Category Archives: PowerPoint

Boring Slide Makeover: Screenshots from Excel

Slides containing data pasted from Excel

These type of slides are very common. They look uninteresting and shabby.

screenshots from Excel as PPT slides

I am not talking about charts here. That will be the next article.

Here are some simple ways to make them appear more interesting.


Download the sample presentation from here


Problem: Everything from Excel looks B&W

Solution: Use Excel Tables to make it more colorful

This works well if the data is tabular. Data must also have header for each column.

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Select the data and choose Home tab – Format as Table – and choose the color combination you want. DO NOT choose color combinations which have banded rows with one band white. That white becomes transparent when you paste to PowerPoint. Here are the Safe Ones.

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If you don’t use banded rows, then any color will be suitable.

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When you create a table, AutoFilter dropdowns are automatically added. Remove those by going to Data tab – Filter. (Does it mean that if you want to have a table you cannot have a filter on. Yes – you need to work around the constraint. Create a Table – apply desired table style , convert it back to range – the formatting is still preserved. Then you can do whatever you want without any constraints.)

Paste it into PowerPoint (with Paste As Picture Option). Press CTRL key and drag from any corner to resize it. So far so goo.

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Problem: The Data looks flat and visually uninteresting

Solution: Use picture style and get some 3D feel

Click on the picture – Picture Tools – Picture Styles… Lots of them. Just move the cursor over each to view how it impacts the picture. Sometimes, the drop-down of the Picture Styles  drop down overlaps the picture itself. Use a small picture and align it on the right side of the slide so that you can appreciate the look and feel of each option.

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Find out the style which suits your screen-shot or picture. For Excel related data, this option looks very nice.

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Now compare the same slide.

Before…

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After …

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You can appreciate it much better if you see it in a presentation. You can download this sample presentation and try it (see below).

Problem: Lot of data is shown and you want to focus attention on specific data

Solution: Do NOT show too much data

Although this is an obvious solution, in practice everyone still does it. So let us assume that we are forced to show a crowded piece of data and you still want to make it look good.

When lots of data is shown, nobody can read anything anyway. Now we want to focus on some part of the data specifically – that means people should be able to read at least that part… no problem – here is how you do it.

Consider this slide with lots of data. We have made it a Table and formatted it properly with a shadow as shown above.

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  1. Copy that picture
  2. Move it aside so that you can edit it without confusion
  3. Crop the desired area
  4. Resize it to make it bigger
  5. Overlap it on the slide approximate where it belongs
  6. The shadow effect is still applied so this bigger image will appear to float over the original image

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  • Add Entry Animation of type – Zoom – On click)
  • Also add Exit Animation – Zoom – On click)
  • You can repeat this process for more detail areas as required. Remember to use animation painter to copy animation from one zoomed piece to another.
  • Finally click on the original image – Picture Tools – Corrections – and make it a little darker. This increases the contrast between the original crowded image and the zoomed popups of detailed information.
  • Default Zoom duration is 0.5 seconds. Make it 0.2 seconds to ensure that the animation itself does not induce sleep Ghost

  • Download the sample presentation from here


Video Tutorial: Show collaboration in PowerPoint with Gear SmartArt

Gear is a nice SmartArt available which illustrates collaboration or smooth working of multiple components. It accepts a maximum of three items only.

show collaboration with PowerPoint Gear Smartart

But showing it as a static diagram does not generate good impact.

Watch this video to see how we can improve it go illustrate the collaboration in a much better way. Watch this in high resolution and full screen for better understanding.

Gear SmartArt

How to create Ripple effect in PowerPoint

Office 2010 added some nice transitions in PowerPoint.  Here is how to use the Ripple effect in appropriate business context.

What is the context?

You are trying to describe how one key area will have a ripple effects on other areas…

That is when you use this method.

  1. Create a radial diagram showing the key area in the center and other areas affected by it as radiating objects
  2. Copy the slide
  3. In the first slide, remove everything except the key concept
  4. Use the Ripple transition on the second slidePowerpoint ripple transition
  5. That’s it

Download the sample presentation from here

Download, save and run it to see the impact.
It is impossible to show it in a static screen-shot!

PowerPoint ripple effect transition

PowerPoint: How to Copy paste slides with different design templates

Here is a simple but very useful feature for you.

