TLC Creative’s 2023 Holiday Card

It is the unofficial rule holiday decorations are okay until the end of January – right? Well, that is the rule I am going with as we near the end of January. I am sharing the TLC Creative Services 2023 Christmas card that was sent out to many of our friends and company’s we get to work with.

And a quick look at the house all lit up for the holidays.

Troy @ TLC

By |2024-01-29T23:11:27-07:00January 30th, 2024|Personal|

Hotel Room Art Out of Balance with the Room…

Have you ever looked at a slide that’s clearly been repurposed and feels unbalanced? Modifying existing slides for new content is a great shortcut and time saver, but step back and look at the slide. Is the layout balanced? Are elements aligned to each other? Does the slide look “correct”?

I had the immediate feeling of looking at a repurposed slide when I stepped into my hotel room (this is really a hotel room I recently stayed in – but no brands or cities named). Instead of noticing all the nice things this hotel is offering, my mind was distracted (like an audience member being distracted by a poorly designed slide):

  • Why is the art not centered on the wall?
  • Did the room originally have just one bedside table on the right so the bed would be centered under the art when the furniture was centered on the wall?
  • Was this just a bad art installation, or was the art here first and a new bed installed later?
  • If the art was here first, what was the furniture like before that would make an off-center art piece look good?
  • Wait…is there a problem with the wall that it cannot support the art if mounted in the center? Am I safe sleeping under this unstable art!!?

Moral – don’t create slides that let your audience get distracted with formatting questions. And don’t question the hotel room furniture and art choices, you are there for a short stay and will soon forget it (unless you use a photo of it for a blog post and then can be reminded of how odd it was for years-and-years!).

Troy @ TLC

By |2023-11-16T09:58:43-07:00November 16th, 2023|Personal|

Artist or Filter?

I have been enjoying time in Madrid, Spain touring museums. Two days ago, Lori and I spent the majority of the day at the Prado National Museum – doing the 3-hour self-guided tour in just over 6 hours. Yesterday was spent at the Thyssen-Bornemisza, also part of the National Museum, where tired feet prevailed, and we did the 2-hour tour in just over 2 hours!

Within the massive Thyssen collection is a fantastic nineteenth and early twentieth century section of art covering impressionism, cubism, art nouveau, and whatever we call Picaso-ism. And in this specific area of the museum (basically an entire floor), my mind shifted to work and graphic design. Photoshop is part of my creative process, along with using many image filters. But looking at these artists from a hundred years ago (that was epiphany number one, art from the 1920’s and earlier is now 100 years old!) – what was their inspiration? Beyond mastering painting technique, they were inventing image styling that today we easily achieve with digital filters (epiphany number two!).

The art in Madrid is amazing. The museums are amazing. The people, food, and drinks of Madrid are all amazing! Amazing!

(all images take at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional).

Troy @ TLC


By |2023-11-13T13:04:38-07:00November 14th, 2023|Personal|

Meeting with the PowerPoint Team

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to be at the Microsoft Bay Area campus and meet with the PowerPoint team. It was an amazing day experiencing the campus, hearing about the focus of the Dev team and demonstrating real-world presentation formatting workflows.

The key takeaway is, the Microsoft PowerPoint team is actively looking at the real-world use of the software and those needs take a priority, along with the big initiatives (e.g. AI integrations with CoPilots).

Troy @ TLC

By |2023-10-26T12:37:54-07:00October 26th, 2023|Personal|

A bit of PowerPoint T-Shirt Fun

For the 2023 Presentation Summit, TLC Creative Services sponsored the attendee t-shirts with some PowerPoint design fun .

Be part of the solution. Create gooder slides.” We laughed, and hopefully the group of presentation experts that made it to Monterey, CA for the conference wear the conference swag with a smile!

Troy @ TLC

By |2023-10-24T14:01:45-07:00October 24th, 2023|Personal|

A Glimpse of the Presentation Summit 2023

The 2023 edition of the Presentation Summit conference was this week in the Monterey, California area. The setting was a rustic conference center with meeting rooms that were lodge great halls and all meals with everyone gathered in a central dining hall.

