PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

PowerPoint Tips and Tricks to help you look elegant.

PowerPoint Tips

  1. Put the audience first; what do they need and what will help them?
  2. Be certain about your desired outcome before you start designing slides.
  3. Read from your notes or laptop, never from the screen. Preferably don’t use notes at all; you know your stuff.
  4. Keep the amount of information on the slide to a minimum and use high quality images rather than text if appropriate.
  5. Use one font and one background for text; keep it consistent. Make sure that your theme matches you or your organisation.
  6. Make your slides clear; use contrast and a large font (two sizes max).
  7. Use short sentences; slides are visual aids not a reading test.
  8. Limit the number of points on a slide; four is enough.
  9. Limit transitions and animations; use what is appropriate to your audience.
  10. Get to know (practice!) PowerPoint tips and tricks so that you can use them elegantly.
  11. Practice – practice being brilliant. Practice out loud and practice with others.
  12. Have a back up plan – always!
  13. Finish professionally with a flourish.

PowerPoint Tricks

  1. Show presenter view on your laptop;  click on Slide Show tab, then select Set Up Show. In Multiple monitors box, select monitor to display slide show on. Tick Show Presenter View and your speaker notes will display on your laptop.
  2. F5  starts your slideshow.
  3. Shift F5  starts slideshow from current slide.
  4. Full stop or b blacks out the screen.  Repeat to return to slideshow. Turning the screen off brings your audience’s attention back to you.
  5. Comma or w whites out the screen.  Repeat to return to slideshow.
  6. Number Enter takes you to that slide e.g. “5 enter” takes you to slide, which is so much more elegant than scrolling through.
  7. Right click brings up the menu.

Remember: you are not the projectionist, you are the event – the energy comes from you.

Help Your Team Find Some Solid Ground

Many businesses are going through a period of great change where the solid ground is frankly now a bit wobbly:

  • some are thriving
  • many are having to adapt business models to provide very different services
  • and some are doing the same thing but in quite different ways

What is true for all of these scenarios is that bringing your staff along with you is vital, whether you are busy or having to start again from scratch. Good supervision of your staff is always important but particularly so during periods of uncertainty; staff need to know what you expect of them in order to feel confident. They need to know what it means to do good work and to do it well. They also need to know that you will support them and the limits within which they can work.

Standing on solid ground
In difficult times we need to stand on something solid.

Helping Staff Stand On Solid Ground

1 – Purpose. Make sure that they understand what the purpose of their job is and how vital they are to your business. Unless they truly know why they are doing what you are asking them to do, they are working blindfolded.

2 – Outcome Focused. Be specific about what the outcome is rather than focusing on the methodology or a list of tasks. Give deadlines and explain why these deadlines matter.

3 – Flexibility. Having explained what you want and by when, give staff as much flexibility as possible to do things their own way. Let them know what the boundaries are, e.g.

  • budget limits
  • house style and values
  • competitive practices
  • policies on customer service, health and safety, IT guidelines etc.

…then get out of their way!

 

4 – Give them credit. Give constructive feedback on what they are doing well. Be specific. “You are doing fine” is not helpful; no-one knows what you mean by that and therefore cannot reproduce it.

5 – Stand in their shoes. Your staff are likely to be feeling a bit distracted: juggling home life and work, worrying about family and friends, concerns about their own health, uncertainty about the future. Check how they are really doing and cut them a bit of slack. In the long run, your empathy will breed loyalty.

6 – Prepare for mistakes. Help them to learn from mistakes rather than make them fearful of ever making a mistake again. Fear shuts down effective working practice like a nasty virus! Matthew Syed’s research on learning from mistakes shows that organsiations that embrace mistakes and learn effectively from them have a super power over their competitors.

There is other help for you and your team here.

What To Do When You Are Feeling Anxious About Work

This is the second part of an e-mail that I sent to my friend who was feeling very anxious about work.  She thought she was being pushed out and abandoned. Maybe she was being paranoid, or maybe she wasn’t. The first part of the email, introducing David Rock’s SCARF model is here.

This then, is the good news; what to do about it. And it’s all about taking control.

What Do You Do About A Work Place That Feels Threatening?

1. This is SO important. The feelings are caused by hormones. They are not the reality. If you were to get drunk and feel like you could fly that would also not be real.

