Pimp My PowerPoint

Pimp My PowerPoint

When you’re working on building a presentation in PowerPoint you’re going to want some really great looking images that are right at your fingertips right? Instead of bouncing back and forth between multiple browser tabs and your slides, wouldn’t it be nice if everything you need was right there in PowerPoint?

Well, you’re in luck! Here are three super useful add-ins that will let you find and add images to your slides without ever leaving the comfort of PowerPoint.

Three PowerPoint Add-ins for Finding Great Images

1. PickIt:

PickIt is a free option to get the “right images in the right place at the right time” and it also works with other Office apps like Word and Sway. You can grab PickIt from the Microsoft Store.

I really like how they curate images. For example, check out the “Space for Text” collection. These images give you suitable space to overlay your own custom text.


2. Pexels:

Pexels is a great place to find free for any personal and commercial project. And having them available right inside PowerPoint is even better! You can also grab this plug-in on the Microsoft store.


3. Shutterstock:

If you can’t find what you’re looking for with either of the first two options and you’re a Shutterstock user like me, you’ll definitely want to grab the Shutterstock PowerPoint plug-in. (available for Mac & PC)  While the plug-in is free, you’ll need to purchase the images. You can use the “Try Image” option to add free watermarked images if you’re working on a mockup or aren’t sure if you’ve got the perfect image yet.


Bonus: Office Insiders Get an Icon Library

As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft recently added a really nice library of 500 editable icons. (And as part of that same update, you can now use .SVG images in PowerPoint too!) If you’d like to get access to early release features like this in Office, just join the Office Insiders program.

Are you already using any of these or other PowerPoint plug-ins? What are your favorite image and icon resources?

Looking for even more add-ins and resources for your slides? Be sure to bookmark my big and ever growing collection of PowerPoint resources curated on Zeef.

Free Download: Storyline Menu Template

Recently, while reading some web development articles I came across this cool animated menu and thought it would make a cool elearning course menu. I took a few minutes to recreate it and this is how it turned out. Add a cool, appealing intro slide in front and this could make a nice opening sequence for your next project.


View the demo | Download the source file


A Few Things L&D Should Steal From Marketing

A Few Things L&D Should Steal From Marketing

Links & resources for the Online Training Conference session A Few Things L&D Should Steal From Marketing

Subscribe to the free email course


Steal These Tools

Canva  | canva.com


Adobe Spark  |  spark.adobe.com


Powtoon  |  powtoon.com


Mail Chimp  |  mailchimp.com


MailerLite  |  mailerlite.com

Very similar to Mailchimp, MailerLite has the added bonus of allowing you to run autoresponder (email courses) using a free plan.

Subscribe for free to the email course we built as a follow up for this session. 


We’d love to hear from you if you steal any of these or other similar things.

Mike Taylor  | Twitter | LinkedIn

Brian Washburn  |  Twitter  | Linkedin

3 Steps to Build Visibility & Credibility

3 Steps to Build Visibility & Credibility

sdsuwlsh_3color_4cI’ve been invited to talk with people currently in the capstone course of my San Diego State Learning Design and Technology graduate program. The main thing I plan to share with them are the three things I think will help them the most as they advance into or further along with their careers.

Do the ‘Reading’

One of my favorite Seth Godin posts is the one in which he talks about “doing the reading“.

The reading is what we call it when you do the difficult work of learning to think with the best, to stay caught up, to understand.
The reading exposes you to the state of the art. The reading helps you follow a thought-through line of reasoning and agree, or even better, challenge it. The reading takes effort.
If you haven’t done the reading, why expect to be treated as a professional?

I’m not so sure that as a whole, the L&D profession does a great job of this. Isn’t that ironic? I would expect that learning professionals would be all over this. Unfortunately, there are still too many people talking about learning styles, Myers-Briggs and other similar bunk.

Yes, it takes work to “do the reading” but if you want to be a professional there are a few ways that can help you do it more efficiently.  For example, using a reader app like Feedly can save you a boat load of time.

