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 GetMyGraphics.com (a PowerPoint graphics product) so that he could focus on helping others achieve their presentation and educational goals.

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

 

[Webinar Recording] Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition with Rick Altman

Fan Favorite, Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition is back!

Watch Rick Altman transform ugly slides provided by our subscribers into marvelous makeovers. Did you know that makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display during recorded webinar. Watch it now to find out what magic Rick will pull out of his hat to make “Marvelous” slides.

If you’re a golfer, your favorite word is “mulligan.” That’s when you hit a dreadful shot, usually into a forest or a lake, and you drop the second ball at your feet and essentially proclaim, “that one didn’t count.” You then hit again and go on your merry way, a happier camper for it.

In PowerPoint parlance, our mulligan is the makeover – that fantastic and fantastical opportunity to press Pause and create an alternate reality. That horrible slide with eight long-winded bullets and a postage-stamp photo? No, you didn’t really mean to do that; that doesn’t count. Take a mulligan! Here’s a do-over.

Makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display in this hour:

Message: Well-intended content creators often lose sight of the story they mean to tell.

Structure: If the foundation of your presentation is flawed (like trying to create slides that serve as visuals and as handouts), you will be swimming upstream the whole time.

Slide design: The classic case of “who created this sludge and how can we fix it?”

PowerPoint technique: Most users of the software are undertrained and rarely go below the surface of PowerPoint’s feature set. That can have a profound effect on how they build their slides.

Delivery: A well-designed presentation both relies on and encourages presenters to be at the top of their games.

You can download the handout here.
About our speaker:

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 covers the whole of the industry, from message crafting, through presentation design, slide creation, software technique, and delivery. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the preeminent learning event for the community, attended by an international audience of 200 since 2003.He would have traded it all in for a career on the professional tennis tour. He wasn’t good enough, though — all of this was his Plan B…

[Webinar Recording] Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition with Rick Altman

 Fan Favorite, Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition is back!

Watch Rick Altman transform ugly slides provided by our subscribers into marvelous makeovers. Did you know that makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display during recorded webinar. Watch it now to find out what magic Rick will pull out of his hat to make “Marvelous” slides.

If you’re a golfer, your favorite word is “mulligan.” That’s when you hit a dreadful shot, usually into a forest or a lake, and you drop the second ball at your feet and essentially proclaim, “that one didn’t count.” You then hit again and go on your merry way, a happier camper for it.

In PowerPoint parlance, our mulligan is the makeover – that fantastic and fantastical opportunity to press Pause and create an alternate reality. That horrible slide with eight long-winded bullets and a postage-stamp photo? No, you didn’t really mean to do that; that doesn’t count. Take a mulligan! Here’s a do-over.

Makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display in this hour:

Message: Well-intended content creators often lose sight of the story they mean to tell.

Structure: If the foundation of your presentation is flawed (like trying to create slides that serve as visuals and as handouts), you will be swimming upstream the whole time.

Slide design: The classic case of “who created this sludge and how can we fix it?”

PowerPoint technique: Most users of the software are undertrained and rarely go below the surface of PowerPoint’s feature set. That can have a profound effect on how they build their slides.

Delivery: A well-designed presentation both relies on and encourages presenters to be at the top of their games.

About our speaker:

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 covers the whole of the industry, from message crafting, through presentation design, slide creation, software technique, and delivery. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the preeminent learning event for the community, attended by an international audience of 200 since 2003.He would have traded it all in for a career on the professional tennis tour. He wasn’t good enough, though — all of this was his Plan B…

[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.

[Webinar Recording] Slide Diets: Before & After Design Tricks to Slim Down your Content

Are you slides “over-stuffed” with too much content? Are they readable? Or, is the type so small, you need to include a magnifying Citrix sponsorship adglass to read it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then watch this recorded webinar from PresentationXpert with designer Bethany Auck. It is the perfect chance to learn how to slim down your slide content.

