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‘Before/After’ Slides from Presentation Design Expert Garr Reynolds

Renowned presentation expert, Garr Reynolds runs a blog called Presentation Zen where he shares tips and insights on presentation design. He advocates for the use of more minimalist visuals, challenging us to create presentations that are simple but impactful. He provides more details about this presentation design philosophy in his book.

If you’re curious about learning more about his presentation design philosophy, see it in action with these Before and After slides.

Presentation Design Inspiration

Check out how the following slides have transitioned from PowerPoint Hell to Presentation Zen:

Presentation design inspiration by Garr Reynolds 1

Presentation design inspiration by Garr Reynolds 2


Presentation design inspiration by Garr Reynolds 3

These prove that PowerPoint slides don’t have to be long and detailed in order to embody the core of your message. Reynolds makes use of interesting images and minimal text without losing the key points of the slides.

A few lessons you can pick up from these examples:

  • Add meaningful images that will ‘show’ without having to ‘tell’
  • Think of catchy, one-sentence headlines instead of using generic titles for your slides
  • Condense several bullet points into a brief but meaningful sentence

View the rest of the Before and After slides in Garr Reynolds’ SlideShare presentation. He has several other presentations that you can view. Browse through his profile to learn more about ‘zen’ presentation design.


Featured Image: Gábor Hojtsy via Flickr

Fourth of July Infographics: Facts and Tips for the Holiday Weekend

Fourth of July means fireworks, barbecues and family gatherings. We’re going to join in on your celebrations. For America’s 238th birthday, we scoured the Internet to find the best Fourth of July infographics.

Did you know that two presidents died just a few hours apart on Fourth of July? Learn fun facts about the holiday, as well as a few tips to help keep your celebrations safe and orderly.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

Interesting Fourth of July Facts

Independence Day Infographic by

Happy Birthday, USA! 

Happy Birthday USA by USA Today
USA Today

Food Safety Tips from the Founding Fathers

Food Safety Infographic by USDA
US Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Have a Pet-Friendly Fourth of July

Keep your pet safe on the Fourth of July by /

Fireworks Facts and Safety Tips

InstantCheckmate /


Featured Image: Jeff Kubina via Flickr

Presentation Software Showdown: PowerPoint vs. Prezi

There are plenty of presentation software to choose from, but PowerPoint remains to be the top choice for most people. (Including you!) It’s been around since the 90s, and you’ve grown familiar with its classic and user-friendly interface. Still, you feel like trying something new for your next presentation, and you heard that Prezi is a great alternative.

Like PowerPoint, Prezi is a presentation software that allows you to create and design slideshows. But instead of the all-too-familiar templates and linear slide layouts, it gives you nifty animations and non-linear slide transitions.

You know that good presentation design can make a positive impact on audience participation. So, do you make the full transition to Prezi from PowerPoint? Before you decide, we’ve gone through some things you should know about these two presentation programs.

The Defending Presentation Software Champion: PowerPoint

PowerPoint vs Prezi

You might have come across the term “Death by PowerPoint”. You might have even experienced it yourself when you had to sit through a PowerPoint presentation that seemed to last for hours. But as we’ve made clear previously, this isn’t the fault of the software program.

If you learn the many tools and functions of PowerPoint, you’ll see why 500 million users patronize it. PowerPoint offers plenty of opportunity for you to be creative with your presentation design. You can customize templates, edit images, and use SmartArt graphics to easily present data.

The Presentation Software Underdog: Prezi

PowerPoint vs Prezi

When it comes to managing the content of your presentation, Prezi isn’t all that different from PowerPoint. You can easily add text, images, videos, and animations. What truly attracts users to this presentation software is the zooming animation.

Instead of asking you to work on a progression of slides, Prezi gives you a big canvas where you can layout different ideas. When viewing the finished product, your audience seamlessly flows from the bigger picture into the specifics of your presentation. This zooming action adds an interesting visual dimension.

Another upside to using Prezi is the fact that it’s a cloud-based program. You can make presentations as long as you have an internet connection.

The Verdict

Effective and engaging presentations are made by people, not the presentation software they choose to use. Whether you decide to use PowerPoint or Prezi depends on your content and who your audience is.