Check out how I use Feedly as part of my personal knowledge management (PKM) system.

Establish an online ‘home base’

Standard resumes and cover letters are no longer sufficient if you want to stand out from the crowd. Having a good portfolio as always been important for freelancers, but it’s quickly becoming a must have for anyone who hopes to snag the best opportunities that come along, inside your organization or out.

Here are a few options to get you started:

Colleagues, hiring managers, clients, and recruiters are looking online to find out about you. Do you know what they are finding? Are they finding your best work? In today’s environment your online credibility and visibility an important part of your professional success.

Share & Connect

If you’re doing the reading, it is super easy to share the best of what you find. As I mentioned in my PKM video above,  Buffer is a great way to share with your social networks.

Another big benefit of being actively engaged with social media is how easy it is to connect with other professionals who are doing the same type of work you do. Not only are they doing the work but they are leading the way to find new, better ways of doing it.

If you’re new to Twitter, check out “Using Twitter Professionally

For us learning and development types, a wonderful place to start is Jane Hart’s list of “101 people who tweet about L&D

You’ll also find a wealth of valuable information and more wonderful L&D people participating in twitter chats such as:


#lrnchat is an online chat that happens on Thursdays at 8:30-9:30pm ET/5:30-6:30pm PT.

Discussion is lead by an all-star cast including @LnDDave, @brtiz, @tracy_parish, @kelly_smith01, @ryantracey, and@janebozarth. The official twitter account is @lrnchat.

You can learn more about how to participate and transcripts of previous chats on the website  http://lrnchat.com/


Another great Twitter chat with more super smart L&D colleagues is chat2lrn. This one is lead by @lesleywprice@judithELS@pattishank@megbertapelle@andreamay1@FionaQuigs@ajaypangarkar and @R0ssGarner



#guildchat is a nice way to wrap up your week with the fine folks at the Elearning Guild  You’ll catch @LnDDave, @brtiz, @eGeeking  and a host of others every Friday at 11AM PT/2PM ET.  Last week’s topic was  – “Making Content Memorable


My Top 10 Learning Tools for 2016

My Top 10 Learning Tools for 2016

The voting for Jane Hart’s 2016 edition of the Top 100 Learning Tools is winding down and here are my own Top 10.

It’s hard to believe this is my 10th year participating and it’s interesting to compare this year’s list to my first one back from 2007.

1. Twitter

[ Personal & Professional Learning ]

Twitter logoThere is a reason that Twitter has been ranked #1 on Jane’s list for the past few years. Where else can you get find and engage with the best and brightest in your field? You can find me on Twitter as @tmiket .


2. PowerPoint

[ Workplace Learning ]

PowerPoint logoYes, PowerPoint is my #2 tool. Surprised? I work in PowerPoint every day for a variety of reasons. Although most don’t realize it, PowerPoint is an excellent option for:

If you’re interested in digging in deeper, I curate a collection of PowerPoint resources over on Zeef. (Which might make this list next year.)


3. Feedly

[ Personal & Professional Learning ]

Since the retirement of Google Reader, Feedly is the best way that I’ve found to keep up with everything I want to keep up on. Feedly allows me to set up my own personalized information supply system, keep it organized exactly the way I want and makes it easy for me to share the best things I find with others via social media.  Feedly is the hub for my personal knowledge management system (PKM).


4. WordPress

[ Personal & Professional Learning ] & [ Workplace Learning ]

mike-taylor.orgWordPress is such a useful, versatile tool that has so many uses for L&D professionals. For example, I’m using WordPress for my personal website (which you’re reading now), my grad school portfolio project, a technology tips website, and more.

I’ve even setup a WordPress site to run an online social learning course, Learn Camp,  which has attracted participants from around the world.

