, it wouldn’t work. They would end up spending too much time and give up with few, if any, changes being made. I want the participants in my workshops to apply what they have learned, so I share with them an approach that helps manage the work of improving presentations.

I call it the “raise the average quality by working on the bottom two” strategy. Here’s how it works. If you look at the average quality of all the slides in your normal presentation, it will be at a level that you know could be better. Some slides are good, some are average, and some are below average.

Chances are that there are a few slides, I use two as a typical number, that are the worst slides in your presentation. You don’t really like them, they are hard to present, and the audience doesn’t connect with them. What I suggest is that you work on just those two worst slides and improve them for your next presentation. Working on only two slides is a manageable amount and almost everyone says they can certainly redo two slides.

By improving the bottom two slides in your presentation, you raise the average quality of the entire presentation. Next time, work on the next bottom two slides. Every time you present, work on the worst two slides in the deck. After five or ten presentations, you will have addressed almost all the slides that need improving and your presentation will be much better than when you started.

It may have taken some time, but the results are worth it. By tackling the presentation two slides at a time, you break the work up into manageable chunks that anyone can handle.

This  “raise the average quality by working on the bottom two” strategy allows people to see a path for applying what they have learned. Start today by looking at the two worst slides in your presentation and improve them. If you are looking for other ways to improve your slides, check out the articles I have available on my site. They are organized by category so you can quickly find what you are looking for,

About the Author:

Dave Paradi runs Think Outside the Slide web site, is a consultant on high-stakes presentations, the author of seven books and is a PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

Art of Motion: Animation without Embarrassment ! (Free Webinar)

Wed, Apr 24, 2013 11:00 AM – 12:00 pm PDT/2 pm EDT       REGISTER NOW!

Take your pick, PowerPoint’s animation engine can be seen as one of the finest works of digital engineering everor as one of the most loathsome creations in history. Or both. That’s a pretty powerful software application that can evoke such a wide range of responses. As always, the real control is in the hands of the violinist, not the violin, and the type of concerto that you choose to compose has everything to do with your ability to recognize the true purpose of animated objects in your presentation. This session will help you appreciate properly-conceived animation.

Topics will include:
• The power of movement, for better or for worse
• When in doubt, use wipe and fade
• Sequencing data chunks for better understanding
• Creating trust with your audience

About Rick Altman: 
Rick Altman

Rick Altman is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. He is the author of 15 books. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the internationally-acclaimed learning event for presentation professionals (www.PresentationSummit.com).  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,

 

What Do We Remember from PowerPoint Presentations?

During 2012, Dr. Carmen Simon, co-founder of Rexi Media, carried out a major research study on memory – specifically, on how many slides people actually remember from a typical PowerPoint presentation. The study was based on significant changes in information processing and delivery that have taken place in the past decade:

  • An exponential increase in the amount of information delivered, and the time spent consuming it.
  • A sense of being overwhelmed by the quantity of information available, while still craving more.
  • The ubiquitous use of PowerPoint, or PowerPoint styles (landscape slides, templates, bullet points) to deliver information.
  • Presentations that all look the same, making it very difficult for messages to stand out.

Over 1,500 participants were invited to view a short, online PowerPoint presentation of 20 slides. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the 26 conditions, which included different versions of the presentation. After 48 hours, they were asked to recall anything they could remember about the presentation.

There were several key findings:

  • Participants remembered on average 4 slides out of the 20.
  • Neutral images helped recall when compared with text only, but not to any great extent.
  • Participants remembered content according to a pattern, not just random slides.
  • Significant changes every fifth slide tended to aid recall.

What does this tell us? How can we use this information to improve our presentations? Carmen Simon suggests that there a number of important clues:

The Magic Number Four. Studies suggest that people can only hold about 4 or 5 items at a time in short term memory. The important thing is therefore to make sure that we point them at the right things to remember.

People remember the unusual. If everything in a presentation is equally intense (color, graphics, in your face etc), or equally bland (text, indentations and bullet points), we have no control over what, if anything, people will remember.

Concrete visual language aids recall. The most remembered slides in the study were those about what colors to wear or not to wear when presenting online (don’t wear red, don’t wear black, white or stripes, but pastel colors are good). In these cases, pictures might help, but most people can picture the text anyway without much help.

color coordinate Simon

Color coordinate your slides


Grouping your slides, “chunk” your presentation
. Sometimes this can be done by the color of the text or the background, or maybe by the use of a different set of images. Well thought-out connections between different parts of a presentation are more important than just pushing more content.

People crave novelty. If you want a presentation to attract attention, find out what your audience would consider to be novel. People are more likely to remember what they find new and surprising, rather than what they find familiar. Where information differs from what we would expect, we sit up and take notice.

Repitition aids recall Simon

Repetition aids recall

 

Repetition and alliteration helps. The most memorable slides in the research all used the word “wear.” Using the same word, or finding three or four words that begin with the same letter to stress your key points will probably make the ideas stick in the mind.

