This article is more of an idea article to get your ol' creative juices
flowing and help you look that much more professional next time you need to
put on a presentation or conduct a little training seminar. Much of this information
has already been presented, separately, in TechTrax. So allow me to tie it all
I recently taught an Outlook class to new users. I was somewhat amazed that
so many folks made mention of my little Break Time presentation that
I would set to run as the class broke and folks shuffled in and out of the classroom.
This is something I learned to do after seeing it done at a Microsoft TechNet
session, many years ago. Realizing how many people were apparently
unfamiliar with the concept, I thought it would be good to share this idea with
Let's say you have a presentation to give or you've been asked to do a little
techno teaching for your office staff. As with any assemblage of folks, it'll
take a little time to get everyone into the room and settled down so you can
A terrific tool to have handy is a Break Time presentation.
As people are coming in for your presentation, you have this fun, little slide
show running on the wall to keep them entertained. Be sure it includes some
music that isn't too loud, but loud enough to be noticed when you stop it. When
you are ready to begin, just stop the presentation. The music will end and the
sudden change in the sound of the room will easily draw everyone's attention
to you. This gives you a perfect in to begin speaking...without the
need to make a fuss to get everyone's attention!
Play the presentation again when you allow your attendees a little session
break and then stop it again to let them know it's time to get back to work.
It works great and makes you look like the consummate professional...prepared!<wink>
But I Don't Have Time to Put Together a Musical Presentation!
Betcha do! You can literally do it in about 10 minutes and the value it'll
add to your professionalism is worth the few extra minutes.
Take a look at your presentation. Is there anything in there that you can use
as fun questions that can be run as the visual part of the presentation? For
the Outlook class I recently taught, my training manual had a glossary of terms
in the Word document version of the manual. Bingo! Instant material.
Note! If you can't find anything worthy, you have my permission
to swipe any of the TechTrax
Assessment Quiz questions to use in your presentation as entertainment (hit
our archives and start swiping, just please be sure to add the TechTrax
copyright in a tiny corner of each slide!). Geeks love being drilled
As Geetesh explained in his TechTrax article: Creating
PowerPoint Presentations from Word Outlines, it's very easy to quickly create
a whole slide presentation just from some bullet items in a Word doc.
I highlighted the glossary in my manual, opened a new page in Word and dropped
in the terms with their definitions. Clicked View > Outline
(or hit the Outline icon at the bottom of Word's application window, as shown
below) and my bulleted text became an instant outline in Word.
I then clicked File > Send To > Microsoft PowerPoint and
voila—I have an instant 29 slide presentation!
Okay, so it's a little boring as it is. No problem. I can fix that in a jiff!
I click Format > Slide Design, scroll down the list of
predesigned presentation designs that come with PowerPoint and double click
on the one I want. All 29 slides are now formatted with this new design. Much
Now I just need to add some cool music to keep my students awake between my
And if you think finding quality, motivational music is a battle of searching
the Internet, allow me to enlighten you. Thanks to my wonderful brother-in-law,
Chapman, who creates these fantastic DVDs of his mountain climbing adventures,
I know of a great site where you can get very cool, royalty free music.
Go hit FreePlay Music,
Inc. There you can surely find just what you want to add to get that perfect
feel to your presentation.
You can get a quick taste of a promising sound by clicking the short version
and then right click to download the full version when you find the music you
want. I recommend you use the MP3 versions, as they load faster and are much
smaller than the WAV files.
Now I jump over to Geetesh's other TechTrax article that tells me how to easily
add MP3 sound files to my presentation and follow his directions to drop in
my music. See Sound
Across Slides for details.
I follow Geetesh's instructions in the article to setup the music automatically
and make any custom adjustments to the way the presentation animates from slide
to slide, save it and it's done.
In PowerPoint, you can now click File > Pack and Go to
roll your entire presentation, mobile PowerPoint viewer (so there's no need
to worry whether PPT will be installed on the seminar PC), and music file into
a self-running executable file.
I now have this really cool factoid, musical presentation to entertain the
masses between sessions.
Last step...so how do I take my presentation with me, if I'm not sure what
type of equipment I'll have available at the seminar location? If you read my
TechTrax article this month on The
Perfect Tech (Geek) Gift, you already know that answer.
Copy it to your new Flash Drive. Toss it in your briefcase and you're set.
When you get to the training room, plug your Flash Drive into the USB port
on the training PC, hit Windows + E to access Windows Explorer, double click
on your Flash drive, double click on your presentation...and turn up the volume.
And just like the games we played as kids, when the music stops...everyone
must quickly find a seat!<wink>