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Yes, for the most part. Sometimes the books go into a little more detail on subjects and workshop sessions offer the advantage of having an expert show exactly how to do tasks … but the overall subjects covered are the same. The only exception is that workshop sessions assume you already know the content of book 1: PowerPoint Mastery. Level 1 workshop sessions cover parts of books 2 and 3, as well as all of book 4. Level 2 workshop sessions cover the rest of books 2 and 3, and all of book 5. You can master visual language methods by either learning choice.

Yes, under one condition. So long as all slide shows associated with your platform exist inside a single folder, what we call the platform folder, you are safe to move that folder to any other computer, or any storage device for that matter. All the links remain valid and work perfectly in that case. In fact, we recommend backing up your platform folder on two separate thumb drives before heading into a speaking event. That way if something goes wrong with your computer, it’s easy to stick one of the thumb drives into any other computer and you’re off and running— presenting directly from that thumb drive. The alternate computer must have PowerPoint installed, of course.

No. Starting with the templates definitely makes getting a presentation platform in place easier and faster, and significantly reduces your initial learning curve. Nevertheless, the Visual Language Book Series covers all the steps necessary for building the three template shows yourself, from scratch. The books contain everything needed to be a stunningly effective visual communicator. Also note, however, that the templates are provided at no additional cost upon signing up for the level 1 visual language workshop sessions. The workshops, furthermore, cover a great detail about customizing and working with the templates.

Yes. Every aspect of the templates’ design can be changed. All colors, fonts, positioning of navigation elements,  arrangement of layouts, and so forth are fully changeable, just like with any other PowerPoint slide show. Just keep in mind that most of the design elements present in the templates exist on the Slide Master rather than on actual slides. Accordingly, you’ll make most changes on the Slide Master. Be sure to save a copy of the template files first before modifying them, in case you wish to return to the original look and start over again. The template package comes with access to an hour-long video showing the most common ways you may want to customize your files. The Visual Language Books and Workshops go into even more detail.

The final color scheme of your dashboards and content shows is completely up to you. Aspire’s Template Package files, for example, can be customized in every way. You can change all the colors as desired to match your organization’s branding and design schemes.

We prefer keeping dashboard slides and the background of content slides as dark as possible because dark colors do not display as brightly when shown through a projector—and therefore do not attract as much attention as lighter, brighter colors do. That’s good, considering you really don’t want dashboards or content slide backgrounds attracting viewer attention. You want audiences focused on content, not how you get to or frame content. Keeping dashboards and slide backgrounds dark causes content to stand out in comparison … as it should.

Sort of, yes. Just about everything you’ll read in the Visual Language Books or explore in Visual Language Workshops can be adapted to work on an Apple computer running a Mac version of PowerPoint. I say “sort of” because Mac versions of PowerPoint are poorly designed. For example, they use absolute links rather than relative links, which means it’s relatively easy to break your presentation platform’s hyperlinks when moving presentation materials around to a different location on your computer. Also, link performance on a Mac is inconsistent. Sometimes a link requires only a single click but occasionally you’ll need to double-click—for no obvious reason why. And, moving around between hyperlinked slide shows is a slow process compared to doing so with a PC. Bottom line: you can get away with designing your presentation platform on a Mac if that’s your only computer option, but we strongly recommend against it. A PC computer running a regular version of PowerPoint is much more efficient and consistent, and will spare you a lot of frustration. Here’s a tip. The 2016 version of PowerPoint is theoretically designed to run equally well on both a PC and Mac. If you must use a Mac computer for design and presentation, be sure to upgrade to that version or later.

