28 Oct 2010

Design a logo and win Rs. 100,000. Do not design & still win a book!

There is a designer within every presenter. There should be. The designer within helps you choose the right templates and design great layouts. It is the aesthetics auditor of our presentation; the one which ensures we do not churn out junk.

For those of you who are more inclined towards design there is a good opportunity. West Bengal Trade Promotion Organisation (WBTPO) is inviting entries from people all over India to design the logo of MILAN MELA. Milan Mela is an exhibition center in Kolkata. You can win Rs. 100,000 ($2,245 approx.) if your logo is chosen by them. There is also a consolation prize of Rs. 50,000 for the runner up. This contest is only open for Indian citizens above the age of 18.

Click here to know more. The last date for online submission is 11.59PM 25th of November, 2010 (IST). Every contestant is allowed only two submissions (in PDF format) and the size of the logo should be 400 x 400 pixels.

I strongly recommend you to participate. You don't need to design the logo on Adobe Photoshop or Corel. You can do it on MS PowerPoint as well. Click here to know how. To find out how to convert your PowerPoint files into PDF click here. Read Part 3 on WBTPO's website to know what is expected of the logo. Spend sometime, design a logo and upload. Best wishes!


But wait!
How will you create a logo of 400 pixles by 400 pixels in MS PowerPoint? If you have the answer, leave a comment with your full name on the blog. First correct answer will win a book. Can it get easier than this friends? Looking forward to your answers. [This contest is only open for people living in India due to logistical reasons. The choice of winner is at my sole discretion].

27 Oct 2010

Download Free E-Book by Joey Asher

Joey Asher is the president of Speechworks, a communication and selling skills coaching firm. He has come up with a new book '15 Minutes including Q & A' where he talks about how business presentations can become shorter. He makes a point that most business presentations are long and winding and what the world needs is a rifle-shot presentation.

He has released a free e-book 'How to create a Seven-Minute Rifle-Shot Presentation' which has been excerpted from his book. In this e-book he describes how a 7 minute presentation can be structured. Here is a snapshot:

1. Start with what your audience cares about. Their problem. (The Hook)
2. How you plan to address the problem?
3. Talk about the key messages. (The Body).
4. Recap the key messages at the end.
5. Call to action. What should the audience do next?

Click here to download the e-book (1.25 MB). It is a small e-book of 38 pages which is a quick read. Have a look.

25 Oct 2010

Change the font size of all slides within 10 seconds

On October 10th I made a presentation to an audience of 300. Instead of large screens I had to present on 5 LCD TVs (placed all over the hall). Because the screen size was smaller I increased the font size to 60 so people can see the slides. I wrote about it in my Oct 15th post. In response to it a reader & friend Manvendra commented on Facebook:

"Very true. Been in such an awkward situation last month. Now I carry more than one copy of the same presentation, ready for small as well as larger screen sizes."

Since I had visited the venue in advance I could manage to prepare accordingly (keep bigger font). What would we do if we went to an unknown place and found out that the screen size is much smaller?
Our slides made with font size 30 are just not legible. How do we increase the font size of all the slides then and there? Or should we, as Manvendra says, carry two sets of the same presentation?

Carrying two presentations might not be the best answer in my view. The solution lies in using Master Slides.

If you change the font size or colour in the Master Slide, all the slides which are linked to that master slide will change.

You must use Master Slide in every presentation. Open a new file in MS PowerPoint. Go to View -> Slide Master (in 2007). Go to View -> Master -> Slide Master (in 2003)


There is one theme slide (the first slide on top left) under which there are various layouts. The first layout is the title layout which is linked to make our first slide. The second layout is linked to the most popular layout for body (a header followed by a list of bullets).

All we have to do is to make a change in these layouts.

Go to the second layout under the theme slide (just below the title layout). You can click on the text box and make it bold and change the font size and colour. You can also add a picture/logo here.

Now exit the Slide Master view (Close master view under Slide Master tab). Now add a new slide to the presentation. Right click on the slide on the left panel. Choose the second layout from this list. This is the layout we just made changes to.
This is how we apply a layout to the main slide. That's it.


Now every slide you add, you just have to right click and apply the second layout.

The Benefit

If for some reason you want to change the font colour to blue of all these slides. Just go to the layout in the Slide Master and make the colour of the text blue. Automatically all the slides to which you had applied the layout, will reflect the change. It is that easy.

Coming back to where we started.

