I’m redesigning ellenfinkelstein.com! What does rebranding mean for my presentation design?

powerpoint-tips-rebranding-1Yay! I just hired a great website designer and I’m already excited. We’ve almost settled on 4 colors plus tints (we’re still discussing the dark blue shade) and we’ve chosen a WordPress theme. There will also be a new header. While this blog has been done in WordPress for years, the home page and a number of other important pages are written in HTML, which makes them harder for me to manage. It’s a big project and I’m only doing the HTML portion now, so it will take some time for this blog to look the same.

Do you like the colors?

While I don’t get a lot of mobile traffic on this website (less than 10% including tablets), it will be good to have these HTML pages finally responsive to the size of your screen.

Look for the new website in 3-4 weeks!

What does rebranding mean for my presentations?

Your presentations represent you and your organization just as much as your website and should get the same design attention. That said, most people (including me) don’t spend the same type of money on designing their presentations as they do on designing their websites, although larger corporations usually do get a template professionally designed. Actually, that’s a shame because presentations are important!

I’ve written a couple of posts about branding presentations:

So of course, I’ve started creating a new theme for my presentations and I thought I’d share some of what I’m doing.

Matching the colors

powerpoint-tips-rebranding-2An obvious first step is the set your colors. I briefly explain how to do that in the “8 steps” post that I mentioned above. PowerPoint gives you 6 accent colors so I added 2 grays — although PowerPoint automatically adds tints for each color. Here you can see the theme colors plus their tints. This first 4 are for slide backgrounds and text, so the first theme color (teal) starts in the 5th column.

I see so many presentations that use the default colors and presenters spend hours reassigning colors to objects on their slides! Setting up your colors in the theme

  • saves you time
  • aligns with your branding colors
  • gives you more consistent results

Matching the style

It’s harder to match the design style of your website and I’ve never written about this. That’s probably because my website didn’t really have any design style before! But now it will, following the WordPress theme.

powerpoint-tips-rebranding-3A current design style for websites uses bands of color and blocks of content. Here’s an example from LG’s website, which I’ve made smaller so you can see almost the entire page.

You can see the bands at the top and the blocks at the bottom. Each block is a link; actually, it’s a visual menu, something you can create in PowerPoint. In fact, I’ve written about creating a tiled visual menu in my blog post, “Create a tile menu with hyperlinks to slides.”

You can also create slides with bands and blocks of color that contain content. To make it easy, I recommend creating some custom layouts. I explain how to do this in my post, “Create a custom layout.”

Your presentations don’t need to match your website exactly. In fact, you probably don’t want that. But using a similar design style will help create coherence in your overall brand and message.

Using your website as a guide will give you inspiration — at least that’s what happened for me. Of course, I’ll make adjustments when my website is actually finished — I’m jumping the gun a bit! But I came up with ideas that I wouldn’t have had without at least an idea of what my website was going to look like.

I came up with 2 master slides and several custom layouts — this is more variety than I usually have. I could make a softer look with lighter tints or transparency or keep these rather bold colors. The point is that I have lots of options and the website colors and design concept gave me lots of ideas I never would have had otherwise.




What do you think? Can your website give you inspiration for your presentations? Leave a comment! And please share with others because they might find this useful — just use the Share buttons below.

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Create a lightbox or mask effect in PowerPoint to focus attention

A lightbox is an effect often used on websites. You click something and you see a window, but everything around the window is faded as if it’s covered with a semi-transparent overlay. This effect focuses your attention on the window.

A mask is slightly different and you sometimes see it in video. Everything is completely covered except for one area. You can see whatever is behind that area. Essentially, that area or shape is a hole in an opaque shape. Again, this focuses your attention on what’s behind the hole — since you can’t see anything else.

So both of these techniques help focus attention on part of a screen. In PowerPoint, you can use these techniques to focus attention on part of a slide.

There are other techniques that you can use. For example, look at this blog post, “Circle an object,” which explains how to focus attention by circling an object.