What you need to do is manage the hormones by a) taking any medication that you are on b) getting exercise, sleep and good nutrition c) managing the things that are triggering the hormones  d) accepting that the triggers are not helping and telling your brain

 “just shut up! I’ve got this thank you; pumping cortisol around is not helping. Brain – wind your neck in!”

2. Get really honest with yourself about a whole host of things.

SWhat is your self-worth? Writing out/updating your C.V. might be a good exercise right now. Your worth is not linked to how well you are being treated; they are separate things. What are your skills and aptitudes, what experience do you have etc.? Also, who loves you? Why do they love you? Are they stupid? No. So what is it about you that is lovable, useful, clever, needed?

CThe future is a scary place when we don’t know what it is. So sit down and write out some possible scenarios. What might happen realistically? Winning the lottery is not a plan, by the way.  What can you do to make the best of those scenarios? What can you do now to prepare? (You will notice that none of the realistic, likely scenarios include an axe murderer turning up and yet that’s what your brain is preparing you for.)

AWhat CAN you take control of? Look at all of the things you make decisions about. You’ve got this.  You are not helpless; you have skills and abilities. Take some control and you will feel better; your brain needs this. Ignore the stuff that you can’t do. What CAN you do?

RPart of the problem is that you don’t feel safe with your work colleagues. But again, they are not about to attack with an axe. Contributing to this situation is being left out of the loop as far as information goes.  So you need to be a bit demanding for some information. More of that later.

FThis situation doesn’t feel fair. But actually it might be. The problem is that you don’t know.

And another thing

…your self-perception may be part of the problem. What do you believe about yourself that is not helping?  If we believe that we are helpless, stupid, mentally unstable, incapable etc. etc. etc. then to act differently takes quite an effort, because it goes against our habitual thinking – and habits are tricky little blighters. They are like bits of software code that give us short cuts. The habit of brushing our teeth the same way each morning stops us wasting mental processing power each morning. Habits are good. But our unhelpful beliefs (unhelpful habitual thinking patterns) are not and they are also unlikely to be true.

Beautiful sunset of calmness
Plan an escape route and take control.

The Action Plan – this is about getting some balance, reality, control and options.

When you are feeling anxious about work, or anything for that matter, it helps to take control. An action plan works wonders (if only to trick our brain into chillin’)

 

  1. Write out a list of at least 10 things about yourself that you like; this will help to re-balance your self-perception. This may take a lot of effort. Do it!
  2. If you can come up with 10 easily, that’s great; write 10 more.  If you struggle to find 3, then this is at the heart of the problem; you are undermining yourself. Persist. Put the list down and come back to it later.  Anyone who knows you well could write a list about you of thirty things without even breaking into a sweat. So write the list.  This may be the most important thing you do.
  3. Update your C.V – thinking about yourself in the third person can be really helpful too.
  4. Start to look about to see what other companies you could work for; just see what is out there. It will give you a sense that there are options; that feels better than feeling trapped.
  5. Now consider those future scenarios. What might happen?  Write them down. Doing this helps your brain (specifically the limbic system) understand properly what the threat is and also assures your brain that you are in control. Having it on paper can help you park it rather than keep going over and over the “what ifs.”
  6. Now write an e-mail to your company and ask politely but assertively for information. You have a right to be kept informed.
  7. Get someone to read it. Then press send.
  8. Add more to the list.
  9. Celebrate.
  10. You’ll be full of adrenaline so go for a walk to use it up. Then relax.

If this doesn’t generate a good response, then it’s time to look for another job. Instead of feeling anxious about work, imagine that; not working there anymore!

Why Are We Feeling Anxious During Lock-down?

Waves crashing against a groyne
Change can feel turbulent, which may be why are we feeling anxious during lock-down

I was speaking to a friend over the weekend who was feeling vulnerable at work before the lock-down and is feeling anxious during lock-down now that she is furloughed and out of any normal communication channels.  The management style in her organisation is pretty aggressive (and sulky) and she’s had no communication from her manager in a month. She’s had two standard letters from HR; the last one arriving to say that she would not be going back to work in two days time as indicated in her previous letter. She feels like she is being crashed about by waves that she can’t see.

This article is based on the e-mail that I sent her; if your work place feels threatening at the moment, and you are feeling anxious, then this is for you too.

 

E-mail to a friend who is feeling anxious during lock-down and shouldn’t be.

