Monday, 2 February 2015

Episode 4: Using Action Buttons in Presentation

Action Buttons Help in Transition

Sometimes it becomes necessary to move from one slide in powerpoint to another slide and then come back. This is necessary in order to build up the overall story of the presentation. However, if done manually, it becomes tedious and confusing because it breaks the flow of the presentation. Well powerpoint has a useful but less appreciated feature built in - the action buttons. It is indeed a powerful in creating seamless transitions in any presentation. 

What are action buttons? Well they are simple graphic icons which has embedded features which can be customized according to one's need. In simple words, you can use them to create links, embed video, audio in the slides. 

Where can you find action buttons? The answer is simple. All you have to do is to click on the INSERT tab, then go to shapes where you will get a drop-down. The action buttons are at the bottom of the drop-down as shown in the image below.
Action Button Location
Once you select and place an action button on the slides, you get a pop-up as shown in the image below. This pop-up will have default property set according to the action button type. You can customize the same according to your need. The pop-up has two tabs one determines the action to be taken on mouse click and another determines action to be taken when the mouse pointer hovers over the button.
Action Button Property

You can explore the different types of buttons to see for yourself their default actions. Here I will focus more on how to customize the buttons. Once you get the pop-up, you can two options under both the tabs namely None and Hyperlink to. The second option again has a drop-down with a preset value according to the action button type. The various options in the drop-down are: 
  1. Next Slide: It will take you to the immediate next slide in the presentation
  2. Previous Slide: As name suggests, it takes you to the preceding slide
  3. First Slide: Takes you to the start of presentation
  4. Last Slide: Self explanatory
  5. Last Slide Viewed: Again self explanatory
  6. End Slide: Ends the presentation
  7. Custom Show: You can link to an embedded show 
  8. Slide: It further gives you a pop-up providing you the facility to link the slide to any particular slide in the presentation.
    Note:This is highly useful as adding or deleting a slide in between will not disrupt the flow of the presentation. I prefer this approach always.  
  9. URL: You can embed a web page address. The webpage will open on clicking the button.
  10. Other Powepoint presentation: Self explanatory
  11. Other File; You can embed a video, audio, excel etc.
Besides this you can as well embed macros and programs to them. So this is more or less about action buttons. 

Now a useful tip to design transitions. I usually follow a 3 step process regarding the same:
1. Step 1: Insert action button in a slide and link it to the desired slide.
2. Step 2: On the destination slide insert another action button with link to last viewed slide.
3. Step 3: Test it multiple times to check the flow of presentation.

The advantage of this method is a smooth transition without skipping the presentation.

This is it from my side guys!!! Once gain do let me know if you feel there is any inputs you would like to share regarding the same!!!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Episode 3: Designing the Presentation

Say No to On-the-Go Style

Very often, we start the presentation with a minimal or no planning with just the overall objective/problem statement in mind. The outcome- a lot of on the go modifications and last minute changes resulting in truck loads of extra work and re-works. 

I am not saying that all these can be completely avoided. But one thing is for sure, all these can be reduced to minimal by proper planing and framework design at the start itself. 

I keep on designing a lot of corporate presentations and over the time, I have realized and formulated a presentation design framework for myself that does help me a lot. So, here I am sharing the same with you all, eagerly looking forward to your inputs about the same.

The Central Theme

First and foremost there will always be a central theme - a problem statement for any presentation. The first target is to narrow it down to a tangible question format. What is the presentation actually trying to highlight? Is it related to an existing business problem or a business idea or a sales pitch?
One this is identified, it actually becomes a great support in identifying the presentation skeleton.
Consider a scenario - your boss asks you to prepare a presentation about the findings of a customer satisfaction survey that your company did recently.

SCENARIO I - You start in the conventional on the go mode. You start making the presentation then you realize - a particular question about after sales service has very skewed result as compared to the other questions before that. You modify the presentation to highlight the same. Then after a while you again see similar results for another question. You do the same. Then you find the overall result to be the negative. But you had started a with a preset mind that you will highlight the positives, so you either try to dig deep and find positive inferences which require extra work or you start modifying the presentation to include the unexpected (Extra Work!!! Isn't it).

SCENARIO II - You identify the central theme of the presentation. Lets just consider it to be:
"How satisfied are my customers?." Done!!! So far so good. Now what?

The Framework

So based on the above theme, you can easily chart out a draft plan. The draft plan will act as your agenda. So a simple draft plan can be:
1. Agenda - Using the draft plan
2. Introduction - Survey Details
3. The Highs
4. The Lows
5. The Anomalies
6. Recommendation
7. Conclusion

So, I have a draft plan ready with me. Next is what?

Put the Placeholders

Now all I have to do is to create empty slides with proper placeholders. For example, my slide 3 speaks of the highs. So, I create an empty slide with placeholders for tables and charts (if need may arise). Similarly, I do for other slides. Once done, I am ready for the next step.