This video shows both techniques, one after the other.

Example 1: Lightbox effect (everything else is semi-transparent)


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Corporate training-The never-ending course

powerpoint-tips-training-never-ending-course-1What do you think is the biggest problem in corporate training?

Of course, there’s no one answer and the biggest problem in one organization might not be a problem in another.

Here’s my answer

But overall, I think that given a commitment to training and competent people in the Training Department, the biggest problem is implementation. In other words, trainees don’t implement the training they’ve received.

What do I mean by that?

“The American Society for Training and Development says that by the time you go back to your job, you’ve lost 90% of what you’ve learned in training.” I found this in a Wall Street Journal article, “So Much Training, So Little to Show for It.”

But it’s more than just forgetting. People have trouble changing old habits so it’s hard for them to implement the new training, even if they do remember the points.

The job of the Training Department is to effect change in the trainees and this doesn’t happen nearly often enough. When trainees don’t implement the training the desired ROI isn’t achieved.

Do you agree?

What if the course never ended?


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Single-source publishing with PowerPoint–use PowerPoint for all versions of your training!

powerpoint-tips-single-source-publishing-with-powerpoint-7This is a guest blog post by Dimitri Roman. Dimitri is a Learning Architect at a leading supplier of strong authentication, He has been creating learning solutions with the use of PowerPoint for the last 15 years.

In the fast paced economy of today, the development and maintenance of learning solutions needs to be optimized without any loss in quality. This invokes the need to create a Single Source Learning Solution that reaches multiple generations. A Single Source Learning that can be built with PowerPoint.

Creating multiple implementations

In most cases a learning solution consists of a presentation and an accompanying handout. Today we tend to extend the implementation with the creation of an eLearning and a sharable video so the learning solution can reach different generations with their inherent learning styles. Creating all these different implementations can be a time consuming endeavour, not to mention the nightmare of keeping all these implementations up to date and consistent.

That is why it is important to contain your learning solutions source into one single document that can generate all the requested implementations. As your primary single source, a presentation is the most obvious choice.

Crafting this single source PowerPoint file requires some planning in advance. Depending on the desired implementations you must consider:

1. As an Online Synchronous Presentation: Segment with custom slide shows

The learning needs to be kept digestible, with Single Concept Learning, using micro-lessons. Custom shows can be applied, to segment a Single Source Learning Solution in small learning nuggets. Create your custom show, by selecting the needed slides out of your complete deck. Hidden slides can also be selected and will be shown in the custom show. Different shows can share slides, so you can maintain the learning as a Single PowerPoint Source. 

 2. As a Classroom Presentation: Maintain a logical flow 

Slide Sections help you in organizing your slide deck. Use the View tab to select Slide Sorter view. Right click in the slide sorter to manage your sections using the context menu.  

3. As an Online Asynchronous Presentation: Add Actions and Triggers

Actions in PowerPoint allow users to navigate freely between content and custom slide shows, within the Learning Solution. If you want to return to the master slide show, after viewing a custom slide show, then you need to enable “Show and return” when linking to custom shows.

 Triggers and animations can engage online students even more. You can reveal items when a student clicks on an object.

4. As a Handout: Enhance the Notes Pages

You can store much more content on the Notes Page by reorganizing your Slides and Notes. Your Notes Page is a perfect place to host a well-crafted handout, using the exact same tools as you would, when creating slides. Reducing the size of the Notes Text Box, creates more space for inserting additional content using the Insert tab.

5. As a Video: Add sound and Narration

Your video will need the proper voice support and timings. The best and most flexible way to provide your voicing is by using narration.

 When presenting your PowerPoint you want this without the embedded Narration and Timings. To do this, you need to turn them off in the Slide Show tab. The Timings and Narration will not be removed from your PowerPoint, they are just not used during your presentation.

With careful planning all these considerations can be achieved in PowerPoint, allowing you to create a learning solution in a single file, avoiding the risk of any inconsistencies.

