Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What Google can teach us about PowerPoint

Since 1998, Google has been giving us Google Doodles. The first Google Doodle was in honor of the Burning Man Festival.

It was simple and still used the Google text with an image behind the word.

What Google can teach us about PowerPoint is that you don’t need to use text to communicate your message. Yes, many Google Doodles still use the Google Text, but they have been transformed into images that tell a story.

Take the Google Doodle from June 1, 2015 “Children’s Day 2015 (Multiple Countries).”

While the Doodle does show the letters in the word “Google,” they have been transformed to show a children’s playground. Each letter represents a child playing, laughing, and singing.

You know it is Google’s Home Page when you get there, even though you don’t see Google’s true logo. You think about children on a playground. Google Doodle’s are telling a story, much like a PowerPoint Presentation should do. Your mind reads the story that is being told to you in the image.

Most, if not all, of you have either sat through or created a PowerPoint Presentation that you would consider “Death by PowerPoint.” You know, those blank white slides with bulleted text so small that you have a tough time reading it, or can’t read it at all. The presenter just reads the text as if you were a 2 year old.

Google Doodles were initially neither animated nor hyperlinked; Doodles transformed. From January 2010 with the first animated Doodle honoring Sir Isaac Newton,

to the first interactive Doodle appearing shortly thereafter celebrating Pac-Man, 

and then hyperlinks began to be added to Doodles, usually linking to a search results page for the subject of the Doodle.

As simple as it may sound, these are the things Google can teach us about PowerPoint.

As Google Doodles have transformed, so has PowerPoint. PowerPoint now offers features that allow you to make your presentations come alive.

Transitions, Image layering, Animations, Hyperlinks, and other incredible features aren’t there for you to present boring white slides with bullets. These amazing features allow you to engage your audience, to tell your story.  We should make our PowerPoint slides visual, interesting to the eyes, and interactive whenever possible.

Now, don’t think you need to go crazy with using PowerPoint features. Look to Google Doodles for inspiration: Keep slides simple, but tell a story. Use an image for your audience to view as you speak to your topic. Let the audience use all of their senses to hear your story.

You also don’t need to be a graphic designer. There are plenty of free image sites out there. One of my favorite is Pexels.

You can search by keywords to find the image that best represents your story. Simply place the image into the slide and fill the slide with the image. Often times, you don’t need any text at all. Your audience will absorb the image and your story as they view the image and you speak to them. It can also insight a conversation.

Tip: When using images, not only do you want to make sure avoid copyrighted images, but don’t use a goofy clipart image when you are speaking about a serious topic, for example. And, don’t just place the image next to your bulleted text. While sometimes that will work, it still looks boring and it looks like an afterthought.

I bet everyone reading this remembers at least one (1) Google Doodle they’ve seen over the years. And, so it should be when your audience views your PowerPoint Presentation. They should remember something about what you presented. They shouldn’t come out of your presentation thinking they’ve just seen another “Death by PowerPoint” presentation.

The moral of the story – Google can teach us about PowerPoint. It’s how you use what you've learned that will make you better.

Learn from Google Doodles and go make engaging, exciting, story-telling PowerPoint Presentations.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

PowerPoint Tutorial: Cinemagraphs in 3 Steps

Have you noticed all the rage about Cinemagraphs and GIFs? Or wondered how to make them?

I’m going to show you how to easily create Cinemagraphs using PowerPoint in just 3 simple steps…

Follow the steps below OR watch the video tutorial here:

So what’s the difference between a GIF and a Cinemagraph?

A GIF is simply a series of still images placed together to look like they are moving – or to look like a short video.

See in this GIF here that it looks a little choppy – it’s just images that were put together to form what appears to be a video. And there is movement all around the clip.

A Cinemagraph, on the other hand, is a video that has an isolated portion of the video that keeps the movement. They can draw attention to a specific area of the video to help make a point. This is perfect for PowerPoint presentations when you need to explain or point out something, but don’t want to just use boring arrows or other ways of drawing the viewer’s eyes.

Look at this first video – this is  a boring video from a shopping mall’s camera – so it’s black and white and nothing.

