August 31

Breakout Breakdown: Design Tools

Note: This is part of a 3-Post series on the tools I used to create one of my best presentations ever. Check out the Video Magic and the Closed Captioning posts as well.

The American Society of Association Executives is the association of associations… in other words, the people who attend this event are the people who hire people like me! So every year when I attend, I try to up my game in terms of content, graphics, activities and more. This year I created a program called “From Hurricanes to Heart Attacks: Apps for Emergencies,” and, well, I think I outdid myself, if I may brag a little.

I promised attendees a “Breakout Breakdown”… an analysis of all the tools I used. Here are the tools I used to design and edit the presentation.

PowerPoint Templates from Envato

People always ask me what software I use for my presentations because it looks too fancy to be just plain ole’ PowerPoint. But it is! It’s plain ole’ PowerPoint with HOURS of custom animations, graphics, tedious work and cupcake eating. I put an insane amount of work into my slides because I want them to be a part of the show, not just a bulleted list of my points.

Envato’s GraphicRiver is a site I use to get ideas for PowerPoint customization. The site has thousands of templates you can purchase (between $15 and $25). Some of them come with elaborate animation, and others are innovative for their look. I buy a whole bunch of them, then I usually start with a few ideas and start customizing from there.

Pros: Gives you templates that you can customize or just plug in your own info and take off without changing much of anything. I also think they’re reasonably priced. You can see ratings of the artists as well as individual files, and they’ll usually share the names of free fonts you need to replicate the look exactly.

Cons: Some may think they’re expensive, especially if you buy several like I do. Also, you’ll find a lot of variation in the structure and quality. Some of them have master slides that lock in a lot of the fanciness. Others are just slides they worked on with a plain master, so if you make a change to one, you have to change all. You’ll also find that some are pretty old, which means they don’t take advantage of PowerPoints’ newer (cooler) features. Another challenge is that the samples may contain photos and elements that are not in the template you get, so you might have fallen in love with the picture of a woman alone in a field, but then you have to go find that picture yourself.

Note: Envato is WAY more than just PowerPoint templates. I used it for this WordPress site, and it has audio, video, images and more in different areas.

iMovie for Video Editing

I am NOT a good video editor, but I really, really want to be. So to fake it I use features with Apple’s iMovie (sorry, Android friends!) to make special video clips. iMovie has a very cool template collection that lets you make videos that look like movie trailers. This is the one I made for this session:

And these fun ones:

I also used iMovie for editing fun little things into the interviews, like these.

Pros: Even non-graphic people like me can edit a video and add professional touches with iMovie. And it’s free with Apple devices.

Cons: Android people hate it when I share Apple-only tools. Anyone have a similar tool for them? Also, it can be a little tricky… and addicting.

Envato Elements for Videos and Images

Well, guys, I’m sad again to say that I didn’t always stay away from copyrighted material. In the session, I actually cut out all the cute things like the Minions and the Golden Girls. But I’ll still probably use those versions elsewhere. To avoid my illegal activity, it’s best to find royalty-free images and video clips. For most of my multimedia, I bought a subscription to Envato Elements. For a pretty reasonable fee every month, I can access all kinds of clips, PowerPoint templates, images and more. It’s the first place I check for new material.

I used footage from Envato Elements to spice up this video:

I also buy credits on 123RF. The problem with some free image sites is that you don’t actually know where they’re coming from. Are you SURE they’re free to use? Triple check. This list provides some good sources. I also found a ton of fun film clips in the public domain from the Prelinger Archives. I used that material to make this one, which I love!

Pros: To avoid copyright infringement, search a little beyond the Google Image Search to get things you have the right to use.

Cons: Some options cost money, and they’re not quite as cute.

Ezgif for GIF and Short Video Editing

I don’t really know how I ran across Ezgif, but I bet I use it once a week now. The site lets you convert a GIF to a video, vice versa, and a lot of stuff in between. I just used it today to change my video clips into a GIF that would play on the top of this post. And I used it to convert GIFs to video clips that would work in iMovie. You just upload what you need, press a button and download. You can also change the speed, size and all kinds of stuff. So handy!

Pros: So handy! So fast! Where was this all my video editing life?

Cons: It ain’t the prettiest site, and I’m kinda concerned about the privacy. But so handy!






design, graphics, presentations, social media, templates, video

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