Create your own graphics with bursts and stars

Do you need to create striking graphics for company newsletters, blog posts, posters, training materials, and so on?

A nice way to do this is with one of the burst  or star shapes. Here you see an example.

Get everything done burst

This is easy to create:

Sync animation with a video or audio

Have you ever wanted to sync animation with a video or audio file so that the animation happens at a specified point?

Starting with PowerPoint 2010, you can add bookmarks to video or audio files. You can use a bookmark to quickly go to a specific location in the file but the real fun is when you use bookmarks to trigger animation.

In this short presentation, I added video of me speaking to the left side of the slide and on 2 slides, synced animation so that it appeared at a specific point — a bookmark that I set — in the video.

Watch it here — it’s only 2 minutes long.  You’ll see animation on the 1st and 3rd slides. Note: The event I’m talking about started in the beginning of April, so I’m not trying to sign you up!

Add the bookmarks

Here are the steps for adding the bookmarks:

  1. Record the video and insert it by choosing Insert tab,   Video, Video on my PC/Video from File.
  2. Create the objects that you want to animate.
  3. Listen to the video again and figure out at which point you want to trigger the animation.
  4. Select the video on the slide and click the Video Tools Playback tab.
  5. Click the video’s Play button to play the video. At the point where you want the first animation to start, click the Pause button.
  6. Click the Add Bookmark button on the Playback tab.
  7. Continue to add bookmarks as the video plays until you’re done.

Add the animation

The next step is to add the animation and you do that in the normal way.  That is:

  1. Select the object.
  2. Click the Animations tab.
  3. Click the Add Animation button and choose an animation.
  4. Add any other settings that you need, but you don’t need to change the Start setting. The trigger will take care of that.
  5. Continue to add the animation to all of the objects.

Set the trigger

The final phase is to set the trigger, in this case, the video bookmarks. Here are the steps:powerpoint-tips-sync-animation-with-video-audio--1

  1. If not already open, open the Animation pane by clicking Animation pane on the Animations tab.
  2. In the pane, select the animation that you want to trigger by the first bookmark. For example, if you want the first bookmark to trigger an animation that makes a shape appear, select the listing of that animation in the Animation pane.
  3. Click the Down arrow to the right of the animation and choose Timing. Tip: If you want more than one animation to be triggered at once, select multiple animations in the Animation pane.
  4. The dialog box for the settings of the animation you created opens. For example, if you create a Fade animation, you now see the Fade dialog box. The Timing tab is on top. Click Triggers.
  5. Choose the Start Effect on Play Of option. From the drop-do9wn list,  choose the first bookmark and click OK.


  1. Continue with the rest of the animations and bookmarks.

Tip: Use the Selection pane (Home tab, Editing group, Select, Selection Pane) and rename the objects so that you can easily recognize them in the Animation pane. Also, if your video file’s name is long, you won’t be able to see the full name of the bookmarks, so you can shorten that in the Selection pane as well.

Always test your animation. Once you get it right, the look is quite magical!

Can you think of a way to use this technique? Leave a comment!


Format multiple headshots for consistency

Sometimes you need to show a head shot of several people, such as a departmental team or the presenters for a presentation.  The problem is that you ask them for a head shot and they all look different, like this. What are you going to do?


Don’t just resize them to make them the same size. Instead, you need to crop them so that they include approximately the same view, the same amount of head, shoulders, and body.

Here’s the result after cropping.

Use black & white textured background images for infinite flexibility

A nice background is a texture that isn’t too striking. It provides some interest without distracting from your content. Whether you want to find one texture and use it a lot or you want to create a variety of backgrounds, a black & white texture can give you lots of flexibility.

full-slide-texturesThat’s because you can add a semi-transparent rectangle of any color on top of it. Or director “colorize” the image itself.

These textures make your slide look artistic and hand-made and were created by fellow PowerPoint MVP Geetesh Bajaj. They’re amazingly inexpensive and cost only $20! They come in both 4:3 (standard) and 16:9 (widescreen) versions.

This type of “grunge” look is very popular these days.

Click here to buy the set.