However, after I add the effect, the little girl on the escalator is the only thing moving and it draws your attention to her – and somehow is no longer a boring black and white video or photo.

So, now let me show you how I did this.

First, open PowerPoint and Insert the video you’d like to edit. You should really think of the message you want to send before you select your video… and of course, make sure you have appropriate copyrights to use the video.

This original video shows the entire movement of the water and the sky, including the clouds.
But let’s say we’re talking about cloud formations and would like to isolate the cloud movement.

First, I’ll duplicate the video using Copy and Paste. Depending on the effect, you may want to trim the video to only the portion you want to show.

So, I’ll crop the copy of this video so that it only includes the sky. Basically, I have both videos on the slide, but I’m going to leave one static, meaning it will not play – it will appear as an image. And, the 2nd video, the one I’ve cropped to just include the sky and clouds, will keep its movement or motion.

Next, you’ll fix the animations.

So, I’ll select the first video, the one I don’t want to move and click on the “Playback” Tab. Since this is already setup to Start On Click, I’ll leave it alone.

Next, click on the copy, the one I cropped to just include the sky and clouds, and click on the “Playback” Tab. I’ll select the “Automatic” Start option.

Next, to check that all of my settings are correct, I’ll click on the “Animations” Tab and open the Animation Pane. If the original video shows in the Animation Pane, I like to delete it just to make sure I don’t accidentally click and start it playing while I’m presenting.

So, let’s Play our Slideshow and see how this looks.

Notice that the water and waterfalls remain motionless and the sky and clouds are moving. When playing this slide, you would draw the viewers eyes to the sky and clouds. Cool, right?!

So, that’s how you create a Cinemagraph using PowerPoint.

You can get really creative and make your PowerPoint presentations standout by using this technique. However, as with all PowerPoint Tips and Tricks, limit your presentations – do not have every slide include a Cinemagraph, for example. It will get old and lose its effect on your audience.
Practice this technique with various videos and see what works best.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Excel Macros Tutorial

For many years I've had students asking how to create Macros in Excel. So I created this Excel Macros Tutorial to show how you can create, setup, and use an Excel Macro in 3 Easy Steps.

If you have tasks in Microsoft Excel that you do repeatedly, you can record a macro to automate those tasks. A macro is an action or a set of actions that you can run as many times as you want.

When you create a macro, you are recording your mouse clicks and keystrokes. After you create a macro, you can edit it to make minor changes to the way it works.

Suppose that every month, you create a report for your manager. You want to sum the sales of the customers' revenue and apply bold formatting. You can create and then run a macro that quickly applies these formatting changes to the cells you select.

Here is the video showing you exactly that example:

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Excel Tutorial: Named Ranges

When referencing data in larger Excel spreadsheets, it can often lead to incorrect results because of errors when selecting data. To avoid this, use Excel Named Ranges.

Here's a quick video to do just that.

It's really quite simple.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Excel Tutorial: How Can I Customize SmartArt?

Elizabeth asked, "Once I insert SmartArt in Excel, how can I change the color and look?"

What Elizabeth is asking is very smart. Inserting the same old SmartArt and not changing it, or customizing it in any way, looks very boring. I recommend customizing SmartArt and other objects to match your company colors and logo, your presentation style and format, so that it doesn't feel like it was an after thought.

To customize SmartArt, simply follow these steps.

You can also watch the video tutorial below.

Click the "Insert" Tab.
Click "SmartArt" from the Illustrations group.

In the "Choose a SmartArt Graphic" dialog box, select the category on the left. Then you select the item in the middle. The right shows a preview of the item. Select OK to insert the content.

Excel inserts the selected SmartArt graphic in the middle of the spreadsheet.

You can simply click on one of the boxes and type in your text, if desired. Notice that the font sizes adjust, depending on how much text you enter.

Don't stop there, now it's time to customize the SmartArt.

With the SmartArt selected (click on it, if you need), you will see the "SmartArt Tools" contextual tabs "Design" and "Format."

Click on these tabs to see the customization options. Features on these tabs will be different based on the type of SmartArt you inserted.

You can customize things like the colors, the styles, and fonts.

