Heather Ackmann is a Microsoft MVP and full-time author and trainer for AHA Learning Solutions, specializing in Microsoft Office, business professional, and soft skills training videos and educational materials. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging at Heather Ackmann and crocheting hats and scarves for her children who refuse to wear hats and scarves. You can follow her on Twitter @heatherackmann and Docs.com/heather-teaches.
In this interview, Heather talks about her new book, Conversational Office 2016.
Geetesh: Heather, can you tell us more about your new book, Conversational Office 2016. What is this book about, and why does it have the word "conversational" in the title?
Heather: Well, before we get into Conversational Office 2016, I think you first need to understand the publisher, Conversational Geek. This book, or rather "minibook," is part of a larger series of minibooks published by Conversational Geek created by another Microsoft MVP, J. Peter Bruzzese and Nick Cavalancia.
I remember when Peter first came up with the idea (he's always coming up with ideas and sometimes they are hard to keep track of), we were working together at TrainSignal. He was always reading and writing, both professional and some creative stuff, and I being a former literary magazine editor, we had a lot to talk about when we got together. When he told me about the idea for Conversational Geek, I think I told him he would never make any money off of it. I am so glad I was wrong.
Peter's vision for the series of books was born out of a larger frustration with technical books and whitepapers. As an author, he was well-acquainted with the hard long hours it would take to write 1,000 page mega-books that nobody reads, and as an IT professional he found it annoying that industry white papers would lure in people, dangling the promise of new information and a solution to his IT woes, only to find himself reading a 10-page fluff piece put out by a desperate marketing department. Basically, he was tired of lecturing and being lectured to. He wanted…no, he needed something more conversational and fun, something with humor and cartoons, something that he could pull up on an airplane ride and ingest and give him an expert perspective on a technology, industry, and piece of culture that would normally take years of work to absorb and fully appreciate its contribution and dent in the larger space of things.
And that is what Conversational Office 2016 attempts to do. It's meant to be the start of a conversation, me talking to you, about how I see Office 2016 shaping the application space and business world as it stands. It is not a how-to book; there are plenty of those books out there collecting dust. Sure, the book does cover and introduce the newest features of Office 2016. But it also explains a lot of terminology, concepts (like the "cloud"), and common points of confusion amongst Office consumers—but in a fun and honest way.
Geetesh: In your opinion, what is the major takeaway for a reader of Conversational Office 2016?
Heather: Perhaps the most valuable thing this book does, as far as I am concerned, is to give a thorough explanation of the difference between the Office 2016 applications you get from an Office 365 subscription vs. the traditional out-of-the-box installs of Office 2016.
Being completely honest, I'm supposed to be an "expert"—I spend all day and sometimes all night thinking about Microsoft Office—and some of the stuff, the marketing and support articles from Microsoft, has even me confused. I can only imagine how much more confusing it would be to someone who only casually follows the buzz, or not at all.
And that confusion is really quite tragic, because Office 2016 is the most exciting version of Office in a while, and not for any single new feature or set of features, but because of where Microsoft Office is heading. We are in for some major changes with how we as end-users interact and consume productivity software. And if you just heard/read that last sentence, and have no idea what I am talking about, then this book is for you—it's design is to take a complete newbie to a technology and make them capable of understanding and holding their own informed conversation at a party about a given piece of tech.
Conversational Office 2016 is completely free to download here.
PowerPoint's Slide Backgrounds can be filled with a solid color, a gradient, a texture or a picture, or even one of PowerPoint's built-in patterns. We explored a generic walkthrough on changing the Slide Background in our Format Slide Background in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial. This tutorial explores how you can use a solid color as the fill for your Slide Background -- solid color fills have the advantage of showing a large expanse in just one color. This does keep the slide uncluttered and draws the audience's attention away from the background to the foreground elements -- and that's a good thing! Unless you use a bright orange, a fluorescent yellow or some other striking color as a background for your slide! So do choose your colors with caution - neutral colors such as white, grey, black, blue, and green always work better.
Learn how to apply solid fills to Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016.
Jim Endicott is an internationally-recognized consultant, designer, speaker specializing in professional presentation messaging, design and delivery. Jim has been a Jesse H. Neal award-winning columnist for Presentations magazine with his contributions to the magazine's Creative Techniques column. Jim has also contributed presentation-related content in magazines like Business Week, Consulting and Selling Power as well as a being a paid contributor for a number of industry-related websites.
