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Digital Signage and PowerPoint

By Cornerstone,

What is digital signage? The broadest definition is digital signage consists of any size screen displaying any type of content for any reason. More specifically then, those screens that you have noticed popping up everywhere – at bus stops, on the Underground, in restaurants, offices and shopping centres – these are all examples of digital signage which is being utilised to share information with you, entertain you or (of course) sell things to you.

Digital signage for a lobby

Welcome to our office

Digital signage is becoming increasingly popular because it engages its audience more than traditional static signage which can only display one message at a time. It can contain an ever-changing mix of visually striking images and videos and has the capacity to be updated or refreshed in order to keep the content current and relevant – a good example of this being live weather or flight information. What is being displayed can change as often as the content creator would like.

Digitial signage flight map

London to Budapest flight map

The market is growing rapidly as it is now widely used by many industries. Perhaps the most effective and creative users tend to be retailers who use it in their shop window displays or to promote special offers. But, museums, stadiums, hotels, restaurants, schools, colleges, universities, local councils, hospitals, GP surgeries and corporate buildings are using digital signage too for staff communications and information for guests or visitors. Third generation digital signage is interactive digital signage – which allows end users to interact with digital content via touchscreens, body sensors or QR codes on smartphones and tablets.

Digital signage burger order

New burger order page

So, you’ve decided you want to create some signage of your own but don’t know where to start? A quick and easy way to create digital signage is… here’s the big reveal… drum roll please… using PowerPoint! You can do this on your own PC or, even better, let the Presented team create an amazing presentation for you.

We link up with our friends at Presentation Point for their amazing Add-In “Data Point”, which can link to any RSS feed, database, excel file – for live updates to your digital screens, all from PowerPoint.

For more information on how we can help you create impactful signage in PowerPoint please contact the Presented team.

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Tips on PowerPoint and Animation

By Cornerstone,

Animation in PowerPoint

The old adage ‘less is more’ could definitely be applied to the use of PowerPoint animation. Using a lot of different animations can distract from your overall message and make your presentation looks amateurish and messy. Used well, and this can mean adding some complex animations (and triggers, more on those later), it can draw attention to your key points, look really nifty and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Before you begin

Before you start adding animations it is best to make sure the content of your presentation is finalised. Once animation is added it becomes harder to make changes. A useful tip is to add text directly to shapes where possible instead of adding textboxes on top of shapes – this makes animation easier as you are working with shapes and not groups.

With your content in place you should start by opening the Animation Pane. You will find this in the Animations tab. Within this pane you will see all of your animations in the order they will play.

If you are adding a lot of animations to a slide, go the Selection Pane (on the Home tab, go to the far right and click on the Select dropdown menu, click on Selection Pane) and rename the objects you are going to animate (these names will then also appear on the shapes in the Animation Pane) – this will make it easier to animate in sequence and a lot easier for anyone else who works on the presentation later to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Which animations look good?

As a rule, we tend to stick to simpler, cleaner PowerPoint animation such as Fade, Fly In/Out, Wipe In/Out and Appear/Disappear. We also try to avoid having to click through the animations by setting them to appear either With Previous or After Previous.

Remember, people watch what moves. They notice what is different. Make sure what you are saying matches watch you are showing with an animation. You want the flow of animation to match the flow of what you are saying.

Applying multiple animations to one object

Instead of using the animations ribbon to apply animations in the Animations tab, make a habit of using the Add Animation button instead – otherwise any animation you have previously applied to an object will be overwritten.

Animation Painter

To easily copy animations from one object to another, use the Animation Painter in the Animations tab. This works in the same was as the Format Painter and will bring over all of the animation effects and timings.


The clue is in the name! A trigger makes something happen. For example, if you want additional text to be hidden on your slide until you click an object – you can create a trigger to do this. Some examples of how triggers can be used can be seen in this short video:

Using transitions to animate

Transitions can create the illusion of animations. The Push transition (set to come in from the right) can create the effect of a timeline, as shown in this video.

In the right hands the Morph transition can mimic sophisticated animations, you can see this in action here.

When not to use PowerPoint animation

The key here is not to use animation if it is going to distract from your message. Avoid using animation for presentations used in webinars – because the slides and visuals are streamed to all members at once including members whose internet connections may not be fast or stable meaning the animations lag or do not play at all.

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Bespoke PowerPoint training

By Cornerstone,

Bespoke PowerPoint training will help you get good at PowerPoint, and fast. Of course, reaching expert level in anything takes time. And it’s hard to find the right training course for your particular needs.

I expect many of you have heard of the 10,000 hour rule. I have probably logged that time in PowerPoint easily. Not all of it was quality practice though (and I don’t want to be guilty of oversimplifying the rule here).

Certainly, I didn’t do a PowerPoint course to reach my now (admittedly self-proclaimed) expert level. Initially, I was entirely self-taught. Back in 1998 I literally spent days doing complex animations (the office was quiet) but for the era they were quite cutting edge. Or at least I thought so! By today’s standards they were terrible, but I enjoyed the creativity.

Bespoke PowerPoint training course

I next spent many years working in desk top publishing departments within investment banks. They provided 24/7 pitchbook service to the bank employees, and I hotdesked, covered shifts that included evening and graveyard, and had bankers breathing down my neck. Everything was deadline driven and had to follow strict house style. They did provide in-house PowerPoint training, but it very specific to the needs of that industry. However, I became fast, efficient, and finessed a very high attention to detail. But I was also over reliant on client templates, built-in macros, and found my creativity somewhat sapped.

