I have a client whose organization requires a watermark logo on every slide. It’s awful and he knows it.
So he cheats. (I’m keeping his name private so he won’t get into trouble.)
Instead of using the given background which includes the watermark, he reproduced the background — a simple gradient — without the watermark. Then he adds the watermark to the slide master. It’s there, but as a separate image.
Then, on any slide where the watermark interferes with clarity, he hides the background graphic.
You can do this with any type of graphic that you might want on some slides but not on others. Here, you can see that the blue shape on the left looks fine for the first 2 slides, but not on the 3rd slide.
As long as the graphic you’re trying to hide is on the slide master, you can hide it. So, for the 3rd slide, you can hide that blue shape. Here are the steps:
- On any slide, right-click and choose Format Background.
- In the Format Background dialog box or task pane, check the Hide Background Graphics check box.
That’s all there is to it! Here’s the slide with and without the blue shape. When you use big graphics that go to the edge of the slide, many background graphics just look clunky. So, get rid of it!
Do you use this feature of PowerPoint? Leave a comment!
Sometimes, you need to fine-tune charts, because they just don’t look right. One situation I saw recently was the horizontal chart axis not appearing in the right location. I needed to create a chart from this data for a client:
|Systolic blood pressure
|Diastolic blood pressure
Here’s what the datasheet looks like. (Did you know that PowerPoint 2013 brought back the datasheet from PowerPoint 2003?) The data starts in cell A2 because it doesn’t have any header labels. Read more! →
I just gave a webinar on upgrading to PowerPoint 2013, explaining all the new features and how to use them. During the webinar, I discussed 2 features that I realized are so hard to find that I really should share them with everyone.
Find only photos
In PowerPoint 2010 and earlier, when you chose Insert > Clip Art, you could specify that you wanted only photographs. You did that in the Clip Art task pane from the Results Should Be drop-down list, as you see here.
But in PowerPoint 2013, you choose Insert> Online Pictures and get a dialog box instead. (It’s funny– in PowerPoint 2013, the Format Shape dialog box became the Format Shape task pane, but the Clip Art task pane became the the Insert Pictures dialog box.)
There’s no place to screen out line art (clip art).
Instead, you can just type the word photo in the search box. That does the trick! (Thanks to Steve Rindsberg, a fellow PowerPoint MVP, for discovering this! You can find a world of PowerPoint resources at his website.)
Pick up a color from anywhere on your screen
PowerPoint 2013 has a new eyedropper, which lets you pick up a color and apply it to an object, let’s say a rectangle‘s fill. But while it’s easy to do this within the slide pane, when you move the cursor outside the pane or outside the PowerPoint window, you lose the eyedropper cursor and it doesn’t work.
The trick here is to click and hold the mouse button as you move the cursor outside the slide pane.
You can find the eyedropper in a number of places where you can apply color. An obvious place is by going to the Format tab, then choosing Shape Fill.
When you click the Eyedropper item, keep holding down the mouse button as you drag off the slide pane until you get to the color you want–anywhere on your computer’s screen. Then release the mouse button.
Presto! Your shape is filled with the new color!
Do you have any secret PowerPoint 2013 tips? Leave a comment!
I recently did the second of two free webinars for the good folks at Training Magazine Network. The recording is now available…and still free, of course!
The topic is a timely one: How to Turn Your Organization’s Leaders Into Powerful Presenters.
In surveys, employers consistently say that verbal communication is the most important skill they want in their employees. For internal meetings and sales, presentation skills are essential. But how do you train employees to improve these skills?
In this video
, you’ll get a syllabus for teaching presentation skills to the presenters in your company. You’ll learn why Death by PowerPoint is no longer acceptable and how you can lead the presenters in your organization to greater levels of accomplishment. What you learn may even increase sales in your company!
In my earlier post, “Anatomy of a custom graphic,” I described a technique for blending images using transparency. In my newsletter, I announced a contest for the best use of that technique.
(If you want to know about contests to get free products, sign up for my newsletter at the right!)
Here are the 2 winners.
Penny Whiteside of Farmers Insurance created a cool blend of 2 graphics for her slide. Can you see how the car is semi-transparent?
Nancy Ellefson of the State of Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency created a slide with 3 layers to “sandwich” the frog inside the glass.
There really is no limit to what you can do! Congratulations to both winners, who will get the e-book of their choice from my estore.
I hear it all the time. It usually comes from people in the Communications or Marketing department. They’ve been reading this blog — and others — about how to create powerful, persuasive presentations. But executives at their organization are comfortable with the old way of using the slide as a teleprompter, even though the audience hates it!
How do you convince executives that they are hurting themselves when they present? And that their sales reps and internal presenters are also having a damaging effect?
Point to recent failures
Keep an eye out for failures that might be related to poor presentation skills. Examples would be lost sales and potential clients saying, “Don’t bring the deck.” Perhaps there have been internal snafus or wrong decisions made because of poor communication. Remember here that presenting isn’t about PowerPoint — that’s just one aspect of it. Presenters also need to
- Learn how to organize their content clearly
- Focus on what the audience needs and wants
- Speak at a level appropriate for their audience
Explain the research
There is SO much research on what makes an effective presentation. A book that puts most of it together is Speaking PowerPoint, by Bruce Gabrielle. Although I disagree with some of Bruce’s conclusions, I return to his book regularly for the research that he documents.
I have a handout called “How to Use PowerPoint for Best Educational Outcomes,” that lists a good deal of research at the end. (Note: it requires registration.)
