Life after Death by PowerPoint (Video)

I stumbled upon this four-minute presentation by Don McMillan, in which he humorously demonstrates what not to do with PowerPoint. It is definitely worth watching!

Four Ways to Kill a Good Presentation Speech

Many business owners and community leaders who wish to take their enterprises to the next level eventually realize one important thing: proper public speaking skills are necessary weapons in one’s arsenal for corporate success. One of your corporate goals should be to enhance your speaking abilities.

Anyone can become a dynamic speaker. Anyone. Most of the time, though, on the path to success, there are stumbling blocks along the way. Locate and demolish them. Those blocks and boulders can kill an otherwise great speech. Here’s a small list of some of the obstacles that get in the way of a powerful presentation:

  1. Starting the speech too informally. Projecting power onstage right from the start is an important element of any speech. When you approach the lectern and start your presentation, you should take command and grab the audience’s attention right away. Immediately. Don’t fidget or mumble, and for heaven’s sake, never start your speech with the word “okay.” This word became such a problem in many of one professor’s speech workshops that he promised to scream if anyone started a speech with “okay.” You can imagine the shocked faces of the students who committed this infraction when they heard a high-pitched scream coming from the professor’s mouth... but they learned to avoid using a weak opening.

  2. Reading too much from the material. The audience doesn’t want narration—if folks wanted a line-by-line text overview, they’d have asked you to xerox the paper and distribute it to them. They want your dynamics behind the text, so make your reading exciting; put effort into meaningful voice intonation and appropriate pacing instead of reading aloud in monotone. You should memorize your entire presentation with the exception of a quote or small fragment that you may read word-for-word from your notes. Check the outline, sure, but don’t become a reader. Overt reading gives the impression that you haven’t prepared.

  3. Not maintaining eye contact. Your audience is telling you something every time you set foot on stage. Listen to them. They seem to be saying, “Hey, I’m in your audience, and I want you to look me in the eye if you’re serious about your message. Please don’t look away. The wall isn’t human, and neither is the floor. Look at me.” Lack of proper room-sweeping eye contact means that you’re either afraid of the audience or being dishonest—and neither perception is very good for your presentation.

  4. Hanging onto the lectern too much. Many business leaders often abuse this habit. Speech experts say that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. Body language is a big communicator, and if you stay behind the podium, clutching it like a long-lost brother, you’re communicating that you’re insecure. Many speakers make it a point to avoid the lectern as often as possible to avoid looking as though they are hiding behind it. Rubbing, tapping, or gripping the lectern sends the wrong message. It’s okay to stand behind it, but rest a hand—one hand—lightly on the side of the lectern, and keep the other free to make gestures.

It’s wise to take a look at video-hosting sites, such as YouTube, and watch the speaking techniques of various corporate leaders. Notice their style and their strengths. Note, also, their weak points. As you practice learning better speaking habits, here’s a valuable exercise for you to do: study yourself in a mirror as you make your verbal delivery. Ask yourself: Based on what I am seeing in this presentation, would I leave the speech with a favorable or unfavorable image of the speaker and his business?

ShapeChef 1.3 Released

We are proud to present the new ShapeChef 1.3 release, which includes several improvements and bug fixes. You can update by downloading and running the installer from this link. The update is free for all current users.

New Black Color Theme

We modified ShapeChef’s user interface so it integrates visually with the new black theme introduced in Office 365.

ShapeChef with Black UI Theme

Improved Keyboard Support

It’s now easier to navigate inside a shape library without using a mouse. When the shape library pane is focused, you can directly jump to items by typing the first letters of the name of a category or shape. We also added shortcuts for focusing the search box (Ctrl-F), adding a selected shape to the slide (Enter or Return), and jumping from an empty search box back to the list of shapes (Esc).

Full List of Changes

  • Added support for the black color theme included with Office 365.
  • Added the ability to navigate inside the shape library pane by typing the first letters of a shape or category name.
  • Added new keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl-F to jump to the search box, Enter/Return to add the active shape to the slide, and Esc to jump from an empty search box back to the list of shapes.
  • Fixed issue with the “Download Shapes” browser that occurred if “Enable MIME Sniffing” was disabled in the computer’s Internet Options.
  • Fixed problem with ShapeChef being unintentionally uninstalled when using the installer’s maintenance dialog.
  • Fixed incompatibilities with other PowerPoint add-ins (including Adobe Acrobat).
  • Fixed problem with being unable to drag and drop shapes onto a slide.
  • Fixed freezing issue when working with shared shape libraries.

Since Version 1.2, we have also added several great shape collections, such as the Flat Color Icons and the Stamps set.

Creating Device Mockups with PowerPoint

TLDR: I went through quite some trouble creating a set of device mockup templates for PowerPoint, which you can download here for free.

Realistic device mockups are a great way to showcase creative work, whether it’s a mobile app, a website, or any other digital product.

