Tag Archives: formatting

Microsoft Releases Office for iPad

News flash! Microsoft released Office for iPad this week, which includes PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. It’s free to view documents, but if you want to create or edit, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription.

From what we’ve seen so far, PowerPoint maintains formatting and animations across the board — great news for those of you who want to present on-the-go with your iOS device. We’re still giving the app a thorough review and will be posting more details shortly, so check back soon!

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Keeping It Real…

The more true to life you can portray an issue you are presenting in your PowerPoint, the better your audience will understand, relate, and identify with it. This is your ideal goal – to get your audience to know that you understand their pain, their issue, and that you have a way to help resolve it or make it better. The impact you can add by using photos, videos, sound, or other media is extremely powerful and should not be overlooked. Here are a couple of ideas on types of media and when to use them.

  • Use illustrations or video to clarify. If your product is complicated, an illustration or video lets you simplify the way it looks. Also, illustrations and videos allow you to show a zoomed-in view or a view normally not seen, such as a product interior.
  • Motion, sound, and music. Just because PowerPoint has this feature doesn’t mean you need to use it. Use sparingly and only when deemed appropriate. Adding animation, sound effects, or music will make your presentation come alive, but it also lessens the seriousness of what you are presenting. Animation can be valuable when offering a product demonstration, but using when not needed will detract rather than add from the overall presentation.
  • Keep charts and graphs simple. Charts and graphs that are used to support a point should be simple and instantly understood. Audiences will be confused by overly complex visuals.
  • Photos have tremendous impact. A picture is worth a thousand words. This holds true in a PowerPoint. Finding a relatable image to put into your presentation can create an significant impression. It will leave your audience with an image resonating in their head when they go back to the office. Make it very relatable to a key point and they will not forget what you had to say.

As you can see, there is plenty of room for creativity in your presentations. Using illustrations and photos or graphs and animations can be very powerful. But beware… overuse these tools and they will detract from your presentation, making it lose gravity and impact.

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Excel and PowerPoint Don’t Mix…

SpreadsheetVery often presentations will include financials or other figures. And, of course, the presenter believes that the best way to present this data is by cramming as much as he can into a gigantic Excel spreadsheet and then copying and pasting that 6,250-cell spreadsheet onto one small PowerPoint slide. Impressive, right? Think again, presenter… this has zero impact. And, it will even distract from your presentation because people will lose focus as they won’t be able to see what you are referring to and follow along.

Spreadsheets are used for analyzing, not for communicating. They are fantastic for quickly figuring out totals or averages or for doing hundreds or even thousands of calculations instantly on rows and rows of data. They are not, however, great for presenting. Simply put, they contain way too much information. My advice is to simplify: do you really need to present all of the data? Or just the results?

By focusing on the results in some sort of summary fashion like a table, the audience can see the numbers big and clear. You can explain how you arrived at each number if you see fit. You can walk them through it step by step but you don’t need to show the entire process. Use colors, percentages, underlining, boldface, and other effects to highlight key figures or show comparisons or differences within the results. With a summary table you have a powerful, focused image that you can now play around with and be creative.

In the end, the audience will remain more focused and in tune with your presentation and you will be able to get your point across more succinctly and effectively.

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You Can’t Read This…

Large AudienceHow many times have you been listening to a presentation and the presenter gets to an extremely dense slide and says, “I know you can’t read this in the back, so I will read it to you…” Aaaggggghhhh (that’s my frustration coming through). I don’t know about you, but I sit there and think to myself, if you know I can’t read it, why didn’t you use a bigger font?

While we may think that jamming as much text as possible on a slide is the way to go, that’s not necessarily the case. Use big fonts, fewer words, and emphasize what is essential on the slides. Then discuss each bullet or topic. Use your words as the presentation, not the written words on the PowerPoint slide. Ten-point font is going to be too small… try 24-point or 32-point and keep your bullets short.

Remember, the goal is audience clarity and retention, not stuffing your slides full of words for you to read.

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Build a Better Banner…

149282846Running a big meeting? Tradeshow? Networking event?

If the venue is big enough — and even if it’s not – it’s likely you’ll need a traditional print banner or similar signage to inform and direct attendees.

Here are some tips for making sure your banner makes its point.

  • Don’t fill it up. You should have as much content as a postcard. People are going to be looking at it from a distance, so you need room for larger fonts and images.
  • Make sure it’s the right size. Too small and it will go unnoticed; too big and people will wonder what you were thinking. Consider the location and venue. If you’re looking to attract drivers-by from a high-traffic road, make sure it’s big enough to be seen without squinting, and that the content is simple enough to be read with a glance. If your meeting is being held in a hotel ballroom, you’ll want something large enough to be read from pretty far away, but not so big it looks out of place.
  • Use an appropriate font. Choose a large and easy-to-read font that contrasts well with the background color.
  • Choose the right images. Make sure the pictures you use clearly relate to the type of event you’re running. Most people see images and “translate” them first.
  • Point people in the right direction. Are you directing attendees down the hall and to the left? Don’t send them a roundabout way, and make sure your banner points them in the correct direction. Plan ahead for where banners will be placed throughout the venue. Better yet, create a banner that allows you to print out separate arrows that can be attached with tape or Velcro.

Print banners serve a purpose… but better yet, check out digital signage, which can be manipulated by a viewer and is easy to update frequently.

