Just when you found a few ways to overcome visual clichés, would you want to find another way by overdoing the cliché itself? We look at an example! In our Timelines that are Different series, we explore a timeline from PoweredTemplate. Joel Harband talks about Speech-Over's options to add interactive narration in e-Learning. We then bring you a review of Tanida's Demo Builder 11 product. And finally, Nova Fisher of Xara talks about the new Xara Web Designer 365 product.
PowerPoint 2016 for Windows users can learn about the amazing Slide Background Fill option, as well as the option to remove all fills with No Fill. We also explore Transparency options in the various fill types. Sway users will love to explore Tweet Cards and the Play options. Finally, do not miss the new templates of this week!
Read Indezine's PowerPoint and Presenting News.
Do you want to add a picture that fills not one but many shapes? And do you want the picture fill to span across multiple shapes? Is that doable? Yes, it is—and there are several ways to achieve these results. We will look at two approaches.
Create shape segments with a unified picture fill in PowerPoint.
Shapes are the building blocks of whatever you create in PowerPoint -- in fact, even a text box that you add to your slide is essentially a shape with a No Fill attribute. Once you get proficient with shapes, you can do so much more -- for example, you can combine multiple shapes to create fancier shapes. However, you need to start with the very basics -- and there's so much to learn even at this foundation level. The first task you need to do is to insert a shape – fortunately, PowerPoint makes it easy to do this task.
Learn how to insert Shapes in PowerPoint 2016.
We have already showed you how to use fills for shapes in PowerPoint 2016. A fill is something that is contained within the confines of the shape. Similarly, shapes have another attribute known as the "line" or the "outline". A line is the perimeter surrounding a closed shape or the line itself within an open shape -- we will explore more about lines later in this tutorial. In subsequent tutorials, we will show how you can work with shape outlines in PowerPoint 2016.
Learn how to change the color, and make other changes to lines (and shape outlines) in PowerPoint 2016.
Nova Fisher has worked within communications with Xara for over 15 years. She has previously founded and managed some successful early-to-market businesses including an internet service provider (ISP) which was founded in 1994, and the creation of one of the earliest online web authoring solutions in 1996, that enabled anyone to create a professional website without the need for any design or technical skills.
In this interview, Nova talks about the new Xara Web Designer 365 product.
Geetesh: Nova, can you tell us more about Xara Web Designer 365, and who can use Web Designer 365 and benefit from its use?
Nova: Xara Web Designer is an ideal choice for novices as well as professional designers, in fact, anyone wanting a high-quality website, without the need to know HTML coding, scripting or the usual technical jargon. The websites produced are compatible with all modern mobile and desktop browsers.
For commercial designers, the cloud-based editor, Xara Online Designer, that's included gives controlled editing rights to their clients, allowing them to edit text and replace images and update their website, without needing to own or know anything about Web Designer (most small business owners have neither the time or inclination to learn web design).
Geetesh: Can you share what is new in this release of Xara Web Designer?
Nova: With the new Xara Web Designer 365 comes an Update Guarantee and 365 days free hosting and access to Xara Online Designer. Xara's Update Guarantee means that users will no longer have to wait a year between releases to access new features and content. Users will have access to new features and content as Xara develops them, at any time during the year after their purchase.
The new release adds parallax scrolling, 30 other types of scroll animation, plus 40 new 'on reveal' animation types. The popular 'sticky' feature has also been enhanced so that items such as NavBars will stick to the top of the window when scrolling the page up.
There are two new types of photo grids. 'Static' Photo Grids are simple, fixed, visually attractive grids of photos onto which users can drag & drop their own photo. 'Smart' Photo Grids smartly resize to fill the rectangles as photos are added or deleted, and users can swap the positions of the photos, adjust the number of rows and columns and the border / gap between all the photos.
The photo editing tools have also been enhanced, with a new ultra-easy way to rotate, scale / pan and crop - great for horizon straightening!
Another addition recognises the popular trend of incorporating simple vector graphic symbols into websites, such as social media symbols, shopping cart or credit card symbols. The existing Font Awesome symbol collection has been supplemented with Google's Material Design icons, providing integrated access to more than 1500 high-quality, professionally designed vector icons. And to find a symbol, there's a new easy search function. The Xara Web Designer symbols can be inserted as editable vector graphics, or inserted inline into text as a font (where they are automatically placed in a subset of symbols used, converted to WOFF and included in the website HTML).
