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Pointers for Planning a Successful Webinar

Preparation is a critical step in any type of campaign, including hosting webinars. To produce a successful one, you need to lay out all the steps leading to the actual event. It might be tempting to jump straight to the promotion stage, especially if you have a winning topic and a celebrated speaker, but no excuse can justify skipping the planning part. Without a solid plan in place, you may run the risk of delivering a lackluster presentation that will only prove to be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Planning a webinar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s necessary if you want a worthwhile output. Part of the process is creating a checklist that will solidify your strategy. You don’t have to worry about the technicality of it all. With the abundance of tools you have at your disposal, you can plan an online seminar even with limited technological expertise. And besides, every bit of effort you make will be worth the rewards you’ll reap in the end.

Can a Webinar Help Reach Your Business Goals?

You’d think the answer to that question is an unwavering yes, but it actually depends on the goals you aim to achieve. While it’s true that webinars are an effective marketing tool, they only work in certain contexts. So, before planning one, make sure it will leave a positive impact on your business.

What exactly are webinars for? For one, they’re a good training and outreach tool. You can use them to share your expertise to your target audience. Webinars are also effective for getting the word out to your customers when rolling out a new product. When done right, it can help you move customers further down the sales funnel and reposition yourself as an industry thought leader.

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Resources:

Berdeal-Skelly, Michelle. “6 Tips to Planning a Successful Webinar.” Find and Convert. October 14, 2014. www.findandconvert.com/2014/10/6-tips-to-planning-a-successful-webinar

Gilbert-Knight, Ariel. “10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar.” TechSoup. September 2, 2016. www.techsoup.org/support/articles-and-how-tos/10-steps-for-planning-a-successful-webinar

Sibley, Amanda. “10 Things That Take a Webinar From Good to Great.” HubSpot. January 3, 2014. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/webinar-planning-list#sm.0000w6nx4vstbcwkqnc12umt2kzcx

“15 Tips for a Successful Webinar.” MegaMeeting. n.d. www.megameeting.com/15_Successful_Webinar_Tips_Part1.html

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Working with an Awful-Looking PowerPoint Template

Corporate PowerPoint templates are notorious for their impracticality and ineffectiveness. This is because they’re usually created by people with limited knowledge or experience in design. If you are guilty of this sin, then you should hire a slide design professional who can amp up your template’s look and feel. The aesthetics of your presentation can reflect the amount of dedication you put in it, so make sure you create a template that is engaging and attractive.
The general goals of a presentation are to communicate a message, make a point, and sell an idea. A bad template can undermine these goals and inhibit you from delivering an effective presentation. Here are some of the most common components of an awful-looking presentation template, alongside some tips on how to rectify them.

6 Elements of a Bad PowerPoint Template and How to Fix Them

What do bad presentation templates have in common? They all lack a unifying idea that marries content and design. Awful-looking presentations are ambiguous, and from this major flaw springs others. Although the following elements seem inconsequential, they can still leave a great impact on your template’s final look, usability, and effectiveness.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Inadequate Features

1. Inadequate features

A good presentation template should be flexible enough to meet the company’s needs. Otherwise, it will be of no use. Include the fundamental features in your template, but don’t stop there. Make sure you include not only an opening and ending slide but also transition slides, master slides, and other standard slides that can enhance your message. Apart from this, you should also provide a guidebook that will instruct and direct the presenters as to the proper uses of the template. Provide demonstration videos and actual presentation samples if necessary.

2. Lack of visual elements

One of the worst things you can do to a presentation template is to deprive it of an emotional element. Templates that are riddled with unnecessary bullets and large walls of text do nothing but insult the audience’s time and attention. Don’t encourage presenters to bombard their presentations with lengthy passages. Set presentation guidelines that limit ideas to one per slide. To add an emotional trigger, encourage the use of visual tools like graphics and videos. Let the presenters bring their ideas to life through emotive and photographic elements.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Poor Color Contrast

3. Weak color palette with poor contrast

Many things can go wrong with your chosen palette. For instance, you might choose a color theme that may not reflect your brand. The colors may not be appropriate to the image you want to project and the message you want to communicate. Another thing that may go awry is the color contrasting of the fonts and backgrounds. As you know, weak contrast results to poor readability, which will render your text invisible, and thus, worthless. To avoid this problem, always calculate the effect of a certain font color on the background. Finally, be careful about the inclusion of weak and/or daring colors in your theme. Weak colors can weaken your design, and daring colors can disorient your audience.

