Screenshots (also called screen captures) are often used in presentations to illustrate what the audience can expect to see on their computer screen, mobile device, tablet, or laptop at a given time.
Here at Presentation Panda we probably use the screenshot tool HUNDREDS of times a day. There are many screenshot tools including Microsoft’s Snipping Tool (that comes with Windows), Evernote’s Skitch, and of course there is the good old fashioned Print Screen key on your keyboard when you quickly want to take a screenshot of your entire screen.
So here’s the deal:
Rather than adding the “raw” or “naked” screenshot to your presentation like 99% of people do (yawn!) you should follow these simple PowerPoint design tips to bring your screenshots to life.
These “dressed up” screenshots will make your slides look better and your audience will thank you for it!
Screenshot Trick #1. The Contextual Image
A great way of bringing your screenshot to life is by giving your screenshot some context by framing the visual on the device the audience will be using.
For example, if you’re presenting a new website and you want to show a series of screen captures, you can frame each image within a generic computer monitor (like the one in the image example above) to highlight how the website will look when someone is viewing it on their screen.
How to create this screenshot effect:
Option 1: Find a great image of a computer, tablet, phone, etc, and paste your screenshot directly over the screen of the image. Crop the image (as needed) so it fits within the screen of the device you’re placing it on. You can find great pictures of computers (like the image seen below), tablets, and smartphones on unsplash.com.
Note: This option works great when the device is front facing (like the image seen below) but is more difficult when the device is displayed at an angle (like the image seen above).
Option 2: Go to Placeit and choose from a huge selection of contextual images that you can drop your screenshot into. Placeit will then take your screenshot and auto-magically drops it into the photo.
Note: Placeit costs $8 to download a big size version of the image (Standard (1920×1440, 4:3 or Wide 2720×960, 17:6). If you plan to use the service on a more frequent basis you can also sign up for one of their payment plan options.
There are certain PowerPoint hacks to create your own Placeit type images in PowerPoint. We will save that for a later post!
Screenshot Trick #2. The Physical Paper Effect
Another awesome way to improve the look of your screenshots is to add a shadow effect that makes the screenshot look like a physical piece of paper. The realistic look created with these shadows will attract your audience’s attention. It almost looks like you could pick the screenshot off the screen and hold it in your hand!
Check out the video tutorial below to see how it’s done:
How to create this screenshot effect:
Step #1: Insert a Shape
Step #2: Change the color (use a dark grey color if placing on a white background)
Step #3: Give the shape some “Soft Edges” (within the Format Shape tab)
Step #4: Use the “Edit Shape” tool to modify the shape
Step #5: Right click and “Send the Shape to Back” (behind the screenshot)
Step #6: Move the shape around using your mouse or arrow keys for final placement
Screenshot Trick #3. The Small Bottom Shadow
A great way to give your screenshots a boost is to give them a feeling of depth. This bottom shadow technique makes the screenshots appear to be on a foreground above everything else.
How to create this screenshot effect:
Step #1: Right click the screenshots and select Format Picture
Step #2: Click on Effects
Step #3: Click on Shadow
Step #4: Select Preset Options and then select the “Offset Bottom” option
Screenshot Trick #4. The Angle
Another way to improve your screenshots is to use the angle effect.
The great thing about these angled screenshots is that they can direct a users attention in a particular direction. When you angle your screenshots (like seen in the above example) you keep the focus on the center image.
How to create this screenshot effect:
Step #1: Right click the screenshot you want to apply an Angle effect to and click on Format Picture
Step #2: Click on 3D Rotation
Step #3: Select Preset Options and then select the “Perspective: Contrasting Right (or Left)” option
Screenshot Trick #5. The Glowing Background
If you want your screenshots to “standout” why not have some serious contrast with a cool looking glow effect. The glows in the background give a real physical spotlight feel to focus the user on the screenshot.
How to create this screenshot effect:
Step #1: Right click the screenshots and select Format Picture
Step #2: Click on Effects
Step #3: Click on Glow
Step #4: Select Preset Options and then select the glow effect you desire. You can then change the color of the glow to whatever you want.
Does that mean every single screenshot, image, icon, button and header text should have these sort of screenshot effects?
Of course not. The screenshot examples highlighted in this post work because of the contrast they make between real world objects (in this case the screenshots) and graphics (gradients, fonts, etc.).
These screenshot techniques are effective because they draw the audience to focus on what your presenting (product, service, idea, etc.) without having to over-design. These different screenshot effects also create depth, and present the screenshots in the foreground.
You may think that screenshot effects are a minor detail but they do increase the appeal of what your presenting to your audience. Judging a book by it’s cover may be wrong, but it’s what people do, so win them over with a well presented product within a nice looking screenshot.
Here’s my question(s) for you …
Do you have have any tricks for making screenshots look better in PowerPoint? Do you have a particular screenshot tool that you use? Sound off in the comments below!
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these screenshot effects? If so, email them the link to this post.
Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left).
Hungry for more PowerPoint tips, tools, and tricks just like these? Here are a few articles you might like:
If you want to be a PRESENTATION HERO you need to work more efficiently and easily within PowerPoint.
This starts by knowing your essential PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts.
That’s why we have put together a list of 15 of the best PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts that we use ALL THE TIME when designing presentations.
These ninja like keyboard hacks will not only help you gain more control over your slides but will also save you lots of time!
Let’s begin with a quick summary and then go into each shortcut in more detail!
#1. Zoom In or Out of Your Current Slide by Using Ctrl + Mouse Wheel Spin.
