How I landed it anyway.

It was a Tuesday morning. I stared at my computer screen in disbelief, immediately confused and disappointed. I blinked again.

Yup. Still there. A job description I could have written myself. Yet somehow there it was for all the world to see. How was this even possible?

It was my dream job.

In fact, it was the job I had conjured up. For months I had been taking wire cutters to the fence lines of my current role, creating new openings, exploring new areas, inviting others in. I worked hard to plant the seeds of new ideas outside our organization, nurturing them along with regular…


Up your game with these (easy!) pro moves

In this intermediate-level PowerPoint tutorial, I’ll show you the basic steps to create beautiful animation combinations that you’ll want to use over and over again on your slides.

Broad-stroke instructions are provided below for how to achieve these effects, but if you’d like to dig in deeper, you can download this animation sample source file for free. You are welcome to use them however you like.

Combo 1: Fade + Motion Path

In this example, a Fade animation and a Motion path animation are applied to an object simultaneously.


Find inspiration for your presentation visuals

Gradients are everywhere, and what used to be a trend is now a classic. In recent history, gradients fell out of style in favor of a modern, flat design aesthetic, but now they are coming back in new ways and are showing up in more places than ever before.

What is a gradient? A gradient is simply a transition between two or more colors, and can be subtle or bold depending on the distance — or color shift — between those colors.

Using gradients in your designs can add interest, depth, texture, vibrancy, and sophistication. …


Improve your PPT skills with these powerful features

Having used Microsoft PowerPoint nearly every day for the past 20 years (!!!), I’m definitely what you would call a PowerPoint power user. I’m always excited to experience a new feature or discover a fresh technique. Here’s a current list of my personal favorites, and design examples to show how you can combine these techniques for bigger impact.

1. Create custom shapes with the Merge Shapes tool

With the Merge Shapes tool, you can combine basic shapes to create different ones. You can use this tool to create custom arrow cycle charts, Venn diagrams, icons, create masks for animations, and more. …


Six rules to improve data visualization in your presentations

The shift towards more analytical and data-driven business has resulted in data visualization becoming extremely prevalent in today’s communications. Audiences are more comfortable and fluent with an increasing number of types of charts, maps, and other visualizations. To communicate effectively, knowing how to successfully visualize data is more important than ever before. Here are some easy techniques and resources you can use to make your presentation charts more attractive and easier to understand.

“An effective data visualization can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to communicating the findings of your study, raising money for your non-profit…


Take your presentations from “zero to hero” with this step-by-step tutorial to applying color in presentation design

1. Don’t start from scratch.

Get a head start and make it easier on yourself in the long run by starting from a high-quality template. Your presentation template is the structure that defines how color can be used. By using a well-designed template, you can be confident that your colors will look professional, too. Whether your brand or desired aesthetic is minimalist, colorful, or anything in between, check to make sure the template you’re using includes a functional and pleasing color palette. …


I left my corporate job to become a freelancer, but wasn’t sure how much to charge.

When I left my stable, well-paying job at a technology company to start my own design consulting business in 2016, I didn’t know where to start in terms of pricing. Initially, I scribbled some basic napkin math to work out my potential hourly rate — my current salary divided by typical full-time hours minus a couple weeks for vacation. I expanded on that with a second, more complex equation that took into account my average annual health insurance costs, business operating costs, tax payments, potential sick days, retirement savings and much more. As the total increased and my hourly number…


Simple tips to help your slides shine

Woman giving a presentation to a large audience

Overview

As a seasoned presentation designer with over 20 years experience, I’ve seen it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Plenty of ugly. Here are the top five things to avoid when creating presentations, along with some pro tips:

#1: Don’t cram too much stuff onto your slides.

More is not better. The most common mistake is a slide jam-packed with content. There’s so much text on the slide it would take your audience five minutes just to read it. You have to squint, even from the front row, because the font size is too small. There are bullets and more bullets and even sub-bullets. There are…


At least, not in the traditional sense.

In 2016, I left my job in high-tech and hung out my shingle as a freelance marketing + design consultant. Within weeks, I was juggling multiple clients and a larger workload than I’d ever had. I was making good money and working A LOT. On my lunch breaks, and after work, I’d schedule networking meetups with colleagues and potential clients. I worked into the wee hours to meet deadlines and keep my clients happy.

This is what you are supposed to do as a small business owner, right? Hustle, hustle, hustle. Grind, grind, grind. …


Getting promoted to management is more akin to a fork in the road than a rung on a ladder.

My phone buzzed urgently. It was my manager, calling to tell me the news.

“Are you ready for this? Things are happening fast.” She was excited, talking quickly, and I could hear the smile in her voice. The leadership team had been in a group offsite all day and I was hearing about all the changes practically in real-time. I’d just discovered my manager, Gina*, was being promoted to a new bigger role within the group and I was going to become team manager, starting tomorrow.

It was fast. We had discussed my potential interest in management as part of…

Alicia Monique Thornber

PowerPoint nerd. Illustrator/designer. Mom of two. Ex-Microsoftie. Collector of hobbies. Where's my coffee?? www.distillerya.com

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