Top 10 time saving tips for presentations

Let’s face it, we all spend too much time making presentations. That’s true whether it’s a small part of your job, or whether it is your job, like it was mine. I’m going to share with you my list of tools & tips that I used to use everyday to spend as little time as possible on making presentations for my clients! Some of them are obvious, others not so, but each should save you a bit of time, and added together, maybe a lot of time!


1. Some paper, a pen and some post-it notes.

ALWAYS start with a clean sheet of paper. NEVER start with an old deck of slides. Slides are cheap, but paper is cheaper. Scribble, draw, write, shuffle, discard, leave gaps, and pull together the structure of your presentation first. Only then, once you’ve built the outline, should you open your laptop and fire up some software.


2. A good template

Before I tell you what I mean by this, I’ll tell you WHY you should use one. One word: ‘time’. Having a proper template will save you a ton of time, and most people spend far too long on their presentations as it is. A good template is one that when being used, you spend most of your time inputting content, and not having to think about styling the content. When I say template, it’s really about having predetermined styles in all the default modes rather than a coloured background with a logo in the corner. Most corporate templates are overbranded with a restricted space for the content – a slide should be all about the content, not the branding! A good template should be simple, but with all the default colours, shapes, chart styles, font styles etc pre-determined so that when you add a new element to the page, it’s styled straight from the word go (this is the bit that most templates fail to include).


3. A well laid out toolbar

Coupled with a good template, a good toolbar will enable you to cut in half the amount of time you spend making slides. Add the most common tools that you use to the toolbar to save you finding them in the menus. If you really want to go ‘pro’ you should consider learning all the keyboard shortcuts too!


4. Google Image Search

Before all the IP lawyers come knocking, it’s worth pointing out that I use Google image search to find inspiration before I use a stock photo library – NOT to find unlicensed images. The beauty of Google is that it always returns something unexpected, something clever, something amusing or something closely related to but a bit left-field of the original search. These are the kind of images that you want to use, particularly if you’re trying to convey a concept or emotion. You can then use these images as a guide for the things you search for in no 5.


5. iStockPhoto

What did we do before iStock came along? I use iStock all the time. There are plenty of other libraries out there, but I find they’re the best mix of quality images, affordability and find-ability. Remember, 30 minutes trying to find the right image is 30 minutes you could have been doing something else. People get fixated with finding the right image or getting the layout perfect, but you have to remember that most images & layouts on a slide presentation are seen for a few seconds to a few minutes at the most – they don’t have to be perfect, just good enough.


6. Photoshop / Adobe Creative Cloud

Once upon a time, buying Photoshop, Illustrator and all the other goodies that Adobe has to offer was a HUGE investment. I seem to remember shelling out the best part of £2000 every time I needed an upgrade. Now you can get all of their software for a small monthly payment, and you can buy individual licenses for even less. If you can only afford one, get Photoshop, it’s incredibly powerful, and there are plenty of tutorials on the web if you’re a novice. There are a bunch of free alternatives – from the complex such as GIMP ( to the simple such as Pixlr ( Useful for simple tasks such as cropping & resizing images, removing backgrounds from logos and other everyday tasks.


7. Vectormagic

A little known tool, but brilliant for turning ropey low resolution logos that have been downloaded from the internet into crisp sharp ones on a transparent background. You can do this in Adobe Illustrator too, but the results from Vector Magic ( are way better (and it’s a lot cheaper!). Why use vectors? Vectors can be recoloured and resized without any loss of quality or pixelation.


8. An organised folder structure

If you’re making a big presentation, you can end up with hundreds, if not thousands of resources such as images, videos, spreadsheets. Get in the habit of naming things and filing them away in a way that will allow you to find them later. I’ve used the same folder structure for years, so I can always get back to an image to change it in a matter of seconds – and you WILL need to change things, even when you think you’ve made the FINAL_FINAL_v4!

  • 01_ppt - all the finished presentation files. Old versions don’t get deleted, just put in a sub-folder called X_old
  • 02_jpgall the ‘ready to import’ images after they’ve been cropped / resized / etc
  • 03_resourcestuff downloaded from the web before it’s been cropped / resized / etc
  • 04_from_clientstuff the client has sent over
  • 05_artPhotoshop and illustrator files, or any other ‘working’ file that’s used to produce files for the jpg folder

Using underscores is an old habit from the days when moving files between a Mac & a PC needed them, but as we move more and more to a world where all our content is stored in the cloud, it seems like a good habit to keep!