Zooming in and out of your canvas is critical if you want to design your slides properly. By zooming in and out of your slide you will be able to get a close-up view of your file or zoom out to see more of the slide at a reduced size.
There are two ways you can zoom in and out of your slides:
The slow way or the fast way.
The slow way involves clicking on what object you want to zoom in on and then clicking on the magnification dial on the lower right hand corner of PowerPoint. This method gets the job done but involves a lot of mouse clicking.
The FAST way involves clicking on what object you want to zoom in on and then using the shortcut Ctrl + spinning your mouse wheel.
The way it works is simple:
Spinning your mouse wheel forward will zoom in on your current slide, while spinning it down will pull your view back.
Here’s a look at the canvas zoom keyboard shortcut in action:
Once you see the importance of zooming in and out of your slides you will be on the path of slide creation greatness!
#2. Reorder a Bulleted or Numbered List (Without Having to Cut and Paste) by Using Alt+Shift+Up and Alt+Shift+Down
While we don’t really advocate using bullet lists here at Presentation Panda we do realize that people still use them from time to time.
If you are going to include some type of list (a bullet list, numbered list, etc.) then you should know that there is a quick way to reorder your list if needed.
If you want to reorder your list simply place your text cursor next to the list item you want to move up or down and then hit Alt+Shift+Up (to move the item towards the the top of list) or Alt+Shift+Down (to move the item to the bottom of the list).
Here’s a look at the list reordering shortcut in action:
#3. Toggle Through Objects/Layers Using the Tab Key
When you’re dealing with more complex graphics and animations on your slide you need to be able to select certain objects on the slide quickly.
Selecting a particular object on your slide can sometimes be difficult when your graphics have multiple layers (objects overlapping one another).
When objects overlap one another, reaching the ones on the bottom of the pile has traditionally required workarounds, such as temporarily cutting or moving the ones on top. This can be quite tedious and a big time suck!
To select the particular object/layer that you want, all you have to do is keep hitting the Tab key until your object/layer is selected.
Here’s a look at the toggle shortcut in action:
#4. Undo Your Last Edit Using Ctrl + Z
When you’re creating your PowerPoint slides you are going to be making edits CONSTANTLY. There are often times you will need to undo your last action/edit.
You can either do this by hitting the undo button in the PowerPoint Ribbon or you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Z. If you want to redo your last action use the keyboard Ctrl + Y.
Bonus Tip: By default, PowerPoint limits the number of times you can undo an action to 20 times. You can increase this number up to 150 times by going to “File”, select “Options”, select the “Advanced” tab and then increase the number (up to 150).
#5. Select All Objects Using Ctrl + A
There are also times you need to be able to grab all the objects on your slide at once.
To do this all you have to do is press Ctrl +A. This will select all objects on the slide.
Bonus Tip: After you have selected all your objects you may decide that you want to deselect one or more of them. After you have selected all your objects (Ctrl + A) you can press Ctrl and then select the object(s) you want to deselect.
#6. Group Objects Together Using Ctrl + G
Grouping allows you to make two or more PowerPoint objects into a single ‘grouped’ object that you can more easily move around and manage on your slide. To quickly group objects together, simply select multiple objects (you can do this by holding the Shift key), and with your objects selected, hit Ctrl + G.
To do the opposite (ungroup a group of objects) simply select a group of objects and hit Ctrl + Shift + G on your keyboard.
Note: only grouped objects can be ungrouped.
#7. Keep Proportions (Draw a Perfect Square, a Perfect Circle, etc.) by Holding Shift While You draw with the Mouse
PowerPoint doesn’t offer a square or circle AutoShape. You can try to create one, but there isn’t a built-in option that automatically produces one. Instead, you must start with the rectangle and oval AutoShape objects.
The next time you need to draw a perfect circle, square etc. simply hold down the Shift key and then draw the shape using your mouse. Be sure to release the mouse before you release the Shift key.
Bonus Tip: You can also hold the Shift key while you draw a line to create a perfectly straight line.
#8. Duplicate Objects Using Ctrl + D
It’s simple to create multiple versions of the same shape or picture in PowerPoint, but when you use a shortcut, it’s even easier.
Simply select the item you want to duplicate and then press Ctrl + D.
Another way to duplicate an object would be to Ctrl + C (to copy) and then Ctrl + V (to paste). However, using Ctrl +D is much faster since it only involves one step instead of two.
Bonus Tip: You can also duplicate an entire slide by selecting the slide thumbnail on the left side of the screen and then press Ctrl + D
#9. Insert a New Slide Using Ctrl + M
Unless you’re planning on giving a one slide presentation you want to be able to insert a new slide quickly (as you will be using lots of them).
The quickest way to insert a new slide is to simply press Ctrl + M on your keyboard.
#10. Change Font Size by Holding Shift + Ctrl and use the Greater Than (“>”) and Less Than (“<”) Keys
Adjusting font size in PowerPoint is nothing new. But to quickly fit your text the way you want it, you can simply highlight your text, hold Shift + Ctrl and use the greater than (“>”) and less than (“<”) keys to make it larger or smaller on the fly.
Trust me. This method works much better than guessing and typing in the font size into the PowerPoint Ribbon.
#11. Insert a Hyperlink with Ctrl + K
Here at Presentation Panda we LOVE hyperlinks.
By getting creative with the hyperlinks, you can get a Prezi-like functionality of jumping around to different parts of your presentation. An easy example of this is creating a table of contents that is interactive. You can use it to skip ahead to wherever you want in your presentation, and then go back to choose your next destination.
An easy way to insert a hyperlink into your presentation is by selecting the object you want to apply a hyperlink to and then using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + K. Doing so will bring up the box where you can then indicate the place in the PowerPoint deck that you want to link to.