The problem

We often copy slides from one presentation to another. Each presentation usually has a different design template.

When you paste a slide into the destination presentation, it takes on the appearance of the local template. Usually this spoils the original slide thoroughly.

Now you get very frustrated and try to repair the damage manually by trying to format each element of the slide.

Source

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Destination

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After copying to destination

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The solution

It is much simpler than you think.

Look for that ever helpful icon (it is called SmartTag for a reason!).

Click on it and choose Keep Source Formatting.

Copy paste slides with different design templates with Keep Source Formatting

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That’s it.

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What really happened?

Your destination presentation already had a presentation Master (with multiple layouts). You pasted a slide from another presentation and chose Keep Source Formatting. Now the master slide and layouts from original presentation were copied into the destination presentation.

Open the Design tab – open the dropdown – now you can see both the masters.

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Applying any design to any slide

Now that you have multiple designs (templates) available in the same presentation, you can use any design for any slide.

Just choose the slide(s), Right click on the desired design and choose Apply to selected slides

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Be careful here. If you click on the design directly, it will apply to ALL slides!

How to show Bottom Up approach in PowerPoint

Example

Suppose you are talking about global warming – and want to show that action can be taken at various levels – starting from the lowest level – each individual.

Here are the bullets you have added…

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You want to talk about each item one by one. Therefore you added animation.

Select the text box – Animation – Add Animation – Appear.

Now when you run the slide, each click will expose one bullet at a time. This is good because you get time to explain each level. Therefore the audience cannot read ahead of what you are speaking.

There is only one problem. You want to show the approach BOTTOM UP… but the animation is going TOP DOWN Sad smile

Solution : Animation Pane (it eliminates the pain!)

Click on Animation tab – Animation pane. A window (pane) appears on the right side.

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Currently it shows only one entry but actually it has many entries which are collapsed to reduce clutter. The double down arrow can be expanded to show the animation for each bullet.

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The animation is simple – each item is triggered by a mouse click. The problem is the order.

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Can it be reordered? Of course… you can simply drag drop the animation sequence to reorder it. But wait… just because it works does not mean it is the best way.

In fact it is the worst way – why? Because repetition is inefficient!

Open the dropdown at the end of the animation entry and choose Effect Options…

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Notice that there is a nice tab for text animation.

Imagine, Microsoft thought of your needs 20 years back and provided that “in reverse order” checkbox, which displays your bottom up approach very nicely.

Show bottom up approach in powerpoint

You had a problem all along – the solution was with you all along.

But you never found it Sad smile

Moral of the story?
All that you need is already there.
Just look for it!

Create Interactive Presentation with Custom Shows and Hyperlink

When do you need this?

If you have a presentation which covers multiple topics and you want to have the interactivity to move from a main menu page to any topic, this article is for you.

We will use this presentation as an example…

Use this presentation for practice. Download Presentation

Interactive Presentation with custom shows and hyperlinks

White colored slides are the base presentation. Second slide is sort of an agenda and menu slide. You ask the audience which topic they want and then click on the desired option.

Blue slides are for Word, green for Excel and pink for PowerPoint.

If you clicked on, say, Excel icon in second slide, then PowerPoint should show slides 6,7,8 and then COME BACK to slide 2.

Hyperlink is NOT the answer

Usually you will put hyperlink on the Excel icon to jump to slide 6. But you know the problem – it will just go to all slides after 6 and spill over to the PowerPoint slides. To avoid that we put another link on the 8th slide which gets you back to second slide.

Pathetic.

There is a better way – using Custom Shows. Please read the previous article to understand how to create custom shows.

The solution

Step 1 – Create custom shows for each topic

This is easy. Just create three custom shows called Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Step 2 – Insert hyperlink to the CUSTOM SHOW (not to a specific slide)

Now click on each icon – in this case Excel and choose Insert Hyperlink…

Insert Hyperlink in PowerPoint

Choose the CUSTOM SHOW in the hyperlink. The Show and return option is your best friend Smile … but you never noticed it till now. Ha ha… why? Because most of the times this option used to be inactive – why? because this option requires you to select a custom show. And you did not ever create a custom show… why ? Winking smile never mind.

Insert Hyperlink in PowerPoint

Now you can run the presentation in an interactive manner.

