Word Art? Really?



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I’m so passionate about this I want to make a t-shirt line to promote it. Word Art should be banned from PowerPoint. It has never “spruced” up your presentation. I remember in third grade I did a pretty sweet 5 page report on dinosaurs and on the cover I used Word Art for the title “Dinosaurs”…not just any Word Art, the 3D red/orange one that was kind of diagonal and awesome.

Third grade was the last time using Word Art was kind of appropriate. Here’s a few things you can do instead:

  • Larger font (like super large if you want to make a statement in a presentation)
  • Enlarge your font and then use “Text Fill” to make it subtly gradient and/or transparent
  • SOME “Text Effects” are acceptable such as “Shadow” and “Reflection”
  • Search the depths of the Internet and find free/affordable fonts to download (there is some really cool stuff out there)
  • While your surfing the web looking for cool fonts to download, research “Typography” and see how Word Art is actually sort of offensive

Keep fighting the good fight fellow designers and supporters alike!

An Overdue Upgrade

July 27, 2011 under PowerPoint 2010

So this is embarrassing…I’m running a blog with PowerPoint in the title and I just opened my first PowerPoint 2010 presentation today! The good news is the upgrade from 2007 to 2010 brings only straight-up enhancements making up where PowerPoint has fallen short in the past.

My favorite things about PowerPoint 2010…

  • Fully customizable ribbon
  • Slide show video outputs with animations, embedded videos, voice overs, and anything else that can make a great slide show in one packaged video file (finally)
  • Awesome new slide transitions that are smooth and clean (forget the choppy “fly ins” and “checkered” fades)
  • MUCH better photo and video editing (including a screen shot feature which is good news for those folks using PowerPoint for training development)

If you are upgrading from PowerPoint 2003…There’s not enough time in the day to bring you up to speed. Microsoft has your back though! Click here to be directed to the MS office website and download the 2010 Ribbon Reference Workbook. This reference guide will actually show you where all the MS 2003 features can be found on the MS 2010 ribbon. If you just asked yourself what on earth a ‘ribbon’ is, then chances are your cell phone still flips open to reveal buttons and we have a lot more work to do! Take it from me, it’s never too late to upgrade, start with the guide and stumble your way through the rest, it’s the best way to learn.

I am just getting started with PowerPoint 2010 so stay tuned for the design tips and tricks you probably came here for :-)


5 Seriously Helpful Ways to Conquer the Corporate PowerPoint “Deck”



I know what you’re thinking…


that this is truly just a lost cause. However, I am here to tell you it is completely possible to change the stubborn corporate “deck” into a great presentation!

It’s no wonder these corporate presentations are called “decks” in reference to a deck of cards; the  dreadful things are AT LEAST 52 slides and very easy to lose your audience in the shuffle. I personally don’t even like to call them presentations, they are reference documents…long, boring, and tired reference documents.


So let’s dive right into the 5 ways YOU can conquer the corporate PowerPoint:


1. Think outside of the slide!

Keep text on slides to a minimum and utilize the instructor notes to dump as much information as your heart desires. When it’s time for your meeting, just select the “Notes Pages” from the printing options and distribute to your audience:


2. Do not copy and paste charts and graphs from Excel!

Attempting to do this will almost always result in distorted or ineligible objects. Use the “Shapes” tool to duplicate your charts and graphs. Yes, I know this is time consuming but this post is not titled “Quick Ways to Tame the Corporate PowerPoint Deck”.  The end result will be worth it…trust me. To get you started, click the shiny blue download button below to get your hands on a few tutorial slides on “Using PowerPoint Shapes”.

3. Use Smart Art!

Smart Art can literally turn your text (within reason) into various charts and visual representations. They even provide descriptions for each type visual to help you choose the right one for your information. If you have A LOT of text on a slide (like paragraphs) I would definitely implement tip #1 and free up some slide realty by moving a lot of your info to the instructor notes.


4. Use your brain!

I know, this is an absurd request. When you finish your presentation, quickly flip through it spending no more than two seconds on slide. This is a good way to catch slides that are too “wordy” or catch when you’ve clicked through way too many text only slides without an attention saving visual slide to break it up. This is where your brain comes in…when you identify these slides, read all the text, and think of ways to get the point across without having to literally write it out on a slide. Consider replacing text with a chart, image, process flow, or smart art. You might even find you don’t need the slide altogether…think about it.


