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How best to use tablets or iPads for presentations

By Cornerstone,

Sometimes you can’t (or don’t want to) carry your laptop around with you. Although it’s not particularly easy to create presentations using your tablet, using them to present your deck is simple! With a few tips, you can ditch your laptop and focus on using tablet presentations instead.

Tablet presentation

Our preferred software for tablet presentations is Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad and PowerPoint for Android apps: these allow pretty much the same playback capabilities of the full computer version of the software, including most animations and interactivity (currently the “hover over” animation isn’t supported). Plus, most people are already familiar with PowerPoint.

So, simply create your presentation in your usual way, specifying the right dimension to fit your tablet screen. Then to get the best out of your tablet’s touch-screen capabilities, try to use interactivity (hyperlinks) to create a great user/audience experience. Once done, upload to your tablet and start sharing your presentation with ease.

Tips for tablet presentations:

1. Disable notifications: you don’t want that confidential or personal email to pop up halfway through your pitch!

2. Beam your presentation wirelessly to a big display or projector using Apple’s AirPlay technology.

3. Learn a few gesture controls to get the most out of PowerPoint for iPad. For example, in full-screen slideshow view can use a closed pinch gesture to return to the editing view.

4. PowerPoint for iPad enables you to edit any .pptx files. If your file is an older format (.ppt), you have the option to convert it to a .pptx file.

Don’t forget, whilst your tablet is a great tool for delivering presentations, it won’t guarantee a good presentation. The most important factor is the presentation itself, and ensuring that you get your messages across. So…

…make this year YOUR year!

Let us help you with more than just your tablet presentations.
Our main focus is communication. Tons of research exists on how people best take information in, and we use those insights to help you get your message across. A good presentation will help you to achieve your goals.

So if you’ve only touched the surface of what we can do for you, talk to us to find out how we can help you with so much more!

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Understanding presentation design, messaging and delivery (Brain Rule #12)

By Cornerstone,

The final blog from our 12 brain rules series. We’ve taken each brain rule and applied it to presentation design, messaging and delivery. Admittedly, a couple we had to “bend” a little to apply to presentations, but we believe that’s called “creativity”.

Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Our brains are constantly on the look out for understanding. They like learning new things, they like following stories, they are curious and they are always up to something… Hey, our brains seem to be like puppies! But let me not digress (no matter how much I want to) about baby canines…

John Medina, however, does point out how baby humans are the: “model of how we learn — not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion. Babies methodically do experiments on objects, for example, to see what they will do.

Our brains react in a similar way to each and every speech or presentation that we attend. We turn up hoping that this will be good! That we’ll learn something, that it will be useful to us. That it will make us think, perhaps challenge us. Because we are ‘powerful and natural explorers’. Sadly most presentations then turn to the “passive reaction” he mentions because no planning has gone into presentation design, messaging, and delivery.

Interestingly, it’s often in our “downtime” that we have the best ideas and thoughts: left to it’s own devices, the brain will often make connections and have ideas that are good! Brain Rules illustrates this with a story from google:

Google takes to heart the power of exploration. For 20 percent of their time, employees may go where their mind asks them to go. The proof is in the bottom line: fully 50 percent of new products, including Gmail and Google News, came from “20 percent time.”

Now, although we don’t perhaps need to give an audience down time as such. Pausing and allowing time for reflection are crucial techniques to let brains digest, whirr and purr. They’ll understand and remember more from a presentation if it’s well paced. Talk fast, but add well timed pauses to allow brains time to explore possibilities.

presentation design and messaging

Understanding presentation design, messaging and delivery

So when an audience sits down ready to listen to your presentation, they are full of curiosity and ready to explore: the start is important.

Brains want to quickly understand the purpose of any talk. It’s important to state your key message simply and clearly, and within the first 2 minutes, so that:

  • Your audience immediately knows this will be relevant to them. Believing in the relevance of a talk makes people pay more attention.
  • Getting to the point fast frames your slide content with the right context. This increases the understanding of the subsequent information that you present. The audience are simply on the same page.
  • If you are confident that your audience gets the gist, then you are actually free to delve deeper into your content if you need to. Presenter and audience can naturally explore!

