[Video] Dishing on Presentations 2017 with Nolan Haims, Rick Altman and Ellen Finkelstein


In this latest edition of Dishing on Presentations, editor Sharyn Fitzpatrick has great in-depth conversations with Rick Altman, host of the Presentation Summit, and Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs, Ellen Finkelstein and Nolan Haims. Topics discussed include visual storytelling, iconography, flat design trends, the Presentation Guild,  using 3D with Office 365, and so much more.  Enjoy!

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Sharyn Fitzpatrick
Editor, PresentationXpert
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Presentation Guild Releases its First Presentation Industry Benchmark Salary Survey Report


As you recently read here in the PresentationXpert October and November newsletters, the Presentation Guild is now a part of the scene. And this week, a first-of-its-kind salary survey report makes its debut.

A bit of background, in case you missed it. The Presentation Guild is the new nonprofit trade association for folks like us. I’m Tony Ramos, one of the Guild’s twelve directors, and a presentation designer since 1993. Guild members are more often found behind the stage rather than behind the podium. We carry titles like presentation designer or small business owner or (perhaps begrudgingly) the slide person.

We officially launched the Guild in October 2016 during the Presentation Summit after nearly two years of planning and preparation. The board combined its strengths as professional presenters, presentation designers, trainers, authors, and software experts to connect people like you, elevate our field, and improve the world’s presentations. No small task. To this end, we’re offering traditional association benefits like education, networking, and communications. We’ve created live webinars, webcasts, social media, forums, newsletters, and online classes. Future projects are underway, including publishing industry standards based on board and member input, professional skills certifications, software discounts, job postings, portfolio showcases, and other ideas. Maybe it’s that one idea you’ve wanted to bring to life but had no network to activate. (All the presentation entrepreneurs and innovators reading this? You’re welcome.)


Presentation Guild at Presentation Summit, October 2016

For now, achieving the right mix of community, training, and support is our daily goal. Long term, we want to help set the presentation professional in the public spotlight as an essential industry position. It follows that we need to see what that position looks like today. Time for a survey!

Salary Survey Released

In August and September 2016, the Presentation Guild conducted a first-of-its-kind salary survey. It consisted of 18 questions designed to benchmark the compensation characteristics of the average presentationist (an individual who works in the presentation industry). We received 133 responses to our email and social media invitations to US-based presentationists. Our resulting analysis is a 26-page report available as a PDF.

Key Highlights
  • We are most likely to be between 45–64 years old
  • We are 1.4 times more likely to be female than male
  • Three-fourths of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • We are 4.6 times more likely to work in New York or California than any other state
  • We are 1.5 times more likely to work in-house for a corporation than other work environments
  • We have an average of 15 years’ experience
  • Average annual salary range? See page 16 of your copy of the report
Data Worth Highlighting
What is your job title?

One item that’s always piqued my curiosity is job title. For a decade, I supported a department of dozens of people, and they had almost as many names and descriptions for me: PowerPoint specialist, presentation guru, graphics guy, slide jockey.

The good news is that our professional field is still new enough that the world has not yet settled on a label to categorize us. Eighteen job titlepercent of respondents go by Presentation Designer. Nine percent are called Graphic Designer. But 39% go by titles which were not among the options offered by name in our survey. What does this mean? I think (and hope) it means we still have the latitude to define ourselves in words and aim it toward the future. I’m not saying you should suggest your boss promote you to Vice President of Words and Images, but keep in mind that Guy Kawasaki invented his own title and role (Chief Evangelist) at Apple way back when.

More realistically, however, the question of job title can get complicated. Add the survey finding that, for the majority of us, presentation work is considered an adjunct responsibility and is not considered our primary job even though a majority of our work hours are spent on presentations. To be working on a variety of tasks which are not 100% presentations may be ideal for you, or maybe not so much.

If you’re your own boss (and another survey page shows that a good many of us are), your options are even greater. President or CEO or consultant are easily understood and useful in a business context. Yet I would not downplay the potential conversations you could initiate by calling yourself PowerPoint Wizard or Digital Storyteller or even Presentationist. It has worked for me.

What is the highest level of education you have completed?

Smart set, we are. Three-fourths of us have a bachelor’s degree or higher. What this means depends on your situation.
Let’s say you’re self-employed, either as a solo practitioner or head of a small design studio. Your advancement is not tied to your level college eof formal education as much as it would be in a large organization, generally speaking. You’re more likely interested in highly specialized training that can be put to immediate and specific use, such as learning VBA coding.

If you’re an employee at a big company, though, you might read this survey with different purpose and urgency. That purpose may be to demonstrate that you might be fairly paid or underpaid commensurate with your education level. (If you are overpaid, well, I might direct you to the lovely Shopping page of our website.)

Either way, the majority of presentation professionals lack formal training in areas of presentation expertise. We clearly need more specialized training opportunities.


