The flipped meeting

At the Presentation Summit, I heard Patti Sanchez, SVP of Strategic Services at Duarte, talk about slidedocs, which are slides that are used as short documents. One use she mentioned was for pre-meeting reading. (You can download Nancy Duarte’s free book on slidedocs here.)

At the end of her talk, I stood up and said that this reminded me of the flipped classroom.

powerpoint_tips-flipped-meetingWhat is the flipped classroom?

It’s a concept that flips the idea of learning in the classroom and practicing at home. The reason is that students often struggle when doing homework — that’s when they have to apply what they’ve learned but they don’t have someone to help them at that time.

So instead, the teacher assigns reading — or watching a video — to be done at home. That content teaches the lesson. Then the students come to class and can ask questions and do exercises — but the teacher is there to help them.

The flipped classroom is being used both at the K-12 level and at the college level. You can read more about it here.

What is the flipped meeting?

Could this approach be used for in-house meetings? Read more! →

Embedding fonts in a presentation with non-standard fonts

Are you a font freak? Do you just LOVE interesting fonts? I must admit that I’m a font idiot who can hardly tell the difference between Arial, Tahoma and Verdana, unless they’re right next to each other. Even then, I won’t know which is which. Designers are horrified when I tell them this!

powerpoint--tips-embed-fonts-1Fonts can be fun, but you have to be careful with them:

  • They must be legible!
  • They shouldn’t distract from your message
  • They aren’t necessarily available from every computer

It can be horrible when you open a presentation on another computer and the fonts are all wrong!

What to do?

Stick with safety

You can stick with fonts that are standard on all or most computers. Even then, if you have to switch between PC and Mac, you’ll find that text renders differently and takes up a different amount of space. For example, a line of text will wrap differently — and probably look awful!

Embed fonts

PowerPoint lets you embed fonts. This means that the fonts are embedded in the presentation file and another computer should be able to display them.  There are some limitations. For example, this process only works for TrueType fonts (TTF) and OpenType fonts (OTF). Here’s the technique: Read more! →

Make your webinars super interactive

This is a guest post from Brenda Bence, who is a corporate branding and personal branding expert. She wrote this as a tip for Speaker Net News subscribers and gave me permission to reprint it. You can read more about her at

powerpoint-tips-interactive-webinarsBrenda does live keynotes but then often follows up with “virtual keynotes” for members of an organization who are located elsewhere. These are small groups of 12 – 15 team members who are usually in Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai and/or Shanghai/Beijing. Here are 8 techniques that she uses to make her webinars super interactive. Note that she uses WebEx webinar software.

  1. Sign in: Get attendees to “sign in” when they first call in. I have a slide with all participants’ names on it, and they have to “sign in” (using WebEx Center technology). They also have to write a one-word description of how they are feeling about attending this program. This starts team members engaging and reflecting and helps me get a sense of the “energy in the room,” just as I would want if I were presenting live.
  2. Ground rules: Make a game out of generating attendees’ own “ground rules” for participation. Then, once the list is created, they have to raise their hand in the sidebar to show they will abide by those rules. Inevitably, someone will offer up ideas along the lines of “focus,” “put away cell phones,” “close up other computer windows,” etc. This avoids my or anybody else’s having to suggest that people pay attention — the audience has set their own rules and are more likely to abide by them.
  3. Notification: I let them know within the first five minutes that this will be a very interactive two hours and that I will call on them randomly throughout the program to answer questions. This keeps people on the alert.
  4. Executive presence: I  always suggest to the client to have a senior-level executive participate during each session, too, and ask him/her to (a) introduce me at the start, and (b) comment a few times throughout the program. Knowing that a senior exec is participating keeps people paying attention and wanting to speak up. Read more! →

Speaking with integrity

A few days ago, I bought an expensive product, because it promised to help me promote my products in a new way and with some automation. I thought that the concept was good — and I still do.

online-business-integrity-2But once I got the product, I started reading the instructions. They included creating “fake” Google accounts, including making up a name and choosing a profile picture from the Internet. It recommended deleting cookies in your browser before changing from one account to another so that Google didn’t know you had multiple accounts. Then you had to use that fake identify to create accounts on multiple social media platforms.

It made me feel pretty uncomfortable.

I started thinking why I felt so strongly about this, since there were obviously others who had no problem with it. (I could read what others were doing in the private Facebook group.)