Learn how to take those over-stuffed slides and transform them into bite-size snacks – easier for your audience to digest and enjoy. Bethany uses real-life before & after examples to explain how to reduce content without losing data and meaning. The focus is on producing clearer visual communication to be a better and more effective presenter. Discover how to produce better slides, how to reduce content to the essentials, and how to streamline your presentation design, better communicating the important content.

Handouts:   Slide Diets Webinar Handout

Aboutbethany_square_300dpi (1) our Presenter, Bethany Auck:

Bethany has been working in the presentation design industry for nine years. She cut her teeth at small litigation consultancy where she consulted on major trials helping her clients build persuasive narratives and poignant demonstratives. Bethany founded SlideRabbit in 2012 to bring high-quality design to all industries at low-cost levels.  Her email is bethany@sliderabbit.com

 

 

[Webinar Recording] Cheating Death by PowerPoint: Slide Makeovers

Picture4From too much text to confusing graphics to garish colors, there’s a lot that can go wrong with slides. The trouble is, cheating death by PowerPont largemany people don’t know how to design clean, simple slides that communicate their messages. If you know what ugly slides look like but don’t know how to fix them, the Cheating Death by PowerPoint: Slide Makeovers webinar is for you.

Professional presentation designer and PowerPoint consultant Laura Foley of Laura M. Foley Design takes you step-by-step through a variety of slide makeovers. Using the principle of Analyze and Synthesize, she will teach you how to tackle those difficult slides and redesign them to make them more effective and better looking.

You’ll learn how to creatively edit your content and organize information to create better slides. By the end of the webinar, you’ll have the tools you need to transform slides from awful to awesome!

This webinar was sponsored by GoToWebinar. Try GoToWebinar free for 30 days, and save 20% on an annual subscription. Give it a try today.

Handout: CDbyPPT-From Awful to Awesome – PXpert – Foley

About Laura Foley:

Laura FoleyAs the Cheater of Death by PowerPoint, Laura Foley provides training and presentation design services to help people communicate their ideas and be better presenters. She has worked with Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, General Dynamics, Juniper Networks, Harvard Business School, DST, Eloqua, EMC, TE Connectivity, and VMware and has conducted training sessions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College, the Central Mass Business Expo, and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Her speaking engagements include HOW Design Live, the largest conference for creative professionals in the world. A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Laura has over two decades’ experience in presentation design, marketing, and copywriting. She lives in Central Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Laura serves as Cubmaster and Den Leader for Hubbardston Cub Scouts Pack 12. It’s like herding cats, but more rewarding.

 

Five Presentation Silver Bullets You Can’t Live Without!

PXP_WatchNowIconIn this very engaging webinar with graphics guru, Mike Parkinson, you’ll learn the 5 silver bullets that guarantee a successful presentation. Each is proven to improve understanding, adoption, persuasion and/or performance. Use one or all of the silver bullets to make your next presentation a winner.

After this educational, interactive session you will:
• Build better presentations—fastersilver bullets2
• Increase understanding and recollection of even the most complex content
• Make compelling presentations
• Craft presentations that get results

Have you seen an amazing presentation? If so, one or all of the 5 silver bullets were used. The best-of-the-best presenters and presentation designers use them to make their content stand out and be remembered. Apply what you learn to PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, SlideRocket, Google Presentation, Emaze, Articulate Presenter, and any other presentation software you choose. The 5 silver bullets work in any presentation situation. Watch this recording now and it will change how you make presentations.

Mike Parkinson captionAbout Our Speaker:
Mike Parkinson of Billion Dollar Graphics brings a wealth of experience and talent to today’s webinar. He really understands the power of graphics. You will see him transform simple PowerPoint graphics into powerful visuals that make a statement. Mike has authored several books on presentation graphics and created several resources that any of us can used to enhance any PowerPoint presentation.