5. Animate your content!

PowerPoint animations have a bad rep for being cheesy and distracting. Honestly this is true of anything you use the wrong way! I bet you’ll have trouble cutting with scissors if you hold them backwards too! Use animations to maintain your audience’s attention and avoid overwhelming them with information. If you don’t direct your audience’s attention they will start reading at random points of the slide which means you lost them before you even started speaking to it. Click the hyperlink below to see a previous blog post about using animations to capture your audiences attention.


Blog Post: Using PowerPoint Slide Animations to Engage Your Audience


There you have it folks, 5 ways to conquer the corporate PowerPoint “deck”. Let me know if this was useful and I will deliver additional “deck” killing strategies. Happy presenting and good luck!


“Just-the-Facts” Presentation Not Destined For Failure


As a presentation designer I’ve gotten the following questions many times “How do you come up with this stuff??”. The answer (which no one is ever satisfied with…) I always give Is that I see a picture forming in my head of what my slides will look like and quickly start writing down, sketching, or story boarding what I see. We all have amazing imaginations, we just have to learn how to harness and express the creativity. The first question I ask myself is what type of presentation am I working with here?

Depending on the type of presentation I want to create I have a specific approach or “path”. In this post I want to discuss the presentation type most people instantly claim “will never look good”. I’m talking about the informative, fact-based, “learn from these slides” presentation. The perception is making one of these bad boys look awesome is about as easy as growing flowers in a desert. However, the Discovery Channel will show you that’s not totally out of the question!

“Just the facts”- Tell me what I have to know and end it. This presentation won’t have too many images and probably won’t have the brightest colors. Long story short (literally) you don’t want a lot of distractions. The way to go here is making the words the star of the show and being creative with them. Think about animated words and varying fonts and sizes. Good typography itself can draw just as much emotion as images. If you do want to include images, keep them to a minimum. Consider a combination of full bleed images (sparingly). These presentations will usually require graphs, tables, and charts. This doesn’t have to be a presentation killer, no matter how many times you’ve witnessed a corporate PowerPoint disaster. Instead of copying and pasting excel graphs and charts, make your own using shapes and text boxes: 

Also, consider using an audio narration. The combination of animated words and a narration can be killer! If you doubt this then check out this video presentation doubleyourlikes.com – http://www.doubleyourlikes.com/fullstory.php?source=confirmation_success

The key here is not to get stuck in the mindset that fact-filled, informative presentations are boring and leave no room for creativity. You’ll be surprised what you can come up with when you have to stretch your imagination.


How to Remove Image Backgrounds and Borders in PowerPoint 2007



In one of my previous blog posts titled “Photoshop Quality Cropping in PowerPoint” I introduced a useful trick I used often to remove borders and backgrounds from pictures I intended to use in my presentations. If you are reading this blog post, chances are you’re on a journey for “out-of-the-box” presentation design and understand the value of using cropped pictures at some level. If you read the previous statement and you are currently thinking to yourself “assuming just makes an ass out of you and me”, I say ”touché!” and suggest after reading this post you click yourself over to some of my previous posts such as “Seeing is Believing: The Power of Images in a Presentation” and “10 Ways to Create an Extraordinary PowerPoint presentation“. Better yet! bask in the glory that is Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen blog posts on the use of visuals in presentations.

No worries, you can thank me later ;-)

Now back to the task at hand! What I failed to discuss in my first picture cropping post was the PowerPoint 2007 built-in functionality “Set Transparent Color”. This tool is aimed at achieving the very same goal of getting a sharp, border-less, background-less picture I so proudly proclaimed is achieved using my simple technique. With that said, I think it is worth while exploring how to use this tool and when it is appropriate.

I want to begin by giving everyone a “warning” of sorts that using the “Set Transparent Color” tool will not always yield it’s intended results. I will go as far as stating that in PowerPoint 2007 this tool will prove to be rather useless in MOST cases. However, a successful execution is an oh so sweet time saver.

Check it…

I will attempt to save you the time you would have spent on trial and error trying to make good use of the tool. First things first this is where to find it:

After inserting and selecting a picture, click Picture Tools > Format > Recolor > Set Transparent Color:

How does this thing work? Essentially you are isolating the desired image by making the background or border color transparent. Simple concept with not so simple implications.

