Friday, 10 January 2003

Newsletter Issue 55, January 2003

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 55, January 2003
Hi guys,
Having to present some information to the Management Team or the Board? Bidding for a contract? New to the speakers circuit? Then check out Effective PowerPoint Presentations to see how you should be preparing your supporting slides.
For those of you who are having trouble getting your people to enter data into Excel cells with either the right information, or in the right format, see  Entering Excel Data
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Effective PowerPoint Presentations

These days, nearly all speakers use PowerPoint to develop their presentation slides - to a greater or lesser degree of success. 
Remember the overhead projector? Sitting watching the speaker putting up one transparency after another on the OHP, reading the transparency word for word... while you read exactly the same thing? For many people, PowerPoint has simply replaced the OHP, but it is so much more than that. 
What is PowerPoint? Well it is not a word processor, so don't use it that way. I have seen many people use PowerPoint as if it were Microsoft Word. And this has all the impact and panache of a wet teabag on your audience.
PowerPoint is a display tool. It is punctuation or added emphasis to support how you are telling your story to your audience. It has templates, animation tools, useful views (slides, notes, handouts and outline) and good importing and linking abilities from other Office products to consolidate widely-sourced information. 
One thing that I really like about PowerPoint is that, if you use the in-built templates, they help you channel your thoughts and structure your presentation properly. The thing that I really don't like is that many PowerPoint users don't use them; so you get to sit through 30 minutes of OHP-style presentation (if you are lucky enough to get a handout of the slides beforehand, you can collect that instead and skip the tedium). 
PowerPoint, if used in conjunction with some simple guidelines, is a great presentation tool. Read on!
  1. Audience: Consider your audience. Is PowerPoint the right tool for your presentation? Is it right for part of it? Is your audience best suited to listen to a PowerPoint assisted presentation, or will they be distracted from what you are saying by the slides? Whiteboards and flip-charts can be equally useful as presentation tools. After you have presented your hardcopy material, you could use slides as a summarising tool
  2. Communication: Remember that you must speak CLEARLY to your audience, and that they must clearly understand your message. Many people forget this is a communication exercise and concentrate on the animation toys instead
  3. Professionalism: If you really need to make an impact with your presentation but feel that you don't have the expertise, take your outline and text to a PR or design company and get it done professionally 
  4. Brand: Use your corporate image in your PowerPoint slides, not the default PowerPoint slide backgrounds. This is an opportunity to promote your brand, both internally and externally. NB: make sure you set up guidelines for all of the following as well:
    • Colours: Watch the colours you use. Colours have different wavelengths and mixing long and short wavelength colours (eg dark blue background with red writing) will be nearly impossible to read 
    • Fonts: Large enough to see from the back of the room. If you need to make the font smaller so that your text fits, put less onto the slide! 
    • Visual Spacing: Allow plenty of visual or "white" space (blank background) so that your audience can clearly read your slides
    • Consistency: Give your slides a consistent look throughout your presentation, and if you import slides from another presentation, change the new ones to match your colour scheme
  5. Templates: Use the templates when writing your presentations the first few times. As I mentioned earlier, this will help to channel and structure your presentation to ensure that your audience will actually hear the messages you are sending 
  6. Not a Script: Don't put your whole presentation script in your slides, just highlight the essence of your presentation and then talk and expand around it
  7. Brevity: Keep your presentation short and to the point. Don't try to do too much or those listening will loose the thread of your message
  8. Animation: PowerPoint has a great toolbox of animations that you can use to brighten up presentations. If talking down a list of bullet points, think about animating each one so that they pop up as you go - to keep your audience focused on what you are saying and not reading ahead
    • Lack of Content: Don't use animation to cover up lack of content. If you don't have much to say on a particular aspect, don't waste your audience's time
    • Moderation: Animations are only great when used in moderation - and when used consistently. Don't mix your animation types as your audience may get peeved with lots of changes 
  9. Notes: If you want to keep your speech notes together with your PowerPoint presentation, use the notes pages linked to each slide (View menu | Notes View. NB: you can resize the slide so it takes up less room on the page and expand the text box)
  10. Handouts: Supply handouts after the presentation. Many people (including myself!) will read ahead in the handout notes during a presentation
PowerPoint is a very useful piece of software that you will now be able to use far more as it should be. And if, once you have sorted the slides out, any of you still have trouble with presentations, the best advice I can give you is to attend a Barbara Koziarski seminar. She is a most excellent, Wellington-based presentation trainer and can be reached at 

