2 Ideas to Make Your Bullet Points in PowerPoint a Little More Palatable

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

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 last week with some ideas on how to avoid using 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

It’s 5 Minutes Before My Presentation And The Projector Still Isn’t Working…

 

Panic

On Monday, I described a pit-in-the-stomach inducing moment I had prior to a workshop I was scheduled to deliver last week. In case you missed it, here’s the quick summary:

  • I inexplicably designed a presentation that depended a little too much on PowerPoint
  • It included visual aids designed to make a visceral impact on the audience
  • It also included a series of embedded PollEverywhere questions so the entire audience could see where their fellow participants stood on a variety of issues
  • The facility’s entire A/V staff couldn’t get the ceiling-mounted projector to work

What Other Presenters Would Have Done Continue reading

Trick Out My PowerPoint: Episode 2

Every second of the day, PowerPoint is used in approximately 350 presentations around the world. To put that into perspective, there are more PowerPoint presentations born every second than babies.

If you’re planning to use PowerPoint (along with 30,240,000 other people every day), it’ll be important that your slides can stand out and be memorable.

Phase(Two)Learning’s Michelle Baker and I are here to help! In this second edition of our Trick Out My PowerPoint series, we’ve taken a look at an actual slide from a conference I recently attended and put our own spin on the design of the slide.

Episode 2 (Original)

While the presentation itself featured good, relevant information, here’s a sample of how Michelle and I would have “tricked out” this slide deck for maximum impact on the audience.

Trick-out Artist #1: Brian Washburn

All the information is there on this slide, and I would have broken up the bullet points into four separate slides (when you list all your bullet points on one screen, your audience will be too busy reading the text on your slide to pay attention to what you have to say… the brain can’t read and try to listen at the same time).

Option 1: GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL!

To me, the word “goal” lends itself very easily to a sports metaphor. One way to trick out this slide deck, at least this particular section revolving around goals, would be to turn the slide into a stadium scoreboard, complete with jumbotron screen for the image.

Episode 2 (V1)

Option 2: This Is Only Made Possible With Your Support

The word “goal” also reminds me of the old “fundraising thermometer” whereby reaching one goal is a small victory along the way, but the ultimate destination is to reach every single goal (filling up the entire thermometer).

Episode 2 (V2)

Option 3: Work Within The Template

Finally, there are times when someone at a higher pay grade insists that a slide template must be used. There are so many reasons I don’t like slide templates, but the biggest one is because the slide template eats up valuable slide real estate. Nonetheless, if a slide template is required, it doesn’t prevent the visual imagery of your PowerPoint slides from being powerful. I might put together a series of slides that looks like this…

Episode 2 (V3-1)

Followed by a series of slides with text that is crystal clear. During the delivery, I’d make the point that without all four of these goals being achieved, millions of people would remain corneal blind and those blurry slides represent all they would be able to see.

Episode 2 (V3-2)

Trick-out Artist #2: Michelle Baker

Well, I took the challenge in another direction. Ordinarily, my gut reaction would have been to take the same approach as Brian, to divide the content among multiple slides. But as I looked at the slide, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could actually communicate the point of the slide on one individual slide, without looking cluttered or forced.

I transformed this slide three ways:

Option 1: Simple and Straightforward

Episode 2 (vA)

On this slide, I specifically called out the two goals of eye banks, using a simple “bullseye” graphic for participants to identify these goals with the importance of achieving the goal. Using a callout box in a contrasting color, I added the additional talking points. The box and color breaks up the text, and allows the participant to focus on “zones” in the slide, rather than looking at many text rows. You could also utilize PowerPoint’s animation/transition features to have the text box float in after discussing the two goals, to make the slide appear even cleaner.

