My Favorite Presentation Resources

I don’t know about you, but our business runs on PowerPoint, and, to a lesser extent, Keynote presentation software.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/davidf, Image #513471

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/davidf

For example, last week I attended an internal “Bible Summit” where Wayne Hastings made a very effective presentation using Keynote. The next day, I used Keynote myself to make a presentation at our All Employee Meeting. Later in the week, I attended a “Webinar” where the speaker used PowerPoint.

In fact, any more, it’s rare that I attend a meeting where the speaker or facilitator doesn’t use Keynote or Powerpoint. They have become ubiquitous in our organization. We use one or the other for Board meetings, author presentations, sales conferences, and other ad hoc meetings. To misquote a verse from the Gospel of Matthew, “where ever two or three are gathered, there is PowerPoint (or Keynote) in their midst.”

The problem is that most people using these presentation tools have not received adequate training. In fact, most have received no training whatsoever. As a result, too many people misuse the tool. This results in too many slides, too many bullets, and too much copy. Consequently, the tool often gets in the way. It becomes a hindrance to communication rather than an aid.

Evidently, these people are not aware that the Web is full of PowerPoint and Keynote resources. In less than two hours of surfing, you can radically improve the effectiveness of your PowerPoint presentations. Here is a list of resources to get you started (in alphabetical order):

Presentation Philosophy and Tips

  • Beyond Bullets—This is a great Web site on how to use presentation software more effectively. The content is very stimulating—and will challenge your presuppositions. Guaranteed. This is not a collection of more templates and clipart. Instead, it presents serious thinking about the way you use your software and how to improve your effectiveness.
  • DesignSense—This company advertises itself as “graphic design training for businesspeople.” It contains a series of design lessons for people (like me!) who have no formal graphic design training. They claim that the training you receive on the site is equivalent to a 40-hour graphic design course. However, it is condensed into 12 hours of computer-based training. It costs $59.00.
  • MasterViews—This site is actually a blog. It offers a large collection of very specific and very practical PowerPoint tips. Comments from readers further enhance the value of the content. The site also offers news related to new PowerPoint add-ins and related hardware (like wireless pointers and mice).
  • Presentation Zen—If you are going to visit one size, this is it. This is Garr Reynold’s blog on issues related to presentation design, technique, and delivery. He provides real-live examples of great presentations and not-so-great presentations. I learn best by seeing concrete examples. Garr does a great job of showing you what works and why.
  • Presenters Online—This site is sponsored by Epson. It contains a variety of helpful articles and resources related to PowerPoint software and presentation hardware. Naturally, the purpose of the site is to sell Epson hardware; however, I still found it useful.
  • Presenters University—This site is sponsored by InFocus, a competitor to Epson. It is one of the best siites for PowerPoint training. It contains a number of courses that you or your staff can work through. It has tons of articles, software you can download and try, and even an “Ask the Professor” bulletin board where you can get answers to your specific questions.
  • Projector Solution—This site has many resources. I found one article particularly helpful. It is called “The Art of Communicating Effectively: Tips about all aspects of pulling off a successful presentation!” It’s must reading for every PowerPoint presenter.
  • Really Bad PowerPoint—This is a controversial white paper written by Seth Godin, the author of The Big Red Fez, The Purple Cow, and Permission Marketing [affiliate links]. You can download it for free here. (Note: this is a direct link to the PDF file.) You may not agree with Seth’s conclusions, but it will definitely stimulate your thinking. I distributed the article a few years ago to my staff following a very tedious sales conference presentation. They read the article, made adjustments, and dramatically improved their presentation at the next sales conference. This article is great for squashing the tendency to make your slides too copy-intensive and bullet-heavy.
  • Tony’s PowerPoint Weblog—This blog bills itself as the Internet’s first business weblog dedicated to PowerPoint, presentations and related topics. It contains many short, insightful tips bound to improve your PowerPoint presentations.