Perhaps just don’t talk about puppies too much. (Or do. I’d listen!)

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Applying presentation science – or brain rule #11

By Cornerstone,

applying presentation science

Applying presentation science to your slides can make a difference to the outcome of your presentation. In this brain rule by John Medina, we consider the importance of knowing your audience before you present.

brain rule #11: male and female brains are different.

One way of applying presentation science is to get the font size right. It’s well known that eyesight can deteriorate with age. And there’s a statistic bandied about that your minimum font size needs to be half the average age of your audience. So, a bunch of directors around 50? Go for 25pt.

Regardless of this fun, font size also needs to be a flat minimum of 18pt for presentations – don’t go thinking you can get away with 10pt if you’re presenting to students because of that ‘half the average age’ rule!

Other factors include the size of the screen, the relative size of the font, how far away the audience is from the screen and the resolution. But these can vary: so just don’t forget 18pt as a minimum for the text on your slides.

But what about if your audience is predominantly male or female?

Research shows that men and women handle acute stress differently. Medina’s explanation states:

When researcher Larry Cahill showed them slasher films, men fired up the amygdale in their brain’s right hemisphere, which is responsible for the gist of an event. Their left was comparatively silent. Women lit up their left amygdale, the one responsible for details. Having a team that simultaneously understood the gist and details of a given stressful situation helped us conquer the world.”

When planning your presentation it’s certainly a good idea to cover both the gist and the details. A good method of applying presentation science involves having a flexible structure. A well thought out structure that starts with outlining the gist. Then provides detail to prove that gist as the presentation progresses. The result is a more convincing argument for your audience – to both male and female brains!

Applying presentation science: Emotions

Another consideration when applying presentation science is that men and women process certain emotions differently. Emotions are useful. They make the brain pay attention. Medina says “These differences are a product of complex interactions between nature and nurture.”

The easiest way to apply this is knowing that people don’t pay attention to boring things. They do pay attention to emotional things however – so engaging your audience with your slides is one of the most important things you can do.

How can you engage?

  • Use visuals – they are quickly understood and far more memorable.
  • Use contrast – something that looks different is immediately noticeable and draws attention.
  • Show early on that your presentation is relevant to your audience.
  • Describe benefits and challenges that relate to your audience.

Finally, an extra point about colour perception:

Men may be colour blind, whilst for women it’s rare. So using red and green on a comparison chart isn’t always a good plan. (Another tip is to label the chart itself rather than using a separated legend. Regardless of colour perception, the distance the eyes have to travel between chart and legend can be tiring and make your chart harder or slower to be understood. This is “spatial contiguity theory” and is another tip for applying presentation science to your slides!).

Read more blog posts and see more about our Presentation Design Services in London at Presented 

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Find advanced PowerPoint designers at Presented!

By Cornerstone,

How do you find advanced PowerPoint designers?

The PowerPoint designers at Presented see a lot of presentations. A lot of really bad presentations, but this isn’t your fault as such. PowerPoint as a design tool is not as limited as it might first appear, but to become an expert PowerPoint designer you need time, a good design eye, a lot of PowerPoint skills.

If a non-designer opened up the lovely InDesign or Illustrator software do you think they would produce anything worthy? Well probably not. And so it is that millions of office workers and execs have PowerPoint installed and are expected to produce something good looking with it. Sure, a good company template will help to an extent, but you aren’t going to get stunning slides without some design ability. Sorry plebs, that’s just how it is.

The presentation team at Presented offers a ‘PowerPoint Essentials’ training course where we teach you how to master Slide Masters, how to lay out good layouts, and why you need to place placeholders with some thought. We also teach you about palettes, theme fonts and default style settings. And along with further tips and tricks all these things will turn you into a fast PowerPoint formatter. But it won’t make you into a great PowerPoint designer.