What if you want to return to the main menu slide while you were half way through the Excel custom show? Don’t worry… just press Escape. It will go to the base slide. Next escape will stop the slide show (as expected). So remember, if you are in custom show, escape takes you one level back.

Sections v/s Custom Show

Office 2010 onwards, you can add sections to presentation to segregate various topics. These are similar to Custom Shows but following things are different.

  1. Sections are linear. Custom shows can contain slides in any order
  2. Every slide must be in some section. Custom show can contain only a subset of slides
  3. Hyperlink can be used only with custom shows – not with sections

I will cover sections in another article later.

Create short version of a long presentation with PowerPoint Custom Show

The need

You have 1 hour to present your proposal to your customer. You start the presentation and then she gets a phone call… urgent meeting with chairman. Now she says… “I am really sorry… can you show me the key things in five minutes?” You have no choice Now every moment counts. And what do you do? You start skipping slides and groping in the dark to find the really important slides. In the process you are WASTING the precious time available and irritating the customer. You need to have the ability to show a shorter version of the presentation – on demand… without trial and error. Of course, Microsoft has thought about this need and provided a solution, 18 years back Sad smile

The solution: Custom Show

Concept is simple. Create a Custom show. Choose only the key slides. Save it. Run the custom show instead of the entire presentation. Very simple.

  1. Slide show – Custom showsPowerPoint custom slide show
  2. New …PowerPoint Custom Shows
  3. Choose the slides you want from left side and click AddAdd slides to PowerPoint custom show
  4. You can add slides one at a time or multiple slides in one go
  5. This image is for PowerPoint 2013. Older versions do not have the checkboxes for selection, but you can press Ctrl Click for multi-select.
  6. Remember, you can add the same slide multiple times (Agenda slide, for example)
  7. Slides can be added in any order – not necessarily in the original order in ppt
  8. You can reorder the slides after adding them to the list on the right side
  9. Click Ok

Running the custom show

If you know that you need the shorter version BEFORE you started the presentation, then Open the custom show drop-down and run the show. If you have already started the regular presentation and are now short of time, just right click and choose Custom Show.
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Practical usage scenarios

  1. Always keep a shorter custom show ready for all long presentations.
  2. If you have different topics covered in a presentation, you should create a separate custom show for each topic. This allows you to jump between topics during the presentation
  3. If your main topic requires the audience to know some other pre-requisite topics, keep that topic as a custom show. In case your audience does NOT know the pre-requisite topic well, you can always jump to it quickly
  4. If your agenda is like a menu and you want to ask the audience about which topics to cover in what order… custom show comes in very handy. (See Next Article)

PowerPoint: Manage complex slides with Selection Pane

The pain

PowerPoint slides can get crowded. If you have multiple overlapping objects, reaching the objects which are behind other objects is a very problematic area. You have to either struggle with Send to Back / Front or move the overlapping objects manually. Both methods are a compromise.

The solution: Selection Pane

Since Office 2007 Microsoft added Selection Pane. Once you know how to use it, you will wonder why you did not know this earlier. It will save you hours of struggle.

Home – Select – Selection Pane.

Powerpoint Selection Pane

It is so simple but so effective. It shows a list of all objects on the slide. The object on top is physically in front of all objects. The object at the bottom is behind all objects.

Each item can be hidden by clicking on the icon of the eye.

Selection Pane

So if you want to select and work with an object at the bottom, simple hide the objects on top.

Warning

If an object is hidden, it will not be shown in the presentation. Therefore, after your work is done, remember to choose SHOW ALL.

Change the names

Selection Pane also allows you to change the default names given to objects. Naming objects makes it easy to animate them and rearrange them. When you are creating complex slides, keep the selection pane open and change the name of an object as soon as you add it.

Powerpoint Animation Pane

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Reorder objects easily

Reordering objects is much easier using Selection Pane rather than struggling with Send to Back / Front.

You can use the up/down arrows or drag drop (2010 onwards) to reorder items. Grouped items can be moved together.

When to hide the objects permanently

If you use custom shows, you will need to see the titles of slides. If there are slides with the title textbox removed, you cannot see the title. The list only shows you slide number. This leads to a lot of confusion.

In such cases, add the title but hide it. That way the title is shown in Custom Show dialog but it is not visible in the presentation… best of both worlds!