Themes and Templates

  • Crystal Graphics—This is a great source for PowerPoint add-ins that enhance the basic program. Television-like transitions, 3D Titles, supershapes, and custom templates are some of the more popular add-ins. I have purchased several of these in the past and found the quality excellent. My only caution is that some of the effects, particularly the television-like transitions, require some serious hardware horsepower.
  • KeynotePro—This site provides Keynote themes for professionals. They are stunning. I have used most of the themes at one time or another. Highly recommended.
  • Keynote Theme Park—This site provides some really good Keynote themes, too. I have purchased several of them. You can download individual themes or collections. The site also has some Keynote tips that I found helpful.
  • Jumsoft ThemesThis site provides some good, but not great, Keynote themes. If you can’t find what you want elsewhere this is worth a look.
  • PowerPoint ImageObjects—This site offers a collection of what others call “floating objects.” These are graphic objects with transparent backgrounds that appear to float on top of the slide. The site offers collections of symbols and shapes, metaphor objects, numbers, bullets, and other objects. These objects are very cool and very professional.
  • PowerPoint Templates Pro—This is yet another collection of professionally produced PowerPoint templates. You can purchase single templates or a collection of templates. The site’s customers include a impressive roster of Fortune 100 companies.
  • Presentation Plates—Yet another collection of PowerPoint templates. If you haven’t found what you are looking for, this site is worth checking.
  • ZapIt Media—This is another collection of PowerPoint templates. But these are very different and very cool. Like PowerPoint Templates Pro, you can download single templates or collections.

Images and Videos

  • AbsoluVision—This is a royalty free collection of images in the JPEG2000 format. (This is the new JPEG format that offers better quality at higher compression.) These are excellent images, many them depicted as floating objects. The price is $39.99 a month (download up to 300 images) or $79.00 a year (download up to 3,600 images). If I can’t find it on iStockPhoto (see below), I come here next.
  • iStockPhotoI use this site almost daily. It’s my primary source for blog and presentation images. The images are cheap, usually a dollar or so, depending on the size and resolution. This has become my one-stop source for stock photos.
  • Jumsoft Keynote Stills—This is a collection of floating objects. It includes some 260 images. They are excellent. I use them regularly. The collections costs $39.00.
  • MovieMinistry.com—About a year ago, I started using video clips in my presentations. Since then, it has become a staple. It’s a great way to illustrate a point in a compelling and entertaining way. The challenge is to find appropriate clips when you need them. Enter MovieMinistry.com. This subscription-based Web site ($69.95 a year) has thousands of references to clips, tagged by category. (Note: the site doesn’t offer the clips themselves. Instead, it offers a comprehensive database of the clips. You’ll still have to buy the DVD.) It offers you a number of ways to search for clips and even provides appropriate set-up copy and application suggestions. While this site is primarily designed for churches and ministry leaders, you’ll find it equally useful in a business context.
  • Microsoft Clip Gallery Live—This is Microsoft’s clipart site. It is a decent resource and it’s free. However, I prefer iStockPhoto.com. It’s probably worth checking here first to see if you can find what you need. If you find that it just doesn’t have enough horsepower, then you can use iStockPhoto.com or some other subscription site.
  • PowerFrameworks—This side provides conceptual graphics that you can use to illustrate workflows, business processes, or conceptual relationships. This is a very helpful tool for making complex ideas simple—and elegant. It is expensive—$249.95 a year—but if you make frequent use of these types of graphics, it’s a whole lot cheaper than doing it yourself.

