Create a tile menu with hyperlinks to slides

It’s often useful to create a menu for your first or second slide. Here are some scenarios:

  • To facilitate easy navigation to anywhere in your presentationpowerpoint-tips-tile-interface-menu-2
  • To allow your audience to choose the order of the content, for a non-linear, live presentation
  • To allow viewers to navigate through an online presentation

Use an updated interface style

A recent design trend uses tiles to create a visual menu. You’ve probably seen this type of tile menu in Windows 8/8.1, but others have used it as well. This type of menu is easy to create in PowerPoint.

Here’s an example.

Discover PowerPoint Mix for interactive online lessons

PowerPoint Mix is a new PowerPoint add-on by Microsoft, now in beta (not finalized).

What is PowerPoint Mix?

PowerPoint Mix is a PowerPoint-based tool for creating interactive online lessons. The basic process is simple:

  1. You create slides and can record audio and video.
  2. You can add quizzes.
  3. You upload the final result to the Mix website and share it with anyone you want, such as your students. You can even export Mix to a SCORM-compliant format.
  4. You get statistics about who watched the Mix as well as quiz scores.

How to get started


Create handouts for data-heavy decision meetings

One of the most common uses of PowerPoint is to present data that will be used to make a decision at a meeting. A good example is a market research team presenting to marketing executives. Some of the important issues in a meeting like this are to:

  • Tailor the presentation to the audience’s level of expertise
  • Distill the data to the important conclusions
  • Create clear slides in spite of the complexity of the material
  • Provide detailed data when requested without confusing the message

How do you provide detailed data without confusing the message — and putting so much on a slide that it’s impossible to read and understand?

It’s common to print out the slides because of the amount of data they contain. This does make them more readable — people can look at them up close — but they are still overly complicated. Such slides often hide the important point. It can be hard to see the forest for the trees.

In “The flipped presentation,” I talk about a way to put additional content in the Notes pane and print out Notes pages as handouts instead of just slides.

But there’s a problem with that


Office Clip Art gallery is going away

According to the Microsoft Office blog, the Office Clip Art gallery is going away.

I’m very upset by this, because I use its photos daily. While much commentary (include a funny riff by Conan on TV) focus on the line art, the text of the blog post makes it clear that photos will also disappear.powerpoint-tips-cli-art-gallery-going-away-1

When? I don’t know. The blog post makes it sounds as if it’s already gone, but I’m still seeing all of the clip art — both photos and line art. How about you?

Also, the post says, “Customers can still add images to their documents, presentations, and other files that they have saved to their devices.” Maybe the Clip Art gallery will continue on as long as you use an existing presentation. I wonder if you could take an existing presentation, choose File, Save As to make a copy, and still have the Clip Art gallery. I’m checking with Microsoft directly and will let you know what I hear.

What about Bing search?

The blog post says that you can add images using Bing Image Search. It adds:

Bing Image Search uses a copyright filter based on the Creative Commons licensing system.  The results that are returned are images that have been tagged with Creative Commons licenses.  A link to the source of the image is provided, which you should use to review the source of the image and the applicable license to determine whether your use will comply with the license.

If you have PowerPoint 2013, try it yourself to verify what I’m saying. Here are the steps:

  • Choose Insert, Online Pictures.
  • In the Bing Image Search box, enter a keyword.
  • Click an image.  Note the size of the image, because some of them too small to put on a slide.
  • At the bottom, click the link to the source of the image.
  • Click Insert.
  • Go to your browser where the link opened and check it out.

Why online search is NOT a good substitute for the Clip Art gallery

Here are my reasons:

Happy New Year! What are your goals for 2015?

Here’s my New Year’s card to you. It highlights photos I’ve taken during all 4 seasons, from New York, to Florida, to Iowa and Nebraska. I hope you enjoy it!

I have big plans for 2015 — a weekly 15-minute webinar series, a new/old e-book, and more. How about you? Leave a comment!

Link text to an Excel cell to dynamically update data

Sudeep wrote me, “I need some help to update a slide containing a map with certain districts. I have the monthly sales turnover for these districts. In need to update them monthly from an Excel sheet. Can you suggest a way to automate the  process without having to punch it in a text box every month?

Sudeep doesn’t want to create an entire table of data. Instead, he wants individual text boxes that appear on the map. Each one should be linked to an Excel cell.

Here’s an example of what such a slide might look like.


One solution: Copy and Paste Link


Presentation design trends

 Mike Parkinson is an internationally recognized visual communication and presentation expert, trainer, and award-winning author. Over the last 22 years, he created thousands of presentations that results in improved success rates for his clients.  Mike owns a creative services firm, 24 Hour Company (, authored a successful visual communication book (Do-It-Yourself Billion Dollar Graphics), and launched Get My Graphic ( that helps consultants, organizations and agencies achieve their training, education and sales goals with visual communication and proven communication techniques. Contact Mike at is a guest post by Mike Parkinson.  Mike is an internationally recognized visual communication and presentation expert, trainer, and award-winning author. Over the last 22 years, he created thousands of presentations that results in improved success rates for his clients. He owns a creative services firm, 24 Hour Company, authored a successful visual communication book (Do-It-Yourself Billion Dollar Graphics), and launched Get My Graphic that helps consultants, organizations and agencies achieve their training, education and sales goals with visual communication and proven communication techniques. Contact Mike at [email protected].