According to various pieces of research, there are a number of factors that have an impact on how we respond to situations (for example see anything by David Rock, Amy Brann, Prof Steve Peters, Jan Hills)

David Rock’s SCARF model gives us a structure for thinking about what is happening to us during change.  We respond either with a threat response or a reward response; we either like what is happening and get positive hormones or we feel threatened and we send out fear hormones, preparing us for our imminent death! This is all influenced by our own circumstance and how we view things. Nevertheless, organisations have a responsibility to not harm their staff; mentally and physically.

Status – our sense of personal worth

Questions to askHow does this affect my status? Does this impact on my credibility? Where am I on the pecking order? How do I compare to others?

Certainty – our sense of the future

Questions to askHow well can I predict the future? Do I know what is likely to happen next? Do I have the information that will help me predict the future?

Autonomy – our sense of control over our life

Questions to ask – To what degree can I make decisions and choices? What control do I have? What input do I have over the things that affect me?

Relatedness – our sense of safety with others

Questions to ask – Am I safe with other people? How much do I trust others? How connected do I feel? Am I in or out of the “in” group?

Fairness – our sense of fairness in the system

Questions to ask – Is what’s happening fair? Am I experiencing fair connections and exchanges with others? Is the system intrinsically fair?

Looking at this and asking the questions, you can see that almost every aspect of the current situation is likely to generate a threat response in you at the moment. Each of the areas is likely to trigger stress hormones. If you were on a battle field you could use that to beat everyone up; you would be invincible.  The trouble is that you can’t! So you are left with a mental soup of hormones telling you to run or fight but you can’t use those hormones up. It is no wonder that you are struggling – anyone would! You are in a constant state of alarm which needs turning down.

But there is good news here – what to do about it.

 

Your Anxiety is Not You – you are you.

All of us have certain things that trigger anxiety – these differ for each person because our life experience is different and therefore we have differing beliefs and perspectives. For some a trigger might be public speaking and for others it is dealing with someone who is a bit “difficult.” (We could have a long debate about what difficult means, but I’ll save that for another blog.)

Anxiety Is A Chemical – it’s not you.

We feel our anxiety because a specific part of our brain sees these things as threatening. Unfortunately this bit of our hard wiring reacts as if we are facing death. Therefore, our bodies get ready to run away (from a sabre-tooth tiger) or stand up and fight (with the axe wielding member of an enemy tribe.) It’s a primitive response that is not so helpful if what you are trying to do is speak to your boss! Phobias, like fear of heights, spiders, snakes, the dark etc, are extreme versions of this anxiety.

Understanding what’s going on is part of the battle. I took a friend sailing  a while back and was able to help him see a new perspective on his anxiety. I’ve written about it here. We have learned to be anxious about certain things. And we can unlearn it.

For The Future

I spoke at Chichester College’s Professional Student Graduation ceremony last night about the future. Students from Marketing, Accountancy, Human Resources and Learning & Development received their certificates and then contemplated what’s next. As the guest speaker, this is the heart of the advice I gave them.

1 – Say Yes If You Can

When life offers you an opportunity, grab it with both hands even if it isn’t part of your plan and not what you were expecting. This is particularly important if someone else is saying “I think you would be great at this.” Doing a wide variety of things opens your horizons and makes you more effective.

Opportunities don’t always work out well but they are never wasted. We learn from the bad times as well as the good times. Say yes and make it yours.

2 – When You Say No, Let It Go

If you have to say no to an opportunity don’t waste your time wondering what would have happened differently – you will never know.  Sometimes we come across two paths and have to choose which one to go down. Whether you choose the path “less travelled by [1]” or the massive motorway, travelled by a million people before you, let the other path go.

3 – Stay A Student Forever

You will learn things today that in the future you will discover are not true. You must keep looking, studying, learning, challenging, testing yourself and what you know. Never give up being a student; it hasn’t finished, it has only just begun.

 

You can’t see the road ahead, only what is now and what has gone before. You can scream with excitement or you can scream with fear. Your choice – choose excitement.

 

[1] Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Why Is Dealing With Miscarriage So Upsetting?

Next week is Baby Loss Awareness Week.  Miscarriage and stillbirth, even in these enlightened times, are still taboo subjects.  But not being able to talk about it, just makes a very painful experience even worse. Here is a blog, that I posted as a guest blog last year, that might answer some questions and give a different perspective for those dealing with miscarriage – and for those seeking to support them.