Put it in QAT

This is a very useful feature. Add it to the Quick Access Toolbar. Other good candidates for QAT are Alignment dropdown, Format Painter, Animation Painter, Clear Formatting and SmartArt.

Also available in Word and Excel

Although it is most useful in PowerPoint, remember to use it in other products as well.

PowerPoint: How to create Picture Organizational Chart in 2 minutes

The need

It is annual Planning time.  You need to create an organizational chart with pictures and designated titles and present to your boss.  But you dont want to have to manually insert each picture one by one.  How can you do that in PowerPoint?

Preparation

  1. You need pictures of people who go into the organization chart. Save these in a single folder.
  2. PowerPoint 2010 or above

Picture Organizational Chart

Simple steps to creating a Picture Organizational Chart

  1. Create a new PowerPoint presentation
  2. Add a blank slide
  3. Insert – Picture – choose all pictures from the folder and choose insert
  4. All pictures will be added and selected
  5. DO NOT disturb the selection
  6. Click on Picture Tools – Picture Layout – Choose Org Chartcreate Picture Organizational Chart in PowerPoint
  7. Now all of the pictures are arranged in a straight line. Don’t Worry!
  8. It is now converted to a SmartArtimage
  9. Click on the edit button on the left edge of the SmartArtimage
  10. Now you can see pictures and empty bullets
  11. All bullets are same level that is why the org chart is flat
  12. Choose the boss. Use Shift Alt Up arrow / Down arrow to rearrange
  13. For subordinates press TAB one or more timesSNAGHTML2d14236
  14. Rearrange and you are done!
  15. If you want, type names in each bullet
  16. Resize the SmartArt as required
  17. That’s it!

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Choose the SmartArt – SmartArt Tools menu – Design – Choose another Layout. Only two layouts in this category support pictures.

PowerPoint Picture Organizational Chart

Readjusting the visible portion of a picture

If PowerPoint chose a wrong area, click on the picture – Picture Tools – Crop. Now move the picture to select desired area. This part may have to be done repeatedly to get perfect results. Unfortunately, there is not shortcut available because PowerPoint does not know which region of the photos you want to show.

Demo files

This presentation contains three slides.

  1. Contains all pictures
  2. Contains Final Org Chart
  3. Contains Org chart in different format

Download the presentation Org Chart Demo

The pictures are royalty free – from Office Online Clipart

Fail safe presentation – Best practices

The Need

The more important the presentation, more things will go wrong. If you want to prevent that, you must be proactive. Here are the best practices I have learnt after delivering more than 2000 live sessions!

Here I am assuming that your presentation content is already finalized and that you are using PowerPoint 2010 or 2013.

First step is to make a copy of the presentation. Whatever is mentioned below should be done on the copy of the presentation. This way, your original presentation is not disturbed in any way, in case something goes wrong.

If you are delivering the presentation from your own laptop…

This makes the content and delivery a little safer. But still you need to do the following.

  1. Run the entire presentation without any network.
    1. Check all embedded file links. These files should open without network connectivity.
    2. Check all videos. These are embedded and therefore should run without network.
  2. Keep a copy of the entire presentation on USB drive. DO NOT just copy the presentation. See below for instructions.
  3. upload it to OneDrive, DropBox or any other storage on internet.
  4. OneDrive (or SharePoint if you have corporate network) is the best because the presentation can be shown reliably on a browser in case everything else fails.

If you are going to carry the presentation and deliver on some other PC / Laptop / Tablet

This is a dangerous situation. We must assume that you will get only a PC with some Windows version running. PowerPoint version is not guaranteed. Here are the best practices.

If you have videos, make sure you use Office 2010 and Insert Video feature

Till Office 2007, videos were never inserted – the files were linked. So if you carried the presentation file only, the video was always missing!

If you have inserted videos, use the Optimize Compatibility button

Carrying or embedding a video does not guarantee that it will run on any PC. It needs the right kind of codec to run. Of course you have no interest in learning what is a codec. Therefore, PowerPoint makes it simpler for you by converting your videos automatically to a format which will run on any Windows PC.

Choose File menu – Info – check if you see an Optimize Compatibility button.

Presentation tip - Optimize Media Compatibility

If you don’t see it, very good. One thing less to worry about.