Show before and after examples
When executives see what’s possible, they may like it! For example, if they see the above alide turned into these slides, they may agree to try the new way of presenting.
Find examples of great presentations
TED talks, recordings from industry conferences, and so on are all ways to show executives what others (and maybe their competitors) are doing. Sometimes, you can find free webinar recordings online. For example, the webinar I did for PresentationXpert is available on YouTube here. This is about 1-1/4 hours of free training.
Don’t give up!
Above all, stick to your principles and continue to make your point. Eventually, they’ll get it.
I’ve always thought that persuasion and emotion were best left to sales and proposal presentations. After all, in an instructional setting, isn’t persuasion like propaganda? But in my course, High-Persuasion PowerPoint Presentation Program, I’m discovering that I was wrong. Actually, a couple of my students have taught me this.
Imagine that you are training employees in a factory to follow certain procedures. If the employees don’t follow these procedures, your company’s customers may get hurt. Your company may get sued. So there’s a lot on the line.
But employees seem to forget or not care. Either way, they aren’t always following the procedures.
How do you react? Are supervisors yelling at employees and threatening to fire them?
It’s clear to me that this method isn’t effective. If you’re getting to the point where you have to yell at people on a PowerPoint slide, you need to rethink your approach.
Instead, you can use emotion and persuasion. Humor can also have a place.
Instead of yelling, use emotion to hit home. You can create slides that are very powerful in this way.
Here are two possible slides.
But be sure to positively reinforce good behavior. Mention employees who follow the rules in meetings and the company newsletter. If any employee goes out of his or her way to keep customers safe (perhaps by finding and reporting a dangerous situation), give that employee special mention, even a prize.
Recently I did some slide makeovers for a client, a medical researcher. He was giving a presentation on epigenetics to the general public called, “Mind over DNA: Transforming Your DNA from the Inside-Out.”
I needed a striking graphic for the first slide that combined the concept of the mind with an image of DNA. I certainly wasn’t going to find it, so I knew I had to create a custom image.
I started with an image that I’ve used before. You can find it by searching for “brain.”
Next, I removed the black background using the Remove Background feature that’s available in PowerPoint 2010 and later. Because this image contains black within the body, if you try the simpler Set Transparent Color method, you end up with holes in the image.
Next, I looked for a DNA image. I found a clear one and inserted it. This image is a WMF file, which means that I can convert it to PowerPoint objects.
To convert the DNA image, you ungroup it. I had to ungroup it 3 times to get it down to its basic components. See the blue background? Once everything was all ungrouped, I was able to select and delete the blue background–after a couple of tries. Then I selected everything and grouped it back up.
The DNA isn’t long enough, so I duplicated the image To put the two DNA images, I needed to change the orientation of the duplicate. To do that I selected it, clicked the Format tab, and chose Rotate, Flip Vertical and then Flip Horizontal. Then I put the duplicate above the original, overlapping them. It wasn’t perfect, but didn’t need to be. Here’s the result.
I wanted to put one image on top of the other so I needed to make the brain image semi-transparent. You can’t make an image semi-transparent, so you need to use a cool trick. Here’s how it works:
- Right-click the image and choose Save as Picture. Save it in PNG or JPG format. (In the past, you needed to use PNG to get transparency, but no longer. I tried this with both formats and it worked.)
- Insert a rectangle. You want the rectangle to be the same proportion as the image. One way to judge that is to drag the rectangle over the image.
- On the Format tab, choose Shape Outline, No Outline.
- Then choose Shape Fill, Picture. Select the image you just saved. The rectangle now looks just like the image but PowerPoint treats it differently because it’s really a rectangle with a picture fill.
- Right-click the picture-filled rectangle and choose Format Shape. Use the Transparency slider to set the transparency to about 50%.
You can delete the original image at this point.
Resize the second image as necessary. I made it taller by dragging down the bottom handle. Usually, you shouldn’t distort an image, but in this case the DNA is really just a schematic and you can adjust its height.
Move the second image under the first one. If the semi-transparent image isn’t on top, right-click and choose Bring to Front. Here’s the actual slide that Dr. Schneider used..
Any time you have 3 or more similar objects on a slide, you may want to make them equidistant.
PowerPoint offers 3 separate ways to create equidistant objects.
1. Duplicate, place, duplicate
This method is so easy, yet many people don’t know about it. I used it for the above slide. Here are the steps:
- Create an object.
- Select the object and press Ctrl + D. PowerPoint duplicates the original object and offsets the 2nd object slightly in both the X and Y directions.
- Move the 2nd object into place by dragging it or using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Make sure you get it exactly the way you want it. Don’t do any other action on the slide.
- Press Ctrl + D again as many times as you want. PowerPoint remembers the distance and direction between the first 2 objects and creates a perfect line of objects for you!
2. Distribute horizontally or vertically
If you already have the objects created but they are not equidistant, you can use this method. Follow these steps:
- Select all of the objects. To select multiple objects, click and drag a selection box around them or click one, then press Ctrl or Shift as you click the rest.
- On the Format tab, click Align in the Arrange group and then choose Distribute Horizontally or Distribute Vertically, depending on your needs.
3. Use Equidistance markers in PowerPoint 2013
A new feature in PowerPoint 2013 is equidistance markers. PowerPoint 2010 has alignment markers, but not equidistance markers. Here’s how equidistance markers work:
- Create 3 objects.
- Set the distance of the 1st two objects by moving the 2nd object to the desired location.
- To make the 3rd object equidistant to the 1st two, drag it until you see the equidistance markers.
Now you have no more excuses for sloppy slides with objects that aren’t exactly equidistant!