Archive for the 'PowerPoint' Category

A Pocket sized Projector?

Friday, January 9th, 2009

For a PowerPoint guy, this has to be the coolest gadget of the year, a projector that fits in my pocket. It’s a little bigger than my Treo cell phone. I had read about its anticipated arrival months ago and as soon as they were shipping I ordered one to test. (I bought the 3M MPro110 from the 3M store for $349.) No more lugging around our “portable projector” which is about the size of a small lunch box.

A projector you can hold in your hand

When the package arrived, I dropped everything to play with this new toy. I hooked it up to my micro video camera, turned the lights off and played movies on the ceiling of my office. AMAZING! What fun. I could not wait until I was next in a client’s office to pull out this tiny projector from my pocket and show their PPT slides on their wall (or ceiling) instead of my laptop screen.

But, cool as it is, practical it is not. After further testing, it was fairly easy to connect it to my Thinkpad Laptop. The image is fairly clear, but 7 lumens is not very bright. It may be OK for watching a fun movie with your kids on the ceiling or an excellent way to show some family photos directly from your digital camera, but not for a business presentation. Even the cheapest portable projectors these days have at least 1000 Lumens. It has been years since the last time I’ve been to a presentation where they had to turn the lights off. With 7 lumens, you have to turn the lights off and shut the blinds.

I still think it is one of the coolest presentation gadgets to arrive in the past few years, but I’d wait until version two or three and a micro projector with more lumens before carrying one around in my already full pockets.

You can check out a more extensive review of micro projectors by my favorite gadget reviewer, the New York Times David Pogue’s mini projector blog post and review at: “The New World of Pocket Projectors”

Wow, It’s Not Easy Being a Presenter

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Marshall Speaking at Small Biz Tech Summit 2008I had the honor and pleasure to be a speaker at the Small Biz Summit 2008. It was a great opportunity to be on the other end of the slides. It’s been awhile since I was a speaker and not the speaker support person or on the speaker support team. I was speaking on a panel on how to transform your business. The panel presented 40 tips in 40 minutes. I had 10 minutes for my 10 tips.

I had ten plus weeks to prepare. I started thinking about it maybe ten weeks ago, but didn’t dive into it seriously until maybe 10 days ago. We were supposed to have the slides finalized and to the event producer 14 days ago. I’m so used to most of eSlide’s clients giving us slides for their presentation the day before they present, I thought 14 days in advance was silly. But it wasn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Start your PowerPoint project with a good template!

Friday, October 17th, 2008

What is a good template?

Many people believe a “good” template is a pretty background. If you do a search for PowerPoint templates on Google, you will find a zillion out there. Many are free, many are cheap, and most are worthless, besides providing you a ‘pretty background”.

Most PowerPoint users don’t know the difference between a pretty background design and a good functioning template. They find this out when creating a new chart, and they have to correct the colors with every new chart or even re-size the text with every new bullet slide. If the template is setup correctly it should be easy to start a new slide. A good template will give you a good starting point – correct colors, text sizes, spacing etc.

If you are working with a number of slide contributors it becomes even more important when you combine decks from different people. If you have a good template – combining slides is an easy and painless process. If you have a “pretty background design” template, combining slides from different decks can become a nightmare, or keep you up all night fixing slides.

Once you have worked with a good looking and well functioning PowerPoint template you will never want to start a project again without one.

Sleep Deprived Meeting Mania

Monday, September 15th, 2008

How many meetings have you had where you spent so much time preparing for the meeting, you left little time to sleep the night before a meeting? What is better, more meeting preparation, or more sleep?

I have a monthly meeting that I’m responsible for planning and facilitating. Since I’ve been in the meeting business for the past 25 years, it should be a breeze. But since we are in the business of designing and producing presentations, we are driven by client presentation deadlines. We often miss our own deadlines in order to meet our client deadlines. Although I am the least directly involved in the production of client presentations, I seem to have my own full plate of administrative deadlines.

I always start out with the plan to start preparing for the meeting the week before, but other priorities get in the way and it always seems a good portion of the preparation is the night before (just like our clients). Considering I leave for the office at 5:30am, if I stay up late to prepare the meeting detailed agenda and notes, I usually start the meeting sleep deprived. I definitely notice the difference in the success of the meeting when I get a good night’s sleep vs just a few hours or when my partners are severely sleep deprived, because of crazy client deadlines.

I wonder how many meetings are being run by sleep deprived facilitators or presenters? Bad meetings are often blamed on bad slides, but it could just be too many people stay up late producing (bad) slides and then don’t have the needed energy to present the information effectively. Their sleepy presentation produces a bored, sleepy audience and a big waste of time for all.

Just like it is illeagle to drive in NJ if you are sleep deprived (no sleep for 24hrs), maybe there should be a law against running a meeting with less than 6 hours of sleep?

A Meeting . . . to measure progress

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Red StakeA meeting is often a stake in the ground to evaluate where you are and where you are going. I believe this is what adds to the stress of preparing for and having a meeting. It is not just the stress of producing the meeting event and the preparation of the presentation content and slides, but the stress of evaluating your progress and being evaluated as you present the status of your project. Your audience is always judging you on your delivery, but more important they are evaluating the content of your presentation and the success or failure of your meeting purpose. Do they buy into what you are presenting or are you wasting their time and yours?

More Slides for Non-native Language Audiences

Friday, June 20th, 2008

earthIn this flattening world, it is becoming more important than ever to have good visuals that support your message when presenting to a global audience.

As you present globally with web online presentation tools or even in person, it is a good idea to support your speech with enhanced visuals that support your message. This will help your non-native language speaking audience members keep up with the rest of the audience.