Option 2: Let SmartArt Do the Work

Episode 2 (vB)

When used properly, SmartArt can be a very effective way to visually convey information on a slide without using too much text. It’s a wonderful, easy-to-use feature for non-graphic designers (like myself!) to add to their PowerPoint design arsenal. For this slide, I used two converging arrows. This particular graphic clearly shows the relationship between the two goals of eye banks, and why they are so important to work in conjunction with one another. The ribbon-tied finger graphic at the bottom adds a bit of personality to the reminder of why this is important, particularly for new eye banks.

Option 3: A strong graphic can make all the difference

Episode 2 (vC)

Leaning on the participants’ perceived passion around healthy eyes, I used a strong graphic of a stunning blue eye as the focal point of this slide. By adjusting the image size, the eye appears to fade directly into the blank, white canvas of the slide, which provides an ideal space to add my text – simply stated and clean. Again, using subtle animation/transition functionality, I would add the “What does this mean?” subtext after discussing the two primary goals.

On all three slides, I made sure to call out the source information, but notice that I used a subtle gray color for the font in a smaller size – it is visible, but does not compete with the primary message the slide coveys.

Another point of consistency is the use of animation/transition functionality – subtle is key; avoid crazy twirls, spins and checkerboard effects! A simple float or fade will suffice, and use the same effect, speed and direction throughout your entire slide deck for a polished, professional look.

So, there you have it. Between each of our approaches you see 6 very different, tricked-out approaches for the same PowerPoint slide. Give one of these styles a try the next time you’re faced with a text-laden slide full of content!

What say you?

How would you trick out this slide? What is your preferred approach? Share your creative ideas in the comments below!

Need some help Tricking Out Your PowerPoint?

Let Michelle or me give it a shot! Send us a slide, and we might just feature it in an upcoming blog post on Train Like a Champion and Phase(Two)Learning!

Visual Representations: A New Twist (literally) on the 2×2 Matrix

I’ve heard that in the consulting world, every single problem can be solved with a 2×2 matrix. I’ve seen a lot of 2×2 matrices in my time, and I’ve discovered that the secret is to always be in the upper right quadrant.

2x2 Generic

When it comes to Stephen Covey’s 2×2 time management matrix, make sure you’re spending your time in the upper right quadrant.

2x2 Covey

When it comes to whether you’ll actually do anything with this blog post, I want you to be in the upper right quadrant.

2x2 Skill Transfer

The upper right quadrant is where the two “high’s” intersect: the high on the vertical axis and the high on the horizontal axis.

Sometimes, however, a facilitator will try to persuade me that “no single group in this 2×2 matrix is better than any other group.” On some subconscious level, I always feel the facilitator is lying when I hear that. I’ve simply been trained to accept the upper right quadrant as the optimal state of existence.

Last week, I attended a session on how stakeholder management is integral to change. It was facilitated by Michelle Miller, a designer-turned-organizational development professional. She offered a unique twist on the old 2×2 matrix. Literally. She decided to twist the matrix about 45 degrees, and put it into a circle instead of a square. She wanted to represent that there was a relationship among adjoining quadrants, but that no specific quadrant was superior to any other.

And I believed her.

2x2 Twist

The traditional 2×2 matrix has been touting the upper right quadrant as superior since the first consultant took out a stick and wrote four options in the dirt.

2x2 Cave Man

The next time you want to use a visual representation to illustrate a concept that includes four options, none of which are better than any of the others, don’t confuse your audience by plugging those options into a traditional 2×2 matrix.

Just give it a little twist.

10 Minutes (7 if you run)

There are some things we just have to do, whether we like it or not. Compliance training comes to mind immediately.

Sometimes walking falls into this category for me, too, which is why this sign stood out for me during a recent sightseeing excursion in Japan.

Almost There Edited

Hilarious, right? Entertaining? Encouraging? I appreciated the humor behind this sign so much that I took a picture of it and decided to blog about it.

Oh wait, that’s an edited version. It’s not entertaining or funny or encouraging. It’s plain. And not memorable. And typical of visual aids we normally create. Especially for mundane tasks.

