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Music for your Presentations

There’s no doubt that music can be a great addition to a presentation. But where do you get music you can legally use? Well there are a couple of sites you should try. Both have tons of songs available for download with liberal usage licenses for non-commercial use. Some of the music is even free for use in your commercial work.
For your presentations, you’ll find that the majority of these artists only ask for attribution (just a credit at the end of your presentation will do). You can find every style from rockin fast to slow and dramatic. I suggest searching for instrumentals or for sound tracks as a start.
Try these great sites: dig.ccmixter and Jamendo.  The downloads are fast and the quality is very good.
Take a look at this little video I edited for our local (non-profit) film festival.  The music conveys the playfulness of the event.  So if you want to set a mood with your presentation, take a listen and grab a free download!

Use different fonts for your presentation for free

Many free font sites aren’t necessarily where you want to go when you need fonts for work or an important presentation. Questions about quality and copyright abound.

However, if you visit Font Squirrel, you’ll find free fonts that are specifically free for commercial use. These free resources can help you add some design flair to your presentation. Just remember to load the font on the computer you will use to present. I generally do that by putting a copy into the folder with my presentation. That way it will travel with me and can be easily installed if needed. Try Font Squirrel here.

Pixie – a free tool to pick up color

I’m a fan of little applications that do one thing, do it well and don’t use a lot of resources. Pixie is exactly that, and once you use it, you won’t want to design presentations without it. Need to match font colors to a photo or a logo in your presentation?
It only runs when you need it, so it’s not a resource hog. pick up colorJust start it from a desktop icon and cursor over anything on your screen – a photo, video, illustration, color on a website…

Pixie will produce the hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV values of that color!  Works with Windows  2000, XP, Vista or 7.

Pixie / Nattyware.

Online Presentation Tool: this web page will self destruct in…

Presenters, teachers, team leaders…do you need a temporary planning hub for an upcoming business project or classroom presentation? Well here’s a free online tool that will help you plan and execute. Now you can collaborate using a temporary web page that works like a wiki.  Just set up your temporary web page at disposablewebpage.com, and you can post information for review or editing by others.

Even better – it’s free (you don’t even have to sign up for an account unless you wish).
Use it to brainstorm, make notes for yourself or collaborate with others on projects, plans, ideas, meetings…


1. Choose a page name
2. Bookmark your URL so you can go back to the page and/or share it with your team. 
3. Save your Login Master Key (auto generated), and set an Editor Key if you want others to co-edit.
4. Set your own count down clock (up to 90 days) before self destruct!




I think this is a great free tool for classrooms collaboration, event planning, presentation reviews, project teams and so much more. We all know that planning and collaboration help us make better presentations, so this is a presentation tool you can really use.

Take a look at a temporary web page example I set up and check out some of the cool features. This tool has a simple visual editor, is intuitive, and has some great features and options: upload up to 5 photos, leave sticky notes, keep a history of all revisions to the page.

This free service is brought to you by:   disposableWebPage.com.

Teachers Using Technology

I really admire people who think outside of the box and come up with innovative tools for presenting information. That’s just what a pair of history teachers in Hawaii have done. You can listen to an interview with them on NPR and take a look at their videos for inspiration.

This video has had over 260,000 views! The right method can generate interest! They’re even popular on facebook.

Crossfading MTV and the History Channel

How do you reach young people in the classroom when they’ve grown up watching Youtube videos all day long? Amy Burvall is one half of the musical duo at the Le Jardin Academy in Hawaii responsible for a new sensation in education. Amy and her partner Herb Mahelona take popular songs that kids love – and then turn them historical. Amy joined us to talk about the personal origins of the project and how its changing the way she teaches.
via NHPR.org – Crossfading MTV and the History Channel

See all 50 of their history/videos at their YouTube channel.

Presenting with Google Docs

Take a look at Google Docs. Here’s proof that creativity can trump tools. Since it was made with software that does not support animations, this little demo is like making a stunning photograph with a pinhole camera instead of the latest mega pixel DSLR.
Although this presentation is clearly a promotion for Google Docs, but I think it serves as a great reminder that our creativity doesn’t have to depend on software. This cool show was made one frame at a time then played back to give the illusion of an animation.

Preparing for a Great Presentation

No doubt we would all love to present like Steve Jobs did. A lot of people think that truly great presenters are just “naturals”. But. according to Carmine Gallo, author of How to be Insanely Great in Front of any Audience – The Presentation Skills of Steve Jobs:

Truly great presenters like Steve Jobs visualize, plan and create ideas on paper (or whiteboards) well before they open the presentation software.

This slide show by Mr. Gallo has been viewed by over a hundred thousand people in the last couple of years, and one slide in particular is my inspiration for this post. Your presentations will improve if you adhere to this rule of thirds. Presentation software just isn’t designed for the initial planning process. Do your thinking, sketching and scripting with a white board or a note pad or sticky notes. Any method that helps you develop a free flow of ideas.

If you spend the majority of your time working on building slides, keep in mind that slides are meant to support your message, not replace it.

great presenters prepare
You can see the entire slide version of this presentation: The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs here.


Or buy the book it came from here:

Presenting Data – Charts or Infographics?

Since I just posted a resource for statistics, I thought you might need some inspiration for using statistics in an engaging way.  We aren’t all designers or illustrators, but looking at good infographics may just give you a different perspective about how to present data.

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education.

via Information graphics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Check out the Infographics section of GOOD for examples of truly creative ways to present information.   Infographics is a regular feature of this site and they have an article showing their most popular examples of 2010.

great infography

GOOD’s Most Popular Infographics of 2010 – Design

And while you’re there, give the Slideshow section a browse. Get inspiration for great slide graphics and content.

What does that number in your presentation really mean?

A lot of our presentations include statistics.  We use charts, graphs and numbers to tell our stories.

Statistics get thrown about for shock value sometimes, so understanding the data source, the sample size and the measurement referenced can help you decide if that headline is really meaningful.

statisticsIn case you have a few questions about exactly what a statistic means, check out this great reference called Statistics Every Writer Should Know.  Find everything from the basics (what is the mean, median, average?) to more advanced topics regarding sample size and confidence.  The author has even compiled a fabulous list of where to find statistical data on the internet.   His list covers sources for information on crime, military, economics, agriculture…you name it – he lists a source for it!

Statistics from over 100 US Government agencies.  The preeminent source for federal government statistics is at FedStats.gov.