People remember negative advice (what not to wear) better than neutral or positive content. However, at the same time, it played on their vanity – do this, or don’t do this in order to “look good.” Another frequently remembered slide suggested presenters should not lean back in their chairs as it made them appear short and fat. In a society that craves positive images, ego enhancing content attracts extra attention, and aids recall.

Ego boosting content Simon

Ego-boosting content

For more information about this topic, download a fully referenced paper  on the Rexi Media research.

About the Author:

Rexi Media, a presentation skills consulting company based in San Francisco, works with over thirty specialists in the field of advanced presentation techinques.

 

The Location of Your Presentation Screen Sends a Message

The presenter is the most important element of any presentation, but where the presentation screen is located can send a different message.

Most presenters place the projection screen in the center-middle of the room, forcing the presenter into a corner and setting up competition for the audience’s attention. Whenever you can, move the screen into the upper-right front corner of the room to send a message that you’re the principal focus of the presentation, not your PowerPoint slides or Prezi visuals.

That added space you create up front will also allow you to move around more easily and better engage with your audience. All of which helps to humanize your approach and put the spotlight where it belongs, on you the speaker.

PowerPoint – Turn it on and then turn it off

PM-mic-image-180

The most common scenario with presenters with PowerPoint is on before they start speaking and never off until they are done. The projection area is always filled with an image or text that competes with the presenter. Try this technique. Do not show your first slide until several minutes into your presentation. Let the focus of attention be on you and your message. Once the audience is familiar with both, then introduce your slides. The end of your presentation should get the same treatment. End your slides before finishing your presentation. Let the focus be on you and your message as you wrap thing up.

Charles Greene III
Presentation Magician
Washington, DC
CharlesGreene.com

An Easy Way to Spice Up PowerPoint

Most of us won’t be abandoning PowerPoint any time soon, what with the ongoing expectations — corporate or otherwise — to use the standard slide format of headline-and-bulleted text, and given the ease of crafting such content. But there are plenty of simple ways to keep audiences from tuning out during what they can perceive as a numbing parade of text-only slides.

Replacing even a few slides with visually-stimulating images is one way. For example, one slide with a picture showing a tornado in Oklahoma can communicate infinitely more than a half-dozen bullet slides describing the destructive power of Mother Nature. Project the picture and then add the spoken narration: “The winds associated with a Level 3 tornado can drive straw through a 4-inch post. And they can toss a 2,000-pound car a quarter mile.”

Adding such slides doesn’t take much extra work, and it pays off in refocusing audience attention. It also communicates to viewers that this isn’t just another cookie-cutter presentation created the night before it was delivered.

The Most Valuable PowerPoint Feature You’re Not Using


By Rick Altman

The best-kept secret of modern versions of PowerPoint? That’s a no-brainer, as I experience it almost every time I interact with users. When I am brought into an organization to consult on presentation skills, most in the room don’t know about it. When I give webinars, I can practically hear their oohs and aahs when I show it.

And at the Presentation Summit conference, where 200 of the most earnest and passionate presentation professionals gather each year, I routinely get many dozens of users in a room producing a collective gasp.

I refer to the Selection and Visibility Pane, introduced in PowerPoint 2007 and largely overlooked by most users of 2007 and 2010. I attribute this to two things: 1) This function doesn’t actually create anything; and 2) With lower-resolution displays, the icon shrinks to the size of a pinhead and most don’t even see it.

Let’s reverse this discouraging trend right now, shall we? The S&V task pane addresses several of the most frustrating aspects of the software over the last decade. It deserves your undying love and devotion. Here are three big reasons why.

Select Objects on a Crowded Slide

The simplest virtue of S&V is the ease it affords you in selecting objects that are hard to reach with a mouse or even invisible to you. When objects overlap one another, reaching the ones on the bottom of the pile has traditionally required contortions, such as temporarily cutting or moving the ones on top or pressing Tab until you think the selection handles maybe kinda, sorta are around the desired object.

Those headaches are all in your rearview mirror now, as Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1

 

With S&V, you can select objects by clicking on their names in the task pane, bringing much-needed sanity to what should be a menial task. Once selected, you can do anything to an object that you otherwise would have. As I said earlier, this pane doesn’t really do anything except make it easier for you to do what you want.

Rename Objects

Figure 1 might look unusual to you because you had never laid eyes on S&V before, but there is another cause for a raised eyebrow: Circle in the front? Circle in the back? Where did those names come from? Most of you know what kind of names PowerPoint assigns to objects because you have been scratching your heads over them for the better part of a decade.

Rectangle 23
TextBox 9
AutoShape 34

Historically, PowerPoint has been maddeningly obtuse in its naming scheme and you’ve never been able to do anything about it except curse. But with S&V, you can assign names to your objects that actually make sense. You’d probably do better than Circle in the Middle, and that’s the point: you get to decide what to call your objects.