I remembered something that happened many years ago, when I was 15 years old. I’m telling this as I remember it, but upon doing some research, I’ve discovered that a major detail is wrong. But in this case, the detail isn’t important, the principle is. Read more! →

Place an open circle around something to emphasize it: Creating open shapes

Would you like to create shapes like this in PowerPoint?


I like them because they look informal, hand drawn.

They don’t come with PowerPoint, but you can easily create them using the Bézier Curve (Edit Points) feature. This feature is not well known because it isn’t on the ribbon. You do everything with the right-click menu.

In this short video, I show you how to create these shapes.

Here are the steps to create an open circle:

  1. Draw an oval.
  2. On the Format tab, choose Shape Fill, No Fill.
  3. Right-click on the outline and choose Edit Points.
  4. Right-click the top point and choose Open Path.

You can make further adjustments. For example:

  • Drag the right point to overlap at top
  • Click a point and adjust the long handles — change their angle and length to see the results

I have more information on Bézier curves in this tip: Create Bézier curves.


Your presentation deserves the same respect as your website and brochures!

A story.

Recently, I went to an Internet Marketing conference and met the owner of a company that sells high-end products for marketers. The company bought a sponsorship table (which I’m sure was expensive) and had nicely-designed brochures laid out on the table, along with a monitor displaying the software. The owner ran a session about the value of their tools for pre-selecting potential customers who might be likely to buy a product.powerpoint-tips-presentation-deserves-respect-1

During the session, she discussed the sales process, starting with getting leads and ending with the sales conversation. She asked the audience, “How many of you get to the sales conversation and wing it?” Several people raised their hands. She explained why, after going through the entire process of getting the person to that conversation, you should have a plan. (I call it a script.)

You know I’m going to get around to her slides, right?

At the end of the session, she got around to a sales conversation with the audience (which was appropriate for that situation) and discussed the price. It was well over $1000. I’m not critical of that — she can charge whatever she wants.

But her slides didn’t reflect that high-end image.

So, when you get to the end of the sales process — in this case, buying a sponsorship table, traveling to the conference, printing brochures, and so on — shouldn’t the PowerPoint slides look as good as everything else? And be in line with the image you want to portray?

Just as you should plan your sales conversation and not wing it, you should plan your presentation — and make the slides look good. That presentation is perhaps the most important part of that sales process.


What did I see?

It’s not as if the slides were a wall of text. They weren’t.

And her presentation skills were excellent.


  • There were lots of images and lines of flying in, mostly in from the bottom. For no reason.
  • The text that was there was set up as simple bulleted lists
  • The images were simply plopped in the middle of the slide or to the right of the text with no formatting

It just didn’t look professional, although the person who created the slides (a member of her staff, who was also there) tried hard to make them interesting.

My main points

My 3 points to her, which were just a start, were:

  1. Don’t animate for no reason. Animate to show a process or to make a slide beautiful or entertaining.
  2. Learn ways to avoid bullet points
  3. Format images nicely

I think I also mentioned the fact that the presentation wasn’t aligned with the company’s branding.

What is your presentation worth?

If you are selling a high-end product, your presentation is worth a lot of money. Of course, you might still sell, but perhaps you could sell a lot more if your presentation looked like you cared about it.

If you can, hire a designer, just like you do for your website and printed brochures.

If you can’t afford a designer, get some training and/or 1-on-1 coaching.

Here’s my 1-on-1 coaching. Take me up on it. Your presentation deserves it.

2 ways to collaborate with others on your presentations-Part II

Part I of this series covers the Comments and Compare features.

A second way to collaborate online is to post your presentation on Office Online (previously called Office Web Apps). The online version of PowerPoint is missing many of the features of the desktop version but for simple edits, it’s quite capable. The trick is to start on your computer, using the desktop version of PowerPoint and then move to the online version.

Office Online allows synchronous editing, which means that you can both work on a presentation at the same time and instantly — well, almost instantly — see each other’s changes.



