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quotation-mark

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.

Weller Pools - Before and After Slide

Winning a Big Contract with PowerPoint: Weller Pools


The inside story of how Weller Pools won a giant contract by transforming their basic PowerPoint presentation into a dynamic visual masterpiece.

Weller Pools - Before and After SlideLogo-Weller-PoolsWeller Pools has been in the aquatic construction industry for over 35 years, creating some of the country’s best known and loved swimming pools and water parks. However, their PowerPoint presentations didn’t match up to the standards of their pools!

So in February, 2010 the Orlando-based aquatic developer turned to The Presentation Team to help them improve their PowerPoint presentation to win the business of a Florida-based preparatory school. The key objective of the presentation was to effectively communicate the advantages of the Myrtha Pool Technology, a cutting-edge material that is being used in many new swimming pools.

Weller Pool’s existing 38-page PowerPoint was heavy on text/bullet points and lacked a consistent look-and-feel. Weller had a limited budget and short time-frame, so they enaged The Presentation Team using the “Enhanced Presentation Package”, a quick and easy approach to transform a basic PowerPoint into a get-noticed masterpiece.

Weller was presenting to a small audience of five people. The visual design needed to be bold, graphical, yet easy-to-read.Our design strategy focused on creating a look-and-feel that reflected Weller Pool’s brand and identity, while involving elements of aquatics and technology. The six hour project involved…

  1. Development of a custom professional template (title and body masters), that reflected Weller’s company brand, while integrating their existing PowerPoint content.
  2. Re-working the overall look-and-feel of the presentation (colors, fonts, layout) for a more polished look.
  3. Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, people, concept art, etc.).
  4. Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
  5. Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
  6. Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems.
  7. Consulting and collaboration to help Weller Pools to further develop and present new ideas.
Before1 PowerPoint-Presentation-Concept-Weller-Pools-After1

Before:
The original title page featured a flat white background with navy blue titles in Arial Narrow font…functional but ordinary! Logos of partner companies crowded the page, competing for prominence and viewing.This presentation design was good for printouts… but not for projection!

After:
Our makeover included development of a new high-tech blue water-drop image background template image (developed in Photoshop) in 16×9 aspect ratio. This widescreen format has become increasingly popular on monitors and laptops and conference room projectors. The body master template featured a flowing bottom arc image integrating colorful and dynamic photos of two of Weller Pool’s projects. Their partner company logo were offset to the right of the page, and the project was prominently featured in left-justified vertically centered on the page in 40-point Gil Sans Font.
Before2 After2
Before:
This original showcased the four-step process of Backfilling. The rectangular images were inconsistently sized and did not integrate any elements (typeface, logo or graphics) from the master template. “Backfilling Process” placed on the bottom conveyed the concept of an afterthought rather than a bold title.
After:
The revised slide maintained the four graphics, with a rounded diagonal corner picture style, to add depth and professionalism. By simply shrinking the photos 10%, the slide gained a level of breathing space, allowing the title to be repositioned at the top in a bold bright orange Gil Sans font, and the logo in a consistent bottom right placement.
Before4

After3

After4

After5

Before:
The presenter spoke for nearly two minutes on thissingle slide, which featured two images and three separate blocks of text competing for space. Additionally, the details of the water activity park photo were small and difficult to see.

After:
To help the speaker express his message more graphically, we “spanned” the single slide across three slides, expanding the image size to fill the page, and giving the audience a more immersive and visual experience…all within the same two minutes. The three graphics were all the same size, perfectly positioned so they did not jump as the speaker flipped pages.

Before6 After6
Before:
The cost savings of Myrtha is clear and well-documented. But presenting the information in a green and red bar chart incurred images of Christmas! And all too often, red is information. The textwas overwhelming and small, and the costkey message was diffused.
After:
To more effectively communicate the cost savings of Myrtha, we reduced the scale of the bar chart, allowing more space on the top and bottom. The colors were revised to two shades of blue, and the cost savings were posted above the bars as separate text elements (not within the bar chart) more prominently at 28 points.

After just four days and three rounds of edits, the presentation looked great! Weller Pools executives rehearsed and refined their delivery with presentation skills coach David Greenberg….then presented to their audience…and won the job! Weller Pools now has a winning presentation and great presentation skills presentation thanks in part to the experts at The Presentation Team!

KM Plaza Logo

Winning a Construction Project through a Powerful Presentation


Dynamic PowerPoint presentation helps construction company KM/Plaza to win large construction contract. 

KM Plaza Logo

Clear and concise content, dynamic yet clean visuals, and powerful presentation coaching play role in success.

KM/Plaza is a Miami-based construction firm. Since 1995, KM/Plaza’s buildings have helped to shape the skyline of South Florida.  In October 2009 the firm was shortlisted as a presenter with the goal of winning the business of a Miami-based law firm for the interior design/construction of their 4-floor office complex. 

So KM/Plaza turned to The Presentation Team to create a dynamic presentation with a focus on clear and concise content, dynamic yet clean visuals, and powerful presentation coaching to ensure the message was well communicated.

Presentation Thumbnails for KM Plaza

We sharted the project by dividing our workload between Content and Graphics.  Our Content consulting focused on refining the message and writing a clear definied outline.   This collaborative content consulting helped KM Plaza and its team to further define and present new ideas…now in use in its website and other marketing material.  Key messages…short and succinct…supported by visuals.