If your presentation has been made using Master Slide then to increase the font size is very easy. Just go to the master slide and choose the template and increase the font size there. Automatically all the slides where you applied this layout will reflect the change.

The Glitch

If you have inserted a text box directly onto a slide, then you cannot change the font size, type etc. through master slide. It HAS TO be changed by clicking on that particular text box on that particular slide.

Summary

It is advisable to make all PPTs using Master Slide. This way, you can save a lot of time if you have to change the font type, colour or size later. You can also add a logo on Master Slide and it will reflect on all the slides automatically. You can then delete it, if you want, by just going to the Master Slide. Need not go to each slide and waste time.

22 Oct 2010

Book Review: Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte has just published her second book; Resonate. She is the CEO of Duarte Design, a design firm which specializes in presentations. Here is a short review of her book.


Resonate is a verb which means to resound. To produce an emotional effect on someone. "This issue has resonated with voters more than any other." [Macmillan]



Resonate is a book which tells us how to convert our message into a story and persuade our audiences. We are aware that stories are memorable and understandable. But how do we convert a sales pitch into a story? This book is Nancy's attempt in that direction.

Premise: The objective of every presentation is to engage and persuade the audience. The ideology behind this book is that we need to become better story tellers in order to persuade our audience.

Essence of the book: Here are a few things which Nancy talks about in her book.

a. Understand the audience: In order to resonate, we need to adjust to the frequency of the audience instead of expecting them to adjust to ours. The presentation is ours and it is in our interest that it succeeds.

b. Create contrast to be interesting: A presentation can arouse and sustain attention only if there are contrasts; what is (current state) and what could be (desired state). The moment the audience perceives this gap they will become attentive and wait for you to show them how to attain 'what could be'. Contrast can be created in three ways; through content, style of delivery and emotions.

c. Emotional connect: Great presentations connect with the audience emotionally. Facts and figures only appeal to the mind. A great presentation needs to appeal to the mind and the heart both. To appeal emotionally we need to tell stories.

How do we tell a good story?

This is what the book is actually about. Nancy has taken cues from movies and myths and come up with a model which can help us transform our message into a story.

Storytelling basics

If you want to transform your presentation into a story then you need to know what a story is made of. Every story has these elements:

a. Hero
b. Hero has a desire. He wants to get something.
c. He gets a call to adventure. He is required to go on a journey.
d. He is reluctant.
e. A mentor encourages him to take the journey (call to action)
f. Hero faces obstacles.
g. He achieves what he wanted and comes out victorious.

Let us understand this framework in context of a presentation.

The Hero of the presentation is the presenter (we)... Wrong! This is the biggest twist. The audience is the hero. They have a desire ('what could be' versus 'what is') which we establish at the start of the presentation. This contrast between what they can become (versus what they are today) gets their attention and they now want us to guide them there.

Who are we then? We are the mentor. It is our role to help the audience embark on the journey (point e). It is our role to make them agree, make them act, make them buy what we are selling or invest in our company. The presentation ends there. The stages f and g happen after they have agreed to our call to action.

We will now understand the crucial elements of our story.

1. Know the hero: If our audience is the hero then we must know how they are like. Not just their demographics but their likes/dislikes. What are their problems and what they want? That is the only way we can guide the hero to embark on the journey. Unless we know their problem, how can we show them we have the solution to their problem.

2. Mentor well: As a good mentor we need to ensure we leave the audience enriched. Everyone should leave the presentation knowing something they did not know before.

3. Define the journey: The objective of the presentation is to motivate the hero to embark on a journey. So we need to be clear about the destination. Where is it that we want them to go? Our content should guide them towards the final destination like we guide someone on a map.

4. The Big Idea, Resistance and Reward: This is the main message of the presentation, Our point of view. We need to convey what is at stake (that's why people will listen to us). The audience will initially resist because accepting our point of view means giving up their current point of view. Hence we need to motivate them. Show them the reward of accepting our point of view. While doing all this the mentor needs to remain humble.

The book from here on enters the world of presentations and covers three things in detail.

a. How to create meaningful content?
b. How to structure a presentation?
c. How to design a message which is memorable?

The book is full of case studies where Nancy analyses great presentations and tells us what makes them great. And what makes them great? They are all stories told well. Nancy uses the story framework (discussed above in brief) to make us understand why these are great stories (and hence great presentations). Nancy also goes on to share lots of tips and tricks about making presentations in this 248 page exciting & wonderful book.