When Does PowerPoint win?
Make use of PowerPoint if you’re presenting a simple and linear story. It’s also useful if you’re going to add a lot of quantitative data in your presentations. Because of its more classic feel, it will work best for presentations in more formal settings, such as business meetings and academic lectures.

When Does Prezi Win?
Prezi is perfect for presentations that need to be visually engaging. Utilize its zooming animation to show how parts of your presentation correlate, and if you want to move freely from one part to another. Because its design is non-traditional, using Prezi is perfect for presentations in casual settings. However, you should also consider the fact that it makes use of animations that may cause motion sickness to some people.

Whatever you decide to choose between these 2 presentation software, just keep in mind that effective presentation design is up to you.

Featured Image: Angelo DeSantis via Flickr

What to Do To Regain Audience Attention

Presenters wouldn’t want to bore the audience with a winding speech with innumerable slides to match. There are times, however, when you just have to face an indifferent audience.

Teachers and lecturers especially encounter this type of problem most of the time. You may have prepared a 20-minute presentation, but if it feels like your target is indifferent to you from the start, then your preparation is all for naught.

If you’ve been in such situation, it might not be your fault after all. The next time you encounter that type of audience, here are some things you can do:

Be Aware of Warning Signs

When you get caught up in your presentation, you might end up rambling. This can cause you to be oblivious to the fact that your audience is tuning out.

In your next pitch, take note of the signs that people’s eyes are wandering off. They could be fidgeting or shifting in their seats. Some may even be squirming.

Those who are truly bored may be checking their watches and surreptitiously looking for the exit signs. To save your presentation, you need to be aware of such signals so you can react accordingly.

Connect Using the Right Body Language

According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, when audience attention falters, non-verbal communication can play a significant part in keeping them engaged.

A strong eye contact, for example, can help jolt an audience member into paying attention. You may also use your voice to project and maintain control. In your spare time, try to learn how to vary the pitch and loudness of your voice.

Additionally, make sure to maintain the right stance. This will help you convey confidence and authority.

Break your Pattern

If you’ve been droning on for a few minutes, think about pausing for about 10 seconds. Doing so will surely get everyone to pay attention.

They’ll be surprised that you stopped. This will create anticipation on what you are going to say next.

Practice your Opener

Your slides won’t do everything for you. You can’t just show them to your audience while you go on reading from your notes.

You may not notice it but how well you prepare can affect how you hold your audience’s attention. Speech coach Sims Wyeth suggests that one of the most important parts you should master is delivering a great opener.

When you’re successful with your opener, you will be able to create a framework that prepares your audience for what they are about to hear.


Even the best presenters have difficulty commanding audience attention 100% of the time. It’s inevitable that people’s attention spans will stray from you.

However, there are ways to reel them back in. Surprise them by breaking your speech pattern, or starting off on the right foot. Impress them with a good pitch, and guarantee all eyes trained on you for the rest of your speech.



Goman, Carol Kinsey. “10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2013.” Forbes. Accessed June 12, 2014.
Wyeth, Sims. “10 Ways Great Speakers Capture People’s Attention.” March 05, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2014.

On the Go: The Best Android Office Apps for Your PowerPoint Needs

In a previous post, we featured five great presentation apps to help you prepare slides right on your iPad. This time, we’ll

This time, we’ll run down the best Office apps for your Android devices. Aside from helping you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, you can also use these Office apps to access Word, Excel, and PDF files. After you finish your slides, you can review your speech and source materials on the go.

Microsoft Office Mobile


The Microsoft Office Mobile app for Android allows you to access, edit, and create new PowerPoint, Word, and Excel files just like you would on your PC. Because it’s from Microsoft itself, this is our top choice for opening any MS files you have.

You might think that scaling down your PowerPoint slides to a mobile screen will mess up its layout, but Office Mobile keeps formatting intact. If you want an experience that mirrors what you’ve been used to on the PC, this app is your sure bet.

You can download the Microsoft Office Mobile for free but requires an Office 365 subscription for the full experience.


quickoffice collage

Developed by Google, Quickoffice is an option for those looking to functionally use an office app without having to pay for premiums or add-ons. You can create and edit all of the same file types just as you would in the Office Mobile, plus view PDF files.

Best of all, Quickoffice syncs right to your Google account. This removes the hassle of uploading your files through several steps by letting you easily share your PowerPoint files through your Google Account, or attach them to emails.

