Inception, in PowerPoint!

Have you watched the movie Inception? Well, if you had (or even if you hadn’t), here’s a Christmas gift in the form of PowerPoint! In this PowerPoint, a presentation is embedded within a presentation which is embedded in yet another presentation and it goes on. Don’t get it? Well, open up the presentation and go deeper into the presentation by clicking on the center of the slideshow till you reach the final state! You will see then see snow, greetings and.. Merry Christmas! Press ‘Esc’ to kick yourself out of each presentation. Have fun 🙂

For PowerPoint 2010: Download now
For PowerPoint 2007 and below: Download now 

Create timer with PowerPoint

If you need to perform a countdown or break timer during your presentation, PowerPoint does the job. In fact, there are many ready-made PowerPoint timers out on the web that you can easily access to and the methods of executing them range from the use of PowerPoint animations to VBA. Here’s another neat way you can try out if you are new to PowerPoint and want a quick and easy way to create a timer in PowerPoint.

In traditional timer using animations, editing the numbers manually can be cumbersome. Imagine you are going to do a 1 minute counter or break timer and you want to have the timer increment every second. You will eventually have to edit the number 59 times manually. So why not let PowerPoint does the job instead? To achieve this, you can use the Slide Number and Slide Transition.

1. First, enter the Slide Master (View > Slide Master). 
2. Enlarge the slide number on the main master itself.
3. Set it to a font size of approximately 90-100, then align it to center of the slide.  
4. Next, click on the Design > Page Setup and set to number slides from 0.
5. Now, close Slide Master. Change your first slide to a Title and Content Layout. (Right click > Layout > Title and Content)
6. Then click Insert > Slide Number. Check the Slide Number and click Apply to All. 
7. Go to the Transition tab (Animation tab for PowerPoint 2007), set it to Advance Slide Automatically After 1 second, which will be 00:01:00. 
8. Then simply duplicate the slides using Ctrl-D to increment the numbers automatically. 
9. You can also add a minute counter that keeps track of the time after every 60 seconds/slides.
10. Once you are done, go back to the first slide and uncheck Advance Slide Automatically After if you do not want it to start immediately.

Here’s an example of the PowerPoint Timer: Download Now

Golden Harvest animation on PowerPoint

For all Hong Kong movie lovers out there, remember Golden Harvest, the production company that produced martial arts films starring actors such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan? Well, you might not remember the company name, but you will definitely recognize its prominent opening animation!

Here’s a tribute of the Golden Harvest intro animation dedicated to all the HK movie lovers out there, done entirely using PowerPoint. Download the Golden Harvest animation now! Note that there might be slight animation issue if you are using PowerPoint 2010. In this case, you can view the animation on YouTube instead:

Realistic Ball Effects with PowerPoint 2010 Revisit

Few years back, I have provided a sample for Bevel and Shadow effects on balls using PowerPoint 2003. The sample includes Ball Effects variations (5 variations, 4 colors each) accompanied by 6 examples on how you can make use them. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link:

Today, with the newer versions of PowerPoint (from 2007 and onwards), you can create these effects more easily and realistically without the need of multiple layering. Manipulating the properties under 3-D Format, you can now create spheres that looks much better than the default ones provided by Shape Styles. But by saying easy, it doesn’t mean you can create a sphere with just a few clicks, especially since modifying the size of the shape will mess up your creation of the sphere. Thus, it is important to decide on the size that you are looking for before you start going on testing out with the settings and variables. As with the ball effect sample I have created previously, here’s a completely new Ball Effects sample done using PowerPoint 2010. The sample comes with 9 variations and 4 colors each, accompanied with an example of image inserted into the sphere (For other examples, you can check out my original version on the link above).

Download the Ball Effects 2010 here.


Creating Templates using PowerPoint III

We have come to the last image. The fifth one is slightly complicated. The concept is to do a moon-like curve that cover about 3/4 of the background while leaving 1/4 of the top, the left and bottom, and 1/4 of the right as the background. It uses Basic Shapes > Tear Drop. Now you may ask, why not simply use an oval shape to do it? The reason for not doing so is due to the top right corner, which cannot be covered completely if you use an oval shape. Likewise, increase the size may not get the result of your preference and covering it with additional shape may not look neat. The Tear drop shape does just the job in this case. Next, add a simple glow to the tear drop as an outline for the content panel.