In this conversation, Jim discusses his Standing Out in a Sea of Voices ebook.
Geetesh: Jim, can you tell us about your ebook, Standing Out in a Sea of Voices? What is contained in this book, and what motivated you to create it?
Jim: My business started out in 1998 as a small presentation design company.
At the time, the professional design community was focused on the world of print and avoided like the plaque anything having to do with creating a presentation. Since I had managed a stable of designers in a computer graphic service bureau, it seemed like a good place to explore being an entrepreneur after getting laid off from a high-tech company in Portland, OR.
To be honest, the bar for presentation visuals was set really low then (not much better in some places now). So I was able to make a good living at it for many years. But our clients still struggled with how to shape a clear message so we added messaging services in 2000 and that segment of the business grew quickly. It didn't take long, however, to sense something in the 'success equation' was still missing and I had to ask the most important questions….
PowerPoint 2016 provides twelve default Slide Background Styles, much like the previous two versions. Apart from these Styles, you can continue changing the default Slide Background to something else such as a solid color or gradient, a pattern or a texture, or, even a picture. In this tutorial, we'll explore these options that can be accessed within the Format Background Task Pane.
Learn about different options available to format the Slide Background in PowerPoint 2016.
Fred Miller writes, speaks, and coaches networking, public speaking and presentation skills. His books, No Sweat Public Speaking! and No Sweat Elevator Speech! are bought internationally, and have rave reviews on Amazon.com. His website, NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com, has over two hundred articles and videos on Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. Fred has been interviewed locally and internationally and has written many articles on and off line.
See Also: Fred Miller on Indezine
When you create a new presentation in PowerPoint 2016, you may typically see a single slide with a white background. Alternatively, if you open any of your existing presentations, the background of the slides may be in a different color or fill depending upon the Theme that the presentation is based upon. You can always change this slide background to a picture, a solid color, a pattern, or even a gradient. However, even without exploring all those options, there are twelve Background Styles that PowerPoint offers for every presentation by default. These styles are all coordinated and also designed to work well as a set of complementary backgrounds.
Learn about different Background Styles available for slides in PowerPoint 2016.
We start with an exclusive interview with Rick Altman, who talks about this year's Presentation Summit being held in Las Vegas. We then have PowerPoint MVP Chantal Bossé featured, and she shares some amazing information for those who need to work with presentations created in multiple languages within PowerPoint. We then feature TJ Walker again, who answers a few questions from Indezine readers: How much practice is good enough for delivering a presentation or speech? Alternatively, to put the same question in different words, is there something called practicing too much? Can you recommend any books, websites and other resources that will help me become a better presenter? Being acutely conscious of yourself is something that represents most speakers. Is it good? Alternatively, if it is not, how does one stop being aware of ourselves?
PowerPoint 2016 for Windows users can learn more about Picture Slide Layouts. You can also explore resizing and moving Text Boxes, and also Text Box Autofit options. PowerPoint 2011 for Mac users can learn about exporting PNGs and other Graphic File Formats (JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP). Finally, do not miss the new discussions and templates of this week!
Read Indezine's PowerPoint and Presenting News.
Sometimes you want your Text Box to be placed in an exact position on your slide. Yes, you can select a Text Box and move it around by dragging it with your mouse, and then let it go wherever you want it placed. However, for all practical reasons this process is just visual and not accurate enough. Thankfully, PowerPoint provides a way to accurately position any Text Box just where you want it located -- having said that, do not move your text boxes until they contain all the text content you need within them, or you may find that your Text Boxes resize when you add text to them! Of course, you can control this behavior using the Autofit option we explained to you in a separate tutorial.
Learn how to reposition your Text Boxes accurately on a slide in PowerPoint 2016.
Mark Schwartz, EVP of Sales at Articulate leads the global direct sales and channel management teams. Before joining Articulate in 2005, Mark held sales and sales management roles at Dell, Inc., for 10 years. In his last position with Dell, he had P&L responsibility for a geographic sales organization with annual sales of more than $125 million. Mark went to Dell from IBM, where he spent 10 years in sales and marketing. In his marketing role, Mark developed and executed a market support plan for a line of PC-based business application software.