The key to a successful image isolation is recognizing when you have the ideal conditions. I compare it to having all the right ingredients before baking a batch of delicious cookies. You can bake cookies without baking soda, sugar, and I guess you can even put “something” in the oven without the flour, but something tells me those “cookies” won’t be very delicious…

What are the right ingredients for a successful use of transparent color you ask?

  • The image background or border is a single color
  • The image background is absolutely not gradient in any way shape or form
  • The image does not have any kind of shadow effect
  • No part of image is the same color as the background it’s on

If your picture meets all of the above conditions, congrats! You’re going to have some nice results :-) All you have to do is click the “Set Transparent Color” tool and click the background or border color you want to banish to PowerPoint obscurity!

See my “drama-free” example below where I had the ideal conditions to successfully isolate an image:


Trust me when I say you will not always have the perfect conditions for success when it comes to the “Set Transparent Color” tool….but when you do, rest assured you are on the right path towards a kick-ass presentation.

Using PowerPoint Slide Animations to Engage Your Audience


PowerPoint slide animations have a bad rep for being cheesy and pointless. When used the wrong way, this is completely true. We need to think of animations as more than just just a silly entrance. When used in innovative and non-conventional ways, animations can be the most powerful aspect of a presentation. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at this amazing presentation created by Duarte Design using PowerPoint 2010.

If you watched that video and feel inspired, overwhelmed, and confused at the same time, fear not, most of us are in the same boat. There are much simpler and quicker ways you can use animations to enhance your presentations.

Take a look at my quick example below:

I am starting a short list on the slide and need to get a lot of information to my audience. However, I don;t want to drown the slide with so much text it leaves their heads spinning. One of go-to solutions is an entrance/exit “note” or “”info” text.

This allows me to build my list, have a quick side note enter, exit, and continue building my list with minimal text. As an instructor or presenter this is a great way to capture the audience’s attention while drilling in some key points.

My examples shows a very clean and very blue design. However, you should feel free to have fun with it and perhaps use post it notes or a paper attached with a paper clip. Whatever you choose, be sure it is consistent with your theme.

Don’t forget to keep thinking outside the slide, enjoy!


Seeing is Believing: The Power of Images In a Presentation


It’s no surprise that powerful imagery is a common link amongst great presentations. Using high impact images thoughtfully throughout your presentation can skyrocket your presentation from good to amazing. However, placing images on slides because you feel they look “empty” will take your presentation from good to good…with decorations.

So how do you know when an image will enhance vs. decorate? Try asking yourself a few simple questions.

  • Does this image help tell a story?
  • Does this image provide clarity and understanding?
  • Is this image relevant?

If your answer is yes to those three questions then you are on the right track. Images placed on a slide to simply take up space means you run the risk of distracting and confusing your audience.

The human mind tends to be very visual.

Use this to your advantage! During my storyboard process I like to sketch my ideas of potential images and try to find a close match when i begin creating the slide.

A personal favorite method of mine is to type out the content in the instructor notes, including a brief statement of what I want the audience to take away from it and then think of how I can convey that message visually. This may sound like extra work, but I think seeing is believing. Let’s say you walk into a car dealership and you are approached by two salesman. Salesman A describes a car to you, promises it’s great, and tells you the price. Salesman B pulls up in a brand new car and walks you through inside and out. He tells you the price on a test drive while you grip the steering wheel with a big smile on your face.

Let’s PowerPoint this dilemma…


Something tells me salesman B has much better shot at getting the sale :-)

If you want to know where you can obtain high impact images for you presentation I am happy to direct you to the master of presentation design Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen blog. Follow the link to a great post where he lists his top sources for paid (affordable) high quality images and good free ones. Enjoy!


PowerPoint Collaboration on Facebook

July 27, 2010 under Community and Collaboration

The past month has been a whirlwind learning experience for me. Starting this blog has opened my eyes to so many awesome presentation design resources and opportunities. I have big plans for PowerPoint Symphony and I am grateful for my readers who are on this journey with me. With that said, I was recently inspired by none other than the ProBlogger himself  to take PowerPoint Symphony to the world of Facebook.

