by Adam Noar
We are back with another series of “This is how I work” – where we interview presentation experts to understand their routines, tools, hacks, resources and more.
Our last guest was Lea Pica, a presentation hero who has a TON of experience creating awesome presentations.
This week we feature Geetesh Bajaj who runs a PowerPoint focused website, Indezine.com, dedicated to helping people improve their ppt slides.
Geetesh is a PowerPoint pro. Microsoft even named him a PowerPoint MVP, so he must know what he’s talking about. You are going to love his perspective on creating presentations and some of the resources he has to share.
Location: Hyderabad, India
I run Indezine.com – a PowerPoint site with articles, reviews, tutorials, blog and templates for Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation software.
One word that best describes how you work:
Different computers at home and office, plus laptops and tablets.
Preferred program for creating presentations (e.g., PowerPoint, Prezi):
First of all, tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today?
I started working in my family business after graduating. My work involved keeping track of an assembly line and provided me with plenty of time to explore. That led me to digital graphics, and then web design, and finally presentation design. I had many questions and found answers in communities and forums. Soon I started answering other people’s questions, which led me to create Indezine.com as a repository of answers that were put in one place.
A few years later, Microsoft awarded me as a PowerPoint MVP, and it’s been 16 years since. I have written 6 books, trained a few thousand people in making better slides, attended many conferences, and still run Indezine.com
What presentation tools can’t you live without? Why?
Certainly, PowerPoint is indispensable for two reasons:
Firstly, if there’s a feature that PowerPoint does not provide, then there is an add-in available to make life easier. There is a thriving add-in industry with hundreds of amazing add-ins available. In case, an add-in for your task is not available, you can hire a programmer to create a custom add-in.
Secondly, PowerPoint is an industry format and works well with all my other favorite programs including Photoshop and Excel.
What’s your workspace setup like?
What’s is a trend you see in presentations right now?
I see so much flat design in presentations these days
But there’s so much more happening. Here is more of what I see:
- Digital art that’s sourced from scans of real art, brush strokes, and handmade paper.
- More organic shapes such as non-geometric, irregular circles, rectangles, and other shapes.
- Less saturated colors and monochromatic color palettes.
- Use of textures that are not too detailed, but repeated in nature.
There’s also a trend with slide formats moving from 4:3 to 16:9 (widescreen). Often, clients do not know what they want, so you may need to help them find a solution. In some cases, you may have to provide both standard and widescreen slides.
What’s is one of your biggest tips or secrets to creating awesome presentations?
First, understand the concept. This may mean that you create your analog presentation on paper; then move to digital.
Never hurry, even if the client (boss, etc.) wants you to hurry up. And this can sometimes be a problem because clients are often in a hurry. You have to make them aware that hurrying up will have consequences.
What’s your process/method for creating presentations?
Here is how I create presentations for clients:
First, we need to brainstorm because so often, the client knows what they want but they may not have expressed it well.
Next, comes the conceptualization stage, where we create an analog presentation. This need not be too graphical, as long as it covers the message. This presentation is typically on paper and can be scanned and sent to a client.
After client feedback, we create an outline. This outline is approved by the client.
Next, we start working on slides. If the client does not have an existing template, we first design the template. Even if they have a template, we may have to tweak it for new clients.
The outline is next imported. We study the sequence and flow. We may need to add or remove slides. We may also need to split or merge slides.
We next collect visual content:
Essentially, we are already collecting visual content right from the beginning, so by this time, we do have most of the visual content in place. Any changes needed for the visual content is done in Photoshop. Nowadays, PowerPoint does most of the editing, but there are still areas where Photoshop does a better job, although those areas are diminishing.
We also create all the infographic content such as diagrams, charts, and tables.
We finally put things together, and do an internal check. We make changes and send the first draft to the client!
What is one of your favorite presentation hacks/tips/tricks?
I love PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts!
In fact, I have an e-book on PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts that is continuously updated.
In addition, I like one of PowerPoint’s little-known options is the Photo Album tool that lets you import hundreds of pictures at one go, in less than a minute. The small problem with this tool is that it creates a new presentation. Yet, it is still easier to import all pictures you need to a new presentation and copy them to any existing deck.
I also love working with PowerPoint add-ins, and Steve Rindsberg makes some of the best add-ins under the PPTools brand. His Merge and Resize tools are lifesavers. While Merge lets you create hundreds of slides that contain both text and pictures, Resize makes it easier to change standard slides into widescreen, and also the other way.
Here’s a quick video demo of the Merge add-in tool.
What’s a great presentation related resource you use often?
This may sound amazing but I perform a search on my Indezine.com site many times each day!
What makes you “cringe” the most when you think about a boring/ugly presentation slide?
I just think that this is an opportunity wasted.
What do you listen to while you work on your presentations? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence? How do you get into the creative zone?
I will listen to almost anything. It just has to be music and not a podcast.
What are you currently reading in relation to presentations? What’s something you’d recommend for people to read?
I am reading The Art of Thinking Clearly, and it has everything to do with life and thus presentations too.
What’s a good piece of advice you’ve received when it comes to creating presentations?
It’s difficult to narrow this down to one piece of advice, so I’ll just say that one should be open to seeing new perspectives.
What’s the one piece of advice you would tell someone before or during public speaking (delivering a presentation)?
You have stressed yourself, tried so hard, and did the best you could. Now, please relax and enjoy giving your presentation.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
I think learning never ends.
I learn something new every day, and sometimes I am so zapped that I did not know a particular trick! For that same reason, do not close yourself. Open your horizons, and ask as many questions you want because the worst question is the question you did not ask. The best questions are the ones you asked.
The Presentation Panda: How I Work series asks presentation heroes, experts, and flat-out awesome people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. If you would like to be featured or have someone you want to see featured contact us here.