Tag Archives: PowerPoint

The Case For PowerPoint… episode four

I’m still at it! As you can probably tell, I’ve been on a bit of an imagery bender this last couple of weeks, and now I’m about to continue along that thread with…

Part Four Custom Clipart

Did you even know that you can pull some clipart images apart and just grab the bits you like? Yeah, I just caused a brain explosion, didn’t I?

This only applies to illustrations, and not all of them – but if you find an image and you like one piece of it, it’s worth a go.

SO HOW DO I DO IT? It’s so easy it’s embarrassing. Just select your clipart picture, paste it into your powerpoint and right click it. From the Group category, select ‘ungroup’. You’ll probably get a message that looks like this:

Clipart Message

Click yes, then repeat the ungrouping – right click, group, ungroup. Your image will now look like a bunch of little bits. Click away to deselect all the parts, then start deleting the bits you don’t want. When you’re left with the remaining parts, just regroup them and you have yourself a custom clipart image!

Here’s some examples I pulled together from an eLearning module I made a few years back.

Beer and Pizza

Repairs Combo

Pretty cool, right? Here’s a few tips to bear in mind though:

  • Not all illustrations can be altered, it’s just a case of tough luck if you can’t.
  • If you want to save your custom image as a new file, I recommend saving it as an Enhanced Windows Metafile (that’s an option alongside your standard jpg, png etc…). The bonus of a metafile is that when you insert it into a PowerPoint presentation, you can still alter the parts; i.e. it’s an image file you can still ungroup.
  • Always try clipart before paying for imagery. Really! The image tagging used in clipart is great, meaning you can get great returns on a basic search, where just a part of the illustration relates to your keyword. You might want a picture of a pencil, for example. If you search for ‘pencil’ your search will return images of pencils on desks, in cups, maybe next to a book etc. And now you know how to ungroup the illustration and snatch the pencil from it’s setting!
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My Own Personal Image Collection

I don’t consider myself very good at social media – I’m too verbose for Twitter, too informal for Facebook (I friended too many family members and now I think that anything funny I have to say will offend someone) and I don’t have the attention span for Pinterest.

I’m pretty good at Instagram though. I always enjoyed photography class at school, and getting an iPhone with a decent camera in it was pretty exciting. I’m still impressed by the quality of the photos I can take using my phone. It occurred to me a few weeks back that I’m starting to form a pretty great personal image collection too. I’ve developed the habit of trying to take a photo myself before trawling the internet for a free version too – especially for photos of surfaces, textures and the like, which are pretty easy to pull together right here at home.

Below are a few PowerPoint slides I pulled together* using some images from my phone. They’re pretty good, I think!

Eat Fresh

Parks

Prints

*I pulled these together using my imagination. I love Auckland parks but I have no idea how many people go to them compared to pre-2011, and I’m not fashionable, so don’t wear stuff because I said so. Really.

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Only Dummies Don’t Use Images

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of 30 Rock, so I’m doing a Liz Lemon and calling everyone a dummy at the moment.

My point is supposed to be, if you’re presenting your information as just text, or just talk, you’re missing out! Here’s why:

1. Who wants to look at screeds and screeds of words? Sorry, but I didn’t show up to read a book – and that’s the only exception to my ‘words, words, words, boring, boring, boring’ mantra that I just made up now. Let’s take a look at some slides from a corporate team-building quiz night I organised a few years back. Each slide was simple: question on one side of the slide, image on the other. The design won’t set your world alight, BUT compared to a slide that’s just text, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to look at!

Quiz Slides with pics

2. If they’re reading, they’re not listening. You know how your significant other might be talking away to you while you’re surfing the net and you’re making ‘uh huh… mmm hmm’ noises at them? Yeah, you’re not listening. You’re reading, aren’t you?

Presenting is the same – if you put lots of text on a slide, your audience won’t be listening to you, they’re reading your content instead. Great, they’re getting the message that way, but you’ve removed yourself from the occasion! You might as well have stayed at your desk and played solitaire. This is a PowerPoint 101 point to make, but I’m going to make it anyway. Keep your text brief, but I reckon that if you can make your point with an image, and talk to that, even better! Here’s a couple examples I threw together using the Shakespeare quiz slide above:

Don't do it1

Do the Bard1

3. There’s plenty of good, free images to use. There really is! They might not be quite as good as paid stock imagery, but Clipart has definitely levelled up in the last year or two. Be prepared to trawl around a bit, but you’ll find some gems, I guarantee it.