It was an in-person only event this year (e.g. not a hybrid event with virtual attendees joining via live stream) and had a smaller number of attendees than in past years.  This year due to scheduling I was not on the presenting team, and not involved with the AV Production. But I was able to enjoy the event Sunday and Monday before flying out for a corporate event TLC Creative Services was supporting. A few photos of the general session “great hall”, breakout rooms, and yes that is a photo of the dining hall, because there was a lot of informal conversation and presentations happening everywhere making this also one of the valuable meeting rooms!

Overall, between the conference grounds setting, the easy to meet everyone size of the event, and personally being clear of presenting and AV production meant I truly had the most conversations with other presentation designers than any previous event. Thank you Rick Altman, for putting on another wonderful presentation focused event and thank you to everyone for the wonderful presentation conversations!

Note: there is a virtual only version of the Presentation Summit, November 5-8, 2023 using Zoom as the platform.

-Troy @ TLC

By |2023-10-18T10:52:16-07:00October 19th, 2023|Personal|


I had to share this setup from a recent corporate event. I am onsite managing the presentations for a large event, in what I call my “office for the week”. But this one was a bit unique.

First the tech setup was a single 8′ table for 3 techs (I generally have a 6′ table for my computers, monitors and space to have presenters review, and edit slides). Fortunately, I include a computer stacker in my tech kit. But what made this really unique is where the tech area is. I am generally backstage, or sometimes front of house. But for this meeting, the room was a bit small and in order to maximize attendee seating (~250 attendees), I was outside the meeting room in the hall!

On the positive side, I did not need any of the work lights I pack for the dark backstage environment!

Troy @ TLC

By |2023-09-27T16:13:18-07:00September 28th, 2023|Personal|

Why Separate Text Boxes Over Shapes is BAD

Continuing on from the previous post, “Circles and Text (that does not fit)“, with some best practice reasons for NOT stacking a text box on top of a shape.

  • It is lazy formatting.
  • Often it is because knowing how to control PowerPoint’s text formatting within a shape are not features used (see the previous post on using shape internal margins as an example of formatting options that are not commonly used).
  • It makes future edits to the slide tedious. As an example, two elements, the shape and the text box, need to be moved together to stay aligned.
  • Text boxes stacked on top of a shape generally are not truly horizontally aligned to the shape. As example, a text box stacked on top of a shape with the text horizontally centered is most likely not actually centered, because the text box margins push the text off center – ugh!
  • Animation seems easier, but again, a shape and text within the shape can be set as independent elements on the animation timeline – overcoming almost every instance where the two separate elements have been stacked and animated separately.
  • The Office/PowerPoint accessibility tools do not work, because they have several limitations on identifying stacked elements. As example, white text on top of a light blue shape is (currently) not seen by the accessibility checker as a flagged low contrast item, because PowerPoint looks at a text box, what that text box shape fill color is, and then the slide background. It ignores layered elements.
  • It is easier to manage text line wraps if the text is within a shape vs. manually adjusting – and the line wrap needs are automatically updated when the shape, or the text size, is updated – if the text is part of the shape.

The important message is, creating PowerPoint slides is a balancing act of what is fast and looks okay vs. using best practices to create slides that are future-proofed for easy formatting and use.

Troy @ TLC

By |2023-08-31T16:21:06-07:00September 1st, 2023|Personal, PowerPoint|

Now returning to our regularly scheduled program

I hope everyone had a great summer! It has been busy here at TLC Creative Services, and the PowerPoint blog summer hiatus enabled me to focus on some specialty projects.

My original thought when setting up the summer break was “how much can happen in PowerPoint, the presentation industry, and at TLC Creative over the summer?” Well, turns out it was a busy summer and there has been a lot of change and news! One planning update is The PowerPoint Blog will have fresh presentation and PowerPoint posts every Tuesday and Thursday, starting today.

-Troy @ TLC


By |2023-08-01T14:57:02-07:00August 1st, 2023|Personal|

Summer Hiatus

The PowerPoint Blog is going to pause through the summer and resume in August (of this year!). At TLC Creative Services we are happily busy. And we are busy with finalizing a major roll out of a new virtual meeting service and Meeting Planner tools, which is a big time commitment on my part. I have a list of blog posts to write up, but not enough time to get to them right now. So I am doing an official pause on blog posts through the summer months (June and July).

Have a great summer! See you in the Fall!

Troy @ TLC

By |2023-06-04T16:24:02-07:00May 25th, 2023|Personal|
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