The “20 Minute Template” – The Non-Designer’s Guide to Branded PowerPoint Design

In the age of life-like video games and multimillion-dollar advertising budgets, subpar design has never been so PXP_WatchNowIconobvious. Did you know that there is a growing trend to assign design-related tasks such as resizing picture or creating PowerPoints to non-designers? Does your heart beat faster when you first open up that new blank presentation? How can you communicate our expertise, knowledge and professionalism, not graphic artist at work2 - 123rfonly explicitly, but implicitly in your design?

Even if paying for the full design treatment is out of your reach, an attractive, branded slide deck is not. In this webinar, Slide Rabbit’s Bethany Auck will share her fast tips for creating a professional look for any presentation. You will learn how to incorporate branding simply so that every slide looks clean and custom designed. See below for  a Quick-start guide outlining everything you learned and a cheat sheet of for improving your slide content.

bethany headshot with caption 2About Our Speaker

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.

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4 Presentation Design Trends: Fads or Here to Stay?

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

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

1. Infographics

2. Flat Design

3. Photographs

4. Visual Metaphors

Let’s determine if they are here to stay.

1. Infographics

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

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

2. Flat Design

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

The opposite of flat design is realism (skeuomorphism).

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

3. Photographs

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

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Slide courtesy of Fotolia (Fotolia.com)

Verdict:

Dominant photographs are here to stay for three reasons:

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

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

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

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

4. Visual Metaphors

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

Displaying slide2_web.jpg

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

Verdict:

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

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

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

About the Author:

Mike Parkinson is an internationally-recognized visual communications guru and presentation expert, professional trainer, and award-winning author. He is a partner at 24 Hour Company, which specializes in proposals and presentations. His Billion Dollar Graphics website and Get My Graphic website share best practices and helpful tools.

Hacks, Tricks, and Shortcuts…Oh My! Discover PowerPoint Tricks Even the Pros Didn’t Know About!

PXP_WatchNowIconPowerPoint is an incredibly powerful program with lots of capabilities built in, and there will always be things that not everyone knows about. Plus, productivity goes out the window when you are stuck trying to figure out how to improve your PowerPoint slides or fix a problem that you can’t seem to solve.

In this recorded webinar with shortcut and productivity guru, Taylor Croonquist, you will discover hidden tricks that most presentation professionals didn’t know that PowerPoint could do.  The content will focus on how to maximize the power tools you have in PowerPoint so you can get the job done. You’ll also discover tricks and shortcuts that will make your job more efficient and less stressful. For example, do you know how to break SmartArt? Break tables? Break up a list of bullets? Or, resize and crop multiple pictures in one process?

Learning these time-saving tricks will increase your productivity and PowerPoint skills. No more pulling out your hair when you reach frustrating PowerPoint issues.

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Our Speaker

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

 

Webinar Handouts:
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      PXPert PowerPoint Cheat Sheet – 12115 Webinar – Taylor Croonquist

 

 

 

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PXpert -012115 – Webinar Slide Deck

The 5-Point Formula for Powerful Presentations with Author, Simon Morton

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The presentations that are the most critical to the success of your organization today are not the ones delivered on stage in front of hundreds of rapt listeners.  They are the ones you and your colleagues deliver every day, looking to connect with an audience – of a few, or many – and drive action.  This webinar will challenge everything you thought you knew about creating and delivering engaging business presentations.

Based on Simon Morton’s critically-acclaimed book, The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula behind Powerful Presentations”, this webinar is a great resource for the everyday presenter looking to drive results.  book framedHis consultancy, Eyeful Presentations has perfected their methodology and created a formula for the success of their clients. Watch this webinar and Simon will teach you how to successfully:

        • Assess the needs of your audience
        • Structure an effective story
        • Be prepared for informal, interactive presentations
        • Use visuals with real meaning
        • Master nuances for blended presenting – live or on demand, in person or online, or a combination

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About Simon Morton, Eyeful PresentationsSimon_morton with frame

Simon Morton’s early career as an executive for an international technology company exposed him to more PowerPoint presentations than was good for him.  With his firm, Eyeful Presentations, based in the UK and with 6 international offices, Simon has been ridding the world of ‘Death by PowerPoint’ for over 10 years.  In his new book, The Presentation Lab: Learn The Formula Behind Powerful Presentations, Simon shares the methodology and approach that has driven Eyeful’s success and that of its world-class clients.

PowerPoint, the Swiss Army Knife of Communication Tools

One of the story lines to emerge from the recent Presentation Summit conference in Fort Lauderdale was the growing use of PowerPoint beyond its traditional slide design-and-projection purpose. The upshot: if you’re only using the software for it’s original, intended function, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve communication and marketing materials across the board.

