Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Presentation Summit—September 18th-21st

Just wanted to give a shout out to Presentation Summit—a great way to spend the money left over in your budget on improving your presentation and graphic skills and have a fun time doing it. Rick Altman, the author of Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck and How You Can Make Them Even Better, is the man behind this great event. Learn from presentation gurus like Garr Reynolds, Nigel Holmes, Connie Malamed, and Dave Paradi. Get expert PowerPoint advice from Geetesh Bajaj, Ric Bretschneider, and Julie Terberg.

Plus, you can make it a vacation and check out Austin, Texas. We'll have a booth at the event for you to test out BizGraphics On Demand, and we'll be offering special pricing for conference attendees.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 29, 2011

PowerPoint Goes to School

Check out my latest article on Microsoft's PowerPoint blog about how PowerPoint is being used to better educate and train students. I offer three basic rules on using PowerPoint to educate your audience.

Leave a comment and add your own tips!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't Forget Your Pants—Make Time for Both the Work and Practice

We're running a blog series by guest blogger, Megan Skuller, a graphic designer at 24 Hour Company, specializing in proposal and presentation design. Below is the fourth and final in a series of four blogs by Megan about how to improve your oral proposals and presentations. Using real-world examples, Megan shares her top three rules when building visuals for your next project. This blog highlights her first rule.

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Visuals aids take time to create! On a memorable trip to Seattle, a client wanted a couple weeks worth of work done mere days before the presentation was to be given. Because of the limited time, the presentation was being practiced in sections with updates being added as we went along. One presenter had to stop during a practice session to pull his thoughts together after being confused by the new look of his slides. Imagine this happening during the presentation! Taking into consideration how long the various pieces would take to create and starting much sooner would have benefited this particular client. It is important to be sure enough time is built into your schedule to have the completed visual aids in hand for practice. Unsure? Then think about modifying your presentation. Complete the most important pieces first.

How much practice time should you plan for? Laverne A. S. Caceres, M.A., Director of The Professional Voice, suggests the guidelines shown in the graphic below. You can find these tips and more at www.professionalvoice.com.


Keep in mind that your presentation’s visuals represent you, your company, and your product or solution. Presentations are opportunities to achieve your goals. Before you begin creating your presentation, remember to start with my three favorite rules from this blog series:
  1. Know your audience
  2. Keep it simple, relevant, and professional
  3. Make time for both the work and practice
Plus, don't forget your pants—or graphics! Put your best foot forward and engage the audience with great visuals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't Forget Your Pants—Keep it Simple, Relevant, and Professional

We're running a blog series by guest blogger, Megan Skuller, a graphic designer at 24 Hour Company, specializing in proposal and presentation design. Below is the third in a series of four blogs by Megan about how to improve your oral proposals and presentations. Using real-world examples, Megan shares her top three rules when building visuals for your next project. This blog highlights her first rule.

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In a BNETvideo on YouTube called Present Like Steve Jobs, Communication Coach and author Carmine Gallo breaks down how the successful CEO gives presentations. This is something that Mr. Jobs is known for and has written about. Along with other good advice, Mr. Gallo says, “Inspirational presentations are short on words and big on pictures.” The last thing you want people to do is spend all their time reading bullets or trying to figure out overly complicated graphics rather than listening to and engaging in the presentation. All visual aids used should have a message and should always relate to what is being said. Everything should have a reason for being in the presentation or you need to take it out.

Watch the full video below:


Visual aids communicate on both a conscience and subconscious level. They should enhance, not detract. Starting with and sticking to a template is a key helper in creating a consistent, professional look. If your corporate branding does not already have a template, build one. As Mike Parkinson likes to say, “Consistency breeds trust.” Inconsistent changes in style and/or color looks unprofessional and subconsciously makes people distrust what they are seeing. Looking at the below example, which is more professional?


The graphic on the top uses too many different types of image styles and fonts. This disparity in design distracts from the message and doesn't make our eye want to read more. The graphic on the bottom uses similar styled photos, arrows, and fonts throughout the design. This uniformity draws our eye into the graphic and makes it easy for us to focus on the content—makes us want to focus on the content. If the author had taken the time to create a visually-appealing, cohesive graphic that conveys the information we need, then we can be assured that this company will deliver the professional and knowledgeable service we desire.

My next and final blog will cover making time to perfect your presentation. Check back next week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Forget Your Pants—Know Your Audience

We're running a blog series by guest blogger, Megan Skuller, a graphic designer at 24 Hour Company, specializing in proposal and presentation design. Below is the second in a series of four blogs by Megan about how to improve your oral proposals and presentations. Using real-world examples, Megan shares her top three rules when building visuals for your next project. This blog highlights her first rule.