Kingsoft Office

kingsoft app Collage

Creating and editing presentations on Kingsoft Office is a breeze. It allows you almost the same functionalities you would have on the PC.

This free office app also makes sharing your slide a whole lot easier. The Shareplay function allows you to share your PowerPoint presentation to others’ Android devices, as long as they’re logged in on the same local area network.

Polaris Office

polaris Collage

Polaris Office automatically saves the files you access from your cloud to your device, so you can continue working even without an Internet connection.

Similarly, if you’re editing a PowerPoint presentation—or any other files—on the go, the changes you make are automatically saved. It also will give your different editing choices for your presentations, plus the ability to add notes and time your slideshow.

Polaris Office is free, and the premium add-ons aren’t necessary for a basic, functional experience. Some of the latest Android versions also come free with Polaris, so you won’t need to download it into your mobile device anymore.

Use any one of these apps for a more mobile PowerPoint presentation experience. Bring your slides with you wherever you go, and don’t be caught unprepared.

Handy Dandy: PowerPoint, Keynote and Other Great Presentation Apps for the iPad

Sometimes, you’re going to have to prep for presentations without much notice. You might even have to do it while you’re on the go. When that happens, don’t panic. Don’t they always say that there’s an app for every problem?

In this case, there are plenty.

You can design great presentations as long as you have your iPad on hand. Here’s a quick rundown of some presentation apps available on iOS.


powerpoint app

Let’s start with the classic: PowerPoint for iPad. This app is part of the recently released Office suite for the iPad. It’s the perfect choice for users who are used to running PowerPoint in the desktop, and would like to have the same experience in their choice of presentation apps. It has all the features you’ve grown accustomed to in a streamlined interface.

You can get it for free at the App Store, although you’ll have to subscribe to Office 365 to experience it in full. You can get Office 365 at different prices. It’ll be a good investment if you prefer using the MS Office programs.


cloudon app

If you’d rather skip on the Office 365 subscription, CloudOn is a great alternative.

Technically, it’s more than just a presentation app. It allows you to access MS Office files saved on your Dropbox or Google Drive. You can also create new PowerPoint, Word, or Excel files.

When making your slides, you’ll be taken to an interface that looks and works exactly like the desktop version of the classic PowerPoint 2010.

You can get CloudOn for free, although some features are only available as in-app purchases.


keynote app

If you’re the proud owner of several Apple devices, Keynote is still your best bet. It allows you to sync your presentations through iCloud, meaning you can edit what you started on your Mac. Plus, it’s easy to use. Keynote takes full advantage of the swipe-and-slide technology that makes the iPad super convenient.

Keynote costs $9.99, but you can get it for free on any brand new iOS7 device.


prezi app

Prezi is unlike most presentation apps. It offers a little more room for creativity. You can choose from 15 templates that are different from the usual slide title + bullet points layout. You can also use photos from your Camera Roll or take new pictures while you work.

Best of all, Prezi is free at the App Store.

Haiku Deck

haikudeck app

Similar to Prezi, Haiku Deck is another app that allows for plenty of creativity. It holds a huge collection of stock images and backgrounds that you can easily access through a search function.

Bonus: For the presentation itself, you can use your iPhone as a remote control or a mini teleprompter.

Haiku Deck is free, and you can buy extra photos in the App Store.

Words and Music: The Different Types of Audios for PowerPoint

When talking about designing a PowerPoint presentation that stands out from the rest, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the inclusion of graphics.

While there’s no denying that graphics can indeed make an impact, there are other tools available that you can use to improve a presentation. Audio is one such tool.

Background music

Adding background music can inject life to your slides. Use it properly in combination with engaging graphics and you won’t just deliver a presentation, you’d also create a memorable sight and sound experience for your audience. Keep in mind, though, that “properly” is the operative word. Choose the right music that is appropriate for your presentation. It should reflect the core of your presentation to achieve optimal effect.

The trick is to keep it middle-of-the-road. Depending on the audience and subject matter, lively classical music, piano, or acoustic guitar music could work. Screaming guitars or loud drums, however, are definitely out of the question.

Transition sound effects

Adding subtle audio effects whenever you change slides can be beneficial to your audience. Whether they are jotting down notes or answering a text message, the transition sound would act as a cue for them that you have proceeded to the next slide.