“This site has been set-up as a self-guided program (“Learn Camp“) to encourage everyone to experiment and learn about the new and emerging technologies that are reshaping the context of information on the Internet today. “


5. Buffer

[ Personal & Professional Learning ]

Such a useful and time-saving tool, Buffer lets me share things on social media using the “slow drip” method.  If you check out my PKM video above, you’ll see that I do a lot of my reading very early in the morning. Instead of sharing everything I find when nobody will see it, I send it to Buffer with a single click and let Buffer post them to Twitter and LinkedIn over the course of a couple days at intervals I want. Buffer will even help you find the best times for sharing based on your connections.


6. Google Docs

[ Workplace Learning ]

One of my personal goals is to rid our office of sending file attachments via email. Google Docs is a dead simple way to avoid the maddening challenge of keep track of which version is the right one and never having to merge edits from multiple people ever again.

“Friends don’t let friends email file attachments!”


7. YouTube

[ Personal & Professional Learning ] & [ Workplace Learning ]

Is there anyone who hasn’t turned towards YouTube to learn something? Just this weekend I learned how to get my persnickety lawn mower started. YouTube is also a great platform for delivering the learning videos you create.

Remember when I mentioned PowerPoint as a good tool for creating videos above?😎


8. SnagIt

[ Workplace Learning ]

SnagIt is another tool that I use every day. While there are about a zillion apps for capturing screenshots, none are as good as SnagIt.  This tool can put hours back into your day by helping you communicate clearly and more efficiently with a combination of traditional screenshots, videos, and image editing tools.


9. Articulate Storyline

[ Workplace Learning ]

In my opinion, Articulate Storyline offers the best combination of power and ease-of-use of any eLearning authoring tool I’ve ever used. Beyond that, the best reason for using Articulate software is their E-Learning Heroes community.  (I may be biased since I used to work there, but it is pretty clear that is the best, most helpful community of eLearning professionals you’ll find anywhere!)


10. join.me

Workplace Learning ]

Much like capturing screenshots, at some point, virtually everyone will need to share what they see on their screen with someone in another distant location. Also, like screenshots, there are about a zillion options for screen sharing. None are as quick and easy to use as join.me.  This is the app I use when helping my Dad with his computer…so that’s proof of how easy it is to use. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve used join.me with a lot of people inside corporate firewalls and have never run into any problems with it being blocked, etc.


Other tools also receiving consideration:

  • Amazon S3
    With Google Drive and Dropbox dropping the ability to share eLearning courses and other web content, Amazon S3 may see quite a big of growth and start climbing this list. Amazon S3 offers 5GB of free space which is plenty for most people. And if not, it is super cheap for additional space.  It’s a bit of a bugger to get set up, but Tom Kuhlmann’s article should get you up and running without too much trouble.
  • Camtasia
    If you want to extend the video capabilities of SnagIt, Camtasia is just the thing.
  • Canva
    Everyone needs graphics, but not everyone is a graphic designer. Canva is the solution. Anyone can make pro graphics with Canva — even the most design-challenged among us.
  • Diigo
    Harold Jarche has said that using social bookmarking could be  “…the simplest way to start sharing organizational knowledge.” and I totally agree. It’s also an easy way to get started with the concept of “Working Out Loud” and curation.
  • Dropbox
    Great option for file sharing, but beware that sharing online courses and other similar web content will be going away.
  • Google Drive
    Great option for file sharing, but beware that sharing online courses and other similar web content will be going away.
  • PollEverywhere
    If you do any presenting or classroom type training, you’ll love PollEverywhere. I’ve been using it for several years now and love how it brings your audience and their opinions into your sessions.
  • ZEEF
    Another new find in 2016, Zeef has scratched a longtime itch of mine — how to curate the best resources for any giving topic.  See it in action for the following resource pages I’ve curated: PowerPoint, Professional Portfolios or Instructional Design.  Tracy Parish has also used Zeef to create a wonderful page for eLearning resources.

Need a scanner? Try your phone

Need a scanner? Try your phone

Once upon a time, people had visions of a paperless society.  At some point, I may even have been one of them. Alas! No such luck. While the number of paper forms, etc we have to deal with is significantly less than it used to be, there always seems to be that odd time that we need to get a piece of paperwork delivered. (And who has time to go get a stamp and mail it?)

