Tuesday, April 29, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Using PDF files during presentations

In my latest article that has been posted to the web site, I talk about how we can increase interaction in our sales presentations. I talk about the difference between a lecture style of presentation (one-way communication only) and a more interactive presentation. I then give four ways to get the audience involved to have more of a conversation. One of the ideas is to hyperlink to a PDF document, and that's what I am going to expand on today. The full article is at: http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/increasinginteraction.htm .

When you display a brochure in the Adobe PDF Reader, it usually opens showing the full page, which is usually far too small to be able to read or explain. So what you will need to do is zoom in on the area that you want the audience to focus on. You can use the percentage zoom drop down list, but the zoom is focused on the center of the page, which may not be where you want to zoom in on. Instead, click on the zoom-in magnifying glass tool and then you can click on the portion of the page you want to expand (you may need to click there more than once to make it readable). It allows you to show what you want quickly during your presentation.

Your PDF document will usually have multiple pages, since it is usually a brochure that you are showing. You will need to jump to the page that you want to show. Instead of scrolling down or using the Page Down key to jump through pages, use the feature to go directly to the page you want. Click in the page number field at the bottom of the screen and simply type in the page number you want to show. The software will jump directly to that page and you save time getting to what you wanted to show the audience.

You also have an option in Acrobat that can help give the audience more context when looking at a multi-page document. In the lower right hand corner of the Acrobat screen, you will see a number of icons that represent the different ways that the display can be shown. If you want to give people a context of where they are in a multi-page document by showing facing pages as if they had opened a brochure on their desk, select the icon that looks like two pages beside each other. Then, when you want to zoom in, select the icon that just shows one page.

With more documents being created in PDF format, use these ideas to bring a PDF document into your presentation for added impact. If you aren't familiar with adding hyperlinks to documents and PDF files, check out the Guide to Advanced PowerPoint Techniques, which has complete instructions to follow. Get more info at: http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/guidetoadvppt.htm

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coordinate with other speakers so you don’t duplicate content

Rick Altman, who runs PowerPoint Live (click here for details), and I have been corresponding about my proposed session at this year’s conference. He wants to make sure that we don’t duplicate content so that the attendees get the most from their investment of time. I wish some corporate presenters would take the same care. At a recent set of presentations by executives from the same organization, the most senior person used some of the exact same slides that the person before him used and some from another presenter. Since this company was organizing all the presentations, couldn’t they spend 15 minutes to make sure that the audience would not be sitting there saying “been there, done that.” If you are organizing a group of presenters, please take the care that Rick Altman does and focus on making the audience’s experience the best it can be.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where spell check doesn’t work

I was at a presentation recently and noticed that there was a spelling mistake on the slide. Unfortunately this is not uncommon, but this mistake caused me to investigate a little further. The spelling mistake was in the axis of a graph. My question was, “Does PowerPoint spell check axis labels?” My testing in PowerPoint 2003 revealed that it does not! This can be a shock to those who rely on the spell check feature (let’s not get into why you can’t rely on the spell check anyways). And it is one more reason why you need to carefully check every piece of text on your slides before show time. Spelling mistakes reduce your credibility and hurt your ability to get your message understood and acted upon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Using Hyperlinking

Last newsletter I pointed you to an article on designing presentations for delivery via a web conferencing system. Today I follow that up with an article on delivering that presentation via the web facility. The full article is on my web site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/deliverwebsalespresentation.htm (if the link doesn't work because it is too long, just go to the articles page on the web site and you'll see it there)

In today's newsletter I want to expand on one of the topics in the article. Too many times when we want to bring content from outside PowerPoint into our presentation, we see a distracting technique used. The presenter exits their presentation, we see them start up another application, find their file, open it and then continue. There is a much cleaner way to do this - hyperlinking.

In PowerPoint, you can add a hyperlink to any text or shape. By selecting the text or shape, you can then click Insert - Hyperlink in PowerPoint 2003 or PowerPoint 2007. You will see the options for hyperlinking to files or even web sites.

If you have a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that you want to open during your presentation, don't link to the Word or Excel program. Any link to an executable file brings up a warning during your presentation and still forces you to find the file you want to open. Instead, link to the actual document or spreadsheet file. Windows is smart enough to know that the file type should be opened in the correct program, so it automatically opens the program and that file for you.