Xara Web Designer includes the cloud-based editor, Xara Online Designer. This gives Web Designer owners the flexibility to edit their Web Designer sites in a browser, from anywhere and with any device and sync their files with Dropbox, Google GDrive and Microsoft OneDrive. Xara Online Designer is still in beta but evolving rapidly with planned enhancements (which will be released under the 365 Update Guarantee) including more editing controls such as colour, transparency, stack order, smart snap and SmartShapes.
The combination of Web Designer and Online Designer means that Web Designer customers have the unique ability to edit their document both offline or online. Furthermore, it gives commercial designers using Web Designer the option to enable their clients to update their own website to edit text and replace photos. Client access is free.
You may have seen many tutorials online, especially on YouTube and video learning sites like Udemy and Lynda.com that show you how you can use a particular feature within a program through a screen recording accompanied by annotations and voice. This approach, of course, is an alternative that many users prefer rather than going through a textual series of steps. But how can you create such video demos on your own? Demo Builder 11 from Tanida provides just what you want. It is an easy way to create tutorials, presentations or demonstrations that show how software and systems work.
Read the Indezine review here.
After you create a Sway, or even while you are editing, you can use the Preview Pane to see results. Yet, seeing a preview in a pane is no substitute for regular, full-screen viewing! To do the latter, you can use the Play option and enjoy your Sway in full-screen view. Follow these steps to explore along.
Explore Play options in Microsoft Sway.
Joel Harband heads Tuval Software Industries, based in Israel. Their best-known product is Speech-Over, a PowerPoint add-in that enables PowerPoint slides to incorporate narrations using automated voices.
In this conversation, Joel discusses interactive narration for e-Learning.
Geetesh: Joel, can you give us a quick introduction to Speech-Over. Then tell us more about i-Narration, and how does it work with Speech-Over?
Joel: Speech-Over is a PowerPoint add-in that produces and manages effective and compelling voice-over narration, together with subtitles and lecture notes, that is automatically synchronized with PowerPoint visual animations to achieve the effect of a live presenter. Its main application is narrating PowerPoint-based training and e-learning courses and web presentations and interfaces with e-learning products like Camtasia®, iSpring® and Articulate®. Speech-Over can use both real voices and text to speech voices in any combination. The TTS option eliminates all microphone recording, saving substantial time and costs in development. Speech-Over is able to make any TTS voice sound more realistic and effective with its SAPI narration text editor.
Now I'll tell you about the new e-learning technology we call i-Narration or Interactive Narration. The motivation for developing i-Narration came from the objections voiced by experts about the way narration has been used in e-learning: a fixed-speed continuous narration on a slide constrains learners to a fixed learning pace and to a fixed order of topics making them passive and sometimes frustrated learners. i-Narration empowers individual learners by giving them control over the pace of the narration and the order of topics—turning passive e-learning into active e-learning with better understanding and retention. i-Narration gives the learner the powerful benefits of narration without the negatives.
With i-Narration, course designers break up or segment the slide narration into sections or logical units where each narration section is associated with a visual topic heading, text bullet or graphic on the slide.
An audio control-bar—modeled after the familiar Windows Media Player control bar lets learners access the narration either sequentially or interactively. The play button plays all narration sections on the slide in order, sequentially, as a learner might prefer when learning the material the first time.
The skip and restart/rewind buttons let the learner access the material interactively, skip sections of the narration and concentrate on others, go backwards and forwards and repeat sections, as a learner might prefer when reviewing the material.
The audio control also lets learners vary the rate of speaking of the narration to match their rate of learning.
Subtitles are displayed on the screen as the narration is spoken and the complete narration text for the slide is available in the notes pane for those who prefer it.
Now let us explore how this i-Narration works with Speech-Over? Developers use Speech-Over in PowerPoint to produce narration segments that are associated with topic headings, text bullets or graphics on the slide, and that play in their sequence. The narration segments, together with the subtitles and the narration text notes for the slide, are then imported to Storyline from PowerPoint.
We've developed a Storyline template for i-Narration which includes the audio control bar and layers and triggers for the narration effects. After the Speech-Over narration is imported to the Storyline template, developers just need to copy the narration and subtitle effects to the appropriate layers and the i-Narration will work.
For more detailed information and access to developer resources please visit our site.
Geetesh: Why did you choose Articulate Storyline to deliver this i-Narration initiative? Also do you plan to interact this technology with other e-Learning products?
