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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: March 2009

Thoughts and impressions of whatever is happening in the world of PowerPoint

See Also:
PowerPoint and Presenting Notes
PowerPoint and Presenting Glossary
PowerPoint Programming

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Learn PowerPoint: Removing an Animation

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:30 PM IST



Before you start with removing an animation, there is something you need to decide:

  1. Do you want to remove both the animation and the slide object that is animated?

  2. Or do you want to just remove the animation, and let the slide object be?

  3. Or maybe you don't want to remove the animation or the slide object -- you just want to change the animation?
Learn more here...

Categories: animation, powerpoint, tutorials

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Monday, March 30, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 12:48 PM IST



When you add animation to any slide object, and set the animation event for it to occur, the next thing to do is set the speed of the animation. In this tutorial, I explore speed presets in PowerPoint that determine how long an animation takes to complete.

Learn more now...

Categories: animation, powerpoint, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 12:17 PM IST



Learn how to animate a series of headshots -- very useful for an opening slide sequence. You can also use the same technique for product shots or vacation pictures -- just substitute the headshots!



Learn more now...

Categories: animation, photos, powerpoint, presentation_samples, tutorials

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Monday, March 23, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 11:40 AM IST



This exclusive book extract from VSTO 3.0 for Office 2007 Programming is presented here with permission from Packt Publishing.

The book, authored by Vivek Thangaswamy will help you get started with using VSTO in several Microsoft Office 2007 applications including InfoPath, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project, etc. The excerpt on this site looks at customizing the Ribbon interface in PowerPoint 2007.



Read the excerpts here...

Categories: books, microsoft_office, powerpoint_2007

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posted by Geetesh on 10:35 AM IST



Andrew AbelaAndrew Abela is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Chair-elect of the Department of Business & Economics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and author of Advanced Presentations by Design.

His consulting clients include Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Motorola, Burger King, eBay, and Kimberly-Clark. Prior to academia, he ran the Marketing Leadership Council, was a consultant with McKinsey & Co., and a brand manager at Procter & Gamble. He lives with his wife and their six children in Great Falls, Virginia, and was born and raised on the island of Malta.

Read the interview here...

Categories: books, interviews, powerpoint

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Saturday, March 21, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:36 PM IST



Liber Rodríguez of Novatrox sent me this awesome bit of info that should make universities and non-profit educational institutions very happy indeed. They have decided to give away their amazing slide cataloging and management program for free to them for installation on institutional servers.

"Being able to search the entire University knowledge base of presentations to find individual slides, will save scientists and researchers huge amounts of time", says Jonas Fernholm, CEO at Novatrox AB.

Free non-profit educational licenses can be obtained from Novatrox AB. Educational institutions may use the [email protected] mail address to initiate contact.

About Slide Executive Professional

Slide Executive Professional enables organizations to store their presentation content in a single slide library, making it available to business professionals and decision-makers throughout the enterprise and through any web browser, from anywhere in the world. Slide Executive provides simple, one-click presentation browsing, advanced slide search functionality, easy assembly of new presentations with approved content, virtual presentations automatically updating to the latest version of each slide and advanced user management functions including audit trail.

For organizations with many presentations, Slide Executive Professional will save lots of time and help improve the quality of their presentations. Slide Executive can also be used as a digital asset management system for the small company since it handles all kinds of documents including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PDF, image files, movies and more.

Categories: add-in, powerpoint, slide_management

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posted by Geetesh on 1:18 PM IST



Rick Altman of PowerPoint Live has launched the PowerPoint Live Template Contest for this year's event to be held from October 11 to 14 at Atlanta. Winners of the template contest will get a free trip to the fall event!

For those of you who want to see how the winning entries look like, head to this exclusive page we created last year that shows you all the winners over the years.

Also exclusive is this small conversation with Rick.

Geetesh: So the PowerPoint Live template contest enters its fifth year -- I know you cannot say what you are looking for in a winner, but you could say what you are not looking for?

Rick: I can say both. We are looking for an intelligent and elegant design that will remain as attractive on Day 3 as it was on Day 1. We are not looking for something that shows off a person's knowledge of PowerPoint features. That is the job of our presenters.