I have been in the corporate review of evaluating how to improve online web meetings, where members of the the worldwide corporate audience requested more slides for the next monthly meeting because they found as non-native English speakers they understood information better when they were able to read it, besides hear the presentation.

Think about it. If you speak English as a second language, it would be easier to comprehend complex concepts during a presentation if the information could be read besides heard on the phone line. Very often it is easier for people to read information (at their own pace) to support the fast speaking presenter. The answer for improved meeting communication in a multi-language audience is use more slides. Also remember that a good visual can be thought of as an international language if done correctly. When presenting Globally use more slides, even if they are simple text and data slides it will help your non-native English speaking audience members.

Be Aware of Presenters without Slides!

Monday, May 19th, 2008

I went to a meeting the other day where 3 of the 5 presenters did not have slides. They were all “OK” speakers, but it occurred to me that it was obvious that the 3 with no slides were less prepared and sort of rambled on at times. They all had speaker experience and were experts on the topics they spoke. But is was clear to me that the only one that had taken the time to prepare for the meeting was the one with slides. In this day and age of the occasional trend of “no-PPT” meeting people seem to take less time preparing for their meetings and therefore have less productive meetings.

Good meetings do require time to prepare. Often meetings where information is being shared, if you don’t take the time prepare a strategy for the best way to share the information there is less chance of successfully sharing the information successfully. Successful sharing of the information might be producing a handout and/or PowerPoint slides that summarize the key points or detail the highlights of the content to be shared.

The next time I get invited to a meeting without PowerPoint or handouts, I’m going to pass on the meeting.

Save Money by doing your own slides?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I heard this comment today by a employee of a large company. He said the comment came from a fellow employee who was disturbed by the amount of the cost to use outside companies to do PowerPoint and thought money  could be saved by doing it yourself or using internal resources.

I agree. Yes you could save money by doing it yourself or using an administrative person to assist in creating PowerPoint. In fact if you want I will give you the cell phone number of my 12 year old daughter and she can do PowerPoint for you at her babysitting rate of $5.00/hr. Yes, anyone who can use a computer today can probably create some PowerPoint slides.

But few people these days have the talent or skill to create PowerPoint slides that can communicate a message the way a professional presentation graphic artist can. And they can probably create the slides in a quarter of the time it would take to do yourself – saving you plenty of time to do the job you were being paid the big bucks to do.

Just like anyone can throw a meal together that is editable, but few people can cook like a master chef or make cooking look so easy and taste so good. Anyone can throw paint on a canvas and call it art, but few can do it and get paid for it, and even fewer can get paid to make a living from it.

Maybe the next big company blog post will be a suggestion that the company should stop using outside companies for their advertising needs. They can create their own videos with their cell phone camera’s and post them on or maybe get them into commercial time for the 6pm news?

Maybe they do spend too much money on outside resources for slides . . . because they are not using the right company for the task. Are they hiring their PR firm or Advertising firm to do PowerPoint? Again, anyone can use Powerpoint, any graphic artist can surely come up with some decent looking slides, maybe even some pretty slides. But why hire an expensive general contractor when the job can be better accomplished by a specialist? A specialist that has honed their skills designing and developing visual images for PowerPoint for years.

 What is the cost savings to the company when a highly compensated executive take times away from his “real job” to spend hours figuring out how to make effective slides communicating important messages? What is the cost savings when the executive does not successfully communicate the important message to the group he’s presenting to? A lost sale, a lost business objective, a lost opportunity to inspire a group to innovate and drive the company forward to growth and success?

Everyone loves to hate meetings and loves even more to hate PowerPoint. They don’t really hate PowerPoint, they really hate BAD PowerPoint because it is bad PowerPoint that causes bad meetings.

The real irony of their post about not using outside slide vendors is that if they used a professional presentation graphic artist studio to help them produce some effective visuals to communicate their cost saving message, they might actually succeed in implementing their suggestion. . . but
I don’t have to worry about that.



Tele Class Can’t Cut-it

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

redphone1.jpgI participated in a one hour Tele-Class today. It was disapointing for a number of reasons. I suspect there were 25-50 participants and 2 speakers. It started off with some technical difficulties. One of the speakers had the wrong number and was not in the call at first. Then when the call was switched to record it knocked everyone off out of the call. I and others had to dial-in 3 or 4 times to get back into the call. I missed the first half of the first presenter.

I felt like it was a step back in time, like listening to an old AM radio show. There were some noise in the background including a few people who obviously did not know how to mute thier phones. I found myself watching some email coming in, then answering a few emails, and the phone call became the background.

The big problem . . . NO VISUALS. Not even some bad PPT visuals. I have to admit that I’m biased a bit (or a lot) on the value of visuals, but this is the age of YouTube and VISUALs. Show me a talking head, show me a bad PPT, but show me something.

Wow, It’s Not Easy Being a Speaker

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

I had the honor and pleasure to be a speaker at the Small Biz Summit 2008 today. It was a great opportunity to be on the other end of the slides. It’s been a while since I was a speaker and not the speaker support person or on the speaker support team. I was speaking on a Panel on how to transform your business. The panel presented 40 tips in 40 minutes. I had 10 minutes for my 10 tips. I had ten plus weeks to prepare. I started thinking about it maybe ten weeks ago, but didn’t dive into it seriously until maybe 10 days ago. We were supposed to have the slides finalized and to the event producer 14 days ago. I’m so used to most of eSlide’s clients giving us slides for their presentation the day before they are to present, I kind of thought 14 days in advance was silly. But it wasn’t.  Read the rest of this entry »