4. Unreadable typography

Typography is one of the most important elements of a presentation since it can set the stage for the content. There are two important aspects of typography: size and style. You need to get these two right to achieve an effective presentation. Make sure the standard font size you set is not lower than 44 points. This size is large enough to command attention but not too large that it looks ludicrous. You also need to consider the font style. Traditional serif fonts look formal and professional while sans serif fonts are more modern and clean-looking. Use what’s appropriate for your presentation.
When you use custom fonts, make sure they’re installed in external computers. The thing about custom fonts is that they can mess up the layout of your slides if the computer you’re using doesn’t support them. Embed the true type fonts into the presentation to avoid this fiasco.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Use of Clip Art

5. Cheesy effects

Perhaps the biggest PowerPoint nightmares are the cheesy effects, which include transitions, sound effects, and animations. It’s understandable if you want to spice up your template, but find better ways to do that other than adding inappropriate effects to your presentation. However, if you feel like you need to use the said effects because they offer a functional purpose, make sure to use them sparingly. Instead of the default sound effects from the PowerPoint library, embed background music from external resources. As for animations and transitions, make sure they add value to your content. Use only what’s absolutely crucial for the presentation.

6. Use of clipart and stock photos

Visual elements are generally good, but there are certain design taboos that you should avoid. We’re talking about clipart and clichéd stock photos. No matter how hard you try, you won’t find a reason compelling enough to justify the use of clipart in your deck. Nothing screams “lame” louder than mediocre symbols in a modern corporate presentation. The same thing goes for stock images. There are many staged and cringeworthy photos that will only lessen the value of your template if you’re careless enough to use them. If you’re going to use photos, go for genuine-looking ones that can trigger emotional reactions from the audience.
If you address these bad design habits that plague many PowerPoint presentations today, you will save your company major headaches. Fix these problems and watch as your presentation templates reach a different level of beauty, usability, and effectiveness.

Resources:

Chibana, Nayomi. “Color Theory for Presentations: How to Choose the Perfect Colors for Your Designs.” Visme. December 28, 2015. blog.visme.co/how-to-choose-a-color-scheme
Godin, Seth. “Really Bad PowerPoint.” Type Pad. January 29, 2007. sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html
Hristov, Boris. “Reality Check: Is Your Company’s PowerPoint Template Bad?” Medium. January 19, 2016. medium.com/@borishristov/reality-check-is-your-company-powerpoint-template-bad-bf6ff82780ef#.4kkk8wijb
Mancini, Sunday. “4 Common PowerPoint Template Mistakes.” Ethos 3. May 26, 2016. www.ethos3.com/2016/05/4-common-powerpoint-template-mistakes
Panzironi, Michelle. “7 PowerPoint Mistakes That Make You Look Old.” Forbes. January 16, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/propointgraphics/2016/01/16/7-powerpoint-mistakes-that-make-you-look-hella-old/#41da1a5234e7
“10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck: Part 1.” Work Front. February 2, 2017. resources.workfront.com/project-management-blog/10-tips-for-designing-presentations-that-dont-suck-part-1
“10 Ways to Spot a Lame Corporate PowerPoint Template.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/templates/10-ways-to-spot-a-lame-corporate-powerpoint-template
“Choosing the Right Fonts for Your PowerPoint Presentation.” Documents with Precision. March 10, 2016. www.documentswithprecision.com/choosing-right-fonts-powerpoint-presentation

Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide

Have you ever wondered about the makings of a perfect slide? Or if not perfect, at least a strong and impressionable one? Many answers are found online, and for just as many reasons, that you just can’t be sure which is correct. You could say, of course, that there are niche functions for what objects or elements you put on your deck, but does that make your slides strong individually and/or as a whole?
Blank slides often bear no weight, so you fill them up with visual elements. But being willy-nilly with what you put in there will make the effort counterproductive: the more objects in your slide, the more cluttered and distracting it becomes. It’s best to strike the balance between too much and too few.
Now, what are your options? The following elements are the necessities of a powerful slide. What’s more powerful is how you use them, vis-à-vis standalones or any number of combinations thereof.
Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide: Theme, Title, Background

Theme

You can’t start creating a presentation without a central message and a theme. While everything around your presentation revolves around the former, your slides are designed per the latter. This can be a broad term, extending from color scheme to branding to even subtle details like typography and illustration style.
Choose an appropriate theme for your topic. It’s not a good idea to have a presentation about the wonders of nature but accent your slides with a black color scheme.