As a first-time survey, this was a rewarding endeavor for us at the Presentation Guild. We learned much about you, about the landscape we are in, and what is left to do. The last page features eleven points which plot out objectives we are embracing based on survey results. They include:

  • Establish clear and recognizable job titles
  • Develop and/or promote specialized training with CEU recognition
  • Develop a certification program
  • Encourage the inclusion of presentation design and presenting in college curricula
  • Promote the presentation industry
  • Survey those who hire presentationists so we can arrive at the table better armed, better trained, and ready to deliver a better value
Want a copy of the survey? Click here

Recognized and approved as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, the Presentation Guild welcomes all to join, regardless of experience or location.

About Tony Ramos

Square of 9261 smallTony Ramos is a founding director of the Presentation Guild. He has been using presentation software since 1993, when he started making terribly wordy slides for the world’s largest management consulting firm for nearly a decade.

Since then, he’s learned a bit about the art and science of it all. He began writing about what he and others were doing with presentation software. That now-defunct blog earned him four consecutive years of Microsoft’s MVP Award for PowerPoint.

Today, Tony tweets as The Presentationist (@tonyramos), volunteers time and labor for the Presentation Guild, and earns a living using PPT, Photoshop, and Illustrator for Fortune 500 clients, government agencies, and neighborhood garage sales. If you see him outside running with the dogs or biking with traffic, please honk and wave hi.

When Your Mariah Moment Happens


Did you hear the one about how powerful Mariah Carey’s voice is? You can hear it even when her mouth is not open. As you can imagine, there is no shortage of jokes about the singer’s epic fail on New Year’s Eve. Several have no doubt graced your Facebook or Twitter feed, you’ve seen the memes, watched the late-night show snippets, and probably discussed it with your friends and colleagues. How could it have happened, you might ask? Here’s the question I would prefer to be asked of presentation professionals?

What should you do when it happens to you?
Let’s clean up the facts just a bit before we begin, because while I believe that Carey is deserving of plenty of criticism, I want to make sure that it is fair. First off, she did not get caught lip-syncing. Lip-syncing is like playing air guitar: you go through the motions while the sound is produced elsewhere. Most live performances, especially in difficult environments, include a vocal track, over which the singer sings. That is what Carey was intending to do, but when her in-ear monitor went out, she lost her composure. The second fact, for whatever it is worth, is that she and her team warned the producers and stage managers of the balky transmitter pack well ahead of time and they evidently did nothing. The third thing to keep in mind is what a crazy and dynamic environment Times Square must have been. This would have been challenging for even the most consummate of professionals.

It’s easy to wonder why she couldn’t just sing the song without the benefit of her in-ear monitor? Shouldn’t a professional be able to do that? After all, it was her song! We can debate how demanding the environment was and speculate on whether she could hear the music at all, but that misses the point and brings us to the criticism of Carey that is most relevant to the presentation community: her image as a professional. You see, Mariah Carey is perfect. Her wardrobe is always perfect. Her hair impeccably coiffed. Her choreography painstakingly staged. Her background vocals exquisitely integrated. I recall when she was a judge on American Idol, many of the camera cuts to the judges’ table caught her fiddling with her hair. Everything about Mariah Carey’s on-stage persona is about being perfect.

And that’s the problem.
What do you do when you are supposed to be perfect but circumstances out of your control prevent it? What do you fall back on? There are no degrees of perfection–either you are perfect or you’re flawed. And that’s a really tough place to be as a performer, because of three axioms of our profession, which hold up across all public performances:

  • Audiences don’t want perfect presenters. They want people whom they feel are just like them.
  • Audiences respond best to presenters whom they feel are genuine and passionate.
  • Audiences root for presenters to succeed.

From this perspective, Carey was doomed from the very beginning. If your whole thing is perfection, what does that say about your ability to roll with punches? And unless you really are perfect in real life, does that stage persona evoke feelings of authenticity. No, this was a technical problem for which Mariah Carey was uniquely ill-equipped to handle.

Here is a continuum of possible responses to the situation:

  1. You stop performing, become visibly upset and frustrated and blame everyone around you.
  2. You stop, wait for the technology to be fixed, and if it can’t be, you continue anyway.
  3. You pretend nothing has happened and you fake it in the hopes that you make it.
  4. You apologize to the audience and tell them you’re going to do the best you can.
  5. You rally the audience to your side, you turn it into an experience, you start a singalong, you lead rounds, you laugh at yourself as you do a goofy dance, and in the process, you prevail over the moment.

Why would anyone pay the outrageous sums of a live concert?
I would tell you it is for the chance at No. 5 moments. As I think about my own concert experiences, the ones that are indelible are when unexpected things happened. Like when Paul McCartney started a song by singing the wrong lyrics, made his band stop, and then wondering if he had just happened upon something cool, a capellad his way through the mashed-up arrangement for a few bars. We ate it up. Or the time when Mick Jagger ran the length of the Candlestick Park outfield in the middle of Satisfaction, and Keith Richards dared him to not sing out of breath. They both cracked up and we ate it up. Or the time when the conductor of the San Jose Symphony Orchestra invited a seven-year-old boy from the audience to take over for him, making his musicians promise that they would try to keep time according to his direction. The pace became so fast that they could not keep up. And we ate it up.

Mariah Carey did not get past No. 1 and she made it worse in the following days when, instead of letting the whole thing blow over, her team defended her, lashed out at Dick Clark Productions (isn’t that a bit like blaming God?), and went so far as to suggest self-fornication to the producers for refusing to pull the performance from the West Coast telecast, destined to air three hours after the incident.