Troy Chollar, head of TLC Creative Services, delivered a conference session titled PowerPoint is My Creative Suite.  Chollar said PowerPoint’s massive user base and user-friendly interface, as well as its ability to import and export many formats, makes it an ideal app for uses beyond traditional slide presentations. Among them: photo and video editing, mockups and prototypes, graphic drawing, e-learning, as a music player and for signage design.

In another session, Insider Secrets for Paper Presentations, presenter Ric Bretschneider explored best practices for using PowerPoint to create presentations meant to be passed out rather than presented. Bretschneider, who spent 17 years on the Microsoft team that develops PowerPoint, said much of the work done by that team for Office 2007 was focused on printed presentations. His session looked at using PowerPoint to create everything from formal pitch books to documents designed to facilitate group brainstorming efforts.

Nolan Haims, vice president and New York director of presentations for Edelman, the world’s largest PR company,  wrote about how he uses PowerPoint beyond slide presentations, including for text-heavy documents and white papers, in a post-conference wrap up. Read the post at his excellent Present Your Story site here.

(Note: Nolan delivered a free webinar for PresentationXpert on Wed. Nov 13 titled In the Trenches: Real-World Solutions to Corporate Presentation Challenges. He shared numerous techniques and strategies, developed out of pure necessity, for achieving best presentation practices while still meeting tight deadlines and contending with difficult clients. For a recording of the webinar, click here.)

And in her 500th blog post, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP Ellen Finkelstein listed the many ways PowerPoint can be used beyond its original purpose, and her readers joined in to add to the list.  Read the post here

In the Trenches: Real World Solutions to Corporate Presentation Challenges

We know best practices for presentations (“Use less text!” “Create separate handouts!” “Avoid bullets points!”), but the realities of corporate America often get in the way when we sit down in front of the computer. In this webinar, presentation strategist Nolan Haims shares numerous techniques and strategies, developed out of pure necessity, for achieving best practices while still meeting tight deadlines and contending with difficult clients.

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  • Multiple tactics for encouraging less text and fewer bullet points, including the disappearing content trick and the ridiculously simple “chunking” technique
  • Leveraging PowerPoint’s Notes view in unique ways to effortlessly create well-designed and distinctly different handouts
  • Creating “reskinnable” templates that can be turned into custom presentations in minutes
  • Keeping presentations highly editable through vector graphics and PowerPoint image-editing techniques
  • Breaking out of PowerPoint-think with “walking” and portrait print decks

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About Nolan Haims:

nolan teaching
After careers in theater and the circus, Nolan Haims moved into the world of presentation, creating presentations for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, and all the major television networks. Most recently, Nolan was a Vice President at Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, where he oversaw presentation and visual communications. He blogs at PresentYourStory.com.

 

Improving Your Online Presentation Skills with Ken Molay!

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Ken Molay, president of Webinar Success, presents tips to help you become a more effective online speaker. Presenting on a webcast or webinar is fundamentally different from speaking in front of an in-room audience. Since you and your audience cannot seeach other, your vocal style and the way you interact with the web conferencing software determines how you are perceived.

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You will learn how to prepare a presentation that complements the web environment and how to deliver it with confidence and professionalism. Discover ways to consciously adjust your vocal style in order to build rapport with your audience. Identify common presentation errors that can detract from your message.

As an added benefit, attend this event and receive a free speaker evaluation form that can be used to help identify strengths and weaknesses in your own presentation style.

 

About Ken Molay:

Ken MolayKen has a background in software development and marketing, working for companies such as Advanced Micro Devices, Syntelligence, Blaze Software, Brokat, HNC Software, and Fair Isaac. He has acted as development manager, product manager, and product marketing manager.

Ken has been producing and delivering business webinars since 1999. His background in public speaking, radio, stage acting, and training has given him a unique perspective on what it takes to create a compelling and effective presentation.

Ken enjoys world travel and spent a year on his own in Europe. He also spent five years as an international tour guide, leading groups throughout North America, England, and the South Pacific. Currently Ken offers consulting services through his company Webinar Success (http:/www.wsuccess.com).

 

The Best PowerPoint Trick You Don’t Know About

PowerPoint has some amazing drawing tools that let you create all kinds of illustrations. But sometimes it can be frustrating when you group text with an object to create an image because when you go to make it bigger or smaller the text remains the same size.

That’s because you’re just resizing the text block, not the text itself. Bummer, right? Well, guess what—it’s possible to transform text into scalable graphics using the “paste as picture” command.

Before you think I’m just writing about some random PowerPoint command that you’ll never use, let me give you some examples of how useful this command can be. Many years ago I worked at a company that created a lot of manuals for clients, and our desktop publishing software of choice was PowerPoint (yes).