Creating the supporting visuals started by developing a professional template (title and body masters) that reflected KM/Plaza’s professionalism and brand/identity, while integrating elements of construction, commerce, and community…all with the intention of getting noticed and standing out from the competition.  As part of our design, we worked to include…

  1. Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, people, concept art, etc.), eliminating white backgrounds on scanned art and charts to create a transparent and open look.
  2. Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
  3. Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
  4. High-impact stock graphics based on the presentation’s content to improve the presentation’s impact.
  5. A Gil Sans font in forest green and integrated other common professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems. 
Before After
BeforePowerPoint-Presentation-Sample-KM-Plaza-Before1 PowerPoint-Presentation-Sample-KM-Plaza-After1
KM/Plaza’s original PowerPoint presentation featured an emotionless stark black background with flat white text in all capitalized letters in Centruy Gothic font.  Our makeover involved the creation of a vibrant template (1920×1200 featuring a flowing arc of construction-related images set against a light textured/dimensional background.  The arc was created in Adobe Photoshop and imported as a PNG image.  On the title master, the arc appeared in full color; on many of the body slides (without graphics) the arc was green.
PowerPoint-Presentation-Sample-KM-Plaza-After2 To showcase the KM/Plaza’s financial strength, we imported a financial-themed photo with the key message short and succinct.  The takeaway point of “$1 Billion” was enlarged to 34 point Gil Sans Font, creating emphasis from the rest of the 26 point sentence.
KM Plaza interior design projects Google’s Picasa software helped us to create a full-screen montage of some of KM/Plaza’s projects easily and quickly. The graphic was exported at 1920×1200 and set as a background image for the slide (as opposed to importing it as a graphic).  This allowed the image to stay fixed on the page and the slide’s key message (showcasing their quantity of work) in a bold non-obtrusive font in PowerPoint.
PowerPoint-Presentation-Sample-KM-Plaza-After3 PowerPoint’s Smart Art helped to provide a simple high-level outline of the project’s key developers.  The org chart was developed in forest green with inverse type at 18 points, providing a sharp contrast and maximum impact.  By keeping the org chart under eight names (and 4 levels), the slide conveyed a subtle message of simplicity and working transparency…all benefits to the client.
PowerPoint-Presentation-Sample-Slide-KM-Plaza-After4

Reference letters are terrrific tools to add a level of credibility to your presentation.  To maximize the impact of this lengthy 3 paragraph reference letter to KM/Plaza, we typed in one powerful sentence in 48-point Gil Sans font with outline and glow effect in PowerPoint, and set it against a scan of the actual reference letter.  This showed the real letter…highlighted the client’s logo…and communicated the key point!

Thanks to the technology of PowerPoint supported by well-communicated strategies, quotes, and financials, the client recognized the superiority of KM/Plaza and selected them for the project.  Another presentation success story thanks to great graphics from The Presentation Team!

Keyboard Commands & Shortcuts

Top Keyboard Commands & Shortcuts for PowerPoint

Keyboard Commands & Shortcuts

Think Efficiently & Use the Keyboard!

To improve efficiency and shave hours off your presentation development time, it’s helpful to learn the keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboards aren’t just for typing. In conjunction with control, alt and shift keys (or the option and apple keys on the Mac), you can move along at a much faster pace than just using the mouse.

Rather than inefficiently moving the mouse all over the screen clicking on menu commands, learning a few simple control keys can speed up development and make creating presentations easier and faster.  

Top PowerPoint Keyboard Commands

 TOP KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS 
   
 Increase Font Size CTRL+ ]
 Decrease Font Size CTRL+ [
 Grid/Guides On/Off CTRL+ G
 New Slide CTRL+ M
 New Presentation  CTRL+ N
 Save!  CTRL+ S
 Help Menu and list of shortcuts  F1
 Redo Last Action  F4
 Slide Show  F5
 Slide Show from Current Slide  Shift F5

Ending Presentation Procrastination


Start Your Presentation Right To Save It From Going Wrong

Techniques to get your presentation started fast and eliminate procrastination.

Are you a presentation procrastinator? A PowerPoint put-offer? A stalled sleepless speaker? Let’s face it: most people dread developing presentations. But with computer-based presentation tools such as PowerPoint, it’s easier than ever to start your presentation development correctly- and save it from spinning out of control. A well-planned and organized presentation can save lots of headaches down the road. Try these techniques the next time you have to pull a presentation out of thin air:

Content First…Then Visuals

When starting a new presentation, try not to become distracted by the desire to make it look good. Rather, focus on creating the content first. Use the outline view to get your bullets and main points in place. Talk over the ideas/themes with friends and colleagues. Draft a storyboard on paper. Also, the auto content wizards of PowerPoint are helpful in getting the key messages in place.

Design for your Audience

Select or create a template design that’s appropriate for your audience: are they young or old…colorful or conservative? The colors you use should be compatible with the company’s brand/image. The number of people in the audience affects how large the type should be on screen and how much information should be crammed together. Look at the presentation through the eyes and ears of your audience.

Use Master Slides

The slide master’s purpose is to let you make a global change — such as replacing the font style — and have that change reflected on all the slides in your presentation. By creating a master slide (or multiple masters), you can make revisions to the presentation quickly, rather than page-by-page. (Select View…Master…Slide Master).

Plan ahead of your Deadlines

Before starting your presentation, it’s important to have an idea of how much work is involved in developing the presentation…and how much time it will take. Set benchmarks and goals throughout the development period. Aim to finish the presentation a day ahead of schedule.

Know your Presentation Venue and Output Medium

Are you presenting in a large auditorium or in a small group? Will your presentation be shown on paper, 35mm slides, or laptop-based? These questions are vital to help determine the appropriate fonts, sizing, and spacing. Try to preview the presentation venue beforehand to get a better idea of how your show will look.

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  • “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
    Motorola

  • “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.

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    Accenture/L3

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