Handouts for data-heavy presentations

woman using smartphoneNot all presentations can be full of photos. Sometimes, you need to present data — lots of it. While I do think that presenters sometimes dump more than necessary on their audience, consider this scenario.

The setting

You’re a market research associate. A product marketing manager asks you to research demographics for people in the United States who read email on their phone, tablet, PC and anything else. In other words, something like this:

In the Northeast, how many boys aged 13-17 read email on their phone, tablet, PC, other? How many girls? And the same for 18-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-74, 75 and up? And the same for the other areas of the country.

Let’s say they want to create different ads in different markets showing people using their email software and want the models in the ads to be using the device that’s most prevalent for that market. So ads directed towards women in the South who are 30-39 might be different from ads directed towards men on the West coast who are 18-24.

The manager wants the data. But he/she wants you to present it. Explain what it means. Say how you got it. And several other people from the product group will be there, so it’s a meeting, not just a one-on-one discussion.

The data

The data is really just a big spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is too big to fit on a slide that will be projected on a wall and still be readable. But you want to create slides because you have some conclusions and thoughts to add. And the manager expects you to have slides for the meeting.

You’re going to have to create printed handouts or electronic handouts that people can view on their own devices, close up. Yes, you’ll have slides, but you’ll supplement them with handouts.

Solution 1: Use Notes pages

You can put some of the data in the Notes pane. (Click the Notes button if you don’t see the pane.) Then you can print the Notes pages either to paper or to a PDF file.

You can put any text you want in the Notes pane, but formatting data is difficult. Using tabs, you can create a table. You can also copy data from Excel and paste it into the Notes pane. Use the Text paste option to keep the table properly formatted.


You can’t put a chart or image in the Notes pane — just text.

Solution 2: Send to Word

powerpoint-tips-handouts-data-heavy-presentations-3For more flexibility, you can create your handout by sending the presentation to Microsoft Word. Follow these steps:

  1. In PowerPoint 2013, choose File, Export, Create Handouts and click the Create Handouts button. In 2010, choose File> Save & Send> Create Handouts> Create Handouts.  In PowerPoint 2007, choose Application button> Publish> Create Handouts in Microsoft Office Word.
  2. In the Send to Microsoft Word dialog box, choose Notes below Slides. That gives you the most room for your data.
  3. Click OK.

You can now copy and paste data easily from Excel to Word. The result is a table that you can format as you want. Here I left the default formatting.

Solution 3: Use letter-sized slides

Another solution — one that many people don’t think of — is best for when you won’t be projecting slides at all. It isn’t uncommon for slides to be printed only — never projected. If this situation applies to you, you’ll love this solution — use a letter-sized slide. You’ll get the best results if you don’t change slide size midstream and start with the desired size — but if you already have your smaller slides, go ahead and give it a try.

I wrote about this in another post, “Do you present with printed slides?

When you are printing your slides, you can make the text smaller, since people are looking at the slides close up. Even so, don’t squeeze too much on a slide; you want people to get your point quickly.

To set the slide size, click the Design tab. In PowerPoint 2013, choose Slide Size, Custom Slide Size. In PowerPoint 2007 or PowerPoint 2010, in the Page Setup group on the left, click Page Setup.

In the Slide Size or Page Setup dialog box, choose Letter Paper from the drop-down list. Then under Orientation, you would usually choose Portrait for the slides. Click OK.

In PowerPoint 2013, if you aren’t starting from scratch, you’ll get an option for how to resize existing content:

  • Maximize: Keeps your content the maximum possible size. In case you’re making your slides smaller, this ensures that they don’t get squished.
  • Ensure Fit: Resizes objects if necessary to fit them on a slide.

When you have a larger slide, you can easily fit more on it — using PowerPoint’s charting tools, table tools, etc.  — without crowding.

down-red-arrowsHow do you deal with data-heavy presentations? Leave a comment! If you found this post useful, please use the share buttons below to let others know about it.

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

Don’t use placeholders for images, unless…

powerpoint-tips-dont-use-picture-placeholders-2I was working on a client’s presentation and she used content placeholders for all of her pictures.  She would click the Picture icon in the content placeholder to insert the image. Then she would resize and move the placeholder to get the result she wanted because the placeholder was never the right size.