For the banner of the content slide, you will need a random abstract image cropped and then added with Picture Effects > Soft Edges > 5 Point. Then, place a rectangle on top of the banner, add a black outline and set the transparency to 50%. As for the background, I gave it a light blue recolor and an Artistic Effect > Texturizer (which is only available in PowerPoint 2010). 


Through these articles, you can see that it is not as hard as it seems to create a PowerPoint template of your liking, with the help of a background image. Play around with the various shapes provided in PowerPoint and you should be able to create your own customized PowerPoint template. You can also download the actual PowerPoint Template Demo that has been shown so far.

Creating Templates using PowerPoint II

Occasionally, pre-made PowerPoint templates design may not be what you are looking for or there simply isn’t any available that fits a specific theme/topic. In this case, you may want to create one yourself. So what we have previously are couple of sample template slides created in PowerPoint (apart from the background, which can also be created using Freeform if you have the time to do so).

The first image shown below is a sample title slide. For the background, there are many royalty free or stock images (for a small sum of fee) that you can find on internet. The curved banner is created using Insert > Shapes > Stars and Banners > Wave. You can also apply some shape effects to make it looks more realistic. First, add an Accent Color 3, 8 pt glow. This applies a glow effect which makes it looks distinct from the background. Next, add a Shadow > Outer > Offset Center to darken the glow.

The second image uses the same wave shape, but with a few tweaks. You need to skew the image using the bottom yellow handle on the wave, lengthen the width and shorten the height, then rotate the shape. Sound complicated? Second image on the right is a full view of how it is done. Next, give it a green glow as stated on the first image, then an Inner > Inside Center Shadow. This makes the banner sink into the background.


The third image is a content slide, with the content panel done using an oval shape (slightly longer height) and the ring made using Insert Shapes > Basic Shapes > Block Arc. Then, give both the shapes an outline a dark green outline (or an outline color that is similar and slightly darker to the background). Next, right click on the shapes, select Format Shape and set Fill > Transparency to 20%. 


 The fourth image is a wave shape. Increase the height so that the wave does not look overly curved. Then add an appropriate outline color, and an additional rectangle to cover the remaining background. 


Last image will be revealed in the next article. See if you can figure out how it works!

Creating Templates using PowerPoint I

Professionals tend to make use of graphical editing tool such as Photoshop to create their templates. However, if you are not familiar with these software, PowerPoint comes with many great features, and some of them include ready made shapes and shape styles that are really useful in creating your own templates. Below are some sample screenshots. Can you figure out how these are done? Find out more in the upcoming article.


Agenda or Table of Contents, a necessity in presentation?

Many people will agree that it is good to have an agenda or table of contents in a presentation. Reasons can include laying out clearly by telling your audience what topics are being covered and knowing what you are going to unfold next, length of the presentation and acting as a guidance for your audience.

But are they really necessary? Probably not in all situations. Here’s a couple of thoughts:

1. True that without an agenda, audience may sit through a presentation lost in a maze and not knowing when it will end. However, it is also true that in most presentations, a time period or limit is always given or known by the audience beforehand. An agenda in this case, is not a solution for presenters who knowingly exceed the time limit. Instead, one should be well prepared by rehearsing your presentation thoroughly. If you have only 10 minutes to present a case, audience will start wondering when you are going to end if you exceed the time limit. And if you are only given a short amount of time for your presentation, an agenda may not be something you want to include on a slide. 

2. A good presentation is akin to storytelling or movie. You start the presentation strong, capture the attention of your audience and bring them from one chapter to the next, gradually unveiling the mystery. In some cases, agenda may act as an intermission between an introduction and the rest of your slides, much like a commercial break, which may not flow well with your story, or a spoiler that spells out everything clearly and spoils the surprise.

3. When presenting for instance, a business idea to your superior or client, a handout of your slides may be required to be submitted to them before your presentation. In this case, an agenda is not necessary since they would have skimmed through your handout and briefly know the topics you are going to cover.

4. With agenda, audience can follow your presentation like a navigation guide, yet being a good presenter, you can become a driver and lead the passengers to the destination smoothly. The passengers do not necessarily need to know how to get to the destination, they just need to get there comfortably. Likewise, a bumpy ride will not give a good experience even if informed of the path that will be taken.

5. Instead of an agenda, one can use a progress bar similar to a website’s shopping cart checkout process (example 1example 2) which lists out the main topics and highlights the current ones you are presenting. By doing so, audience can know what you are going to cover without hurting the flow or time of the presentation.