Friday, May 30, 2008

The single most misspelled word

I see it all the time in presentations. I saw it twice this morning alone in newsletters. Your spell checker won't catch it. And obviously proofreaders rarely catch this error either.

I'm talking about "you" and "your".

So often I see one of these words used when the other should be. It's not that the writer doesn't know the correct word, it's just that as they are typing, they miss a letter or add a letter and they rely on spell checkers to catch the error. Which they won't.

Here are the two examples from this morning (I have emphasized the mistake):
1. If your have a local business -- like a service or a store -- you know you MUST have a website.
2. ... but what about you living room?

Other spelling mistakes that a spell checker won't catch:
"the" and "they"
"be" and "by"
"late" and "later"
"best" and "bets"

All occur because of mistyping, but are never caught because they are still proper words - just not the word we intended.

How do you catch these mistakes? Do what professional proofreaders do. Read backwards. That's right. Start with the last word and start reading back to the first word. Your brain isn't anticipating what the next word should be, so it doesn't skip over the incorrect word assuming that since the letters look right that the word must be OK.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slide Makeover Video Podcast launched

Have you wanted to see "before" and "after" versions of slides so you can get ideas of how to improve your slides? We all love seeing makeovers and dreaming of how we can apply the ideas in our own situation. Now you can see a brand new makeover every two weeks on my new Slide Makeover Video Podcast, available through iTunes. The first episode is available and the next will be released next Tuesday. Click here to subscribe via the iTunes Store or add this file to your podcatcher (videos are in Quicktime video format):

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Distributing your presentation in PDF format

More and more presentations or handouts are being distributed in PDF format so that they can be viewed on any system and look the same. I always provide my clients with a PDF handout so that when they print it, I know it will look the same as when I created it. Those who receive the PDF file can then easily e-mail it to others who did not attend the presentation.

Today's tip gives you four ideas on how you can make a PDF copy of your presentation be more than a simple printout of your slides. Note that these ideas require you to have a full copy of Adobe Acrobat, not just the free Reader application. But if you are going to create PDF documents, you probably have the full Acrobat already.

If you want to have your audience (and I use the term audience to mean anyone who is opening the PDF file to review it) look at more information on a web site, add a hyperlink to a slide. There are two steps to this. First, on your slide, incorporate a hyperlink to a shape or text and add text that gives an indication that a hyperlink is there. Second, in Acrobat, use the Link tool to add a rectangular hyperlink area to the shape or text on that slide. Now, when the audience wants to use the hyperlink, they can see that the slide indicates that there is a hyperlink and they can click on it in Acrobat to be taken to the web page with more information.

One great advantage to creating a distributable version of your presentation in PDF format is that you can combine a printout of your slides with other documents that are in PDF format. These documents could be detailed spec sheets, performance data or financial information. Multiple PDF documents can be combined using the Insert Pages feature to create a single presentation package that you can e-mail out.

If you do decide to create a combined document PDF file, one concern is that the page numbering won't be consistent, since each printout will number its own pages starting at page 1. You can solve this problem by not adding page numbers in each source document. Then, in Acrobat, use the Add Headers and Footers feature to add page numbers, copyright information and any other text you want to each and every page. The page numbers start at 1 and flow throughout the document regardless of the source document.

The final idea is to attach reference files to the PDF document that you think people might want to use or refer to. You can use the Attach a File feature in Acrobat to attach pretty much any type of file as part of the PDF file. If you have a spreadsheet that you want them to fill out in order to see the magnitude of an issue, attach it and create an instructions page so they know how to find the attachment and use it. This increases the usefulness of the presentation for each person who opens the PDF file.

When you have to distribute your presentation, use these ideas to create a PDF version of your presentation that is much more than just a slide printout. It can be a consistently branded document that links to relevant information on the web and contains interactive components that make it more valuable.

If you want to explore the idea of hyperlinking in your presentations, there are two resources you should be aware of. The first is the "Guide to Advanced PowerPoint Techniques" which contains information on linking to external files during your presentation as well as other advanced techniques. Details are at . If you just need to know how to create a hyperlink in PowerPoint, check out the video at .

Friday, May 23, 2008

Virtual presentations can offset skyrocketing gas and airline costs for businesses


Businesses all over North America are cutting back on both auto and air travel due to soaring prices at the pump and surcharges being levied by airlines. But the need to meet with customers has never been greater in a slowing economy. Increasingly, virtual meetings conducted over the Internet are being used to substitute for face-to-face meetings. Many meetings include presentations, but presenters don’t always understand what needs to change when designing and delivering a presentation over the Internet instead of in person.