Let’s compare two singers. Let’s compare Mariah Carey’s response to New Year’s Eve with how Adele handled a complete sound failure during a 2016 performance. While Carey had a vocal track and complete accompaniment behind her (even if it was noisy), Adele found herself with no accompaniment at all.

Click here to watch the video at YouTube — it happens at the 2:30 mark.

Why is Adele so popular?
By her own admission, she misses notes all the time. And her range is just average. Is it incredible songwriting? Perhaps, but that is rarely the basis of the praise she earns. And her wardrobes are nothing like Mariah’s; they’re usually semi-frumpy dresses with sequins. And that’s just it: Adele is real. She can do something that less than 1% of the population can and for it, she earns obscene amounts of money, but she gives her audiences the powerful impression that she is just like them. Watch the clip to the end and listen to how she schmoozes them about the moment they had. I’ll issue a modest profanity alert, but you know what, that actually makes her even more real.

Thanks to Mariah Carey, our industry has a perfectly gift-wrapped new year resolution. Do not practice your polish, do not work on your image, and do not try to be the best dresser you know. Your audiences do not care about those things. Instead, ask yourself who you truly are and whether your audiences could recognize your most genuine qualities and characteristics. Ask yourself how you can manage all of the demands of a public presenter — the technology, the slides, audience expectation, and your own nerves — and reach a place where you are showing the room your most authentic self.

Above all, your authenticity puts you in a position to be the very best storyteller you can be, and that is your No. 1 aim.
In addition, finding your real self gets your audiences to a place where they can root for you, where they might be endeared by you. And it gets you to a place where you can confidently deal with the most unexpected circumstances of all. Stuff happens to everyone so it’s no big deal if it also happens to you.

Mariah Carey has not shown herself to be capable of finding that quality within herself. Here’s hoping that you can.

Rick-AltmanAbout Rick Altman

He is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. Rick is the author of 15 books. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the internationally-acclaimed learning event for presentation professionals.  An avid sportsman, he was not a good enough tennis player to make it onto the professional tour. All the rest of this has been his Plan B.

My 10 BEST Tips for Female Presenters to Rock It


It has been my experience and observation that women presenters tend to be more reserved and self-conscious. Female presenters tend to overthink everything and strive for perfection, even when perfection doesn’t exist. It’s a combination of things that make it more difficult for female presenters to begin, much less finish, a presentation. I have put together my list of advice that female presenters need to know.

  • Don’t let self-doubt creep in.Women are infamous for self-doubting their capabilities and shrivel at the thought of stepping in front of other people to talk. This doubt leads to feelings of inability to perform and allows the mind to wonder how listeners will judge and criticize. Women can do everything that men can do, and sometimes better, you just have to trust yourself that you know your subject matter and are extremely qualified to give this presentation.
  • Overcome the fear of public speaking.The chronic thoughts of self-doubt generally morph into full blown presentation anxiety complete with sweating, nausea, tension, and sickness. Even if fearful presenters get enough courage to step in front of others, they usually cringe and fold into themselves and struggle to finish. The fear of public speaking is a perceived fear, where the brain has been trained to react in a way that demonstrates one is inferior, you can overcome it with a little effort. You can avoid not only the fear but all of the feelings that go along with it. (Check out my article 5 Quick Tips to Overcome Presentation Fear.)
  • Stop overthinking.Women are well known to change their mind a time or two, but they also tend to overthink the situation. The debate on what to talk about, can I afford to leave this out, how do I explain the situation and not babble on and on, can leave your mind in debate for extended periods of time with no resolve.
  • Stop the madness!All of this thinking, wandering, and debating can make you tired before you even get to the presentation site. Ladies, we have a big job to do, and nobody is more qualified than you to do it. Any presenter has a single obligation to fulfill, and that is to educate the audience and ensure that the listeners walk away with information that is helpful to them; ladies just do it with more grace and poise.

Here are my best tips for female presenters to let go of the self-doubt and overcome the fear of talking to other human beings.

