Posts Tagged ‘pointers’


Achieving Greatness Through Quotations

Discover how quotations can add life and depth to a talk, lending credibility and authority…and open new doors to your speech and writings.

“A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority.”

Brendan Francis

quotation-markQuotations have always fascinated me. As a child, I spent hours upon hours reading my parent’s copy of the Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. It gave me insights and intrigue. Words from famous people I had only heard or read about in school.

George Washington: “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

Or Thomas Edison: “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”

So when I was called on recently at a Toastmasters Meeting to deliver an improvisational talk about dealing with the good and bad of life, I was prepared with a clever quote. Or so I thought. The “Tabletopics Master” singled me out to address “the meaning of life.” I boldly stood and delivered a meaningful message from memory.

“The tragedy of life is not that we wait so long to begin it but that we wait…” No.

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but we begin it too late…” No.

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” Yes!

Yes, three times to deliver those simple words, and by the time the correct quote trickled off my tongue, the meaning was lost. Everyone was focused on how I was saying it than what I was saying.

I believe quotations are the icing on a cake for a good talk. Great leaders, politicians, businesspeople, and entertainers, weave them into their words. Indeed, “we stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Quotation_Marks_on_Glass_DoorQuotations add life and depth to a talk, lending credibility and authority. Research and insight. They can open new doors to your speech. And these quotations need not be only words by famous people. They can be lines from movies. Lyrics from songs. Quotes from poems. Statistics from studies.

“In the magazine Science, it was reported last year nearly 45,000 people died in auto collisions, the equivalent of a fully loaded passenger jet crashing with no survivors every day for a year. If everyone wore seat belts, more than half of these deaths could have been avoided.”

This is a jarring statistic! And notice the imagery used in conjunction with the statistics. If properly assembled and presented, statistics and quotations can be powerful verbal tools. Quotes add meat to a speech or article in many ways. Here are four:

  1. They add dimension and richness to a speech, injecting your talk with a unique perspective, refreshingly different from your standard speaking style.
  2. They show your talk has been well-researched…not just something quickly crafted and rattled off the tip of your tongue.
  3. They add credibility to you and your talk, especially if you’re quoting a well-known and admired historical figure.
  4. They reduce the amount of individual creativity you – as a writer – need to create. This article is only 66% my own content; the other 33% is only borrowed.

Combine the words “wise old man,” and the images of a bearded sage speaking softly to a young man comes to mind, offering words of wisdom.

Quotations-Qs“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

“Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.”
Samuel Johnson

This is not to say that quotations are not universally adored and treasured. When asked about the impact of quotes in writing and speaking, Ralph Waldo Emerson rattled, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

W. Somerset Maugham was a bit more biting:
“She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.”

Quotes resurrect a person, place, or time. And as speakers or presenters, we should strive to frame them in their original context. Act them out, put them in an overly dramaticized style. Amplified accents. Distinct delivery. If you’re using visuals or a PowerPoint, put the quote on screen, along with the attributed person’s photo, name, and lifespan.

Perhaps my strongest point about using quotes in speeches is that they should be well-rehearsed. Memorized. Prepared and in-context. I would love to be able to just rattle-off quotes like wise leaders like Winston Churchill or Bill Clinton. Or snappy comebacks like some witty Hollywood comedians.

To master this craft of “quotations in speaking” takes attitude, practice and time.

You can find thousands of quotes on attitude. Here’s a favorite of mine by Lou Holtz: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

And on the subject of practice: “If practice makes perfect, and no one’s perfect, then why practice?”

Time and again, read these quotes, recite them. Pin them up in your office walls, see them, repeat them. Live them. The words of the leaders of the past can be reborn and requited by the leaders of today.

Leonard-Bernstein-West-Side-StoryComposer and musician Leonard Bernstein has always an icon to me. As a child, I loved his music from West Side Story (together with Stephen Soundheim), and would sing the poetic lyrics of this popular musical from the 1950s. As I work to build my professional speaking career, and The Presentation Team, I am often kept focused and on-track by this simple single quote by Mr. Bernstein…something that we can all relate to, as we strive for greatness in our increasingly busy world. I could easily share a few personal insights on what I think it takes to achieve greatness. But isn’t it more powerful to hear words resurrected…quoted…from someone who isgreat? In the words of Leonard Bernstein:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Leonard Bernstein

Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.