Entering Excel Data

Do you have a shared worksheet or workbook that end users are having trouble remembering to how enter a value in a particularly important cell? Such as specific date, percentage, number or text formats for data entry?
There is a fairly easy way to remind people what they need to be doing by using data validation Input Message tips to provide a reminder each time the user clicks on an important cell. 
This doesn't require any programming, and is very easy to set up:
  • Click on the cell that your users frequently overlook
  • Go to Data | Validation
  • Click the Input Message tab (if this isn't already active, tick the tick box for the "Show Input Message When Cell Is Selected" option)
  •  In the Title field, enter a short reminder or description of the cell
  • In the Input Message field, type a detailed explanation of what the user is expected to enter in this field
  • Click OK
  • Excel will now display a message box (like a comments message) with the title and input message you entered. Simply click on that box and position it where you want it to appear. 
When you navigate off that cell, the new message box disappears. It reappears only when the user clicks on the cell with the data validation input message. 
You can also set the data validation and set up error messages using the same process on both the "Settings" and the "Error Alert" tabs. Have fun!

Customising Grammar in Word

Most Word users know how to customise the spell-checking utility's behaviour. 
But when it comes to proofreading grammar for common errors, many Word users don't take advantage of the grammar-checking tool. 
When you launch Spelling And Grammar, Word assumes you want to check spelling. You have to opt-in to use the grammar-checking tool: Go to Tools | Options and click the Spelling & Grammar tab. Select the Check Grammar With Spelling option. To take full advantage of the Check Grammar tool, click Options. 
In the Grammar section, click the Writing Style drop-down list and choose Casual, Standard, Formal, Technical, or Custom. To fine-tune the settings for any given style, click Settings. There you can tell Word what kinds of punctuation, grammar, and style usages to flag when you run a spelling and grammar check. For instance, if your document contains an unusually high number of capitalized words, you may want to turn off the grammar check for capitalization. 
If your publisher requires that you always use the same number of spaces between paragraphs, you can tell Word to flag all instances where there are too few or too many spaces.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • URL, Universal Resource Locator. Addresses for resources available on the Internet. Usually seen by most of us in the http format (just for those of you who, like me, might have forgotten what this is of late!)
  • NNTP, Network News Transport Protocol. Used by client & server software over a TCP/IP network to carry USENET postings. If you use Netscape or Internet Explorer software for newsgroups then you are using an NNTP connection

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
All the Function keys for you again, but this time we are shifting as well - all you can do with Alt, Shift, Ctrl & F6;
  • Word "Next Window" ALT & F6
  • Word "Previous Window" ALT & SHIFT & F6
  • Word "Other Pane" SHIFT & F6
  • Word, Access, Excel "Next workbook or window" CTRL & F6 
  • Word, Access, Excel "Previous window" CTRL & SHIFT & F6 
  • Access "Move among the Query Designer panes, Anywhere in the target pane" F6, SHIFT & F6 
  • Excel "Move to the previous pane in a workbook that has been split" SHIFT & F6 
  • PowerPoint "Move to the next presentation window" CTRL & F6 
  • PowerPoint "Move to the previous presentation window" CTRL & SHIFT & F6
  • PowerPoint "Switch to the previous pane (counter-clockwise)" SHIFT & F6 
  • Outlook "Move to the next/previous Outlook window." SHIFT & CTRL & F6 
  • Outlook "Move to the previous pane." SHIFT & F6 
  • Publisher "Send to back" SHIFT & F6 
Hot Linx
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