To personalize the manuals, we’d draw pictures of reports with the clients’ names on them then paste them as pictures and use them as spot illustrations. Another way we’d use this command was to create little calendars with the session dates highlighted.

Here’s what they look like (I can practically draw these in my sleep now):

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Report drawn in PowerPoint

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Calendar drawn in PowerPoint

We’d create these graphics larger than what we needed, then we’d cut and “paste as picture” so that we could make them tiny and put them where we wanted in our documents.

You can also use the “paste as picture” command to resize charts and graphs if it turns out that you’ve made them too big or if you want to use them as illustrations.

All you need to do to access the “paste as picture” command is to right click anywhere on a slide after you’ve either cut or copied something. The window looks like this:

Foley turkey_pap

Paste as Picture command

The yellow arrow is pointing at the little clipboard icon on the right after Paste Options; that’s the “paste as picture” command.

It’s important to note that when you paste something as a picture the text becomes uneditable, so be sure to save your source graphics just in case you need to make changes. As if that ever happens.

Here’s a short video that shows this command in action and gives you some ideas on where you can use it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LptgbR-lNsU

About the Author:

Laura Foley is a graphic designer and creative thinker who enables her clients to communicate effectively with their presentations. She specializes in Cheating Death by PowerPoint, transforming PowerPoint decks into dynamic marketing tools through training, consulting, and presentation design. Laura has helped people in organizations in a wide variety of fields, from high-tech to consumer products to higher education. For more information, visit www.lauramfoley.com

Occupy PowerPoint!

By Rick Altman

Living just 20 miles from Oakland, the city described as having the eyes of the nation upon it, I know all about protests. Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the ‘60s, when anti-Vietnam War demonstrations were the rule of the day, I understand the power of group emotion.

And given that “Death by PowerPoint” is a part of everyone’s vocabulary today, it comes as no surprise that community leaders have reached the following determination:

It’s time to occupy the software.

Three of the most active members of the user community have been busy creating a strategy for occupation. Steffen Ginsler, Richar Brett-Slider, and Eskimo Winsdorf have been pooling their expertise into a broad-based strategy to eliminate the abuses in our professional society once and for all.

An accomplished VBA developer, Ginsler has created a script that installs itself without the user’s knowledge and eliminates all layouts that contain bulleted text. “It is kind of like a friendly Trojan horse,” says the soft-spoken Ginsler. “It doesn’t do any real damage to your computer, but it prevents you from bringing harm to others — namely, the people in your audience.”

Winsdorf is not quite as reserved as her friend Steffen. “Hey, what do you expect us to do when all these people are acting like idiots?” she asks, without waiting for an answer. “It’s ridiculous that there are no safeguards to insure against crappy design and sloppy standards. It’s time we took matters into our own hands!”

And Eskimo has done just that with a proprietary and patent-pending JavaScript version of a PowerPoint template that prohibits all changes from the formatting set forth in the slide masters. If you try to reformat text, move a placeholder, or cover up critical design elements, you’ll receive an immediate error message. “I wanted the script to automatically format the hard drive, but the others wouldn’t go for that. Wimps…”

In the most interesting position is Brett-Slider, a former member of the PowerPoint development team. He persuaded his successors to modify the Animation engine with password protection on the following choices: Boomerang, Spiral, Zoom, and Bounce. If users attempt to apply any of them on a slide, the system intervenes and requires a written explanation of the usage.

The explanation is sent to a panel of presentation designers, led by Nancy Latte and Garth Sandals, for review. Within 24 hours, the panel issues a ruling on the appropriateness of its usage. Based on that ruling, the Animation task pane will either provide a password for entry or the animation choices in question will be permanently removed from the program.

“Some of my colleagues thought this might have been drastic,” said Richar in his characteristic baritone. (Richar’s brother couldn’t pronounce the “d” in “Richard” when he was young; Richar dropped the letter from his name in his brother’s honor.) “I assured them that it would be a great career move — everyone talks about bad PowerPoint but nobody does anything about it. This would be their big chance.”

Areas of the program yet to be occupied include sound effects attached to slide transitions, color schemes involving red text and green backgrounds, and clip-art characters not wearing underpants. “We have occupation campaigns in place for all of these offenses,” warns Winsdorf. “We’re going to put an end to Death by PowerPoint, even if it kills us.”

There it is, in one crystalized sentence: Occupy PowerPoint will keep you from killing yourself…or else it will kill you. If only the other Occupy movements could have such a clearly-articulated charter.

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 runs the acclaimed Presentation Summit conference, formerly known as PowerPoint Live, and is  author of the book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better.  For more information, visit his website www.betterppt.com

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