28 May 2015

Protect my slides. Make my PowerPoint file non-editable

I am running a presentation design firm and hence I get to make various kinds of presentations for my clients across the world. Recently a client for whom I am making an investor pitch deck posed this question. He runs a startup in Silicon Valley.

SP: "I do not want my audience to take my slides and use them. They should not be able to edit my slides at all. How do I do this?"

Well, the answer turned out to be quite simple.

Go to File --> Save As --> Tools (look to the left of Save) --> General Options --> Enter a password to modify.

When people open the slides, they have 2 choices. View the deck 'Read Only' or enter the password. If they choose Read Only, they will not be able to make any changes to the deck. They can only view it.

20 Apr 2015

Turn your Android Phone into a Presentation Remote

Microsoft has come up with a super app for Android users. It is called Microsoft Office Remote. With this app on your phone, you can change slides while freely roaming around the room. The app uses Bluetooth technology to connect with your laptop and converts your phone into a presenter remote.

Visit the Google Play Store and install the app. Then follow the instructions. You will need to install the software on your laptop / PC as well. All the directions are there in your app. Its simple and take just a few minutes.

Once you have the app on the phone and the software on the PC (and Bluetooth connection is established), you can open the desired PowerPoint file. On the top, near other Tabs will be a new add-in called OFFICE REMOTE. Click and choose TURN ON.

Now go to the app and choose the PowerPoint file. Start presenting.

I used the features and everything seems to be working fine.

The app lets you:
  • Change slides (go back and forth)
  • See the upcoming slides
  • Read your speaker notes
  • See the time that has gone by 

There is also a hidden laser pointer feature. Start using this app and start presenting with more ease.

4 Apr 2015

Embed your fonts before emailing your deck

Your slide deck is ready. You have spent hours, if not days to make it. Now is the time to shoot if off. But wait...

If you have used any special or uncommon fonts in your presentation, remember to embed them within the PowerPoint file.

The special fonts used by you will most likely be absent on the computer of the person receiving the deck. What happens when he/she opens your presentation?

The computer will replace your special font with whatever is available. The result - all the layouts will go haywire. The look is gone. It will actually ruin the look and formatting completely.

How to embed fonts in MS PowerPoint 2013? (2010 and earlier versions are similar)
Go to file -> Options -> Under Save -> Embed fonts in file -> Embed all characters

Now the computer which receives your file can display the special fonts. Good luck!

25 Mar 2015

Free Photos for your Presentations

Here are 3 cool websites which allow you to download high quality images and use it for anything. No need to link back to the site.

Pixabay (the best)
Startup Stock Photos

Pixabay is a cool site which has high resolution photos and illustrations and icons.

Check out more sites which allow downloads here. Do read the license or terms before downloading from any such website.

23 Mar 2015

Importance of Telling a Story in Presentations

This is a guest post by Jessica. She has written a post before as well.

It takes a lot of effort to create a presentation that captures the attention of your audience and makes them stay with you until the end of it. One of the most effective ways to connect with your audience while making a presentation is by telling them a story through it.

Why tell a story?
Who doesn't like a good story? Be it in the form of a good book, a movie or even your friends sharing anecdotes; as humans, we relate to stories more than we do to mere numbers. Research says that evolution has wired us to pay more attention to stories. Every time we listen to a story, our brains instinctively become more active. A simple cause and effect story does a lot to awaken our interest and make us think. Using stories in your presentations will also make your presentation more engaging and memorable. Also note that optimisitic stories are more powerful in evoking emotions and inspiring action.

How can you make your story interesting?
No matter what your objective is, you will fail to achive it unless you manage to grasp your audience's attention. You cannot move your audience into action if you don't inspire them. 

Here's how you can tell a compelling story through your presentation:

Establish an emotional connect with the audience
It is important that you build your story to elicit emotions from your audience. You need to treat your story as a person. Give it a character, a style and dress it up a little bit to make it attractive. The selection of words also matters. There are neutral words and then there are words that emote. For example, instead of using a word like tasty, use words like delicious, flavorsome, scrumptious and succulent.  Another way of evoking emotions would be to use visual aids to support your story. An image of damaged lungs makes more impact on a viewer, than simply telling them that smoking is harmful.