Getting set up

  1. Log in with any Microsoft account or create an account
  2. Click PowerPoint Online, the big orange button in the middle.
  3. You then have 3 choices:
    • New blank presentation
    • Browse templates
    • Recent documents on OneDrive
  1. powerpoint-tips-collaborate-presentations2-2Choose Recent documents on OneDrive (even if your presentation isn’t there). On the left, choose Files. Then choose Upload at the top.
  2. Navigate to the presentation on your computer and double-click it. You’ll now see it listed in OneDrive. (I have an account with OneDrive; if you don’t have one, you may have to create one, but I think that everyone who has a Microsoft account gets a OneDrive account automatically.)
  3. Click Share. In the boxes, enter an email address and a note to your colleague, setting up a time to meet. Be sure that “Recipients can edit” shows below the note. If not, click the link and choose your preferred options.
  4. You’ll both need to sign in. When you and your colleague are both viewing the presentation online, both of you should choose Edit Presentation, Edit in PowerPoint Online.

Working together

You can both now work on the presentation together. You can each see what the other adds or deletes. There’s a bit of a delay. If you don’t see the changes, refresh your browser and choose Edit Presentation, Edit in PowerPoint Online again.

When you’re done, you’ll want to save the changes back to your computer, so choose Open in PowerPoint. (You’ll probably have to confirm that you really do want to open it.) Now, you can resave the file on your computer. Remember that when you open the presentation in PowerPoint, it’s still on OneDrive, so choose File, Save As and then overwrite your original presentation, if that’s what you want to do.3 orange large asterisksHave you successfully collaborated in PowerPoint? Leave a comment and share your experience!


2 ways to collaborate with others on your presentations-Part I

Many presentations are collaborative efforts and you may have discovered that putting your comments in an email and attaching the latest version of the PowerPoint file gets confusing fast. Here are some problems with that method:

  • There are multiple versions of the file all over the place
  • It’s hard to know who has the latest version
  • It’s hard to know which edits are approved and which aren’t
  • Some people open the file from within the email (you should always save it to your computer first), make changes, and then can’t find the file

If you’ve been in collaboration hell, here is Part I of two techniques that might help.

Lots of people would like a Track Changes feature in PowerPoint, like the one in Microsoft Word. But so far, it doesn’t exist. But there are 2 features that you can use that you can use instead to collaborate with others. In fact, the second one comes close to a Track Changes features, in a roundabout way.

Add comments to a presentation


This is how the Comments section of the Review tab looks in PowerPoint 2013. Comments provide a way for you to add your opinion or suggest changes. On the Review tab, click New Comment to open a text box, either on the slide (PowerPoint 2007 and 2010) or in a task pane (PowerPoint 2013). Type your comment and press Enter. A new feature of PowerPoint 2013 is that others can reply to comments, so that you can create a conversation. Comments will show your initials or even your photo, if you’re using a Microsoft account. You can easily move from comment to comment and of course, you can delete comments.

Here’s a short comment conversation in PowerPoint 2013.


If a comment is collapsed or just shows as an icon, double-click it to display it.

Compare 2 presentations

The Compare feature lets you compare 2 presentations. For example, you can have a presentation on your computer and then send a copy of it to someone else to review. That person will make changes and return it to you. The Compare feature shows you the differences between the 2 presentations. Follow these steps:

  1. Save your presentation on your computer. You’ll compare this presentation with the one that your colleague changes.
  2. Send the presentation to a colleague. If you attach it to an email, this process creates a copy. You can also post the presentation to a shared location, such as your OneDrive storage. In that case, you’ll need to give your colleague the link to the presentation and provide editing permission. In the email or link notification, ask your colleague to make suggested changes and return it to you with another name (such as v2 at the end of the file name).
  3. When the changes are done, open your original presentation and choose Review tab, Compare.
  4. In the Choose File to Merge with Current Presentation box, navigate to the changed presentation and click Merge. The Revisions panel opens, listing the slide and presentation changes. (Changing the theme or adding a slide would be presentation changes.) You’ll also see an icon on a changed slide showing the changes, as you see here. This is as close to Track Changes as you can get in PowerPoint.



  1. To accept a change, check the checkbox in front of it. When text was replaced, you need to check both the insertion and the deletion. If you don’t accept a change, the presentation stays as is on your computer.

In the next blog post, I’ll discuss a way to collaborate in real-time with a colleague, using the online version of PowerPoint.


Meanwhile, leave a comment to share how you collaborate on PowerPoint presentation files!

Easily sync lyrics with a music video in PowerPoint

This is a guest blog post from Larry First. The bio he sent me: An “experienced” (newly retired) geek from Alabama.

The instructions discuss how to sync lyrics with a music video, but you could use it to transcribe the text of a tutorial as well.