Joel: Articulate Storyline with its layers and triggers was built for interactivity in e-learning and it has a good interface with PowerPoint and so was a natural choice for implementing i-Narration.
We are checking other e-Learning products to see if we can extend this technology to them as well.
See Also: Speech-Over 5: Conversation with Joel Harband | Speech-Over Professional: Conversation with Joel Harband
Cards in Sway are essentially containers for your content. To place your Twitter content in Sway, or even a tweet from someone else you will first need to insert a Tweet Card. Add a new Tweet Card to your Storyline – to do so, select the Tweet card option within the Media cards category. You will end up with the Tweet Card added to your Storyline.
Learn how you can use Tweet Cards in Sway.
We have discussed visual clichés in the past—the idea has been to explain how you can overcome visual clichés by using the four principles of thinking creative, thinking profound, thinking logical, and finally thinking again.
In fact, in a cliché case study, we spoke about how everyone thinks about a light bulb when they need to express a bright idea. In fact, a search on Google Images for the term, "bright idea" singularly returns only visuals of light bulbs!
And then the other day, I saw this picture of too many light bulbs in an Accenture advertisement! Strangely, this did not seem clichéd? Why did this happen? Why did the cliché go away?
Is that because there is a way of overcoming a visual cliché, and that is to go overboard with the actual cliché itself! As they say, there is safety in numbers. Do too many instances of the same cliché make it a pattern? And do patterns make clichés insignificant? That's something interesting, and can help you when you have few options to go beyond a visual cliché.
Patterns are created using multiple instances. Why do multiple instances of the same cliché negate each other? The answer to that question may be the fact that poison kills poison—at least this last metaphor of poison killing poison is very well known in the orient, and in India.
In the Mahabharata, an Indian epic there is the story of Duryodhana, who planned to kill his cousin Bhima. He tried to execute this plan by poisoning Bhima's food. And then when Bhima fainted as a result, Duryodhana threw him into a nearby river. Poisonous snakes in the river bit Bhima, and this poison negated the poison that Bhima had earlier consumed. Thus, Bhima swam up the river and survived to one day kill Duryodhana!
And it seems like this poison kills poison metaphor may work with clichés too! One cliché may get negated with multiple instances of the same cliché.
So is it possible that you can overcome a cliché by going overboard? That's food for thought! I have found that this approach can work sometimes, but only if implemented thoughtfully and tastefully.
Shape fills such as solid colors, gradients, pictures, and textures can have a transparency attribute that lets you reduce the opacity of a fill so that the slide object or background behind shows through. Transparency is calculated in percentages and you can change its value all the way from 0 to 100%. Some fill options, such as pattern and slide background have no transparency options.
Learn how to apply Transparency to shape fills in PowerPoint 2016.
We feature so many experts, who share their immense knowledge with Indezine readers. Ellen Finkelstein talks about how you can become a webinar expert. Carmen Simon explains how you can create memorable content that audiences won't forget. Jim Endicott explains how you can find your presentation metaphor. Claudyne Wilder talks about her fantastic Torchmetrics product that lets you find out more about your audience's perceptions of your presentations. And for those of you who sorely miss the free Clip Art option in PowerPoint, there's great news--Pickit brings back free pictures!
PowerPoint 2016 for Windows users can learn more about fills for shapes, such as advanced gradient fills, gradient stops, texture fills, texture tiling options, and picture fills. Finally, do not miss the new templates of this week!
Read Indezine's PowerPoint and Presenting News.
After learning how to add different fills for shapes in PowerPoint 2016, now it’s time to learn how to remove any fill from a shape so that your shape only has an outline without a fill. Whenever you insert a new shape into a PowerPoint slide, it is filled with a solid color by default (or the default fill may be different depending on the Theme applied to your presentation). Most of the time, you may leave that unaltered, but there are times you want just the outline to be visible. It is in scenarios like these where it can be useful to learn how to remove any fill.
Learn to remove fill from selected shapes in PowerPoint 2016.
You have already learned how to add different fills for shapes. Just like the Pattern fill option, there is one more hidden shape fill option which you can't access from the Shape fill gallery -- yet this is one of those fantastic PowerPoint features that you have to use to believe! The Slide Background fill option is different from other shape fill options because instead of filling something into the selected shape, it makes the slide background area behind the shape visible into the selected shape.