Title

While it doesn’t need to appear in every slide, it does mark where you are in terms of your whole presentation. It can also denote that a specific slide is noteworthy. Subtitles, to a degree, extend a title and branch out to other points, but it also doesn’t have to be ubiquitous.
Knowing when or when not to put a title maximizes the impact of the slide on the audience. Be clever with it. Wit is always appreciated.

Background

Imagine a theater stage with no backdrop—nothing to tell the setting or set the mood. The same goes for slides, even if it works on a case-by-case basis. Slide backgrounds reinforce the theme or branding of the presenter and set the mood for the audience.
Your background doesn’t need to be flashy. Even plain white can be appealing, especially when given the proper treatment. As long as it’s appropriate, as with theme, then you can make it work.
Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide: Text, Images, Effects

Text

Getting to the meat of your message can be done in two ways: with your content or through pictures. With the former, less is more. A few select words can deliver bigger impact—and be remembered more easily—than a paragraph or two that dances around your point.
This is one of the things abused by those who have little experience with slide design. Think “death by PowerPoint.” Walls of text are to be avoided, of course, but having little to none on your slides can and does pay off.

Images

Pictures solicit or trigger strong emotional responses from anyone in a heartbeat. If your “less is more” with text can’t be achieved, try using an image that encapsulates and describes what words can’t do efficiently. You will see the results immediately.
Since humans are visual creatures, they process and react much faster to an image compared to words that are then read and understood. It’s, literally, seeing a bigger picture. All it takes is one look to make a point.

Effects

There are two kinds of effects that you can set in a slide: the shifting Transition and the object-focused Animation. You can highlight and emphasize points or objects and switch from one slide to another in style. Movements catch attention—a result of survival instinct and evolution to notice objects in motion—so take advantage of that fact with PowerPoint’s animation settings.
A word of caution though: use only when necessary. Don’t risk distracting your audience by overusing effects. A gimmick for gimmick’s sake will only be detrimental for your presentation.
Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide: Visualized Data

Visualized Data

Cold, hard figures are exactly that. Cold. And boring. Instead of plainly showing numbers and percentages, use charts or graphs, even the occasional diagrams, to show your data in a more entertaining—and by extension more educational—manner.
The more creative your chart or graph is, the more lasting the impression that the data makes. Think of how infographics use design to show statistics: with creativity, wit, and humor. Employ the same to your slides.
Now you could be thinking, “I need all seven in just one slide? This is madness!” No, you just need a couple, like a combination of Background, Text, and Effect. Some can stand on its own, for example, Title or Image. It will only be a distraction to put all seven, so only put what you need.
Lastly, as already said above, the most important element of any slide is the overall message of your presentation. Each part of your visual aid should point toward, support, and strengthen the crux of the whole exercise. You wouldn’t be onstage talking about your advocacy then jumping to a different matter altogether just because.
Everything about your PowerPoint presentation should revolve around your message. Any combination of the elements above serve as parts of a whole, all working in harmony to inform and educate your audience. And that is the key factor to wowing your audience.

Resources:

Finkelstein, Ellen. “3 Components of an Effective Presentation.” EllenFinkelstein.com. December 6, 2000. www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/3-components-of-an-effective-presentation
Kawasaki, Guy. “The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch.” GuyKawasaki.com. March 5, 2015. www.guykawasaki.com/the-only-10-slides-you-need-in-your-pitch
Mineo, Ginny. “Your Graphs Look Like Crap: 9 Ways to Simplify and Sexify Data.” HubSpot. October 7, 2013. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/data-graph-design-powerpoint-tips-ht#sm.0001frknxr3k3dlkqq22lsqtd9h7a
Tate, Andrew. “10 Scientific Reasons People Are Wired to Respond to Your Visual Marketing.” Canva. May 19, 2015. designschool.canva.com/blog/visual-marketing
“The Elements of a Slide.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/preparing-and-using-visual-aids-16/using-powerpoint-and-alternatives-successfully-85/the-elements-of-a-slide-325-5653