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When presenting a music video where the vocals (message) are occasionally not perfectly intelligible, you might want to give viewers the advantage of KNOWING the words.  This method is bookmark-less and trigger-less, but it works like a charm!

Here are the steps.

1. Insert the video

In a new PowerPoint presentation, right-click and choose Format Background. Choose the desired background and click Apply to All button. Close the dialog box, if necessary.

Insert the video by choosing Insert tab, then Video or Movie, then Video on my PC, Video from File, or Movie from File (depending on your version of PowerPoint). If you prefer to have a “staging screen” that segues into the video, duplicate the first slide, and insert the video on the second slide.

In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010,  animated objects cannot appear in front of the video (within the video boundaries), so do not use the Play Full Screen setting. In PowerPoint 2013, you can put objects in front of a video, but you still might not want the lyrics to cover the video.

At this point, you should choose whether to play the video on click or automatically. The default is on click.  If you don’t see a box to choose when you insert the video, click the Playback button and choose Automatically from the Start drop-down list.

2. Choose where you want to display the lyricspowerpoint-tips-sync-lyrics-video-8

Decide on a layout that will have the space for the lyrics or spoken text. For example, you can display the lyrics below the video. A custom layout can help make the lyrics appear in the same place on each slide. For instructions, see “Create a custom layout.”

Figure out the maximum vertical dimension required for the text to assure legibility and size the video to fill the remaining space. Be careful to size your video using only the corner nodes to retain its aspect (height to width) ratio.

On the slide, enter the first line of lyrics, formatting it so that it shows clearly against your background.

On subsequent slides, enter succeeding lines of text.

Note: The subsequent slides won’t have the video on it, as you see on the right.

3. Set the video play options to continue throughout your slides

Click on the video to select it and choose the Animations tab.

powerpoint-tips-sync-lyrics-video-6In PowerPoint 2010 and 2013, click the Animation Pane button. In PowerPoint 2007, click the Custom Animation button. You’ll see the video listed.

In 2010 and 2013, on the Animations tab, in the Animation gallery click the Play button (the Pause button is initially selected).

In the  Animation pane, you should see two items. Click the down arrow to the right of the item with the Play button on it and choose Effect Options to open the Play Video dialog box with the Effect tab displayed.

Set Stop Playing After to the appropriate number of slides, depending on how many were required to insert your text. Click OK to close the dialog box.

4. Set slide timing

Once you’re sure that all the text is in place, click the Slide Show tab, and then click use Rehearse Timings to advance through the video at the selected pace.

The video should continue playing as you go. If it doesn’t, go back and recheck the settings in the Play Video dialog box.

As the video reaches the moment where the next slide of text should appear, press Enter or click the Down cursor key to advance to the next slide.  In the course of the video, advance to the next slide at each subsequent moment when the appropriate text should appear.

When you advance at the last slide, you’re promoted to save that Rehearse Timings session.

The result?

When you go into Slide Show view, your video will start to play (automatically or on click) and will continue to play throughout the slides you specified. The slides will automatically advance according to your timing so that the text is synced with the video.

Moving the axis labels when a PowerPoint chart/graph has both positive and negative values

For her PhD dissertation, my friend, Leslee Goldstein, did research teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique to Ugandan women who were part of an NGO (non-governmental organization) program that taught them skills to help them support themselves, such as sewing.  These women had been subjected to a huge amount of stress in their lives and this stress made progress difficult.

She did 3 pre- and post-tests that are commonly used in this situation and got great results. But when she created the chart in PowerPoint, she had a problem.


As you can see, by default PowerPoint puts the horizontal axis labels near the axis. Usually, this works, but when you have a combination of positive and negative numbers, the bars interfere with the labels. While the results for the Self-Efficacy Scale and Medical Outcomes Survey increased, the Perceived Stress Scale numbers decreased.

Here’s how to fix this problem:

  1. Select the chart.
  2. Right-click the horizontal axis text and choose Format Axis.
  3. In PowerPoint 2013: In the taskpane on the right, click the arrow next to Labels to expand that section.
  4. In PowerPoint 2007, 2010 and 2013: Click the Label Position or Axis Labels drop-down list and choose High. (Another option that works in some situations is Low.)

Here’s the result.


Much better, right?

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Do you have frustrations getting charts to look right in PowerPoint? Leave a comment!