For added effect, you may add multiple PowerPoint sounds on top of each other and play them in the order in which you have added them. You can make each sound start as you click it by dragging the sound icons off of each other after inserting them. One reminder, though: To keep the program from having problems accessing the sound files, copy those files into the same folder as your presentation before adding them.

Voice narrations

Voice narration is usually used for presentations meant for web publication such as online lectures or tutorials. It is also used for self-running slide shows that don’t have the benefit of having a presenter in attendance. Adding voice narration to existing PowerPoint presentation is also great for turning old slides into stand-alone re-purposed materials.

In any case, voice narrations can turn a plain set of slides into a self-contained instructional content that can be used by another batch of audiences to self-teach.


Whatever sound you want to add to your presentation, make sure that PowerPoint supports the file type. File types that it can run include MIDI, WAV, and MP3. Done right, the sound you add to your slides can help boost  your presentation’s impact.

Adding audio to your slides can either make or break your presentation. Bare and bland slides are bound to bore an audience, but at the same time, overdoing music on your deck can lead to a sensory overload, which defeats the purpose of engaging your audience. Make sure to balance entertainment with information and get the most out of your deck’s audio properties.



Understanding Information Overload.” Infogineering. Accessed June 5, 2014.

Making Your Slides Less Text-Heavy

The main purpose of a PowerPoint presentation is to help a presenter tackle a topic in as few words as possible, without losing the core message.

Unfortunately, not all presenters know how to limit the amount of text on their slides. To avoid making your presentation appear too text-heavy, you may want to try the following suggestions:

Use Multiple Slides

The bullet point has been an alternative for many presenters who don’t want to flood their slides with walls of text. However, this solution sometimes proves to be counterintuitive, since many presenters make the mistake of fitting as many bullet points as they can – on a single slide.

Just like paragraphs, this practice makes a slide look confusing. To avoid this, do away with bullets and give each point their own slide. Doing so will let you increase the font size as well as improve your slides’ layout.

Think Visually

Instead of describing things with words, consider using images to represent your points. Don’t worry about your audience not getting the reference at first glance. It’s up to you as the presenter to fill them in on the missing pieces, just make sure the connection is evident after you’ve given the explanation. If it’s still not obvious after that, you may want to reconsider your choice of words.

This works for you since their attention will come back to you after viewing the slides. If you put text on your slide, their focus will stay on the slide – they’d just read everything instead of paying attention to you.

Keep it Short

While images are a great shorthand for your points, not all slides can contain only one image. Some slides may still require a few words to be effective. If you really need to add text, make sure to keep it to a minimum. Highlighting your main points can help organize your slides. Choose contrasting colors to enhance readability. If you’re going to use a bright background, for example, then choose a darker shade for your text.

A good rule of thumb would be: If you can express something in one image, then do it. If you can’t, use as little text as possible. The audience is there to hear your talk, not to read the slides with you (or even ahead of you).


The presenter’s bane has always been walls of text that bore the audience and ineffectively relate key points. You can put an end to this information overload on your slides with a few simple steps.

Instead of going for plenty of bullet points that defeat the point of breaking down text, try using multiple slides to get your point across. You can get even more creative and put images instead of text. But if you really can’t help using words in your slides, make sure to always keep them as short as possible.

Your deck should complement your pitch, but in order to do that, it first needs to take be visually appealing, not off-putting.



Contrast RebellionAccessed June 3, 2014.

Using PowerPoint as a Learning Tool

Nowadays, many lecturers, trainers, and educators use PowerPoint as a learning tool. However, critics of the software have pointed out the way it disrupts the learning process rather than helps people understand complex concepts.

The famously quoted Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, for instance, declared in 2010 his stance on PowerPoint — the way it oversimplifies things yet confuses the audience with elaborate diagrams does more harm than good, in the general’s eyes.

But when done right, a presentation can make a lecture less boring while helping the presenter explain things more clearly.

Designing a PowerPoint presentation as training or learning aid may seem simple enough. But still, there are things that you should keep in mind to make the most of this tool:

1. Leave out the unnecessary elements

Your audience will easily understand what you are saying if your presentation is coherent. This means anything that isn’t relevant should not be included.

Check your slides for graphics, animation, or sound effects that are not directly related to the material on your slide. Too much of these will only cause cognitive overload and undermine your purpose.