3 Ways Animation Can Make or Break Your Presentation

Ever since the birth of Microsoft PowerPoint, presentations have taken a turn for the better: user-friendly interface, easy-to-use buttons, and simple settings to name a few, rendering the whole task of creating presentations simpler and less time-consuming. Best of all is how the software gives you extras and bonuses to liven up to your slides with a few clicks and adjustments.
Like the other elements of a visual aid, and especially with PowerPoint, animations can mean the difference between bland slides and zesty ones. Proper use of transitions can arrest attention and provide suspense. Effects can highlight and emphasize points. Motion paths in action can guide viewers’ eyes to where they should be looking next. There are many upsides to using animations.
However, as with any upside, there are bound to be repercussions—two sides of the same coin, if you will. In this case, there are cons to using animation, ones that have a lasting impact even after your talk.
Animations make or break your PowerPoint. They can be the wowing element or the disappointment that makes your audience members shake their heads. Before you pepper your slides with too many special effects, ask yourself the three following questions:

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Important or Whimsical

Important or Whimsical

Do you have a point to emphasize or a concept you wish to illustrate beyond just showing an image? Or do you want your text to sparkle or your object zoom in and out? Perhaps you want a “breaking glass” effect every time you go to the next slide?
If you answered affirmatively on the first question, then you know how to use animation to your advantage. Using it when and because it’s necessary is the first step to acknowledging the fact that it’s more than just for dramatic flair. When employed correctly, it makes certain points stand out among the rest of your content.
If you’re of the last two questions, though, then it’s time to rethink how you approach animation. Any excess for no reason is detrimental not just to your slide but also to your whole presentation. You risk looking amateurish when you try to retain your audience’s attention with special effects instead of wowing them with your message, content, and/or design.

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Arrest or Divert Attention

Arrest or Divert Attention

New PowerPoint users tend to be excessive on the animations. But just because they think it’s great doesn’t mean their audiences will do too. The worst-case scenario is that you turn off your viewers with the sheer number of animations and stop listening.
This point is very much aligned with the one above, only this one tends to encompass a more focused area: does it draw and retain attention on the objects that need to be emphasized? If yes, then the animation served its function. If it doesn’t, then consider changing the animation settings or, as is often recommended, simply avoid it.
In relation to animations on your presentations, the speaker, to whom the audience should pay attention, bears the greater weight when the special effects work or not. Your presentation is not a crutch, so if it draws away the audience’s attention from you, then your talk is compromised. The message is not effectively communicated. They’re reading—or reeling or wondering why you used that transition or fade effect—when they should be listening. In that short period, their attention drifted; their focus changed. The best way to avoid that is simplifying the prevailing thought of your animation use.

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Enhancement or Distraction

Enhancement or Distraction

Overall, the main question you want to answer before putting animations on your slides is, “Will my animations enhance the audience’s experience or distract them from the main point?” If every element you have becomes a waiting game for you and your audience, then your slides, if not your whole visual aid, take away from the whole experience—and possibly diminish it. They can’t concentrate on your message, and they may feel they just wasted their time.
On the other hand, if you used animations smartly and properly, carefully planning what effects to put on major points and objects and properly executing the appropriate animation, then your audience will more likely remember your talk because it’s memorable. It informed them and sparked their genuine interest.
All in all, PowerPoint animations are powerful tools; like any other, depending on the speaker (or the presentation design agency), it can be used in a good way or a bad way. If the animations work well in conjunction with the other elements of your slides—the perfect harmonization of your content, design, effects, and skills as a speaker—then you’ve got on your hands a powerful visual aid. You educate people more efficiently and more effectively. And that’s one of the best goals a public speaker could have.

