Improving Presentation Workflow

                To keep an engine humming and running smoothly, a mechanic needs the right tools in his toolkit. Presenters, who want to design “Presentations That Sing”, need to have the “right” tools as well. The following are ten (plus) different tools (thoughts) of the trade that address presentation workflow. Remember, it’s about working smarter, not harder. When a presenter has the right tools, the creation of the presentation comes much faster and easier.

1. As a teacher, I’m all about learning, but I’m not in favor of reinventing the wheel every time I need one. Every presenter / presentation designer needs to have a PPT Repository at their fingertips. After you’ve learned, practiced and mastered a new design technique, it’s time to put it in your PPT repository file that you can pull from and use in future presentations. The slides don’t necessarily need to be “pretty”, but the PPT item you want in a new presentation can be as close as a “copy / paste.” In addition to your personal repository, it’s great to create a file that serves as your inspiration for future slide creations. These can be advertisements (images) from print or video that is put into a PPT or file on your desktop.


2. I’m all about shortcuts to workflow. They could come in the form of shortcut keys or accessing my “QAT” bat. If I’m under a time constraint, time may mean money. To help the process along, I put all the functions that I use the most on my “QAT or Quick Access Toolbar” just below the ribbons. Now instead on right clicking or going through menus, I can access what I need with one click of the mouse (or graphics pen).

3. One of the defaults that come with PPT is the default layout. Well, what if the default isn’t the layout you always use? I used to change the layout until I discovered an add-on for PPT created by Shyam Pillai called “Set Default Layout”. Now you can choose what your default is, just by using this simple add-on that you can find at:

4. There are times you may want / need to record information about the PPT elements or images that you use. Someone else may work on the PPT or proof where you got images from. Put your information on a slide(s) at the end of your presentation and then “hide” the slides during the presentation delivery. The info is there, but no one else sees it during the show. It’s a “win-win” for everyone.


5. During your research you may find information that you’ll need in your presentation, but it just isn’t the right format for you to work with. Conversion sites (that are FREE) like ZAMZAR are worth their weight in gold to help move the workflow along. As an extra… ZAMZAR also downloads movies from the web. Pretty neat, huh?


6. Image libraries are essential to PPT designers. Buy them, download them, shoot them yourself… it doesn’t make a difference. The one thing that is… storing them / indexing them for future uses and easier finding IS essential. Store your images in files on a separate hard drive or if you buy them, on DVD’s. The key is finding what you need, when you need them. This improves the workflow.

7. After you’ve found that elusive image, you need to manipulate it in some program to put into your presentation. PIXLR to the rescue! PIXLR is a FREE image manipulation program that is web based. Just upload the image you want to change (duplicates only, never use the original) and let the manipulation begin. PIXLR can be found at:


8. Need some shots from the web or some other program… need to create a video screen capture to use in your PPT? Screen capture programs can be expensive, but you just need a simple “click and save”. FREE programs to the rescue!!! For image screen captures, go to: and video captures go to:

9. Color duplication / recreation has always been an issue in PPT when it comes to creating color palettes. PPT still doesn’t have an “Eyedropper” tool to find the “RGB” values. Pixie to the rescue!!! Created by Nattyware, Pixie is a small application that can be used with programs other than PPT. Move the cursor over the color you want, and the RGB values pop right up. Write them down and plug them into PPT. You can find Pixie at:


10. Sometimes you may need to use audios and videos in your presentation. Again, those programs can be expensive. Two FREE programs that have been a life saver for me are: Moviemaker that comes with Microsoft Office and / or Windows and the sound editor Audacity that can be found at:

                Having access to all these programs and pre configuring your workspace will undoubtedly improve anyone’s work flow issues.  Bottom line… it’s about working smarter, not harder. For more assistance, go to: Until next time…

Designing “Ted” Type PowerPoint Presentations

     Wishing for a great opportunity as a presenter or speaker to boost your reputation to the next level and think a “TED” experience might just be your ticket? Unless you’re a celebrity speaker, we all need to remember that our skills as a speaker or presenter may not be the main criteria for selection.  Great delivery skills aren’t the key, but the topic and its structure must be cutting edge. If the presentation requires visuals and PowerPoint or Keynote are your technology of choice, the quality of the visuals must match the topic. Before you plan your first “TED” talk, it might be great to practice creating your visuals.

