Monthly Archives: October 2010

Stress Management In The Office

Office environments can be stressful. Tight deadlines, workplace conflicts and too much coffee all play their part in raising your stress levels. But fear not! Here are some small things that you can do to help alleviate that stress.

Update Your Boss

Trying to finish work for an unrealistic deadline can be a huge stressor. However, it could be that your boss doesn’t know that the deadline is unrealistic, and maybe the deadline can be changed. Ask yourself whether talking to your boss would help. Often, if you have a good reason why the deadline won’t be met, your boss will thow more people at the task or simply extend the deadline. Sometimes deadlines are arbitrary, and there isn’t actually a team of important people tapping their watches and awaiting your task’s completion.

Often, it pays to keep your boss informed of the progress you are making and to make them aware of any delays. She or he can then react in an appropriate way to the delay. No, that doesn’t mean falling to the floor and convulsing. That means they can inform whoever is affected by your task so that they in turn can change their expectations.

You could be putting yourself under unnecessary pressure by working to a tight deadline that could actually be pushed back. Inform your boss.

Did something happen that made your project much more complex? Inform your boss.

Did the task you’re working on suddenly become much bigger? Inform your boss.

Work Relationships

Maintaining good working relationships has many benefits, and one of them is that they enable you to interrelate with your colleagues more easily. It greases the wheels. In extreme cases, you might actually enjoy talking to your colleagues!

Yet difficult working relationships are one of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace. They can cause fear, distress, and of course raised stress levels. Find out how you can improve your work relationships.

The Comfortable Office

Office ergonomics is a whole book in itself, so check out the link to make your office as comfortable as possible.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks is a great way to alleviate stress and is also good for improving your performance at work too. Tired, frustrated workers become stressed workers. Similarly, your productivity is reduced when you become fatigued.

A break from your work could come in the form of a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or even a walk to another part of the office to talk to a colleague. Physical movement is good, so if you can move around, that’s great. If you have to stay at your desk but you have the internet available, you could visit a website totally unconnected to your work.

Lunchtimes are prime times for breaks. Whatever you do, don’t stay in the office during your lunch hour unless you absolutely have to. Spending an hour in the gym is the perfect use of your lunchtime. Performing physical exercise is an excellent way of shaking off all the stresses of the morning. Of course, not everyone can make it to the gym. If you can’t, it’s important to at least get some exercise, even if it’s walking around the block, or driving to the shops and having a wander around.

Take Regular Exercise

Taking regular exercise outside of your work hours can increase fitness, make you healthier and reduce your stress levels. The stresses you endure during work time don’t magically evaporate the moment you leave the office. They can linger. In extreme cases, the stress that builds up at work can linger until bedtime and actually affect your sleep.

Exercising regularly can reduce your general level of stress. You don’t need to go crazy and start a bodybuilding program in a gym, either. Simply walking for 20 minutes every day (30 minutes is better) can drastically reduce your stress.

Have A Healthy Diet

Remember to eat properly. In fact, doing anything that leads to a more healthy lifestyle will, by definition, reduce your stress. You should be eating good, healthy food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but in addition to these major meals, you can actually help yourself in the office too.

Take fruit to the office and eat it in your break times. Some people I know take an apple, an orange and a banana to work and eat them in their mid morning break. If you can eat some fruit in the afternoon, then that’s doubly good.

Drink plenty of water. Some offices provide their staff with a water fountain. If you work in an office without one, you could take your own bottled water.

Cut down on caffeine intake by drinking less coffee. Too much caffeine can make you nervous and anxious.  As you can imagine, being nervous and anxious won’t help your stress levels at all! If you find it hard to reduce how much coffee you drink, try substituting it with other hot drinks like tea.

Get Enough Sleep

Being tired at work can make it hard for you to concentrate on your daily tasks, and that can lead to you experiencing more stress. The answer is obvious: get more sleep! Waking up rested and feeling rejuvenated can set your working day up perfectly.

Playing A PowerPoint Presentation

In the last lesson, we had a look at how to add transitions to a presentation. We’ve done a whole lot of work on our presentation so far, but we’ve not actually seen how it will appear to our audience when we run it. As you work on your presentation and keep adding slides, you can think of being in “edit mode”. When you play the presentation, it helps to think of the presentation as being in “view mode”. These are just terms that we’ll use here to help you understand what’s going on.

Edit mode looks a bit different to view mode. When the presentation is running, you won’t see the ribbon, or any of the controls that you can see when you are editing the presentation.

The quickest way to run a presentation is to press F5 on the keyboard. Pressing F5 will play the entire presentation, or Slide Show, from the first slide. To move to the next slide, press Enter on your keyboard or left click the mouse button. You can end the presentation at any point by pressing escape on the keyboard. To go back to the previous slide, press the backspace key.

Alternatively, you can play the slide show from the current slide onwards by clicking Slide Show > Start Slide Show > From Current Slide Show.