The 5 considerations seem to be a hard bargain but when taking a look at Ellen’s website you will find a wealth of information that help you to achieve this goal.

Looking at an example

As an example and more in depth guideline you can take a look at the  files below:

·       The Presentation: http://via.thuiz.com/ISDP4D_PPTX

·       The Handout: http://via.thuiz.com/ISDP4D_PDF

·       The eLearning: http://via.thuiz.com/ISDP4D_SWF

·       The Video: http://via.thuiz.com/ISDP4D_MP4 (here you’ll see a list of several examples; one is embedded below)



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Design an e-book or report cover in PowerPoint

powerpoint-tips-turn-presentation-into-report-ebook-2Last week, I talked about how to convert a presentation to a report or e-book. This week, I want to show you how to design a cover for that report or e-book in PowerPoint. If you aren’t a designer and yet want to design an e-book or report cover in PowerPoint, you’ll find it a simple way to go. You already know the program, so there isn’t a learning curve like there would be for Photoshop or another high-end program. At the end of this post, I’ll suggest some other programs you can use instead.

I’ll also explain how easy it is to create the 3D image of the cover you see here.

What size will it be?

A report will almost always be 8-1/2 x 11 (or A4). But an e-book (I’m not talking about a Kindle book) can be any size. I prefer 6×9 because:

  • Many paperbacks are that size or a similar size
  • It gives the book more pages

Whatever size you choose, set your slide size to that. To set the slide size, click the Design tab, then Slide Size or Page Setup. Choose Custom Slide Size to set the size you want. Set the Orientation to Portrait.

Keep it simpleAdd video front cover

Since (I’m assuming) you aren’t a designer, you want to keep it simple. The basic concepts are:

  • Use a white background
  • A border is optional
  • Use a band of bright color  — or even two
  • Use white text on the band
  • Find an big, bold image or make a collage, like the one I created for the middle of the cover
  • Put your name and credentials at the bottom
  • A subtitle can help entice people to buy because it explains the value of the book

Sketch out your cover on a piece of paper. That’s right, paper. Then simply add shapes (rectangles), text boxes, and images. Move everything around until it looks good.

Export the slide as an image either by selecting everything, right-clicking and choosing Save as Picture, or by choosing File, Save As and choosing on of the image options from the Save as Type drop-down list. Ask a few friends for feedback.

Insert the cover into your report or e-book

Then insert the image into the beginning of your Word document. For image wrapping, choose square or tight to get the most flexibility to place and size the image the way you want it.

Make it 3D

The purpose for a 3D cover is just to present it as a product on a sales page. Here are the steps:

  1. Insert the image of the cover
  2. Right-click and choose Format Picture.
  3. In the 3-D Rotation section, click the Presets arrow and choose one of the options. I often use “Off Axis 2 Left” in the Parallel section.
  4. In the 3-D Format section, in the Depth area, increase the size until the book looks big enough. (Don’t exaggerate!)
  5. In the Lighting area, increase the Angle setting until the side of the book (the depth) doesn’t look so black; 70 degrees usually works for me.
  6. In the Shadow section, click the Presets arrow and choose one of the options. I usually choose “Perspective Diagonal Upper Right” in the Perspective area.
  7. Right-click and choose Save as Picture.

That should take you under a minute and it’s a great look for a sales page.

Other design options

For non-designers, there are a number of online graphic design websites.  All let you combine images and text. Here are a few that I know of:


Have you designed an e-book or report cover in PowerPoint? What tips can you share? Leave a comment! And share this post with others because they might find it useful — just use the Share buttons below.

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Turn a presentation into a report or e-book

powerpoint-tips-turn-presentation-into-report-ebook-2You might find it valuable to create a report or e-book from a presentation. While you may be familiar with creating handouts, you might want something longer or more structured. For example, you might want to include a table of contents and a cover.

You can then make the e-book/report available for download, or even print it. It could become a valuable marketing or training tool, for example. My e-book Slide Design for Non-Designers was originally an online presentation, but I’ve sold many more copies as an e-book.