My Recommendation: BUY

Want to know who how this book differs from her first book slide:ology? Read what Nancy Duarte has to say by clicking here. Want to know further more? Click here to visit the book's website. Want to buy the book? Click here to buy it on Amazon at $19.77. It is also available on flipkart.com for Rs. 1077 (India).

20 Oct 2010

Participate in the World's Best Presentation Contest by Slideshare

Slideshare is back with its annual global presentation contest. If you want to have fun, become famous and win exciting prizes this is your chance. Pick any topic you are passionate about (it can be about a trip, a hobby or about your work). Make a presentation about it (need not be very long). Be creative, design slides well and be interesting. I recommend you to consider participating. Here are other details you must know.

1. Laste date for submission of entries: November 8, 2010 11.59PM PST (Pacific Standard Time is 8 hours behind GMT. Hence it comes to November 8, 2010 10.29AM Indian Time)

2. You can submit upto 10 entries.

3. To enter you need to have a slideshare account and you have to fill in all the personal details.

4. Slideshare users vote for your presentation and that's how you get shortlisted. Then the judges evaluate your presentation on its creativity, visual look and effectiveness.

5. Your presentation needs to be clubbed under one of the categories; Business, Education, Technology, NPO/Government, Creative/Offbeat & About Me.

6. You can win a MacBook, an iPad, iPod Touch & many iPod Shuffles along with a 3M PocketProjector.

Read more about the contest by clicking here. Also watch the presentation which shares more details.


To see what it takes to win this contest have a look at this presentation (which was the winner last year). I had analysed it on the blog even before it had won the contest. Click here to read the analysis.


This time around there are two separate contests. The above contest is where you can make a presentation on any topic under the sun. The other contest is called 'Presentation Horror Story Contest'. Here you need to share a bad experience you had while making a presentation. 10 people have a chance to win 3M PocketProjectors. Read more about it here.

What are you waiting for? Take out a few hours this weekend and upload your presentation on slideshare. Share it and become famous. This is your chance to showcase your talent to the world. Don't miss out. Even if you don't win, you will have enough to be happy about till the contest comes back next year.

15 Oct 2010

How visiting the venue in advance saved my last presentation?

On Sunday I presented to an audience of 300+. It was a short presentation of 15 minutes. Had I not gone to the venue two days in advance I would have ruined it totally.

The presentation was focused on sharing facts. There were parts where audience had to read what was on the slide and take decisions. The text HAD TO be legible for the last man in the audience. But this is pretty normal stuff. Every slide ought to be legible in all presentations. Why the fuss?

The catch lies somewhere else.

During such conferences you present on two large screens (with back projection). That's how it happens in India. But in my case instead of two large screens there were 4 Plasma TVs. These 42" TVs were placed all around the hall. If a 30 font size was good enough for the large screen, it would be invisible on a 42" Plasma.

How did I figure it out? I visited the venue two days in advance and found out that there was no space for screens; we needed TVs. But I had not seen how the PPT looks on these TVs. I had not even seen the TVs in action. The hall was empty when I visited it.

How did I tackle the problem then?
I guessed. The slides on the TVs had to be visible from a distance of 25-30 feet. Normally a 30 font size is decent for a large screen. I went with 60 font size. Instead of erring on the side of less, I chose to err on the side of more and that saved my presentation.


Having a large font size (60 is so so big) made sure I wrote less on every slide (which is a plus point). The slides were clearly visible to the audience. All my hard work of hours were not wasted because we chose to not have the large screens and go with Plasma TVs.

Lesson for the next time we present

Before making the slides think about the size of the screen. Will you present on the laptop, on a screen or on Plasma TVs? A 30 font is good enough for the first two cases but not for the third. If the venue is unknown (assume you are going for a sales call or to present a paper) you can always call up and ask. If you have no idea, err on the side of more. Have large fonts. It does not hurt. Any doubts? Any questions?

13 Oct 2010

[Personal Update] Down but not out

Dear all

My last post was on Saturday when I was planning for an important presentation to be made on Sunday. I will share with you how it went. But before that, some news. On Sunday evening I met with a minor accident. Got bruises on various parts of the body.

I am having slight pain but its getting better. Not going to office and managing stuff from home.

9 Oct 2010

Preparing for a presentation when there is very less time

Every presentation requires time. We need to think about our key message that we want to convey, choose suitable content, plan out the flow, design the slides and rehearse for excellent delivery.

This is theory.

In real life, most of the times, we do not get enough time to prepare. Your boss/manager wants you to make a presentation tomorrow. He also might have figured it out just now. No one is at fault but your reputation is on stake. You have to make a presentation tomorrow at 10am and you have just today's evening.

