Simple, realistic backgrounds for cutout photos in Storyline or PowerPoint – [Video]

If you use Articulate Storyline, you may well have used photographic characters, which let you insert a headshot or other cut-out photo of a person:
Articulate Storyline character

Even if you use PowerPoint, you might’ve inserted a very similar portrait photo with no background, as they’re available from many suppliers (like Elearning Art, Elearning Brothers, and Articulate Global itself).

This 2½-minute video shows you a quick, built-in way to give a photo like that a realistic background, so it looks like it was taken in an office.

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Need to present a 1-hour slideshow in 30 mins? DON’T speed up! Do this instead…

Alarm ClockEver had to give your presentation in a much shorter timeslot than you’d planned? You know – like when one or more of the speakers before you at a conference or workshop runs over time, and the organisers want to start getting things back on track.

Recently, Rob Beisenbach wrote a great post about that, which inspired me to tell you about a rarely-used PowerPoint feature that can help you out in situations like that.
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Slide makeover: Take your introductory slide from everyday to excellent [Part 1]

Do you use a slide that introduces you as a speaker? (That is, with your name, contact details such as your company logo or Twitter handle, and often your photo on it.)

There are certainly good reasons to use that sort of slide:

  • When you’re presenting online, if people can’t see you, having a slide with your photo on it helps people engage with you and your message.
  • Even in a big in-person venue (with no video feed showing your face), putting your photo on a slide not only helps people engage, it also helps them approach you after you’ve left the stage.

I’m betting that if you do use that sort of slide, it looks a bit like the typical example below. (If it looks quite different, I’d love to hear from you in the comment box below or via @RemotePoss on Twitter.)

weekly visitors6If your speaker slide does look like that, this post and a later one will help you make it look far better:

  • In this post, you’ll see the changes that could make your slide look much more professionally designed, so you leave the best impression on your audience.
  • In a later post, you’ll find video tips that step you through making those improvements in PowerPoint.

You might be thinking:

“What’s so awful about that slide?”

And if you are, you’re right – it’s not so bad. Yet it could be a lot better.

Let me show you what I mean, and then you be the judge. (Or, try out some of the tips in this post, and then let your audiences’ feedback be the judge!)

You’ll find the following topics covered in this post:

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Spotlight part of a picture with PowerPoint’s slide-background-fill [Video, part 2]

Do you want to highlight part of a photo or screenshot (or other picture) as though you’ve shone a spotlight on it? In this post, you’ll see just how to do that, with the 2nd in a short series of videos on using PowerPoint’s slide background fill option.

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Rotate meter needles in Articulate Storyline (or PowerPoint) – via David Anderson @elearning [Video to watch]

Easily rotate an object around any point

If you use either Articulate Storyline or PowerPoint, you might find this video handy. It shows you how to easily rotate an object around any point, not just its centre. So you could find this tip useful if your slides have things like meter needles, clock hands, or levers on them.

You can use the tip either to:

  • Control the angle of objects when you place them on your slide.
  • Animate objects to spin around a chosen point when people view the slide.

I was inspired to make the video after watching fab tutorials by David Anderson of Articulate. In his 9 videos (totalling 45 minutes), you’ll see all the details you need to show quiz results on a dial.

The 5th video in David’s series fascinated me

I’m new to Storyline, having developed just one course with it so far, and am learning how its states feature works. So the 5th video in David’s series fascinated me, because it uses states to show the learner’s score.

It can be tricky to place the meter needle at a certain angle though, because when you rotate any object, by default Storyline and PowerPoint rotate it around its centre. So then you have to put the needle’s end back to where you want it, which can be quite fiddly.

Using the tip in the 7-minute video below, the meter rotates around its end, so you don’t have to struggle to put it back.

(If you’d like to make the video bigger, you can click the Full screen symbol below the right end of the video’s timeline.)


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Using PowerPoint’s slide-background-fill to “cloak” objects [Video, part 1]

Make your slides look like you used Flash

Want to make your humble slides look like you used Flash, Photoshop, or another fancy (and pricey!) Adobe tool – when you only used PowerPoint? Well here are some videos to help you do just that.

In 2013, the Duarte blog featured an animation of objects emerging from behind a line, as though rising over the horizon. And in a great 12-minute video tutorial, last month Nick Smith of AdvanceYourSlides.com showed how you can use that same effect on your own slides.

To extend Nick’s method, the 4-minute video below shows how you can reuse the effect on any slide, without having to customise it each time:

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Draw like a pro: Make perfect circles, squares and triangles in PowerPoint [Video to watch]

In this 6-minute video, you’ll see how to:

  • Draw perfect circles, squares and triangles in PowerPoint – in just 2 clicks.
  • Resize a shape without distorting it.
  • Draw a shape so it’s centred where you want, even before you finish drawing it.


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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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Black is back, but better – 3+ new ways to hide your slide while you speak

key B++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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How consistent should you make your slides? (I say “Go for cohesion instead”)

Glass SquaresHas anyone ever said you should make your slides more consistent? What was the issue, and how did you respond? (Feel free to join the other 5+ people who’ve left a comment below with their thoughts and experiences on consistency.)

Last week, speaking coach Susan Trivers wrote a short post called “Avoid uniformity for the sake of uniformity” [link removed – unfortunately her blog’s no longer online]. It resonated so much with me – and consistency is probably a hot topic for you too – so I hope you find both this post and Susan’s helpful.

Susan wrote:

“During a recent discussion …people were pushing for [several slides’] titles to read either Improvements or Innovations, even though what was being proposed [on the slides] were neither all of one or all of the other.”

Here’s my 1st thought on those slides: Continue reading