Geetesh: Tell us more about what the winner gets.

Rick: Free pass to the conference and round-trip airfare from any city in the United States that Delta Airlines flies to.

Now, how do you take part in this contest? Head here to learn more.

And who judges the entries? The entries are judged by a panel of conference regulars, including "yours truly":

Ric BretschneiderRic Bretschneider, is Senior Program Manager for PowerPoint at Microsoft and he celebrates many years as a Microsoft veteran, having joined the company in 1993 to work on PowerPoint for Windows and the Macintosh. Over the years, he's contributed to the design and direction of the application, and been awarded three PowerPoint related patents.

Nancy DuarteNancy Duarte has been a Principal of Duarte Design since1990. Her firm is in the heart of the Silicon Valley and the client list is loaded with Fortune 500 companies. Her passion for business communications that are clear, meaningful and attractive has opened doors for her in a business world full of cluttered and complex visual communications.


Julie TerbergJulie Terberg develops custom presentation solutions -- unique for every client and purpose as owner and principle designer at Terberg Design. She co-authored a book on crafting medical presentations. Julie also conducts training sessions for those who want to expand their skills, and is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for PowerPoint.

Geetesh BajajGeetesh Bajaj has been a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for PowerPoint since 9 years now, and is currently authoring his fifth book on the program. Based in India, Geetesh also runs the popular Indezine.com web site.

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, powerpointlive

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Friday, March 20, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 1:02 PM IST



James OntraJames Ontra, co-founder of PPTshare, has been developing presentation management solutions for over thirteen years. His company’s software products range from the high-end Ontra Presentation Management solution known for its ability to play rich animations and video, to applications that enhance and help manage PowerPoint. In this conversation, James discusses the new PPTshuffle product.

Geetesh: Tell us about PPTshuffle, and what does it do?

James: Find the slide you need, when you need it. PPTshuffle is a browser-based PowerPoint slide library that lets you preview slides and then drag & drop them into another presentation. It's a presentation management solution that helps companies with thousands of PowerPoint presentations manage and organize all of that content, so individuals can find the slide they need, quickly and easily. Companies can use it on their Intranet behind a firewall, or use it online as an on-demand service.

Features include:

  • Organize and update a library of PowerPoint slides
  • Preview individual slides
  • Drag & drop slides into new presentations
  • Search based on file name, title, content and/or speaker notes
  • Available hosted on-demand, or server edition installed on your network
Geetesh: Who is the potential user of PPTshuffle, and what benefits will a user achieve from this product?

James: PPTshuffle is made for organizations that have hundreds, even thousands, of PowerPoint files that no one can seem to find.

It works on two levels.

First for individual users, it is a library where a user can preview individual slides and then drag and drop them into a new presentation. They can do a key word search for individual slides based on file name, title, speaker notes and content, preview the slide, and then decide whether or not to drag & drop into a new presentation. Or they can click on a PowerPoint file and quickly preview all of the slides within that file. No more hunting and pecking through their e-mail, networks and hard drive looking for the great pie chart or latest sales figures. It saves hours of time preparing presentations.

Second for managers and administrators, PPTshuffle serves as a repository of approved presentations and manages access through user groups. Therefore, it ensures that everyone in the organization has the most up-to-date, branded and compliant presentations.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 12:27 PM IST



Scott Schwertly is from Ethos3 Communications, an internationally renowned and award-winning presentation design and training company located in Nashville, TN. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of SlideMagnet.com - an online portal for the presentation space. Scott works with a wide spectrum of clients that includes Fortune 100 companies, Silicon Valley start-ups, and various other organizations throughout the world. He may live in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs, but he calls San Diego home - the place of his beloved San Diego Chargers. Scott has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University. In this conversation, Scott discusses his new SlideMagnet site.

Geetesh: Tell us more about SlideMagnet, and what is its raison d’être?