You will also need to focus on improving your vocal delivery. You must feel what you mean to convey. For instance, lower your voice when your talking to something worrisome, or speak loudly to express anger; quicken your pace of speech when you want to create excitement.

Keep your story simple
You need to make sure that you keep the story simple. Avoid complex story lines and sub-plots. If you lose focus and ramble on, you'll leave your audience confused. You must always stay focused on the subject at hand during a presentation.

Share a story that is relatable
It is imperative that you do your homework before you make a presentation. You simply must know who your audience will be. Once you know that, it becomes easy to create and tell a story that they can relate to. As an example if your presentation is about blogging, tell them stories and experiences of your own and that of other bloggers.

Use humor
Almost any presentation can be made better with a touch of humor. It helps create feelings of surprise and joy in people who are listening to you. These feelings in turn help in creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. By sharing a laugh with the audience you can make sure that they're having fun and if they are having fun, they will be happy to listen to you. Humor is the magic ingredient that will make sure that you have their undivided attention. 

Jessica has a keen interest in social media and content marketing, and writes extensively about it. She represents Godot Media, a leading content marketing firm.

11 Mar 2015

The Graphic Equalizer Approach to Slide Makeover

Your slides are important to your presentation. Good looking slides create a good impression on your audience. You are ready with your slides and you have some time. I suggest you use our Graphic Equalizer approach and enhance the look of your slides immediately. It is a slide makeover technique to instantly make your slides more impactful.

Words: Reduce the number of words from your slide. This is the most difficult job and you need to force yourself to do this. Can you replace all the words with an image? Can you convert the text to a SmartArt diagram / info graphic? Think.

Images: Increase the visual appeal of your slide. Have one large image (covering the entire slide) or use icons. Having visuals in almost every other slide is the way to go.

Bullets: Bullet points are dead and you can only use when there is no other choice. Reduce the number of bullets per slide. If possible, remove them altogether.

Fonts: Do not have multiple types of fonts on a slide. Choose 1 font for your presentation and be done with it. You do not need two different fonts in one presentation.

Colours: Have a colourful presentation but do not go overboard. Use SmartArt images with shades & tints of one colour, instead of having too many bold colours on one slide. Stay simple and elegant.

Message: One message per slide. If you have two charts with two different messages, split them onto two slides. Reduce the number of messages you communicate in a slide.

Run through this list and makeover your slide. Move from clutter to elegance. Move from beauty to design.

9 Mar 2015

5 Presentation Lessons from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is an interesting comic satire on HBO. The show and its anchor have some very good lessons for all presenters. If you have never watched Last Week Tonight, see this episode first. Most episodes on YouTube are 10 to 15 minutes long.

Let us break down this 11 minute video.

Part 1 (Introduction): In the first minute he talks about Halloween and then introduces the topic sugar. Lots of humor at the start. The show was just a few days before Halloween.

Part 2 (Making people care): Now comes the serious stuff. Why should we care about this topic (sugar)? Because the average american consumes 3 times more sugar than required. Visuals add to the 'oh my god' factor. Sugar also appeals to all of us naturally and hence food companies add it in everything. So hidden sugar in food is the real story here. Sugar is bad and we all know that. No one will bother with this old news. Its the hidden sugar that's new and interesting (and shocking).

Part 3 (Shocking stuff): Where is all this sugar being added by food companies? Ketchups, Beverage, Breads, Cereals, etc. Almost everything has 'hidden sugar' and this messes with our brain. Very bad for our health.

Part 4 (Counter view & the problem with that): Now the villains of the story. He mocks at the sugar association claiming sugar does not lead to obesity and diabetes. He digs up loop holes in claims of doctors and researchers (who are being funded by food companies). These people claim poor links exist between sugar and obesity.

