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Applying Principles from “Presentation Zen Design”, Part 1.

It’s pretty well known that Garr Reynolds‘ original and groundbreaking book Presentation Zen changed the very fabric of the way lay people think about PowerPoint presentations. Personally, it has not only changed the way I present within my organization, but I have successfully changed other people’s perceptions both internally and with my clients.  As a result, I have become a point person for many on presentation content, design & delivery tips.  I have helped redo many bullet point-ridden slides with 12-point font and clip art to slide decks that have proven to be a success with clients.

But there’s more – it has also changed the way I view the world.  I look for beauty in the smallest of things; I see intracies in designs I never noticed before.  As cliché as it sounds – I have found more zen in my life.  And now, as you can tell, I’ve had this blog for over a year to share my experiences with the world.  My most recent slide deck I posted on called “Simplify Your Life” has received – to my surprise – an unbelievable response from almost every corner of the world with over 1,000 hits in just 24 hours!  Even the Zen Master himself, Garr Reynolds, posted a comment!  But this is all attributable to him, as well as Nancy Duarte and Scott Schwertly.

That brings me to Garr’s newest book – Presentation Zen Designs.  This particular book is aimed at those who do not have a formal design background – like Yours Truly.  However, what Garr does is walk you through 1) understanding why design is important; 2) illustrate the differences between good and bad design; and 3) show you how to create awesome designs in very simple ways. In a series of future posts, I’ll be illustrating for you how I’m applying some of these principles.

The screen captures  below shows how I applied 3 principles that really will make a wonderful impact in my next deck.

1. Utilizing a transparent gradient in Paint.NET

Since I’m not going to lay down the cash to purchase Adobe Photoshop, I think the free Paint.NET is a perfectly acceptable alternative.  In fact, my favorite website, Lifehacker, has a fantastic review on it. In Presentation Zen Design, Garr talks about using a transparent gradient on photos to both remove the harsh borders but its also aesthetically pleasing. Here’s a screen capture of what I had done.

The final touch, once I put it back into PowerPoint looks like this:

2. Using the color picker in Paint.NET to change the font color

This next tip will certainly save me a lot of aggravation!  Garr highly recommends Adobe Kuler.  Once you figure out how it works, it really is a very awesome tool!  You simply upload a picture, and it helps you choose the color scheme for your PowerPoint deck.  Way cool!  That said, I decided to use Paint.NET again.  In this example, I zoomed in on the photo of the flower.  I used the “color picker” tool and clicked on the yellow in the center of the flower. As you can see from the screen capture below, I copied  the RGB colors and pasted it in PowerPoint’s custom font color selection.  I then did the same thing by capturing the color of the lily pad itself.

3. Rotating text in PowerPoint

As you can see from below, I not only applied the colors of the lily pad and the flower to my font, but I added a gradient on the right to help the text “pop” out more, and I rotated the text.  I really like the idea of rotating text, where appropriate, because it defies expectations.

Now, would I really use this exact slide in a presentation?  Probably not. That said, I love that I was able to apply these 3 principles from Garr Reynold’s latest book Presentation Zen Design to add an even greater dramatic effect to my slides. Look forward to future posts with more examples from this book!

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Simplify Your Life: A GTD primer for beginners!

I was asked by one of my colleagues recently to present on a conference call to her team on my “magic” to getting things done and how I’m able to accomplish inbox zero notwithstanding my busy travel calendar.  So, in good form – in the spirit of Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds, I grabbed a Sharpie and some plain paper and began to mind map the entire presentation in PowerPoint. Then, I drew out each of my slides, with the pictures I believed would be most compelling and demonstrative. Finding those photos on iStockPhoto, I then began working on my presentation.  To help me get a the big picture view though, I applied a tip I just read on the Duarte Blog: print out your slides 9-up – they’re the same size as little sticky notes! I laid them out on the floor, and began rearranging and adding slides I felt I might have been missing to tell the story better.

Here is my presentation, on SlideShare of course, on how to Simplify Your Life. Enjoy!

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A Beautiful Slide

There’s something to be said about the simplicity of this pic. I just took it the other day while I was on holiday in Carlsbad, California.  No stock photo needed. Just go out into nature. Find beauty. Take a picture. Apply to your slide deck. Translation = your slides should mirror the beauty around us.

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Excerpts from my preso at the Chinese Drywall Litigation Conference

View the other video excerpts on YouTube.

Huge thanks to @TomHagy, CEO of HB Litigation Conferences for his amazing work in putting this conference together!

The Magic of the “Push Left” Transition

Thank Nancy Duarte for this fantastic piece of visual eye candy!  As I read slide:ology, I began thinking: how can I implement the Push Left transition in PowerPoint?  What is this “use sparingly” transition I speak such lofty things about? In Nancy Duarte’s book she says:

There are times when one slide isn’t enough real estate for all your content.  Instead of piling it all on one slide, split the content between two slides…it will create the illusion that the content is all in the same scene.  A transition that makes the slides feel like one large space will help the audience feel like the information is connected within that space. p.190.

How did I implement this idea?  A colleague recently showed me his slide he was using to demonstrate the great power of one of our products.  I thought the idea was great; however, there was so such rich content all on one slide that the font size was down to 8!  I suggested we space out the idea over a series of slides, using Nancy’s awesome suggestion. What does it look like?

Here’s the before:

How Data Flows (Before)

And here’s the after (ignore my lack of talent in photo-stitching!)

How Data Flows (Before)

I’d love to hear what you all think!

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