I was a bit hesitant at first but I was sold on the Idea of collaboration, sharing, and overall thought provoking interactions. The beauty of presentation design is that possibilities are endless which means all of us can contribute and share unique ideas and perspectives.

I urge you all to check out the various PowerPoint focused pages on Facebook and interact with your fellow designers and knowledge seekers. Allow me a shameless plug for my PowerPoint Symphony Facebook page which i hope can one day be the platform for collaboration I envision:

Click my Facebook page “welcome page” below (which was totally created in PowerPoint) to join!


sticky notes

Presentation Storyboards

July 25, 2010 under Presentation Design Philosophies

Creating a storyboard before beginning the development of your presentation is the key to a great presentation.

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is like a map of your presentation. A storyboard is usually a visual representation of your entire presentation so you can hit the ground running when you begin creating your slides.

For example:

Having a storyboard will make your life so much easier when you start your actual development. When i started creating storyboards I saved so much time while building my slides because I had a map right in front of me. Yes a storyboard should be an actual document you can hold in your hand when you start building slides. I have tried a few different applications for storyboarding and have found success with each method.

PowerPoint Handouts:

Printing out blank PowerPoint handouts is a great way to build a storyboard. Open a blank presentation and navigate to the “Print Preview” screen. Under “Print What”, select handouts (3 per page). It is important you select 3 per page to obtain the slide/text line print combination.

Mind Mapping Tools:

I talked about mind mapping tools in a previous post about getting your presentation ideas out of your head. I find these tools are also great for storyboarding. I use “IThoughtsHD” on my Ipad and I love it! However there are web based mind mapping applications that work just as well:


Microsoft Visio:

If you have Visio t definitely recommend it for storyboarding.However  I wouldn’t open a new tab right now to go off and purchase it if you don’t have it. Visio is mainly used for process maps which makes it a good tool for storyboarding. Visio allows you to place objects on a grid and easily connect them using connector tools. This makes it easy to insert shapes and objects and connect them to build out your storyboard.

Sticky Notes:

Never underestimate the power of sticky notes on a whiteboard. If you have the whiteboard real estate in your home or office I suggest you give this a shot. I think this method is a pretty exciting an overall fun experience. Whether you are working alone or with a team, this is a great way to layout your presentation as a storyboard. So i say go to town a packet of sticky notes and don’t forget your camera to snap a picture afterwards!

If you are skeptical about storyboarding and think it might a waste of time, i urge you to try it just once. I think you will pleasantly surprised just how much time you actually end up saving. Storyboarding isn’t just about saving time. It is a great way to ensure your presentation makes sense, accomplishes it’s goals, and the flow makes sense. Your audience will certainly appreciate it.


Create Your Own iPhone Icons in PowerPoint

July 21, 2010 under PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

This is more of a “just for fun” trick that may or may not come in handy during your presentation design adventures. Who doesn’t love the slick iPhone icons!? Well today is your day because I am going to show you how to create your very own iPhone-like icons using PowerPoint.

Begin by inserting a plain old rounded rectangle shape:

Next you will need to perform a rather tricky gradient transformation. Right click the shape and select the “Format Shape” option. Begin by clicking the “Gradient” radio button and select the “Radial” gradient type:

Next, select the “From Middle” gradient direction:

The next steps involve choosing the gradient stops and percentages. See my choices below and duplicate this for your shape. Remember you can use any color and achieve the same results!

Now that you have your shape at just the right color it is time to insert that attractive iPhone icon glare :-)

Insert a white oval and place it over your shape so that the bottom half of the oval reaches the middle of your shape. Also be sure that no part of the shape is peeking out on top!

Next you will make the white oval transparent (68%):

You are almost done! The next step is the fun part. You can now insert your icon image and send the oval to the front:

The last step is optional. I usually group all of my objects and “Save As” an image so i can manipulate brightness and such:


You have just created your very own iPhone icon! Now go off and create as many of these awesome little guys as you want. Enjoy!


Faded Image Header Effect In PowerPoint

July 20, 2010 under PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

Begin by inserting an image or a row of small images into your slide. When considering the quantity and size of the images, think about how tall or wide you want your header to be. The header will be as tall as the height of your images and as long as the width of your Image(s). For instructional purposes I will use the three small landscape images you see below. If you need help achieving a perfect image alignment, see one of my recent posts for instructions.