Resources:

Cournoyer, Brendan. “PowerPoint Animation Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Business Presentations.” Brainshark. March 7, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/March/powerpoint-animation-tips-for-business-presentations
Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. www.thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes
Noar, Adam. “10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks for More Exciting Presentations.” PresentationPanda.com. July 4, 2016. www.presentationpanda.com/blog/essential-powerpoint-hacks
Russell, Wendy. “PowerPoint Presentations – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” ThoughtCo. February 18, 2016. www.thoughtco.com/powerpoint-presentations-good-and-bad-2767094
Sartain, JD. “PowerPoint Animation Tips: Don’t Be That Person Whose Slides Are Deathly Boring.” PCWorld. February 10, 2015. www.pcworld.com/article/2859249/powerpoint-animation-tips-dont-be-that-person-whose-slides-are-deathly-boring.html
Vanderlee, Carly. “The Seven Deadly Sins of PowerPoint.” Bridgeable. August 20, 2014. www.bridgeable.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-powerpoint
“Animation–Help or Entertainment?” Training Zone. August 23, 2001. www.trainingzone.co.uk/develop/talent/animation-help-or-entertainment

7 of PowerPoint 2016’s Best New Features

PowerPoint is one of the most important programs in Microsoft Office. It features a competitive range of graphical and presentation tools, making it useful for both personal and business applications. PowerPoint 2016, its most recent version, marks almost three years of productivity since the last update. This newest application doesn’t come with dramatic changes. In fact, most of its additional features are enhancements from the previous version.
What sets the real difference with PowerPoint 2016 (and with Office 2016 in general) is the fact that it focuses on enhancing user experience on the cloud. It encourages a collaborative workspace where documents can be shared and used online. It also aims to represent and ultimately fine-tune the synergetic culture that pervades the current work system.
Basically, what Microsoft wants is to get consumers into a new way of thinking about its products. The techno giant wants its brand to be associated with cloud availability, innovation, and timeliness. By offering new features and constant updates, Microsoft aims to pan out its new brand identity—but, of course, consumers need to be onboard for that to happen.

Is This Upgrade Worth Your Money?

Now, the question is, would upgrading to PowerPoint 2016 be in your best interest? Or can you work just as fine with the version you have, however old? The simple answer is this: you won’t miss out on anything big by choosing to not upgrade. Upgrading is not compulsory, after all. You’ll still have the basics that come with every version—all you’ll miss are the new features.
So, the real question now is whether you want the new features or not. Remember, a new version means a new software, and a new software means smarter and more updated features. Finally, you have to remember that PowerPoint is used by over 500 million users worldwide, with 120 million of them using it for business and educational purposes. Just imagine how many of that number have already chosen to upgrade their accounts. Worth a thought, isn’t it?
To help you decide whether or not PowerPoint 2016 is worth your money, here’s an infographic outlining some of its best and newest features.

Resources:

Bjork, Dawn. “What Are the Top 10 PowerPoint 2016 New Features?” The Software Pro. n.d. thesoftwarepro.com/powerpoint-2016-new-features
Sartain, JD. “Check Out PowerPoint 2016’s Best New Features: Charts, Effects, and More.” PC World. January 18, 2016. www.pcworld.com/article/3018735/software/check-out-powerpoint-2016s-best-new-features-charts-effects-and-more.html
“PowerPoint Usage and Market Share.” Infogram. n.d. infogr.am/PowerPoint-usage-and-Marketshare
“What’s New in PowerPoint 2016.” Microsoft Training. August 17, 2015. www.microsofttraining.net/b/whats-new-powerpoint-2016

Save Your Deck: Methods to Recover an Unsaved PowerPoint File

Sheer panic—that’s probably your first reaction when you realize that you weren’t able to save the PowerPoint file you were working on. Maybe the power went out or your computer unexpectedly crashed. Maybe you were too preoccupied that you didn’t think to hit “Save.” Whatever the reason, you’ve suddenly lost hours of hard work and you have no clue how to get it all back.
Luckily, there’s no reason to stress over losing an unsaved PowerPoint file. If you’re using the latest versions of PowerPoint, you can easily retrieve and recover all your hard work. Follow these steps to recover a PowerPoint file you accidentally lost:

Method One: Recover Unsaved Presentations

If you were interrupted before you ever got the chance to save your PowerPoint file, you can simply look for it in the Microsoft Unsaved Files folder. Go to the File tab, make sure you’re on Recent and click on Recover Unsaved Presentations. The icon is right below the list of folders under Recent Places.