Note: This steps helps in ensuring one important aspect - a consistent format of presentation. Otherwise, every time you insert  something, you will have to check format and then correct it appropriately (time consuming). 

Number Crunching

Now I revert back to my survey. Do the necessary number crunching and get the data ready. Once it is done, all I have to do is to fill in those details in to the proper placeholders and I am done with the first draft. 

There will for sure be some inputs, comments and re-works. But it will definitely be lesser than the usual rework that happens with the on the go presentation designs. That is for sure!!!

This is it from my side. Do let me know if you have any more tips and tricks up your sleeves!!!


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Episode 2 - Inserting Animations

How to insert animations in PowerPoint?

A key part of any presentation is animations. They determine how the content on the slide is displayed. If done properly, they have a huge impact in presenting the information in synchronized and phased manner. However, too much of animation and your slide will face the issue of slow and confusing transition and the actual message is lost, most of the times. Let us just see some basics about how to use animations in PowerPoint.

It is simple. Simply, select the content you want to have animated. Go to the top ribbon. Click on animations and then simply select the animation type. The image below shows the animation tab and selected content.

Selecting content for animation

Now that you have selected content, you need to insert animations from the available list of animations as per your preference. You can add both entry as well as exit animation from the list. You can check all animations using the Animation Pane which is there on the top ribbon bar. The image below shows the animation effect list, animation pane button and the animation pane on the right hand corner.

Animation effects and Animation Pane
Note: Animation pane is a handy tool to add, delete, modify and re-order animations.
It provides you options as a drop down list to manage your animations as shown in diagram below:
Animation Pane Drop Down
Few tips:
1. Go for least number of animations possible. Higher number of transitions and animations make presentations slow (sometimes even hang) and break the flow
2. Don't opt for too jazzy animations as they overshadow the core message of your presentation.
3. When you have different types of content and you need to insert animations, try to combine elements and then insert animations for the group. For example, combine a shape and the text using Group facility (you can get it by selecting the contents and pressing right click) and then insert animation.
4. When using SmartArt, or mix of contents you can also insert animations for the entire shape as one object, or can insert animations one-by-one or as one paragraph using the effects option as shown below.

Effect Options

For now this is it!!! Please do share your thoughts and tips regarding the same.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Episode 1: The Basics Contd

Few of my favorite templates

Now that we are done with identifying a good place to find PowerPoint templates, let us just look into few of my all time favorite templates and why do I like them.

1. SWOT Analysis template by SlideShop
A vibrant and colorful template which focuses solely on SWOT analysis, I like this template because of the different formats that the template provides especially the first slide. However, word of caution - the color palette may be a little too overwhelming for some people (but that is totally a personal choice). If you want to try it, here is the link below for your reference:
SWOT Analysis

2. Business Plan template again by SlideShop
SlideShop presentation templates are unique in terms of their color choices and graphics. This one is no different. It is a 25 slide presentation related to business plan with nice vibrant graphics. Again, as above the same word of caution applies. However, you can try it from the link given below to test for yourself.
Business Plan Template

3.  Marketing Process Presentation yet again by SlideShop
Well, it starts appearing as if I am slightly biased towards SlideShop presentations but trust me on this, Again this presentation is vibrant with rich graphics ranging from cyclic process graphs to charts in rich color. Do try it once, if not the complete presentation, you can definitely use parts of it. Download it from here.
Marketing Process

4. Business Deal Presentation by SlideShop
Another presentation template by SlideShop, which has slightly lesser vibrant feel to it as compared to the above ones. However, the graphics and content scope of this presentation makes it highly useful and a look at it will help you come up with some nice presentation idea of yours as well. At least that is what happened to me.

5. Piece of the Puzzle Presentation by PresenterMedia
Now this one has slightly darker tone to it, however, I like this template because of the wide array of graphics and possible permutations and combinations that it offers. Try it for yourself.

So these are few of my favourite templates. Use them and do share your inputs with me regarding the same.

Till next time!!!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Episode 1 - The Basics

Powerpoint - Templates Please??? 

Are you working on a presentation? Do you need a good template to start working on? So where can you get some good free MS Office PowerPoint templates? Well there is one place wherein most of the times you will get what you want. All you need is to go to the MS Office website and search. Trust me it is one of the biggest repository of not only free PowerPoint templates. but also for other MS Office products. The link for the same is:

Just click on it and voila' there you are.
The Home Page
Right now it leads to the templates for Office Online products. If you need templates for older versions, all you need to do is to scroll down and click on the relevant Office 2007 or Office 2010 link as shown below.
Older Version Links
Once there, all you have to do is go through the content and you will find ways to download relevant PowerPoint templates.

Another way to get the templates is go to the following link  and click on the templates tab on top right hand corner and you reach your desired destination. Once there you can search for any templates and use as per your choice and comfort. Hope this first article in the series helps you. In the coming days will share other details one by one that will for sure help you to create a killer presentation with minimal fuss and cost.

Please do share your comments in case if you need any specific area to be taken upfront.