What do you do? Wake up all night and prepare? Work so late into the night that your eyes sore when you present and have butterflies in the stomach?

I am facing a similar situation today. I figured out at 1pm that I have to make a presentation to 275 people tomorrow. My presentation is for 15 minutes and I have to talk at 10am. All I have is today evening (and night) to prepare.

It is 5.45pm now and what do I have ready?


NOTHING.

I am going to plan it all out and deliver a good presentation. I am sure.
How will I do that? I don't know. Let me plan.
I am going to share everything with you tomorrow (or possibly by Monday). Stay tuned!


Image: Salvatore Vuono

7 Oct 2010

Interview with Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design

Nancy Duarte is the CEO of Duarte Design (a design firm which focuses solely on presentations) and author of the popular book Slide:ology - The art and science of creating great presentations. Nancy has come out with her second book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. The book was released on October 4. I caught up with her to find out more.



Vivek: After the success of your book Slide:ology comes your next book Resonate. What is the central idea of the book?

Nancy: Resonate reveals a way of creating presentation content that germinates from story structures and frameworks instead of a document mindset. Having worked on presentations for years, I began to study literature and cinema to determine how to incorporate tried-and-true story principles into presentations. Central themes of the book are that the audience is the hero (not the presenter) and that presentations can be interesting if you create enough contrast to keep the audience interested.

Vivek: Is Resonate a sequel to Slide:ology? If not, how does it differ from Slide:ology?


Nancy: Great question. Resonate is actually a prequel to Slide:ology. Slide:ology is about the visuals and Resonate is about the content. Content has to be a prequel to the slides since you create it first. When I wrote Slide:ology, I thought that the most pressing need in business communication was the visual display of information (slides) and Slide:ology addresses that. Once I started to see the principles applied in organizations, the slides looked great but it was really the content that was a mess. Beautiful slides created to accompany disastrous content is like dressing up a pig. Resonate deals with the pig.

Vivek: What was the inspiration behind the book?

Nancy: I set out to uncover why only a few presentations are riveting, while the rest are boring. I knew that there had to be an underlying narrative structure to presentations that hold the rapt attention of an audience. So, I studied literature and cinema plus studied the transcriptions of great presentations and believe I have uncovered that pattern. I also feel like we’re in a season globally where we need some transformative ideas to come to the surface. I’m hoping that Resonate plays a role in shepherding those great ideas into adoption.


Vivek: What should readers expect from this book?

Nancy: They should expect to feel empowered to change their world. I’d say the underlying theme of the book is persuasion. At the core, the only reason we are presenting is to persuade. The book will walk you through a process of brainstorming ideas that support your Big Idea, define the journey you want the audience to go on and then build a presentation that gets them to adopt your perspective, buy your products, or invest in your company…whatever it is you’re trying to persuading them to do.

Vivek: Who should buy the book?

Nancy: The book appeals to anyone who communicates (and particularly persuades) on a regular basis. I’ve been getting feedback that it works beyond just a presentation, but works for all types of communication that an organization produces.


I wish Nancy best of luck for her new book. To read her thoughts about presentations check out her blog.

5 Oct 2010

6 Tips to Become an Awesome PowerPoint Designer

If you make slides for others (as a professional designer or as a secretary/subordinate/colleague) this post is especially for you.


A PowerPoint designer is a person who works on the slides and makes it look good. There are times when you get to edit the content but most of the times you just make the slides look great. Your boss gives you a raw PPT file and it is your job to jazz it up. Having worked on umpteen presentations as a PowerPoint designer (as a freelancer also) I have six tips to share with you.

I have shared the tips on my recent article at www.24Point0.com. You can read the complete post by clicking here. Here is a small summary of the complete post.


1. Don't start by opening MS PowerPoint. Think about the bigger picture and then get into slide modification.

2. Customise and make every presentation unique. Do not treat every presentation as the same. Do one thing which is different in all presentations.

3. Keep your creativity alive. It is very easy to use the same template and same tricks in every presentation. That's not good. You need to challenge your creativity. Read more here.

4. Use a 'Presentation Brief' to save time and create an awesome presentation. This way you can add a lot of value to the original presentation.

5. Seek feedback actively from your clients/boss. Find out how much they like your work and how did their presentation go?

6. Know what your client/boss expects and work hard to deliver more.

Want to share some tips of yours? Leave in a comment.


Image credit: Stefano Valle