Recover-Unsaved-Presentations

Everything in the Unsaved folder are temporary files. Make sure you recover and save everything you need, because you might lose it after a few days.

Method Two: AutoRecover

If you’ve been periodically saving your work but was interrupted before you could save specific changes, you can retrieve your PowerPoint file using the AutoRecover function. First, check if you have it enabled. Go to the File tab, click on Options and go to Save. Make sure your options are similar to those in this picture:
PowerPoint-Files-AutoRecover
If you don’t have AutoRecover enabled, there’s no other way to retrieve the changes you made to your PowerPoint file. You will have to redo your work from the last save. But if everything looks good, you can then follow these steps:
1.) In the same dialogue box, copy the file destination path.
PowerPoint-Files-AutoRecover-02
2.) Open Windows Explorer, paste the path on the address bar, and hit Enter.
PowerPoint-Files-AutoRecover-025
To avoid losing any crucial information, make sure AutoRecover is enabled every time you start creating a PowerPoint deck.

ConclusionSGBlog_SaveYourDeck_Supporting image_SG01_JE-01

Retrieving an unsaved PowerPoint file is a no-brainer as long as you know these basic recovery methods.
You can either open the “Recover Unsaved Presentations” found in the “Recent Places” or use the AutoRecover function to check where that unsaved document must be hiding.
Learn these tricks by heart so you don’t have to worry about getting your presentation back!

Making Your Presentation Stand Out with Powerful Design

Once you’re onstage, the stars are you and your presentation. Of course, your training got you there in the first place: charisma, clear and loud voice, likable aura—public speaking skills polished over and over again until they’re perfect, almost like second nature, and suited to your needs—and appropriate for every crowd imaginable.

But what about your presentation? Is it tailored to your audience? There’s a risk you don’t want to take when, despite how good you are as a speaker, your presentation is not as appealing: you don’t get your message across as effectively as you want, vis-à-vis death by PowerPoint.

Since humans are visual creatures, our brains process imagistic information faster and more efficiently than text. This is a benchmark you should take advantage of when creating visually appealing and enticing slides, a tip awesome presentation designers always live by. Check this infographic for tips on how to charm your audiences, arrest their attention, and, most importantly, get your message across.

Visuals play an important role when arresting attention. In a world of eight-second attention spans and faster everything—connectivity, accessibility, and even loading times—people would rather spend more of their time on different, more valuable things.

Come to think of it, it’s a cyclical cause and effect: everything is faster, so people expect things to be even faster, ergo the short attention spans. Kind of a messed-up Pygmalion effect, only for things instead of persons.

With that happening, there’s now two steps to do: get their attention and retain it. Good, proper, and creative use of visuals can already do the first, and they can certainly take care of the second, especially when your topic goes from “something that makes them curious” to “something that genuinely piques their interest and makes them ask questions.”

There’s a beauty that certain senses can solely appreciate. Music to the ears. Caress on the skin. For the eyes, it’s appealing design. Beauty. Make something that both you and your audience will appreciate. In turn, they will appreciate you.

Resources:

Golden, Felicia. “The Power of Visual Content: Images vs. Text.” eyeQ. February 11, 2015. www.eyeqinsights.com/power-visual-content-images-vs-text

McSpadden, Kevin. “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span than a Goldfish.” Time. May 14, 2015. www.time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish

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Black Cats of PowerPoint Presentations

Sometimes, in the middle of reviewing a PowerPoint presentation, there comes the anxiety wherein people ask themselves if the slides are enough or overdone. Some even come to a point where they struggle critiquing their work because they spent too much time on it. After so much time and effort, you may wonder if you’ve been efficient or just wasteful.

If, at the end of the day, despite all efforts to make a great presentation, it still doesn’t feel right to say it’s a job well done, here are some signs to help you make that call.

Black Cats of PowerPoint Presentations: clown juggling

Unlucky 7

In rare cases, presentation taboos may be excused when necessary but international speaker and presentation skills expert, John Zimmer, says having too many bullets and texts make no sense when crafting a pitch.

According to him, PowerPoint presentations that follow the 1-7-7 rule, or slides that consist one heading, seven bullets, and seven words, promise boredom and apathy on the part of the audience. Same point goes for the 1-6-6 rule.