How to add a semi-transparent rectangle on top of the image

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Choose a textured background and insert it on your slide master — or even on an individual slide if you want. Just choose Insert> Picture(s). One nice thing about these images is that if they don’t fit exactly, you can resize them; they’re so abstract that no one will know!
  2. Right-click the image and choose Send to Back.
  3. Draw a rectangle, dragging it to cover the entire slide and image.
  4. Click the Format tab and choose Shape Outline, then No Outline. an outline will ruin the effect!
  5. Right-click the rectangle and choose Format Shape.
  6. In the Fill category, drag the Transparency slider until you get the result that you want.
  7. Right-click the rectangle and choose Send to Back, Send Backward until it’s in front of the texture image but behind any text placeholders.
  8. Be sure to change the color of the text, if necessary, so that it’s legible.

Here the result using the default blue color in PowerPoint 2013 and a 64% transparency setting. I love how the dark gray blends with the blue to create a sophisticated blue-gray color! And all I have to do to change the color is select the rectangle and change its fill color! In fact, if you change the theme colors, the color will automatically adjust, as long as you choose one of the theme colors when you create the rectangle.


You can make the colored rectangle less transparent to show less of the texture and more of the color. It’s up to you. This one is 36% transparent, but it’s the same color as the previous example.


Colorize the textured image

  1. Choose a textured background and insert it on your slide master — or even on an individual slide if you want. Just choose Insert> Picture(s). One nice thing about these images is that if they don’t fit exactly, you can resize them; they’re so abstract that no one will know!
  2. Right-click the image and choose Send to Back.
  3. With the image selected, click the Format tab.
  4. Click the Color drop-down list in the Adjust group and choose one of the colors in the Recolor section.
  5. You can additionally change the brightness and contrast. To do so, click the Corrections drop-down and choose one of the options.

Here you see the textured image colorize with a gold color and brightened 40%.


I LOVE this look, don’t you?

You can purchase the full-slide textures here. (Note: this is an affiliate link.)

Create a quick texture background

Starting with PowerPoint 2010, you can use Artistic Effects to create some cool effects for your pictures. You can convert a shape to an image and then apply an effect to that image. You can use the texture as a slide background or as an object on your slide. Here’s an example.


Here’s how to create this texture:

  1. Insert a rectangle. You can drag it to cover the entire slide (or slide master) but you don’t have to — you can enlarge it later if you want. Unlike most images, textures are quite forgiving if you need to resize them because they’re so abstract.
  2. With the rectangle selected, click the Format tab and choose Shape Outline, No Outline.
  3. Copy the rectangle to the Clipboard.
  4. Right-click and choose Picture under the Paste Options. Alternatively, go to Home tab, Clipboard group and choose Picture from the Paste drop-down list. Now, instead of seeing the Drawing Tools Format tab, you have a Picture Tools Format tab and you can use tools that apply to images instead of shapes.
  5. On the Format tab, choose Artistic Effects and choose one of the options. I chose Pencil Grayscale for the above slide.

Here are some other changes you can make:

  • Change the color: On the Format tab, choose Color and choose an option from the Recolor section.
  • Soften: To mute the texture, choose Corrections. In the Sharpen/Soften section, choose the Soften: 50% option.
  • Lighten or darken: Choose Corrections and choose one of the options in the Brighten/Contrast section.

There are other possibilities as well; poke around the settings to see what gives you the effect you like. Here’s another slide that uses these settings.


I’m working with a colleague to get you a great price on a whole library of textures — I think you’ll love them!

Presenting = Communicating = Training

If you’re a trainer or teacher, the title of this blog post is an obvious statement for you.

But if you do more persuasive presentations, it may not be obvious.

powerpoint-tips-presenting-communicating-teachingAll training involves persuasion; my trainer clients taught me that, telling me in no uncertain terms that they need to persuade their trainees to pay attention and implement their training.

But the opposite is also true.  All persuasion includes training or teaching. After all, if you are trying to sell something, you need to inform your audience about the benefits they will get. If you’re trying to get approval for a proposal, you need to convey its value. No presenting happens without teaching or training. You might call it informing.