Play Slide Show From Current Slide

If you hover over that button, you’ll see a tooltip telling you that the shortcut is shift-F5. This is a good tip for discovering shortcuts for other commands too: simply hover over the button.

Adding Transitions To A PowerPoint Presentation

In the last lesson, we learnt how to format the text on our slides. In this lesson, we’re going to explore the use of transitions.

A PowerPoint presentation wouldn’t be the same without transitions. Slide transitions are motion effects that occur in Slide Show view when you move from one slide to the next during a presentation. You can control the speed, add sound, and even customise the properties of transition effects. Transitions will really spice your presentation up and will give it a slick professional look.

PowerPoint 2010 has got loads of transitions, and here is a demo of them all:

To add a transition to your presentation, first of all select the slide that you want to add the transition to. The transition will be displayed between the previous slide and the selected one. Now click the Transitions tab and and select a transition in the Transitions to This Slide group. There is a selection of transitions displayed in the ribbon, but if you want to see the whole set, click on the more button in the bottom right of the group.

More Transitions In PowerPoint 2010Clicking on the more button reveals a huge collection of transitions that you can use.

All Transitions In PowerPoint 2010

Click to enlarge

To add a transition, just click on its image. When you add a transition, you get to see it played once.

The very first thumbnail image in the transitions gallery is for “None“, so you can probably guess that clicking on this will remove the transition. Similarly, to change the transition you just click on the new one you want to apply. There is nothing presenting us from using a different transition on each slide.

Any slide that has a transition will have a whooshing star displayed in the top left of the slide in the Slides panel.

Transition Symbol

You can click on this whooshing star to see the transition again. Another way to see transitions in action is to actually run the presentation. You can do this by pressing F5 on the keyboard or by clicking the Slide Show tab and clicking the most appropriate command in the Start Slide Show group.

In the next lesson, you’ll find out all the options available to you when running your slide show.

Formatting The Text On Your Slide

In the last lesson we looked at adding new slides to our presentation, and we’ve already seen how we can add text to those slides. In this lesson, we’ll learn how to format the text on our slides.

The text formatting options in PowerPoint 2010 are very similar to those in other Office programs like Word. To format your text, first of all select it and then navigate to the Home tab > Font group. Here, you have all the standard formatting commands like bold, italic, underline, font size, font family, colour etc.

Font Group In PowerPoint
Applying the formatting is a simple case of clicking on the appropriate command button in this group. Let’s look at an example. On the following slide, we want to highlight the key words like subjects and times.

Apply Formatting To Text In PowerPoint 2010

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TIP: to select a whole word, double click on it. In the example above, we bolded the text, made it italic and underlined it. The formatting tools we need to accomplish this are all in the font group.

Simple Formatting

In fact, if you really want to speed up the process of applying these formatting effects, you can use the following shortcuts:

  • Bold – ctrl-b
  • Italic – ctrl-i
  • Underline – ctrl-u

In addition to the basic formatting you can apply using the Font group on the Home tab, you can also apply more advanced formatting using the Format tab within the Drawing Tools tab.

Format Tab In PowerPoint

Let’s format the title slide. On the left hand side of the workspace in the Slides pane, click on the Title slide. This should be the very first slide in your presentation. Select the whole of the subtitle, as shown below:

Select Text In PowerPoint 2010

TIP: a quick way to select a whole line of text is to triple click on one word in the sentence. We’re going to add a reflection to the subtitle, just because we can.

With the text selected, click on the Format tab within the Drawing Tools tab > WordArt Styles > Text Effects > Reflection, and select one of the options. We don’t want an exagerrated reflection, so let’s choose Tight Reflection, touching (the first option).

Tight Reflection, Touching

Now, that looks good!

Reflection On Subtitle

We’re really moving now! Let’s see how we can spice up our presentation by adding some transitions.

Adding New Slides To A PowerPoint Presentation

Our “How To Study” presentation is looking good. We’ve created it, saved it and have applied a snazzy looking theme. In the last lesson, we added some text to our slide and gave our presentation a title. Now we’re going to add some new slides to give our students some handy hints on studying effectively.

There are nine different layouts that a slide can have:

  1. Title Slide
  2. Title and Content
  3. Section Header
  4. Two Content
  5. Comparison
  6. Title Only
  7. Blank
  8. Content with Caption
  9. Picture with Caption

When you create a brand new blank presentation, it always comes with a blank title slide. To be honest many people only use the default title slide and Title and Content slides to create their presentations.

To add a new slide to your presentation, click Home > Slides > New Slide. If you hover over teh New Slide button, you’ll see that the button is split in two.

Add New Slides To A Presentation

If you click the bottom half of the button, you get a choice of all the different slide layouts to add.

Slide Layouts

Slide Layouts

Click on the slide layout you want to add. If, however, you click on the top half of the New Slide button a slide is added that has the same layout as the last one you added.