  1. Prepare – Yes, you need to include the necessary points without any extra, and you can solve this with index cards. Writing one idea per card and laying them all out on a table can help the most indecisive presenter fully see what is necessary and what is not. Write it up in an outline and you have officially begun the presentation plan.
  2. Evaluate – Every presenter needs to take a step away and think for a minute to evaluate the plan. You are looking for reassurance that your presentation is not overflowing with content, that it includes stories and examples, and follows some logical order to ensure that you know where you are going, and your audience can easily follow along with little effort.
  3. Prep until comfortable – This advice is different for every person, so you will have to figure out what is the right amount of preparation for you to feel comfortable. You want to practice your presentation as many times as necessary that you can easily recall it without notes. Do not resort to memorization because this will cause many additional complications, trust me.
  4. While you are still in preparation mode, now is the perfect time to go to the restaurant or hotel where the event will take place and get a good look, maybe even take some pictures of your own to study back at the office. If you are preparing for an event out of town, ask your contact person to send you pictures of the room or at least a sketch of the setup. Knowing this information will allow you to visualize the situation in practices and strategize where is the best place to stand for maximum effectiveness.
  5. Dress for success – Plan out your wardrobe in advance, taking into consideration what the atmosphere of the presentation site will be like and if you’ll be wearing a mic. (It can get complicated running a lavaliere microphone cord through some outfits.) Take into account the decor of the room, and what you expect the audience to be wearing. Check my blog, What Do I Wear for My Presentation, where I go in depth on how to weigh your options.
  6. Arrive early – One of my personal anxieties is not the presentation itself, but the travel to get there. Regardless of whether the travel time includes a simple car trip or a plane ride, you want to make sure that you have arrived early. If you have confused the location, then you have time to fix it, otherwise knowing that you are where you are supposed to be is a relief in itself and now you are not out of breath from running and rushing.
  7. Meet the audience – Arriving early has its benefits because you have the time to take a few deep breaths and to meet new people. You are meeting the people that sacrificed their time away from work or family to see you present. You are meeting new friends that will be rooting you on and are excited to learn the new things that you have to teach. Most importantly, having the opportunity to meet the audience means you are no longer speaking to strangers; you are talking to new friends and knowing that tiny piece of information can turn your presentation from a lecture into a conversation just like speaking to any friend.
  8. Own the room – Imagining that you are wearing your power suit can make you feel powerful. According to a 2010 study, taking a high-power pose, one that takes up maximum space with your body can make stress hormones ineffective. Take a quickcapture potty break and psych yourself up, a one-person pep rally. You have done all of the necessary steps to make this happen; you are in control. Now is the time to own the room!
  9. Celebrate because you did it – You followed through on the commitment and not only did you fulfill your obligation, but it was much better than you thought it would be. Maybe you even had fun and would consider presenting again in the future. Revel in the lives that you have enriched with your message and how all of that stress was for nothing. Concentrate on how interested the audience was the entire time you spoke and that they had so many questions about applying the lesson to their individual situations. Remember that for at least this moment, you were the teacher, and you made a difference.
  10. Debrief & improve – After the celebration (maybe it even includes champagne) it’s time to think about the situation as a whole from an objective point of view and debrief with notes on what went well, and what can be improved. Consider any moments that you had to rephrase something because it wasn’t clear, or you had to add something that wasn’t supposed to be there but was, in fact, necessary. Remove any pieces that you initially thought were necessary, but weren’t. Now is the time to pull the index cards back out that weren’t incorporated into this presentation and think about how you can integrate them into a future presentation.


img_8893-682x1024Erica Olson, founder of Speak Simple, has delivered 1,000+ presentations, coached hundreds, and won her clients millions of dollars. She is an author, professional speaker, interpreter, and presentation coach that helps her clients become comfortable when presenting and relate with their audience. Erica specializes in helping with technical professionals to simplify their message to engage audiences and win new work and includes strategy, preparation process, learning styles, simplification, & delivery. Her book, Speak Simple – The Art of Simplifying Technical Presentations, and her self-guided presentation course, SpeakU, are great resources for her numerous clients, many of whom Erica has helped to win millions of dollars in new work via bid presentations, thought leadership presentations, and increased keynote speaker fees.

Discovering Presentation Gems on Vimeo and YouTube

BELGRADE - JULY 11 2014 Popular social media icons vimeo youtube and other on smart phone screen close up

Did you know that video is what is most appealing to today’s professionals as a source for information? And since the digital world never seems to stop, so videos are such an important tool in our visual industry to teach us what’s new and feed our creativity.

YouTube and Vimeo are fascinating places to discover how to do presentations more creatively and productively. Besides SlideShare, they are my other go-to places for inspiration and knowledge. I wanted to share a few of my go-to channels and why I like them. Many contributors have channels on both platforms.

Need to learn how to do PowerPoint animations? You can find quick tip videos or longer videos that are more detailed. Just-in-time learning is driving content to these platforms. YouTube appears to be populated with videos that would appeal to a presentation professional. There are more variety and depth in the content offerings on YouTube. However, Vimeo was created to be more business-oriented and mostly providing content to professionals.

Let’s look at some channels on both and then make your own decision.


PowerPoint & After Effects /w Andrzej Pach

Andrzej offers quick and knowledgeable PowerPoint tutorials. They contain actionable learning which you can use almost immediately. One of my favorites is “Crop and add photographs in PowerPoint slide in any shape you want | PowerPoint template tutorial”

PowerPoint Spice

Lia, aka P-Spice, is so wonderful at what she does. She was tired of living through dull presentations and decided to shake things up. Not only does she entice you with wonderful tips and tricks that cannot wait to try, she actually tells you step-by-step how to do it. A good example is her latest video: Cool PowerPoint Tricks to Look like a Tech Genius (Live Polls, Animations and More!). She gives your great ideas and insights into how PowerPoint add-ins can add depth to your presentations. She uses Poll Anywhere in this tutorial. It is one of those “aha moments” where you can instantly see the impact that an engagement tool like this could really improve the interactivity of your presentations. On her blog, she gives written steps that match the video. Check it out.