9. A library of images

This one took a long time to build up. Over the years, you get to see the same business issues occurring again and again across different industries at different times. I now have a ton of shapes & icons that i’ve drawn that can be re-used for any presentation I work on that cover these common themes. I’ve made them available for free on – they can be viewed and downloaded here:

horses for courses

10. PowerPoint / Prezi / Keynote

Some people are in one camp or the other – they prefer Keynote to Powerpoint, or Prezi to Keynote. I think it’s a real case of horses for courses. If it’s a big conference speech with a lot of video embedded, it would be Keynote every time because of the seamless way you can run Quicktime video in the slide. If it’s a pitch where there’s likely to be a Q&A, and the need to drill down into a topic, I’d go for Prezi to make use of the non-linear capabilities. If it’s an everyday internal presentation, with lots of data from charts and tables then without a doubt I’d use Powerpoint – it’s a very mature and feature rich product. Choose the right one for the job in hand and you can save yourself a lot of pain later on. Whichever you choose, all will suffer from badly designed content, so make sure you’ve thrashed it out with your pencil and post-it notes before you load up one of these babies.

This is just my top 10, if you have any time saving ideas that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

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How to record slides and audio using

Need to record a presentation but can’t deal with the stresses of a web-cam?

Don’t have time to tidy your room, slap on some make-up, or fix your hair? Sometimes its simply a little more relaxing to sit down in your PJ’s with some notes in front of you, and bang out a pitch for work, a presentations for school, or a lecture for students without the stress of being recorded on video!

Thankfully, has a fantastic solution – simply record your audio! To see an example, have a ganders at the below!


Step 1: Go on, and sign up for an account! Then, having logged on, click the ‘create’ tab and select the ‘Slides and Audio’ option. Here you can also upload a previously recorded audio file, but lets say that you want to record on! Select the appropriate option, and click the ‘proceed button’!


Step 2: You’ll be taken through to an upload page. Upload your slides, or PDF, and when its done, it will take you through to the conversion screen!



Step 3: Once we’ve converted your slides, click the Record button, and you’re ready to begin!


Step 4: You’ll see your slides on the left, and all you need to do is click the record button, click through your slides and begin talking. Click the pause button if you need to read over your notes, and if you make a mistake, click ‘trim’, use the blue trimming tool to slide back to before the mistake, and tap record to carry on from that point – it’s easy!


Step 5: Click ‘End & Review’ Then fill in the title of the presentation, add a description, watch it back, check its how you want it to look, and then you’re good to go!

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The Results of our Persuasiveness Test

If the internet was to vanish tomorrow, never to return, how many people would you lose contact with?


Over the last decade, we have become increasingly dependent on the interactions that we have with people online. In an online community that is expected to triple in size over the next four years, we expect to see people uploading more informat ion, staying in touch with more people, and spending more money.

Online communication is at the very heart of our browsing experience. Today, text adverts win our clicks on google, picture ads steal our attention when we’re scrolling, and marketing emails slip through our ‘junk’ filter, only to clog up our inboxes. We Skype call
friends and family from thousands of miles apart, give the world a glimpse into our lives through 140 character tweets, and immortalise those never-again moments by uploading the footage to YouTube. All these forms of communication, no matter what median, are ultimately passing on information between users.

As presenters and communicators, whether it be at work, in education, or at home, the challenge is understanding how to, most persuasively, present our message online.

Is it a wordy document that can be read at one’s own pace? Is it the case that pictures do indeed speak louder than words? Or are people more likely to watch something that simply demands the click of a play button? We wanted to create an experiment to give us insight into how the same message, when presented through different online medians, can affect persuasiveness.


Over the last year, we’ve found that students have started using to make video CV’s. So we decided to launch a Google adword campaign that publicised this.  We then built 5 almost identical landing pages (an example) that communicated the same concept, with the same proposal, but presented in 5 different ways:

  • PDF  (Words only)bloglanding
  • PowerPoint slides (Words with pictures)
  • Video (Video only)
  • PowerPoint slides with an audio voice-over (Words, pictures, + audio)
  • Video and PowerPoint slides (Video, words + pictures)


The total experiment lasted for a little over a week. Our adverts popped up over half a million times, and were clicked on over 4,000 times. Each click then led to one of the 5 landing pages listed above. At the bottom of each landing page was a call to action button. Our logic was that if people were convinced, then they would click this button that said “make a video CV”, if they got bored, or weren’t impressed then they would click off the page. We hoped that this would give us a little more insight into the most effective form of communication.


Of all those that clicked the call to action button at the bottom of the landing page, here are the percentages of ‘click through’s that came from each of the 5 landing pages:

  • PDF only (Words only) – 13.4%
  • PowerPoint slides only (Words with pictures) – 19.7%%
  • Video Only (Video) – 21.6%
  • PowerPoint slides, with an audio voice-over (Words, pictures, + audio) – 20.3%
  • One with Video and PowerPoint slides (Video, words + pictures) – 25.0%


1. Pictures with words are better than words by themselves!

As one might have expected, having pictures there to enhance the words that were written seemed to encourage people to click on. We actually found that not only did less people click through on the words only landing page, but the people that went off the page, went off the quickest. It seemed that impatience played a role

2. Video is most effective when accompanied by slides!

Video CV

Just as we had hoped, the landing page with both slides and video came out on top; more people were persuaded by that format of communication. Presenting next to slides enhances our message, and makes what we’re saying more memorable. Could you use to increase the persuasiveness of your content?

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