If you see it, open it and choose Presentation Quality. It will do something. Let it finish.

Technical Note: For those who are interested, PowerPoint checks if the format requires a codec which other PCs may not have. Most common is QuickTime. Then it converts the videos which are already in your presentation to WMV format by re-rendering them. All the special effects, animation, trims etc will be preserved. It asks you to choose the quality. Choose High quality for important presentations, Medium for most presentations. Low quality is only for mobile device delivery. You may not realize it, but this is a very complex activity which is completely simplified for us by PowerPoint.

Check Hyperlinks to web sites

Connect to internet from a mobile phone or some other connection and check all links to external web sites. Do NOT use corporate network. Sometimes you link to web pages / images which are inside the corporate network and these don’t work outside your office.

If there are linked files and pictures, Package the presentation

DO NOT just copy the presentation file.

Choose File – Save and Send (2010) or Export (2013)

Presentation tip: Package Presentation for CD

In the dialog, click Options button

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Make sure you put a password and Inspect the presentation for notes, comments etc. (See this article for details)

Embedding fonts and linked files is a very good feature. It ensures that your presentation will run on any PC containing PowerPoint.

Carry PowerPoint viewer

This may sound like an overkill but it is an absolute necessity. Many conferences and seminars use laptops provided by the AV agency which is running the show. These people often have very old operating system and PowerPoint versions.

If you have used new features in your presentation, most of it will either not run at all or will be horribly disfigured.

Download PowerPoint Viewer. This is the latest version as of today. It works with presentations created in all versions of PowerPoint.

Check this on internet before downloading to ensure that you are downloading the latest version.

Other things which make a difference

If your job depends upon delivering presentations – mine does – then you need some extra precautions to ensure that your presentation runs EVERY TIME without a flaw.

In this case you have to do some simple and some extreme things:

  1. Bandwidth at the venue.
    This is a tricky item. You cannot control it till you reach the venue. But at least then you should check this one out thoroughly. If your presentation depends upon live bandwidth, you must test everything as soon as you arrive at the venue. Perform a full rehearsal and repeat just before the beginning of the session if possible.
    Hotels usually provide insufficient bandwidth. I find it easier to buy a local SIM card with large Internet Top Up. Unfortunately, due to thick walls of ball rooms and conference venues, the 3G / 4G may not work. You must test it before the presentation.
  2. Carry a projector. I carry my own. Epson EB1775W. 3000 Lumen and very good for upto 100 participants. This supports WiFi so you can put it anywhere and not worry about cable length. Unfortunately, I am not able to use the WIFI on Windows 8.Presentation tip: Carry your own projector
  3. Carry an plug which can connect two VGA cables. Very often the length of the VGA cable is short. It forces you to sit at the wrong spot. So carry a spare cable (10 USD approx) and a male-to-male VGA connector (costs approx 1 USD)imageThis Gender Changer is an invaluable piece to have. Many customers have two VGA cables but don’t have this adapter. With it you can extend the cable length.
  4. Batteries. Carry at least two AA, two AAA and one 9 volt battery.
    Why? Because the microphone batteries die in couple of hours. If you conduct long sessions, the batteries are a lifesaver. If you don’t carry them, it becomes a chaotic situation. You are mid way into your presentation. Everything stops. Someone scrambles to find the AV guy / gal who is invariably missing from the scene by now. They don’t get new cells, someone rushes out to buy them or request from admin… it is hilarious and sad. Just buy the cells and carry them.presentation tip - extra battery
  5. A laser pointer and clicker is useful. I use a special mouse which has all of these so I don’t need to carry it.
  6. Power Adapter is necessary if you travel internationally. The composite ones are good but usually don’t fit into artistically restrictive crevices even in the most sophisticated conference rooms. It is best to buy the dedicated adapters (2 pieces at least) as soon as you land in a country. Convenience store on the airport is the best bet as stores within the city usually do not keep such adapters.
  7. Finally, a printout of your presentation may be all that you have in case of power failure or some technical glitch.
  8. If you are using a tablet, make sure that you are carrying the VGA / HDMI adapterimage

What if everything fails?

No worries. Just go on stage and express yourself from your heart.

No amount of technology, tools and accessories can substitute for depth of knowledge, experience and passion to add value to the audience.