This is a b3b creative design idea. I have really enjoyed getting to know Managing Director, Damjan Haylor. Their mission is to bring information to life which many of their projects and videos do. They are informative and well done. Their Vimeo channel includes good content for creating presentations.  Don’t miss this video: Did you know that PowerPoint could do THIS?

Did you know that PowerPoint could do THIS? from POPcomms on Vimeo.

Did you know that PowerPoint could do THIS? from POPcomms on Vimeo.


PowerPoint Pro YouTube Channel

Engagement is one of the reasons why I like the PowerPoint Pro YouTube channel. Managed by motion graphic designer, Sadman Sadik, it is full of great tips and tutorials that will take your presentations to the next level.

Check out this video:


PowerPoint for Business Professionals – Nuts and Bolts Speed Training

Many of you remember Taylor Croonquist as a frequent contributor and webinar presenter for PresentationXpert. His company, Nuts and Bolts offers in-depth intense videos on anything PowerPoint. Their “What’s the Point” learning series delivers how-to tips and tricks on animation, charts, PowerPoint cheats, and more. I wanted to share one of my favorites with you: Episode 3 of the series – Chunky Monkey.

Interesting Videos:
Joe Lewis: Where is Storytelling Going Next?

Joe Lewis is known for pushing the edge of technology and hopes to change how we watch television. He seems to have jumped on the “storytelling” bandwagon and shares his views. Worth watching this:  Joe Lewis – Where is Storytelling Going Next? (Future Of Storytelling 2016) from Paul Trillo on Vimeo.

Hand holds YouTube icon


So go exploring on your own and discover your own gems. And let us know what you find.



Adding Live, Real-Time Web Pages to Your Presentations

Have you ever wanted to demonstrate a live website during a PowerPoint presentation? But you don’t want to show your desktop or gopicture2 out of show mode in PowerPoint. Sometimes the content or message is more useful if you can show your audience information from a website. You could always use a screen shot with a hyperlink but that is like crossing your fingers and hope it works.

I work with high-tech clients, many of whom like to demo their technology during a webinar, showing proof of concept, or during a presentation. Often that means getting out of show mode and going to another application like Chrome or Bing to log onto their website or platform. It looks awkward and unprofessional each time they had to switch back and forth. They are often tearing their hair out in frustration.

In PowerPoint 2016, you can add a web page by inserting a screen shot then adding a hyperlink. It is easy. Just follow these steps:

#1: Choose Insert Screenshot.


#2: Choose an existing screenshot or do a screen clipping – one of the most useful applications in Windows.


#3: Resize the screenshot to the size you want


#4: Then, right-click on the picture and choose hyperlink. Add the hyperlink.



#5: Go to Slide Show – you will see the cursor change to the icon for hyperlinked item.


#6: Click the picture and you will open the website. But it will take you out of PowerPoint.

Hint: You can use ALT-TAB to get back to PowerPoint but it takes finesse

Although you can add a web page to PowerPoint, the process of doing it is not for the faint of heart! And it often doesn’t work! There had to be a simpler way.

Meet LiveWeb, a free add-in for PowerPoint that makes this painless and offers you easy-to-manage options. You can add web pages into a PowerPoint and then refresh them real time during your presentation so it is always current and up-to-date. And you stay in the PowerPoint slide show. What if you are online or your internet connection is slower than you like? Well, this program works with your local drive as well. Just specify what document, or path you will be storing the information. And it pulls it from there. And you don’t have to write any code.


No matter what you’re giving a presentation about, sometimes it can be useful to show your audience information from the internet. You could always create a screenshot of the web page you’re demonstrating, but chances are the screenshot may be out of date by the time you give your presentation.

Here’s how you can insert a live web page into a PowerPoint presentation so you can show the exact content you’re talking about.

LiveWeb adds two actions to your PowerPoint “Insert” Menu. One lets you create the URL link and then define the size and placement of the LiveWeb window on your slide. And the second one guides you through how to edit the page property, if you need to. And it is quick and easy to use – a great reason to download it.

So what does it really do? Well, once you set up the web page, it works its magic behind the scene. it captures the web browser control manually and it writes the code to update the web pages within its control during the slide show. We tested it during several webinars and it worked great!




slide3Your slideshow now resembles a full-screen browser without toolbar controls. In fact, to use the commands for browsing, you have to right click on the browser object. You can change the properties of the web page slide anytime from the Edit Page Property button on the Live Web menu. The size of the inserted web page can be changed by dragging the corner handles of the browser object. You can use the remaining area of the slide for inserting any other PowerPoint element.

There is a downside to using LiveWeb. You cannot package this up to share unless the receiving computer also has Live Web. Otherwise, there is a black box where the web page is. I have used Camtasia or GoToWebinar to package it as a recording and that works but obviously, the web page is not live or searchable. It is still worth downloading.

How to Build a Website Framework Using PowerPoint

Moving a website from one provider to another crashed the website. So we took the opportunity to create a new, improved framework. Our goal was to find a way to build a visual website framework that our web designer could use to visually see and emulate as he built the website.

