Saturday, May 31, 2008

Spotlight: Ellen Finkelstein

The PowerPoint community is quite large and I do urge everyone to explore the different tutorials available out there. In this Spotlight, I'm featuring Ellen Finkelstein. A well known author of AutoCAD and PowerPoint since 1996, she has published several books on the subject. Ellen has a great website/ blog of her own which I urge you all to visit.

I would also like to share one of the tutorials as featured from her site as a better way to highlight certain key text. You can also find the tutorial by clicking here.

Slides with lots of text on them are hard for audiences to comprehend quickly. There's simply too much information. Either people listen to the presenter and ignore the slide, or more likely (and worse), they read the slide and ignore the presenter. The brain simply has difficulty listening to one set of words while reading another set. Also, studies show that people tend to skim what they read on screen (as opposed to what they read on paper); therefore, they miss many of the words. The best solution is to put fewer words on a slide. It's easy to divide one slide into three, for example. Another important technique is to edit ruthlessly, removing any unnecessary words.

Use a Different Colour

An easy technique is to use a different color for key words. People quickly get the point by skimming these words. Simply select the key words and choose another color by clicking the Font Color button on the Formatting or Drawing toolbar.

Another method is to use custom animation to display a filled rectangle behind the key words. Follow these steps:

1. Choose Rectangle from the Drawing toolbar. (In 2007, choose Insert tab> Shapes> Rectangle.)
2. Drag across some key words to cover them with the rectangle.
3. Remove the outline and specify the fill of the rectangle. The color needs to be a strong contrast from the text, yet show up against the background. To remove the outline, use the Line Color button on the Drawing toolbar and set it to No Line. To change the fill color, use the Fill Color button on the Drawing toolbar and choose an appropriate color. (In 2007, on the Format tab, use the Shape Outline button in the Shape Styles group, and choose No Outline. Use the Shape Fill button and choose an appropriate color.)
4. Choose Slide Show> Custom Animation. (In 2007, choose Animations> Custom Animation.)
5. Choose Add Effect> Entrance> Wipe. You can choose any entrance animation you want, but keep it mild. A Fade animation is also nice.
6. Set the parameters for the animation at the top of the Custom Animation task pane. For Wipe, set it to wipe From Left. I used Fast for the Speed setting. I left the On Click setting so that I could control the timing as I was speaking.
7. Right-click the rectangle, and choose Order> Send to Back. (In 2007, right-click and choose Send to Back.)

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