When my friend and co-founder Pani Theodorou and I started our presentation design company in 2009, we again acquired knowledge as we went. There were no bespoke PowerPoint training courses available for the level of design and animation that we wanted. We now lead a team who frequently share tips and tricks to help us all get faster, stronger and more creative in using PowerPoint.

Since our work is of such a high standard, in both design and technicality, our clients are often asking us is we deliver training. We do.

bespoke powerpoint course

Bespoke PowerPoint training courses can cut through all the boring standard elements and get straight to what’s useful and relevant. The smaller the number of participants, the better the quality of the course – especially when attendees are roughly grouped by existing knowledge or ability.

Common themes include wanting to make PowerPoint slides look more “designy”, how to prevent people taking the deck off-brand, and how to save time.

Often when I demo the “reset” button, there’s an audible reaction from the room. A template sounds like it’s going to be a boring thing, but when they are set up correctly, using layouts will save stacks of time and energy: allowing you to focus on the message of your slides, rather than pouring hours down the drain perfecting the aesthetic.

Whether you’d like a course for a small team, or a 1 to 1 session just for you (or someone special!), then get in touch and let us know about your learning needs.

Bespoke PowerPoint training courses for your team – please drop us a line, at

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Amazing PowerPoint presentations

By Cornerstone,

PowerPoint is amazing. No really, it is!

PowerPoint is such an amazing tool, and there’s so much it can do – with the added advantage that just about anyone can edit it.

Here’s just a few things we can do for you in PowerPoint:

Interactive slides: Use triggers and hyperlinks to have a navigation-led deck. Ideal for engaging your small audience and letting the meeting control the flow of the story. Great for tablets and laptops.

Explainer videos: People are more likely to buy from you if they’ve seen a video. We can give you your very own dynamic, editable web video. See PPT created videos on Presented’s Vimeo page.

Live presenting: Nothing beats the face to face engagement of presenting live in front of an audience. But is your message being remembered? Are your slides visual enough to support learning or increase engagement? Are your visuals the right ones or are they doing more harm than good? Are you using communication science to improve the way you present your slides?

Data visualisation: we help you to communicate your data in a visually appealing and easy to understand way. Think infographics, dashboards, bespoke charts and diagrams.

Templates: a well-created, user-friendly template will look good, encourage company-wide consistency, and can save you hours every week.

Printed material: if you create your printed material in PowerPoint or Word, everyone can edit it, year after year! Annual reports, quarterly reports, brochures, posters, postcards, flyers: everything can be laid out and printed to a high level from PowerPoint.

Not sure what would be useful or why? Want a demo of any of the above? Call us now and we can chat through.

Amazing PowerPoint!

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Avoid bullet lists with these layout ideas

By Cornerstone,

Avoid bullet points:
before and after slides to help you…

We know that PowerPoint gets a bad rap as a design tool – it does have limitations, but only a bad worker blames their tools. In the right hands, PowerPoint is a great tool. So even when you have to keep all of your text, there are still options.

Hopefully these slides will give you some inspiration:

This “Technology” slide shows a typical bullet list layout. It’s a default layout that we see everywhere and is far from interesting to look at. (It’s also challenging to remember the content, but that’s another story!) Additionally, the title of this slide also had very little meaning – until we developed it.


The new heading and visuals help to lift the slide and ignite more interest. This particular slide is best delivered in an email format – simply because there’s still too much text onscreen for effective presentation delivery.
To present onscreen: we’d recommend using light animation to control the flow of information. Animation can prevent the audience from feeling overwhelmed or reading ahead and getting out of sync with the presenter.


Another typical layout. A boring looking list with plenty of text. (We’ve swapped out the content with Lorem Ipsum).

Before avoid bullet points

The addition of the image creates visual interest, and the icon for “explore” does a good job of leading the eye to the action points. It’s still text heavy, and the image is purely decorative. But for situations where you have to keep your text – it’s simply better. And there’s nothing here that is complicated or difficult for anyone using PowerPoint to reproduce.

With PowerPoint it’s usually the lack of ideas that is the negative driving force behind so many slides.

We hope this gives you a couple of pointers. The principals are easy! But then, we would say that…


Drop us a line if you need any help.

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Presentation design services

By Cornerstone,

Hire our Presentation Design Services


Presented offer presentation design services: our talented PowerPoint specialists know more than just incredible design – they also their knowledge about scientific communication to your slides. Additionally, their skills in animation will make you wonder about whether we’ve actually used PowerPoint (we have) as dynamic animation brings your slides to life.

Before our presentation designers start on your PowerPoint design they map out ideas. We make sure every visual we create fits the overall story and aids your message. Science has proven that using the right visuals is vital: visuals help your audience to understand and to remember your message. It’s not just a case of using decorative photos – these can often do more harm than good!

We’re a leading presentation design agency


You really must connect with your audience! We’re a leading presentation design agency, and we can help you do just that. We add presentation science to our slides to create presentations that stick. Each project is bespoke to you and your audience, and this will help you stand out.

Try our presentation design services today – get a quote or call for a chat.


The tragedy of presentations is that most of them don’t communicate a clear message. This is because “presentation science” is ignored. So don’t let yourself down by presenting slides that make it almost impossible for your audience to remember your message.

We are geeks when it comes to PowerPoint and the science of learning. We merge scientific insight and decades of experience to all the essential presentation design ingredients.

Our clients trust our presentation design services


We have a superb track record of returning clients. We have helped them to win pitches, secure funding, increase sign ups and sales, and to improve retention of information by their audiences. We are proud to give you presentations that will be remembered for a long time. Read more about our approach here.

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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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