In this interview, Mark talks about Articulate Studio '13, a suite of e-learning products.
Geetesh: Mark, can you tell us more about Articulate Studio ’13, the differences between the Pro and Standard versions, and how do all products within the Studio work together?
Mark: Articulate Studio '13 is the fastest, easiest way to create online, presentation based courses. Also, Articulate Studio '13 is a complete suite of products that are designed to work together:
Geetesh: Compared to previous versions of Articulate Studio, what is your favorite feature in this release?
Mark: The main new features of Studio '13 include:
In PowerPoint 2016 resizing Text Boxes is easy. You select any Text Box and you get eight handles, four on corners, and four on sides -- you then drag any of these eight handles to resize. The problem with this approach is that the resized Text Box you end up with is not accurate. If you do not need accuracy, then you need not follow the rest of this tutorial -- however there might be times when you need your Text Box sized exactly as the size of a picture you have inserted -- or even an exact size based on a specification.
Learn how to resize Text Boxes accurately on a slide in PowerPoint 2016.
Have you seen that PowerPoint automatically reduces the size of your text when you type in too much text? Or does the Text Box itself increase in size when you type in a sentence or two more than what can fit into the Text Box? Does this automatic hand-holding by PowerPoint drive you crazy and want to hit your head on the wall? Well, you really don't have to worry because you can make PowerPoint behave itself -- and bend it to your will.
Learn about Text Box autofit options in PowerPoint 2016.
Rick Altman is a California-based presentation consultant who has been helping organizations communicate better in public since before Microsoft developed PowerPoint. He has been hosting end-user conferences since 1989 and is the host of the annual Presentation Summit, now in its 14th season.
In this conversation, Rick discusses the upcoming edition of his Presentation Summit conference, to be held in October 2016 in Las Vegas.
Geetesh: Rick, tell us more about the upcoming Presentation Summit in Las Vegas this October. Also, why did you choose Las Vegas?
Rick: I feel like a teenager having asked the homecoming queen to go to the prom with me. And she said yes: Nancy Duarte will be our Monday morning keynote speaker. And she's not just blowing in and out -- she will participate in a roundtable Sunday evening, a QA session after the keynote on Monday, and probably stay into the evening.
She has spoken at the conference before. However, the demands on her time are so high, all of the planets have to align for it to happen. We inquire regularly but I know the chances are usually slim. This year, everything worked out and we could not be more excited about that.
Why did we choose Las Vegas? Las Vegas has a lot of positives and a few negatives, and for years, the negatives were too much to bear. The Las Vegas Strip is gigantic, impersonal, loud, and a bit unkempt. All of the things that we are not! But over the years, the neighboring areas have really matured and they are different. In the town of Henderson, which is about five miles from both the airport and the south end of the Strip, we found a wonderful resort—relatively small, spacious ballrooms, gorgeous pool area, avoidable casino. So very un-Striplike.
But people can still visit the Strip. It's a free 10-minute shuttle ride, so we can take in all of the great shows and restaurants and those who want to be part of that whole scene certainly can.
Geetesh: Last year, you also had smaller 30 minute sessions. Are they going to be back this year too?
Rick: Yes, we think that experiment was a big success. I don't care what age you are, your attention span is just not the same in the afternoon as it is first thing in the morning, especially when we are stuffing you with so much information. Our so-called Tapas sessions were our response to that, and everyone appreciated the quicker pace after lunch.
The other benefit is that it allows us to cover topics that would otherwise be difficult. You don't need an hour to show someone how to, say, customize their Quick Access Toolbar, so we never held a seminar about it. But in 20 minutes, we can show people what the QAT is and share with them how the experts use it.
This tutorial is about moving text boxes rather than text placeholders. Typically text placeholders for regular text content or even slide titles are located in the same position on successive slides - so if you really do need to move a text placeholder, do it within the Slide Master so that this change of position happens on all slides, providing a consistent look to your presentation. This will also prevent you from repeatedly moving the placeholders on each and every slide on your presentation.
Learn how to move text boxes on a slide in PowerPoint 2016.