#12. Toggle Gridlines On and Off Using Shift + F9 for Better Alignment
Using PowerPoint’s grid and guides will help you keep objects aligned. There are several ways you can customize the grids including modifying the grid spacing, snapping of objects, and drawing guides.
There are times you may want to have grids turned on and other times you may not want to see them. Therefore, it’s good to know the PowerPoint shortcut for toggling grids on and off.
All you have to do is use Shift + F9 to toggle them on or off.
#13. Quickly Save Your Presentation Using Ctrl + S
It’s always smart to be saving your presentation frequently. I’m sure we have all experienced at least one occasion where we experienced an issue that caused PowerPoint to fail and if the file was not recently saved then we may have lost our most recent edits.
The fastest way to save your PowerPoint presentation is to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + S.
We use this shortcut so often that it has almost become second nature. We find ourselves hitting using the shortcut without even thinking about it.
#14. Move Objects in Smaller Increments Using Ctrl + Arrow Keys
Sometimes you want to place a graphic object “just so” on a PowerPoint slide, but as you drag it with your mouse, it jumps to a spot on its own. Of course, this is near where you want it to be, but not quite the right place.
This can be VERY frustrating.
The quick way around this is to use the arrow keys on the keyboard, (found on the number keypad) instead of dragging the object with the mouse.
These keys will “nudge” the object left, right, up or down, a little at a time, until you can place it just where you want it. The default nudge setting is 6 points. Points are units of the standard type size. There are 72 points in one inch, so each point measures 0.167 inches a very small measurement. If the default setting for nudging is still too large for your purposes, you can make the increments of movement even smaller. Hold down the Ctrl key while using the arrow key (up, down, left, right). When doing this the nudge setting is reduced to 1.25 points, for finer manipulation of the object placement.
#15. Activate the On-Screen Laser Pointer in Slide Show Mode With Ctrl + L
In Slide Show mode, you can turn your mouse into a laser pointer to draw your audience’s attention to something on a slide.
To turn the laser pointer ON simply hit Ctrl + L. To turn the laser pointer OFF hit Ctrl + L again and the laser pointer will turn back into a mouse Pointer.
Note: you can only turn the laser pointer on during Slide Show mode. You can not turn it on when you’re editing your slides.
By knowing the essential PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts you will be able to efficiently design your slide deck in record time.
Keep in mind that PowerPoint has a TON of keyboard shortcuts that were not mentioned in this article. Rather than overwhelm you with all of the keyboard shortcut options, I wanted to focus on some of the ESSENTIAL ones that can significantly impact your PowerPoint productivity.
If you don’t feel you need keyboard shortcuts, remember that slow, inefficient ninjas are dead ninjas. If you practice these shortcuts and memorize them you will wonder how you ever got by without them!
Here’s my question to you: After reading this article do you have any additional PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts that you find particularly helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these ppt keyboard shortcuts? If so, email them the link to this post. Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left). Hungry for more PowerPoint tips, tools, and tricks just like these? Here are a few articles you might like:
If you aren’t using PowerPoint 2016 already … you should!
Microsoft Office 2016 has received some pretty great reviews online and today we are going to be talking about the top 5 benefits of PowerPoint 2016 (which is included in the Microsoft Office suite) and why you need to consider making the 2016 PowerPoint upgrade.
Just imagine all the functionality and features you’re used to, but with added enhancements to help you create the most stunning slides.
You’ll be glad you made the switch.
So let’s begin!
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #1: Morph – a clever transition effect for making smooth animations, transitions, and object movements across your slides. We would upgrade to PowerPoint 2016 for this reason alone!
Morph Transitions in PowerPoint 2016 was created to take your ANIMATIONS to the next level.
It hasn’t created that much buzz yet but we think overtime people will realize how awesome this feature really is.
Simply explained, Morph allows you to SEAMLESSLY move an object from Point A to Point B. To move objects effectively you’ll need to have two slides with at least one object in common. An easy way is to duplicate the slide and then move the object on the second slide to a different place. You can also copy and paste the object from one slide and add it to the next.
PowerPoint then “AUTOMAGICALLY” estimates the difference between the two slides and applies a smooth animation between them. Play around with movement and transitions. You can use Morph to move objects, change colors, shrink or zoom into a particular view.
So, how can this tool be applied?
You can apply the Morph transition to slides and create the appearance of movement in a wide range of objects, such as shapes, text, images, and charts.
Check out the animated GIF below that we created to see the Morph transition in action. Pretty cool right?!
The direct transitions of Morph can be a very powerful tool to help you explain business processes or steps.
Morph Transitions is an easier way to animate without the use of complicated motion paths. But unlike motion paths, the transition takes the shortest direct route.
One thing to note about Morph, it’s an Office 365 subscription only feature. This means that you can only access this feature if you have purchased Office 365.
However, keep in mind that animations and a smooth transition between slides can mean the difference between captivating your audience or putting them to sleep.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #2: PowerPoint designer – suggests color schemes and layouts for your presentation, based on the picture you add to your slide.
Suffering from presentation design-block? Staring at a blank canvas and nothing comes to mind? Stressed about where to even begin? We know how difficult it can be to design a presentation.
So what is PowerPoint’s new Designer tool? According to Microsoft, “Designer applies cloud intelligence to analyze and identify the most compelling portion of your images to determine which blueprints work best with your content.” Wow! That sounds fancy, right?
