Trainer’s Approach to Effective PowerPoint

Most trainers have a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint. Why is that? There are probably a lot of reasons, but one reason I see over and over is that many trainers are taking the wrong approach to creating PowerPoint slides.

Mike Parkinson is not only the founder of Billion Dollar Graphics and author of A Trainer’s Guide to PowerPoint, he is also one of only 36 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the world! This week, he took some time with the Train Like You Listen podcast to really dig in to how to create engaging and effective PowerPoint slides. During this podcast, we discuss the number one issues that experts see when users open this tool, why a simple mind map can help you become a better PowerPoint designer, and how to approach building a good slide.

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Effective PowerPoint Checklist: Is Your PowerPoint Good?

I’ve been working with a number of presenters to help them develop more effective, engaging presentations for upcoming conference or training sessions. While PowerPoint should never be the focal point of a presentation, effective slide design is important for those presenters who choose to use PowerPoint in their sessions.

To help presenters determine whether their slides are any good, I put together the Effective PowerPoint Checklist to help them perform a self-assessment.    Continue reading

Don’t forget the “Instructions” slide

Over the past several weeks I’ve had a number of opportunities to facilitate in-person training sessions. For each of these sessions, I found that I prepared very few slides.

Of the slides I did have in my decks, I realized that almost all of them were “Instruction slides” – written instructions for each activity that could be projected on a screen for all to see.   Continue reading

My Top 10 Tools for Learning

Last Thursday I shared the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ (C4LPT) 2015 list of the top 100 tools for learning.

If you want your voice heard for 2016’s top 100 list, there are several ways to do it: 1) you can vote here, 2) you can email your choices to C4LPT’s Jane Hart at jane.hart@c4lpt.co.uk, or 3) you can write a blog post about your top 10 choices.

By way of this blog post, I’m casting my votes for the 2016 list. Following are my top 10 choices (in no particular order):  Continue reading

Avoid Bad Slides with Good Process

Microsoft declared war on bad PowerPoint slides. If you have Microsoft 365 for Windows desktop or Windows Mobile, you’ll have access to PowerPoint Designer (for better slide design) and PowerPoint Morph (for better animation).

Then there’s Canva, which is a freemium design tool that can be used to create amazing visual experiences by limiting the number of poor design choices you can actually make.

There are other tools for interesting ways to present visual information, too. Haiku Deck. SlideRocket. Prezi. PowToon.

Yet, contrary to popular vernacular, the slides actually aren’t the “presentation.” A presentation is the total experience that you offer to the audience. Slides? Yes. And finding ways to engage your audience with your content.

Bad Slides a Slides that Don’t Support Your Goals

What I’ve found most presenters to be missing is Continue reading

9 ways to get smarter if your bus (or subway) is running late this morning

Bus Stop

I was out of breath, but I had made it. I had just sprinted two city blocks up a (small-ish) hill, dodged oncoming traffic, hurdled a raccoon that just happened to waddle out of a neighbor’s hedge and firmly planted my two feet at the base of the bus stop sign. It was 7:03am, and I was on time. Barely.

Then I checked the OneBusAway app to find out when the bus would arrive and my blood pressure began to rise.

I had risked life and limb to catch the early bus, and it was delayed. Not just delayed… it was delayed EIGHT. WHOLE. MINUTES!

Suddenly a strange, Zen-like feeling washed over me. Instead of getting upset or indignant, I could be thankful for an 8-minute window I could use to get smarter or learn something new.

If you’re in a similar situation this morning as you commute to work, here are 9 articles, resources or videos you may want to check out in order to productively spend your minutes before that next bus (or train or plane or automobile) arrives: Continue reading

Alternatives to Bullet Points

PowerPoint default formatting is begging you to use bullet points in your presentation.

The thing about bullet points is that they’re not attractive. They’re not visually stimulating. But they’re set up as a default way to organize information on your slides, which makes them very easy to use.

If you or someone you know is seeking help to break a bullet point habit, Melissa Milloway posted a great slide deck on Slideshare with some great alternatives to bullet points.

If you’re not quite ready to break your habit, here are two simple ideas that may help you better engage your audience: Continue reading

What Would You Do If This Happened In Your Training Session?