Chantal Bossé got hooked on PowerPoint while doing instructional design in the mid-90s. Convinced there was a better way to present, she started CHABOS in 2004 and became a presentations & visual communications expert. She helps entrepreneurs, speakers, and trainers improve their presentations' impact by having a clear message, great visuals, and a memorable delivery, whether in French or English. Chantal has been a speaker at various business events and a few international webinars, she is a presentation coach for the TEDxQuebec event.
In this conversation, Chantal discusses her tricks on working with multiple proofing languages within PowerPoint.
Geetesh: Chantal, you work with both English and French PowerPoint slides. What are the frustrations you face with multiple proofing languages, and how do you cope up with and overcome these issues?
Chantal: My operating system and Office installations are in French, but I regularly need to work in English too, and it can sometimes be a challenge. There are many variables at stake, like the language the file was created in, and a mysterious mix of your operating system and Office user interface language, and your keyboard language. I say "mysterious" because many times I have seen the proofing language switched in my file without doing changes myself. For a while, I just thought that I had to be lucky to set all language parameters the right way, and that was really frustrating.
Besides the fact that this language mess was making me less productive, the most important element was that I did not want my clients wondering why they had so many red-underlined words in their file. Knowing regular users will not always look for complicated solutions, I tried to find what could be done within Windows & Office. I first tried using Microsoft's Language Interface Pack – LIP - for Office, but it became a nightmare because I would need to save all my user customization before I changed the interface language. And that still meant battling with my default keyboard language.
Then I stumbled on the feature allowing us to change the default input language in Windows. With my LIP installed that meant I could simply configure Office so it would display in the same language than Windows. What a relief! I stopped losing my customizations and my work became more effective when working on English files.
As long as we respect the order of the two-step process, it works like a charm. But you are still required to switch back and forth every time you are changing project language, which is still a waste of time if you need to do it often in a day. But it is way better than trying to manually fix the language on all slide objects one by one!
Readers should read these two Support articles from the Microsoft site to help them determine how to proceed, according to their Windows and Office versions.
Text Boxes in PowerPoint need to be moved and resized within different areas of the slide. While you may think that selecting and resizing is all that is to be done, that's not the entire truth because there's so much more you can do even with mere resizing -- if you know that these options exist! In a previous tutorial, you learnt how to move text boxes on a slide. As emphasized within that tutorial, you should only resize Text Boxes, and not Text Placeholders most of the time since the size of the latter in best controlled by the Slide Master.
Learn how to resize Text Boxes on a slide in PowerPoint 2013.
We start with another story on how POPcomms, a UK based design agency used the Morph transition to add interactivity to slides! TJ Walker answers more questions--this time he responds to: What's the best thing to do after a mistake -- maybe even a pronunciation mistake that you are immediately aware of? Should we correct ourselves, or move ahead? Spoken words and visual images do go hand in hand, and the sum of both in a presentation scenario is often larger than their individual scores. Do you have any thoughts about how presenters can best combine words and images? Also, Steve Rindsberg talks about his Language Selector add-in for PowerPoint, a must if you use more than one language while creating your slides.
PowerPoint 2016 for Windows users can learn more about aspect ratios, Smarter guides, duplicating Slide Masters, and applying Themes. Finally, do not miss the new discussions and templates of this week!
Read Indezine's PowerPoint and Presenting News.
PowerPoint allows you to save your slides to many graphic file formats, which can later be used in other applications as required. One of the most popular graphic formats that you can export your slides to is PNG. This tutorial will show you how you can export slides to PNG, but using the same process, you can also export to other graphic file formats such as JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP etc. Follow these steps to export some or all of your slides to a picture file format such as PNG in PowerPoint 2011.
Learn how to export PNGs and other graphic file formats (JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP) in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.
Slide Layouts are a very useful feature because they let you use a preset arrangement of placeholders repeatedly, resulting in consistent looking slides. And yes, you can also create your own custom Slide Layouts. While very few users create their own custom Slide Layouts, even fewer will create a custom Slide Layout for pictures! That's regrettable since Picture Slide Layouts can make your slides look so unique. In this tutorial, we will show you how easy it is to create your own Picture Slide Layout in PowerPoint 2016.
Learn how to work with Picture Slide Layouts in PowerPoint 2016.
Essentially Themes are like a style sheet for your Office documents -- they define how your text appears, where it appears, and also the layouts of your slides. Themes also influence how charts look within Excel and PowerPoint -- and also how your tables appear in all Office programs. You can also change the Theme for an Office document, sheet, or slide and watch how this simple task can change the overall appearance of your content.