Well the good news is that this time-saving assistance isn’t only about dropping a pretty graphic on a slide. Even better… Designer uses cloud smarts to analyze and highlight the most compelling portion of your images. Designer will automatically suggest a number of options for you when you add an image to your slide, instantaneously making your slide more visually appealing.
Check out the quick demo that we put together below to see how PowerPoint Designer works:
Of course you may still need to clean up the slide after selecting the design you like.
One of the things I like most about it is that it’s a really fast way of taking an image and having it fill the entire slide perfectly. Simply take a high-res photo, from somewhere like Unsplash, and paste it anywhere on the slide. Then, select “Design Ideas” from the Design Tab and select the option that takes the photo and fills the entire slide with it. That’s it and badabing! … PowerPoint fills the entire slide with your image. No more annoying (and sometimes inaccurate) image cropping!
Obviously this tool won’t design your ENTIRE PowerPoint for you (that’s what our team of Presentation Pandas are for :D) but similar to our award winning Influencer presentation template (seen below), and other presentation tools we often talk about, this tool can help. At least give it a try and see how you like it!
While PointPoint designer can help make your slides look better, there are a few downsides worth mentioning.
One downside is that similar to the Morph tool that we mentioned in reason #1, PowerPoint Designer is an Office 365 subscription-only feature, meaning you will need to purchase this cloud-based subscription.
Also, this feature will only work with Microsoft supplied templates, so we do not recommend using it if you have a custom template. And lastly, you’ll have to be sure you are connected to the internet since Designer goes online to pull design ideas.
Lastly, while PowerPoint Designer can be useful to some people, the design recommendations are somewhat limited. If your looking for a more robust solution we recommend checking out our Influencer presentation template that is filled with 200+ beautifully crafted slides.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #3: Tell Me – a clever little shortcut box that finds the right command when you need it, so you can save time and focus on your work.
At Presentation Panda we are all about smart presentation hacks and shortcuts for getting the job done better and faster! And we love telling you about them…
Microsoft Office 2016 introduced the Tell Me assistant feature. This tool is meant to help you navigate through the many options of Office 2016.
Remember 1990’s Clippy? The annoying little paper clip mascot that wasn’t all that helpful. Well, you can think of “Tell Me” as Clippy’s smarter and more attractive cousin.
The Tell Me What to Do text field is located after the last Tab of the Ribbon.
To use this feature, simply type what you want to do in the Office program. You will notice a drop-down menu open with suggested searches as well as recently used options. The little genie will not only show you how to do what you want to do, like a help feature, but gives you the option to do it directly from there.
For example, if you want to adjust line spacing, but haven’t memorized how to do it, just type it in the little “Tell Me” text field. PowerPoint will then provide you with your line spacing options faster than you can blink.
Here’s a quick demo that we put together to show how the Tell Me assistant feature it works:
So unless you have memorized how to edit every single thing in PowerPoint this tool will probably work wonders for you.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #4: Smart Lookup – brings research directly to PowerPoint.
How many times do you find yourself having to jump out to a browser to do a search for a definition, image or for inspiration? With PowerPoint 2016 you no longer have to leave PowerPoint to look up simple information.
By using Smart Lookup you can quickly learn more about text you select by seeing definitions, images, and other results from various online resources, including Wikipedia (all powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine). How convenient is that?
In order to use the Smart Lookup feature all you have to do is:
Right-click a particular word or phrase on your slide
Choose Smart Lookup and that’s it! PowerPoint will then bring up a side panel and show you more info, images, and other results about the word you just looked up.
Here’s a quick demo that we put together to show how the Smart Lookup feature works:
Using a tool like this can also help eliminate errors by quickly checking the facts or the vocabulary you will use on your slides. There’s nothing like an error free presentation!
You can also use the Smart Lookup tool to quickly find creative inspiration. Just be wary about using any of the images that come up for the image search results right away.
If you come across an image you like, be sure to check the license before using the image for your presentation or give attribution for the image if required by the author.
Reason to Upgrade to 2016 PowerPoint #5: Real Time Group Collaboration – When you share your presentation with others, you’ll see them working with you at the same time.
Collaborating with your coworkers on your PowerPoint presentations just got way easier with PowerPoint’s Real Time Group Collaboration feature.
What is the Collaboration feature? When you save your presentation to OneDrive or SharePoint Online for Office 365, you can work on a presentation at the same time as your colleagues. Pretty cool right? With real time editing you no longer have to deal with emailing edits to your coworkers (and vice versa) and then piecing all the edits together at the end.
Using the Real Time Group Collaboration is pretty easy. Just follow these steps:
Open your PowerPoint presentation, and choose Share in the top-right corner of the ribbon when you’re ready to collaborate.
Choose Save to Cloud and choose a location to save your presentation to.
Once your presentation is saved to a shared location, you can invite others to work on it as well. In the Invite people box, enter the email address of the person you’d like to share the presentation with.
If you already have the person’s contact info stored, you can just enter their name.
So what type of group collaboration does PowerPoint 2016 provide? Here’s what you can do:
See where others are working in your shared presentation – If someone else is viewing or working on the presentation, their thumbnail picture appears in the top-right corner of the ribbon. PowerPoint will also alert you when people enter or leave your presentation. You can instantly chat with the people who are working in the presentation by using Skype for Business. It opens a chat window for instant conversation. Choose the Skype for Business button to start a group chat with everyone working in the document.
Resolve conflicting changes – If there are conflicting changes, a visual comparison between your changes and the conflicting changes from one of your collaborators will pop up when you select Save. You can choose the changes you’d like to keep.
Document activity – The Activity pane lets you see the complete list of changes made so far. It also gives you access to the earlier versions.