Working with Bitmap and Vector Graphics

Your presentation content is solid and now you’re ready for the graphic sizzle. Adding pictures in PowerPoint is relatively easy. But which pictures? And what formats? There are two fundamental types of computer graphic images: Bitmap and Vector.

In Bitmap graphics, an image is displayed on the screen as a collection of tiny squares called pixels, which together form a pattern. Bitmap images- sometimes called Raster images- are the most commonly used graphic type. Nearly all photographs and images on the internet are Bitmaps. Here are some hallmarks of bitmap graphics:

  • File size is dependent on: Data x Resolution (pixel dimensions) x Bit Depth (number of colors per pixel)…as well as the compression technique used to squeeze data together.
  • All bitmaps are rectangular and respond relatively the same way.
  • Bitmap file formats include TIF, BMP, GIF, JPG. The difference in formats is usually seen in the file sizes.
  • Common Bitmap programs include: Photoshop, Corel Paint, Painter, Photo Impact, Windows Paint.

The second type of graphics- Vector graphics- are a way of representing pictures by designating coordinates and drawing lines or geometric shapes in relation to them. In vector graphics, the image is saved as a file containing instructions for drawing it, as opposed to Bitmap graphics in which an image is stored as a collection of pixels. One advantage of vector graphics over bitmap graphics is that a picture can be enlarged or reduced without losing quality. Vector graphics are most commonly seen in clip art, fonts and logos. Macromedia’s Flash is a program that extensively uses Vector format graphics on web sites. Other hallmarks of Vector graphics include:

  • Small file sizes.
  • Files are resolution and bit-depth independent.
  • They can be any shape, as opposed to the rectangular dimensions.
  • Vector file formats include WMF, EPS, AI.
  • Common Vector programs include: Freehand, Illustrator, Corel Draw.

Knowing the difference between these file formats can give your presentation a more professional look, reduce its file size, and enhance its playback efficiency.

Getting the most out of PowerPoint

Presentation management strategies to improve efficiency and creativity of PowerPoint presentations.

Struggling to start? Overwhelmed by options? If you’ve ever had difficulty developing a presentation, the solution may be as simple as “organization”. By organizing your thoughts, your workspace, and your PowerPoint “universe”, your next presentation can come together quickly and easily. Here are some strategies to make your presentation management easy and fun.

Content first, then visuals

Believe it or not, PowerPoint can cripple the creative process by sidetracking the content-focused developer into tinkering with its features and technicalities. One of the best ways to avoid this “Paralysis by PowerPoint” is simply tostop using it! That’s right, walk away from it, and go to a quiet place to write your core message/speech and presentation objectives…distraction free. When you’re ready, return to PowerPoint to type in your notes andthentackle the graphics. Sometimes, the mere focused transcription of your notes into PowerPoint can serve as as catalyst for additional creative development and propel you forward.

Directory Structure and File Saving/Naming Tips

Nothing improves presentation development efficiency more than well-organized directories and logical file names. Rather than dumping all your files into one huge folder- which makes it hard to find things- use your folders/ directories more like a file cabinet. By logically arranging your files by client, project, or theme, and then further delineating the structure (see graphic), you pave a road for quick and easy access…for you and others.

Another helpful strategy is to save your file every few hours with an incrementally higher file name (draft1.ppt, draft2.ppt). This way, you can develop your presentation but have an earlier version to refer to if needed, or if the program crashes. File organization should be a continuous activity- a state of mind- and not something just done once in a while.

Extemporaneous delivery of your speech

Just do it.  If you’re stuck on what to say in your presentation, just start talking and see what comes out. Extemporaneous deliver is often a good way to develop the core messages of you presentation without relying on PowerPoint. People often know more than they think they know about their topic, and by just talking off the cuff (as a development strategy), it can be surprisingly effective. Get a group together of your peers and have someone take notes as you start presenting on the fly…and watch it all come together.

Save time with keyboard shortcuts,toolbars, & right mouse

Power users of PowerPoint (or any computer program) frequently rely on keyboard shortcuts to improve their efficiency. Rather than using the menu for all your functions, push yourself to learn the keyboard shortcuts. Instead of using the mouse to select cut and then paste, simply use Control X and Control V. Many other shortcuts exist.

