Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Editing Movies in Windows Movie Maker

Adding videos to your presentation can help you make certain points have much more impact. That’s why video is one of the most popular topics in the questions people ask me. I have a video training disc that shows you how to incorporate video into your presentation (go here to find out more), but sometimes people want to know more about the free video editor that is built in to Windows called Movie Maker. Microsoft has some training resources available online to help you get started using this great tool.

If you use Windows XP, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/default.mspx

If you use Windows Vista, go to http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/ec3fff68-e53c-4168-ae74-8557325e57e21033.mspx

I have found that Movie Maker serves pretty much all the basic needs to get you started using video. Most people don’t even know they have it on their computer, but it can be a great tool when you start including video in your presentations.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Get Free PowerPoint Training from Microsoft

One of the questions that usually comes up during my workshops is how people can learn the skills to implement some of the ideas that I share. As you probably know, my workshops aren’t technical training where I show how to use the software. I show participants how to design and create persuasive visuals that are effective at selling their ideas, products and services. If you need to learn how to use animation, draw shapes, incorporate audio and video or other key skills, you should first check out the training videos that Microsoft has posted on their web site.

If you use PowerPoint 2003, go to http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/training/CR061832731033.aspx
If you use PowerPoint 2007, go to http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/training/CR100654571033.aspx

These videos will give you the basic skill training that you need to get started in that area and you can take the training at your convenience and usually in less than one hour. Check them out before you sign up for a technical training course or buy a book.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Making Accessible Slides

Last year I worked on a project for my publisher, Prentice Hall, that was interesting and highly informative. The topic was how to make PowerPoint presentations accessible to those who have hearing or sight impairments. It is a requirement on some college campuses and we would all do well to be aware of some of the ideas in order to be able to make our messages accessible to everyone in our audiences.

In today's article, I want to share some of the key techniques for making your PowerPoint slides accessible. Not only will these ideas help when you have someone who is visually or hearing impaired in your audience, but in many cases the suggestions will make your slides clearer for everyone.

First, pay attention to the design of your slides. Make sure you have selected colors that have enough contrast. Someone who has trouble seeing needs a high degree of contrast between text or shapes and the background. Use the Color Contrast Calculator at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/colorcontrast.htm to check the contrast of the colors you select. Use sans-serif fonts that are at least 24 points or larger so they can be easily seen.

Next, make your content clear to your audience. Two ideas from my upcoming book work well here. One is to create a meaningful headline for each slide instead of a generic topic title. A headline tells the key message of the slide and makes it easier to understand. Next, use callouts on visuals to make the point clear. Someone who is hearing impaired can't hear where you are asking others to look on a slide, so use a callout to direct everyone's attention.

When your presentation is going to be delivered to someone who is hearing or sight impaired, you should also give them a version that contains what you will say on each slide. To capture your commentary, use the Notes section of the slide and fully describe what you want to say on that slide. Describe any visuals with context and meaning. Elaborate on text bullet points. Include a transcript for any media clips along with a description of the setting and context for the clip. For animations that show a specific movement, describe the movement fully. To see if your explanation is clear enough, read the explanation to someone who has their eyes closed and see if they can correctly tell what the slide looks like and means.

The next step is to create a document that hearing impaired people can read and sight impaired people can have read to them using screen reader software. The easiest way to do this is to use the PowerPoint feature to Send the presentation to a Word file (found on the File menu in PowerPoint 2003 and in PowerPoint 2007 it is Publish Create Handouts in Microsoft Office Word on the Office menu). Select the format that has the slide image at the top of the page and the Notes underneath the image. You will now create a document that others can read or listen to and get the full meaning of your presentation.

With PowerPoint presentations becoming more of a standard way to communicate information of all types, we need to keep in mind that our first responsibility is to our audience. We need to use the ideas above to make sure that we make our presentation accessible for everyone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

PowerPoint and Presentation Blogs

I am honored to be included in a comprehensive list of blogs on speaking complied by Andrew Dlugan . You can see the list at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/2008/01/04/public-speaking-blogosphere/. I suggest you invest an hour and click on blogs on this list to see which ones you could get useful information from on a regular basis. Set them up in an RSS reader and every week you will have a set of informative posts to review as part of your self development plan for 2008.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PowerPoint a force in the NFL

Wow, PowerPoint has come a long way. Recent reports are that the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL hired their new General Manager based on a web conference interview in which the new GM outlined his ideas in a PowerPoint presentation. For those of you who keep holding out hope that PowerPoint will just go away, I hate to break the news that it isn't going anywhere. If you want to advance your career, you need to learn how to create persuasive visuals and deliver presentations both live and over the web. If you've never delivered a presentation via a web conferencing service before, check out the webinar I did last year that shows you how to get started: http://www.speakernetnews.com/tsem/ts20070213.html (done for SpeakerNetNews). I wonder if I'll get an invite to the Super Bowl as a consultant for a high ranking NFL executive looking to move up - not likely, but nice to dream.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Identifying Possible Visuals

This is a milestone issue for the newsletter as it is the 150th issue. And I'll take this occasion to announce that my next book is scheduled to be ready mid to late February and will be available in both e-book and printed formats. The topic is how to create persuasive visuals. More on the book in future newsletters, but today's tip is one of the topics I discuss in more detail in the book.

One of the biggest obstacles I hear to creating visuals instead of text on PowerPoint slides is that people don't know what visual to create for the point they are making. They think that you need a degree in graphics or need to be a really creative person to come up with the appropriate graphic for different situations. I disagree.

I suggest you listen carefully to the language you use to describe the point that you are making. The words or phrases you use will give you all the clues you need. No degree required. Anyone can do it. Let's look at some examples.

Example #1: The product features slide "The ABC widget can be used in 14 different applications, while competing widgets can only be used in 5 or 6 situations." The key word to listen for is "while". This indicates comparison and suggests that a visual such as a diagram of photos showing the number and type of applications would show both numeric advantage and scope advantage.

Example #2: The financial update slide Typically, these slides include imported Excel tables of numbers and the presenter talks about how the current results indicate a potential trend in the marketplace or in operations. The key word here is "trend". The numbers may show a trend to the trained person, but most executives would prefer to see a graph that shows the direction and magnitude of the trend so they can decide whether it is important or not.

By listening for the words or phrases that explain the point we are making, a visual will become clear almost every time. When you are struggling to find the right visual in your next presentation, go back to how the point is explained. The words and phrases will usually provide all the clues you need. In the upcoming book, I will include an extensive list of key words and phrases to look for and what type of visual they suggest.

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be sharing more of the current thinking that is going in to the book and will let you know when it is ready.

My workshops are now including all of this new material, so now is a great time to contact me and book the session that will help your staff create persuasive visuals. E-mail me at Dave@ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com or call me at 905-510-4911.

I could not have written 150 issues without the support of you, my subscribers, so Thank You for your questions, comments and for recommending the newsletter to others. I look forward to serving you for many more information packed issues to come.