The talented and trained designers out there in the world generally can’t help with PowerPoint either. These clever people work with Macs, Adobe Creative Suite, and either look down on PowerPoint or simply don’t know where to start when it comes to masters, layouts or animation (and PCs). We’re not trying to bad mouth designers here: we work with plenty of design agencies as their go-to PPT people. We recreate their amazing designs for them in PPT. They turn to us for the PowerPoint expertise that we offer. It just makes sense to outsource. We have the speed and experience that they need to produce top quality presentations that look good and are easy to edit.

So how do you find advanced PowerPoint designers? You contact Presentation designers at Presented.

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Who uses presentation design agencies?

By Cornerstone,

Presentation design agencies didn’t exist a couple of decades ago. And when we started Presented, back in 2009, there were very few other companies offering PowerPoint design services. Although the number of presentation design companies out there has increased considerably since then, we’re not alarmed by the competition. In fact, it’s all rather good news.

It shows that more people and businesses are actively looking to outsource to a presentation design agency.

In those early years it was a challenge to describe what I did for a living. People often ask out of politeness and expect a one word answer, not something along the lines of “we improve PowerPoint presentations through a mix of communication science and good design”. The reaction I generally received was one of confusion. “You can make a living out of that?” someone once asked me. They simply didn’t believe that there would be any demand for a presentation design service. Surely everyone is capable of using PowerPoint by themselves?

Indeed, so capable that it’s lead to the well known disparagement of “Death by PowerPoint”. And rightly so. Brain science is widely ignored, we both overwhelm and bore our audiences. Resonance and engagement are end-of-the-rainbow type concepts that have hardly been associated with your typical presentation.

Which brings me back to the competition: one of the reasons we’re not alarmed is because so many of these new presentation design agencies simply aren’t very good. They are capable of applying a new design, but not at transforming content by making it engaging or simple to understand. And sadly most graphic design companies who offer PowerPoint templates rarely build them correctly. Indeed, a good portion of our clients are graphic design houses and PR companies – see the purple section in the pie chart.

Design and PR companies use presentation design agencies
pie - presentation design

Graphic designers outsource to us for their PowerPoint needs because it saves them time, we have the right software and expertise that their end-clients expert. We work as a white label service as well as being up front as a presentation partner. We troubleshoot problems, fix issues and offer bespoke training.

The pie covers the last financial year and also shows that 17% of our income is from clients who use us just one time only (so far). We have an 83% rate of return from clients however – so they know we’re useful!

It really is great news that people are looking for presentation design agencies – just as well!

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Brain rule #10: Visual presentations are better

By Cornerstone,

brain rule #10: vision trumps all other senses.
Visual presentations are better because, according to brain scientist John Medina, vision trumps all other senses. It’s brain rule #10 in his series, and it’s easy to apply this rule to presentations.

Here’s a quote from their website:

“We are incredible at remembering pictures.
Hear a piece of information, and three days later
you’ll remember 10% of it.
Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”

But here’s the really juicy bit from this rule description:

“Toss your PowerPoint presentations.
Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based
information and the incredible effects of images.
Burn your current PowerPoint presentations and make new ones.”

This is a great instruction, burn them indeed and come to us for your images and visuals! We really know what we’re doing when it comes to applying brain science to presentations. It’s not as simple as whacking in a few pretty photos. Photos can be incredibly distracting to your audience, and badly chosen ones can leave your audience really confused about your key messages. Photos provoke quite a subjective response in our brains, so each audience member will have a different take away from each image.

We prefer diagrams and bespoke illustrations. Visuals that demonstrate the point you are trying to make. Visual presentations are better because you can tie in your heading, narration and visuals to each key message. It really can be powerful stuff.

We’re also quite good at helping you to distill your key message into fewer words, to craft compelling messages, and to use conversation language that your audience can more readily understand. You need your information to be simplified but not made to be simplistic.

Visual presentations are better also when good animation is applied to help control the flow of information. Whilst it’s good to not overwhelm your audience, animation also attracts attention. It’s another visual device that gets your brain involved. So well timed, well designed animation is a visual enhancement that can really pay off.