Here are the handouts for this webinar:

Slide001

Copy of Mike’s Slides 

Slide046 “Free” Graphics Cheat Sheet

 

 

 

 

 

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A Primer for Creating Diverging Stacked Bar Charts

When I first heard the name of this visual, diverging stacked bar chart, it seemed complex. As I learned more about it, I realized how valuable it is to know about this type of visual in business presentations.

Let’s start with an example of such a visual:

Issue 310 visualsA diverging stacked bar chart is a bar chart that can have one or more segments on each side of a dividing line. The dividing line separates the two groups or categories of data. The above example has only one segment on each side of the dividing line (which is not explicitly shown) and the two groups of data are hardware sales (HW) and software sales (SW).

The reason that this type of graph works well is that it allows the viewer to easily compare the relative size of each group of related data. Each group starts at the dividing line and moves either right or left. In the above example, it is easy to see that in each year software sales are much larger than hardware sales.

Here is another example. In this case, there are multiple segments on each side of the dividing line. The dividing line here represents the goal for customer service ratings (8 out of a possible perfect score of 10). To the left of the line are the ratings below the goal and to the right of the line are the ratings above the goal. The more the overall bar is to the right, the more that call center has ratings above the goal.

DivergingStackedBarChart

It is easy for the audience to see how much of the bar is to the right of the dividing line, indicating performance above the goal. Because we wanted to also see the breakdown of scores on each side of the goal, the data is broken down into segments based on the score given by the customer (5 or lower, 6-7, 8-9, and 10). There are more good examples in this article by Darkhorse Analytics.

It seems like this would be a complicated graph to create, but it is actually much easier due to an online calculator I created. You can use the Diverging Stacked Bar Chart Calculator to calculate the values you enter into the data table for a regular stacked bar chart in Excel or PowerPoint. The values to the left of the dividing line are negative and the calculator organizes them so that they appear correctly. The calculator page has additional ideas on formatting the chart and adding text labels to create the type of charts you see above.

When you want to communicate the values of two groups of data that are related, consider whether a diverging stacked bar chart would work for you.

About the Author:

Dave Paradi runs the Think Outside the Slide website, is a consultant on high-stakes presentations, the author of seven books and a PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP.) For more information, visit www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com

PowerPoint Paradigm Shift: The Power of Going Dark

Do you ever get into the rut of doing what you’ve always done because it’s comfortable – or because it’s the way it’s always been done?

I’m talking about presentations – specifically the ones where you use PowerPoint. We were reminded of this when a client recently shared that he led a talk to 1,000 brand managers at Procter & Gamble with no slides. He was strangely terrified of the idea initially, yet he loved the outcome when it was done.

Slides can be effective for speakers when they highlight key points. Nothing tells a trend story like a graph, and nothing illustrates the analogy you want to make like a picture. When we use slides correctly, we are more effective.

But we’re not using them correctly most of the time, or at least we can do better – it’s hard to argue with that. This article is not to remind you that we use too much information on a single slide  – too many bullet points or even words – and that pictures are better. I have no doubt that you already know that.

This article is about actually having the boldness to go dark.

Specifically, use black slides.

A black slide simply has a black background with no master template, and you insert it between your slides – or where it makes sense.

Adding black slides will do three things:

1. Clear the screen. Once you’re done with the picture, graph or supporting information, you want to remove distraction and go to a black slide so you can amplify, tell a story, or make an additional point. Audience minds will wander if you allow it to happen.

2. Bring the focus to you. It’s amazing to see the eyeballs go from the screen to you when you put up a black slide. It’s actually invigorating, and it helps connect you with your audience and so much more! It also opens up the room and allows you to go in front of the projector and not be stuck in one place (although we’re seeing less projectors, more TVs and large monitors).

3. Totally change your mindset. Create your message first, then add support. (Of course, I recommend using the Decker Grid™.) When you are delivering your key points, the background should be black so that people can hear what you are saying.

Slides should be used to accent and add support – think graphs, pictures, video clips and other SHARPs to bring memorability and power to your Point Of View.

