by Adam Noar
There is a reason we focus a lot on presentation hacks, tips, and tricks here at Presentation Panda. While we love presentations, and want to see the world do better, there’s an important thing to know:
They are hard work!
That’s right – even for black belt Pandas, presentations are still hard work. It can be a big brain strain to put together a presentation that’s beautiful, engaging, and also functional.
So are you really that surprised that we have some hacks to increase your PowerPoint productivity and make your presentation creation process a little easier?
Of course you aren’t. Because we have your back.
So resolve to make creating presentations much more enjoyable in 2017, and try some of the ppt productivity hacks and tools on our list:
PowerPoint Productivity Booster #1: Brain FM – music designed for focus, creativity, relaxation and more
If your inner monologue sounds anything like, ‘What’s that outside? Oh I’m hungry, I should check the fridge. I wonder if Bob’s Burgers is on Netflix. Is there a football game tonight? I should check Facebook’ and then eight hours later you are stuck wondering where the time went, you are going to want to check this out:
You need Brain FM. It is the perfect thing to help you focus or relax while you work – it was created by neuroscientists who optimized the best music for enhancing productivity and creativity. They don’t just recycle the music you already hear on the radio – they actually create the music! Here at Presentation Panda, we have a subscription that we use every single day. What can we say? It is addicting!
They have five modes for you to choose from: focus, relax, meditation, nap, and sleep. If you work in one of those new-age, Forbes best-companies-to-work-for kind of places with nap pods in the office, you might enjoy the nap setting at work – otherwise, we recommend the focus or relax stations.
For the outlining and writing portion of creating a fantastic presentation, I love the focus station. It is like my brain can zero in on exactly what I need to say, and helps me concentrate on just the important elements. For the more creative stuff, like designing the slides and choosing images, colors, and fonts, the relax station is perfect. It is like Zen mode for my brain.
If your inner monologue is frequently interrupted by loud roommates, coworkers, or traffic outside, then noise-cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver. We use the Bose Quiet Comfort 15. They have microphones inside and outside the ear cushion that help sense and reduce noise, and we really love how comfortable they are.
Is there frequently noisy chatter in the office? Does Bob always have to tell you his latest lame joke when you are trying to focus and meet deadlines? Put in the headphones and turn on Brain FM – it is like you are in another world, full of laser-sharp focus and beautiful PowerPoint presentations.
PowerPoint Productivity Booster #2: Titanium Tea – a special tea concoction that will power your presentation design and your day
Image courtesy of Influencive.com
We are a big fan of Tim Ferriss. If he sounds familiar, you have probably read his blog about his four hour work week and daydreamed a little. We especially love his approach to optimizing health, wealth, and wisdom – because come on, who doesn’t want to do that? Tim Ferriss also has a pretty good approach to creating presentations.
Every day, Tim starts his morning off with what he calls Titanium Tea (watch his video for a quick overview). It is basically a concoction of black tea, green tea, ginger, turmeric, and coconut oil. Tim is what he calls a “fast metabolizer” of caffeine – you know that mild crash you get a few hours after drinking a strong cup? He has more of a high-speed train derailing after 30 minutes, and then needs two cups to get back on track. He needed a replacement, and fast! So after a lot of experimentation, he came up with his Titanium Tea.
As tasty as all those ingredients sound, they are not random – each one has its own benefit. His teas are chosen for a specific reason: instead of having the one big spike of caffeine with coffee, he combines teas that have different “stimulation times”, so to speak. So he will combine green and black tea for staggered spikes of energy, that way he is performing a bit better for a long period of time, instead of way up and then crashing right back down.
Turmeric is one of those instantly recognizable spices due to its intense yellow-orange color – it is most often found in Indian food, but people are starting to pick up its use for the health benefits. Among other things, it is great for its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory effects, and boosting circulation. What’s not to love? And if you have had a ginger tea when you aren’t feeling well, you know what we’re talking about when we say ginger is an awesome ingredient to add to just about everything.
Finally, he does add coconut oil and butter. Coconut is more known for its health benefits – people use it for everything, including moisturizer, conditioner, and even for oil pulling (kind of like Listerine but it tastes worse). For this, though, you just have to drink it, so you get off pretty easy. The butter may remind you of Bullet Coffee, and it’s used the same way for this: it has the “good” fats that regulate cholesterol, it is anti-inflammatory, and (believe it or not) it can aid weight loss.
But, very important: it has to be grass-fed butter. No, the butter doesn’t eat grass – the cows do. But that’s the only way you will get those health benefits. (Don’t believe us? Here’s the science for you to check out.)
Of course, if tea isn’t your thing, you can always go the coffee route. But we’ve made Titanium Tea, we love it (it is delicious!) and we highly recommend that you give it a shot. It can really give some extra oomph to your day and help you power through your presentation.