Scott: SlideMagnet.com is an online portal/magazine for both novice and professional presenters. It provides presentation tips and advice as well as the latest presentation technology news. The site features articles to help maximize the effectiveness of presentations through improved design, content and delivery methods and includes an ask-the-expert section. There’s also a community forum that encourages discussion on related topics.

When I first started Ethos3 close to 3 years ago, I found very limited online resources to build presentation knowledge. Thus, I found myself taking lessons from classics like the works of Dale Carnegie. The unfortunate reality is that I had to rely on books written from the 1930's since I couldn't find anything on the web. Today, the resources remain limited -- there are, without doubt, some fantastic blogs and tools, but the overall resources are still lacking. My hope is that SlideMagnet will help fill that gap. With sites out there like SlideShare, SlideRocket, Presentation Zen, Slideology, and now SlideMagnet -- 2009 will surely be the year of presentations!

My dream is that SlideMagnet will empower presenters. It's a shame when people inquire with presentation design firms, but due to budget cuts or limited capital, they can't afford solid presentation design services. Hopefully, SlideMagnet will serve as an alternative by providing tips, tricks, hacks, etc for the entrepreneur with a shoestring budget or the Marketing Director who is unable to receive corporate buy-in regarding presentation services.

SlideMagnet

Geetesh: What sort of content do you plan to make available on SlideMagnet, and whom is this targeted towards?

Scott: SlideMagnet.com has lots of great features including items such as:

  • Decktionary: a presentation dictionary; includes common words as well as new slang
  • Ask the Deckspert: you can ask SlideMagnet's Deckspert any question related to building, designing, and delivering presentations
  • Slide U: Webinars for presenters
  • Political Speeches from the Past and Present: Relive the great speeches of yesterday and today
  • The Daily Dose: Daily presentation tips and quotes; also includes a presentation site and gadget of the week
  • and much more...
SlideMagnet.com is for everyone. Most importantly, it's for presenters. It is my hope that SlideMagnet will be the catalyst for everyone's next great presentation.

Categories: design, interviews, powerpoint

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Thursday, March 19, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:35 PM IST



In this tutorial series, I showed you how you can play with all the effects available in PowerPoint 2007. This is the last tutorial in this series, and builds upon the previous tutorial that showed you how to apply 3D Rotation to a shape in PowerPoint 2007 (or higher version).

Learn more now...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 3:20 PM IST



We have already covered all effects available in PowerPoint 2007 in this tutorial series except the 3-D, and we remedy that now with this tutorial where I show you how you can add a 3-D Rotation effect to a selected shape in PowerPoint 2007 (or higher version).

Learn more now...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 2:38 PM IST



3-D Options seems like something that should work with the 3-D Rotation effect in PowerPoint 2007, yet it also works with other effects such as Bevel and Presets. In simple terms, 3-D Options let you format the bevel style of a shape with many more options that are available in the conventional Bevel gallery. You can customize options such as contour, contour color, depth, depth color, and materials. This detailed tutorial explains every option within the 3-D Options gamut.

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:12 PM IST



We have already covered most of the effects available in PowerPoint 2007 in this tutorial series -- and now I show you how you can add a Bevel effect to a selected shape in PowerPoint 2007 (or higher version).

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 10:42 AM IST



We have already explored a few of the effects that PowerPoint 2007 allows to be used on shapes -- and that's the reason they are called Shape Effects. Soft Edges are one of these effects, and we'll look at what you can do with soft edges, which adds an eaten-up, feathered edge to a selected shape. Soft edges work best with larger shapes, especially if you use some of the larger soft edge variations available. PowerPoint provides some ready-to-use soft edges, but there is no option to format soft edges beyond these readymade offerings. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to apply soft edge to a shape.

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 12:38 PM IST



John BillingtonPictures make presentations work. But the most interesting and compelling images aren’t generally found in free clipart galleries. So you comb the Internet, looking for just the right image to convey your message. Click-cut-paste. You’ve got it!

While you may have “it”, that “it” is more than likely the copyright-protected work of a photographer or designer. Even for department presentations, sales presentations, training materials, and other internal business purposes, using images without the proper permission and rights is a serious issue, and may constitute a breach of the creator’s copyright.

