Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't end your presentation with a whimper

I can't count the number of presentations that end with a slide that says "Thank You! Questions?" or some variation on that theme. What a wimpy way to end a presentation. And worst of all, many of these presentations are sales presentations. Where is the call to action? One of the most important parts of your presentation is how you end it. If you are doing an informative presentation, end by summarizing the key points you want the audience to remember and give them additional resources to learn more. If you are doing a persuasive presentation (the sales type), end by summarizing the key benefits for the audience and lay out the next steps in the process. Yes, you should leave time for questions and thank your audience, but not on a slide, do it verbally if you need to. If you have set up an interactive session, the questions will naturally flow. Next time you prepare your PowerPoint slides, don't let the last slide be a wimpy ending, make it the best slide of the entire presentation.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

PowerPoint Tip - Graduated Backgrounds

One of the most popular ideas I shared on my webinar last month about creating your own custom PowerPoint template was to use a graduated background instead of a solid color. I find graphics in the background, such as pictures or logos, too distracting - and so do audience members based on the surveys I have done. If the background is too busy, people focus on the interesting details in the background instead of on your content. So a clean background is better. But many people commented that a solid color background was a little too flat and boring. And I agree. So I suggest a graduated background where the color at the top gradually changes to the color at the bottom. While this is a better idea than a flat color, too many times I have seen the color choices make a graduated background look worse than any distracting picture could ever do. Think green graduating to red and you get the picture. The trick to picking two colors to use in a graduated background is picking colors that will still have high contrast with a single text color. For example, if you graduated from dark blue at the top to light blue at the bottom, you would have trouble seeing any text color at one or more points on the slide. So my suggestion is to graduate using black or white only so that the lighter color is at the bottom. If you are using a dark color background, such as dark blue, graduate from black at the top to dark blue at the bottom. If you are using a light color background such as sage green, graduate from sage at the top to white at the bottom. Then, when you pick a text color, you will be able to ensure that it has contrast no matter where it is on the slide. I explain how to create a graduated background more fully in "Guide to Advanced PowerPoint Techniques" (more info at, but here is the quick summary. When selecting the background, instead of selecting a single color, select Fill Effects. Then select your two colors and pick the Shading style that has the darker color at the top and the lighter color at the bottom. If you want to get a copy of the entire webinar recording that shows you exactly how to create a unique look for your slides, go to .

Friday, August 11, 2006

How should Your Business Catch the Video Wave?

Videos are the hottest trend today on the Internet. From who reports that over 100 million videos are watched every month to Internet giants like Google and Yahoo who have been heavily investing in their video search applications, everyone wants to get on the video bandwagon. So how should your business catch this latest popular wave?

The first thing to realize is that most of the videos online today are created to capture attention from an entertainment perspective and the popularity of these videos can’t be seen as a trend that is relevant to every business. Creating an entertainment video is akin to creating an award winning advertisement for your business – very difficult to do, possibly very expensive and probably not that relevant to the bottom line.

So how can businesses use videos to their advantage? I suggest three ways that allow a business to participate in the video trend while remaining focused on the bottom line.

1. Customer testimonials - Showing a video of a customer talking about how your product or service helped them is far better than reading a quote or a sales professional talking about the customer’s experience. These videos can be used in presentations or on a corporate web site.

2. Training videos - As a lower cost option to in-classroom sessions, training videos can be used to get new employees up to speed or retrain employees on a new process or piece of equipment. These videos can be archived on an intranet site for refresher training. Some companies have even created secure parts of their web sites to store training videos that customers can view at any time, reducing customer support costs.

3. Process or equipment demonstrations - Instead of explaining a process by using a diagram or showing a picture of a piece of equipment, some companies are starting to use videos to "tour" the process or equipment. This gives a customer a better feel for what is being explained. This can reduce the length of the sales cycle, as has been seen in the real estate industry with building tour videos posted on web sites.

As long as you see videos as a new way to enhance the customer or employee experience, you will be able to capture the benefits that video offers.

I explain exactly how to integrate videos into your PowerPoint presentations in my video tutorial at .

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

PowerPoint Tip: Making Your Point Stand Out with a Photo

As I have written many times before, using pictures can illustrate your point much better than words in some cases. Just be sure that when you use a picture, the point is clear. A recent slide reminded me of this. The presenter was using a picture that covered almost all of the screen. It showed 3 objects, two incorrect examples and one correct example. The difference was very slight and in terms of the large picture, the section of difference in each object that the presenter was emphasizing was perhaps 10-15% of each object. The presenter verbally pointed out the differences and the audience had to figure out where on the picture the difference was shown. I suggested some changes that made it much clearer for the audience to tell what the difference was and made the point much stronger. I took the one picture and broke it into three pictures, one for each example. For each example, I zoomed in on only the section of the object that was being emphasized. I added a graphic arrow pointing directly to the area of difference. And I added text to explain what was wrong with the example. I then built the three examples one by one on the slide. Now when the new slide was shown, the presenter talked about the first example and what was wrong. The audience clearly focuses on the only picture on the slide and has an arrow pointing to the problem in the photo and text explaining what the issue is. Then the presenter builds the next example on the slide and again the audience easily sees what is wrong with this picture. Finally, the presenter builds the correct example photo on the slide and the audience can easily see how it is different from the two incorrect examples. The point of the slide is now clear to anyone who glances at it. Remember when you are using pictures, you need to explain it to the audience with callouts and text if you want them to get the full meaning of your message. Photos can be a wonderful way to illustrate your points. But too many times you may be unable to locate just the right photo or adding a digital picture all of a sudden makes your PowerPoint file too big to e-mail and it runs slowly. I explained how to solve these problems in my video on Using Digital Photos. Learn more and claim your copy at: .