Free Course on Storytelling by Pixar

Pixar, a company that needs no introduction has released a free online course on storytelling as part of the Khan Academy. The whole course is still not completely online, but the first module is and we definitely recommend you go and check it out. Why? Even though we have seen people from Pixar presenting with slides full of bullet points(yes, at a conference in Sofia in 2016), if there’s a company that you can point to that has storytelling in it’s core, this would be them.

Let us know what you think about the course and enjoy watching! 😉

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Start Up Pitch Station vol.2

Remember this blog post? Yeap! We are doing it again!

On 8th of February, we are going to help a starting company with their investor presentation. Last time was crazy cool! We stayed for hours with the team and discussed in detail what they need to improve in both the delivery and the slides and more importantly – how!

We are seriously looking forward to this second event in partnership with Puzl, because the value that we bring together and to this company is just insane and there’s nothing better, but to go back home knowing you helped someone.

See you there!

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Video: Boris and Startup Grind Sofia

A month ago, we got an invitation from the local chapter of Startup Grind to speak about a lot of things(no, really) – the start of the company, how we do what we do and surely – the presentation world in general.

It was a long, but incredibly interesting and more importantly honest conversation. 

Enjoy watching and let us know what you think!

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Start Up Pitch Station


On 8th of December, together with one of the coolest co-working spaces in Sofia – Puzl, we are organizing a very special event the start up community in Bulgaria. 

The so called “Pitch Station” event is targeted at upcoming startups who want to practice pitching their idea. However, this is not just a chance for them to rehearse! It’s way more because after they pitch their idea, the following happens:

  1. They will get questions from the audience regarding their idea and business
  2. They will then receive feedback from the audience in regards to the presentation
  3. And most importantly – they will get not only feedback from us too, but also the practical advises, immediately applied to their presentation delivery and slides, on how to improve!

Sounds seriously cool, isn’t it?

More information can be found on the Facebook event page and in case you are a startup that wants to go through this extremely useful for your future business experience, you can sign up here. It’s free.

Hope to see you there!

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How writing on the wall can improve your presentation?

playground-energy_escreoDo you remember the first time you got a task to do a presentation at work? And do you recall the reactions of your public? Our friends from Escreo believe that requirements for establishing and maintaining a successful presentation nowadays are far more complex than ever before. And we agree cannot do anything else, but to agree with them. From its “birth” the good idea has a complicated path ahead, which aims not to lose its original potential.

Presentation consists of various activities – from maintaining a dialogue with your audience through constructing an interesting content, which engages the listener with visual materials, to the careful monitoring in the Q&A section. The body language, the voice pitch, the statement of the idea and its development in the presentation – all consistent with the interests of your audience. Successful communicating of your thoughts is built around this core.

The preliminary preparation is the most important aspect when structuring and introducing your presentation to the public. You go through a personal or team process of brainstorming, accept or reject ideas, develop different thesis and carefully explore your audience’s interests and … you write everything down. In order to create a working structure, everything has to be visual at first. And why not instead of using a piece of paper or the traditional whiteboard, you choose to imagine the whole thing on a wall? Or on a table?
table_escreoMore and more offices chose to modernize and recreate their spaces, so they offer their employees the atmosphere, which promotes various activities. Halls and rooms, arranged by colour are a mandatory element of the creative process of whole departments and their teams. And here we ask the following question – why does writing on nonstandart surfaces actually improve your presentation skills?

The answer is one – creativity, creativity and creativity again. The colours of Escreo – a company that turned the whiteboard paint into a fun alternative for any office – cover all surfaces and provide perfect conditions for stimulating the creative process. The Magic paint becomes a major tool for organizing the group ‘brainstorming’, which sets out the basic ideas, around which the teams then develop the most interactive and therefore successful presentations. Any smooth surface can offer creativity anywhere. The original arrangement of the interior helps achieving a certain climate in the workspace and influence productivity appreciably. The office becomes the center of imagination and sharing and let’s face it –  for once it’s working for you instead of the other way around. Such walls are used very often in presentations because they attract attention, intrigue the audience and allow the listener the interactivity he needs. It appears as salvation from the boring, meaningless presentations that leave you with a sense of wasted time and frustration of not getting the chance to learn something new and fresh.

Personal touch on the transformed surfaces is the key to the creative approach to presentation in the workspace. The change in dynamics, offered by coloured walls predisposes even the most worrying presenter to jump over the gray pit of another dull presentation and let the good ideas out – in any colour, any place, in any form. Employees have the opportunity to feel like part of a larger scheme, and easily describe the off-beat ideas that revolve in their heads.

Author: Escreo

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Problems With Cheap PowerPoint Templates? A Case Study.