Review Comments – Leave comments for other team members to see. Team members can respond to each others comments.
As we have mentioned before, getting feedback and input from others is a great way to enhance your presentation. As long as everyone is on the same page with the design direction, Group Collaboration simply makes the design process easier and more efficient.
As you can see there are many exciting new features that come with PowerPoint 2016.
Just remember, these tools will not do everything for you! But you can be certain that using these new PowerPoint features will take you one step closer to building the perfect slides and creating them in record time.
So, here’s my question to you:
After reading this article do you agree that features like the Morph tool or Group Collaboration can help make your PowerPoint decks much better? How do you think you would use these new PowerPoint features?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about the benefits of upgrading to PowerPoint 2016? If so, email them the link to this post.
Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left).
Hungry for more PowerPoint tips, tools, and tricks? Here are a few articles you might like:
Presenting to executives can be exciting BUT these presentations can also be pretty intimidating.
Let’s face it … senior executives can be a tough crowd:
They are often super impatient because their schedules are jam packed — and they have to make lots of high-stakes decisions, often with little time to weigh options. So, if you think upper management is going to sit still and wade through your lengthy deck with some big reveal at the end … THINK AGAIN! They’ll likely just interrupt you before you finish your deck.
Whatever your presentation is about, you won’t go very far if you haven’t prepared intensely for this moment.
That’s why the kind of slide deck you have at your disposal is just as important as your message.
As Eminem once said, you’ve got one shot, and you might not get another one, so here are nine tips to help you make a top-notch slide deck for your big upcoming executive presentation to the senior team.
While the topic you discuss is certainly nuanced and has many sub-topics meant for discussion, an executive presentation is not really the place to get into all the tiny little details.
Think about it this way:
If you had to summarize the whole meeting in three sentences, what would they be?
We’ve mentioned before that the human brain digests information more rapidly when they’re divided into nice tidy morsels of three.
So, if you can stick to three overarching talking points for your executive presentation you have a better chance of impacting your audience before they get too impatient.
Speaking of impatient senior execs, plan for the likely event that someone will hijack the meeting, talk and ask questions for most of it. Your VP didn’t get that far without being the sort of person who is decisive and inquisitive. While you might be the one at the top of the agenda, you’re not calling the shots.
That’s why having three concise points to plan your slide presentation around is so useful.
It makes it easier to stay calm and focused when you have three main points to talk about, rather than worry about remembering, say, six of them. If you go in with three points, your executive presentation is likelier to succeed because your presentation will be more organized, and also because you will be better able to keep everything on track if and when you are interrupted with questions from the higher-ups.
Doing this will give the senior leaders confidence that you’re going to use their time wisely. That leads us to our next point.
2. Keep your Presentation Short. Senior Executives Have Tight Schedules
Building off of the first point, you should remember that your 10:30 AM slot with your boss (or possibly the boss’s boss) is not the highlight of the day, or even possibly the week, for your audience. They might have a meeting a few hours later with the president of the company, or have some equally trying and stressful task at hand.
If they walk into your presentation and you’re rambling on a bit too much, they are not so likely to pay attention. In fact, they might start to get annoyed, which is the last thing you want.
That’s why you should keep your presentation – and your slide deck – as short as possible.
While you should expect their undivided attention as you talk to them about an issue that you have spent time and energy researching, this does not mean your slide deck should be any longer than normal.
This does not mean you skip over any important details; what it means is that you cut out everything that isn’t important. Ideally, this should give you three points to talk about. Sound familiar?
Execs are impatient, want to get to the point quickly, and are more interested in the key issues than the details. So aim to keep the deck super-short. 2-3 slides might be a crazy small number to have as a presentation in another situation, but it is not too short for an exec.
3. Be Extra Flexible
It’s common for senior executives to ask you to jump back to a previous slide or fast forward through your slides to a particular section of your presentation.
Also, don’t be surprised when executives interrupt you as you present a painstakingly crafted slide with “Got it. Next”.
An extended discussion on a particular slide may mean you need to fly through other less important slides in order to get back on track in terms of covering all of your slides.
Be ready to stop and change directions on a dime.
Heck, in some senior meetings, you may even forgo covering all of your slides because the discussion on a particular aspect of your presentation is going really well.
The key is to be FLEXIBLE and cover what they want to focus on — not necessarily what you want to. In order to achieve your objectives (e.g., more resources, budget, executive support, etc.), you may not need to go through every slide.
Here are a few tips for staying flexible during your presentation to senior management:
2) If your slide deck is running on the longer side, consider designing your presentation so that it has a “Prezi-like” choose your own adventure format. This will allow you to jump to specific sections of a presentation faster than Harry Potter can waive his magic wand.
3) Keep your supporting backup material on hand in case you need to reference something. That leads us to our next point.
4. Be Prepared to Back Up Your Arguments with Supporting Data When Necessary
So, thick presentation decks are the bane of a busy exec’s existence. How do you get around the fact that certain details, especially if you have a lot of data to share, might be referenced over the course of your presentation?
That’s where the “thunk factor” comes in. The “thunk” is the sound a heavy presentation printout makes when you put it on your boss’s desk.
During your executive presentation, you have to be prepared to answer any of the exec’s follow up questions with appendix material. While you might have a super short slide deck with just a couple of slides, this doesn’t mean you have to come shorthanded.
If you have important data to share with your audience, or maybe you have field or case studies that would prove useful to reference, you can supply everyone with a printout that carries your supporting data.
Don’t make the mistake of not being able to answer a senior exec’s question during your presentation. Executives are gifted at finding holes in your logic or content. They want to be sure you understand the consequences and implications, and that they can trust your analysis and recommendations.