Renaming objects becomes more than just a cute screenshot opportunity when you have complex animation to create. PowerPoint’s obtuse object names are duplicated in the Animation task pane and with ambitious animation needs, you could find yourself drowning in a sea of obtusity.

With Rectangle 23, 24, and 25, which one enters first, which one moves to the center of the slide, and which one fades away? Arrghh!

Thanks to S&V, you can do much better. You can name objects according to their appearance or purpose and have a much easier time creating animations for them.

Case in Point: Solavie, the skin care product that offers formulations for six different earthly environments. To highlight these formulations, the six icons in the lower-right corner move and morph into the six photos across the top, after which each string of text cascades in. So lots of identical shapes doing similar things, one after the other – imagine pulling that off with typical PowerPoint names.

But Figure 2  shows how powerful object renaming can be. Each object is named according to its environment type, making the animation process orders of magnitude easier.

Figure 2

Hide and Unhide

Sometimes it is not enough to be able to name objects. Sometimes you just have to get them the heck out of the way. When you are working on the final parts of a 45-second animation, it becomes incredibly tedious to have to start from the beginning each time you want to test it. You need to be able to start from the middle or near the end.

Prior to S&V, if you needed to temporarily remove an object, you had to cut objects to the Clipboard and work quickly before you accidentally send something else there. Or work up some bizarre strategy of duplicating a slide, doing your business there, then moving those objects back to the original slide.

Now we have an elegant and simple solution: make an object invisible. Figure 3  shows the beauty and the genius of hiding objects, as the tail end of the Solavie animation gets the attention that it deserves. As you can see, when you hide an object, it leaves the animation stream, making late-stage testing a piece of cake. Here, just the final two environment types are still visible. The earlier four are still there, just temporarily hidden.

Figure 3

Access

Selection & Visibility lives on the Home ribbon in the Editing group. PowerPoint ribbons have a bad habit of changing right when you might want something on them, and that contributes to the anonymity of a small icon that is there one minute and gone the next.

Indeed, there is no way to predict when you might want to use S&V. Creating, inserting, designing, animating – using S&V cuts across all contexts of PowerPoint operation. So it’s helpful to know about its keyboard shortcut of Alt+F10. There’s no mnemonic that you can apply to that shortcut – it’s as easy to forget as the function it belongs to.

So you just have to commit it to memory. When you’re in the throws of creation, just press Alt+F10. Pretty good chance that little task pane will come in handy.

About the Author:

Rick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He is host of the acclaimed Presentation Summit conference and is author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better. For more information, visit www.betterppt.com

 

Stand Out By Using These Visual Alternatives to PowerPoint

By Angela DeFinis

When it comes to visual aids for a presentation, what’s the first thing you think of? If you said “PowerPoint™” or “slideware,” you’re in the majority. That’s the default most presenters rely on. But the answers about visual aids that I’ve been getting from my clients recently (and what I’ve seen at their locations) have surprised even me.

For example, I was working with a client in June and walked into the training room to find a chalkboard and box of chalk greeting me.

A few weeks later I walked into a client’s conference room to find an overhead projector.

Last week I was walking down the halls of a large tech company and peered into a conference room. I saw two walls of whiteboard covered with neatly drawn flow charts, bullet charts, and various other schematics—in bright colors.

A few days ago I was working with a client who used colorful 3×5 index cards to organize his key points and deliver his presentation. He rarely uses slideware but relies instead on his conversational style and deep subject knowledge.

And just yesterday I watched a presentation where the presenter used a flipchart.

Thriving Without PowerPoint

So, when was the last time you used a chalkboard, an overhead projector, a whiteboard, a flipchart, or even no visuals at all?

These clients I visited from various industries and organizations—a dental school, a utility company, a software company, a transportation company, and a non-profit organization—all taught me a lesson.

It’s easy to become complacent and narrow-minded about the types of visual aids we use—or don’t use. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of thinking that to be effective, a visual needs to be cutting edge and show off the latest visual gymnastics that PowerPoint can produce. And while I was at each location to share “best practices” and reveal the top design tips and staging usage, I learned that every one of these places and people were effective and had an impact because they knew their audience and used visual tools that they could relate to.

So when it comes to visual aid selection, here’s my best advice: Analyze your audience so you know what they expect and what will work for them. Then, understand the options available to you. Know what you are comfortable with and what will help you do your best to meet your audience’s expectations.

When you follow that guidance, you’ll be able to produce visual aids that help both you and your message come alive and connect to the heart and mind of every audience member.

About the Author:

Angela DeFinis is an industry expert in professional public speaking. As an author, speaker, consultant, and founder of DeFinis Communications, she has spent over twenty years helping business professionals communicate with greater poise, power, and passion. For more information, visit http://www.definiscommunications.com/

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