September 23, 2016 Presentation Design 0 Comments

case-study-cheap-powerpoint-template-problems-356labsRecently I received a call from a CEO of a company from the US. They bought a PowerPoint template for 10$, but now they had a problem…

Let me be clear. I don’t have anything against all those great individuals or whole companies who sell those otherwise cheap templates. However, for everyone buying one of those, let’s be honest here — do you really expect that you can pay 10, 15 or even 50$ and solve all of your company’s presentation issues and get a product that is customized based on your needs?

What worries me is not only that companies do not have a proper PowerPoint template and because of that their whole organization struggles. What worries me is that we talk about communication effectiveness and productivity here and yet again, companies who can afford to invest in a proper presentation template, decide to go the cheap route and “invest” 10$…

So what happened with our customer after purchasing the 10$ template? What were the problems he was struggling with? Let me name a few of the most important ones:

  1. The template was not customized to reflect their brand — yes, some companies have people that can do that work, but not all of them. And…why wasting the time of your people to do work like this when they have numerous more things to do already in first place!?
  2. The template didn’t cover all of their most frequently needed presentation cases or as we at 356labs like to say — it’s not created with the end user’s needs in mind — the needs of the people who are going to be creating their presentations with it!
  3. The template had no user guides and instructions — even though the template had some great example slides, there were no clear instructions and guides how one can actually create something similar;
  4. Font issues — the people inside of the company didn’t want to install additional fonts on their machines. They just didn’t. However, the template came with 3 custom fonts that were not embeddable and one of them was the fonts that was “holding” all of the icons on the slides. (so we needed to do magic — extract the icons from the font file and export each one of them to JPEG/PNGs in various colors)
  5. There was no launch plan — when a new company PowerPoint template is launched, there must be some kind of an event that introduces the template to the people who are going to be using it. This is important because otherwise you may see a very interesting effect in people — complete refusal to adopt the new presentation file.

We have written already on a lot of the topics related to PowerPoint templates as you can see in my profile. And I continue to push in that direction because when you think about it, presentations are the most visible communication form we have nowadays. Yet, companies spend (if at all) almost zero effort, time and money in making sure that these presentations are effective. (probably some keynote speeches get the needed attention, but that’s it).

And as for our customer — we created a workable solution for them in order for their people to prepare their presentations for their upcoming company retreat. After that, we were told we are going to be creating the template from scratch because a PowerPoint template is not just a bunch of slides. It’s way more.

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Does an Individual Need a PowerPoint Template?

September 20, 2016 Presentation Design 0 Comments


At 356labs we were recently contacted by a friend of mine with an interesting request — he wanted a PowerPoint template for himself.

Yes, you read that right. This is not a request for a company PowerPoint template. This an individual who wants a presentation template for himself and for himself only.

So who, if at all, needs a PowerPoint template? The answer is — a speaker. A speaker, who presents frequently and someone who cares about his brand! So if you are already a public speaker or plan to be such, why would you need a PowerPoint template? Here is why you probably want one:

  1. Because you understand that your presentations are your business card — you know the value of presentation design and you know that being a great speaker coupled with incredible slides is what makes a session at a conference the top rated session at that conference;
  2. Because you want to achieve brand consistency, so every time you speak somewhere, people would see the familiar look of your presentations;
  3. Because even though you like preparing your presentations, you want to be able to do them faster — a proper PowerPoint template is created based on your needs and helps you create your slides without wasting time and energy thinking about things like fonts, color combinations, layouts and more. What’s more, if you happen to reuse slides from previous talks, guess what — when you copy it in the new session’s file, it looks as it’s actually part of it immediately;
  4. Because you want to save money — instead of asking a presentation design agency like 356labs to create every single one of your presentations, you invest once in a template customized to fit your presentation needs and then with almost no effort, you build great slides for yourself.

Are you that speaker? And are you that speaker who wants to achieve the above? If so, probably it’s time for you to invest in a proper presentation template or at least… starting thinking about doing it.

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Problems Caused by a Bad PowerPoint Template

September 15, 2016 Presentation Design 0 Comments


Almost every single one of the companies we have worked with has some kind of a PowerPoint template. Unfortunately, 99% of the time, this PowerPoint template is not a proper and well-created one. How can you see if you are in the same situation? I have already written on this.

In this post, I want to quickly remind every business owner, decision maker or manager what the problems are when your PowerPoint template is not a proper such. Here are the 3 major ones:

  1. Wasted time and productivity — when you or your team has a bad template in its hands, it takes you more time to create your presentation. Why? Because when you don’t have the layout for the slide you want to create, you need to figure out a good way to make that slide. Which leads us to…
  2. Bad design — most of you are not designers and what’s more — you don’t have to be! However, because your PowerPoint template was not created properly, you now have to play the role of a designer and unfortunately, that’s one of the reasons why we are faced daily with all of those badly designed slides. Again — it’s not your fault. It’s your template’s fault.
  3. Inconsistency — that’s what you end up having when you have more than 1 presentation in your company(and you have more, correct?). Because the template is not a good one, everyone comes up with his own solution for the look of their slides and this way — there is just no consistency. There is nothing that makes you feel that this was created by people working in one company. Do I have to also mention what a mess happens when at some point someone uses a slide from someone’s presentation? Yes, I know. You reuse slides in different presentations. Many companies do it. Why — look at point 1 again.