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Visual aids done well engage the audience and help them understand your points faster and remember them longer. Courtesy of the Department of Labor website, http://www.osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/traintec.html, to the right is a bar chart showing the level of information retention when using visual aids. The bar chart clearly shows that adding a visual component increases the audience’s retention exponentially over oral alone. Furthermore, the Department of Labor offers fascinating statistics about the impact of visuals on an individual:
  • In many studies, experimental psychologists and educators have found that retention of information three days after a meeting or other event is six times greater when information is presented by visual and oral means than when the information is presented by the spoken word alone.
  • Studies by educational researchers suggest that approximately 83% of human learning occurs visually, and the remaining 17% through the other senses—11% through hearing, 3.5% through smell, 1% through taste, and 1.5% through touch.
  • The studies suggest that three days after an event, people retain 10% of what they heard from an oral presentation, 35% from a visual presentation, and 65% from a visual and oral presentation.
What does this all boil down to? Your visuals play a vital role in your presentation!

When making an outline, be sure to think about what you are going to show while talking. Put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. What message do you want your audience to derive from the visual? Ask “So What?” If you don’t, they will.

Tailor your presentation to your audience. The better your prospective client can relate to the images, the more likely they will see themselves using the solution or product. For example, if it is a proposal talking to the Army, be sure to show images of army personnel. If you can show the product or solution being used by Army personnel, even better! A marketing piece selling to management? Use relevant concepts that your audience can relate to and show people in business related situations.

In my next post, I'll discuss how to keep your graphics simple, relevant, and professional.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don’t Forget Your Pants—Great visuals help put your best foot forward!

We're running a blog series by guest blogger, Megan Skuller, a graphic designer at 24 Hour Company, specializing in proposal and presentation design. Below is the first in a series of four blogs by Megan about how to improve your oral proposals and presentations. Using real-world examples, Megan shares her top three rules when building visuals for your next project.
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Oral Proposals and Presentations are fundamentally an opportunity. You (as the speaker), your company, and solutions or products are being showcased. Similar to interviewing for a job with a prospective employer, this is a chance to immediately build strong personal rapport with your prospective client. Besides your shining personality, an integral part of presentations are visual aids—they help the audience understand your key points. Think of visual aids as part of your outfit. When dressing for an interview, would you walk in with your shirt pressed, shoes shined, questions and answers ready, but forget to wear pants (or skirt as the case may be)? Of course not.

Use visual aids to their best advantage—engaging the audience! In both the corporate and government world, PowerPoint slides are synonymous with presentations. If done well, a slide deck is enough. Could there be accompaniments? Absolutely. A few examples are printed boards, brochures, and props. In the book How to Wow, by Corporate Coach Frances Cole Jones, she describes a story about a client who was giving a presentation the next day on High Fructose Corn Syrup and its health effects. Ms. Jones mentions how the presentation was flat; the slides were chock-full of scientific facts and terribly boring. What was her solution? She and her client took a trip to the grocery store and picked up commonly consumed healthy foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup. What was the result? “An interactive event!” The audience came in, examined the products, and made comments like “… I thought it was good for me.” The audience immediately became engaged in the presentation. What does this mean for the presenter? Retention!

Here are three rules to consider when building your visuals. I'll highlight each of these rules in my next blogs posts:
  1. Know your audience
  2. Keep it simple, relevant, and professional
  3. Make time for both the work and practice!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Winning Millions by Using PowerPoint

Check out Microsoft's PowerPoint Blog for my next blog. This time I address how I won millions of dollars in revenue for my company by using PowerPoint. Many don't realize how powerful this resource is in growing a business. By having a medium to show my company's services, I can better convince potential customers of our abilities and how we can meet their goals.

Leave your suggestions or share your PowerPoint stories!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inspired Blog

One of things we love best about our job is when our products help other people reach their goals.

Inspired IT wrote a blog detailing how they downloaded Process_0325 from BizGraphics on Demand to help make "a boring list look interesting."

However, as they populated the graphic with their text, they began to see this graphic in a different light. They began to reconsider the purpose for displaying their information in this graphic. What did they want their audience to take away from the visual? Certainly, their audience didn't care that the image was "interesting." If it didn't communicate anything relevant, why show it to them? The graphic needed to be more than just a cool image. It needed to have a purpose and communicate that purpose to their audience.

They distilled their information down into the most important points that mattered to their audience. Using these points, they slowly transformed this graphic from a unique image to that which clearly communicated their goals. The author realized the graphic needed a goal or else it should not be used. What started as an "interesting" image ended as a graphic that not only captured the audience's attention but communicated the author's objectives in a memorable and compelling way.

Check out how they did it!