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Change is inevitable. Over the last decade, the presentations we produce, the tools and processes we use, and the industry have evolved. Specifically, presentation graphics and methods for making them are changing. As with all change, some will stay with us (the Internet) and others are merely a fad (pet rocks). The following are current presentation design trends:

  1. Infographics
  2. Flat Design
  3. Photographs
  4. Visual Metaphors

Let’s determine if they are here to stay.

 1. Infographics


Graphic courtesy of 24 Hour Company (

The ubiquity of infographics has spilled into the presentation industry. It is important to note that the strictest definition of an infographic is any graphic that clarifies or explains. Recently, the term infographic has become synonymous with a specific style of graphic (and not a definition), rendered as an aesthetically simple and flat image using quantitative data to educate and persuade.

A successful infographic requires its content and messages to be clear and concise so the final graphic is simple and easy to follow. Unfortunately, many presentation infographics I have seen are cluttered and confusing. The message is unclear and text has been replaced with a smattering of ambiguous icons and symbols.

Use infographics sparingly in your presentations. Do them well or don’t do them at all. Start with a simple message. All content must support this message. Use icons your audience will recognize. Images should complement and highlight your content and not distract or muddle your idea. Infographics work best when quantitative evidence tells a clear, compelling story. The push to get to the point and provide (quantitative and qualitative) proof is here to stay. However, the current infographic style is a trend. As with all aesthetic trends, it will evolve over time.

2. Flat Design

Flat design is seen as the modern graphic style due to the popularity of small electronic devices. To improve content legibility on hand-held devices, artistic embellishments such as highlights, depth, and shadows were eliminated.

The opposite of flat design is realism (skeuomorphism).


Graphic courtesy of Get My Graphic (


Both styles have pros and cons. For example, flat graphics are associated with newer design; therefore, applying this style subconsciously conveys the message that your company and solution are modern and innovative. Because of its plainness, flat design is often less expensive and time-consuming to produce. On the other hand, flat design can oversimplify or under explain critical pieces of information. Flat graphics limit aesthetic choices, making it difficult to highlight important or subtle concepts. Skeuomorphism can communicate the authenticity of your solution. Because realistic visuals are often considered more labor intensive and superior than simple designs, using this style can improve the perceived quality of your company and solution as well as demonstrate your commitment to the project.

There is a time and a place for both flat and realistic graphics. With a skilled designer, you can mix both into one template to reap the benefits of each style. For example, you could use flat icons with realistic graphics within your slide deck. Be sure that your decision to choose flat and/or realistic graphics is driven by objective goals (e.g., legibility, customer perception/preference, messaging, or brand standards).

3. Photographs

It is common to see a slide with a single photograph and minimal—if any—text. Using a single image to reinforce or replace content places more emphasis on emotional factors. Less textual content (e.g., bullets, sentences, paragraphs) also forces audiences to turn their attention to the presenter.



Slide courtesy of Fotolia (


Dominant photographs are here to stay for three reasons:

  1. Focus is on the presenter to provide the narrative.
  2. Pictures tell stories. Stories are one of the most powerful presentation techniques because stories are felt not heard.
  3. It is a relatively inexpensive, easy approach to slide design.

The style of the photographs, placement and cropping will evolve with stylistic trends of the time. (Because this aesthetic approach does not work well for technical information, expect related slides to be text and graphic-based.)

4. Visual Metaphors

Using a visual metaphor, simile or analogy helps the audience understand complex information. For example, explaining a transition plan to an audience unfamiliar with the concept can be challenging. A visual metaphor, such as a bridge, improves understanding because it is a familiar concept that shares characteristics with a transition plan (see graphic below). Explaining a complex idea through a visual will improve retention and adoption rates.

visual metaphot-bridge

Slide courtesy of Get My Graphic (


Popular books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational help presenters apply behavioral psychology and learning theory to evolve best practices in our industry. We will see more sophisticated visual metaphors, similes and analogies as presentation design matures.


Because they are stylistic trends, expect the popularity of infographics and flat design to wane over time. However, these graphic styles will continue to influence future presentation trends.

Presenters will continue to use sophisticated photographs, images, icons, and graphics. Sites like Get My Graphic (, Fotolia ( and iStockPhoto ( make it easier to add professional clear, compelling graphics and photographs to slides. The more these approaches are proven effective, the more presenters will employ them to create successful presentations.


What presentation design trends are you seeing these days? In your opinion, which will stay and which will pass?

Annoying animation–don’t make people wait for the text to appear!

Your audience doesn’t want to wait for text on the slide to appear!

I don’t mean each line of text coming in separately. There’s certainly controversy about that and I suggest that you make a choice based on your needs and your audience.

I’m talking about text that fades in, wipes in, flies in, etc. While that animation is happening, your audience has to wait until the text is readable. It’s annoying!