Guest author John Billington has lots of info to share with you on this interesting topic -- read the article here...

Categories: clip_media, photos, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 10:53 AM IST



In a previous tutorial, I showed you how you can apply a glow effect to a shape in PowerPoint 2007 (or higher version). In this tutorial, I'll show you how you can change the glow color.

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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Monday, March 16, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:38 PM IST



ColorSchemer Studio 2.0 is a color oriented application that can be used for creating new color schemes by mixing the color values to create schemes -- all the color schemes are created based on sound color theory principles. ColorSchemer Studio 2.0, is from the company of the same name -- which also creates products like ColorPix, Galleria, etc. You can download a trial version of ColorSchemer Studio 2.0 from their site. They have a Windows version available now, and a Mac version in development -- and also a free online version! For this review, I'm working with the Windows version.

Read the review here...

Categories: color, graphics

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posted by Geetesh on 4:12 PM IST



In previous tutorials, I have showed you how you can add preset, shadow, and reflection effects to shapes in PowerPoint 2007. Now I move on to the next effect: Glow. Glow adds a hazed color perimeter outside the shape area. PowerPoint provides several glow variations, and in this tutorial I'll show you how to apply glow effects to a shape.

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 2:57 PM IST



Carles Enric LopezCarles Enric Lopez is CEO of Netmaps, SA -- a Barcelona, Spain based company. He has a degree in Geography from the Universidad de Barcelona (UB) and the University College of London (UCL). In addition, he holds a Master in Demography (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona ) and is a Postgraduate in Urbanism (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya).

In this conversation, Carles Enric Lopez talks about the use of maps in PowerPoint.

Geetesh: How can presenters and presentation designers benefit from using maps in their PowerPoint slides?

Carles: PowerPoint maps are not only perfect for making your presentations easier to create, but also give them a far more professional look. Such maps are ideal if you are looking to add clear, visual references into your presentation. One of the benefits of our maps for presentations is that we have covered all the country maps in the world with the same kind of information so it would be perfect for any company to unify their information.

You can modify any of the maps, and make your own look and feel, so our maps can be combined with your corporate images in an easy way. It is a well known fact that visual aids greatly help people to retain for longer the information which you present to them, and the speaker finds it much easier to engage with their audience and pull off a successful presentation, if they don't have to worry about technical problems or trying to describe geographical locations. PowerPoint maps will save you a lot of time and hassle, since the maps have been purposely created for PowerPoint software, so you won't have to worry about glitches, bad graphics or difficult modifications.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your company, and the PowerPoint specific maps that you provide.

Carles: We, at Netmaps, have over 11 years experience under our belts, and specialize in the creation of digital maps in a variety of formats, for example PowerPoint, Illustrator, and Freehand. Our diverse team comprises of experienced geographers and cartographers. Our head office is located in a four story building in the quiet suburbs of Barcelona (Spain), but we have reputable customers in 69 countries throughout the world, such as DK, Time Out, National Geographic, African Development Bank, HP, BBC, Apple, and so on. We offer maps of continents, countries and cities, both topographical, political and road maps. Our maps for PowerPoint were created in 2003 because some of our largest clients needed specific and customized maps for their presentations. We used our beta website version from 2003-2005, with Maps 1.0 available. In 2006 we launched the new version of our website 2.0, and finally in 2009 we have decided to start our PowerPointMaps version 3.0 which combines the free version 1.0 and the payable version. We have also reduced prices by 50% of the version 2.0. Version 1.0 maps are completely free to download, and you can start using them straight away. Upgrading to version 2.0 maps (at a cost of just 49 euros each) allows you to easily modify the PowerPoint map.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your support infrastructure.

Carles: Our maps are fully vectorized, which means that our production team is working day in day out to update any new information. When we update any of the maps, we also transform them to PowerPoint format to make them available for users of PowerPoint presentations.