Let’s keep things simple and add a Title and Content slide. We can then add some text to our slide. An example of the kind of content you might add is shown below:

Organise Your Studying

Click to enlarge

And, of course, you can keep adding more slides as you need them. You’ll notice in the image above that the text we added is bullet pointed. By default, bullet points are added to all text that you add.

WARNING! Keep saving the changes you make to your presentation by pressing ctrl-s.

Now that we know how to add new slides and then add text to those slides, let’s look at how we can format the text on those slides.

Adding Text To A Slide

We’ve created a blank PowerPoint presentation, saved it and applied a theme to it. Our new presentation has one blank slide in it. Now we are going to add some text to it.

Each slide that you add to a presentation has placeholders that you can add text to. The blank slide that each new blank presentation has includes placeholders for a title and subtitle. The image below shows one such slide with only the default Office theme applied. Don’t forget, in the previous lesson, we applied the Clarity theme.

Placeholders In PowerPoint

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To add text to a placeholder, all you have to do is click in it and start typing. Since this is a presentation about how to study, and it’s aimed at students, guess what we typed for our title and subtitle?

Title Slide

Click to enlarge

The above slide has the Clarity theme applied. See how even a simple colour scheme with minimal styling makes the presentation look so much better? In a later lesson, we will look at styling text.

The one blank slide that always appears in a blank presentation is a Title Slide. Now that we have the title sorted out for our presentation, we need to add some information to help our students with their studying. So let’s now add more slides to our presentation.

Applying A Theme To A Presentation

Now that we’ve created a new PowerPoint presentation, we need to style it. PowerPoint provides a quick and easy way to apply professional looking styling: themes. Themes are preset combinations of colours, fonts and effects that you can apply with a mouse click. PowerPoint 2010 comes with a set of prebuilt themes for you to choose from, and you can even create your own themes.

To apply a theme to your presentation, click Design and then click on a theme in the Themes group. You can actually see what a theme looks like before you apply it by hovering over its thumbnail image. This is called a live preview, and you can hover over any number of themes to try them out before you apply one.

You only see a selection of themes in the Themes group, but you can see the whole collection by clicking on the More button.

See More Themes

When you click on the More button a large panel that shows all the available themes is displayed. You can use live preview here, too, to quickly see what themes will look like when you apply them. Each theme has its own colour scheme, font combinations and effects. When you find one you like, just click on it.

Browse All Themes

Click to enlarge

Applying a theme like this applies it to all the slides in your presentation. I know we only have one blank slide at this point, but when you have more, it’s good to know this. Also, you can change your mind if you decide that a different theme would look better. All you have to do is click on the new theme and it will replace the old one.

For our “How To Study” presentation, we used the Clarity theme.

Now that we’ve laid the foundations for our presentation, let’s start adding some text!

Creating A New PowerPoint Presentation

Picture the scene. You’re a teacher and you need to create a “how to study” PowerPoint presentation to help your students prepare for their exams. We’re going to walk you through creating this presentation from start to finish. We’ll use this topic for all sections of our PowerPoint Mega Tutorial.

The first step is to create the presentation, so let’s get started.

When you start PowerPoint 2010, it will open with a new blank presentation named “Presentation1” (see the title bar). We will save it straight away and then start work on it. To save it, press ctrl-s or click the File tab > Save As. Type in the name of the presentation in the File name input box and find a location on your computer in which to save it.

Save The PowerPoint Presentation

Click to enlarge

We’ll call our presentation “How To Study”. Note that the file extension used is .pptx. Before 2007, PowerPoint presentations used the .ppt file extension, but with the introduction of PowerPoint 2007, they started using the .pptx extension. You don’t need to know any more than that at this point!

When you’ve named the presentation and found a place to save it, click Save. You’ll notice that the name you gave the presentation has replaced the “Presentation1” in the title bar.

Hmmm. This blank presentation looks a bit plain, and maybe even a little dull. Let’s apply some styling to make it look a bit more interesting. This will help engage our audience and keep them interested.

The very next thing we’re going to do is apply a theme to our presentation.

Note that in this tutorial we are creating a blank presentation. Instead, we could save time by creating a presentation based on a template.

The PowerPoint Tutorial

Are you ready for the PowerPoint Mega Tutorial? This tutorial will take you through the process of creating a PowerPoint presentation from start to finish. Although we’ll be using PowerPoint 2010 for this guide, many of the steps and concepts are transferrable to other versions of PowerPoint.

With PowerPoint being pretty much everywhere (it is the presentation program), you probably want to get to grips with how to use it to create great looking presentations. So let’s get started!

The tutorial is broken down into several sections listed below. It’s a good idea to start at the beginning and work your way through in sequence.

  1. Creating a new PowerPoint presentation
  2. Applying a theme to a presentation
  3. Adding text to a slide
  4. Adding new slides to a presentation
  5. Formatting text
  6. Adding images to slides