The clock struck 1:00pm and it was time for my presentation to begin. That’s when the first of four text messages arrived on my phone. All four messages began with the same two words: “Oh no!” My friends and co-workers had heard what was happening in my breakout room and they began to offer their empathy.

As the A/V staff frantically worked on the facility’s new projector system (which worked just fine for the previous presenter), I tried to remain calm and professional on the outside. On the inside, Continue reading

5 Ways to Start a Webinar for Maximum Interactivity

A while back I asked: “Why are people checking their email when they should be paying attention to my webinar?!” The answer to that question revolved around engagement and interactivity that can be designed into a webinar. That blog post had several ideas for interactivity depending on your tolerance for risk (the cooler and more engaging you may want to make your webinar, the greater the reward… and the greater the opportunity that the technology could fail).

One thing to remember about interactivity in webinars, however, is that your audience may not be ready for it. Many people still see webinars as little more than glorified conference calls (and by “glorified” I mean conference calls that simply have accompanying on-screen PowerPoint presentations… and maybe a poll or two).

Why not take the first five minutes of your next webinar – you know, the time that you’re needing to kill as you’re waiting for last-minute joiners to log on to Adobe Connect or download all the stuff that needs to be downloaded in order to hop on to Blackboard Collaborate – and get your attendees warmed up with some of the web conferencing features you’ll be using to engage them.

Here are five ideas of how to do this as people are logging on:

9 Trends in Presentation Skills (And Most of Them Aren’t Good!)

A week ago, Litmos’ Brent Schlenker used Google Trends to ask: “Why is instructional design trending downward… since 2004?

Instructional Design

According to the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ Top 100 Tools for Learning, Google Search was ranked as the #5 tool used around the world for learning in 2014. It seems like Google search trends should offer some insights as to what’s important to people when it comes to subjects they want to know more about.

I’m always curious to know what’s on the mind of “part-time trainers” – people who may not have “training” in their title or much background in learning and development but who are asked to deliver presentations. This weekend I spent some time sifting through Google trends on terms focused on what I think would lead to more effective presentations.

Most of the trends are pointing downward, which was a bit of a letdown for me. I figured, why not begin with the term “effective presentations“? Here’s what I found:

Effective Presentations

I figured that perhaps people had heard that adult learning principles would be important for their presentations and would want to learn more…

Adult Learning

Hmmm, maybe people were growing a little less formal and a little more hip in their search terms, so I tried “killer presentations“:…

Killer Presentations

Ok, maybe not (apparently I’m the only person who used that term late last year!).

None of these trends seemed very positive, so I held my breath and sat at the edge of my seat, worrying that people may be searching for the wrong things such as the de-bunked idea of learning styles

Learning Styles

Whew! It was encouraging, at the very least, that people were searching less and less for “learning styles”.

Perhaps, based on Google trends, people were savvier than I gave them credit for and were looking for ways to improve their results. So I searched “training evaluation“…

Training Evaluation

None of these trends seemed to be pointing in the right direction. Based on my experience working with SMEs, they’ll often begin mapping out their presentation using PowerPoint. Maybe there’s been an increase in searches for better PowerPoint design

PPT Design

Not really. Prezi has been trendy over the past few years, maybe that’s what people are interested in, so I searched trends for “how to use prezi“, and this was one of the only growth trends I found…

How to use PreziDespite the upward trend with Prezi searches, this exercise led me to grow quite cynical about just what mattered to folks who were searching for ways to improve their presentation skills. Then it dawned on me, perhaps people were intentionally creating worse and worse presentations! Maybe they were searching for ways to make their presentations terrible. I checked the trend for the phrase: “how to bore people” and this is what I found…

How to Bore People

Ok, maybe people weren’t waking up, looking in the mirror, and wondering how they could bore people with their next presentation. So, that’s good.

One last trend I decided to search for was whether more people were simply looking for help to organize their thoughts, so I tried “training plan template“…

Training Plan Template

That was a fun trend to see, especially because it’s one of the more popular search terms that will land folks on this blog (this post from 2013 on lesson plan templates remains one of the most popular posts on this blog).

I’m curious about your thoughts. If Google Search is such a powerful performance support tool to help people do their jobs better, what terms did I miss in my Google Trends analysis that you think people should care about when they begin mapping out a presentation?