flickr photo: mintimage

We’re bringing our training to your desk in the form of two webinars next month.  If you’ve never attended a webinar, it’s more painless than parking downton: log on, call in, participate, log off, go back to work.  Heck, you can attend in your robe in your living room.


Effective Presentations: Stories and Stats

Tuesday, May 12 and Tuesday May 19 • 10–11 a.m.

There are few things more horrible than losing your audience. Two things can contribute to wandering attention: narrative that lacks a human touch, and visuals that fight with your narrative. Present information in a way that keeps your audience awake and engaged. Learn how to make PowerPoint slides that looks good while perfectly enhancing and complementing your talk. We help you structure your content for maximum interest and show you all the great features PowerPoint has to offer.

Instructor: Jeff Forster, Bayer Center

Register Online:

Proposals That Get the Grant
Thursday, May 21 from 10 a.m.–noon 

Take that great idea and get it funded! But how? This class explores the indispensable principles of writing winning proposals:

• develop a strategic approach to funders

• identify what you need to know before you start writing

• learn the basic elements of successful proposals

• understand what you need to communicate

Instructor: Teresa Gregory, Robert Morris University

Register Online:

Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week until the end of May.


What does Zen have to do with PowerPoint? Simplicity, according to Garr presentationzencoverReynolds in Presentation Zen, an engaging guide to removing the noise from your presentations. While some would have you believe that PowerPoint (or Keynote for Mac stalwarts) is inherently evil, that’s not the case. But it’s close.

The problem, which was raised for many in the public and non-profit sectors in Andy Goodman’s Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, is that the default settings in popular presentation products lead to bad habits. PowerPoint’s design templates point users to create slides that are a) full of overstimulating graphics or b) a dull drumbeat of text bullets.

We have all grown used to using presentation software not so much to present but to outline what we are planning to present. The problem is that as PowerPoint got popular, we all overlooked the fact that an outline makes a boring and ineffective presentation.

Reynolds calls on presenters to go further in preparation and create visuals that complement the words being presented. He provides easy-to-follow principles that help us non-designers work more like designers.  The example slides that he uses (some created for the book and some culled from strong presentation decks) are beautiful and terribly simple. Images fill as much of the slide as possible, and text is used very sparingly. The text can be transmitted in handouts or links provided to the audience at the end. Lines and lines of big text on a wall do not communicate very clearly.

Colin Chapman, founder of the Lotus automobile company stressed lightness in his vehicles. He famously exhorted designers and engineers to “Simplicate, then add lightness.” Reynolds preaches a similar doctrine for presentations:  Simplicate, then add minimalism, one might say. Here’s the first presentation that I created after reading Presentation Zen. What can you do to simplicate your next presentation?