Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Celebrating 300 newsletter issues

Today I am celebrating the 300th issue of my newsletter. I have been writing this newsletter every two weeks for almost 11 years. I would not be able to keep writing if it was not for the support and encouragement that my loyal readers have shown. If you are not on the list yet, click here to sign up. To thank my subscribers and those who read my articles on my blog or website, I am offering a sale on my Kindle ebooks and reminding you of some of the free resources I offer you and all presenters on my website.

In the US, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. A tradition started years ago is the Black Friday sale at many retailers the day after the holiday. That tradition expanded to Cyber Monday where online retailers get into the sale mode a couple of days later. So I decided to have an Issue #300/Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale on my Kindle ebooks. As a thank you to my loyal readers, I am cutting the price of my Kindle ebook series in half until Tuesday December 3. Instead of $2.99, the ebooks are only $1.49 on Amazon. The ebooks include 20 Tips for Financial Presentations, Sales Presentations, Project Status Presentations, and, the latest one in the series, 20 Tips for Students. Here are the links directly to Amazon to take advantage of the sale:

20 Tips for Effective Financial Presentations with PowerPoint

20 Tips for Effective Sales Presentations with PowerPoint

20 Tips for Effective Project Status Presentations with PowerPoint

20 Tips to Help Students Ace Their Next PowerPoint Presentation

I have always been known for giving many free resources on my website that help presenters improve their presentations. If you haven’t visited my website lately, you may have forgotten about some of these resources. Two of the resources I get a lot of comments on are the PowerPoint tutorial videos and the slide makeovers. I offer over 30 videos that show you how to use PowerPoint to create graphs, diagrams, handouts, and more. These aren’t feature focused, they are specific to the tasks you have to get done. All of the videos are short, usually in the 3-8 minute range, so you can learn the task and get back to work. They are organized by category on this page. My slide makeovers are also organized so it is easy for you to find one that is relevant to the type of slide or industry you are in. These slide makeover videos show you a “before” slide, how I revised it into a better “after” slide, and lessons presenters can learn from the makeover. If you are looking for a new way to show information on a slide, check out these videos on this page.

I also offer two tools that help presenters design slides that are visually appealing and easy to understand. The first is the Color Contrast Calculator. This tool allows you to enter the RGB values of two colors and know if the audience will be able to easily read the text on the background, or distinguish between adjacent shapes in a graph or diagram. Full instructions on how to use the calculator are included on the Color Contrast Calculator page. The second most annoying thing presenters do, according to audiences in my latest survey, is use a font that is too small to easily read. How big of a font should you use? The only true answer is “It depends.” You need to take into account the size of the screen and the size of the room. I use visual acuity standards and road sign guidelines to create two charts that you can use to determine the right font size for your presentation. The charts for standard 4x3 projectors and widescreen TVs are on this page in English and French. If you need to create a full template for your organization, there is no better book than one written by my fellow PowerPoint MVPs Julie Terberg and Echo Swinford. If you have been tasked with creating the PowerPoint template for your organization, get their book today.

Thank you again for your loyal support and kind comments over the years. I look forward to serving you for many years to come. For those of you gathering with family and friends this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, travel safely and celebrate the blessings you have been given.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Presentation Tip: Treemap Diagrams

At the Presentation Summit in September, Nolan Haims showed a diagram I had seen before, but did not know the proper name for: a treemap. A treemap is a type of visual that allows you to visually compare the size of different measured values using proportionally shaped rectangles that are arranged into an overall rectangle. Here is a link to an article that contains more on the background of this type of visual. Here is an example of a treemap.

The challenge with this visual, like many other diagrams that use proportional shapes, is that you need to do somewhat complex calculations in order to get the shapes exactly the right size. Nolan shared that there are some online tools that can create these types of diagrams, but the tools produce an image that you can’t edit in PowerPoint. I knew that there must be a way that presenters everywhere could quickly and easily create these diagrams without having to figure out the calculations themselves.

After a few hours of work, I created a calculator that allows you to input your values, and the calculations are done for you. The calculator is on my site at www.SimpleTreemapCalculator.com. You enter the height and width of the overall area of your slide that you want the treemap to occupy (in inches or centimetres). Then you enter the values you want to represent within the treemap. You need to enter at least four values in order from largest to smallest. In the Results section of the calculator, you will see exact measurements for each rectangle that makes up the treemap. You can then use the entry fields in the Size group for the object to enter the height and width of each rectangle shown in the Results table.

To make the calculator work, I had to make some assumptions about how the rectangles would be arranged. In the treemap created by the calculator, the rectangles are always arranged starting with the largest rectangle on the left side of the area for the treemap. The next rectangles then fill in the remaining area from the top to the bottom. The final two rectangles split the last space left in the overall area used for the treemap. You can see this pattern in the example above.

When would you use a treemap diagram? I think it is a good option to replace a pie chart where one of the wedges is about 50% or more. Instead of the typical pie chart of wedges, you can input the values into the Simple Treemap Calculator and create a treemap diagram. Since each rectangle is a separate shape, it is easy to build each rectangle one by one with animation as you speak to that value.

Now that the calculations are easier, you can start to use treemap diagrams in your presentations.