PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: July 2010

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

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ProPoint Graphics: Conversation with Jim Confalone

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
posted by Geetesh on 2:07 PM IST

Jim ConfaloneJim Confalone, is a partner and creative director with ProPoint Graphics and is responsible for production operations. With a fine arts background, he got his start as a designer leading the graphics department at a boutique management consulting firm in Boston, Massachussetts. Prior to ProPoint, he also worked as a web, Flash, and graphic designer in the New York area. Mr. Confalone holds an MFA with Honors in Painting and Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA Summa Cum Laude in Fine Arts from Amherst College.

In this conversation, Jim talks about presentation design and his clients.

Geetesh: How does presentation design for platforms like PowerPoint differ from conventional design for the web or print?

Jim: Platforms like PowerPoint and Keynote provide a unique set of requirements for designers due to the inherent variability in presenting itself. Some basic questions that help drive design are:

  • Is the presentation automated or attended?
  • Will it be shown on an LCD or projection?
  • How large is the venue?
  • Will the lights be on or off?
Ideally, designers should be forewarned and prepared for these variables before starting work so they can adjust their tactics appropriately.

It’s also important to recognize that PowerPoint presentations are generally intended to complement and support a live speaker. In contrast, print and web collateral are user-driven experiences that have relatively controllable requirements (e.g. a website must display properly in certain browsers, a print file must be designed in CMYK at a resolution suitable for printing, etc).

ProPoint Graphics Slide 2

Because most live PowerPoint presentations appear in conjunction with a speaker, the designer can weed out much of the text-based content that would be redundant to what the speaker is saying. The focus should be more about distilling the speaker’s most important information and presenting it in a way that is easy to understand, adhering to the presenter’s brand, and generally avoiding unnecessary bells and whistles. You’re not designing to show off your technical prowess. Your job is to reinforce the message and brand as strongly and clearly as you possibly can. Less is absolutely more. A great example is Steve Jobs. If you watch him present, you’ll see that there is absolutely nothing extraneous to his pitches. No bullets, excessive text, needless animations, or gratuitous effects. Everything that appears on screen is finely tuned to augment his spoken message.

ProPoint Graphics Slide 1

On a practical level, the designer must create a presentation that is flexible enough to work in a number of scenarios. For instance, the text to background contrast must be high enough that the viewer can read the content in a lit room or on a suboptimal projector. Fonts should be legible from the back of the presentation venue. Again, clarity rules. If the audience can’t see the information, the presentation is working against you.

Geetesh: Can you share some info about the type of projects and clients you work with?

Jim: ProPoint Graphics works with an extraordinarily broad range of clients. From large Fortune 500 household names to small startups, our clients come to us from virtually all industries. One reason for this is that no matter what your company does, at some point you will need to present something to somebody. Whether for a non-profit looking for funding, a CEO speaking before his board, or a supplier introducing a new product, the presentation is ubiquitous.

As far as the type of work we do, ProPoint has really made its name with a strong emphasis on high end graphic design. While our staff is completely fluent in PowerPoint, they are first and foremost great designers. When putting together a presentation we use design applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator as much as PowerPoint. It’s fairly easy to find good design shops or PowerPoint production centers, but there aren’t many companies with our particular hybrid focus.

As a result, we get a large number of sales and marketing presentations. Our clients are looking to differentiate themselves from their competitors who might be presenting a more traditional PowerPoint deck. Whether pitching an idea, product, or even yourself, you need to stand out. Your audience must walk away with a memorable impression of your message and your brand. A presentation with a good, clean, well thought out design coupled with clear and concise content will go a long way toward that end.

Categories: design, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 1:27 PM IST

Become a PowerPoint Guru This exclusive Indezine excerpt is from Become a PowerPoint Guru, a book that details how management and strategy consulting firms develop business presentations. The book is authored by David Tracy, who has worked as a management consultant for 12 years.

Here are couple of excerpts, reproduced here with permission from David Tracy, author of the book.

Read here...

Categories: books, powerpoint

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Friday, July 23, 2010
posted by Geetesh on 1:37 PM IST

Jamie GarrochJamie Garroch, Managing Director of GMARK Ltd., founded the company in 2009 to provide presentation professionals with software and services to alleviate the restrictions of serialized presenting. Jamie conceived the idea and has lead the development of the company’s first product for PowerPoint users, ActivePresentation Designer, which was launched in May 2010.

In this conversation, Jamie discusses ActivePresentation Designer.

Geetesh: Can you tell us more about ActivePresentation Designer, and the Menu Bar option in the product.

Jamie: The idea for ActivePresentation™ Designer came from watching sales colleagues struggle to take the right content to the right audience and deliver the right level of detail to different individuals. It became apparent that each sales person was spending huge amounts of time slicing and dicing presentation material in an attempt to predict what their customer or prospect wanted to hear, often with the result that they took the wrong set of slides or the wrong level of detail.

