Freebie: Open Blue template in Keynote and PowerPoint

It was my birthday last week, a fact I celebrated by going out and splurging on a macbook pro with retina display and a huge amount of memory! Obviously using a mac is very different to using windows, and though I’ve had a desktop mac before I think I’d forgotten most of the shortcuts. As a result I am getting back to grips with Yosemite OS, not forgetting the amazing software available for the mac e.g. Garageband, Keynote and Pages, and loving every minute of it.

While exploring, it occurred to me that I’d never offered a template in Keynote before on my blog, which that was enough to spur me into making one. Keynote is a very different animal to PowerPoint and you can’t just import a new master and colour scheme the way you do in PowerPoint – unless you are importing one of the amazing templates offered with the software. That plus the unfamiliarity meant it took me a while to create something I felt was worthwhile. You can have a first look at what I created below.  It’s a dark theme, with a bold contrast filled with hexagons and rectangles – very clean and simple.

Open Blue

It’s also the first template I’ve done in the 16×9 format rather than the 3×4 format I am more familiar with, but I think it works.  Anyway, let me know what you think. The font used is Open Sans and the icons are from  You can download the two versions of the template here: Keynote, PowerPoint 2010.

Hope it’s useful!

+Alesandra Blakeston


Animate a single series in a chart

Last week I posted a simple video showing a couple of graphs that had a single (or couple) of series animated for emphasis.  I thought this week I would post the how to!  It’s actually very simple.  You can download my PowerPoint here.

Adding an animation to a PowerPoint Chart is the same as adding an animation to any other object.  Click on the chart, then click on “Animation” on the ribbon and choose the animation you want to add.  (I chose “Wipe”).  You can then adjust the options for the animation using the “Effects Options” button.  Unfortunately when you add an animation it adds the animation to the whole chart – including the axes etc.  To see this, while the chart is selected click on the “Animation Pane” button in the animations toolbar.

animation pane

To be able to adjust the animation to the different elements of the chart, right click on the animation, and then select effect options > Chart animation.

chart animation

To be able to animate the series individually, click on the down arrow on the right hand side of the text “As one object” and select “By Element in Series” or “By Series” depending on the configuration of the chart.   I also deselected the “Start animation by drawing the chart background” check box.  Then press the OK button.

A double down arrow will now appear in the animation pane underneath the animated chart.

double down arrow

Click the double down arrow to see the individually animated series.

4 series animated

My chart has 4 series, so there are four elements that have been animated.  Since in my chart I want to emphasize series 3 and 4 only, I simply click on the ones I don’t want to see and press the delete key.  You can then adjust the options of the 2 animated series so that they start together or individually as you prefer.

I adjusted my charts so that the animation starts as soon as the viewer navigates to the page (using the start with previous option) and so that both lines start together.  You can do this using the down arrows next to each animation in the animation pane.  Click on the down arrow and then select “Start with previous”.

And that’s it – hope you find it useful.

+Alesandra Blakeston

Using animation with charts

Recently I posted a blog on how to simplify charts so that the key message came across simply by looking at the chart.  I got a few messages after the post from colleagues saying that while the overall message of “Less is more” is great, what about adding emphasis to really sell your message?  Can you animate charts?

Well the simple answer is yes, of course you can animate charts.  That being said, I would immediately qualify it with – less is still more.  You don’t want to emphasize the entire chart and every single data point.  The short video below shows 2 charts that have been animated.  The first is a column chart.  The last series has been animated to emphasize the improvement.  The second is a line chart where the progress of the last 2 series have been animated.

Let me know what you think!  I’ll be posting the how to do this later next week, but until then you can download the PowerPoint presentation here.

Hope this helps

+Alesandra Blakeston

Free Dynamic Navigation PowerPoint Template

While browsing for examples of dynamic navigation in PowerPoint over the weekend, I came across this amazing work on  Using vba they have created buttons on the top, bottom, left and right of the screen to allow the user to navigate.

youpresent example

Since it is a free download under the creative common licence, I wondered if it would work for an onboarding presentation I had been asked to do. All I would need to do was attribute the original file accordingly: “based on a project by”.

Their version uses vba to create the animation and navigation between the slides.  While it is very elegant, I did have to wonder if it was overkill.  In addition, since the code is based on having the slide numbers on the buttons, it didn’t really do what I needed. Of course, I could have altered the code to get it to look for a slide title rather than a number, but I wanted custom text in the button each time.

In the end, I took the principle of having navigation at the top, bottom, left and right, removed the vba and added simple hyperlinks to each of the buttons.  I appreciate that my way is harder in the long run (you need to manually set up the hyperlink each time rather than having vba), but I like the end result.

Dynamic Navigation Example

Incidentally, the graphics are courtesy of a free new hire orientation PowerPoint template by Tom Kuhlman from the Articulate community. Feel free to download my example (as shown in the picture above) and to check out the original on


+Alesandra Blakeston

Using Powerpoint like Prezi

Don’t misunderstand me.  Prezi is a very powerful, very awesome tool!  If you haven’t tried it out, well you should.  That being said, it is possible to do some of what Prezi does in PowerPoint.  I give you this very simple example:

In the video above you will see a PowerPoint presentation consisting of 10 slides.  The movement is created with very simple transitions between the slides called PUSH transitions.  You can download the PowerPoint here.

You can use this effect to create some very powerful effects and animations in your presentation, though beware – people come to see a person speak, not to see how mad their PowerPoint skills are!

Hope this helps!