So go forth and use some images already!

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Why I Shouldn’t Eat McDonalds: Three Messages, Three Methods

Don’t get me wrong, I totally eat McDonalds. If I’m doing to eat a burger, McDonalds is my number once choice. I love a good ‘ol cheeseburger, preferably the deluxe cheeseburger, because it comes with lettuce and mayo. Should I eat less of it? Yes, absolutely. Am I eating less of it? Yes, I actually am. Well, since this July just past.

What changed my attitude? I already knew it made me fat… I had an idea that it wasn’t so great for the environment… It had occurred to me before that it was a community issue that needed to be addressed by society.

What caused a change for me was that, in my infinite need to find new examples of teaching and presenting information, I came across enough well presented information on the topic to sway me. Here’s the three messages and the three methods by which that information passed into my (thick) skull. Each piece was compelling enough to start the cogs turning, but together they created a proper, informed notion that I shouldn’t eat McDonalds very often. In fact, hardly ever.

Message One: I’m not built to eat this stuff (i.e. it makes me fat), and it’s not good for the environment.
Method: The always excellent Michael Pollan at PopTech 2009.

Pollan Burger

I first clamped eyes on this presentation when it was used as an in Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate (an excellent resource, get yourself a copy NOW), and in a book it was convincing. When I finally got around to watching the video earlier this year, the tables turned. Engaging speaker? Tick. Polished and effective Powerpoint presentation? Tick (you can thank Duarte for that one). A demonstration that will leave your mouth agape? TICK.

If you haven’t already, check it out. The demonstration blew me away, but for you it might be one of the images in the presentation, or one of Pollan’s jokes. My point: there’s a tonne of opportunities to get the viewer onside in this talk.

Message Two: This is a social issue – it isn’t good for my community, it doesn’t make my neighbourhood better.
Method: Interactive map at the Guardian.com

McDs Map

This article was mostly about how McDonalds is charging its way into South East Asia now, with their first restaurant opening up in Vietnam. But there were two things that really caught my attention:

1) This interactive map which shows the number of McDonalds restaurants in 2007 compared to 2012 by country. Twenty more McD’s have popped up in New Zealand over the last 6 years, and I’m pretty sure FOUR of them are within ten minutes drive of my house. New Zealand is small, but it’s not THAT small. 20% of the new restaurants in the past 6 years so close to my house? No thanks!

2) The graph of people per restaurant (per capita) graph. New Zealand is fourth?! That’s a little high for my liking.

This combined with regular articles in the paper about increasing obesity rates, it was enough to get me thinking that perhaps I need to ‘vote with my fork’ as Pollan says, and vote NO to so much of this stuff being in my community.

Message Three: Food waste is appalling, especially in the western world. Who am I helping by eating this stuff?
Method: Infographics at thinkeatsave.org

burger infographic

The Green Party of New Zealand posted a link to these rad infographics on their Facebook page last week, by which time I’d already been burger-free for well over two months, but it was a nice motivator to keep up the good work. While I’d never throw out a hamburger (phew, I just saved a 60 minute shower), I have been known to throw out other food I’d purchased in my weekly shop because I paid an unplanned visit to the drive through. So I’m still being unnecessarily wasteful. In fact, this is the infographic which cut closest:

fish infographic

Being wasteful isn’t necessarily a middle-class or western problem, and this was a great reminder that I could be better (and to be perfectly honest, I think my waste is modest compared to some friends and family). Regardless, I could definitely work on this – and I reckon not eating fast food so often could be a good starting point.

So there you have it, three messages and three methods. There are lots of ways to present a piece of information, so don’t limit yourself by mastering just one – you might just find that a new method and new approach to your content can rejuvenate it entirely, and open it up to a new audience.

Image Credits: Amazon.com (how convenient, it’s a link to Resonate!), theguardian.com, thinkeatsave.org

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The Case For Powerpoint… Yes, it Continues

Can you believe I’ve stuck with this series for three whole entries? Craziness. Let’s not dawdle though:

Part Three Image Editing

PowerPoint is many things, but it isn’t Photoshop. It’s not the most powerful image editing software you can use, but that’s not what it’s for. It CAN do the basics though, and it can do them simply. All you need is your image, and the Picture Tools – Format tab on your ribbon.