Next you will insert a rectangle shape covering the entire width and length of your combined images (or single wide image). Double click the shape to bring up  shape to view the format options and select “Shape Fill”. Choose the base color for your header. I will choose a slightly lighter blue for my header.

Navigate to the shape fill options again and this time select “Gradient” –> “Linear Diagonal” (see the image below).

Next, right click your shape and select the “Format Shape” option. You should already see the gradient options when the menu pops up. Click the drop down icon and select “Stop 2″. Change the stop position to about 70% and transparency to about 20%. Click the drop down menu once again and select “Stop 1″. Confirm stop 1 position is 0% and change the transparency to about 50%. Your shape and pictures should look like my image below:

Now you can simply add text to your header by highlighting your shape and typing away. Feel free to adjust the text formatting to make it bigger and bolder. In my example below i used Calibri, font size 40, bold, and left align:

We are almost done! As a finishing touch I usually bevel my shape. Double click your shape to display the format options. Select “Shape Effects” –> “Bevel” –> “Circle” (see image below):

The faded image header is now complete! Go on and impress your audience and share your knowledge with the world. Enjoy! (and keep thinking outside the slide).

larger than life

10 Ways to Create an Extraordinary PowerPoint Presentation

July 14, 2010 under Presentation Design Philosophies

Presented to you in SLIDE VISION!

1. Get rid of your busy (and distracting) template and choose a simple and sleek background color.

2. Dramatize using varying font sizes.

3. Contrast can make all the difference.

4. Use larger than life images to evoke emotion.

5. Don’t be afraid to use a little color.

6. Use images and metaphors to help your audience visualize your content…

7. Text can be way more than just font size and color

8. Maintain elements of consistency  throughout your presentation.

9. Keep it simple and thoughtful.

10. “Use quotes to captivate your audience. Don’t get stuck in your own template.”

Black and White Typography Design

July 12, 2010 under Typography

There is something about the use of black and white that always draws me in. Last time I was at the mall I walked by a retail store called White House Black Market where every article of clothing was simply black or white (or a combination of both). I’ll admit I was a little fascinated, but not surprised. It is an elegant, classic, and functional color combination. It is the ultimate contrast.

This inspired me to play around in PowerPoint and create some black and white typography pieces. Take a look at some of my creations below. All of these were created entirely using PowerPoint 2007 and none of them took me longer than 10-15 minutes.

The Spotlight:

  • The text is gradient with three stops.
  • The spotlight is a free-form shape tool (solid white and transparent).
  • The circular light is a solid white oval with a slight “glow” effect.

Hanging Out:

  • The text is simply solid white.
  • Each letter is in its own text box and slightly rotated.
  • The lines are made with the “curve” line tool (Insert –> shape).


  • The text is simply solid white.
  • Three white rectangles are included:
    • One occupies the entire lower half of the slide.
    • One extends horizontally the same width as the top of both T’s.
    • One extends diagonally through half of the X.

I hope some of you were inspired to create your own magical typography and slides. If you do please post, I would love to see some of your creations! In the mean time you can all feel free to download these (via PowerPoint file) using the link below. Enjoy!

Black and White Inspiration


arrange button

Little Big Deals: Nudge and Align Tools in PowerPoint

July 11, 2010 under PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

In a previous post I discussed how it is important to be detail oriented when developing your presentations. I have two PowerPoint tips that focus on the details. Trust me when I say the small things add up and help make your presentations look polished.

The nudge…

When I discovered the nudge in PowerPoint I was a happy guy. Sometimes I just needed to move a picture or an object ever so slightly and it seemed impossible with my mouse or space, or enter, or arrow. Then I discovered ctrl+arrows=nudge! I use it often to do quick alignments or fix any small issue with distance that bugs me.

Alignment tools…

Have you ever had multiple pictures or objects you wanted to align perfectly but was unable to get it just right? Well the alignment tools are there to make life just a little easier.

Let’s say you inserted the pictures below into your presentation and you are trying to align them with the same amount of space in between each one.

  • First select all the pictures. A quick way to do this is to hold down the shift key and click each picture individually.
  • Next step click the arrange button select “Align” –> “Distribute Horizontally”. This distributes each picture so there is the same exact amount of space between each one.