Avoid this by using fewer bullet points. When used sparingly, bullets can be effective to communicate ideas and points because they offer convenience to the audience. Bullets help save more time and space to allocate new information. Too many of them, however, does the opposite of that value.

Minimize your use of words. Use communicative graphics and pictures that can replace texts. It’s best to do this in slides that contain messages that you would like your audience to remember.

In this case, the 4-by-5 rule might just be right for your presentation. Unless you’re enumerating from a list, then four bullets and five words are ideal to keep your presentation informative and snappy.

Black Cats of PowerPoint Presentations: reaper

The Scripture

One way to know if something isn’t easy to understand is when you read it repeatedly. There are several reasons why this happens. Usually, it means you’re having an idle moment or your phrases or sentences need to be simplified.

When reading, experts say an average person renders 50 – 300 WPM (words per minute). However, when reading technical content, the statistics go down to 50 – 75 WPM.

Sometimes, slides look like pages of ancient text, which contain too much information and take more time to read compared to the normal ones. When comprehending a script, use simpler but appropriate words and sentences to lessen the reader’s strain and lag. If you can’t process your messages easily, then how can you expect your readers to do so? Only use words with deeper meaning when necessary.

Pause after a certain amount of words to give time for them to absorb everything.

Also, speaking from an active voice welcomes a continuous reading process. Use present or passive tenses instead of progressive tenses. They’re easier to read and make ideas seem more simple.

Lastly, though it’s advised to keep one thought in one slide, you can opt to break your sentences in the middle and proceed to the next. Maintain the dominance of the white background. It also pays to maintain a breathing room for your eyes.

Black Cats of PowerPoint Presentations: fortune teller

Magic Decks

When you present a deck with numerous slides in a considerably long time, do you wonder if your audience recall everything?

A research conducted in 2012 by cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Carmen Simon, examined how many slides people can remember from a text-only, standalone PowerPoint presentation. After 48 hours, results showed that 1,500 participants remembered an average of four slides out of the presented 20.

The study revealed that visuals played a significant role in keeping the slides memorable. It was also found that similar-looking slides are easier to remember. The distinctiveness of every other fifth slide in Simon’s presentation were significant help as well.

Marks help remember. Use pictures or designs not only to illustrate, but also to keep slides more interesting and easier to recall. It’s best to use them strategically. Use markings on slides that need more emphasis.

Conclusion

Your deck doesn’t have to be all-telling. You can just make books if that’s the case. A good deck must contain all significant points and ideas for the presenter to collaboratively explain with. In a PowerPoint presentation full of information, points become harder to highlight. Use words sparingly so that your audience would actually pay attention to your content.

Be strategic when creating your slides to make them more engaging. When making presentations, discover ways to be more conscious on your creative and communicative processes. It pays to understand your audience’s interests with regards to these aspects.

Lastly, know that sometimes, complex solutions only solve basic problems. Before you start with another PowerPoint presentation, invest your time in getting to know more about creating effective presentations. This way, you end up creating your presentation in a lesser hassle pace and with more peace of mind.

Resources:

Zimmer, John. “PowerPoint Math: The 1-6-6 Rule. Manner of Speaking.” Manner of Speaking. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2010/03/04/powerpoint-math-the-1-6-6-rule

Simon, Carmen. “The Results Are In: How Much Do People Really Remember from PowerPoint Presentations?” Brainshark. February 12, 2013. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2013/February/results-what-people-remember-powerpoint-presentations

Nelson, Brett. “Do You Read Fast Enough To Be Successful?” Forbes. June 4, 2012 www.forbes.com/sites/brettnelson/2012/06/04/do-you-read-fast-enough-to-be-successful/#5d9d3eca58f7

Thomas, Mark. “What Is the Average Reading Speed and the Best Rate of Reading?” Health Guidance. www.healthguidance.org/entry/13263/1/What-Is-the-Average-Reading-Speed-and-the-Best-Rate-of-Reading.html

PowerPoint Photo Album Feature: Add Multiple Images at Once

With a fast approaching deadline, we just don’t have enough time to meticulously arrange slides. Luckily, there are plenty of PowerPoint shortcuts that can help speed up the process. Aside from learning quick commands and customizing your toolbars, PowerPoint also allows you to add multiple images at once with the Photo Album feature. This shortcut is especially useful if you plan to use images as the focal point of your PowerPoint design.