For times like these, wouldn’t it be nice to make a quick scan of your document and just email it off? Why not give your phone a try for this one?

All you need to do is take a photo of your document and an app to handle the “scanning” job to convert the ph0to into a PDF that you can send off on its merry way. This is also great for scanning receipts or other things you might want to keep for yourself.

Here are a few good ones that I’ve used for you to try:

Cam Scanner (for Android, iOS andWindows Phone)


Evernote has an app called Scannable .


Google Drive (Android)


If you’re on an Android phone and use the Google Drive app, you already have what you need. Just open the Google Drive app and tap the Add (+) button at the bottom-right of the screen. Lay down your document, tap the Scan camera icon and hold your phone over it to get a good picture. After snapping the photo, Crop any unnecessary background. If you are scanning a multipage document, tap the Add button to go on to the next page and repeat the process. When you’re ready, tap the Done (check mark) icon. Your files are automatically stored in your Google Drive.

Office Lens


Want to do even more? ( Geez, you are demanding!) Give Office Lens try. This app trims, enhances and not only makes your photos of whiteboards and documents readable; but it can also convert them into editable Word and PowerPoint files too.

I can do everything I need in free versions but for a few bucks some apps will give you extras like

Scanbot is another free scanning app with versions for Android and iOS. Some scanning apps may charge a few dollars for a premium version, but include extra features like faxing or optical character recognition for converting images into editable text.

Friday Finds

Friday Finds

It’s been awhile since my last post on new things I’ve discovered. So here are some things that I’ve collected since then including:

  • Sortd: a super useful task list skin for Gmail
  • Office Lens: a mobile app that lets you translate photos of documents into editable Word and PowerPoint
  • Photopea: a free, online graphics editor for Photoshop (.psd) files
  • AppSheet: The quickest, easiest way to create a mobile app.

Sortd Smart Skin for Gmail

Sortd is a Gmail ‘skin’ that transforms your email conversations into a usefule, intuitive task list workspace right inside Gmail!

If you ever lost track of important emails in your inbox despite Herculean efforts to flag, start, and label messages you’ll love how Sortd helps you escape that mess. With sorted you’ll get a new to do / task list view where you can simple drag your emails to organize them is a way that is logical to you. You can even rename them to something better than the email subject line which is another big plus.

The thing I like best about this app is that you can toggle it on and off if you ever want to peak back at the normal Gmail views. Hop on over to http://www.sortd.com/ and give it a look. You’ll be glad you did!

Office Lens

Office Lens is a great app for capturing whiteboard notes and paper documents and saving them into a PDF, email, OneNote, etc.  Whle it’s been around for awhile now., a recent update makes it even more usefuly by adding the ability to convert pictures of whiteboard notes and paper documents directly into editable Word documents and PowerPoint presentations.

(Available on iOS, Android, & Windows)

Here is the process for how it works.

Convert a hard copy document into an editable Word document


Convert a whiteboard drawing into a PowerPoint presentation


If you’re curious you can check out these  actual examples:

Learn more at https://blogs.office.com/2014/09/16/office-lens-update-allows-create-office-documents-windows-phone-camera/


There are a wealth of great Photoshop design assets available on the web. But what if you don’t have the money to shell out for an expensive Photoshop license that enables you to work with them? One good option is Photopea, a free online graphics editor that handles..PSD files like a pro.




AppSheet is one of the slickest, most useful apps I’ve seen lately. It lets non-developers build custom mobile apps. While so many things are moving to mobile apps, getting something up and running can be next to impossible unless you’re an app coding pro.

AppSheet lets non-developers build custom mobile apps quickly and easily – no coding required. AppSheet works by connecting with information you populate in a spreadsheet and then it guides you the rest of the way. With this, you can have a nice, useful app up and running in a flash. And it’s FREE to boot!

Take if for a spin with these sample apps: https://www.appsheet.com/SampleApps