The above are just 3 reasons why you need to take a careful look at your PowerPoint template and check if it’s indeed a proper one or not. If you are seeing those problems above, invest. Invest time and if needed money and help yourself and the people around you become not just more productive, but also better presenters…

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What Slides Does Your PowerPoint Template Need to Have?

September 13, 2016 Presentation Design 0 Comments


It depends. And it depends big time. However, there are at least a bunch of master slides that every company PowerPoint template needs to have.

A PowerPoint template with just a starting and an ending slide is not a template. At least it’s not a proper one and I have written on this already. Even more importantly and surprisingly for our customers at 356labs, a PowerPoint template is not just a “bunch of slides”. It’s way more – guidelines, trainings, workshops…

However, from our work up until now, we have noticed that there are a few “common” slides that every template has, so here is the list:

Note: Some of those may be designed in more than one way and have more than one layout!

  • Title  –  this is the one you start your presentation with
  • Agenda - what are you going to cover, but not in a bullet point list
  • Transition  -  those are the ones you use to put a start (sometimes also an end) to a section of your talk
  • Quote  -  interestingly enough, this one is on the list
  • Charts and graphs – slides with various types of well — designed and predefined charts and graphs, so that the users of the PowerPoint template need to do nothing else, but to enter their data
  • Image & Video  –  slides that have just a placeholder for either a high quality photo or a video
  • Text-only  –  this is the type of slide where you have a few lines of text or why not even paragraphs
  • Text with graphic – maybe you need to explain a list of things — the characteristics of your product or something similar? In this case, you need a slide for that too. Most of the times a few of those are created to give you an easy option to arrange 2, 3 or even more items with an image or icon for each.
  • About me or Team –  either important information for the speaker or a custom layout with or without a bit of info for each team member
  • Closing slide  –  the one you close your presentation with. Will there be up just a simple “Thank you!” or your contact details, depends on your needs

So, are those the complete set of master slides that a PowerPoint template needs? No! These are just the ones that are commonly coming up during a PowerPoint template project.

Always remember – a PowerPoint template must reflect the end users needs! Those are the people who are going to be using it. The way you know what they need is by interviewing them or by asking them to send you some of their already created slides, or why not even both? Yes, I know you haven’t even probably thought about that, but that’s how a proper presentation template is created.

A PowerPoint template is there to serve you and help you build better presentations without the need for you to be a design guru, PowerPoint ninja and someone who has unlimited time to work on his slideshow.

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What Should a Company PowerPoint Template Come With?

A photo by Aron Van de Pol. PowerPoint template must not be just a number of well-designed slides. Not at all.

See, when a proper PowerPoint template (or a presentation template in that sense) needs to be created, it needs to be created with the end users— the company’s employees — in mind! This not only means that there should be more than a starting and an ending slide in that template, it means that the template needs to come together with a few more “goodies”. Let me make a few suggestions which all come from our work with our customers.

Here is what a PowerPoint template should come with:

  • Master slides — a number of slides that reflect the most commonly used presentation cases in the company
  • Guidelines and example slides —these may be in the form of instructions, separate PowerPoint file with slides, a webpage or a combination of those, showing how to make the best possible use of the template
  • Additional training materials — these may be how-to videos, prerecorded trainings and sometimes interactive documents created with tools different than PowerPoint
  • A creative library — photos, illustrations, icons and other media files selected and prepared in such a way(all icons in all of the brand’s colors, for example) that when used, they not only save the look and feel of the template, but enhance the speaker’s slides
  • Launch plan — this is an important one — this is the plan on how you are going to introduce the PowerPoint template to your company. Creating a proper presentation template takes a lot of time and effort and it needs to be presented well. There must be a meeting — in-person or an online such for everyone to ask any questions that may arise. At 356labs we also do 1 bonus thing — we offer a free workshop to the company during which we “onboard” the employees with the new template.

Do you see the difference between a proper PowerPoint template and a file with 2 slides — a beginning and an end slide? I hope so. I really hope so.

Your PowerPoint template is an important thing! Do it right and watch your company’s presentations flourish! Do it wrong, however, and lose a lot more — brand identity, productivity and communication effectiveness.

In case you found out that your PowerPoint template is not a proper PowerPoint template, we at 356labs would be happy to help at However, please feel free to contact any other presentation experts, but insist on getting the above because I guarantee that this “method” is “The method” to change the level of your company’s presentations and achieve more with every single one of them.

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