Related Software

  • Excelsius—This is my favorite charting program for PowerPoint. Unfortunately, there is not a Mac version (though you can run the output on a Mac). It essentially creates animated flash movies, based on Excel data. It is highly customizable and very sophisticated. This also makes for a somewhat steep learning curve. However, if you want your charts to have the “wow” factor, no other charting program I have tried comes close.
  • ImageWell—This is an essential tool for simple manipulation of images. Sure, Adobe Photoshop can do everything this application can do—and a whole lot more. But therein lies the problem. It is overkill for most of the simple things I need to do—resizing, cropping, etc. Image Well is a simple solution. It does a few things really well—and fast. Best of all, it’s free!
  • MindManager X5—This used to be one of the five most-used pieces of software on my computer. Since switching to the Mac, I use NovaMind, even though MindJet, has a version of MindManager for Mac. Regardless, mind-mapping software will change forever the way you plan and prepare your presentations. It is essentially a brainstorming tool that allows you to create “mental maps” of your presentations. It will help you quickly get all your ideas out of your head and then organize them. In my experience, this tool provides a much faster path to the final result than any other tool I have ever used. When you are done with your map, you can export it directly to PowerPoint. Both software developers offer 30-day trial versions of their software.
  • Ovation—This site takes PowerPoint presentations and enhances them. It does stuff that you cannot do in PowerPoint alone. I haven’t personally tried it, but it looks interesting. The demo was impressive.
  • PowerPoint Add-Ins—This is a collection of mostly useful add-ins written by PowerPoint Guru, Shyam Pillai. My favorites are the “Handout Wizard for PowerPoint,” which allows you to create customized layouts, “Rename Shape/Slide Add-in, enables you to rename slides and shapes by clicking on them, and ”Toolbox for PowerPoint,“ which provides a collection of Shyam’s VBA code snippets for PowerPoint.
  • PresentationPro—This site offers some very cool tools not found anywhere else. For example, EmailPRESENTER allows you to e-mail a PowerPoint presentation to someone within the body of the e-mail itself (rather than as an attachment). OnlinePRESENTER is similar, in that it allows your Web site visitors to run a PowerPoint presentation on your site without having to download the presentation and run it within PowerPoint itself.
  • ProfCast—This is a tool for recording lectures, including PowerPoint or Keynote slides, and then distributing them as podcasts. I haven’t personally used it, but it looks slick. I am looking for an opportunity to give it a whirl.

Miscellaneous

  • Indezine—This is a great PowerPoint information site run by Geetesh Bajaj, a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP. It contains PowerPoint articles, links, reviews, and templates. Geetesh also sends out a weekly ezine on PowerPoint. The reviews page is especially helpful. He lists almost every known PowerPoint add-in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an RSS feed—at least that I could find.
  • PixelImage—If you want to employee a professional design firm to design your presentation, this is one of the best. They have done work for Starbucks, Microsoft, Philips, and ASCAP. If nothing else, their site may provide inspiration for designing your own presentation.

If you have other resources that I have missed, please use the comments feature (see below) to share your favorites.

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  • http://www.maniactive.com/states/blogger.html Laura

    The Indezine RSS feed I found is at http://feeds.feedburner.com/APowerpointBlog

  • Bryan Ewbank

    You missed the best “proof by counterexample” website, by a “powerpoint comedian”, here:

    http://www.technicallyfunny.com

    Click through for his demos – you will laugh at most of his stuff if you’ve ever been in a standard presentation.

  • http://justpeachy.typepad.com Trey

    Hi Michael,

    Great post.

    I frequenty read Guy Kawasaki’s blog at http://blog.guykawasaki.com. A few weeks ago, he wrote about the 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint. No more than 10 slides, no more than 20 minutes, and nothing less than 30 point font so everyone can read it easily.

  • Andy

    I agree about NovaMind – it has totally changed my life! And now they have a really good windows version too (their original attempt at Windows wasn’t too hot, but the latest version has the Ribbon bars, great user interface, and is as good as the Mac version). I’ve been using NovaMind for over 4 years now, and the company is very responsive and have developed rapidly – this is now the best Mind Mapping application I have seen on both platforms – and I’ve pretty much tried them all.

  • http://thomasnelson.com Brian Mitchell

    A few other great resources include http://www.BrainyBetty.com for PowerPoint templates and http://www.FreeFoto.com for…well, you guessed it.