Device Mockup in PowerPoint

While Adobe Photoshop is certainly most designers’ first choice for creating device mockups, I wondered if PowerPoint’s “3-D Rotation” feature could do the job just as well.

3-D Rotation Settings in PowerPoint

(You can find the 3-D settings in PowerPoint by selecting a shape and navigating to FormatShape Effects3-D Rotation3-D Rotation Options...)

I started with a photo of a MacBook on a table and a dummy image that I wanted to project onto the laptop’s screen. Unfortunately, PowerPoint doesn’t let you transform an image by simply dragging its vertices like Photoshop does – you have to manually adjust the rotation, perspective and size settings. Pretty quickly, I realized that guessing the right values was virtually impossible and that I had to try a different approach.

The Math

My idea was that in order to determine the optimal “3-D Rotation” settings, I first had to understand how the settings actually work. With some reading on 3D transformations and a good amount of trial and error, I finally found the math behind PowerPoint’s calculation of the coordinates of a 3D transformed shape.

Let’s suppose we have a rectangle shape located at position (left, top) with size (width, height). We want to calculate the coordinates of the (left, top) point after 3D rotating the rectangle using the “X Rotation”, “Y Rotation”, “Z Rotation” and “Perspective” values set in PowerPoint.

Start Vector

We start by building a transformation matrix:

Building the Transformation Matrix

Now we transform the (left, top) point using the matrix:

Transformed Vector

The resulting vector is divided by z to project the 3D coordinates to 2D:

Projected Vector

We reverse the translation to the origin:

Translated Vector

The resulting 2D point consists of the x and y coordinates:

Final Vector

Brute-Force Search for Optimal Values

Knowing the mathematics behind PowerPoint’s 3D rotation, I wrote a small, quick-and-dirty tool to find the optimal 3D settings for given input values. Basically, you feed the tool the four vertices of the screen and the size of the image to project onto the screen. It then tries possible combinations (using nested intervals to improve performance) of width/height, x-rotation, y-rotation, z-rotation and perspective to check which one gets closest to the target coordinates. I have published the source code on GitHub.

Ready-to-use Templates

The result of the journey is a PowerPoint document comprising eleven mockups of different devices (laptops, tablets, phones). Here’s an overview:

PowerPoint Device Mockup Templates

The mockups are based on photos released by their authors under the CC0 license, which means they can be used for any purpose without attribution. I have included source links for the photos in the comment section of each slide. You can download the .pptx file from the link below:


To add your own screen image, simply select the placeholder image on the slide, go to the “Format” Ribbon and click on “Change Picture.” Have fun!

How to Give Your PowerPoint Slides a Makeover

I just came across this great SlideShare presentation that gives examples of how to beautify slides in a few simple steps:

How to Insert Headers and Footers in PowerPoint

PowerPoint allows you to create headers and footers, that is, information that appears at the top and bottom of all slides. This information will typically include the name of the presenters, their affiliation, and the presentation title, slide number, and date, but other information can be added as well. However, be careful not to spoil your presentation with too much information.

  1. First, you need to access the INSERT tab and click on the Header & Footer button.
    PowerPoint: Header & Footer Ribbon Button
  2. A dialog box will appear, as shown in the screenshot below.
    PowerPoint: Header and Footer Dialog
  3. The first option available is Date and Time. If you select the Date and Time checkbox, you will be given two options: Update automatically and Fixed. The Update automatically option means that the date and time will updated every time you open the presentation, which will save you the time and effort involved in updating it manually. The Fixed option means that, even if you open the presentation a month from now, the date and time will be fixed to the time when you created the header and footer. If you select Update automatically, you will be given a number of different formats for displaying the date and time, as shown below in the screenshot. Make a selection that best fits the format of your presentation.
    PowerPoint: Header and Footer Date and Time
  4. The next two options are Slide Number and Footer. It is usually a good idea to include the slide number so that it’s easier for you to refer back and forth to individual slides while you present. If you select Footer, you will be given the chance to write up your own customized text. Usually this would be your name and affiliation, as seen in the example below.
    PowerPoint: Custom Text in Footer
  5. The last option determines whether the header and footer is shown on the title slide. It is aesthetically better not to show this information on this slide since most of that information will be already displayed, such as the title of the presentation, the name and affiliation of the presenter, and sometimes even the date. So select Don’t show on title slide. Click Apply to All to save the changes and to update the slides.
  6. You can adjust the appearance of the header and footer by selecting the VIEW tab and clicking on Slide Master.
    PowerPoint: Edit Slide Master
  7. Once in the Slide Master view, you can make any changes you like to the header and footer by moving or resizing the text boxes and changing their text attributes via the HOME or FORMAT tabs.
  8. Once you have finished your changes, click the Close Master View button. You will notice that your changes have been applied to all slides.

About ShapeChef

ShapeChef is a tool that helps you find and manage graphics and charts for your presentations. Click here for details.
ShapeChef: Graphic and Chart Library for PowerPoint

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