The Darkness and Dawn of Miscarriage.

Darkness

Miscarriage is not the happiest of subject matters but a topic that affects so many people – about one in four pregnancies. I have written this in the hope of answering two questions:

  1. Why is dealing with miscarriage quite so upsetting?
  2. How do I support someone going through this?

I worked in a hospital at the time of my miscarriages. The obstetrician was fantastically supportive and kind, but many of my colleagues said the most appalling things to me; not from malice but from misjudgement. It was really confusing. It was hard enough to get my head around the fact that I had been a mother who had never held or kissed her child. To be subjected to pseudo-medical guesswork was just more than I could bear. After the first miscarriage I went into a form of shock. I was back at work on the Monday, apparently fine. By the Friday I was in pieces and I didn’t really understand why. Now I do understand why but it took a while to work it out.

For those dealing with miscarriage one of the hardest things to cope with is other people’s reactions. The problem, I believe, is created by a difference of perspective. For friends and family the miscarriage is a medical event – the pregnancy has stopped – but for the hopeful parents, what is lost is not the pregnancy but the baby in their arms. And it is this baby, fully imagined, fully cherished, that is lost. I have many friends who have also had this experience. Loved ones wanting to support but unsure of what to say, and because of their perspective getting it horribly wrong; the very people who should be pouring love and support, just end up pouring more darkness.

 

So How Do You Be Their Dawn? – for the mothers and their partners.

  1. Understand that you are helping someone who is grieving (as well as dealing with chaotic hormones and probably having undergone a fairly grim, clinical procedure.)
  2. Don’t assume that when someone says “I’m fine” that they are. And don’t assume that the “I’m fine” from yesterday is still true today or even in a month’s time.
  3. Don’t keep going on about it. Don’t get frustrated when they do.
  4. Do NOT say:

    “it was for the best” (it wasn’t – it really, really wasn’t the best)

    “at least you have your other child” (they are not consolation prizes)

    “well at least you know that you can get pregnant” (this was not a dress rehearsal; this was the real thing.)

  5. If you notice anyone saying the above, have a word.
  6. DO say:

    “I’m so sorry.”

    “How can I help?”

    “This is really sad news.”

    “I’m sorry that I don’t know what to say.”

  7. Hug them. Remember to hug the partner; they’re grieving too.
  8. Help. If you can, turn up and do the washing up, hoovering, making tea for visitors. They’ll be mortified that you did their washing up etc. but will also be relieved that it’s done. You have to play this one really carefully so have empathy dials up to max.
  9. Turn up with food; my friend Sarah turned up with a casserole and jacket potatoes already cooked and still hot – I just needed to put them on the plate. I sobbed.
  10. If you are their manager, treat them as you would after any bereavement. Take particular care to remember point 1 and 2.

I had a very spiritual experience a while ago that helped me deal with my own miscarriages. I share that here with the aim that it brings some peace, clarity and hope.

One final point; if you are currently dealing with miscarriage then you are not alone. The miscarriage association have a fabulous website. Speak to your friends and family; there will be people close by who have been through exactly what you are going through. Lean on them. Say yes to help. Be difficult. Rage. Love. Grieve.

Edit – 08/03/21 – For men there is also this new website – there is often no-one there for the men; well now there is. 

Five Levels of Twitter and Counting – which rung are you on?

People use Twitter to achieve different things and in different ways.  I’ve noticed that there appears to be a sort of hierarchy and, like most hierarchies, it’s unhelpful, especially to those on the lower rungs.

The Monarchy – the celebrities who Tweet about their meal choices. They do this because they think their fans want it, not because this is a normal thing to do in real life. They have to ignore the overwhelming flood of response.  They could of course just not Tweet but that’s not the point.

 

The Aristocracy – they Tweet to share their world view, opinions and experience. They expect to get a response; they just aren’t really interested in what that response is.  They have their connections already – they don’t need to make any more through Twitter, that’s not the point.  If they had to meet you in real life they would be frankly appalled.

The Gentry – they Tweet and generously respond and engage with their audience. They aren’t really interested in anyone on a lower rung but it looks like they are. After all, those people on the lower rungs may actually be unidentified Aristocracy.  If they met you in real life they wouldn’t recognize you, despite communicating with you for years!