Part 5 (Right to know): Whether sugar is good or bad, should the consumer not know how much sugar is being added to their food? The FDA is trying to ensure this by asking companies to declare this on the pack. But many food companies are against this.

Part 6 (the superb climax in all shows): He proposes every food company mention added sugar in forms of candies. A measure people can easily grasp. Not grams but candies. He encourages people to tweet using the hashtag #showusyourpeanuts :)

Here is the main message:
Most food companies add sugar into our food to make it tasty. This sugar is hidden from all of us. We have a right to know how much sugar is being added.

John is not trying to talk anything more than that.

If you have seen the video, you know why this guy is so good. Forget the slang and the explicit language at times. Here are 5 things we can learn from him:

1. Humour works - John Oliver talks about very serious stuff. Tobacco, sugar, native advertising, prison, Independence of Scotland, etc. but he add tons of humor into everything. That's because we all want humor. Life is too serious anyway.

2. Short and simple - A serious topic. Tons of research by John Oliver and his team. Yet what is the duration of this video? 11 minutes 30 seconds. What will normal presenters do when asked to talk about sugar? They research for a week and then present for 1 hour. The world does not care. There is no time for anything. If you want to get people to pay attention, finish quickly and get out.

3. Credible information - John Oliver gives you proof every time he says anything important. Sugar consumption data is from National Center for Health Statistics. Sugar is bad for us says AHA (a newspaper report is shown with date). He ensures credibility is there in everything he claims.

4. Videos & images - There is proper use of videos and images. Imagine listening to John Oliver for 11 minutes 30 seconds with no videos, photos and animations. It would be tough. We need change. John Oliver gives us that.

5. Passion - John is so passionate about his topic. He laughs, he moves his body, he makes faces and he is completely involved. His passion is infectious.

Learn from John and add some of these ingredients in your next speech or presentation.

4 Mar 2015

How to present at a management fest?

Management fests in colleges are quite common. I happened to be a judge at a fest last week. It was in St. Stephens College, Hyderabad and the contest was called 'Pitch Perfect'. 9 teams from all over India were given a topic and given an hour to prepare. They had to come and present their suggestions (a PPT) in 5 minutes. A tough task for various reasons:

1. Limited time to prepare
2. Limited time to present

Impressing the judges was the toughest job. As a judge, I realised, after a PPT ended I was hardly able to recall what the team had spoken about. I could remember just 2 to 3 things. After each pitch ended, I had to rate the team on the required parameters. So the crux for every team was to make an impact within those 5 minutes and ensure the judges were able to remember some of the stuff they spoke about.

So what can you do, if you are tomorrow in the same situation?
How should you present?

Less Content, More Impact

Less Content: Force yourself to share very few things in your 5 minute presentation. Depending on the task at hand, figure out what will make you win. In this case, the teams had to present a 3 month long advertising campaign to promote a new movie. If you say too many things, the judge will not remember. If you suggest 2 or 3 very innovative ideas, that's enough. Come up with something really good and then let that shine through. Do not cloud and clutter your good idea by sharing 9 more ideas.

More Impact: Try to make sense overall. Do not go too fast, because time is less. Having 5 minutes does not mean you will fit in more stuff. The reason you have less time, is that the judges want you to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Do not...
1. Do not have long list of bullet points on each slide.

2. Do not fill your slides with text.
Since you do not have time for visuals (students were given less time and had no access to internet), keep the slides very light on text. Less text is better. Have few words on each slide.

3. Do not have too many slides.
Since the time is less, do not waste it on making PPT. What the judge is looking for is quality content and not 7 PPT slides. Just have the topic header on each slide. Once the slide comes up, start talking. You can carry notes, as you did not have time to rehearse.

4. Do not go without a wireless presenter. None of the teams had a presenter that day. Thus they ended up saying 'next slide please' to the organiser every 45 seconds.

5. Do not speak too fast.

Remember, less content and more impact. All the best.