But how do you turn a presentation into a report or e-book?

If you wrote a script

If you wrote a script or at least thorough notes, you can pour those into a Word document. You might even have started in Word.

Note: Sometimes, people put the notes in the Notes pane, which is great for creating handouts, but not so good for creating a report or e-book. You can export to Word, using the Notes Below Slides option and then delete the slide images. If you’re up for using some VBA code, Steve Rindsberg has the code all written for you here.

If you didn’t write a script

If you have a recording, you can have someone transcribe it for you. If you have a significant amount of text — enough to be useful for an e-book or report on your slides — then hire me for some training! But if you do, you can export the text. I explain how in my blog post, “Export all presentation text.”

What about images?powerpoint-tips-turn-presentation-into-report-ebook-1

You can use your slides as images, especially if you created slides that are highly visual. To export the slides as images, choose File, Save As. Choose the location and name as usual. In the Save As dialog box, click the Save as Type drop-down box and choose PNG or JPEG. Then click Save. Choose to save all of the slides. You can now insert them as images into your report or e-book.

Obviously, you want to place the slide images in the right place, next to the text that they apply to. In Word, choose Square or Tight image wrapping to have full control over their placement.

Formatting your report or e-book

Now that you have the text and images, you need to format the document. Here are some ideas:

  • Use Word styles for consistency and so you don’t have to individually format each heading, chapter title, etc. Create styles specifically for chapter titles, headings and other features.
  • If you’re creating an e-book, you might consider using a page size that’s like a paperback book, such as 6″ x 9″ instead of 8-1/2 x 11. If you’re using the metric system, adjust accordingly.
  • If your content is long, you might want to add a Table of Contents. Word makes it fairly easy to automate this process.
  • When you copy and paste, if the text looks wrong, use the icon that appears after the pasted text and choose the Merge Formatting.

What about a cover?

By all means design a cover! You can use the image of the cover to attract people’s attention. The cover doesn’t have to be fancy, but make the title font size big and use bright colors. Then insert the image of the cover before the first page of the report or e-book.

3 orange large asterisks

How have you converted a presentation to a report or e-book? Share your experience in the comments! And also share this post using the Share buttons below because others might find these techniques valuable.

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Side-by-side speaker video and slide content for a live presentation feel

Start by watching this short video. What do you think?

You can place a video of you speaking on one side of your slide and use the other side for your slide content to come a little closer to a live presentation feel when you need to provide a pre-recorded presentation. Here are some ideas for using such a presentation:

  • For internal training, on your organization’s Intranet or LMS (Learning Module System)
  • On YouTube (or another video sharing site) for marketing or for clients
  • On your website to highlight you as a speaker or present your topic in a more engaging way

I call it a hybrid presentation because it puts speaker video next to typical slide content.

This is very easy to do, especially with a wide-screen slide size. The wide screen gives you more room to put both pieces side-by-side.

How do you play the video across all of the slides?

You can play a video without interruption across slides. (I explain how to play a sound file across slides in my post “Play music or narration throughout a presentation.”)

First, insert the presentation on the first slide where you want it by choosing Insert tab, then clicking Movie or Video.

Choose the video file of you speaking to place it on the slide. Keep the video selected.

In PowerPoint 2007, click the Movie Tools Options tab. In the Movie Options group, click the Play Movie drop-down list (it will probably show the Automatically option) and choose Play Across Slides, as you see here.


powerpoint-tips-side-by-side-speaker-video-slide-content-2Strangely enough, this is harder to do in PowerPoint 2010 and 2013. It’s similar to the procedure for playing a sound across files. Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Video Tools Playback tab and set the Start option to Automatically.
  2. Click the Animations tab and then click Animation Pane to open it.
  3. You’ll see 2 items, one that plays the video and a trigger that pauses it, as you see here. Click the Play item, click the drop-down arrow, and choose Effect Options to open the Play Video dialog box.
  4. In the Stop Playing section, click After and enter 999 (the max allowed, just to ensure that it plays throughout the presentation) or the number of slides during which you want the video to play.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box. The video will now continue to play across your slides.powerpoint-tips-side-by-side-speaker-video-slide-content-3


How do you turn your presentation into a video?