5. WOW the Senior Team with Creative Visuals, Charts, Diagrams, and More
Like everyone else, execs don’t like boring slide decks!
There’s no reason to give someone a page full of numbers when you can just as well conceptualize it beautifully.
Diagrams help execs to speed-read and get a quick picture of what’s going on. Get creative with how you tell the story of your presentation.
Here are a few ideas for diagrams that will help you communicate the sometimes complex story of the numbers to your not-always-savvy boss:
Pie charts are a classic standby for showing what percentage of the market your company might have, but maybe you can try something a bit less routine. Maybe create a diagram with a colored map of your market, with different color saturations representing greater share.
Flow charts are a fun albeit sometimes messy way of showing cause and effect, like what happens between when a potential customer first signs up for your company’s new product through a blog campaign. Make sure that if you do use flow charts to highlight the most important points, you don’t necessarily have to keep things linear, but you might want to avoid getting as crazy as this flow chart.
Timelines are useful if, for example, you are introducing a new sales plan or major software implementation to your directors or other executive team. The timeline should feature the major dates, if applicable, for scheduled rollouts, and should set tangible milestones which can later be used to judge progress. Ultimately, a good timeline can help you set the baseline for whether or not your project will be deemed a success, so that is why it is a very useful diagram to include in your appendix material.
Pie charts, flow charts, timelines, and maps are just a few of the many outstanding methods for diagramming context to quickly educate executives on the entire situation — and they like it that way. Look for ways to convert text and data into diagrams that show how all the parts fit together.
Need some help designing charts, timelines, and other awesome looking slides for an upcoming presentation to senior management? Our professional “Influencer” presentation template has over 200 delicious slides that you can download to your computer instantly.
6. Keep Your Text Short to Make Your Points Quickly
Of course, sometimes you have to write things down, and diagramming simply will not do. Obviously your tool of choice, if it’s not diagrams, are words. When you do have to write, we’ve said before that you should do everything you can to be as concise as possible.
Here are some really useful executive presentation tips to keep in mind when you are brainstorming the display text to use in your slide deck:
1) Execs think fast, process fast, and hate having their time wasted, so write text to enable speed-reading and quick understanding of the thought at hand.
2) Use short phrases and elaborate on them verbally. You should utilize bullet point lists whenever possible, and place each talking point on a separate line. That way, your ideas naturally organize themselves in a manner which is visually easier to process and comprehend. As communications coach Carmine Gallo says, you need to “think twitter like headlines!”
3) A really good tip for writing concisely is to avoid using passive voice. For example, don’t say “market share will increase by 25% because of our marketing plan.” Instead, say “our marketing plan will increase market share by 25%.” Using active instead of passive voice will cut down on fluffy words, which saves vital space on your slide. It also the wonderful effect of making you sound more confident and certain about yourself.
Lastly, another method for dropping a few words is to eliminate basic articles, including “the,” “on,” “and,” and so on.
One of the cardinal sins of any PowerPoint presentation is writing in complete sentences.
For the love of humanity, don’t put full sentences on slides — it slows the presentation down.
Even worse, you will probably end up reading the sentence aloud, which looks and sounds terrible and certainly won’t win you any points with your audience. Longer, wordier sentences are definitely a no-no and should be avoided at all costs.
Hopefully that’s not news to you, but it never hurts to remind people that they should stay away from writing in full sentences. If you can keep your diction short, punchy, and to the point, your executive presentation stands a great chance of leaving your audience with a positive impact.
7. Pay Extra Attention to Slide Hygiene
Executives have high standards — for themselves and others — and quite often are perfectionists when it comes to their work.
They expect the same from you.
Before you deliver your big executive presentation, make a checklist to verify that your slide comes across as crisp and coordinated.
Spelling errors are totally unacceptable, and considering that Microsoft Word comes with Spellcheck and browser extensions such as Grammarly point out basic spelling mistakes, you have no excuses for the dreaded red spellcheck underlining any of your text (except for company names and jargon, of course).
Don’t forget that even the best spellchecker will fail to detect homonyms such as they’re/their or where/were. There’s a time and a place for making those sorts of silly spelling switches, but an executive presentation isn’t one of them.
Grammar errors such as inconsistently placing a period at the end of one sentence but omitting it in the next one are to be avoided. Pick one style and follow through the whole way. The same goes for header weight and size; don’t switch from bold size 16 font on one slide to normal size 16 the next. In a similar vein, avoid inconsistent capitalization in slide titles, different bullets points on different slides, or switched fonts.
Lastly, one of the most annoying problems that creep up from time to time when you are creating a PowerPoint presentation are formatting issues. For example, it’s terribly annoying when for some strange reason the margins are not all completely even, or when you press enter to skip a line but the gap between lines of text is mysteriously larger below than above.
Pay attention to these sorts of little details because the exec is. If you are pitching yourself to lead a bold new project that moves the company in a different direction, how confident do you think an exec will feel if your slide has an annoying tendency to have inconsistent spacing? Don’t give them an excuse to say no to you!
8. Craft a Stunning Presentation
Obviously, as a PowerPoint presentation design website, we’re always going on about how when it comes to design, less is usually more.
It’s so important that your audience is able to focus directly on you and your ideas. A slide deck that is too visually interruptive or busy with images, fonts or colors that compete with each other is not a winning executive presentation pitch.
You know a lot, or you wouldn’t be invited to the meeting. But resist the urge to throw it all up on your slides.
Here’s a few pointers for creating simple yet beautiful slides for executives:
1) Use clean visuals that represent your message with a few key points per slide.