  • http://www.ecpa.org Michael Covington

    Wow, thanks for all of the helpful links! I have begun using rChart, which adds a touch of flair to boring Pivot Table charts, etc. It is a bit cumbersome to use intitially, but with some practice can spice up a presentation. http://www.robjects.com

  • Jeromy

    Great post. Just one thing, though. Your link to Presentation Zen does not take people to Presentation Zen. It takes them to Jumsoft. I think you meant to link to http://www.presentationzen.com

    I only discovered this because I’m actually checking out all of those resources. Very helpful.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Jeromy,

    You’re right. Thanks for catching this. I have actually corrected it above, so the link should work now.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • Clay

    Thank you for a great post. I really appreciate the extra time it took to pull it all together. I’m not in a corporate setting, but I needed this information. We use PowerPoint for our Christian parenting conferences, but we haven’t really moved much beyond just projecting outlines and content. I know where we need to go, and your post (and the comments, too) gives me a great starting point for learning how to present our heart messages more effectively and powerfully to parents. Thanks!

  • http://makeitgreat.typepad.com/makeitgreat/2007/02/new_discovery_f.html Phil Gerbyshak Challenges You to Make It Great!

    New Discovery: From Where I Sit

  • http://www.ideacenter.com/ Danraj

    This is nice article the business brainstorming is useful to people about the business ideas. An excellent tool for facilitating brainstorming sessions within the team. Who are interesting about the more information visit about this site
    business brainstorming

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  • http://www.vakil.org Arif

    I was in the process of preparing for my presenation, and I was bored with my Kenote Theme. I just knew that if I'd just "search for Keynote Themes" in MichaelHyatt.com I'd find some great resources . And whaddaya know, I did. Thanks for posting this Michael. This post is over 3 years old. You've probably refined the resources you use now for your Presentations, would be really glad to receive an update to this post. cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/allenfuller Allen Fuller

    Preparing for a presentation for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, and these resources were just what I needed to get organized. Thanks!

  • Andreass

    An exzellent tool is slide executive. A database for your slides. Great and very effective

  • http://twitter.com/r_lewis Ricky Lewis

    I can’t imagine how you would keep up with this but several of the links in this post are broken. Specifically,  Excelsius, NovaMind, & Ovation didn’t work for me. Just thought I’d mention because I was hoping to look at them.

    Of course, there may be newer options available 4 years laster anyway. Thanks.

  • http://theintentionalhome.blogspot.com/ Su@TheIntentionalHome

    I am fairly new here.  I am looking for some help on creating videos. I am interested in creating a video class of all the classes I teach locally so that I may reach
    more people. The handouts to the videos could be pdf downloads and they could be emailed along
    with the video links to those who purchase the video class online.  So all that to say. . I am looking for resources. I know nothing about the tech side of this. .. would it be best to create DVDs (I think not, I think to have everything online woud be best), webinars (but aren’t those just for one date and specific time) or buy the online video and handouts with expiration date.  Anyone know of any resources or a direction to point me?  I will continue to look in Michael’s archives. . but if anyone knows of a specific post that would help, could you let me know? Thanks in advance!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might check out Kajabi.com.

  • Liane Faneca

    Thank you, Michael, for always sharing such useful information.

  • http://www.billysbilling.com/ Nikki R

    I was a bit surprised to see Slideshop.com wasn’t on this list. They truly do have some of the most professional Powerpoint templates I’ve seen from websites in Powerpoint design niche. Anyone who knows me professionally knows how much I hate bullet slides. Slideshop makes it easy to turn simple bullet pages into attractive charts, maps and timelines.

  • Ankit G

    Hi,
    I am using keynote and really want to take my skills to next level.
    Thanks for providing resources. The list of resource given is 6years back. I am very curious to know whether you have updated the list and if yes, can you please refer me to updated link? Thanks a lot and keep the good work!!

  • Anna Chyshcheva

    Stylish designs can be downloaded for free at http://www.smiletemplates.com/

  • http://www.PoweredTemplate.com Lee

    Let me tell you few words about PoweredTemplate.com.

    There are thousands backgounds and templates on their paymant section but they have a lot of free PowerPoint templates too : http://www.poweredtemplate.com/free-ppt-powerpoint-templates.html

    And each type of templates ( diagrams, brochures) has its own free templates section. Not registration, abs free, try it.

  • http://www.clippingpathbusiness.com/ Clipping Path

    I constantly find your arguments well structured and sensible. I always prefer to read the class and glad I found this thing in you post.

    Clipping Path