  • Then you’ll want to select”Arrange” –> “Align” again, except this time select Align Top. Your pictures are perfectly aligned and evenly spaced.

This is so much more pleasing to the eye. While it is small detail, remember that the details add up!

Get Your Presentation Design Ideas Out of Your Head

July 9, 2010 under Design Inspiration

The creative process is one of the best parts about being a designer. If you are tasked with creating a presentation I hope you see it as an opportunity to develop something great that reflects your creative ability instead of a daunting task.

All you have to do is a put a little more time and energy in the brainstorming and design phase of your presentation development process. This is the time to get your ideas out there, organize them, trash them, re-work them, love them, hate them, and then do it all over again. Some people need a pen and paper to get their creative juices flowing. Some people will turn a white board into whatever color their dry erase marker is.

Nancy Duarte and her team design striking, out of this world presentations with their preferred method of sticky noting.  The truth is no method is better than the other. Whatever you do has to feel comfortable and natural so that your ideas can flourish. Below are some suggestions that can help you get your ideas out of your head.

Microsoft OneNote – I ignored this program for a long time after my college professors encouraged me to use it. I rediscovered it about a year ago while working and now I use it regularly. You can write anywhere on the page you click you cursor. You can also draw shapes, include arrows, hyperlinks, images, and much more. It is a great way to brainstorm and conceptualize your slides before you start developing content.

Ipad and Iphone – There are plenty of apps you can use to help you design. I love my Ipad and use it durig my creative process early and often. Some of my personal favorites include “IThoughtsHD”, “Keynote”, “Sketch pad”, and “Adobe Ideas”. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m “on the go”.

Web Applications – If you read my last post on inspiration from web designers you might have checked out Smashing Magazine and discovered some great design web applications on their post about powerful time savers for web designers Including “pencil Project”, “zootool” and “bounce”.

Pencil and Paper – Remember that? It is still an amazing set of tools for designers. You can pick them up pretty much anywhere. Just don’t forget a sharpener and an eraser :-) .

The moral of the story is that it doesn’t really matter how or what you use to brainstorm and get your ideas flowing as long as you do it. Your presentations will  only benefit from the extra attention.

css beauty gallery

Inspiration From Web Designers

July 8, 2010 under Design Inspiration

Anytime I feel like I hit a wall and may be experiencing “writers block” for lack of a better phrase, I shut down PowerPoint or whatever development tool I am using and start seeking out some inspiration. I embrace this moment because I always get pretty pumped up about what I find.

The past few days a lot of my inspiration has been coming from web design sites and blogs. While they may not be developing presentations, they are certainly developing beautiful websites, graphics, icons, and templates. I have been continuously impressed by the artistry and design elements. These guys also have tons of freebies on their sites (presentation designers need to get on-board with that).  I’ll post some links to some of my personal favorites I recently stumbled upon. Enjoy!



Make sure you navigate to the “Inspiration” and “Design” pages, there is some really good stuff. You could explore for hours.



On this site you should check out their “gallery”. If you don’t find inspiration in there, then you definitely weren’t looking for it.


When you get to Sitepoint head right over to the “design” page and start browsing.


Just a brilliant brand identity designer, what more do I need to say.

Text Effects: A Clever PowerPoint Detail

July 7, 2010 under PowerPoint Design Techniques

When you start thinking like a designer (as you all should :-) ) then you will come to appreciate the beauty in the details. Sure it takes a lot of time, and you might even find yourself 200% zoomed on a picture with two hours under your belt. However, the attention to detail is always reflected in the final product and it is totally worth it!

Today’s tip is dedicated to a simple design detail. Most people, rightfully so, think about shapes or backgrounds when you bring up the idea of visual effects. I want you to think about text too! It is a small detail that can make a big difference.

In case you didn’t know where the options were see the screen below:

Remember to be selective about how you use these. The reason I refer to it as a detail is because it’s not always necessary but if used correctly it can help your presentation shine.

Consider text effects for:

  • Title or intro slides (not every slide title)
  • Transition slides (timer, break, activity)
  • Animate them (you can literally make text glow…that’s pretty cool)
  • Question breakout session slides

Those are just a few examples. I would love to hear about your success with text effects and how you use them. Feel free to comment or email.