So, what image editing features does PowerPoint offer?

Crop, Align and Rotate Images: these are definitely essentials of photo editing, especially if you’re working with multiple images. The cropping tool is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that you have the option to crop to a shape which is really useful – crop your image into a circle, star, chord; whatever you fancy. Once you start using the align tool, you’ll never look back. You’ll also become annoyed when viewing presentations where items aren’t aligned. I particularly rate the ‘distribute horizontally/vertically’ option, which is great if you want a series of items evenly spaced on the slide.

Artistic Effects, Colours and Corrections: To be honest, I don’t use Artistic Effects or Colours very often, because the result has been pretty naff when I’ve tried it. There are times when the Corrections tool will be your friend though – if you have varying images sourced from different places, use this tool to correct tonal differences. Voila!

Remove Background/Set Transparent Colour: This is the single most exciting tool in PowerPoint for me. I use it ALL THE TIME. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when presentations are full of images with white backgrounds sitting on a coloured slide. It’s especially annoying to me now I know that it can be fixed in two or three clicks.

The Remove Background tool does what it says on the tin, and you have control over which parts of the image stay or go if you have a particularly tricky image you’re working with. The Set Transparent Colour tool is simply marvellous (you’ll find it under the Colours menu), but only use it when you’re dealing with a vector image or a graphic with very clear lines and colours.

Here’s some examples I put together using images from Fauxgo. You really should check Fauxgo out, its a super cute collection of logos from fictional companies and brands featured in TV and film.

Grape Soda Combo

See? Not removing the background makes the slide look LAME.

SCDP combo

It only takes two clicks. Now you have no excuses.

If you want to know more about the Remove Background and Set Transparent Colours tools, you can check out this eLearning Heroes tutorial (which uses PowerPoint 2010). Enjoy!

Image Credits: Fauxgo

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My Case For Powerpoint continues…

Part Two Fun With Shapes

A couple years back, when I saw my first post from eLearning Heroes about making your own symbols and pictures using shapes in PowerPoint, I was fairly unimpressed. I figured I could just use clipart or if I really needed, check for paid stock imagery that would get the job done. Then I worked out that a) I didn’t have a budget for stock imagery, and b) there were plenty of symbols and icons on clipart, but not necessarily collected nicely together, and in the style I wanted. So I started building them myself.

Start by getting yourself sorted with the ‘combine shapes’ tool on your ribbon (find out about that here) and then take some time to play around with the tool and see the difference between shape union and shape combine. Shape subtract is great, but if it goes awry on you, just Control+Z!

Here’s a few things I find helpful when I’m making custom shapes and icons:

GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND Sometimes, I find it helps to google image search for what I’m trying to make and deconstruct the shape from there.

DUPE, DUPE, DUPE Duplicate your shapes before combining. This way, if the combine doesn’t quite look right, you still have your original shapes to rejig then dupe and combine again – you can compare different combined custom shapes until you get it right.

BUILD BIG Make your icons in a large form, then group and minimise using your shift key to constrain the shape. Boom.

I recently made a series of lunch food icons for a resource I was making for a client. I reckon they’re pretty great – and all made in PowerPoint!

Food Icons

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The case for Powerpoint

Part One Access

The majority of my (non-eLearning) work is created in Microsoft Office programmes,  Powerpoint in particular. I love Powerpoint. I really do. But it has a really bad rep after years of abuse. Everyone has a ‘death by PowerPoint’ story to tell, and it breaks my heart. So I’m going to start posting reasons why PowerPoint is rad… when in the right hands, and if you know what to do with it.

PART 1: ACCESS

Pretty much everyone in an office setting has access to Microsoft’s suite of programmes. I can’t deny that Creative Suite is far more advanced for design work, but that’s not to say that PowerPoint is of no worth. In fact, PowerPoint has really leveled up in the last couple years, especially for image and photo editing purposes. I like being able to provide clients with a working file they can update and make use of. This is why access is so important to me. I don’t think a client should have to shell out for software licences and upskilling courses in order to make minor updates to resources. I’d rather they shell out for my services on future projects, rather than on the upkeep of a resource I’ve already developed for them.

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