Tag Archives: Powerpoint

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:

eyeballs1

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

cluttercartoon

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

boulder1

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:

domino-effect

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.

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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.

Powerpoint Potentate! Presentation Priestess!

Powerpoint: a Microsoft presentation program that allows public speakers to put their audience to sleep within five minutes

Potentate: one who wields great power or sway

All sorts of Powerpoint horror stories circulate in the public speaking realm. [Here’s a funny PPT presentation spoofing bad PPT presentations (is that laughter canned??? it’s not THAT funny).] I’ve seen many poor presentations myself.

But certain topics really can’t be done well without illustration – especially when the subject is something visual: art, architecture, design, travel, to name a few. You can use Powerpoint to organize your “slide show”, which is what I did last night to talk about feng shui.

Pictures are worth a thousand words when you’re describing befores and afters, the five elements, yin and yang, color, the bagua map.  The challenge is not bullet-pointitis, but locating the right pictures to project, building a narrative around them. And for me it was figuring out how to talk to the audience instead of the screen while managing the remote control and laser pointer.

Thank god my son was home for the week. I don’t watch TV and have never learned how to manage a remote control (though many women who DO watch TV can’t manage the remote either.

I feel like my skill as a public speaker has just taken a big leap with this new tool. I promise not to overuse it. Which shouldn’t be too hard because it’s still a pain in the butt to haul a laptop, projector and screen.

Precipice postponed: procrastination #3

Precipice: the edge of an extremely dangerous situation; a cliff with a steep dropoff

Postpone: to delay until a future time, put off

I can breathe again. I made my maiden Powerpoint voyage and managed to stay afloat for the duration of the presentation.  Obviously I should have done another run-thru on a wall more than 2 feet wide, because if I had, I’d have noticed that the right-hand 25% of each slide was truncated… for reasons I don’t yet know.

I talked to the screen rather than the audience more than I should have, and I had some issues with the remote control…   Fortunately, I know my feng shui material well enough that I could talk my way through the glitches, and my Toastmasters club is very supportive of anyone trying something challenging.

As I said earlier, I put off preparing this presentation until the last possible moment…  I usually love putting together presentations, but this one filled me with the desire to change my sheets, reorganize my file drawer, clean the toilets…. ANYTHING else.  And all this when I absolutely LUSTED for the projector which would enable me to do illustrated presentations.

According to the study center at Cal Poly there are four reasons we procrastinate:

1. Difficult – the task seems hard to do; we naturally tend to avoid difficult things in favor of those which seem easy to us. [this would explain my desire to clean toilets]

2. Time-consuming – the task will take large blocks of time, and large blocks of time are unavailable until the weekend. [especially if you have no idea how you’re going to structure the talk to take advantage of a new medium]

3. Lack of knowledge or skills – no one wants to make mistakes, so wait until you learn how before you start. [I’ve heard so many horror stories about AV equipment failures that I was scared even to try the projector!]

4. Fears – everyone will know how you screwed up. [This didn’t bother me for the Toastmasters talk, but I am preparing for a much lengthier illustrated talk for paying customers next week and screw-ups aren’t really cool.]

Cal Poly suggests the following steps to cure yourself:

  1. Realize you are delaying something unnecessarily. (Duh… but maybe it’s the “unnecessarily” we need to come to grips with. You have to realize this before days and weeks have passed – like as soon as you feel that twinge of uneasiness.)
  2. Discover the real reasons for your delay. List them.
  3. Dispute those real reasons and overcome them. Be vigorous.
  4. Begin the task.

I do think the secret is just to start anywhere.  Set a timer and commit to working at it for 15 minutes.  Wait awhile and do it again.  This is the swiss cheese approach. Once you’ve eaten a few holes in the project it suddenly seems like no big deal, and you’re halfway there.

What’s your formula?

Procrastination #2: the Powerpoint Presentation

Procrastination: putting off intentionally something that should be done,
from the Latin, pro (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow)

I am giving a talk tonight at Toastmasters, a dry run if you will, of a much longer presentation on feng shui I’m doing next week.  I can talk on this topic, no problem. I know my stuff.

So why oh why have I put off preparations until just last night (not that I’ve not been thinking about it, obsessing, even)?  It’s because I’ll be working with my new projector and Powerpoint for the first time.

I am actually an accomplished geek so I’ve been surprised at my reluctance to put this presentation together.  I figured out the PPt stuff easily – made a bunch of attractive simple slides last night.

What has held me back is fear of new territory – simultaneous talking and technology.  I’m one of those people who has to turn off the car radio when navigating unfamiliar roads – I may even be someone who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  But since I don’t chew gum, I haven’t tested this possibility.

I am writing this post when I should be loading the presentation onto my laptop, hooking up the projector and seeing what happens….  structured procrastination, as Ken Perry would say.