Keep thinking outside the slide!

timeline 5

How to Transform Simple Charts and Illustrations In PowerPoint

July 5, 2010 under PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

There are multiple ways to transform dull charts and illustrations into show pieces in PowerPoint. Today I will talk about using 3-D shapes and transparency.

As an example I am going to transform the dull time-line illustration you see below:

Let’s start by adding a header where you can include a title for the timeline. Remember simple is always better so let’s not seek out a template and instead insert a rectangle across the top of the slide and format it. I will do the following:

1. Remove the outline

2. Make the “Shape Fill” the same gradient blue/dark blue as the background except add a 77% Transparency to give it some contrast.

3. Bevel the rectangle (shape effects -> Bevel -> Circle option)

4. Add a text box with white 32 size font of your choice (I have Calibri) and bold.

Next we will create a backdrop for the timeline events. Let’s start with the “2010″ and “2011″ headers. For these I just used two rectangle shapes, solid fill (dark blue), and 21% transparency.

The individual months are two identical tables (1×12). I formatted with white font, gradient (blue/green) fill. Note that I just created one and then copied and pasted for the next year.

I then added 8 identical rectangles along the months as a backdrop. I formatted them the same as the two month header shapes. Note that I also changed the shape outline to a light blue to make it pop a little bit. If you are confused so far, just see the image below to see my progress:

Next we will add the timeline activities. Instead of the standard rectangle shapes originally used, I will replace them with “Cube” shapes instead (Insert -> Shapes -> Cube).

We also want to use some color to distinguish the three timeline activities. Instead of all blue let’s make it yellow -> green -> gray. I also made them gradient (light NOT dark) and 25% transparent. Remember you can simply double click these shapes and start typing so there is no need for text boxes. Just be sure to format the font (I did white, bold, 16 font).

As a side note if you want to highlight an activity for any reason, a glow is nice visually appealing way to do it. You can simply double click the shape, select Shape Effects -> Glow.

See my progress with everything mentioned above in the image below:

Notice the “Go-Live” arrow is just gradient green (light gradient) with the same glow we just did to highlight the second activity. This transformation is now complete. When you do this on your own it does not have to look exactly like mine at all. Feel free to play around with the gradient stops, colors, and fonts. Also add some animation and build effects to set the pace or accompany pre-determined talking points.

If you get anything from this is that there are things you can do to dramatically improve charts, graphs, or any kind of illustration. Remember to just think outside the slide!

Free and Useful PowerPoint Slide Effects with Instructions

July 3, 2010 under PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

This post is dedicated to the free and easily attainable Microsoft online PowerPoint slide effects, transitions, and image slides with instructions included! I usually recommend this to co-workers or friends who need some inspiration when working on a new presentation. Those graphic design and presentation design experts out there may not find this totally useful, however, if everyone was an expert then i wouldn’t have started this blog.

These are easy to find, you just need PowerPoint and an Internet connection. When you click the “new” button to start a new presentation don’t click “blank document”, instead click the “presentations link on the left hand side of the window. Next, click “example slide effects with instructions”.

You should see the following page:

Download the slides and look through them for tips and tricks. There are some really useful animations and effects within each presentation. If anything they can give you some inspiration for your own graphics and animation effects.

Good luck and happy PowerPointing.

PowerOutage: Weekly Dose of PowerPoint DON’TS

July 2, 2010 under PowerPoint Design Techniques

Let’s pretend you walk into a meeting or a presentation in class and see this slide up on a screen:

Better yet…let’s say you see this:

This is the first sign you are in a for a long and boring presentation. People need to stop taking pictures of handshakes. If you are a photographer and think to yourself “I need a handshake photo for my portfolio”, I urge you to stop, maybe take a nap, and re-think some things. This image has been overused since the beginning of PowerPoint. It is time to move on and think outside the slide! If you want to show collaboration, or teamwork, be creative! Everyone has at least a little creativity.

Using the handshake image is like drinking a beer out of a can labeled “Beer”.

When I think collaboration, the following come to mind:

  • —The inside of a clock/watch
  • —Skydivers in formation
  • —A crew team rowing
  • Puzzle pieces or building blocks

There are so many more opportunities. So next time you’re copying a handshake image to your clipboard I hope you change your mind and have some fun with it instead.