2) Carefully craft meaningful headings that could tell the story on its own. A punch box at the bottom to reinforce your point can also be quite useful. If you can’t come up with a punchy summarizing statement, consider if you really need that slide.
3) As mentioned in tip #1, harness the power of three!
4) Create a consistent theme of colors, fonts, and layout
5) Make sure your slides pass the “glance test” – people should understand your slide in less than three seconds
When it comes to presenting to the senior team knowing your audience is an absolute MUST:
How much do the senior team members know about your topic? (i.e., how much time should you spend on providing background information?)
What topics are hot buttons or particularly interesting to the executives based on their current business goals?
Which senior execs would be politically threatened by your recommendations?
What can you find out about their pet peeves or preferences?
So, how do you find out the answers to these questions you might ask?
You need to find an insider who can coach you on how to best present your material to the targeted executive or group of executives.
That person could perhaps be:
* Your boss or executive sponsor
* One of the executive’s direct reports
* An executive’s admin assistant
You’re looking for inside information on your audience so that you can avoid derailing your presentation and wasting everyone’s time.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the call when it comes to compiling the best possible slide deck for your upcoming presentation to senior management. This is the sort of opportunity that probably does not come around very often, so prep hard, nail down your three main talking points, keep your slides concise, come equipped with a useful printout full of nifty diagrams to accompany your presentation, and keep your slide design about as conservative as your dress code.
Other than that, don’t forget to smile and be yourself. And maybe give ‘em a firm handshake – that always helps!
I’d love to hear your upper management presentation success stories and what valuable lessons you have learned along the way. If you’re a senior executive, I’d love to hear your perspective as well.
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these tips for presenting to senior executives? If so, email them the link to this post.
Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (by using the sharing buttons to the left).
Finally, if you are looking to create a top quality executive presentation, don’t forget to check out our excellent Influencer slide template deck, and check out some of these other great blog posts in our archive to learn more about creating the perfect presentation.
“Let’s start with PASSION. There are way too many people in this room right now who are doing stuff they hate.”
Why is the above such a great opening line? Because it makes people want to know more:
Am I one of those people?
How can I get started doing something that I love?
What did Gary learn about how to live with passion?
Vaynerchuk nailed it with his opening line. He drew us in by making us ask questions.
If you don’t know how to craft an intriguing first sentence, the remaining 20 minutes (or however long your talk is) of your presentation could be a complete waste.
Luckily for you, with a few simple methods, writing a phenomenal first sentence can be quite easy:
The first thing to keep in mind is that you want to keep the first sentence short. This makes it easy for your audience to digest the first bits of information and prevents them from losing interest quickly.
But there is more to it than that.
You have to make sure that the first sentence grabs your audience’s attention and holds it for the rest of the presentation.
Ask Your Audience a Question
An easy way to get your audience’s attention and get them engaged is to ask them a simple question.
For example, if I were giving a talk on “How to Design Amazing Presentations,” I might consider opening with the following question:
“Did you know that people are incredible at remembering pictures?”
Now, why does the above question work?
It has to do with the brain’s “reward system.”
The brain’s reward system lights up when curiosity is piqued.
When this system is activated, dopamine (the stuff that gives us reward and pleasure) is released.
When we are intrigued by a question (i.e., experience a sense of curiosity) the limbic reward system lights up. And that’s why we want to keep listening and paying attention … it’s rewarding to satisfy curiosity.
That’s why a question is a great opening line. You can even use the question as the title of your presentation.
Tell a Short Story
The brain also gets energized when it encounters a story.
According to the theory of neural coupling, certain portions of the brain are activated when a reader thinks about the same mental and physical activity that a character in a story is doing.
Influential speaker Tony Robbins often starts his presentations with a story, often a true story:
“When I was 17, I went out on Thanksgiving, it was my target for years to have enough money to feed two families. The most fun and moving thing I ever did in my life. Next year, I did four, then eight. I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing, I wasn’t doing it for brownie points. But after eight, I thought I could use some help. So I went out, got my friends involved, then I grew companies, got 11, and I built the foundation. 18 years later, I’m proud to tell you last year we fed 2 million people in 35 countries through our foundation. All during the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, in different countries around the world.”
The story makes his audience members interested and keeps them hooked to the very end.
Provide An Attention Grabbing Quote
Another great way to start your presentation introduction is to use an attention-grabbing quote.
Let’s say you are giving a presentation on “innovation.” A great way to introduce the presentation would be to use a quote from Albert Einstein:
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
When giving your quote you may want to consider the following two methods:
1) Include the quote in your PowerPoint deck. When doing this you may also want to consider including an image of the person who said the quote or some other relevant image that illustrates what the quote is about.
2) Going to a blank screen (Control +B or Control +W). This bring all the attention to you and prevent any distractions.
Either of these options work great when providing your quote.
Share An Interesting Fact About Your Topic
In an age when the Internet is abundant with crappy information and fraudulent “gurus,” people are skeptical. They have every reason to be.
It’s often a great idea to start your presentation with some cold hard facts or stats.
Here’s another example of some stats I might use if I was giving a talk about presentation design:
“According to Dr. John Medina, if people hear a piece of information three days later they will remember only 10% of it. However, if you a picture and people will remember 65%.”
Opening your presentation with a relevant fact or statistic is a great way to establish trust and authority from the first sentence and let readers know you’ve done your research.
2.) Hold Your Audience’s Attention by Having Something Unique to Say After Your Opening Line
Alright, so you’ve come up with an awesome opening line, and you have your audience’s attention. Good job! Give yourself a pat on the back!