Here’s the actual sign that was posted:

Almost There

It has humor. It has encouragement. For overachievers, there’s a challenge to be found.

Next time you’re putting together a slide deck or handouts or flipcharts – even if you think the topic is routine or boring – why not get a little more creative? Why not respect your audience enough to throw something a little unexpected their way? Why not go the extra mile?

It’ll probably only take an extra 10 minutes or so. Seven minutes if you run a little.

5 Sources for Free Fonts

Whether you realize it or not, the font you use actually says a lot about you.

Using Calibri in a handout or a PowerPoint presentation says:

Fonts_-_Calibri

Using Comic Sans says:

Fonts_-_Comic_Sans

Choosing the right font can help set the tone for your communication and further capture your audience’s imagination when it comes to your topic. Take a look at the following example, which one evokes more of an emotion?

Fonts_-_Example_2

Fonts_-_Example_1

If you’re looking to change up your fonts and you’re not quite satisfied with the fonts that are pre-loaded on your computer, here are 5 sources that are loaded with free fonts for you to install for your next project.

  1. 1001 Free Fonts. This is the first one that will come up in a Google search. If you can’t find the font you’re looking for here, I’d be surprised, but just in case here are some other places to dig…
  2. FontSquirrel. I first found out about this site from Phase(Two)Learning’s Michelle Baker. If you’re into curly fonts, I highly recommend Pacifico.
  3. 11 Stunning (and free) Fonts You Should Download Right Now. HuffPo considers typography and font design news! This is a short, fun article with links to 11 cool fonts. Let me know if you figure out something to do with Typode.
  4. California Fonts. This site boasts 20,000 free fonts to download. The holiday selection caught my eye. Definitely some fun fonts on this site.
  5. FONTastico.com. Another free font site featuring fonts by category and an easy search function to find just what you’re looking for. The graffiti fonts make me wonder if it’s possible to go out and virtually tag a bunch of boring PowerPoint presentations. Hmmm, the possibilities…

A word of caution: I’ve found myself spending way too much time browsing some of these font sites, loading up my computer with lots of fonts. That naturally leads to the desire to put way too many fonts into some of my work products. So, have fun with these fonts… but in moderation.

Have a favorite font? I’d love to hear why you love that font in the comments section below.

Want to let your entire social network know about all these cool fonts? Tweet this post. Or Share it. Or Press It. Or Pin it. Or Scoop.it. Or even go the old fashioned route and email it. But be sure to share it!

Cool PowerPoint Tricks: Write on Your Slides During your Presentation

Sometimes you want to capture the audience’s responses in writing for all to see, but using flipchart just isn’t practical. Like in a room of 200 people. Or on a webinar. Or when you’re presenting in a place where it’s considered uncouth to come out from behind the podium.

Here is one simple way to turn a projector screen and an LCD projector into a giant piece of flipchart paper:

1. Open PowerPoint and start a new file (or go to the slide on which you’d like to capture responses in writing).

2. Click on the Developer tab

Cool_PPT_Tips_(1)

 

3. Select the Text Box (from the Controls menu)

Cool_PPT_Tips_(2)

4. Insert a Text Box where you’d like to record comments and/or write on your slide

Cool_PPT_Tips_(3)

That’s it. When you go to Presentation mode and come to this slide, you can ask your audience for their thoughts and type everything they say in this box, on the screen, in the moment. It’s a simple, quick and easy way to allow your audience to interact with you and your slides during a presentation.

Cool_PPT_Tips_(4)

Never want to miss out on tips to make your presentations more engaging? Hit the FOLLOW button at the top of the screen!

Interested in other PowerPoint-related topics? Try these articles:

  1. Create a Family Feud-like Game
  2. Trick out your next PowerPoint presentation
  3. Is your PowerPoint any good?
  4. Amazing examples of PowerPoint presentations
  5. More amazing examples of PowerPoint presentations