Website wireframes template design sketch style kit

I looked at a lot of framework applications and most were cumbersome and not easy to use. I would have to learn a new software and the learning curve looked like it would take time I was looking for a way to create a website that was easy to build and still rich in information. I need a sandbox where I could move elements around, playing with different looks and navigation. I am a visual person and I needed that option. Creating an outline in Word just wasn’t enough to get things moving in the right direction.

One of our subscribers suggested I look at PowerMockup, a wireframe and mockup add-in for PowerPoint. It includes a collection of over 400 line icons, 27 annotations, 17 mouse cursor options, placeholder picture icons, touch gestures which are common hand gestures you might use on a smartphone or tablet, over 75 Windows desktop shapes such as navigation, content, input, and system shape and over 100 shapes to build low-fidelity wireframes and more.

You have the perfect sandbox to sketch user interfaces for the web and for mobile. My website developer loved that they had a Bootstrap Wireframe. It is commonly used for creating HTML, CSS pages and more. It took me less than an hour to create the framework I needed for the website I needed to build. And the best part, it was an add-in to PowerPoint.

annotation-shapes-screenshot-v1 ciommon-wirefream-shapes

What I really love about this add-in id that they provide an extensive collection of user-interface elements and icons, built our PowerPoint shapes. No new software to use. And with these elements simplify the process you need to use to easily create prototypes of mobile and web applications. And the best part, you can do it all for inside PowerPoint.

This add-in is $59 but I tried the free trial first to make sure I liked and I did. It is now on my QAT in PowerPoint. If you want to see it in action, watch the video below.

Using Stock Imagery Like the Pros and Where to Find it!

jul16-nolan-stock-imagery-PXpert-article - 1Image from DeathToTheStockPhoto.com

Before the internet and e-commerce sites, the world of stock photography was an intimidating and wallet-draining world of printed catalogs and rights-managed images with few suppliers— Getty Images and Corbis being the two biggest. Royalty-free imagery that could be bought outright and used in most any situation was a significant advance, although initially, it was still quite costly.

These days, there are hundreds of sources for stock photography at all price levels—even for free—so, you have few excuses for using low resolution, cheesy or outright stolen imagery.

But Wait, Why Do I Have to Pay for Imagery in Presentation Anyway?

Okay, let’s get this issue out of the way. There are many who believe that when it comes to presentation, one has the right to use any image from any source without permission or payment. Well, if you’re a 12-year old making a slideshow to convince your parents that you really deserve a dog, and those slides will never leave the confines of the family room, then I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re probably okay using anything you can find online, much in the same way that that 12-year old could make a similar collage from cut up magazine photos. But when you start venturing out beyond the family room, things are a bit different.

The fact is that you simply do not have the automatic right to use an image just because you found it on the internet. Photography, like most artistic creations, is generally owned by someone. Yes, there are “Fair Use” cases such as parody, news reporting and educational instances where you might not need to pay to use a normally licensable image, but I’ll leave that determination to you, your lawyers and possibly the courts.

If you are engaged in business and have paid for the hardware and the software to help create a presentation slide, then you are in a position to also pay for stock imagery. And as we’ll see, it does not have to cost an arm and a leg.

Reverse Image Searches

If you find an image on a stock site, that image is for sale. But if you find an image through a Google search, things get murkier. Just because someone else has put up an image on their website, doesn’t mean they have done so legally. Just because an image has been used legally by a news site, doesn’t mean you can take it for your own different use. There are images that are truly free (such as public domain and Creative Commons imagery which we’ll discuss shortly), but most images on the web are owned by someone. The best thing to do is to research the original source or find out if the image is for sale on a stock site by using a reverse image search such as TinEye. A reverse image search will show you everywhere the image is used online, and very often, this will lead you to a place where you can legally license it.

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So, how much will it cost? I’m going to categorize sources for stock imagery into three categories: Expensive, Cheap and Free.


“Expensive” is a relative term. It might seem pricey to purchase three images for $1,000, but if those images are used for a huge days-long employee conference costing well into the six figures and become a part of themed title slides, then $1,000 isn’t that much. Spending $2,400 for an annual subscription to Shutterstock may seem like a fortune until you consider that price entitles you to 750 downloads a month. $0.27/image all of a sudden seems quite the bargain.

Into this “Expensive” category, I put sites like Shutterstock, Thinkstock, and iStock. Sites such as these offer subscription plans or image packs (i.e. five downloads for $50) and some like CavanImages do offer a la carte downloads, although this model can get pricey at up to $500 per shot.

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Also in this category are sites for rights-managed imagery such as Getty and Offset, but in general, I would suggest staying clear of this for presentation. Unless you really know what you’re doing, it gets complicated and expensive and is best left to more commercial ventures like advertising.


The next category down is what I call “Budget” sites. These operate similarly to the “Expensive” sites some with subscriptions, image packs, and a la carte, but at far more discounted rates. At Dreamstime, 123RF and BigStock, you can purchase images for as little as $1 each. Images are $1 at Canva as well, but here you can actually create presentation slides along with banners, posters, and other items.

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What differentiates the above two categories? Mostly quality and choice of imagery. It is possible to find a beautiful professional image at one of the discount sites, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.