Get started by following this step-by-step tutorial:

Create Photo Album

To access the Photo Album feature, head to the Insert tab. Click the Photo Album icon and choose New Album.

This will prompt a dialogue box where you can enter all the pictures you want to include in your presentation. Choose all the images you want to insert by clicking on the File/Disk button. You can select multiple pictures at a time by holding down either the CTRL or SHIFT key. CTRL allows you to pick and choose pictures, while SHIFT automatically selects all the files between the first picture and the last picture you click.

You can also do some customization on the dialogue box. You can specify how you want the pictures to look on the slides under Picture Layout, do some basic photo editing, and select a specific template for your photo album. Make adjustments and then click Create.

PowerPoint will automatically arrange your pictures in a new presentation, which you can edit as you like.

Add multiple pictures to an existing presentation file

You can also use the Photo Album feature to add multiple pictures to an existing presentation. Open the PowerPoint file you want to edit, then follow the same steps as indicated above. Despite having an existing presentation open, PowerPoint will still turn your photo album into a new presentation.

Copy the slides you need by selecting the thumbnails on the left sidebar of the photo album (named by default as “Presentation2”). Then, you can easily paste it to your original presentation.

Once you familiarize yourself with PowerPoint’s different function and features, you will see how easy it is to come up with quick and exciting designs. Use this tip to make sure your image-centered design concept comes to fruition.

 

Featured Image: martinak15 via Flickr
Images used in sample Photo Album by Death to the Stock Photo

PowerPoint Tip: Creating Custom-Shaped Placeholders

It’s not hard to come up with unique slide designs if you’re familiar with PowerPoint’s full potential. There’s more to PowerPoint than just bullet points and repetitive templates. With some creativity and experimentation, you will find that PowerPoint is a flexible presentation tool that allows for many design possibilities.

One of the many ways you can customize the look of your slides is by experimenting with picture placeholders. As you know, we use placeholders to quickly add elements on a particular slide. Placeholders are particularly useful for pictures, because it helps you ensure that alignment is consistent throughout. If you want to add an extra bit of detail to your pictures, turn your placeholders into .

Creating basic placeholder shapes: 

1.) Start with Slide Master 

Start in the Slide Master View and insert a Slide Layout. On the new slide, add a Picture Placeholder and adjust it according to your liking.

Select Insert Layout first, then click on Insert Placeholder and choose Picture.

2.) Change placeholder shape

Select your placeholder and click on the Drawing Tools Format tab. Select Edit Shape and choose from the pre-defined shapes under Change Shape.

Choose the shape that best suits your design concept.

3.) Make adjustments 

You can adjust the new shape by using the yellow diamond to refine corners and modify angles.

Click and drag the yellow diamond to adjust your shape.

You can also take it one step further by defining your own shape. If you want your placeholder to look a specific way, there’s a quick way to make your own custom and unique shapes.

Defining custom-shaped placeholders: 

1.) Choose a shape for a starting point 

Do the same steps indicated above to choose a shape that can serve as your starting point. Go with one that is closest to your desired shape, so that you can minimize the adjustments you’ll need to make.

2.) Enable Combine Shapes command 

The Combine Shapes command allows you to customize shapes by merging and intersecting them together. You can also “subtract” a portion of one shape with another. To enable the command, you will need to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar. Select the small arrow above the ribbon and choose More Commands.

When the dialogue box appears, find Combine Shapes from All Commands. Press “C” on your keyboard to find it quickly.

3.) Adjust by “subtracting” shapes 

To use the Combine Shapes command, start placing new shapes around the placeholder. Once you’ve arranged the shapes, hold shift and select the placeholder followed by the shapes around it.

Make sure you select the placeholder first.

Click on the Combine Shapes icon from the Quick Access toolbar and select Shape Subtract.

How the placeholder will look after “subtraction”.

Once you’re happy with your shape, exit Slide Master View and start designing your slides. You can create as many custom-shaped placeholders as you like. Since you made them using Slide Master, you can easily access the new layouts under New Slide.

Featured Image: Ben K Adams via Flickr