Unfortunately, when I tried to export the presentation as a video, it didn’t work! I saw the video on Slide 1 but it was gone for the rest of the slides. Even on Slide 1, it didn’t play–it was frozen. But the audio worked fine throughout. In the end, I used Techsmith Camtasia’s recorder to record the presentation in Slide Show view and edited out some white space at the beginning and end.

Other techniques for side-by-side video and slide content

You could do this another way. You could put all of your content on 1 slide and animate it to appear when you want it to. Of course, this would work only for presentations that have just a few slides, like the one I showed at the beginning of this blog post. Then you can sync the animation to bookmarks that you create on the video timeline. I explain this technique in “Sync animation with a video or audio.”

Or, you could divide up the video into segments and put a separate video on each slide. You would need to use video-editing software to do this. You wouldn’t need to animate or set transition timing and people could click through the slides as each video ended.


Is this a technique you can use? Leave a comment! And please share this unusual technique with others using the Share buttons below.

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Quickly create a grid of tiled images

Can you imagine creating this slide in under 5 minutes?


Well, you can.

Using SmartArt picture layouts

Few people use or even know about the SmartArt picture layouts. They help you lay out multiple images in a preset pattern. They even crop the images for you! But you can change the cropping if you want. You can use them for:

You can probably think of more uses.

You’ll probably need to make some minor adjustments, but the final result should take less than 5 minutes.

Here are the steps:

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The why of presentations–getting results

powerpoint-tips-why-presentations-1To get the best results from a presentation, you need to think about the “why.” Why are you doing the presentation? If someone else assigned it to you, why? What is the goal of the presentation?

There are lots of possible goals. Often, I see other presentation skills trainers make blanket statements that I know don’t apply in every situation. For example, they might say that you should always stand up or not use PowerPoint.

How you write, design and deliver your presentation should depend on 4 things:

  • Context: What is the reason for the presentation (the why)?
  • Audience: Their knowledge, what they need and what they want
  • Speaker: The speaker’s knowledge, solution, suggestions and evidence
  • Action: How people apply the knowledge and solution

Know the context

It’s so easy to miss the mark when you don’t know the context, the why.

powerpoint-tips-why-presentations-2I remember watching a video of a presentation given to some reporters in the context of a concert that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gave in New York City a few years ago. It was a benefit concert to raise money to teach at-risk middle school children the Transcendental Meditation technique to reduce the stress they were experiencing.

The context of the presentation was that the reporters were there because of the Beatles. The organizers wanted them to put some mention of the research in their articles. This was actually a challenge, because the reporters didn’t really care about the research, so there was quite a bit of persuasion required. Read more! →

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Save PowerPoint customizations for the Quick Access Toolbar and ribbon

powerpoint-tips-save-powerpiont-customizations-1Do you customize the Quick Access Toolbar? (The QAT is that row of icons above or below the ribbon.) How about the ribbon? If not, you should because you’ll work faster. I explain how to customize the Quick Access Toolbar in “Work Faster in PowerPoint.”

And I explain how to customize the ribbon in “Customize the PowerPoint interface.”

Not only can you save PowerPoint customizations, but you can go back and forth between customization settings!

Use multiple configurations

Do you do PowerPoint training like I do? If so, you might want to show the default settings to your students for training but use your own customizations when you’re creating slides on your own. Or maybe you just want the flexibility to save various ribbon & QAT configurations? You can!

First make the changes that you want. I added the Pick Up Object Style and Apply Object Style buttons. These are similar to the Format Painter, but often work better for text because you don’t have to select the text as precisely. I also added the Flip Horizontal button because I use it a lot and it takes a few clicks to get to. Read more! →

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