Lastly, we have sources for completely free imagery. MorgueFile is one of the biggest, but you can also find free imagery at FreeImages and FreeRangeStock. EveryStockPhoto is a search engine that helps discover free imagery around the web.

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Some sites also operate on a “freemium” model, giving you access to certain content gratis, and asking payment for other. DeathToTheStockPhoto.com is one such site where you can subscribe and be sent packs of themed images a few times a month (about a dozen in each set), but access the entire historical archive costs $15/month. DeathToTheStockPhoto.com has beautiful, professional imagery that I’ve used, but the downside is that their library is very limited.

Also in the free category is public domain imagery such as the historical archives at The New York Public Library and Library of Congress. And then there is Creative Commons Imagery—content that creators have designated for public use generally with various caveats such as providing attribution. There are multiple levels of CC licenses, and it is still up to you to determine if you are allowed to use the image under the specific CC license. CC imagery can be found via an advanced search at Flickr, at Compfight and Wikimedia.

Stock Imagery Plug-ins for PowerPoint

Using stock imagery in presentation legally has become much easier in recent years. In fact, both Pickit and Shutterstock have created official add-ins for Microsoft Office that allow you to search and insert images all from within Office applications.

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To see the plug-in in action, take a look at the video below.

Read more about these options here.

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Where Can I Find a List of Stock Imagery Sources?

If you would like a more comprehensive list of sites and resources for stock imagery and other graphic assets, you can download a list from my site PresentYourStory.com after subscribing and getting access to the downloads page.


nolan side shotWith more than 20 years’ experience in the field of visual communications, Nolan helps organizations and individuals show up differently and tell better stories with fewer words. Most recently as a Vice President and Director of Presentation for Edelman, he helped the world’s largest public relations firm consistently win multi-million dollar pitches by communicating more visually. As a designer and art director, he has created high-end presentations, keynote addresses, and pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, top foundations, and all the major television networks. Nolan trains organizations to think visually and to create and give presentations that are more effective. He speaks at national conferences and writes extensively on visual storytelling. Microsoft has recognized him as one of only 11 PowerPoint MVPs in the U.S for his contributions to the presentation community. In a past life, Nolan was an award-winning magician and juggler and performed with the Moscow Circus and Vermont’s Circus Smirkus before turning to the theater. He directed and wrote professionally, creating stories on stages in New York and around the country.


Presentation Slide Design: How To Prune Your Text

We recently had a great time teaching presentation slide design theory and practice at the Colorado Non-Profit Association‘s Technology Summit, focused on creating more impactful slides and how to reduce text to make better slides.

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Why is Reducing Text Important?

Your audience cannot read and listen at the same time. We are visual creatures, so our brains prioritize sight over hearing. This means your audience is reading your slide as you’re talking through your points. We read faster than we talk, so when they finish and tune back into you, you’re going over information they’ve already read. Instant glassy-eyed boredom ensues and you’ve lost your audience… to your own slides.

So how do we take back control of our presentation? By taking a more discerning editors pen to your content, you can better communicate with your audience and keep their attention. We call this process text pruning: reducing words without losing meaning.

How to Prune Text Without Losing Meaning

Here is a typical client text-heavy slide:

auck 1 This slide commits some pretty serious transgressions against presentation slide design. Of course, it’s all text and it’s several points on one slide. But it’s not possible to create ideal slides at all times for every presentation.

So if we did need all this text on one slide, how could we trim down the content so that it is more impactful?

As we reviewed earlier, this is all about reducing the text as much as possible. We want to move from spoken or written style language, to presentation style. The text should be boiled down to its leanest and most direct form. Here are a few of the red flags we look for to find text that can be pruned.


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Obvious information is the first to trim from your slides. See Red Flag 1: this is clearly a background information slide. There is no need to take space up in the title with this unnecessary clarifier.


Now that we’ve removed the extraneous information, our title is “Tourette Syndrome.” Yet, as you look at Red Flag 2 and through the rest of the bullets, you’ll see the syndrome named another 7 times. This kind of redundancy is a good indicator that there is some pruning to be done.

Written/Spoken Language

A lot of the wordiness we see in slides, ends up in there because people write their slides as they would a script. When we write that way, unnecessary connectors and qualifiers sneak into the bullets. Red Flag 3 shows a wordy approach to a simple concept. See the after below for the “presentation writing” version of this information.

Inferable Information

At Red Flag 4, we see one of the sneakiest, text-heavy offenders. When you’re writing the presentation all this information might seem important to note. But remember, you’ll be up there to explain the result or impact of your facts. The fact here is that “symptoms persist into adulthood for 10 – 15% of patients.” That means that “many” (85 – 90%) of affected children outgrow it. Don’t crowd up you slides with information that is easily inferable

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Here’s the final text for our slide. We’ve trimmed out about half the words without losing any of our information!

We’ve boiled down our wordiness to informational phrases only. This slide is now ready to go into the design process, where we can add visual interest. There are several design tricks to make basic text more memorable and impactful.



And please join me on Wednesday, August 24th at 11 am for my webinar, Slide Diets: Before & Afters of Design Tricks to Slim Down your Content.  Register.