+Alesandra Blakeston

Non-linear training using Action buttons and Tabs in PowerPoint

So I saw a great post last week on showing images of a Tabbed Training presentation they made for a client.  Put simply, it inspired me to create my own!  It turns out it’s actually pretty simple.  I just needed some action buttons (graphics with actions / hyperlinks on them) and then to set up the presentation as a Kiosk presentation.

You can download my sample here.

Set up the PowerPoint as a Kiosk presentation

First create your training presentation, remembering that you are going to create tabs.  Add images for each of the different tabs, with one page for each tab as shown in the pictures above.  The image relating to the current page should be one colour, the others a different colour.  You can use PowerPoint’s picture color correction tools to adjust the colour based on your color scheme.  The image relating to the current page in my template is white, on the other pages, it is grey.

picture color correction tool

Incidentally, to save time only add the pictures to one page first, copy and paste the images to the other pages once you’ve added the actions / hyperlinks.

To add the actions, simply click on an image and then click on Insert > Action. Check the Hyperlink to checkbutton in the action settings pop menu box.

action settings

Click the drop down menu box, select slide… and then navigate to the slide you wish the user to navigate to when they click the image.  Repeat for the other images and then copy and paste the images to the other slides, adjusting the colour as necessary.

Once your presentation is ready, you need to remove other methods of navigation. To do this, click on Slide Show > Set Up Slide Show.  The pop up menu box as shown below will appear.

set up slide show

Ensure that Browsed at a kiosk (full screen) is selected and then click on the OK button.  Finally, save your file.

Now when someone starts the presentation, they can:

  • Click on hyperlinks or action buttons to navigate through the presentation ONLY – they cannot use the keyboard or the mouse!
  • Press the ESC key to end the presentation

And that’s it!  You can download my sample here.

+Alesandra Blakeston

5 Exciting (and awesome) line charts in PowerPoint

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to show data visually.  When you can see the problem data at a glance, it’s easier to to tell your story and convince people to help you / invest / solve the problem.  Here are five charts that IMHO are very visual.  They’re visual in that out of specification points, high and low points, etc. are highlighted and easy to see.

They’re created by

  • Combining line charts with column charts / area charts
  • Using calculations to calculate when values are out of specification and plotting these points as a new series (using #N/A)
  • Using data labels on specific data points
  • Using minus 100% percentage error bars to create vertical arrows

I’ll be posting the how to do these over the next couple of weeks, but you can download these 5 visual line charts and see if you can work it out for yourselves.

Hope it helps

+Alesandra Blakeston

Trust me

Found this great SlideShare in my feed this morning.  Do you have trust?  How do you get noticed?

+Alesandra Blakeston

If you have to use a pie chart – be cool!

So recently I posted a PowerPoint template Flat Graphs & Charts which featured a rather cool Pie Chart.  I was asked if I could explain how it was done.  Honestly, I thought this had already been posted, but after a quick review I realized it hadn’t and so, here it is…


There’s been a lot of discussion on the internet about pie charts. The general consensus seems to be that pie charts are bad:

Pie Charts Are The Worst – Business Insider

screen shot 2013-06-17 at 10.34.08 am

“Take a look at these three pie charts.

Let’s say that they represent the polling from a local election with five candidates at three different points A, B, an C during an election.  So, what can we learn from this information?  Since these are the shares of the votes that each candidate will get, it should be easy for the reader to figure out what, exactly is going on in this race.  But it really isn’t.  In the first race, is candidate 5 doing better than candidate 3?  Who did better between time A and time B, candidate 2 or candidate 4?  Who has the most momentum in the race?  If the point of a chart is to make information more easily understandable, how is this chart working for you?”

However, that being said, if your data is simple pie charts can show the data effectively – and therefore be good:

Why Tufte is Flat-Out Wrong about Pie Charts : Speaking PowerPoint


“But what if, instead, the only point you want to make is that the 2 largest distributors control 65% of the market. Which graph demonstrates that more clearly?”

So I thought I would show you all a really cool trick to make pie charts look different.  I’m not going to talk about understanding / analyzing them, only changing the visual aspect.  I prepared a presentation for you, so if you don’t want to follow the instructions, you don’t have to.  Instead you can download the sample “pie_charts_seen_differently” file attached.

How is it done?

Prepare your pie chart as normal, and format it with the fill colours etc you want for each series.

To do the rest you will need editing software such as inkscape, or adobe illustrator. Basically, though you take a circular shapes and cut out of the centre the parts of the pie chart that you want to show. Save your shape in the *.emf format and import it into Excel (or PowerPoint).  You can download my inkscape file *.svg and the *.emf files as well by clicking on the hyperlinks.

If however, you don’t have or don’t know how to use image editing software, you can use one of the shapes provided in the PowerPoint presentation above. Take the shape and copy it using Ctrl+C.  Click inside the chart (but not on the chart) and press Ctrl+V.  Re-size the shape so that it covers the edges of the pie chart.  Re-colour the shape to match the background of your chart.  Since my background is white, the fill of the shape is white.

And that’s it!  You can also paste the shape on top of the graph by clicking on the slide in PowerPoint or an adjacent cell in Excel.  If the picture is pasted inside the graph, it will re-size with the graph when you change the graph’s size.  If not, you will need to manually resize it yourself

cool pie charts

The pie charts in the presentation are all data driven and so can be edited to suit your needs.  The *.emf files are editable in PowerPoint / Excel (once you ungroup them), so you can also change the fill, etc as you need to suit your design.  Again, you can download the PowerPoint pie_charts_seen_differently.

Have fun!

+Alesandra Blakeston