Try it in a low risk opportunity, and you’ll love how it helps the experience.

About the Author:

Ben Decker is the CEO of Decker Communications, a presentation skills coaching firm that coaches senior executives and managers to transform business communications. For more information about the company, visit www.decker.com

 

 

A Review of the PowerPoint 2013 Interface

The PowerPoint 2013 interface is similar, yet somewhat different than the interface of PowerPoint 2010. The biggest change is that 2013’s interface is primed for use on tablets, touch-screens and smart phones (other than conventional desktops). Thus, you can swipe and tap your way through a presentation — and also make several edits without the need of a cursor.

Instead of opening with a blank presentation, PowerPoint 2013 opens a Presentation gallery as shown in Figure 1. The Presentation gallery provides several ways to start your next presentation using a template, a Theme, a recent presentation, a not-so-recent presentation, or even a blank presentation. Once you make choices in this Presentation gallery, you see the actual PowerPoint interface.

pptinterface2013-01

Figure 1: PowerPoint 2013 Presentation gallery

A quick walkthrough of PowerPoint 2013 reveals some new  features. Figure 2 shows a screenshot of the PowerPoint 2013 interface — each part of the interface is explained later in this article.

pptinterface2013-02


Figure 2:
PowerPoint 2013 interface

  1. File Menu and Backstage View: When you click the File menu, you see the Backstage view that contains all the creation, save, share, and print options for your presentations, as shown in Figure 3. Learn More about File Menu and Backstage View in PowerPoint 2013.
    pptinterface2013-03Figure 3: File Menu leads to the Backstage View
  2. Quick Access Toolbar (QAT): Is  a customizable toolbar placed by default above the Ribbon — here you can add icons for your often used commands. Also the QAT can also be placed below the Ribbon. Learn more about Quick Access Toolbar in PowerPoint 2013.
  3. Ribbon: Ribbon has tabs which in turn contain groups of buttons for various options — some groups also contain galleries (for example galleries for Themes and Theme Colors). Learn more about Ribbon and Tabs in PowerPoint 2013.
  4. Slides Pane: Located on the left side of the interface, the Slides pane shows thumbnails of all the slides in the open presentation.
    Note: If the Slides  pane is not visible, click the Normal button in the View tab of the Ribbon.
  5. Slide Area: Displays the active slide.
  6. Task Pane: The Task Pane contains more options and appears when you choose an option in one of the Ribbon tabs — for example if you click the Format Background button within the Design tab of the Ribbon, the Format Background task pane opens (refer to Figure 1).
  7. Status Bar: A horizontal strip that provides information about the opened presentation like slide number, applied Theme, etc. It also includes the view and zoom options. The View buttons  are explained below (see point I).
  8. Notes Pane: Right below the active slide, this is where the speaker notes are written for the current slide. Note that none of this content is visible on the actual slide while presenting — although it is visible in both Notes Page view and Presenter view.
  9. View Buttons: Essentially there are three view buttons on the status bar displayed towards the left of the zoom-in and zoom-out options:
    • Normal: If you are in some other view such as Slide Sorter view – click the Normal button on the Status bar to switch to Normal view, Shift-clicking this gets you to Slide Master view.
    • Slide Sorter: Click this button to switch from any other view to Slide Sorter view. The Slide Sorter view  displays zoom-able thumbnails of every slide in the open presentation. Shift-clicking this button gets you to Handout Master view.
    • Reading View: Click this button to switch from any other view to Reading view.
    • Slide Show: Show the presentation as a full screen slideshow from the current selected slide. Shift-clicking brings up the Set Up Show dialog box.
  10. Mini Toolbar: This toolbar is not shown in the Figure 3,  above. It’s a semitransparent floating toolbar that spawns right next to the cursor — and it is also available instantly with a right-click (highlighted in red within Figure 4).pptinterface2013-04

Figure 4: Mini Toolbar

About The Author:

Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download.

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