Now, you have to hold that interest by having something unique to say.
If you want to have the audience’s respect and attention, you have to say something they’ve never heard before.
Going back to my example of giving a presentation on how to create amazing presentations.
Here’s an example:
“How would you like to learn how to design presentations so exciting that your audience will be sitting on the edge of their seats with excitement?
That would be pretty epic, right?
Well, this is entirely possible, and in today’s presentation, I am going to share with you the tips and tricks of how to do exactly that.
It’s not by staying up late every night or spending thousands of dollars on professional presentation designers either.
I am going to show you how you can create presentations that rock by giving you tons of smart resources, and using little known design secrets that most presentation designers don’t want you to know about!
Sound’s awesome? Let’s get to it.”
It’s hard to be different. I realize that.
Sometimes, in order to create unique stuff, we simply have to work harder, think longer, and do more research than our competitors.
Here are some ways you can develop that unique voice in your presentation intro:
Share a personal story or fact
You’re the only you there is. You can share a story or experience no one else can. One way to tell such a story is to write, “If you know me…”
“In 2004, I left the streets of New York City for the shores of West Africa. I’d made my living for years in the big Apple promoting top nightclubs and fashion events, for the most part living selfishly and arrogantly. Desperately unhappy, I needed to change. Faced with spiritual bankruptcy, I wanted desperately to revive a lost Christian faith with action and asked the question: What would the opposite of my life look like?”
Notice how you become instantly hooked after reading the above.
Get your emotions in it
People have an emotional reaction to emotions. When we convey our emotions in our writing, people tend to respond. Tony Robbins is a master of getting emotional during presentations. He even talks about it in one of his speaking engagements:
“Information without emotion is not retained. You need to be in the moment and flexible to make it real and raw.”
A good way to insert emotion into your talk is to practice in front of a mirror. Don’t memorize entire sentences verbatim, so that way when you give the talk it sounds a bit more natural – not to mention, the more salient points of the talk will really jump out at you as you go through your paces during your presentation
Share your goals or vision
If you have a guiding goal or vision for life, you can communicate this in your introduction. “That’s one of the reasons I wrote this post. My goal in life is to…”
Make a promise
A promise is a personal and attention-grabbing thing. Give your readers a promise, and it will secure their loyalty and their interest. “I promise that I’ll do my dead-level best to….”
Unique isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.
2.) Make Sure Your Presentation Introduction is Extra Simple
The world is moving so fast these days that most people have an attention span of only a few seconds.
Apparently, our attention span is getting shorter!
After a few seconds, we get bored and move on to the next shiny object.
If you want your audience members to make time in their days to listen to what you have to say, make sure you present things as simply as possible.
Longer presentations, of course, deserve slightly longer introductions. But it’s important to respect people’s time and attention.
This means you need to avoid rambling and dive straight into your amazing slides.
3.) Use the Word “You” and Speak Directly to Your Audience
Whenever you are giving a presentation, you want to use the word “you” as much (and as naturally) as possible.
In this article, I’ve used some variation of the word you more than 100 times. Why? Because I’m talking to you! I want you to know this information. I want you to benefit from it.
By emphasizing the word “you” in your presentation, you let your audience know that you are directly addressing them and their situation and not just giving a generic talk to the general populace.
But there’s another side to this. I should refer to myself as well. My goal is to convey a personal feel to this article. After all, it’s me talking to you, right? So it’s only natural that I would refer to myself too.
4.) Tell Your Audience What Your Presentation is About
The point of an introduction is exactly that: to introduce the content that will be presented in an article.
I cannot tell you the number of times PowerPoint presentations have left me confused even after the presenter has gone through 5 or more slides.
Take a moment to explain what your presentation is going to cover without giving away too many details.
Here is a great example from a Ted Talk from Seth Godin
“Today, I’m going to give you four specific examples, I’m going to cover at the end about how a company called Silk tripled their sales; how an artist named Jeff Koons went from being a nobody to making a whole bunch of money and having a lot of impact; to how Frank Gehry redefined what it meant to be an architect. And one of my biggest failures as a marketer in the last few years — a record label I started that had a CD called “Sauce.”
This will build suspense around the subject matter while still letting your audience know what they may be in for.
5.) Explain the Importance of Your Presentation
Once you’ve explained what the article is, now it’s time to explain why people should care.
Everyone on the Internet approaches every new piece of information with a simple question: “What’s in it for me?”
If you want to write introductions that hook the reader and help your content go viral, you have to master the art of explaining what the reader stands to gain from the information you are sharing—the benefits.
How will it benefit your readers’ lives? How will it solve a problem they are facing? How will it cure a pain they are feeling?
Here’s a great example from influential speaker Tim Ferriss where he tells people what he wants them to take away from the presentation:
“And that’s what I want everyone in here to feel like, the Incredible Hulk, at the end of this presentation. More specifically, I want you to feel like you’re capable of becoming an excellent long-distance swimmer, a world-class language learner, and a tango champion.”
If you understand how to quickly and efficiently answer these questions, you’ll keep your readers glued to your article till the last word.
Few things can make or break your presentation as easily as an introduction.
If you can master the art of kicking off your presentation like a pro, you’ll be able to increase audience engagement, improve sales, and earn a reputation as an incredible speaker.
It’s not an easy skill to master, but like many things in the world of giving presentations, it’s fairly straightforward.
If you put in the work, you’ll get results.
Here’s my question for you …
What tactics do you use to start a presentation introduction?
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about how to start a presentation? If so, email them the link to this post.
Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or your other favorite social media spot using the sharing buttons to the left!