The Yeomanry – they Tweet to share and receive. They want to use the process to build relationships with other people.  When they engage with the Gentry they think that they are engaging on their own rung, but they’re not. They want to meet you in real life – that is the point.

The Artisans – they have no idea what the fuss is all about and are just getting on with real life.

Please note:

This is just my opinion. None of this is true about anyone all of the time.  People who describe themselves as thought leaders have a special rung all of their own.

Working With Fear and Intent

I work in fear. I don’t mean I’m frightened, I mean I work in arenas where anxiety stops people performing to their best. Also, I work with intent; both my intent and the intent of those I am working with. I’ve discovered over the years that being clear about your intent and challenging your fears are pretty good ways to start dealing with things.

New Managers – what stops them excelling in supporting their staff or sorting out problems? Fear of getting it wrong, or being seen as weak and so being unclear about what they are trying to achieve.

Middle and Senior Managers – what stops them being great leaders? Facing the pressure from both directions; juggling expectations coming up and demands coming down. This leads to worrying that they might not be cutting it and even imposter syndrome.

Communications – what stops people being effective in their communications? Not deciding what outcome they are after, fear of what others are thinking and fear of stuffing it up.

Dealing with change – what stops people handling this well? Fear of the unknown, not facing those fears, not exploring what choices they have available and not reaching for a positive future state.

In many situations asking two questions of ourselves and others can open up a new perspective and so move things along swimmingly:

  • what are you frightened of?
  • what are you hoping to achieve?

I’ll spend my days helping people to answer these two questions. I didn’t set out to do this work; it came and found me when I started to address my fears and wonder what my purpose was.

We Notice What We Are Interested In

Our brains filter information

This is something that I have been thinking about for sometime – the way our brains filter information. We notice what we are interested in, sometimes to the detriment of what’s actually true. I’m even doing it writing this post!

Our brains filter information
A brain is a complex thing!

It’s helpful, as we can’t deal with all of the information available to us.

However, the down side is that we:

  • block some of the important information
  • assume that we have full knowledge about subjects
  • filter out information that doesn’t meet our world view

Here are a few examples:

“I hear it all the time.”

I heard someone describing how a group of people were talking about themselves and the work that they do. He was shocked by the words they used and how they were talking down their own impact. His theory was that there was a connection between how they spoke and their inability to get to senior people in their organisation.  “I hear it all the time” he said. At this point it became clear that he worked with individuals on their communication styles. And I thought “aha, you hear it all the time because you listen out for it.”  I wondered whether he “heard” them talking that way because that was his interest. He had a theory and was applying that to this situation by noticing what he was interested in and filtering out anything to the contrary.

“Those handouts were rubbish.”

A number of years ago I attended a workshop on dealing with conflict. The workshop was excellent. However, one of the attendees put in a complaint (and tried to include me in this “class action”.) His complaint was that the handouts were very badly produced. He was right, they were dreadful. However, the content of them was great and it shouldn’t have really undermined the day. But for this person it did. His job? He managed a reprographic department. For him the whole day was ruined because he couldn’t ignore the lack of professionalism over the handouts.

“That word keeps popping up.”

You hear a word or phrase for the first time then hear it 5 times in the following week. Did the universe just make up its mind to keep sharing this with you? No, it’s just that you are filtering for it. I learned the word ambit today. I wonder how long before I hear it again.

“That’s so irritating – how come no-one else notices!”

I train people to use PowerPoint effectively. It isn’t my life’s purpose but it does seem to figure a lot in my work. Consequently, since I notice what interests me, I notice a lot of poor practice. My intention is to ignore it but inevitably find myself making mental notes on how someone has done something wrong; drives me nuts. I’ve tried giving people resources to help them. I’ve even threatened to throw custard; I won’t of course. Well, probably not!

“I knew what they were like as soon as I saw them.”

We quickly make up our minds about a person or situation and then look for the information to back up our position, or alternatively, we ignore information that contradicts our judgement. This is not great when you are map reading. Its terrible if you are making judgements about people in an interview. And its potentially lethal if you are trying to diagnose an illness.

“I hear this all the time.”

Next time you find yourself saying “I hear this all the time” ask yourself why you hear it a lot. Is it because this is what is said, is it because you are listening to a selection of people who are all saying the same thing (and why is that, by the way?) or is it because you are filtering out other voices?

People have their pet theories and then find lots of examples that back these theories up; we notice what we are interested in. I hear it all the time.