Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Using a tablet or e-reader for Speaker Notes

One of the sessions I’ll be presenting at the Presentation Summit conference this September in Austin, TX is on the topic of being more environmentally friendly with our presentations. While PowerPoint presentations are seemingly all digital, they tend to generate a lot of paper with the handouts, speaking notes, and flipcharts that are used in many presentations. In my session I’ll be showing techniques to eliminate the paper associated with many presentations.

One of the techniques I’ll be showing is a technique that I have started to use that eliminates the speaking notes that I would print for each presentation and then promptly recycle afterwards. Instead of printing 30-50 pages of notes, I now carry those notes on my iPad and no trees are sacrificed for the presentation. Here are two ways to create speaking notes that you can carry on a tablet or e-reader device, like an iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or any of the other similar devices on the market today.

If all you need is a preview of the upcoming slides, you can use an electronic version of the Handout printout available in PowerPoint. I suggest the PDF format for the electronic file because it is a universal format that almost every tablet or e-reader can use. Print the handouts at four or six per page from PowerPoint to a PDF file. The size of the slide on the printout is the same in the four per page and six per page layouts, it just depends on how many slides you want to see at the same time. I find the nine slides per page layout too small to read on a tablet or e-reader. Transfer this file to your device, and page through as you speak instead of flipping pages in a printed set of pages.

If you need some notes about each slide, use the Speaker Notes section of PowerPoint below the slide to capture the key points you want to make on this slide. Don’t write a transcript of what you want to say, just some of the key words or phrases that will jog your memory on the key points you want to cover. Format these notes in a large font so they will be readable on your device. I find I need at least 18 point or larger for my eyes to be able to read the words if the device is on the table in front of me when speaking. Print the Notes printout from PowerPoint to a PDF file, which will create a document that shows your slide at the top of the page and your notes at the bottom of the page. You will have one page per slide and you can flip through them on your device.

After you have transferred the PDF file to your device, there are a few settings or techniques I have found helpful. First, make sure that the brightness and contrast settings are high enough that you can see your notes in the lighting of the room. Many of the devices adjust for ambient light, and I have found that manually adjusting the brightness has helped make it easier to see my notes when presenting. Also, set the auto-sleep mode off so your device does not go to sleep in the middle of your presentation. Since it will be on the whole time, make sure it is fully charged before you start.

Practice flipping pages on your device so you can do it smoothly. I use the Good Reader app on the iPad to read PDF files and it has two ways to move between pages. I can swipe from right to left to flip the page or just tap on the right edge of the page to go to the next page. Practice to see which technique you will be most comfortable with on your device. Figure out where you will put the device, whether on a lectern or table, instead of holding it, although you can do this too if it is comfortable.

I’ll be covering this and many more techniques to make our presentations more environmentally friendly in my session at the Presentation Summit. Check out all the great sessions at www.PresentationSummit.com and join me and 249 other attendees Sep 18-21 in Austin, TX. Get the early bird discount if you register by June 30. See you there!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Editing old graphs in PowerPoint 2007/10

One of the major changes between PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2007 is the way that graphs are created. In PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions, graphs were created by using a module called Microsoft Graph. Starting in PowerPoint 2007, you now use Excel to create graphs, which makes more sense since most of the data for graphs comes from an Excel spreadsheet. The challenge is that the old graphs and the new graphs don’t have the same format.

Even though they may look very similar, a graph in PowerPoint 2003 is very different than a graph in PowerPoint 2007. If you try to edit a PowerPoint 2003 graph in PowerPoint 2007, you will find that all of the new options are missing and you only have access to a limited set of options that mimics the older approach to creating graphs. You can recreate the graph from scratch, but that could be a lot of work.

My suggestion is to convert the old graphs to the new format. Double-click on the graph in PowerPoint 2007 and you will see a dialog box asking you if you want to convert the graph or not. I suggest you select the option to convert all the graphs in the file, since this will save you the time of having to double-click on every graph individually. It may take a little while to do the conversion, especially if you have a lot of graphs in the presentation.

After conversion, you may notice some slight differences. I’ve noticed that sometimes the text shifts very slightly. I think it is because they have adjusted some of the default spacing for some of the graph elements. Once the graph is converted, you have all of the new graph tools available for use, which make it easier to customize the appearance of the graph.

If you save the file in the older PowerPoint 2003 file format, your graph will be converted to the previous format and you may notice some slight appearance differences. The new graph features will be lost and if you want to edit the graph in PowerPoint 2007, you will have to convert it again. You may want to stick with saving the file in the current format since older versions can still read the new file format and you won’t lose any changes you’ve made to the graph.

This is one of the tips I covered in my webinar on Creating Effective Graphs. If you’d like to get a solid foundation on how to create graphs, you can get the recording here. Later this week I’ll be holding a webinar on Advanced Graph Techniques for those who are familiar with the basics and want some ideas to take their graphs to the next level. You can get all the details of what I’ll cover here (you can pre-order the recording if you are unable to make the live session on Thursday).