Additionally, the right mouse button will always bring up alternate menus- in any program. Push yourself to use it and challenge yourself not to fall back on the easy to find menus. The right mouse can shave time off your development!

The Hype of Hyperlinking

Most people look at a presentation in a linear (start to finish) manner. But sometimes while talking, it may not be necessary to cover all the slides in the presentation, especially if you’re under a deadline. That’s where hyperlinking helps. You can create your presentation overview slide as a main menu, with links to the respective slides and sections. Then simply click to the individual slide sections and then back to the main menu. It takes more time ,but is definitely worth the extra effort, as your presentation will look much more polished, and you’ll be working with the audience to create a more interactive expedience.

Presentation Librarian: Presentation management software

Presentation Librarian turns your collection of PowerPoint® files, media files and business documents into a searchable knowledgebase of digital assets. The program’s advanced data management system automates the storage and retrieval of corporate knowledge, giving users across the enterprise access to a searchable library of current information via the internet or their local area network.

Help Me Present!


  • ADB
  • ADP
  • ADT
  • Accenture
  • American-Express
  • Aramark
  • Carvel
  • Comcast
  • Costa
  • Cox
  • DAI
  • GE-Healthcare
  • GTE-Financial
  • Gtt
  • Johnson-and-Johnson
  • Markem-Imaje
  • Motorola
  • NASA
  • Office-Depot
  • Oracle
  • Polo
  • Republic-Services
  • Ryder
  • Siemens
  • Singlehop
  • Software-AG
  • TD-Waterhouse
  • UBS
  • VTiDirect
  • Venn-Strategies
  • Verizon
  • Whirlpool
  • “We engaged The Presentation Team to do a Presentation training for our team and he did a great job. He spent time understanding our requirements and the skill level of our team members and created a course which met our expectations and goals. I highly recommend The Presentation Team as a Presentation (PowerPoint) trainer.”

    Navdeep Sidhu
    Senior Director, Software AG

  • “Kevin Lerner provided best-in-class services when hired to work on promotional materials for the launch of a key product at Motorola. The expertise and quality that he brought to the project were second to none and as a result, he delivered a top-notch presentation that was quickly adopted throughout the organization. Kevin is great to work with, delivers on time, is a great team player and is always willing to go the extra mile.”

    Maria Cardoso

  • “Kevin has been a working with Cox Communications to deliver world-class PowerPoint presentation visuals since 2009. His ability to meet our specific needs, timeframe, and budgets has been exceptional. His professional interaction with our team reflects his deep expertise in the industry, superior presentation design skills, and commitment to superior service.”

    Jonathan Freeland
    VP, Video Marketing at Cox Communications

  • “Kevin is an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate presentation guru. Our company was impressed and felt the value of his training in 2013 that he was invited again recently to again share his knowledge. Both times he has been energetic and addressed many areas for presentation development. From planning to follow-up Kevin is personable and easygoing, motivating our teams to take their presentations to the next level.”

    Yoshimi Kawashima
    Project Coordinator, Nissin International

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from tips & tricks to aesthetics, all with the intent of getting the message across crisply and creatively. I’ve already received praise for decks that incorporate the skills obtained from his training. I highly recommend Kevin’s services.”

    Era Prakash
    General Electric

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “The PowerPresentations seminar opened my eyes to all the limitless possibilities in presenting.”

    Leah Gordillo
    Saint Francis Medical Center

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “[Kevin and The Presentation Team have] always delivered 110% in terms of meeting our objectives for finished product and budget”

    Paul Price
    Watsco Corp.

  • “I had more people come up to me after I spoke, commenting on the visuals you created, than I did on the subject matter!”

    Andy Smith
    Smith & Robb Advertising

  • “As a Fortune 1000 company, we sought to produce a classy, yet conservative presentation for our shareholders. It was evident that you and your team listened to our thoughts as you developed the presentation…”

    Will Flower
    Republic Services

  • “Your expertise in the filed of PowerPoint and general presentation techniques helped elevate us to the level necessary to beat the competition.”

    Mike Geary
    James Pirtle Construction

  • “Kevin brought a high level of creativity, enthusiasm, and deep multmedia experience to our team. He worked dillegently with the team to produce an outstanding proposal which we subsequently won.

    Jeff Keller

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