Learn to add the Slide Background itself as a fill for selected shapes in PowerPoint 2016.
Pattern fills for shapes are two-color designs comprising lines, dots, dashes and checks. PowerPoint includes 48 patterns such patterns with names like Plaid, Weaves, Shingle and Zig Zag. Pattern fills for shapes are not included within the Shape fill drop-down gallery in PowerPoint 2016. But you can find this option buried within the Format Shape Task Pane. In this tutorial, we'll show you how you can access Pattern fill options.
Learn to use Pattern fills for selected shapes in PowerPoint 2016.
Ellen Finkelstein is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and author of several PowerPoint, Flash, and AutoCAD books. She also holds webinars on presenting skills on a regular basis.
In this interview, Ellen talks about her webinar secrets.
Geetesh: Ellen, you do so many webinars—and you do these so confidently and easily. What is your secret?
Ellen: My first webinar was really scary. It seemed so strange to talk without seeing the audience. But over time, I got used to it. One technique that helped was to interact with the audience, using the webinar chat. For example, I love to start out by asking the audience a question and reading out loud some of the answers. This is the same technique that presenters use with a live audience to capture their attention. And if you can incorporate some of their answers into the presentation later, they will be very appreciative.
For example, since I speak to presenters, I often ask what type of presentations they do. I sometimes use a poll for this so I can get the exact percentages and show the results to the audience. Somewhere in the presentation, I might say, "Since 40% of you are trainers, you'll find this particularly interesting..."
Once you get responses in this way, you discover that you have smart and thoughtful people in your audience and you sort of fall in love with them. This does wonders for you as a presenter!
In addition, if I'm doing a new webinar, I practice, just like I do for a live presentation. Without practicing, it's impossible to know how long it will take and the results can be disastrous. Practicing makes me feel more comfortable both subjectively (how I feel) and objectively (knowing that the material will work for the time given).
One secret for webinars is to use more slides than you would for a live presentation. Even if you're using the webcam—which I recommend highly—you'll be a little box in the corner. It's so much easier for the audience to ignore you and start looking at their email—and they know you can't see them! So keep the slides moving crisply. I try to use 1-2 per minute. Of course, the slides should be clear, engaging, and persuasive—but that applies to any presentation.
Geetesh: Do you have a checklist of what you must do before a webinar? Can you tell us more?
Ellen: I have a planning worksheet that I use for a sales webinar. These webinars involve a lot of promotion, working with partners, preparation of the sales mechanism, and follow-up They are really quite a project, so it's good to plan well in advance. It's called the Ultimate Webinar Planning Worksheet and it's available for free download through Monday, May 23rd 2016.
See Also: Ellen Finkelstein on Indezine
Tiling options are available when you add texture fills to shapes or even use a picture as a fill to a shape. Tiling can really make a difference to your shape fill -- just play around with the tiling options explained in this tutorial.
Explore the Tiling options for Texture fills in PowerPoint 2016.
For most people, creating presentations is not their day job. They sell things. They manage people. They drive projects. They make stuff happen.
So it's understandable that when it becomes necessary to actually create a presentation, the process is rarely motivated by an understanding of the science of how our brains actually assimilate information (who has time for that). But more often by what's easiest and fastest. Creating bullets and sub-bullets – piece of cake. But for those who have to actually sit through 60 minutes of the stuff, that form of information has become the visual equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.
For a presentation to be meaningful and remembered (hopefully that's every presenter's goal), there needs to be a fundamental shift in our thinking. The information hitting the wall must evolve from text-oriented (left-brain) type content to more simplified visually-rich ideas (right-brain).
So let's get very practical for a moment.
One way we can make that transition occur is through the use of metaphor. By creating relatable buckets for the information to reside in, understanding happens more quickly and audiences sincerely appreciate the effort made on their behalf.
Here, the initial slide identifies 8 sales training categories in bullet form. One minute of time invested. Something we've all seen a thousand times before. ("Time to check email on my smart phone")
In this example, that same concept is illustrated as categories on a bookshelf. Then during the presentation, each one is pulled down off the shelf and the icon used to explore the topic. Visual connections. Buckets for their brains to make exploration easier. ("This presentation just might be different than the last 20")
PowerPoint's fill options for shapes are extensive. The texture fills for shape incidentally are not too different from picture fills, other than the fact that they can be tiled. PowerPoint includes a built-in library of textures, and you can also import any picture, to be used as a texture. If you want to see a sample presentation showing texture fills in PowerPoint, scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Learn to use Texture fills for selected shapes in PowerPoint 2016.