During your presentation, when you get to the slide with the hyperlink, you will have to activate that link. Most presenters move their mouse over the link and click on it, just as you would if you were on a web site. This can be distracting. Instead, use a little known trick. By pressing the Tab key, you will be able to select the text or shape that has a hyperlink (you will see a thin white dashed line box around the hyperlinked object). Then press the Enter key and it will activate the hyperlink. This method is less distracting for your audience.

Once you are done typing in Word or doing calculations in Excel, you need to save your work and go back to your presentation. To do so, all you need to do is exit Word or Excel. You can click on File - Exit, but there is an easier way. Most Windows programs, including Word and Excel, can be closed by press the Alt+F4 key combination (hold the Alt key down and press the F4 key). This is a quick, less distracting way to move from the document or spreadsheet you were working on back to your presentation.

If you want more detailed instructions on hyperlinking, including how to create link buttons and use hyperlinks to other PowerPoint presentations, check out my e-book "Guide to Advanced PowerPoint Techniques" on the web site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/guidetoadvppt.htm .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Cleaning for your Presentation

I spent most of the day yesterday helping someone clean out their garage. They are moving this summer and we figured we'd get an early start on going through the accumulated stuff in the garage. Many of us will be doing similar spring cleaning around the house at this time of year.

So why not do some spring cleaning of your presentation. You've probably accumulated some slides that you've used for quite a while and they feel comfortable. But deep down, if you were honest with yourself, they don't work as well as they once did. Oh, they are OK, but you know your presentation could be better if you took the time to clean them out.

Should you replace them? Maybe not. Maybe you should cut them out and include more time for discussion and questions. Maybe you should leave that item out and expand on another area of your presentation.

If you do decide to replace the old slide with a new one, make sure it is a visual slide that encourages a conversation with the audience. No more bullet paragraph slides please.

Spring is a great time of year to look around and observe all the new growth popping up everywhere. Take this opportunity to do some spring cleaning on your presentation. I know you'll appreciate the results.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Interview with sales expert Chris Lytle

Recently I was interviewed by sales expert Chris Lytle from Chicago. We covered the single biggest mistake sales professionals make when presenting, the three things you can do to immediately improve your sales presentation, and the components to a system that every sales professional can use to create consistently customized presentations. The 21 minute recording is now available on the web site at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/lytleinterview.htm . If you sell ideas to colleagues, products to buyers or services to top executives, you will learn valuable pointers from our conversation.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Designing Non-Linear Presentations

Yesterday I posted a new article on the site that gives best practices for designing sales presentations to be delivered over the web. Web delivery of presentations is growing rapidly and these tips will help your next web presentation be a success. At http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/articles/designwebsalespresentation.htm you can read the full article. (if the link doesn't work because it is too long, just go to the articles page on the web site and you'll see it there)

In today's tip I want to expand on one of the ideas I mention in the article: non-linear presentations. Whenever I discuss this in my workshops it is one of the ideas that my audiences find the most intriguing. You can deliver a non-linear presentation in person or over the web. Let me start by recapping what it is before I give you some tips when planning to present this way.

A non-linear presentation is one where you give the audience control of the sequence of topics. Instead of going through the topics in the order you have planned, you give them a menu of topics and you ask them what order they want you to proceed in. It is totally focused on the needs of the audience at that moment in time and I think it is the future of presentations. Decision makers are fed up with having to listen to reams of irrelevant data before the presenter gets to the one point that they came to hear.

To create a non-linear PowerPoint presentation, there are three different ways you can do it - hyperlinks, slide numbers or link to module files. If you want to learn how to implement these techniques, get a copy of my Guide to Advanced PowerPoint Techniques e-book at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/guidetoadvppt.htm . Today I want to focus on three design tips before you get to implementation.

First, design your presentation in modules that can stand independent of each other. This means you should collect related information into some logical groupings. This is similar to creating an agenda for your presentation, but takes more thought because it is not just a list of slides. Think of how your audience groups the information to decide on the modules (ie. product benefits, pricing, delivery schedule, setup and support, etc.)

Second, assume that each module is the first module you present, and that the audience has not seen any preceding information. This will require you to include a slide at the start of the module that summarizes the key points from other modules that relate to what you are about to present. If you have not presented some of the points, it gives the audience context for what you are about to say. If you have covered the material, it serves as a recap and reminder of relevant points.

Finally, prepare at least twice as much material as you would normally for the time allotted to your presentation. Since you are giving the audience a choice of topics, chances are you won't be going through at least half of the material. Instead of guessing which half they won't need to see, prepare everything and let them choose.

Non-linear presentations help you stand out from the crowd and get noticed by decision-makers because it values their time and shows you are prepared to serve their needs.