Yes and no. If your tablet runs Windows (such as Microsoft’s Surface tablet), then PowerPoint works fine and you can use it to build, and move around within, your presentation platform. If your tablet does not have a Windows operating system (perhaps you have an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy instead) you are out of luck—with the current state of technology today, anyway. Non-Windows tablets typically do not support PowerPoint’s hyperlinks. Perhaps that fact will change in the future. Regardless, you are better off using a regular laptop, specifically a modern and reasonably fast PC.

air mouse for dynamic PowerPoint presentationOnce your presentation platform has been built, you’ll take advantage of the flexibility it offers—navigating to display separate pieces of content on demand. However, the clicker you formerly used when moving through linear slide shows is now basically worthless. You need a mouse that provides a faster, more accurate way of clicking links on slides. A piece of equipment we recommend is the air mouse by Gyration. It features a gyroscope inside that senses the motion of your wrist. And that means a small flick of your wrist is all it takes to quickly move the cursor to any location on the slide pane to click links. Thus, you can operate this mouse entirely in the air (no flat surface is needed) up to 100 feet away from your computer. In other words, you don’t have to stay trapped behind your computer. An air mouse gives all the mobility of a standard clicker, with the added benefit of easily clicking links. It’s a vital tool you’ll come to depend upon. In fact, we recommend owning two, to have a backup in case something goes wrong with the main one.

 

Placing a presentation platform on your organization’s server is certainly possible, but carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. One advantage is that those presentation materials then will be available to everyone who has authorization to use them. That is, multiple presenters (such as a sales team) can access the same platform anytime it’s needed. Another advantage of such remote storage is that any computer can be used for presenting—the platform doesn’t have to be stored physically on a particular presentation computer. A third advantage is that a server-based platform acts as a kind of “master.” Once updates are made, it always up-to-date for everyone. In other words, if someone makes a change to a slide show, that change shows up for everyone automatically—as opposed to making changes on one computer where the platform is stored physically and then having to copy those changed files to all other computers. Yet another advantage is that your organization likely has protocols in place to regularly backup the server’s content, meaning your materials are reasonably protected from loss without you having to do anything.

The disadvantages, however, arguably outweigh the advantages. Most platforms tend to have an overall very large file size , especially when they contain video clips. Your server’s administrator probably will be most unhappy with that fact. Plus, a platform’s performance tends to slow down considerably when server-based. You might find yourself waiting several seconds to see content after clicking links. And, of course, if you are presenting remotely—away from a direct connection to the server—you must have an active (and good) internet connection, a situation not always guaranteed while traveling.

The best of both worlds is to store your platform in both places, on the server or in the Cloud AND on your computer. That scenario provides the advantages of both configurations. We like to use Dropbox for Cloud storage. Be sure, through, also to install their software so that a physical copy exists on (and syncs with) your presentation computer.

If you have a lot of past presentation materials that exist in the standard 4 by 3 slide ratio, there’s no reason in the world for changing to the widescreen 16 by 9 ratio. Sure, the larger slides have more space for content, but so what? Assuming you have only a single idea on each slide—as should be the case anyway—standard-ratio slides provide plenty of space. On the other hand, if you intend to start from scratch and build new, highly visual slide shows to replace all the former bullet points, we recommend making your platform widescreen from the start. Microsoft has defaulted PowerPoint to wide-screen mode as of PowerPoint 2013 and that size likely will be the norm from now on. What you definitely DO NOT want to do is mix the two slide sizes. For example, if your Main Show has a widescreen configuration, make sure all your content shows do as well. Otherwise, while navigating, your content will appear to jump back and forth between the two sizes and thus unnecessarily distract viewers.

Yes, the navigation strips are visible to viewers, just like everything else on the slide pane. You can hide navigation elements if desired. They can be invisible (a process discussed in book 3 of the Visual Language Book Series) or you can use animations to bring hidden menus into view on demand (discussed in book 5). Generally, though, we recommend leaving most, if not all, of your navigation elements visible. They are not distracting to audiences, especially if given a very dark color. Audience attention focuses on slide elements that move or change. Navigation strips remain stationary while navigating and therefore attract little notice. Plus, being able to see navigation elements is important to you as speaker. Visible navigation provides visual cues throughout the talk. A quick glance at a navigation strip or dashboard during a talk is kind of like having a cheat sheet in front of you. It’s a good way to get reminders of upcoming topics and keep track of where you are in the talk’s agenda—not to mention being able to quickly find content while answering a spontaneous question.

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