“When you are presenting in person, you can see the audience’s reaction and adjust your delivery based on what is happening in the room. Over the Internet, you lose that ability and you need to adjust your presentation accordingly.” says Dave Paradi, author of “The Visual Slide Revolution” and a veteran of web-based presentations.

He suggests that the three biggest differences between in-person and Internet presentations are: a need to use callouts on your slides to point out the important spot since you won’t be able to physically point to a spot on the screen; the need for more interaction by asking questions of understanding because you can’t see if they have a puzzled look on their face; and the need to use a second computer connected as a participant so you can see exactly what the other person is seeing in case there are delays or interruptions in the connection.

Dave Paradi is the author of "The Visual Slide Revolution" and co-author of two "Guide to PowerPoint" books from Prentice Hall. He is also a speaker, consultant and producer of a video podcast series and bi-weekly newsletter that is read world wide. He can be reached by phone at 905-510-4911 or by e-mail at

Friday, May 16, 2008

PowerPoint Myths

I recommend you read a recent article by Nilofer Merchant, CEO of Rubicon Consulting titled “Eight Great PowerPoint Myths” (click here to read the article). What I liked about this article is that it takes an audience perspective, not a presenter’s perspective. Why is that so important? Because far too many presentations are all about the presenter, not about the audience.

What I would add to Nilofer’s comments is the order in which you should undertake the tasks that it takes to create a great presentation that uses PowerPoint as a supporting tool. Here’s my list in order:

  1. Decide on the goal of the presentation – what do you want the audience to know, do or feel after you are finished?
  2. Analyze your audience – who they are, where they are coming from, any underlying feelings or assumptions you need to take into account.
  3. Outline your main points and supporting information so that you logically move the audience from where they are now to where you want them to be at the end of the presentation.
  4. Plan how you will open the presentation, interact with the audience so it is more of a conversation, and close the presentation
  5. Create persuasive visual slides that have a headline and a clearly designed visual that you can speak to in order to make your point.
  6. Rehearse your presentation so you smooth out the awkward parts and it flows as easily as a casual conversation with friends on the weekend.
  7. Reap the rewards that come to those who stand head and shoulders above the normal presentation that consists of reading bullet paragraphs off the slides.

You can get more information on my five-step KWICK method for creating persuasive visual slides in my book “The Visual Slide Revolution” by clicking here.

Quick $1.99 "How-to" videos

You've seen a great slide, maybe one where the pie chart has a picture used as the fill instead of a solid color. How'd they do that? It can be done in PowerPoint, but you'd search for hours in most books that are 400+ pages long. I've got a 5 minute video that shows you exactly how to fill a shape or pie slice with a photo. It is one of the videos I have that you can download for a bargain price of $1.99. Go to to see the list of videos and get the ones you want. There's even one free video for you to download so you can see how useful the instructions are.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When stories don't work in a presentation

Earlier this week I attended a full-day conference with a number of speakers on the agenda. I advocate using stories, but not the way two of the speakers did so at the conference. Both of the speakers started their presentation with a story - not a bad idea. But each of the stories lasted at least seven minutes and were mostly about how great they are. We didn't see a hint of content in the first seven minutes. They were only speaking for 45 minutes each, so they spent the first 15% of their time telling us how great they were. Not a good way to connect with the audience.

One of the speakers continued to use stories, but started a few by saying, "This happened in the 80's." Telling your audience that your illustration comes from over 20 years ago does not inspire confidence. Is it because the ideas only worked once so the speaker doesn't have any more recent examples? Is it because the ideas no longer work today? I'm not sure, and so I discounted that point. And it gave me cause to be concerned about the other points as well.

Stories are a great way to illustrate your point, but make sure they are focused properly. Use recent examples that everyone can relate to and see that it is relevant to today's world. Use examples of similar situations that they might find themselves in so they can relate to what you are saying. And remember that the presentation is all about the audience, not about you the presenter. If you need the audience to know about your credentials, put it in your introduction, not the opening 15% of your presentation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Learn From Great Presentations

One of the best ways to get better at presenting is to watch other presenters who are better than yourself. It is a time-tested principle that is true in many endeavors, be it sports, music or business: watch the best and learn from them.