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What’s the Importance of a Good Business Card?

Your business card leaves a lasting impression. It’s usually the one physical thing a person takes away from a meeting or encounter, and it can be your golden ticket to future contact… or end up in the trash, along with your chances of ever hearing from that person again.

Many of the business cards we see today are typical, boring, and unrelated to a business’ services. Websites like Vistaprint and Zazzle offer free templates – but how many other businesses are using that very same design? And does it really make sense to have a card with a flower motif if your business is more focused on tree removal?

John Jantsch, a marketing consultant and the man behind Duct Tape Marketing, says the need for a business card “is pretty limited in business these days. For the most part people can either find the info online or zap it to each other electronically. In a way this shift has made the business card an opportunity to make a statement. … Since people aren’t using them that much you have the ability to stand out by doing so.”

Your business card design should be unique – something that people associate with you and want to hold onto. But don’t let that sidetrack you from making the look and feel of it represent you and your services.

What are the elements of a great business card?

  • Remarkable. Make it unique so it – and, in turn, you – gets noticed.
  • Clear messaging. Does the card really tell what it is you do? Does it communicate your brand?
  • Clean design. Too simple or amateur looking and it looks bad on you; too complex and it might lose detail.
  • The right size. Not too big (it should still fit in a business card pocket), not too small… think Goldilocks and get it just right.
  • High print quality. Don’t skimp. You pay for what you get. A stellar design looks so-so when it is printed poorly – or printed on the wrong medium.
  • Clear contact information. Don’t hide the most important information – and the reason for handing out the business card in the first place.

If you’re not sure how to design something that will be remembered – and held onto – then hire a designer. It will be well worth the investment.

Note: We do business cards differently at Infinitely Big. Check these out…

LemonAidFactoryBCLAWVending

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Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets…

It may not be your first choice and you know the audience is going to hate you for it, but sometimes you have to present numbers, figures, calculations, results, financials, statements, and more. While it certainly makes it more enjoyable and digestible for the audience if the numbers are positive and show growth, profits, or bonuses, the reality remains that most people don’t like looking at numbers in a presentation and tend to tune out. A surefire way to lose the audience is to pop an Excel spreadsheet up on the screen and begin talking.

A spreadsheet is dull, difficult to follow, and not meaningful to an audience. Next time you have the task of presenting numbers, try using something visual. Try a pie chart to show proportions, such as sales by company division as a part of the whole company. Use a line chart to show a trend, such as profit growth over the last four quarters. Or, put together a bar chart to compare expenses over the last 12 months. These graphics are simple to build and create something digestible and understandable for your audience.

Take this one step further, though. The default in PowerPoint is for the visual to show up on the screen in one piece. However, you can animate your charts and graphs and build them along with the audience. This gives you time to discuss each piece as you go along. You can explain why something may have happened or congratulate a group on a great quarter as your line chart shoots to the sky. If you do this, keep the effects simple – we don’t need spinning and twirling. Keep in mind you don’t want to detract or make a serious presentation cartoonish.

So, next time you are faced with the daunting task of presenting financials, spruce it up a bit and you will see it is much more enjoyable for the audience, and they will both understand and retain what you have presented much better.

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Consistency, Consistency, Consistency…

If the mantra in real estate is location, location, location, the PowerPoint mantra must be consistency, consistency, consistency. An extremely common flaw, easily fixable, is the creator of the PowerPoint using a mishmash of colors, fonts images, backgrounds, etc. Besides the lack of visual appeal, it looks unprofessional and as if it was created by multiple people who don’t communicate.

Let’s get one thing straight – consistency does not mean lack of creativity. The two are not mutually exclusive. You can be both creative and consistent. The consistency we are talking about here is the unintentional inconsistency, not the intentional creative flair. These unintentional inconsistencies create noise, draw the audience to focus on the wrong things, and just look unprofessional. Focus on the following areas when reviewing your work and you should be good to go, incorporating creativity and keeping things consistent.

  • Fonts – Yes, there are hundreds of fonts available in MS Office. But, guess what – you don’t have to use all of them. Stick to two or three at most and use them consistently throughout, not just on a whim. Too many fonts look sloppy and serve only as a distraction. Also, keep your fonts simple and legible. No need for wingdings – I guarantee your point will get lost!
  • Imagery – Choose images that are similar in style and design. (of course, make sure they are professional-looking in the first place). This will improve the professional look of the overall PowerPoint. For instance, if you are using an animation of a business executive on slide three, find a similar-looking animation for slide four – don’t insert a photograph as a stock image.
  • Colors – There are seven colors in the rainbow. Mix them together and the combinations are endless. I know it’s tempting, Picasso, but restrain yourself to a consistent color scheme throughout. Again, it keeps up the professionalism of the overall work and does not distract from the points you are trying to get across.
  • Format – This refers to everything from headers and footers to bullets and background templates. Very often in a corporate setting, John has a PowerPoint to create and he takes pieces from Bob, others from Sue, a bit from the corporate overview presentation, etc. We all have our individual styles, so put this together and wow, what a mess. Spend the time formatting fonts, images, bullets, colors, text size, etc., until it’s all consistent.

These key areas should serve as a checklist to help improve the professional look of your presentations moving forward. Just remember the mantra – consistency, consistency, consistency, and you will remove distraction, allowing your audience to focus on your key message.

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