     “TED” presentations and PowerPoint’s are “Ballroom” presentations. With “TED” type visuals it’s about designing with emphasis placed on all visual graphics being aesthetically pleasing, simple to understand and help move the story forward. Let’s break down the components that need to be designed and address them individually.

• should match and support your talking point
• should echo the saying, “a picture should be worth a thousand words”
• the original source should be large enough for you to manipulate and still result in a small file size
• use impactful, full bleed photos rather than “postage stamp” sized images
• select images that are aesthetically pleasing to the senses
• use imagery that is interesting, new and fresh, not cliché
• the audience should understand the image / graphic / slide within the first eight seconds

• use a minimum palette of colors
• create a palette that is harmonious
• use the colors within your image as your source for text and accents
• incorporate the psychology behind your color choice
• use black to transparent gradient autoshapes behind text to help improve readability
• use color changes to guide the audience’s eye

• choose clean, simple, san-serifed font types
• don’t mix font types- stay in the same family
• select a font that has a variety of styles to select (normal, bold, italics, roman, etc.)
• have the font match the message
• keep text to a minimum and treat as a graphic
• should be able to be read by people in the back of the audience
• adjust the leading and kerning of your text
• adjust / vary font sizes to create impactful text

• create simple data visuals
• eliminate all “non essential” or distracting chart components
• explain the story behind the data

• should be purposeful
• use transitions sparingly
• should guide the audience’s eye

• keep videos to a minimum
• only use audios that are supporting your slide / message
• both videos and audios should be “clean” for understanding

     Now that we have our components, the next step is to think like designers and create our visual presentation. Layout is essential in the design process. If you need inspiration, look around you at magazine advertisements, television commercials and billboards. Inspiration is all around you. The best layout advice I can give comes from the world of photography and is referred to as the “Rule of Thirds”.

     Place elements of your image that are important on specific areas of your slide. These areas are called “power points” and will create balanced, aesthetically pleasing slides. You won’t create your ultimate “TED” style presentation the first time. It’s going to take practice, so now’s the time to start so you’ll be ready when the first opportunity to speak at a “TED” conference comes your way. Until next time…

Choose the “RIGHT” Presentation type… Ballroom, Boardroom or Classroom

A Ballroom audience A Classroom Audience

     One of the biggest problems dealing with the success rates of presentations has to do with matching the audience with the correct presentation style. There really are different styles of presentations and most presenters tend to mismatch their presentation with the audience they are presenting to. According to Dr. Andrew Abela in his book Advanced Presentations by Design, matching audiences with the correct presentation type results from knowing the motivations of your audience. Most “ballroom” presentations consist of an audience whose motivation for attendance and attention is low and reading text on a slide even lower. These audiences need to have a presentation that is high energy, visual and interactive. The accompanying support technology (PowerPoint) needs to consist of high amounts of imagery and other “attention grabbing” elements such as videos, color and animation. If you ask a “ballroom” audience to watch a “boardroom” presentation, chances are you’ll lose your audience. Boardroom audiences have a higher motivation to “read” text on a PowerPoint slide; “ballroom” audiences won’t.

A Boardroom

     When you use text in a “boardroom” presentation, make sure you don’t “bullet point” your audience to death. Expert David Paradi recommends turning text (or bullet points) into visuals that will quicken understanding since audiences learn quicker through visuals than reading text. Use charts, graphs, tables and diagrams to create more “visual” slides. If you absolutely have to use large amounts of text in your slide presentation, expert Bruce Gabrielle recommends creating “selective reading blocks” in place of bullet pointed lists. Designing selective reading blocks allows for both quick scanning and deep reading. The final presentation type we’re dealing with involves “Classroom” presentations and they need to be a combination of ballroom and boardroom presentations based on the level of audience / class to whom you’re delivering a presentation. Prior demographic analysis of each “class” is essential for success of each presentation. Bottom line, if both you and your presentation are going to be successful, you have to know to what audience you’re presenting and what type of presentation you need to deliver.

     Until next time…

Welcome to Presentations That Sing!

Welcome to a new blog concentrating on issues involved with Designing and Delivering “Presentations That Sing”. The purpose of this blog is to discuss varied elements that contribute to the success of any presentation— message development, platform delivery and support technology (PowerPoint). Check here regularly for the latest information and techniques that can improve your next presentation! Make sure to visit my sites at: and for information on hiring me as your next keynote speaker / breakout session leader or PPT trainer / instructor.