Whether you are convinced or not – why not talk to us to find out more?

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There’s no I in team

By Cornerstone,

At some point in your career you are likely to have to deliver a presentation as part of a team. Whilst to some this may sound more appealing than presenting by yourself and being the sole focus of everyone’s attention, it can also have many disadvantages such as conflict of interests or inconsistencies in the design.

Here are some tips on how to create an effective group presentation:

1. Give everyone a job to do. Decide early on which team members will be responsible for which parts of the presentation to save duplication or rework, and to make sure each person pulls their weight.

2. Choose a leader. We’ve all seen Sir Alan Sugar asking teams to pick a Project Manager on The Apprentice, and it’s a good idea to name someone in your team as the project owner. This person can be responsible for checking that the others are on track, ensure everyone understands what they are supposed to be doing and knows who to speak to if they have any queries

3. Create a template. Before you get started, the team should decide on the layout, colours and fonts for the slide set and one member of the group should have the job of creating a template. This will ensure that there is consistency in everyone’s slides and you won’t need to waste time reformatting at the end.

4. Meet regularly. Whilst you don’t want to waste valuable time by having meetings for meetings sake, you do need to get together with your team mates regularly to double check that everyone is on the right lines and on track to meet your deadline.

5. Allocate sufficient time for compiling the slides. If each team member is working on their own part of the presentation you are bound to encounter a few issues when you bring all of the slides together into your final presentation, so make sure you leave enough time at the end for this. It will work best if one person is assigned the job of collating and compiling all of the slides.

6. Rehearse rehearse rehearse! When working in a group you are bound to need a few run throughs to work out timings, transitions and script. It may be a good idea to film yourselves so that you can watch back together to see where adjustments need to be made.

We hope these tips relieve some of the stress that naturally comes with working in a team. Good luck for your next group presentation!

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The science of presentations is a big deal

By Cornerstone,

A lot of scientific research has been done into how our brains retain information and how this can be used can be used to our advantage when presenting information that we want people to remember. Unfortunately most of this scientific research is ignored in the business world as most people are concerned with relaying the maximum amount of information possible within a certain time slot.

We strongly believe that science is vital to getting your message across. In this blog post we will look at some ways in which you can use brain science to help you present your ideas.

Exercise improves cognition by increasing oxygen flow into the brain. Admittedly it’s very hard to get people moving during a presentation, but if you can arrange the room so it is less like a classroom format where people are under the impression that they have to sit completely still for the entirety of the presentation, then you may find that your audience’s minds are less likely to wander.

Stressed brains don’t perform the same way as non-stressed brains. Stress damages memory and executive function. Obviously you have no control over a person’s mood when they walk into the room, but making the atmosphere a bit light hearted by greeting people and telling a few jokes or interesting anecdotes may make them feel more relaxed, and ultimately listen and remember more of your presentation.

After the 10 minute mark audience our attention plummets. To stop your audience from losing interest, try to do something emotionally stimulating every 10 minutes as emotion makes the brain pay attention. You could tell a joke or story, show a video or embark on a bit of audience participation. The brain is not capable of multi-tasking and you make on average 3 times more errors on a task when you are interrupted. Don’t make your audience multi-task by making them try to listen to you whilst also reading blocks of text on the screen or on a hand out. Put just a heading on the screen along side some visuals, and leave the hand-outs until the end so the audience listens to you rather than reading the information for themselves while you speak.

Vision is the most dominant sense for humans. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%. Avoid lots of text within your slides and use relevant imagery to help people associate the pictures with the details.

Try to bear some of this scientific research in mind when creating your presentation. If you would like more advice on the science of presentations, get in touch with us.

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10 PowerPoint tips

By Cornerstone,

You have thoroughly researched your subject, your content is superbly written and you have all the visual aids you need – but actually creating the slides in PowerPoint leaves you stressed and shouting at the computer screen.

If this sounds familiar, here are 10 PowerPoint tips that might make life a little bit easier….

