Author Archives: Aploris

Meta list of the best PowerPoint add-ins

Microsoft Office add-ins are growing in popularity as they can effectively solve use-cases that are critical to specific sets of users. PowerPoint, which has a variety of use cases from internal presentations to marketing and sales, has seen its ecosystem of add-ins significantly grow over the last few years. In conjunction, there have been a growing set of blogs and other publications that compile the ‘top PowerPoint add-ins’.

We’ve put together a list of lists, or a meta list, allowing you to quickly browse through the best PowerPoint add-ins across some of the best sources:

Interview with Peter Zvirinsky, founder of

We’ve had pleasure of meeting Peter Zvirinsky, the founder of an innovative company that offers business focused diagrams, icons, and other visual assets.

What is infoDiagram?
Our service is a marketplace for unique business diagrams and presentation icons. When you browse our library you’ll notice that we love the hand drawn style of icons. They’re a great way to make presentations personal. But you can also find formal modern flat graphics.

What is your background and how did you get involved with infoDiagram?
By education, I’m a data science nerd who discovered the beauty of marketing and design. AI and artificial life simulations used to be my playing field. Later, I worked in marketing & business development in data analytics company. There I understood the impact of well-designed presentations especially in conferences, training or sales pitches. Thus I decided with two other friends to start a business helping companies with presentation design – and infoDiagram is our baby.

What separates infoDiagram from its competitors?
I’m glad you asked 🙂

There are a few unique points we’re proud of:

  • We’ve probably designed the largest collection of hand drawn icons and shapes – for people who like to make presentations look natural and personal.
  • We value good design. Therefore we ensure our library contains fresh modern style – flat icons and infographics diagrams, for example. No old looking clipart, no Comic Sans font.
  • Our graphics are also fully editable in vector format. You can change the color of icons and shapes to fit your brand colors. Icons will remain razor sharp when resized, unlike bitmap images.

How does infoDiagram help its users?
infoDiagram helps people by replacing their monotonous slides with nice catchy visuals, to help make their presentations creative and stand out. And we make it as simple as possible, without the need for additional applications. A simple cut and paste from slide to slide will do. You can get a specific icon or a flowchart, add it into your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, adapt colors and create a strong visual slide within a minute. This allows our users to save time and focus on the content instead.

How do you imagine visual communication will evolve over the next 5-10 years?
Well, whether we’ll be using some augmented vision wearables, like Google Glasses, or having 4D screens, one thing will remain. The importance of simplicity. I can imagine the amount of information will still be increasing and there will be a lot of noise. The winning apps and technologies will be those that will manage to be simple and informative at the same time.

What’s the best way for readers of this blog to get started with infoDiagram?
Start with getting our free hand drawn shapes. You will receive a few icons and a guide on how to prepare a creative slide on your own. You can also search through our catalogs of scribble icons, watercolor shapes, or our industry specific visuals. To get inspired check slide examples on our Or reach out to me personally, I’ll gladly chat and help on visual communication topics. I’m present on twitter @Peter_iDiagram or LinkedIn.

Interview with PowerPoint MVP Ellen Finkelstein

Ellen Finkelstein webiste

What is your background and why did you decide to enter the presentation space?
I entered the world of presenting as an author, and it happened by accident. My contact at my editor asked me to write a teacher’s manual for a textbook on PowerPoint. It all started from there. Over the years, I’ve learned so much more by attending conferences, reading books, studying award-winning presentations, and working with my clients.

How did you become a PowerPoint MVP?
I met the other MVPs at that presentation conference and I think one of them recommended me. But mostly it was the fact that I’d been blogging for a long time. An important requirement to be an MVP is to freely give to the user/technical community and my blog does that. There are 13 of us in the United States now. Microsoft reviews our contributions each year.

As you’ve worked with your clients, what are some common issues you’ve seen?
Death by PowerPoint is rampant. But it’s more than that. Presenters have a hard time clearly visualizing their ideas. I see confusion in both content and design. When I work with clients, we reorganize, edit, add images, and reformat the slides.

What advice would you have for those looking to brush up on their presentation skills?
I work with presenters 1-on-1 to makeover their presentations. This is an unusual service; when we finish, they have a clear and powerful presentation and have also learned a lot about creating presentations. It’s a combination of a service and training. My clients have found this a very effective way to improve their skills.

What type of training courses do you offer? What elements make them effective?
I offer a number of video training courses on specific topics as well as a live weekly training program called Power Pointers Quarter Hour for people who really want to stay up to date on presentation and PowerPoint best practices. Everything I have is listed on my estore. I also offer customized training.

What’s uniquely effective about my training is that it applies specific PowerPoint and presentation techniques to essential communication principles. My goal is always to help presenters present clearly, powerfully, and persuasively.


Mastering the art of the PowerPoint presentation

Pulling off an effective PowerPoint presentation involves perfecting several elements: messaging, story-line, graphic visuals, and data representation.  While this typically takes years of practice and training to master, it leads to numerous business efficiencies that are well worth the effort. However, managers and individual contributors don’t always have the luxury of time and need to quickly improve their presentation capabilities.

We looked for ways that teams can accelerate their PowerPoint presentation skills and found Laura M. Foley Design. The owner, Laura Foley, specializes in Cheating Death by PowerPoint. Laura specifically focuses on helping teams build better presentations and offers a variety of training sessions and services that can jump-start your team’s presentation capabilities. We had the chance to connect with Laura late last year and she shared some valuable advice:

Start with an outline: Many times, people begin new presentations by opening PowerPoint and designing slides. That’s like shooting a movie without a script! A better idea is to create an outline for your presentation that has an introduction that states the purpose and hoped-for outcomes of the presentation, a middle that supports your introduction, and an ending that repeats the stated goals of the presentation and provides next steps.

Reduce the amount of text on your slides: If there’s lots of text on your slides, the audience will divide their time between listening to you and reading your slides. It’s even worse if you read your slides to your audience! The slide is there to provide a backdrop to you, not to be a teleprompter or a distraction.

Simplify your messages: Try to present just one idea per slide and to simplify complex ideas so that more people understand what you’re talking about. If you’re trying to persuade people to buy your product or service or to give you resources, the last thing you want to do is to confuse them!

If you are looking to improve your presentation skills, check out Laura’s site. She’s written several blog entries with a ton of valuable information.

Saving time in PowerPoint

Given the amount of time most of us spend in PowerPoint, it would likely make sense to invest in improving our efficiency. Shaving a few seconds of highly repetitive tasks can add up to significant time savings over the course of building even one presentation.

We recently had a chance to connect with Taylor Croonquist from Nuts & Bolt speed training for PowerPoint which provides a great collection of shortcuts to improve your ability to quickly complete basic tasks in PowerPoint. In addition, Taylor and his team provide training sessions to help improve your groups PowerPoint efficiency. In our conversation with Taylor, we learned:

  • Working in PowerPoint can take up a lot of your time. You need a clear strategy and the know-how to ensure that you are efficient and saving valuable time
  • You can’t expect to memorize a hundred shortcuts over 60 minutes. But if you start applying them as you work you’ll build your repertoire and start noticing significant benefits over time

See Taylor’s Free PowerPoint Shortcuts resource guide which covers over a 120 shortcuts, grouped by activity to make learning them easy. Picking up just a few new shortcuts can help you greatly cut down the time it takes you to build presentations.