We can be reached by either phone or email. You will be put straight through to a member of staff (no pushing lots of buttons!). If you choose to send us an email, we promise to get back to you within 6 hours. Our team comprises of native speaking English, French, Spanish, and German nationals. Our production team is on hand if you have any problems with downloading, but if all else fails we can send the map to you via email. Our central server is in the UK and we have backups in India and France. It means our presentation maps are guaranteed 24 hours X 7 days.

Categories: clip_media, interviews, maps, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 11:55 AM IST



Jerry WeissmanJerry Weissman is among the world's foremost corporate presentations coaches. His private client list reads like a who's who of the world's best companies, including the top brass at Yahoo!, Intel, Intuit, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Netflix and many others.

Jerry founded Power Presentations, Ltd. in 1988. One of his earliest efforts was the Cisco Systems IPO road show. The Power PresenterFollowing its successful launch, Don Valentine, of Sequoia Capital, and then chairman of Cisco's Board of Directors, attributed "at least two to three dollars" of the offering price to Jerry's coaching.That endorsement led to more than 500 other IPO road show presentations that have raised hundreds of billions of dollars in the stock market. In this conversation, Jerry discusses his new book: The Power Presenter: Technique, Style, and Strategy from America's Top Speaking Coach.

Read the interview here...

Categories: delivery, interviews, powerpoint

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Saturday, March 14, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:18 PM IST



This tutorial is part of the effects series for PowerPoint 2007. I already showed you how you can apply a shadow effect, and tweak the shadow options. In this tutorial, I'll show you how you can quickly add a reflection to a shape.

Note: Although you can add both a shadow and reflection effect to any object in PowerPoint 2007 or higher versions, it's good to use just one of these two effects.

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 12:49 PM IST



Have you ever wondered how you might transform your presentations into the kind of integrated media displays you see on television during high profile shows and events? Examples would include the information graphics that appear during network nightly news broadcasts or major sporting events. In those displays backgrounds move subtly, transitions incorporate key branding and design elements, and video is included in visually interesting ways? Our review product, OfficeFX® Presenter version 3.5 offers these capabilities and does so without changing the way your file looks or behaves in PowerPoint.

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, officefx, powerpoint

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Friday, March 13, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:11 PM IST



Olivia MitchellOlivia Mitchell has been a Toastmaster, a management development trainer for a major bank, and a political candidate. Now she teaches others how to become more confident and effective presenters - through face-to-face training courses in New Zealand (Effective Speaking) and her blog Speaking about Presenting.

Geetesh: Can you tell more about what got you interested in design changes for PowerPoint slides? And how did the idea of a group blog come about?

Olivia: Most of my course participants, and visitors to my blog, already know that bullet-points are awful but they don't know what to do about it. I want to make it easy for people to transition from bullet-point slides to visual slides.

Many presentation design bloggers have a particular design style and that comes through on their blogs. So I see my role as digesting all the great design and styles that are out there and showing people how they can adopt those styles. For an example see my post The Top 7 PowerPoint slide designs.

The group blog came about because of post by Laura Bergells from the Maniactive blog. Laura argued that in some cases we need a return to more detailed slides. I started composing a blog post to respond to what Laura had written but realized that initiating a wide-ranging debate would be more interesting. I broadened the debate by suggesting that the theme of their posts should be "What you'd like to see in PowerPoint slide design in 2009."

I invited presentation bloggers and selected experts to contribute. There's now a total of 40 contributions. It seems to be an issue that people wanted to write about.

Geetesh: What's your opinion about changes in design?

Olivia:I totally support the move away from bullet-point slides.

But I think there is an issue with integrating new design approaches into everyday business culture. It's all very well to say that businesses should put as many resources into their PowerPoint slides as their brochures or annual reports, but that's not going to happen. The reality is that everyday business people will continue to put together the majority of PowerPoint slideshows. They are not going to read design books or read the archives of Presentation Zen. They need quick and simple ways of putting together slides that don't suck.

Geetesh: Can you quote some opinions from the numerous blog posts that have been put up as part of this group blog initiative.

Olivia:Here are some of the themes that have come through.

