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 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:

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!

Apply a slide master to a presentation

I recently received this question.

“I have a power point presentation (created in 2007 and recently moved into 2010) that I want to change the master slide with a new one my designer gave me. It was given to me as a regular slide and I want to make it a master slide so all the slides will change using this new background.”

powerpoint-tips-apply-a-master-4What do you receive from a designer?

The basic question is how to apply a slide master to an existing presentation.

When you receive a “regular slide” from a designer, you need to figure out where the design is.

If the design is actually on the slide itself, you need to make some changes — and your designer doesn’t know very much about PowerPoint. That’s because in order for you to easily apply the design to other presentations, the design should be on the slide master.

It’s easy to check. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose View tab, Slide Master.
  2. In the left-hand pane, scroll up to the first, larger thumbnail.

If the design is on the Slide Master, you’re in good shape. If not, you need to find some way to transfer the design from the slide itself to the slide master. Often all you need to do is to select all of the objects on the slide, cut to the Clipboard, and paste on the first, larger thumbnail (the “Master”) in Slide Master view. Then save the presentation.

The wrong way

You should keep the presentation you received unchanged, so save a copy to use as a basis. Then open both the designed copy and your original presentation — the one that you want to apply the design to.

In the original presentation, select all of the slides. You can click the first slide, press and hold the Shift key, and click the last slide. You can do this in the left-hand pane or in Slide Sorter view. Then copy them to the Clipboard.

Display the designed copy, click in the left-hand pane, and paste. By default, the slides will take on the destination design.

A better way

Ideally, you should create a theme file. This makes applying your design easy and you don’t have to worry about copying over your original presentation. Here are the steps:powerpoint-tips-apply-a-master-2

  1. In Normal view, click the Design tab.
  2. At the right end of the Themes gallery, click the More button, as you see here.
  3. At the bottom of the themes gallery, click Save Current Theme.
  4. You’ll be in the default Themes folder. Don’t change the folder! Type a descriptive name for your theme and click Save.

To use your theme to an existing presentation, this is all you have to do:powerpoint-tips-apply-a-master-3

  1. Click the Design tab.
  2. If you don’t see your theme, click the same More button at the right end of the Themes gallery and choose your theme from the Custom section, as you see here for a light-blue gradient theme that I created.

Do you have any questions about applying a design to a presentation? Leave a comment!



How to specify the position of an image or object on a PowerPoint slide–precisely

Recently someone left a comment on my website asking how to specify the position of an image precisely. Setting the position of an image is easy — what’s hard is finding the setting!

Why not eyeball it?

The most common reason I want to specify the position of an image using a measurement is so that objects on adjacent slides are in the same place; otherwise, they appear to jump as you move from slide to slide. Even the slightest difference in position becomes clear in this situation.

Usually I eyeball the position of an object on one slide and then want to match that position on other slides.

powerpoint-tips-specify-position-image-precisely-1One solution: Copy and paste

Once you have an object in the desired position on one slide, you can copy and paste it to another slide and PowerPoint will put the copy in the exact same position on the new slide. This is often a great solution.

But when the two objects aren’t exactly the same, the situation gets muddled. On the right you see 2 slides that are similar. but the callout shapes are different sizes because the quotes inside them are of different lengths. Once you put in the quote and start adjusting the callout shape’s size, it’s easy to lose your positioning.

You can copy and paste an image and then use the Change Picture feature to change the image to another one, but if the 2 images are different sizes, again you’ll lose your positioning. (To switch an image, right-click it and choose Change Picture.)

In these situations, you’ll want to position a shape or image more precisely.

Another solution: use the ruler

You can get good results by using the ruler. If it isn’t displayed, choose View and check the Ruler check box. As you drag an object,  you can see a line on the horizontal and vertical rulers, indicating the object’s position.

The problem with this solution is that the line is based on your cursor and you can’t precisely control where your cursor is when you drag an object. But once the object is placed, you can see where it is fairly precisely.

Specify the exact position

Show the current time on your PowerPoint slides

Let’s say that you’re running a meeting and want to keep everyone on track so that the meeting ends on time. These days, fewer people wear watches. (My son says that if you wear a watch, it’s a sure sign that you’re over 30!) Anyway, it may look impolite to be checking your watch, even if you have one. And you don’t want people at the meeting to have their cellphones out — too much opportunity for them to not be listening to you.

Maybe there’s a clock on the wall. But maybe not. And if there is, it’s behind you. But in front of you is your laptop and it shows the slide. So if you could show the current time, that would be great. And it would help everyone keep on track.

So you add a footnote to the slide that shows the time. Note: It will show the time on your computer.

Watch the short video to see how to set this up and how it works. Read more! →