Carmen Simon speaks about her new book, Impossible to Ignore in an exclusive conversation. Robert Befus of SlideSource shares ideas on how you should work with too many slides. Sunday Mancini from Ethos3 talks about her project to create story slides. Paul Stannard from SmartDraw discusses the amazing SmartDraw Cloud program that helps you create info-graphics in a browser. Chantal Bossé, a PowerPoint MVP shares her secrets, discussing how you can create gigantic PowerPoint decks. And in our Timelines that are Different series, we explore a timeline sample slide from My Product Roadmap.
PowerPoint 2016 for Windows users can learn more about fills for shapes, such as solid fills, gradients, and pictures. Finally, do not miss the new templates of this week!
Read Indezine's PowerPoint and Presenting News.
Carmen Simon's presentations and workshops help business professionals to use communication and presentation skills to increase revenue, train or motivate others, and overall to stand out from too much sameness in the industry. A published author, Dr. Simon is frequently invited as a keynote speaker at various conferences. She is co-founder of Rexi Media, a company that helps business professionals from all fields improve their presentation skills, whether they deliver content face-to-face, online, or create on demand presentations.
In this interview, Dr. Carmen Simon reveals additional insights from her science-based book, Impossible to Ignore on how to create memorable and actionable content.
Geetesh: Are there specific parts of a presentation that people remember more, compared to other parts?
Carmen: There are quite a few studies that showed the primacy and recency effects, meaning that people may remember items from the beginning and ending a lot more than items in the middle of a sequence (depending, of course, on the speed of the presentation and the length). We must be careful in interpreting these findings because they are typically linked to short-term memory tests. When long-term memory is concerned, and given a longer presentation length, studies show that people make a fixed number of searches for items in the long-term store, and the probability of retrieving a particular item is lower when there are more items. In other words, primacy and recency are not so impactful on memory when we deliver long presentations. However, a poor beginning may lead to a negative emotion, which impacts attention, and it turn influences memory or lack of it. So always treat your beginnings seriously.
Consider a study done using Super Bowl ads, where scientists wanted to see which ads would be recalled better. They discovered that commercials presented during the first batch of ads were remembered significantly better than commercials displayed in the middle or at the end of the program. Since alcohol and tedium that may occur during a football game are likely to interfere with a study, other researchers replicated the study in lab conditions, and asked participants to view 15 commercials. After a long-term memory test, findings showed that the primacy effect held strong, while the recency effect faded. This means that whenever we’re creating content, we are well served to place the most important information at the beginning of the sequence and not save the best for last.
Place your most important messages at the beginning of a sequence
Geetesh: What other insights have you discovered while writing Impossible to Ignore?
Carmen: One of the insights people love to hear about is that pictures are not always more memorable than text. For example, in a study I completed, the inclusion of neutral images in text-based PowerPoint slides did not improve recall. It is true that there is plenty of research suggesting that a visual stimulus can have a positive influence on memory. And one explanation for picture superiority springs from a theory called dual coding, according to which the representations for pictures and words are stored in two separate memory systems, and pictures are represented by an image code, while words by a verbal code. Research suggests that pictures often show recall superiority because they are dually encoded (i.e., they evoke both the image and the verbal code) and these two memory traces increase the probability of retrieving an event.
However, other studies, including my own, confirmed that, even though sequences of images are learned better than sequences of words, they are not necessarily retained better over time and especially when are audiences' memory is tested via free recall. There is a difference between asking people, "What do you remember from a presentation" vs. giving them cues, such as, "Which one of these 3 images do you remember seeing in the presentation?"
In studies I conduct, I notice that I do not have to use pictures all the time to impact memory. There are other techniques that can impact memory just as easily, such as breaking a pattern that viewers have learned to expect (e.g., presenting text after a series of graphics) or using words that paint concrete mental pictures in an audience's mind (e.g., "Imagine what you looked like if you had a third eye behind your neck").
These two techniques are useful because they can save presenters money since the inclusion of images in presentation content may imply additional design time and cost.
Pictures are not always more memorable than text. Breaking patterns in stimulation and using visual words can also impact recall.
For more information on how the brain processes information, remembers, and decides to act, read Impossible to Ignore, available at Amazon or anywhere else that books are sold.
See Also: Carmen Simon on Indezine
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