First, from the presentation bloggers who are in the trenches working with business people, there comes the theme that most presentations still suck. Here's Bert Decker:

I would estimate 90% of all types of presentations are created by people who go to their computers and start the process by using the PP outliner or going right to writing text and bullets on the slides themselves. So the end result is totally PP driven, and we have information without influence and data without emotion.
Many other bloggers echoed this.

There are two main controversies that came through. The first one is "Does Design Matter?". On the one hand you have Joey Asher saying:
But ultimately my position on PowerPoint is this: it’s largely irrelevant to whether you accomplish your goals. That’s because PowerPoint and other visuals, now matter how graphically pleasing, don’t inspire audiences, sell ideas, or win business.
and on the other, Ellen Finkelstein:
I’d like presenters in 2009 to know that design is important. Good design provides a professional, custom look that says that the presenter cared enough about the audience to do more than slap on a default background. Companies hire professionals to design their web sites and printed brochures; why not their presentations, which are just as important?
The second controversy is "Simplicity versus Detail". This is the issue that Laura Bergells discussed in the post that sparked the project. The majority suggested that there should be one idea per slide and that should be supported by a visual.

But there was also a significant minority who suggested that it should depend - this from Brent Dykes:
I am concerned that rather than adding the simple, visual approach to presenters' "toolboxes", presenters will use it as a hammer for all presentation situations. .. Just because bullet points may be perceived as the duct tape of PowerPoint design (inelegant and ugly), it doesn’t mean bullet points aren’t effective in certain situations.
Many bloggers used this opportunity to reiterate key design principles - there's a lot of unanimity around these -- which will provide clear guidance to presenters. For example:
  • Remove extraneous detail from your slides

  • One idea per slide

  • Put details in the handout.

Finally, many bloggers also looked at what might be ahead. The most interesting theme here was the influence of social media techniques on PowerPoint and presenting. Laura Bergells suggested that:
The brevity of Twitter can make you a better designer. A better headline writer. A better presenter. Using and studying Twitter can be a powerful exercise in how to get your point across swiftly and succinctly.

I'll be publishing four round-up posts to highlight these themes. The first one is already published: PowerPoint Slide Design in 2009: Does Design Matter?

See Also: Slide Design in 2009: Changes -- by Geetesh Bajaj | PowerPoint Design in 2009 -- by Olivia Mitchell

Categories: design, interviews, opinion, powerpoint

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Thursday, March 12, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:16 PM IST



Damian McDonaldDamian McDonald is the founder of Visual Newmedia which has over 15 years’ experience in developing communication solutions for a number of leading global brands. Damian heads the team in the development and implementation methodologies of Visual’s presentation management solution - Visual Presenter.

Geetesh: Can you tell us more about the problems being faced by folks who create and deliver presentations?

Damian: We’ve been developing presentations for corporate clients since the mid-nineties and have found that the issues businesses face in the area of presenting to their own clients have remained pretty consistent throughout that time.

Obviously the most-widely used presentation application is Microsoft PowerPoint, which is simple enough that most presenters can construct a basic piece of work within it. The problem lies in a more macro sense: in particular the management – and control – within the business of the various presentations that have been created.

From a business point of view, there tends to be no brand consistency across this multitude of presentations, both visually and within the content itself. This is an issue even for smaller organisations. With individuals ‘going it alone’ to create presentation collateral, the brand messages are mixed, confused, personalised and worse, often obsolete. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the end user -- another issue we find time and again is that those presenting cannot find the information within the company’s network drives to even update what they are going to present. This is especially true for those working remotely who, ironically, tend to be in the kinds of roles that have to deliver most of the company presentations, and so they simply create and recreate ‘individualised’ presentations, and the information being delivered becomes more and more off-brand, off-message, and out of date.

We also find that even if businesses want to keep their front line personnel updated with the latest information for client presentations, they often have no mechanism with which to do this. Or you’ll find they can get information to one business channel, but not others, so you still have a frighteningly inconsistent brand message being communicated to clients and prospective clients. So it becomes a vicious cycle, in a sense. These are all issues that we created Visual Presenter to address.

Something else we worked on while developing Visual Presenter was addressing the issues in PowerPoint when it comes to linking associated media files. Clients no longer accept sitting through ‘Death by PowerPoint’ bullet point after bullet point. People expect multimedia, and any effective presentation will include this.

