Solving the PowerPoint Predicament: Using Digital Media for Effective Communication

Solving the PowerPoint Predicament: Using Digital Media for Effective Communication

by Tom Bunzel

Solving the PowerPoint Predicament

Using Digital Media for Effective Communication

Don’t Just Present: Inspire!

Everyone uses PowerPoint, but how effective is your presentation at meeting the goals you’ve outlined? A great presentation is more than just a slideshow–it’s about using PowerPoint to


Solving the PowerPoint Predicament

Using Digital Media for Effective Communication

Don’t Just Present: Inspire!

Everyone uses PowerPoint, but how effective is your presentation at meeting the goals you’ve outlined? A great presentation is more than just a slideshow–it’s about using PowerPoint to its maximum potential to get your message across to your audience. That’s the PowerPoint Predicament. Tom Bunzel reveals how to conceive, plan, develop, and deliver truly effective business, academic, and inspirational communications, not just PowerPoint slideshows. Discover how to motivate your audience by:

  • Getting beyond bullet points to tell a story that touches your audience at the deepest levels
  • Mastering proven principles of effective communication
  • Planning, organizing, and designing every presentation for maximum impact
  • Making sure every word, image, effect, and slide exists for a good reason
  • Creating charts and diagrams that instantly make your point
  • Using animation, navigation, video, and audio to drive home your message, not distract from it
  • Avoiding mistakes that lead to boring presentations: no more “death by PowerPoint”
  • Building Web and self-running kiosk presentations that really work
  • Leveraging the rest of Microsoft Office to create even better presentations
  • Using third-party add-ons to communicate with PowerPoint even more effectively: video capture, flowcharting, DVD authoring, rehearsal, and more

When you present, you’re on the line: your credibility, your career, your future as a leader. Use your software and imagination to its full potential–with this book!

Covers PowerPoint 2007, 2003, XP, 2000, 99, and 97– for Windows or Mac PowerPoint users

Tom Bunzel is a leading presentation expert. He has appeared on Tech TV’s “Call for Help,” was a featured speaker at InfoComm and PowerPoint LIVE, and has served as a technology coach for companies ranging from Iomega to the Neuroscience Education Institute, where he provided personal PowerPoint instruction to physicians. He offers live seminars via streaming media, and he has been published in Presentations Magazine. His books include Sams Teach Yourself PowerPoint 2003 in 24 Hours and Digital Video on the PC. He updated the Visual QuickStart Guide to PowerPoint 2002/2001 for Windows and Mac.

The book companion CD-ROM contains numerous PowerPoint presentations and other examples from the book, two sample chapters from Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire, and trial software from Instant Effects (OfficeFX), Serious Magic (Ovation and Vlog It!), and TechSmith (Camtasia and Snag It).

Developing a compelling PowerPoint presentation involves much more than mastering one program. It involves integrating different programs, third party tools, and hardware resources to convey a message that has been skillfully crafted. From blogs to podcasts to the rise of amateur digital photography and videography, there's ample evidence to the passion among the public for communicating effectively. You crave not a how-to manual but a frame of reference for telling your stories effectively, both in front of a group, online, and across multiple digital platforms and media.

Solving the PowerPoint Predicament will walk your through three fundamental steps: (1) honing (and sticking to!) a compelling message, mastering and applying appropriate technologies, (3) integrating technology with verbal delivery skills needed for a successful presentation. This book really gives you everything you need to deliver a successful presentation that people will remember.

Product Details

Publication date:
Addison-Wesley Microsoft Technology Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.04(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt

PrefacePrefaceWhat Is the PowerPoint Predicament?

Several years ago, I attended a networking breakfast where several entrepreneurs were pitching their start-up companies to a panel of venture capitalists. It was set up as a competition, and one of the entrants didn't show up, so the moderator asked if anyone in the audience had a concept they wanted to present.

At the time I was on the "board" of an Internet start-up (like everyone else I knew in the technology arena) hoping to get funded. I volunteered, and without any notes or preparation, I spoke for five minutes and ended up winning the competition.

Afterward, several colleagues congratulated me (I won a T-shirt—no funding), and several said, more or less, you were great, but imagine if you'd been able to prepare with PowerPoint (they knew my specialty)—you would have been even better.

As I reflected at the time, I suggested that the opposite was the case. I realized that my adrenaline rush at putting myself in that position, and my realization of the need to focus and really communicate my message along with my passion for the project, resulted in a connection to the audience I may not have achieved if I'd merely presented a slide show.

Now, several years later, having been exposed to many more polished and exemplary speakers who use electronic presentations effectively—and many others who don't—I realize that at the time I also might have been tempted to simply throw up some slides and depend upon them to tell a story.