Learn how to apply Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2016.
A while ago, we showed you how POPcomms, a presentation design firm based in Bristol, UK used the new Morph transition effect in PowerPoint to create an amazing demo.
To follow up, they have now created a new demo with Morph that uses the transition effect more as an interactive navigation tool. Take a look at this YouTube embed:
Duplicating a Slide Master is a little different than adding a new Slide Master from scratch. And it is a smarter option because you do not have to make the same changes all over again. Let's explain this with a scenario. Imagine you have formatted your existing Slide Master by applying a Background Style, adding a logo, or even adding your own Picture placeholder layout. And now you want a new Slide Master that's almost the same as your existing one -- but you want a different Theme Colors set to be used. For such a small change, it is advisable that you duplicate your existing Slide Master and make the small changes instead of starting all over again with a new Slide Master.
Learn how to duplicate Slide Masters in PowerPoint 2016.
Steve Rindsberg has been associated with PowerPoint since the product originated more than two decades ago—his PowerPoint FAQ site is a treasure trove of PowerPoint information. When he's not updating his site, he's creating new PowerPoint add-ins that expand possibilities within PowerPoint. Steve's also into a lot of print technology related stuff.
In this conversation, Steve discusses PPTools Language Selector, his new PowerPoint add-in that changes your proofing languages.
Geetesh: Steve, can you tell more about Language Selector, your PowerPoint add-in. What motivated you to create Language Selector?
Steve: Like many of my other add-ins, the idea arose from assisting other PowerPoint users on help forums like Microsoft's Answers and discussing the problem with the other PowerPoint MVPs. We're lucky to have MVPs who routinely produce and translate presentations in multiple languages. They all share a common set of problems.
They complain about The Red Squiggly Underline Problem. If the presentation's language settings don't match the language they're typing in, most of the words get underlined in red, indicating that PowerPoint considers them misspelled. And of course, if you're handed an English presentation and asked to translate it to, say, French, the presentation is still set to English, so all of your French text gets the Dreaded Red Squigglies.
So not only do you get no spelling (or grammar) help from PowerPoint, your presentation gets littered with Red Squigglies. You may understand why it's happening, but you certainly don't want to hand your client a presentation that looks like it's riddled with errors.
Geetesh: For a typical user who needs to switch between languages in PowerPoint, how useful is Language Selector?
Steve: PowerPoint lets you select and set text shapes to any language you like, but that gets tedious quickly. You can select all the text in the outline and set it all to your target language in one go, but that leaves a lot of text in the original language. There are macros on the web that do a more thorough job, but still don't get everything. And finally, even if you set every last bit of text to the desired language, you still have a problem: when you hand the presentation over to your client or another user and they add new text, the Red Squigglies are back. PowerPoint still thinks the text is in the original language, so it gets flagged as misspelled.
Language Selector does everything a user could do on their own to set the proper language on shapes and text. Then it goes deeper, into areas that have no user interface, or that a user wouldn't think to do. It sets the default for each slide and indeed the entire presentation to the chosen language, so even new text added later is automatically set to the correct language. No more Red Squgglies. Unless, of course, the user misspells something, in the correct language.
And of course, Language Selector does its work in seconds, and not many of those, even for large presentations. Typically, it's done converting an entire presentation in the time it'd take a skilled user to select all of the text on a single slide and find the dialog to change it to the correct language.
See Also: Steve Rindsberg on Indezine | Working with Multiple Proofing Languages in PowerPoint: Conversation with Chantal Bossé
Do you notice that any object you move, resize, or align in PowerPoint 2016 actually helps make your task easy! Move it a little closer, resize a wee bit, or even try spacing slide objects and the screen shows all sorts of helpful indicators in the form of dotted lines. The red, dotted lines that show up and then disappear are Smart Guides. These made their debut in PowerPoint 2010 and allowed you to position objects easily. More improvements were added in PowerPoint 2013 that enabled you to see how much further you need to drag so that one object on the slide is as wide as another adjacent object. In fact, you can also evenly space out objects without accessing any Ribbon tabs or typing a number within a dialog box!
Learn about Smarter Guides in PowerPoint 2016.
Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.