2. Use texts wisely

Presentations work best when visual elements are used. Words can still have their place on your slide, though.

For example, graphs are more comprehensible if they are accompanied by labels. Captions next to images can also help clear any potential confusion.

3. Add cues to guide your audience

Following your presentation is much easier if you will use a cue whenever you make a transition. This is a slide that acts as an outline of your presentation, telling the audience where you are in the topic.

You may use graphics or photos to highlight your cues. With this technique, your audience will be able easily organize information in their minds and retain more of them effectively.

4. Tell a story

Slide decks are primarily composed of pictures with one or two sentences, allow your audience to have a few seconds to read and look at each slide. Then, proceed to tell a relevant story that supports your point.

They are more likely to remember your message when you present your points this way. When they need to review your topic, all they have to do is recall your story.

Final Words

One final reminder: Use the “no show” or blank screen button. This rarely used button can help you veer everyone’s attention away from the PowerPoint and towards you.

By using the blank screen function, you can discuss a matter in greater detail or facilitate a short exercise without having anyone distracted by a slide in the background. More importantly, it underscores the idea that a PowerPoint presentation is a tool for lecturers, not a crutch.

More importantly, it underscores the idea that a PowerPoint presentation is a tool for lecturers, not a crutch.



Bumiller, Elisabeth. “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint.” The New York Times. April 26, 2010. Accessed June 1, 2014.

PowerPoint Animations: Adding Life to Your Slides

Children aren’t the only ones who have short attention spans. Many adults do, too, although this is due to a number of factors – a busy schedule, issues at work, etc. So if you’re presenting a PowerPoint to your team or potential business partners, you need to step up your game. One way to do this is by adding animation to your slides.

PowerPoint animations are very useful for creating a more interesting presentation. It can keep your audience engaged as you deliver each of your points. If children with short attention span are easily entertained by animated cartoons, I’m quite positive that their adult counterparts will find PowerPoint animations enjoyable as well.

If you’re ready to get started, here’s how you can take advantage of PowerPoint’s animation feature:

1. Use the available animations

The Add Animation gallery provides you with simple animations you can apply to the elements on your slide. Just click any of the items you want to animate, click on the Animation tab, and then click Add Animation. Below the wide range of basic animations that control the way the items move on your slides.

powerpoint animation

You can use these basic animations to make your items enter, exit, appear, and disappear on the slides.

2. Set the triggers

Triggers allow you to link the animation to a different action. You can do this by creating bookmarks in the presentation, which then prompt an animation to start. Alternatively, you can set an action to start upon clicking your mouse. To set a trigger for an animation, click an item and then click Trigger, which you can find in the Advanced Animation group under the Animations tab.

powerpoint animations

3. Automate sequences with Animation Painter

Before, with the older versions of Microsoft PowerPoint, you will have to spend hours just to get the animation working perfectly. But now, you can easily automate your animation sequences with the help of the Animation Painter.

powerpoint animation

With the Animation Painter, simply click the element with the animation you like to copy and drag the pointer over the item on the slide to apply the animation settings. PowerPoint will take care of the rest.

4. Measure Entry and Exit Using Timeline

You can find the timeline at the bottom of the Animation Pane. This helps you gauge the entry and exit of the items on the slide. You can also use it to determine whether you want to adjust the time or order of events.


Each animation also displays the span of time through the time segment at the right of every animation entry. You may tweak the animations so that the action occurs at the exact time that you prefer. Just scroll along the timeline by clicking the small arrows at either end. You may also click the Seconds control if you want to Zoom In or Zoom Out and adjust the increments of time.

5. View Everything on the Animation Pane

As you work on the animation, you can see all the information and tools you use on the Animation Pane. To display the Animation Pane, click the Animation tab and select Animation Pane right in the Advanced Animation group. This feature lets you preview the animation, reorder animations, and see where they fall on the timeline.

The important thing about using animations in your slides is to keep everything simple. PowerPoint offers a lot of features for animating any item on your slide but misusing them can confuse your audience, not to mention make your presentations look amateurish.

About SlideGenius is your business PPT guru. Based in San Diego, California, SlideGenius has helped more than 500 international clients enhance their presentations, including those of J.P. Morgan, Harley-Davidson, Pfizer, Verizon, and Reebok. Call us at 1.858.217.5144 and let SlideGenius help you with your presentation today!