About Bethany Auck:

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Bethany has been working in the presentation design industry for nine years. She cut her teeth at small litigation consultancy where she consulted on major trials helping her clients build persuasive narratives and poignant demonstratives. Bethany founded SlideRabbit in 2012 to bring high-quality design to all industries at low-cost levels.


How to Increase Your Salary by Getting to a Point

Research has shown that the single best indicator of success – for any profession – is how often you are asked to deliver presentations.

According to Estienne de Beer, author of “Boosting Your Career,” those who give more presentations tend to have higher salaries than those who give fewer presentations.


This means that good presentation skills are not a “nice to have” skillset, but instead are mandatory if you intend to move up in your organization and eventually make more money.

This is further confirmed by research firm, IDC. After combing through 14.6 million job postings, they identified the ability to synthesize, present and communicate information as one of the primary skills that is required for the top “high-growth, high-wage occupations that will account for 11.5 million new hires and 28 percent of job growth by 2020.”

That means that if you’re not working on your communication and presentation skills…well, you’re missing out – big time.

So what does it mean to be able to synthesize, present and communicate information?

It means being able to create compelling presentations with clear messages. But many presentations given fall short – mostly because they forget to make a point.

So let’s dive into a few rules to help you get to your point, and eventually, help you march up the ladder faster.

Rule #1: The Rule of Two’s

Lots of people use pie charts to communicate their information, so let’s start right there.

On the left-hand side in the graphic below, you can see a classic example of what you might put up on your slide. But what you’re trying to say is what is highlighted on the right-hand side.

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And notice how much clearer your data is when you boil it down like this.

If you used the example on the left, not only would the audience have no idea what you’re trying to say, but you yourself might forget what you wanted to point out during the presentation. However, if you used the graphic on the right, I bet you would know exactly what to say and that the audience would immediately know that 70% of the web traffic is organic.

And that’s exactly what putting the “Rules of Two’s” in action looks like.

When presenting your data as a pie chart, the “Rules of Two’s” means that you can only show two data points (even if you have to consolidate your information as I did above). By boiling your data down into just two data points, you create a crystal clear visual to help you make your point.

To go deeper into the “Rule of Two’s” and some other aesthetic guidelines I have for using pie charts, watch the short 5 minute YouTube tutorial, 2 Pie Chart Tips – What’s the Point of that Slide?!

When getting to the point of your slides, the first step is to get rid of the extra complexity as we did here with the Rule of Two’s. The next rule will help you get to a more impactful point.

Rule #2: The Magic is in the Middle

When synthesizing, presenting and communicating information, it’s important to remember that context is often what drives home the point of your slides.

And context is created by simply taking your data point, fact or figure, and comparing it to something else.

For example, just having a single data point (like 70% of our traffic is from a single source) is next to meaningless without context. Chances are that your audience it somewhat familiar with your topic; but they may not know how important 70% is. Is it high? Is it low? Has it improved?

So the first step is to add some more data points around your original one.

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And now this is where the “Magic is in the Middle” rule comes into play. The context (and thereby, the point you are trying to make), can be found in the space between your data points.

For example, if the graphic below was on your slide, you would want to address what happened there in between the two data points. What happened to make the purple 2015 number become the blue 2016 number on the right?

There was a 40% growth in traffic…the “Magic is in the Middle!”

Depending on your point or recommendation, you could further dive into things like:

  • What does the growth rate mean?
  • Is it sustainable? Why or why not?
  • What should your company do to continue the rapid growth?
  • What should your company do to stop the rapid growth?

And that’s the beauty of using context and then highlighting the difference to shake out a point. It gives you room to tell your story, make your recommendations, and present and communicate your information better.

The better you can synthesize, present and communicate your information, the better off your slides are going to be – and the better off your career is going to be!

For additional help with the “Magic is in the Middle” and more examples, see the short 5-minute YouTube tutorial below.

For additional help with how to better present your information by using storytelling (like turning your data points into memory glue), see our blog post on 15 storytelling tips.

Getting to Your Point to Increase Your Salary

Learning how to effectively synthesize, present and communicate information is a lifelong learning process, but it all starts with understanding how to make a point.

In this post, I covered a few rules you can apply to a wide variety of data visualizations to help you get to the point of your slide. As a quick recap, those rules are:

  • The Rule of Two’s – Boiling down complicated pie charts into only two pieces of information that you can highlight, contrasting one with the other.
  • The “Magic is in the Middle” – When comparing two pieces of data, focusing on the difference between the two data points and why it’s important enough to put it up on your slide in the first place.

At the end of the day, remember that data points are static…they don’t create themselves and they don’t explain themselves. People are what makes data talk. So staying focused on what caused one data point to turn into another is always the first step to presenting your information and crafting an interesting story.

You audience, your boss, and your wallet with thank you!



Taylor Croonquist is the shortcut and productivity guru for Nuts and Bolts Speed Training company, which helps companies build better PowerPoint slides in shorter time frames. Hailing from the home of Microsoft and Starbucks, he came up with the “One Armed Mouse” technique in order to be able to combine these two passions: PowerPoint-ing with a coffee in one hand and a mouse in the other. For more information about the company’s services, visit nutsandboltsspeedtraining.com.

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