When I give webinars, I have a lot of trainers in my audience. I once asked why, since I don”t think that trainers  make up the largest segment of presenters as a whole. They told me, “We’re trainers. We love to learn!”

I think that’s why so many of my clients are trainers.

Trainers are very invested in the success of their students, so they go out of their way to present in an engaging way. In fact, often their trainees are not in the audience by choice. Some trainers need to teach boring subjects, such as legal regulations.  This forces them to use stories, graphics, and interactivity to keep the attention of the trainees.

The value of getting training

Some business presenters who are not trainers think of presenting as an off-the-cuff activity that doesn’t require much knowledge or preparation. They do themselves an injustice, because they could

  • Make a bigger impact
  • Get better results
  • Even change the world a bit

In my experience, getting training is transformative for presenters.  That’s why I train. Occasionally I do slide makeovers but I prefer to teach people to do their own. It’s like the difference between giving someone a fish and teaching a person to fish. I love training because people are so happy with the result. They not only like the slides–and maybe their reorganized, rewritten content– they feel much more self-confident when they present.

In fact it’s hard for me to do makeovers of content and organization on my own because this must be a collaborative effort. After all, only the presenter knows what content needs to be conveyed. So working together in a trainer-trainee  relationship is most productive.

My clients who are not trainers get the value of training. They are managers (often executives), sales people, entrepreneurs,  and thought leaders. They want to make a bigger impact, get better results, and maybe even change the world.

How about you? Have you had training for your presentations? What was the result? Leave a comment!

Create a video zoom effect from photos in PowerPoint

You’ve probably seen videos which are just a series of photos that zoom in or perhaps move a little. You can create this in MovieMaker or a similar low-end video editor but you can also do it in PowerPoint. It isn’t difficult at all, since you’ll cycle among only a couple of animation and transition effects. You can then output it as a video. It’s great for personal photos, employee photos, event photos, etc. Here’s the video I created from some photos I took at a local park last fall.

So let’s get started creating this video!

Import, resize and place the images

Results of Extreme Shapes contest!

A few weeks ago, in my newsletter, I announced a contest based on my blog post, “Customize slide objects to the extreme.” With a great prize — the winner would get a choice of one of my two $97 products.

What, you aren’t a subscriber? You can subscribe here. Subscribers sometimes get special offers like this one.

We received some beautiful and creative entries and I wanted to show you some of them. I added the creators’ comments where I thought they would be useful to you. I couldn’t pick one winner, so I chose 3! Congratulations to them and everyone who submitted an entry. Read more! →

Add multiple images to an existing presentation

A reader wrote:

“Love your web site! I found it during a Google search for help and I hope you can solve my problem. How can I insert a large number of photos into an EXISTING PowerPoint 2003 presentation? I started a new Photo album and now I want to add about 50 more photos but NOT one at a time! Is there a way I can insert multiple photos an easier way? I tried clicking the new photo album tag but that just started another presentation which I did not want. I am sure there is a way if only I can find it – please say you have the answer! I also have PowerPoint 2010 if I can insert the images using that version but I find 2003 easier. Keep up the good work, Ellen, we need helpful experts like you.”

With a request like that, I have to answer!

Creating a photo album

The Photo Album feature lets you insert multiple images at once. It’s true that it always creates a new presentation and I don’t know why that is. But it’s SO easy to move those new slides to your original presentation.

Let’s start with the steps to create a photo album: Read more! →

How to show paper forms or software screens on a PowerPoint slide

Do you have to reproduce paper forms or software screens on PowerPoint slides? This is common for training. For example, one of my clients created a training session to help K-12 school administrators complete important forms for the state Department of Education.

The problem is that the forms have lots of small text on them and are virtually unreadable.

The same thing happens when you need to show software. Often people go directly into the software itself (out of PowerPoint) but there are a couple of reasons that trainers use PowerPoint:

  • There may not be a reliable Internet connection
  • They may want to repurpose the slides to a PDF document or some other format, perhaps for downloading or future reference

Insert a picture and then what?