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Go to Mid-America Speakers for more information about Carrie Ann Cook, Speaker.

Making PowerPoint Unique But Not Distracting

Session F-315
Friday, September 9, 2011
9:30 AM-10:30 AM - GSG/FGS
Material also found in 2011 FGS Syllabus
Note: Post-lecture page update (if any) will occur no earlier than Sunday.

Getting fancy with PowerPoint can make a slide deck that is actually hard to use, not to mention hard to understand. Themes and concepts for presentations can also look cool on your PC, but when sized wrong, cluttered or even a distraction from the program, rather than a visual “aid”. This presentation contains suggestions as well as some specific illustrations. Be known for the quality of your information, while earning A’s for presentation.


    I.    Introduction

  II.    Audio/Visual assistance

a.   balanced presentation will be good aid

b.   unbalanced presentation may detract (bad) from data

III.    Bells and whistles – what works and what doesn’t

a.   too much of a good thing can work for you in a positive manner, or be too cluttered

b.   colorblind – if in doubt, use default palettes

c.    faint echoes – be sure size, colors and effects are readable with the target presentation format

d.   use a light hand on optional elements

                                   i.    slide transition

                                  ii.    audio/video

                                iii.    too much movement – entrances, exits, graphics, etc.

e.   multi parts don’t travel well – switching back and forth between different decks, or PowerPoint and other software is a gamble: If using, always test early at your venue and have a back-up plan

f.    busy as a bee – With everything you want to teach, a well-paced presentation can result in very full slides. Be sure the slides themselves are not dividing your listener’s attention. Also, be sure to use animation to draw attention, not distract.

g.   continuity – You normally wouldn’t produce handouts in a rainbow of colors, likewise, keep your theme and slide background together. Tip to “freshen up” and define separate sessions during a multi session presentation on same overall topic – consider changing colors and/or fonts, but keep background “theme”.

                                   i.    signature color or palette

                                  ii.    logo, graphic, or tag – what is your instant ID

                                iii.    font, font families, structure

                                iv.    beyond the deck – handouts, stationary, Domain, etc.

                                 v.    BTD(2) – value added: i.e. support online, email…

h.   produce/carry dual decks

                                   i.    one for dark venues

                                  ii.    one for light venues

IV.    Building your own slide template

a.   determining what you want

                                   i.    survey preloads – take time to look at all default options. Want something just a bit different, but don’t want to spend time starting from scratch? Survey all the extra options under Format Background – tweak a few things and you’ll have something nearly new!

                                  ii.    view downloads – Microsoft has lots of options, many of which include full templates for specific uses: The download of which is integrated into the program. Elsewhere on the Internet, there are lots of places themes can be found and then applied.

                                iii.    note likes and dislikes of other presentations – get out there and learn: Attend everything from monthly programs to workshops and book readings, etc. It doesn’t even have to be genealogy related or PowerPoint assisted. Take your like/dislike list and apply it to your lectures.

b.   outline your work – every lecture is different

                                   i.    especially if you are at a loss as how to start, begin with your content, not your audio/visual aid

                                  ii.    let the presentation speak to you

1.   how does the data fall for “small chunks”

2.   survey what you’ll need – graphics, etc.

                                iii.    take the outline and make a “thumbnail” deck

c.    gathering resources - general

                                   i.    read up on the subject, on line and in books

1.   realize many element (clip art, photo, font, etc.) sources are for non-profit use without specific permission

2.   consider seeking permission for profit

3.   look beyond the internet for sources and inspiration

                                  ii.    grouping elements such as textures, graphics, photographs, etc., in easy to access area

                                iii.    make sure all fonts you want to use are on your working computer

                                iv.    Description: C:\Users\Carrie Cook\Pictures\Nature\100_3423.JPGconsider lining up “taste testers” if you are unsure of your product

d.   gathering resources - specific

                                   i.    network with artist(s) for unique elements

                                   ii.    Description: C:\Users\Carrie Cook\Pictures\Business\racingt.jpgdon’t count yourself out as a resource - simple or masterpiece

1.   watercolor wash or pastel blends

2.   squiggles or scrolls

3.   line drawings

4.   simple or complex art pieces

                                iii.    a picture (or scan, screen capture) is worth 1,000 words

                                iv.    purchase public domain or non-licensed – i.e. Dover

                                 v.    source the same – i.e. from National Archives

                                vi.    seek stock sources for purchase – specific needs


   V.    To handout or not to handout?

a.   evaluate intended audience

b.   establish end goal(s)

                                   i.    slide masters

                                  ii.    compiled handouts

                                iii.    electronic access – “handouts” or full deck

                                iv.    alternate

1.   take your own notes – with announcement

2.   Description: C:\Users\Carrie Cook\Pictures\Business\Presentations\Bentonville\blog copy.jpgspeaker access, by email, etc.

3.   blog

4.   reference book

5.   audio and/or video recording

6.   none


VI.    Summary – decks are not written in stone…

a.   evaluate presentations – act accordingly

b.   update ideas and decks (for next time or to keep current)

c.    seek others thoughts and ideas

d.   don’t go overboard – unless this is a goal 

Something to think about…

Don’t overdo PowerPoint presentations in an effort to stand out. Generally use features sparingly can pay dividends, but there are times bold can work well. Don’t make a presentation hard to use, or hard to understand: be known for your quality, smooth, and uncluttered presentation. Consider carefully what works and what distracts. There are exceptions to every rule and knowing what works (and why) will help you build outstanding decks – whether they are aids to an outstanding speaker, or standalone presentations.

This speaker wishes all the best for every endeavor and also welcomes comments. Feel free to contact her by email or USPS at:

PO BOX 505, Wyandotte, OK 74370.

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