I thought "wouldn’t it be great if I could deliver material to these sales folks that had everything in it they needed, for every eventuality, but they had dynamic on-the-fly control over what they presented, based on the needs of their audiences? Now that would be customer focused." This struck me as being the same need as a web site. For many sites there are often thousands of pages but a visitor freely and rapidly navigates their way to what they want instead of being forced down a particular path.

This navigation concept is the foundation of ActivePresentation Designer, and enables a presentation author to overlay a hierarchical tree structure on top of a standard sequential PowerPoint presentation and then link this tree to the slides. Using this overlay, a Menu Bar is then created that can appear on all or some of the slides and provides multi-levelled interactive navigation across the whole presentation, during the slide show. So it’s now possible to take 50, 100 or even more slides in a single presentation but only present the 10 or so needed in any particular session. It also means that when you send a presentation electronically, the recipient can find their topics of interest quickly.

Geetesh: Beyond the Menu Bar, ActivePresentation Designer includes several widgets to make things like adding a clock or directly printing from a slide easier – tell us more about these features.

Jamie: A second key concept is "make the presenter’s life easier so they can concentrate on great delivery". With this in mind, the presentation author can add a clock to slides, preventing the need to look at a watch. A printer icon can also be added to print the current slide without quitting the slide show and is useful for unmanned presentations such as kiosks. To save time, an Export Wizard can be invoked when the presentation finishes which shows only the slides presented during that session and allows the presenter to deliver a customized deck for their audience. The exported deck is secured with a unique password for each audience and the export process checks the confidentiality level (set by the author at design time) of each slide before exporting it.

Another time saving feature is the Co-Branding Wizard which batch processes your presentation, creating multiple copies and ‘stamping’ each one with a logo or other image from a folder library on your PC. This benefits companies that want to deliver multiple copies of a presentation to a distributor, dealer or representative channel, each one being co-branded with the partner identity. Finally, Popups address the need to show or hide detail based on audience needs giving the presenter the ultimate control over message delivery.

See Also: ActivePresentation Designer: The Indezine Review

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 12:46 PM IST

Become a PowerPoint GuruDavid Tracy has worked as a management consultant for 12 years. During this time, he worked at a number of firms, from strategy boutiques to global, full-service consultancies. His clients have included burgeoning startups to Fortune 50 corporations, spanning North America, Europe, and Asia; and across a number of industries, including high-tech, consumer products, life sciences, entertainment, and telecommunications.

In this conversation, David talks about his Become a PowerPoint Guru e-book, and more.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your approach to creating presentations that you explain in your e-book.

David: Sure. The approach discussed in my book details how management and strategy consulting firms develop business presentations. This approach covers two topics: 1) storyboarding; and 2) slide design.

Regarding the first topic, storyboarding is the process used by consultants to weave a cohesive story through a presentation. This process leverages frameworks like Minto's Pyramid and the MECE Principle. On a high level, the methodology begins by gathering your information and structuring it into a hierarchy of key statements, supporting statements, and sub-points. Based on the horizontal and vertical relationships within your story, it is then translated into a business presentation.

Regarding the second topic of slide design, management consultants use a fairly extensive set of guidelines to create slides that are both rich in content and aesthetically appealing. These guidelines begin with the Consulting Presentation Framework, which includes specific rules for grammar, font faces, and font sizes. This ensures the overall presentation has a consistent look and feel.

These guidelines also govern how one should present qualitative information, quantitative data, and for different types of audiences and stakeholders. For instance, these guidelines will address the following questions. When depicting correlation, what types of charts do I have at my disposal? Is it better to use a scatter plot, bubble chart, or even a radar diagram?

Geetesh: How do the slides created by business consulting firms like McKinsey or Deloitte differ from those created by other enterprise users.

David: Foremost, it is important to mention the final product delivered by a consulting firm like McKinsey is often a PowerPoint presentation. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative for this document to be perfect (or as close to perfection as possible). It needs to justify the high price clients end up paying!

As such, consulting firms have invested tremendous effort and money in developing practices and tools related to presentation development. When you take a typical McKinsey slide versus a general business slide, you will undoubtedly notice a stark contrast in look. Here are 3 of the more obvious differences.

  1. Usage of the slide's title section (top portion of slide)

    A consultant will introduce the slide with a 1- to 2-line sentence. An enterprise user will use a short phrase instead; e.g. "Pros and Cons of Social Media."

  2. Volume of content

    No real estate is wasted on a consultant's slide. It generally contains both qualitative and quantitative information, displayed in one or more diagrams, and presented with some top-down or left-to-right flow. The consultant's presentation is designed as a standalone document that can be distributed throughout an organization. An enterprise user slide usually has sparsely placed content (e.g. 3-5 bulleted sentences). A key resulting difference is the enterprise user presentation cannot exist as a true standalone document. Rather, it requires a companion verbal track to ensure the audience receives the intended take-away from the slide.