Today I want to point you to a web site that contains the audio and many times a written transcript of what scholars have deemed to be the top 100 speeches of the modern era. The web site is and is a great source of material for being inspired at how spoken words can literally change lives.

I encourage you to visit the site, bookmark it and visit regularly to spend time listening to the greatest speeches of our time by people like Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, FDR and many others. As you listen to their speeches, pay attention to the following as points to remember and incorporate when you speak.

The first thing you will notice about every one of these speeches is the passion of the speaker for the topic they are speaking about. Not all of the speeches are inspirational, a number were made on sad occasions. But the one thing that is common with all is the passion. When you next present, how passionate will you be about your topic? By speaking on those topics you are most passionate about, you will become a better presenter.

Second, listen to how they have phrased what they said. Great speeches have carefully chosen words, ones that are not complex, but are simple yet powerful. When you prepare your next presentation, what words will you choose? If you don't rehearse what you are going to say, your word choice is left to chance. By rehearsing your presentation, you have a chance to select the best words to make your point. Words that have an impact and will be remembered.

Finally, in the speeches that are inspirational in nature, listen for how the speaker has carefully structured the message to build to the conclusion they need to reach. Too many presentations are haphazard, rambling from one place to the next with no clear path to a destination. Learn the lessons of these great speeches in structuring your persuasive presentations to reach a clearly defined goal at the end.

Delivering a great PowerPoint presentation should not be primarily about the slides. They can play an important supporting role, but what you say and how you say it is far more important. Today's resource will help you take your speaking to the next level by learning from the greatest speakers of our time.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lessons for Presenters from Tiger’s Coach

I recently had a chance to hear Hank Haney speak. Who is Hank Haney you ask? He is the swing coach for Tiger Woods, the greatest golf player on the planet right now (and possibly ever). It is always a treat to listen to those who help top performers get even better. Here are some of the lessons he shared and my interpretation of how these golf lessons can apply to the world of business presentations.

Read the rest of the article here ...

Monday, May 05, 2008

More audience feedback on PowerPoint

I read this article in The Charlotte Observer today. It talks about what buyers dislike about how salespeople interact with them. One observation is that buyers don't like to sit through canned "lectures" of PowerPoint slides. Take heed of this observation. No audience, whether big or small, likes a presentation that is generic and read to them. What can you do?

If you are in marketing, don't create decks that you send to the sales force and expect them to deliver it as is. That approach doesn't work - for the sales person or the prospect. Instead, create a library of slides that the sales professionals can draw on in each situation to create the bulk of their presentation. Then, train the salespeople on how to create persuasive visuals for the 20-30% of the slides that need to be customized for each situation.

If you are in sales, stop reading prepared decks to prospects. Stop whining about the PowerPoint files that your marketing department produces. Work with the marketing staff to create a library of the common messages you need to deliver. Educate yourself on how to pick from that library and add new visuals to create a custom presentation each time. Commit the time to prepare each presentation properly with audience analysis so you can select the right messages for them.

The result: A consistently customized set of visuals that are delivered in a conversational manner. Prospects are engaged, ideas and solutions are shared and relationships are strengthened. Now isn't that what we all want?

Need to know how to create persuasive visuals? Check out and for books and training workshops.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Will you join The Visual Slide Revolution?

You've had enough of the overloaded text slides that most presenters use. You've seen a few people use visuals instead of bullet paragraphs and it is so much more effective. But you figure that you'd need some graphic design training and thousands of dollars of software and equipment to create visuals for your presentations.

Not so.

There is an easy five step method that will show you how to create persuasive visuals using the software you already have. Get ready to join The Visual Slide Revolution.

As one of my blog readers, you know the valuable ideas I share with you regularly. Now I've captured the process I use for transforming overloaded text slides in a new book, The Visual Slide Revolution.

In this book, I walk you through my five step KWICK method that will have you looking at your presentation slides in a whole new way. You will have the knowledge to transform your current presentations and create new slides that drive your message home like never before.

When I present the KWICK method during my workshops, people are able to use the ideas immediately. They've told me that after hearing these ideas, they have changed their approach and their presentations are much more powerful than ever before. You now have that opportunity.

Go to to check out all the details. I am even letting people read one chapter for free because I am convinced that once you grasp the power of the ideas, you'll realize your long search for a better way to present is now over.

Because some of you prefer a printed book and some prefer an electronic book, I am publishing The Visual Slide Revolution in both printed and e-book formats. Go to now to get your copy.