From that point on, I decided that I would always examine the subject matter through the eyes of a seasoned presenter, structure mytalk accordingly, and only use PowerPoint to dramatize the most compelling aspects of my project.

I would have a reason for every slide I put up, and I would use the technology for good rather than for evil.

At all costs, I would do whatever I could to avoid "death by PowerPoint" because using this ubiquitous program can have the opposite effect of what you intend—instead of galvanizing an audience and helping to convey a message, a series of dull slides can put your attendees into a trance.

When I appeared on Tech TV, I was asked if that's PowerPoint's fault. Obviously, it isn't—it's mainly the fault of those who use PowerPoint badly.

If PowerPoint has a fatal flaw, it's that it's just too seductive and easy. I often get asked what the heck there is to actually teach in terms of using PowerPoint. Can't anybody click in the placeholders and fill up slides with titles and bullets?

The answer is in this book. The secret to using PowerPoint effectively is twofold:

  • You must realize that creating a PowerPoint slide show is not the same as creating a presentation. Creating a PowerPoint file is deceptively easy—it's just a matter of clicking in the right places and creating a set of slides that may even look fairly nice.

    But we all know the results of presenting a disorganized, poorly conceived slide show—it can have serious consequences.

    We could lose a sale or account, fail to inform or inspire, and perhaps even lose our credibility before our colleagues and associates.

    Even if the show is self-running (for a kiosk, video, or commercial break—an animation technique we'll cover in Chapter 4), it had better be more than just a bunch of slides. It must tell a story, deliver a message, and serve a purpose.

  • In using technology to communicate more effectively, every instance must have with a raison d'etre—the French term for "a reason for being."

    Polished speakers know this. It may be why "soft skills" presentation books are practical: they tell you how to prepare, where to stand, which jokes to tell, and other very specific details about how to be successful as a speaker.

But inevitably computer books only teach you how to run a program. That's where we will take a different track.

Everything we cover in the technology parts of this book will proceed from a reason for its use to accomplish a specific goal—to communicate more effectively.

Poor PowerPoint users shoot themselves in the foot by thinking that if it's in the program, it's got to go into the presentation. They fill their slides with animation, transitions, and page after page of unreadable text and then wonder why their presentation did not yield the desired results.

So let's start with this premise: nothing goes into the slide show unless we know why it's there.A Word about Versions

Although some readers of this book might already have PowerPoint 2007, many others will still have version 2003, 2002/XP, or even 2000 when this book is published.

As we get into add-ins and more sophisticated features that may require the later versions or cover the latest aspects of the program that came out in Office 12, this will be mentioned and relevant screenshots included.

But for most of the conceptual material, screenshots from PowerPoint 2003 will be used. Where appropriate, I will also mention how these same features can be accessed in prior versions.

For some tasks, I will refer to other third-party programs; inevitably these also evolve faster than a publisher or writer can produce a manuscript, so I will concentrate on the major features of these programs and show the essential concepts that enable you to get things done: capture screens or video, create diagrams, or author a DVD.

Obviously, this book is not intended to be a manual for any of these programs. It should serve to point the way for when and how to use PowerPoint (and its cousins) to tell your story, and it is my intention to clearly establish the why along with the essential how to for the programs and versions we cover.This Book's Target Audience

Anyone who needs to make a presentation that has something at stake and who believes that his or her message can be enhanced by a program like PowerPoint or the use of digital media will benefit from the concepts in this book. Such users will include

  • Executives and managers who need to present and can't rely on a support staff
  • Small business users and professionals (doctors, dentists, attorneys) who need the competitive advantage of high-impact presentations
  • Technical professionals who need to convey detailed financial or strategic messages to large and small groups
  • Educators and students who want to use digital media to more effectively communicate in the classroom
  • Religious leaders who want to combine video, imagery, and audio to inspire their congregations
  • Individuals with personal messages to deliver in person, online, or using the latest digital media (DVD, HDTV, etc.)

