Tag Archives: Garr Reynolds

PowerPoint prowess pays off

PowerPoint: n. a presentation program that is part of Microsoft Office, which can be used to put an audience to sleep — or can inform and inspire.

Prowess: n. extraordinary ability

Pay off: v. to reward for hard work

I recently taught a two-hour feng shui class for a group of feng shui novices, and if I say so myself, it was RAD!

I had used slides in PowerPoint once before to illustrate a feng shui talk, so I knew how effective pictures could be. However I was still struggling with an A/V inferiority complex that developed in high school watching geeky male classmates run the Rube Goldberg contraption known as a movie projector.

Furthermore, I hadn’t yet read Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen, which is an absolute MUST resource for any would-be presenters.

First, out went any slides with bullet points. Then out went slides with more than a few words, unless it was a succinct quotation. That left me with….

Almost nothing.

I started over. This was my process (h/t to Garr Reynolds):

  • Get a stack of Post-It sticky notes and a big white board.
  • List all the points you want to get across – one per sticky note, and then  figure out what visual images would convey them even more effectively than words.
  • Gather lots and lots and lots of pictures – from your own camera, scanned from magazines, found on Google Images and Flickr. Note each one on a sticky.
  • Look also for images that are extreme examples (what not to do, before & after, stumbling blocks, etc.) to emphasize your point or defuse fears.
  • Shuffle the notes on the white board till they make some sense.
  • Import the pictures into PowerPoint using the totally blank slide as your template, so the pictures are full-screen (means your pix must be in landscape format).
  • Shuffle them around in the Slide Sorter View until they tell the story in a way that flows most naturally.
  • Now you can add some text floating in front of some of the pictures or on transition slides.

Here are a few examples of images I found:

To illustrate what a feng shui consultant does when she/he comes to your house – conveying both the fresh eyes which can see your home more clearly AND addressing the fear many potential clients have that she’ll be some sort of critical witch:


Or these three slides, which illustrate the dilemma of clutter. First the extreme possibility that you could be buried alive by it:


Then, the inertia we feel when viewing the clutter-clearing task ahead:


My audience laughed hysterically at this boulder – recognizing themselves.

And then I encouraged them with the concept of momentum… what happens once you get started tossing crap:


I’d say it took a solid 40 hours to put together 150 slides for a two-hour talk, and a lot of creative thought while I was half-asleep. But it was totally worth it.

Prematurely proud Powerpoint presenter

Last week I was so pleased with myself for my maiden voyage of simultaneously talking and powerpointing  for my feng shui class that perhaps I was overly presumptuous in calling myself a  Powerpoint Potentate: Presentation Priestess.

Well, at least I did not use clip art. I did not use overly wordy slides. I did not use wild wipes and noisy animations. I knew those were non-nos. And I had some very lovely photographs to illustrate some of my points.

But now, having poked around a bit on the web for Powerpoint pointers, and discovering two of Garr Reynolds‘ websites, I see I have miles to go.  I’m not talking about doing fancy photoshopped art, jazzy fonts, fades, etc.  It’s about simplicity, using the least possible material in the most impactful way. (His blog is called Presentation Zen – way cool. He has a book by the same name which I just ordered. I know when I need to eat humble pie.)

In one set of three slides he shows about gender inequality in Japan. First example is typical headline and bullet points. Next example says, “72% of the part-time workforce in Japan are women,”  over a dark background with a woman off to the side.   Final example (same background of woman) in HUGE text : just says 72%.   Pow!  The slide emphasizes the message graphically, but YOU are the messenger.

I’m excited about improving my skill with inspiration like this.