  3. Consistency across slides

    If you skim through a consultant's presentation, the look and feel remains consistent. This is because they follow specific guidelines of font face, font size, colors, positioning, diagrams, techniques, etc. For instance, content is sourced at the bottom left of the slide in Arial size 10. Most presentations created by enterprise users lack this consistency. For instance, as you go from slide to slide, you will notice the slide titles vary in font size.

Categories: design, interviews, opinion, powerpoint,

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Saturday, July 17, 2010
posted by Geetesh on 11:25 AM IST

This animated box is a square with a small glowing sphere that animates all four sides of the box separately uisng four each of wipe and motion path animations. Works great in PowerPoint 2007, but in PowerPoint 2010 the same animations happen a little faster! You can format the sphere and the lines as you want and the animations will still work -- download and use it in your presentations. For a nice effect, add a text box right in the middle of the square, and animate it to come after the square has already been animated.

Download the files here...

Categories: animation, powerpoint, presentation_samples, shapes

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010
posted by Geetesh on 10:16 AM IST

Andy ZimmermanAndy Zimmerman is the vice president and general manager for myBrainshark – Brainshark's free site for creating, sharing and tracking multimedia presentations. Andy oversees strategy, marketing, partnerships and sales for myBrainshark and has been a driving force behind the launch of myBrainshark Pro Trainer, an eLearning offering that the company is announcing today.

In this conversation, Andy talks about myBrainshark Pro Trainer.

Geetesh: What exactly does myBrainshark Pro Trainer do, and how can it help existing myBrainshark users?

Andy: myBrainshark Pro Trainer is the latest in our ‘Pro’ series of offerings on myBrainshark.com. This new offering is geared toward individual trainers, consultants and instructional designers – as well as any businessperson that needs to train a particular audience – and provides powerful and affordable eLearning functionality. Free users of our myBrainshark site can upgrade to a monthly myBrainshark Pro Trainer subscription.

As you know, our myBrainshark user base currently has the ability to upload pre-existing content, such as PowerPoint presentations, and add voice narration, videos, attachments and more to create trackable, online, multimedia presentations – all for free. A myBrainshark Pro Trainer subscription includes all this – plus the features in myBrainshark Pro – as well as advanced features, designed specifically for eLearning.

These features include the ability to incorporate test questions – including multiple choice and true/false – and provide instant feedback to students based on the accuracy of their responses. Other benefits include the ability to easily create SCORM-compliant courses that integrate with your LMS, and to issue certificates of completion for students – giving them a formal record of the courses they’ve taken. Another feature we think myBrainshark Pro Trainer users will appreciate is the ability to copy and merge content – letting them “clone” presentations or courses, as well as mix and merge specific slides, audio and/or attachments from one course to the next… so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Check out this product walkthrough for a more in-depth explanation of these features.

Since its inception last year, myBrainshark has always had a large audience of training professionals – many of whom are in our registered Learning Provider community, which enables them to price and sell content on myBrainshark.com. We expect this audience of training providers, as well as individuals within companies that need to quickly produce eLearning content, to benefit greatly from these new features.

Geetesh: What sort of pricing are you looking at for the myBrainshark Pro Trainer?

Andy: myBrainshark Pro Trainer is priced as a monthly subscription, and subscribers can apply any or all of the Pro or Pro Trainer features to any presentation they’ve created for a monthly fee starting at $19.99 per presentation.

You can check out the pricing chart here – you’ll see there’s a 10% discount applied when you create and store five or more presentations with Pro Trainer features, and a 20% discount for 10 or more. Also, you can “turn off” a presentation’s Pro Trainer status at any time, and apply the features to another presentation at no additional charge. And, of course, myBrainshark users can still create, deliver and store an unlimited number of presentations without Pro or Pro Trainer features for free.

See Also:

Categories: brainshark, elearning, interviews, online_presentations, powerpoint

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Monday, July 12, 2010
posted by Geetesh on 10:33 AM IST

Feature List Layout comprises three sample PowerPoint presentations -- one each to create a visual list for 4 features. 5 features, and 6 features. Scroll down to see a small presentation on how you can use these concept slides in your next presentation -- as you can see, all the work is done for you. All you need to do is change the text and optionally change any Theme elements you want. All these concept slides are being made available in the PPTX file format that can be used within PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 for Windows, and PowerPoint 2008 and 2011 for Mac.

Download the files here...

Categories: powerpoint, presentation_samples, shapes

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Thursday, July 01, 2010
posted by Geetesh on 3:00 PM IST

This is a triangle formed out of three small triangular shapes that overlap each other -- it successfully denotes a process or cycle within the constrains of a triangle and works great for any sequential process that has three steps or concepts. It also works great to illustrate three concepts that work together, thus creating a sort of triangular matrix. Text can be superimposed on all individual shapes and each shape can be filled with PowerPoint's fills.

Download the file here. This file can only be downloaded by Indezine members, and membership is free.

Categories: powerpoint, presentation_samples, shapes

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