But whenever I reset the layout, PowerPoint would do weird things with the image, resizing it or moving it. I talk about resetting a slide’s layout in this post, “Resetting a slide: A quick fix for awful slides.”

Part of the reason for the constant resizing has to do with how PowerPoint handles images in content placeholders. Fellow PowerPoint MVP, Echo Swinford, explains this masterfully in her post, “Picture placeholders vs. content placeholders.”

So when I need to create a slide that is unique and ensure that the image won’t be cropped and will be the size I want, I just don’t use a placeholder at all. For most slides with a large image, I use the Title Only layout. I type the title and choose Insert tab, Pictures to insert the picture I need. For example, this slide uses the Title Only layout. Here I’ve resized the title placeholder so that the title doesn’t overlap the image.


After I insert the image, I’ll crop it, resize it, and move it. I don’t have to worry about placeholder rules.

… unless you need consistency of size and placement

However, if you need images to be in the same place on each slide and you want them a consistent size, you might consider using placeholders, especially in a custom layout. For instructions, see my post, “Create a custom layout.”

An example would be a company product catalog that sales reps use. You would want the images on each slide to be treated similarly, and a placeholder would help. Read Echo’s post carefully to help you choose the right type of placeholder for your needs.

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

Create a vignette effect to make a photo more powerful

A vignette effect on a photo typically places a dark, semi-transparent border around it. There are other possible variations, such as a light border, but dark is more common. Designers use this effect to make the center of the image stand out. Here you see a photo with and without a vignette.

powerpoint-tips-vignette-effect-photo-1  powerpoint-tips-vignette-effect-photo-2

Can you see how the vignette effect intensifies the center of the photo and therefore makes the man’s dismay feel more powerful?

You can create a vignette effect in a few ways in PowerPoint but here is an easy technique. Read more! →

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

Create a table from Excel data in PowerPoint

Recently, a subscriber asked me about how to put a table of data from Excel on a slide. You can do this in a couple of ways.

powerpoint-tips-excel-table-on-slide-1 First, think about whether the data will be readable if it will be projected on a screen. Also consider whether the data lends itself to a graph, because graphs can be easier to understand. If you have too much data to fit on a slide, here are 2 options:

  • Divide it up onto multiple slides
  • Provide it as a handout, either printed or electronic

Copy into a PowerPoint table

powerpoint-tips-excel-table-on-slide-2PowerPoint’s tables offer you lots of options for design and layout. If you want the table to look polished, use this option. An easy way to start is with the Title & Content layout. Then click the Insert Table icon in the middle of the slide. You’ll see the small Insert Table dialog box.

Go back to your Excel data and count the number of columns and rows you need, including the row and/or column headers. This is also the time to select the table and copy it to the Clipboard. Then return to PowerPoint and complete the dialog box. Click OK to insert the table.

You now see a default table on the slide and the Table Tools Design and Layout tabs appear, as you see here. Read more! →

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

Create a quiz in PowerPoint

Did you know that you can create a quiz in PowerPoint? You can create a simple quiz in PowerPoint using just hyperlinks. It’s simple because it doesn’t require any programming and you can’t grade it.

Students take the quiz in Slide Show view. When they choose the wrong answer, they go back to the question to try again. When they choose the right answer, they go to the next question.

Create the slidespowerpoint-tips-simple-quiz-1

Start with a title slide that explains the topic and includes instructions, as you see here. That Next button at the bottom right is a hyperlink–I’ll discuss the hyperlinks in the next section.

Create your first question slide. You can format this in any way you want. You can use the Title & Content layout and put the question in the Title. The Content section contains the answers. Type them and then convert the bulleted text to SmartArt. Finally, ungroup the SmartArt (twice). But you can also use the Title Only layout and manually insert shapes with the answers.

What’s important is that you use shapes with text in them because you want to add the hyperlinks to the shapes, not to the text. I recommend 3 or 4 answers–obviously one is correct and the rest are not. Here’s an example question slide. Read more! →

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

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.

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

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


If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

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:http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/flipped-presentation/

  • 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


If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

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. (Update: Nope. It’s gone.)

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:

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!

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!

If you found this useful, please use the buttons below to share it!