Look around and practice to find the best look for your Excel spreadsheet and/or presentation.

Now that you know how to customize SmartArt, you will look like the expert professional for visualizing in Excel.

Watch the video tutorial here.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Excel Tutorial: Auditing Formulas with Trace Precedents

If you have formulas that are based on the contents of another cell, you have precedent cells. If you have problems with a formula or result, you can trace the precedent cells to help track down the problem. The Trace Precedents command is useful to see the trail of data relationships. The Trace Precedents command allows you to show tracer arrows to show the relationship between the active cell and the precedents to that cell. 

  • Tracer arrows are blue when pointing from a cell that provides data to another cell.
  • Red tracer arrows indicate an erroneous value.
  • Tracer arrows are black when pointing from a cell in another worksheet.
  • The other worksheet is represented by a worksheet icon. 

If you prefer, watch the Video Tutorial below.

If tracer arrows do not show, you will need to turn on the objects in the Options window. 

Use the following procedure.
  • Select the File Tab
  • Select Options.
  • Select the Advanced tab.
  • Under the Display options for this workbook, make sure the workbook you are using is displayed.
  • The For objects, show option should be All.

If a cell has a precedent that is in another worksheet, the other worksheet must be open.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Excel Tutorial: Align Cells

In this Excel Tutorial: Align Cells, you'll learn the basic alignment techniques to make your data visually attractive. You'll also learn keyboard shortcuts for cell alignment.

If you prefer video, you may view the Excel Tutorial using the video below.

To align cells in Excel, it's quite simple.

Simply select the area you would like to align, typically this would be an entire column. If the entire column needs to be aligned a specific way, then click the Column Header to make the changes to the entire column.

Once the area is selected, click the alignment option you wish by using the "Alignment" area on the "Home" tab.

Options include:

  • Top, Middle, and Bottom Alignment for Vertical Alignment
  • Left, Center, and Right Alignment for Horizontal Alignment
  • Wrap Text to wrap the text within the cell
  • Merge and Center to merge data and center it across multiple cell
    • NOTE: Excel will give you a warning if you are merging data over existing data
  • And there are some indentation options as well

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts for these same functions to align cells:

  • CTRL + E = Center align 
  • CTRL + J = Justify align
  • CTRL + L = Left align
  • CTRL + R = Right align

Watch this brief video tutorial, if you prefer.

I'm excited to announce my newest course - Excel Essentials: Tutorial for Beginners!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Excel Essentials: Tutorial for Beginners Now Open

I'm excited to announce my newest course - Excel Essentials: Tutorial for Beginners!

In this course, you will learn to use Excel in under 2 hours! We not only cover the basics, but teach useful Formulas, Functions, and Analysis.

I'm proud to offer my First 30 Fans with a Coupon to take the course for FREE!

Just CLICK HERE for the FREE Coupon.

All I ask in return is that you write a review on the course.

Watch this quick preview of the course to learn more:

I hope you enjoy the course, and I know that you will learn valuable Excel skills.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

How to Join Cells using Excel Concatenate

Excel Functions can seem overwhelming, but once they are broken down, they can be very easy, but can provide you with useful results.

Here's how to Join Cells using the Excel Function Concatenate.

You may read the steps here or view the video version below.

Do you need a Full Name field to import into a particular program? But, you only have First Name and Last Name fields in Excel? There are many times when you need to Merge or Join Cells in Excel - this tip shows you how easy it really is:

Insert a New Column.
Type =CONCATENATE(Cell1,Cell2,etc)

Using the formula above, here is an example of the results:

Cell A1             Cell B1              Cell C1           RESULTS Cell D1
Go                    Ask                   Debbie            GoAskDebbie

If these are the results you wish, simply Copy the formula down the column to include all rows you wish.

Let's say you need a Space or a Comma between each of the cells once they have been merged. To do this, type your formula as follows:
=CONCATENATE(Cell1," ",Cell2," ",etc.)

This would create the following result from the above scenario "Go Ask Debbie." Notice now there are spaces between the cell contents.

Get creative this can help you create many different types of results.

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How to Delete Blank Rows in Excel