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.

3 orange large asterisks

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?

3 orange large asterisks

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

Rotate objects precisely

PowerPoint makes simple object rotations very easy.

If you don’t need to be precise


You can use an object’s rotation handle to drag an object around its middle. When you like what you see, release the mouse button and you’re done.

If you need a common angle

If you need more precision than eyeballing it, you can use several tools that let you quickly get common angles:

To rotate to 15° increments, press the Shift key while you drag with the rotation handle. In this way, you can reotate to 0, 15, 30, 45, 90 degrees — and so on. That is often enough.

For a 90° rotation, left or right, select the object and click the Format tab that appears. Click Rotate in the Arrange group and choose Rotate Right 90° or Rotate Left 90°.

If you need a specific, uncommon angle

An inspiring speaking story — from disses to raves

Have you ever gotten really awful feedback from an audience?

Speakers are especially sensitive to negative feedback. Whether you’re speaking internally within your organization or to the public, at some point you’ll need to deal with some negativity.powerpoint-tips-speaking-disses-to-raves-1

How would you turn disses into raves?

I recently met Shirley Gutkowski online and was so inspired by her story that I asked if I could interview her. I think you’ll be inspired, too — and learn a lot as well!

Watch the 15-minute interview. (Note: Our online interview happened during a thunderstorm and my Internet went down twice. As a result, the video and audio aren’t always in sync, but just listen and you’ll get the full value of Shirley’s story.)

What did you get from this interview? Have you had a similar experience and how did you overcome it? Leave a comment!

Create a checklist graphic in PowerPoint

I often create a slide that talks about x number of items:

  • 6 tips for stunning slides
  • 10 ways to organize your time
  • 5 steps to a slide makeoverpowerpoint-tips-checklist-graphic-2a

When I think how to visualize the concept of such a slide, I often (perhaps lamely) come up with a checklist. Finally, I created my own and thought you might like a similar one for your own slides.

1. Get the Post-it® note


I started with a Post-it note. You could certainly take your own photo, but I found a good photo from freeimages.com here. I’ve also used images from Fuzzimo, which you can get here. The Fuzzimo images contain a number of Post-it notes, so duplicate the file and then crop to the one you want. Here you see the two options — the photo is on the left and the Fuzzimo option is on the right.

I used the Fuzzimo image and cropped it to eliminate some extra white space around the edges.

2. Add the checkboxes

Do you present with printed slides? What if your slides were the size of your paper?

I’ve often been surprised at how many people create PowerPoint slides to print. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Venture capitalist pitch: Sometimes these are projected, but they are often printed and handed out to the venture capitalists around the table
  • Retail store sales presentation: These are often printed and handed to the store buyer.powerpoint-tips--do-you-print-slides-3

In both situations, the audience has the power to specify exactly the information you provide — and how. One of my clients hired a venture capital pitch coach! As a result, she had very specific requirements about the size of the text, the number of slides, and what needed to be on each slide.

The problem

Stupidity, lies and coverups = literal Death — by PowerPoint, or not?

I’m going to ask you to stick with me here and click 2 links. It’s important. You could save lives.

This post is in response to “Did PowerPoint Ruin GM?” You can skim the article, but do read the first and last lines.


First, the article itself makes nonsensical conclusions. Here’s one sentence:

“Here’s one way General Motors Co. Chief Executive Mary Barra can start fixing her company’s management culture: Ban PowerPoint.”

That’s followed by:

“Lengthy slide presentations have been a substitute for meaningful communication at GM since before Microsoft’s ubiquitous PowerPoint software was invented.”

So, it isn’t PowerPoint, is it?

And another sentence:

“An engineer who’d been investigating the problem presented PowerPoint slides – but apparently didn’t discuss ‘backup”’slides that made reference to five deaths and some serious injuries.”

Hmm, not the slides, but the fact that the engineer just didn’t discuss the issue.

More importantly, what did GM presenters say?

Look at this.

Presentation delivery tips for the greatest impact

I just did a webinar for the Canadian Association of Communicators in Education called “Presentations that Impact Lives.” Near the end, I used a slide that summarized a few points about presentation delivery. It was a slide that I created a number of years ago, but the points are still valid, so I thought I’d share them with you here.


These are the points I made:

Start your presentation BIG

Presenters often ask how to start a presentation.

I have an older post, “A good opener/introduction” in which I cover ways to start a presentation and it gets a huge amount of traffic and comments — mostly questions by people wanting to know how to start their presentation.

In this post, I want to cover a general principle. Start your presentation BIG.

Out of This Whirl: the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and Companion Galaxy
The Whirlpool Galaxy. Source: Hubblesite.org

Yes, you need to start with an attention getter — a question, a story, or a surprising fact — as I mention in that older post. But as soon as you get down to your content, think of the big idea, the big conclusion, the larger context.

Don’t start with details. People’s eyes glaze over and they slump in their chairs.

Why start BIG?

When you start with the overall concept, you give people context. They need to be able to relate what you’ll say to other things that they know. They need to understand why your message is important to them and you help them do that when you give them the big picture.

This is how the brain works — we need to connect new knowledge to existing knowledge.

Here are some ideas for expressing the BIG picture:

  1. Explain why you came to do this presentation. What was the problem? What is the audience’s need?
  2. Discuss the context in your industry, in current research, in the economy — whichever context is relevant.
  3. Start with your conclusions — an executive overview, the summary of benefits, the bottom line

How much BIG do you need?

The BIG can be short — that’s right, you only need a little BIG! Just enough to give people a handle, a foundation to move forward. That foundation will help people buy into your proposition and feel comfortable with the new material you’ll cover.

You’ll be more persuasive. People will be more likely to apply the information you give them.

How do you start BIG? Leave a comment and share your BIG ideas!