Watch this 15-second video as an example of annoying animation. Notice that even the slide titles fade in over a 2-second period. Then the slide text wipes in from left and from the top.

Of course, the less text, the better. But I often see even slide titles animated. Really, you don’t need any animation for slide titles — at all.

Removing animation on lots of slides can be time consuming. Display the Animations tab. On each slider, click an object, and choose None on the Animation gallery. Alternatively, click Animation Pane to display the pane, choose the animation there,  click the down arrow to the right, and choose Remove.

If you have a presentation with too much animation, you can nuke it when you present. Go to the View tab and choose Set Up Slide Show. In the Set Up Show dialog box, check the Show Without Animation checkbox and click OK.

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How do you feel about animated text? Leave a comment!

Customize the colors in your slide master

I see lots of messy presentations when I work with my clients. (That’s why they come to me for help.) One of the areas that is often a disaster is the slide master. Some of the things I see are:

  • powerpoint-tips-customize-colors-4Multiple slide masters caused by copying and pasting slides from other presentations and choosing the Keep Source Formatting option
  • Objects put on the slide master so that they appear on slides that shouldn’t have them, which are then covered up on the slide
  • The opposite–objects that should be put on the slide master put on every individual slide — or many of them — making the file huge
  • Lack of the needed custom layouts in the slide master, requiring manual adjustments on many slides

Colors are an easy fix and will save you time

But one problem that I almost always see is that the slide masters use the default colors — colors that are not used in the presentation — and this means that the colors of objects need to be manually changed on each slide. These objects include shapes, charts, SmartArt diagrams, and more.

Once you have the colors you need, creating slides will be much quicker and they’ll look better, too.

Here’s the procedure for customizing colors in PowerPoint by setting your theme’s color to the colors you actually want to use.

Decide on your colors.  If you don’t have colors from other materials, such as your website, read “Find colors for your PowerPoint theme colors.” Also see “Copying colors from a website.

In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click the Design tab and choose Colors. In PowerPoint 2013, click the View tab, then click Slide Master and then choose Colors.

At the bottom of the list, choose Customize Colors. If you aren’t particular about your colors — you don’t have exact specifications, you can choose one of the options on the list that is similar to what you want and then choose Customize Colors. the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, type a name for your theme colors at the bottom. The first 4 colors are dark and light options for text and background. Often, you can leave these as is — PowerPoint uses them to make sure that your text is always a good contrast against your slide background.

The last 2 items are for hyperlinks and followed hyperlinks. PowerPoint uses them when you add a hyperlink to text. I rarely hyperlink text — I prefer to hyperlink shapes and put the text on the shapes because I don’t like the look of the underlined text. So I usually just change Accents 1 through 6. These are your main colors for shapes, charts, etc.

Click each of the accent colors in turn and choose More Colors. In the Colors dialog box, click the Custom tab if it isn’t displayed. The custom tab is where you can specify Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color specifications.


Type the Red, Green and Blue numbers (they can be from 0 to 255) in the appropriate text boxes. You’ll see the resulting color under the New label. Click OK.

Back in the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, click Save. (To edit existing theme colors, right-click the set from the Colors drop-down list on the ribbon and choose Edit. This opens the Edit Theme Colors dialog box, which is the same as the Create New Theme Colors dialog box.)

In PowerPoint 2013, on the Slide Master tab, click the Close Master View button.

You’ll probably want to save the result as a theme, especially if you’ve made other changes to the slide master. On the Design tab, click the More button at the right side of the Themes gallery and choose Save Current Theme. In the dialog box, type a name and click Save. Your new theme will now be available on the Design tab in the Custom section.

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How do you make sure that you easily have the colors you need? Leave a comment!


How to copy a PowerPoint slide to Microsoft Word

Recently I received this question: How can I copy a slide in PowerPoint to Word?

The answer to the question depends on how you want  it to look in Word. you want just the text

 If you want just the text of a slide, you can just copy and paste from PowerPoint to Word.
Note: There are easier techniques for when you want to copy the text of an entire presentation. See “Export all presentation text.”  Be sure to read the comments as they include additional techniques from my very bright readers!

If you want a picture of the slide

Sometimes you want to use the entire slide as an image inside a Word document. I do this when I repurpose a webinar as an e-book. To export a slide as a picture, follow these steps:
  1. Choose File> Save As and choose one of the image options on the Save as Type drop-down list in the Save As dialog box, such as PNG or JPG.
  2. Click Save.
  3. You’ll see a dialog box asking which slides you want to export —  all the slides or just the current one.  Choose the Just This One option to export just the current slide.

If you want a picture of some of the objects on the slide

You don’t have to turn the entire slide into a picture. Instead, follow these steps:
  1. Select just the objects that you want.
  2. Place the cursor over one of the selected objects (you’ll see a 4-headed arrow), right-click, and choose Save as Picture.
  3. In the dialog box, navigate to the desired location, give the image a name, and click Save.
I use this technique all the time. In fact, it’s how I created the image for this blog post — and how I create the images for most of my blog posts.

down-red-arrowsHow do you transfer content from PowerPoint to Word or to any other application? Leave a comment or a question!