PowerPoint Productivity Booster #3: Stand Up Desk – a power desk that keeps you in the zone longer
Image courtesy of Fully.com
Get up. Get up RIGHT NOW. Sorry for being dramatic, but chances are, you have been sitting still for way too long and you really need to move your body. There has been all sorts of buzz recently around studies that show that sitting while working is really bad for you – so why not stand up?
Sitting is bad news pretty much no matter what you do. This study showed that even if you exercise, lots of sedentary behavior is still positively associated with mortality. Said in plain English, it doesn’t matter if you go to the gym, if you spend a lot of time on your butt, you are more likely to die earlier.
Well, get ready for a laundry list of why standing is better for you:
- It reduces risk of obesity. Standing burns, on average, 50 more calories per hour than sitting does. That is because your heart rate is higher, which burns more calories.
- It reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes (and other metabolic problems). They found that among people who are at a high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, sitting was a bigger risk factor than exercise. You know, that thing you hate to do and avoid at all costs.
- It reduces risk of cancer. We know, it seems like everything these days is being linked to reducing cancer – eat more chocolate, drink less coffee, drink more coffee. But this is for real: breast cancer and colon cancer are the two cancers most commonly linked to sitting, as in, your risk is much higher if you sit on your butt a lot.
Now that we have convinced you to live a thin, diabetes-free, and cancer-free life, here are some options:
There are a lot of options to choose from, and they range from a full-power desk (like the one I use) to manual set-ups like VariDesk that sit on top of your existing desk.
I use Jarvis, both at home and at work. It is a full-power desk, and it’s perfect for exactly what I need. I switch between standing and sitting, and after doing this for a few years, I can personally say it is awesome. After sitting for a while, I just get antsy and simply can’t stand to sit anymore (see what I did there?). The full-power standing desk solves that issue for me by making it easy to switch back and forth, and keeps me in the zone.
PowerPoint Productivity Booster #4: Dual Monitors – two monitors makes everything faster
Whoever said two is better than one is lying, because two of stuff is awesome – what about two kittens? Two pieces of chocolate? And, of course, two monitors.
Dual monitors just make sense if you want to save time creating PowerPoint decks. If you’ve ever used two monitors, it is a tough transition to go back to just one. It just makes it so easy to compare documents without having to minimize or shrink windows, and it makes everything so much more efficient. It really takes your PowerPoint productivity to a whole new level, and makes everything go faster, including data entry, comparing products, and using large spreadsheets.
For presentations, you can have your images up on one monitor and your slides on another, or even compare slides side-by-side when trying to make a decision. Trust us, as soon as you start you won’t be able to go back.
Because we are such suckers for increased productivity (we’re not workaholics, we swear), we have to mention this survey, reported on by The New York Times: the benefit of having dual monitors can increase your output by 20-30%!
Personally, there is another thing I love to do with dual monitors when I’m working. If my work is contained to one screen, I like to play one of those awesome relaxing nature videos on YouTube. If I’m not comparing documents, I will often have a nice 4k Nature YouTube video playing on the other monitor as I work – it is very relaxing!
PowerPoint Productivity Booster #5: 20 Minute Guided Meditations – the simple way to clear your mind and focus
Speaking of relaxing, let’s talk meditation.
You may hear meditation and think it sounds a little “woo woo”, but honestly, it works! Whenever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed about a project, instead of trying to power through (which can make it worse), I simply do a 20-minute meditation using – surprise – Brain FM! Yet another awesome reason to subscribe to that.
After the 20 minutes, I feel recharged and so much calmer. It helps me focus and actually make less mistakes and work faster in PowerPoint, instead of working while I’m stressed and making more mistakes.
Are you surprised we have a study to back this up? Of course you aren’t.
Without getting too into the nitty-gritty science stuff, this study, done by a Harvard neuroscientist, found that meditation actually increases grey matter in the auditory and sensory cortex. As she explains, it makes sense, because when you are meditating, you are being more mindful of the sensory stuff going on in your body and around you. It also increases grey matter in the frontal cortex, which is used for memory and decision making.
If you are still not convinced, this Forbes article compiles a few studies, and they show that meditation preserves the brain as it gets older, helps alleviate depression and anxiety, and improves concentration (among a bunch of other things).
While we use Brain FM, there are a couple of popular meditation apps: Headspace and Calm. Headspace can be used on the computer or on your phone, and will take you through a 10 minute guided meditation every day. Calm is a very similar concept, also found online or on your phone, so it is really up to you to see which one you like better.
Let’s wrap this up
We hope our presentation productivity tips are helpful!
As with any new habits, make a concerted effort to stay consistent, and give it some time to see the results.
Also, it may be easier to introduce these one at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a bunch of new techniques, and to get frustrated with all the new information. So start small, and give yourself time to get used to the new habits and see results – we promise it will be worth it! Using these tips will make you work faster in your PowerPoint presentations.
Do you already use any of productivity enhancing tricks? If so, what do you think of them? Are there any hacks we missed that you love? Let us know in the comments below!