1. Learn the shortcuts –  knowing the main keyboard shortcuts will save you a lot of time. For example Ctrl+S will save your work, F5 will let you view the slide show and Ctrl+Z will undo the last action. A full list of       PowerPoint shortcuts can be found here: https://support.office.com/en-au/article/Use-keyboard-shortcuts-to-create-your-presentation-ebb3d20e-dcd4-444f-a38e-bb5c5ed180f4

2. Customize your slide sizes – you don’t have to stick with the default PowerPoint size option for your slides. To alter simply go to File, choose Page Set Up and enter the dimensions you want.

3. Alter the transition duration – if you want the transition between each slide to be faster or slower than the default you can alter this. Click on Transition and to the right you will see options to increase or reduce the timings.

4. Use picture borders – If you have a range of images that vary in size or shape it can make your slides look a little messy. By adding the same style of border to each image you can add uniformity to an array of images. To do this go to Format, select a picture border and apply the same border to all images.

5. Choose a colour scheme – applying your company colours to each slide in your presentation will give it a consistent and professional feeling. To change the background colour of a slide go to Design, then Background and click on the style you want to use.

6. Using graphs – Blocks of texts and tables full of information are hard for an audience to follow, instead you can create graphs and charts from Excel data. To insert a graph go to the Insert tab and choose Insert chart, you can then choose from different types of graphs including bar charts, line graphs and pie charts.

7. Line up your objects – Lining up images and/or text makes slides look a lot neater but it’s often quite fiddly to do by hand. Instead, select each object by clicking the first and then pressing Ctrl while clicking on the other objects to select all. Once selected, click on Draw and select Align. You can then choose whether to align to the left, right or centrally.

8. Turn off your pointer – Seeing your mouse pointer whizzing around the screen can be distracting. You can stop it from showing by pressing the Ctrl+H key during Slide Show view.

9. Create handouts – handouts can be useful for your audience to take away at the end of a presentation. To create handouts of your slides go to Print Preview and choose Page Set Up. Click on Print What and choose a handout layout.

10. Compress your slides – If you have lots of slides containing a lot of imagery, your PowerPoint presentation is likely to become difficult to work with and run slowly. You can fix this by compressing the media in your presentation for a smaller overall file size that runs much quicker. To do this go to File, click Info, and then in the Media Size and Performance section, click Compress Media.

We hope that these tips will help you when working on your next presentation!

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It’s all in the planning

By Cornerstone,

Getting started on your slides can sometimes be as daunting as actually giving the presentation. A big part of giving an effortless presentation is in the planning, here are some tips on how to plan a great presentation…

1. Objective

First things first; you need to have an objective! What is the purpose of your presentation? What are the main points that you are trying to convey to your audience? What do you want them to take away from it?

2. Audience

Once you know what you want to get across, you need to think about your audience. Who are they? Why are they there? What do they already know about the subject? Defining your audience will help you to decide on the style, format and content of your presentation.

3. Story

Every presentation should tell a story – what story do you want to tell your audience? Every story has a beginning, middle and an end so try to format your presentation in this way so that your audience can easily follow.

4. Layout

The layout of your slides is just as important as the content. Badly designed slides can confuse, bore and distract your audience. Make sure that you use relevant imagery and don’t fill your slides with too much text. If creativity isn’t your strong point consider getting someone with design skills to give you a hand.

5. Visual Aids

Most presenters will need visual aids to assist them; it makes it easier for the audience to get the message. The most common aids are powerpoint slides for which you will also need to make sure you have a reliable laptop and a projector. You may also want to use music or video to enhance your presentation. Decide on this early on and make sure you can get hold of the equipment at the venue.

6. Practice

Practicing your presentation is essential, nerves can ruin even the best set of powerpoint slides. Practice in front of a colleague or friend, or if no one is available practice in front of the mirror! Speak loudly, try to curb negative body language and don’t just read from the screen. Practicing your presentation will also help you to make sure that you can get through your slides in the allocated time.

If you follow these steps you should be well prepared next time you face your audience – good luck!

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