PowerPoint for e-learning – more like Storyline than you’d think

Unhappy and happy counterpartsDo you use PowerPoint to train people? That’s very common of course, and there are many ways you can do it:

  • Face-to-face, in the same room;
  • Remotely, using something like Microsoft Live Meeting or Adobe Connect;
  • Asynchronously, perhaps using a tool like Brainshark or Articulate Storyline.

Here we’ll look at that 3rd option, because recently I read a short but fascinating post that compares PowerPoint and Articulate Storyline as training tools. (If you’ve seen my about page, you’ll know I’m a training developer – hence my interest in the topic.)

Storyline’s the “new kid on the block”

Storyline’s the “new kid on the block” of major e-learning tools. When you open Storyline, it looks a lot like PowerPoint, and it has many similar features. But it’s designed to make e-learning, rather than just slides.

Anyway, the post I mentioned is by Brian Washburn, and it’s provocatively titled:
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Highlight text in yellow in PowerPoint (like in Word), when making slides [Video]

Here’s a 3-minue video showing how you can highlight text in yellow in PowerPoint (while you’re designing your slides, rather than just when you present) – much like you can with text in Word.

This method has the advantage that if you move or copy the text you highlighted, the highlight stays with the text. (You might have seen people suggest workarounds like putting a yellow shape behind the text, but if you do that it doesn’t move with the text of course.)

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Secret #6 of star presenters: 3 great benefits of pausing (by Keith Bailey of @DeckerComm)

pauseRight now, why not take a moment to vividly imagine achieving these 3 outcomes whenever you present?

  • Feeling relaxed.
  • Influencing people more.
  • Delighting your audience.

Those 3 are the Holy Grail of public speaking! No doubt you’d be glad to achieve any 1 of them, so to get all 3 would be bliss.

Well according to Keith Bailey of Decker Communications, you can achieve all 3 of those outcomes simply by pausing effectively.

In fact, in 2 neat sentences (just 15 words), Keith encapsulates not only those 3 outcomes but also how simply (though not easily) you can achieve them:
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12+ ways to be remembered when you present (FiRST framework – part 3)

Does your talk’s goal involve your audience taking action afterwards? I hope so, because only by people acting on your talk can it be truly effective.

To act though, your audience needs to remember afterwards:

  • What they should do
  • Why they should do it – that is, how important it is to them.

This post helps you make those 2 aspects of your talk vividly memorable. And if you happen to have read the overview of the FiRST framework (of which this is part 3), you’ll already know of “SMS”, which represents the 3 types of tips in this post.

Here, SMS stands for:
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Improve each time you present – Great tips by @CharlesGreene3 on getting feedback

your audience rating your presentationHands up if you’d like to improve your public speaking – each time you do a presentation. Well here’s a great set of tips from speaking coach Charles Greene for doing just that.

He suggests you hand out a feedback form every time you present. And Charles even published the 8 questions he asks his own audiences after every talk.

To save time and effort, just use Charles’s questions

So to save yourself time and effort, you could just use Charles’s questions instead of “reinventing the wheel”. (I thank you, Charles, for sharing generously.)

I really like that Charles asks just 8 questions, so most people will be happy to respond. And most of his form simply asks people to rate his talk on a fixed scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” (a Likert scale) against various criteria. For instance, his 1st question asks people the degree to which they agree that:
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What’s the best webinar polling question ever? Maybe this…

Woman on ComputerIn a webinar, what’s the best poll question you’ve ever heard? I just thought of a doozy, I reckon, yet I’ve never heard a presenter ask it. (It’s only “6½” words long, too!)

More on that shortly, but first, why not think for a moment about what might make a good poll question?
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Secret #4 of star presenters: Scott @Berkun on “slide slavery” (with @NancyDuarte and Garr Reynolds)

When you’re preparing for a presentation, what’s your first impulse?

If you’re like most people, you’ll begin preparing for a talk by opening PowerPoint (or Keynote, or whatever’s your preferred slide tool) and building slides. But this brief post is here to plead with you to do something different

My plea is that you heed author Scott Berkun’s warning when he says:

“If you make slides first, you become a slide slave.
You will spend all your time perfecting your slides,
instead of perfecting your thoughts.”

To help you with a better approach, in this post you’ll also find 3 specific questions that Scott recommends you ask when you begin preparing your talk. (And you’ll see what expert presenters Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds have to say on the subject, too.)
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Black is back, but better – 3+ new ways to hide your slide

Imagine you’re presenting, and you’re just about to go to your next slide. Right then, someone in your audience asks a great question about your topic.

The thing is, suppose the question’s only loosely related to what’s on any of your slides, but you’re happy to discuss it because everyone seems interested, and you have time. All the same, you’re left with this glaring issue:

What do you do with your current slide?

Leaving it on your screen amounts to “blur” (that is, a distraction from the discussion), so that’s not a good option.

You may be thinking:

“A-ha! I know about the obscure feature
that lets me black out my PowerPoint slide!”

Well in this post, as well as the standard solution that PowerPoint (and Keynote) provides, you’ll find at least 2 completely new and better ways to hide your current slide.
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Picture your talk as a shape… Now, what shape do you see?

Imagine sketching your talk as a simple shape. What would you draw?

If yours is like most talks, you can think of it as an arrow, pointing between your introduction and your conclusion:
speech geometry - arrow annotated

That’s what blogger John Zimmer wrote in this great post.

Certainly, the arrow metaphor fits well with the description you sometimes hear of speeches as “taking your audience from point A to point B”. (Presentation experts like Jerry Weissman often use that phrase.)

Is there a better shape?

But John Zimmer goes on to suggest a better shape for your talk
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Quiz: How many words should you put on your slide, and WHY?

How many words (at most) should you put on a slide? It’s a common (and reasonable) question. But depending on who you ask, the answer you get can vary hugely.

Here are 4 typical answers:

  1. As many words as you want
  2. Up to 36 words (6×6 words)
  3. Around 15 words
  4. At most 6 words (as Seth Godin suggests, which I wrote about last month)

Before you read on, what do you think is the best answer – and why?
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