Unfortunately, as multimedia technology has evolved with PowerPoint, media formats such as video, audio, and Flash struggle to maintain valid media links. For example, if you import a video over the network and then disconnect from the network, when it then comes to presenting, PowerPoint can’t play the video as it tries unsuccessfully to search for the file on the ‘non-existent’ network location. Very frustrating for the presenter, and very unprofessional.
And how do you merge interactive custom shows? Again we’ve frequently found that those presenters who do begin to get a bit smarter with the advanced functionality of PowerPoint are hampered by the fact that currently there is no way to merge interactive presentations without losing this functionality and having to recreate it. Again, very restrictive, and very frustrating.
The end result, invariably, is that presenters give up trying to create dynamic presentations, they find they can’t customise material to suit a particular audience, they can’t access new information and so they go out to the market with tired, inaccurate, unprofessional-looking material, despite the best of intentions. And the organisation suffers accordingly.

Geetesh: How does your Visual Presenter product help them in the problem scenarios you explained?

Damian: Working for such a long period of time in this area, and with a large range of businesses has enabled us to address all these problem scenarios effectively. We also continue to develop Visual Presenter to address issues that we anticipate could affect businesses in the future. At a one-on-one level, we work with the organisations to use this knowledge to address their specific needs. Thankfully not every business is affected by every problem we were talking about in the first question!

Specifically, where we help is addressing the needs at both ends of the problem, if you like: those of the business itself, and those presenting.

With Visual Presenter, users can create presentations in minutes that automatically tailor the content and design to their audience. Content that is relevant to a user is automatically updated from a centralised server. This is one of the key pieces of functionality of Visual Presenter: it operates as a Master Library of presentations: easy to access, easy to update, easy to control.
We’ve also designed Visual Presenter to allow users to create presentations remotely while flying or in between appointments without internet or network access. Everything they need to create presentations is cached locally.

From the viewpoint of the organisation, if messaging changes, or if there’s an entire brand ‘look and feel’ change out, it is simply a case of applying a new PowerPoint template to the library of presentations. Visual Presenter automatically reformats the required content to the correct design format. For larger organisations, or those that manage multiple brands, Visual Presenter also enables them to have information dynamically represented with different template designs across the library.

When any changes are published to the main library – and it’s a very simple process to make alterations to the content – online users are automatically notified that updates are available. Through a “one click” update process all required content for the user is updated to enable them to create presentations on or off the network.

We did a lot of work around the media file issue, and the effectiveness of our solution is that it automatically tracks media content supported by PowerPoint. If media is found that is not stored locally, Visual Presenter will automatically copy down the media and make sure it is tracked with the presentation, the key point being that this ensures that media always plays effectively during a presentation whether you are on or off the network.

A concern often raised with us is the inability companies have to tailor presentations to suit their audience. This is where Visual Presenter, as an Agenda Based Presentation Management Solution is streets ahead of Slide Management Solutions. When a presentation is created it automatically selects the appropriate information and structure for a given audience. This allows companies to better manage how information is communicated to different target audiences. Further to that, if a presenter wants to tweak the content while they present, Visual Presenter has a unique agenda-based interface that allows additional information to be made available while presenting, giving the presenter a new level of control.

And to complete the process, Visual Presenter makes it simple for companies to get accurate presentation feedback. They can define what they would like to report on, e.g. presentation results, content feedback, next action and date, market feedback etc. As with the other features of Visual Presenter, this works to ensure a company is delivering the best presentations possible to an ever-demanding market.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:55 PM IST



This article by Robert Lane and Dr. C. June Maker explores how the human brain handles visual input and the implications for PowerPoint presentations. We recommend eliminating most of those carefully thought-out words on slides and replacing them with certain kinds of rich imagery.

Robert Lane  Dr. C. June Maker

Doing so efficiently feeds the brain what it likes to see, and allows you to communicate messages in ways not possible with words alone.

Read this now...

Categories: design, opinion, powerpoint

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