These presenters generally have a product, service, or concept to sell or promote—they have a lot to lose if their ideas are not well received, and they generally understand that creating powerful visuals and communicating with maximum effectiveness is a matter of survival. Digital tools like PowerPoint and its complementary programs and features can help anyone tell a story, convince or inspire an audience, or teach a difficult subject more effectively.Getting Started

This book includes eight chapters that discuss the various features of PowerPoint:

  • Chapter 1, "Planning an Effective Presentation," discusses planning a presentation as a key to success.
  • Chapter 2, "Implementing Professional Design Principles," discusses using proven design principles to craft the message.
  • Chapter 3, "Creating Dynamic Visuals," discusses creating visuals that tell a story or prove a point.
  • Chapter 4, "Secrets of Animation and Navigation," discusses why, when, and how to use navigation and animation to maximize communication effectiveness.
  • Chapter 5, "Using Video and Audio Effectively," discusses using multimedia and mastering its file formats and features.
  • Chapter 6, "Powerful Presentation Tools," discusses understanding complementary programs that expand PowerPoint's sphere of influence.
  • Chapter 7, "The Latest Technologies: Beyond PowerPoint to the Future," discusses taking advantage of the latest technologies including web presentations and DVD formats.
  • Chapter 8, "Delivering a Killer Presentation," discusses the ultimate goal: delivering a successful presentation using all of the tools at your disposal.
  • The book companion CD-ROM contains numerous PowerPoint presentations and other examples from the book, two sample chapters from Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire, and trial software from Instant Effects (OfficeFX), Serious Magic (Ovation and Vlog It!), and TechSmith (Camtasia and Snag It).

When we understand the program and have recognized the pitfalls of PowerPoint—such as the propensity to use only titles and bullets—we can begin to explore its vast potential to enhance communication, mainly by creating effective visuals and other support material.

Again, it's important to remember that visuals alone will not make up for the lack of a message, a talented and passionate speaker, or a coherent communications strategy. They are all part of the package.

But most people will acknowledge that when properly used, electronic tools can be invaluable in communicating effectively.

What we'll do in this book is to examine the basic principles of effective communication and presentation, many of them time honored and propounded by experts in the field, and then see how to apply them using the latest technology.

On that point, let's think of PowerPoint simply as the main example of electronic presenting. In Chapter 5, we'll cover other communication resources in depth, but throughout the book, the examples and concepts are intended to work with a range of presentation programs, some of which may be better suited to the task at hand than others. (You may have other tools with which you are familiar that will enable similar results.)

For example, there are plenty of programs that do flowcharts—if you have such a need. We will show you the circumstances in which to use a flowchart and how to do it sequentially with animation. When we mention other programs (like Visio), it's because they can help you to quickly create specific types of charts—like timelines.

PowerPoint and Excel also have graphs. Boy, do they ever. But until you need to show a specific type of chart to convey a certain concept or message, will you have the incentive to really learn how to create it? We doubt it, so we'll begin with some key concepts and then show you how to create the relevant graphs.

In Chapter 3, we will provide quick and easy methods for creating many different types of charts, but we will start with the essential why. As we do throughout this book, we will begin by framing the message or concept we want to deliver, and then having determined the goal, we will be motivated and inspired to more easily create the type of visual or other element we need.

Proceeding in this fashion, we will see that PowerPoint on its own is just the beginning.

First, it can help you shape and define a clear message or hopelessly obscure it.

Then, as it interacts with the other Microsoft Office programs to project their content and uses these programs to create supplemental materials like handouts or reports, it broadens its reach as a communications tool.

As a mature program, PowerPoint has also attracted a host of add-ins and other visiting programs that make it even more effective, again in specific scenarios to accomplish specific goals.

There are add-ins that empower video creation, DVD production, rehearsal, web distribution, 3D backgrounds, and a wide spectrum of other enhancements that can make business and other communications much more dramatic and effective.

As we go along, we'll use examples and case studies to stimulate your thought processes as to which features to use, when to use them, and how to make them as bulletproof (pun intended) as possible.

So let's get started.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Tom Bunzel specializes in knowing what presenters need and how to make technology work. He has appeared on Tech TV’s Call for Help and has been a featured speaker at InfoComm and PowerPoint LIVE, as well as working as a “technology coach” for companies including Iomega, Community Vision, and the Neuroscience Education Institute.

Tom Bunzel has written a number of books, the latest being Teach Yourself PowerPoint 2003 in 24 Hours and Easy Digital Music for Que Publishing. Tom Bunzel’s other books are Easy Creating CDs and DVDs, How to Use Ulead DVD Workshop, Digital Video on the PC, and the update to Peachpit Press’ Visual QuickStart Guide to PowerPoint 2002/2001. He was a contributing editor to Presentations Magazine and writes a weekly column as the Office Reference Guide for

As an instructor for Learning Tree International, Bunzel has taught several courses: “Integrating Microsoft Office” and “Creating Interactive Websites–Hands On.” He has worked with many speakers, including helping Gregg Ketter of KTTV-TV with his motivational, customer service, and sales speeches, and he trained the principals of MTA Films and Todd Yamada, D.D.S., in PowerPoint and multimedia production. Bunzel has also lectured at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, Communicate (a multimedia facility), and at the San Diego Computer Expo.

Tom can be reached through his website (

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