How To Drastically Reduce Your PowerPoint File Size

I just tried to email a PowerPoint I was working on to a colleague for some feedback and realized, to my horror, that the file size was over 80MB. Obviously, that won't do.

After digging around, I came to the conclusion that the massive amount of images I was using in the file had to be the issue. Going through and manually resizing each image seemed like too much of a chore though, certainly there had to be a better way. Luckily, there is!

In PowerPoint 2016 for Mac do the following:

  • Click on an image - any image will do
  • Select "Picture Format"
  • Select "Compress Pictures"
  • Select the picture quality from the dropdown
  • Ensure "Delete cropped areas of pictures" is selected
  • Choose to perform this action on the selected image(s) or all of them
  • Click OK

Resize files PowerPoint Mac

And there you have it. After doing this one simple step, my file size went from over 80MB to around 7MB. Not too shabby.

Wooden Blocks

I was listening to a Manager Tools podcast over the weekend and they shared a great Civil War era poem by Stephen Vincent Benet that applies very broadly to project management and leadership. In fact, they list it as their favorite quote on management.

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.
- John Brown's Body by Stephen Vincent Benet

All too often, we as leaders or project managers or directors tend to treat our projects and direct reports like wooden blocks on a flat map. At the end of the day, the tweaks made to "get everything back in alignment" look good on paper, but ultimately spell out failure when the practicality of reality collides with what was originally planned. The allure of shrinking the critical path by 10% or shifting several tasks "to the left" is extremely difficult to resist.

I'm just as guilty of this behavior as anyone else I've met. Hopefully, in the future, I can think back on this poem to remind myself that executing projects is exponentially more challenging than we would like to think it is.

The people you're leading are not wooden blocks.

DiSC

I spent the first several years of my career as a software developer with an incorrect understanding of my default behavioral tendencies. I thought because I was a programmer and loved being a programmer, that must mean I'm introverted - I mean, aren't we all? I also (incorrectly) thought that, because I'm a programmer, I was highly detail oriented since writing code seemed so much more low-level than anything else I had ever done. Every time I found myself in a situation where I needed to exert effort to drill down into the details of a task, or felt drained after spending too much time alone, I became frustrated and couldn't figure out what was wrong.

It wasn't until I started in consulting and was introduced to the Predictive Index that I finally realized what was going on. I'm not detail oriented, not even a little bit. I'm highly dominant/action-oriented and, more confusingly for me at the time, I'm extroverted. In fact, I'm more than one standard deviation strong in most of my behavioral tendencies (which means I'm pretty predictable).

It was around this time that I realized the power of behavioral assessments. Not because they are a 100% correct picture of a human being that will help you fully understand their motives and feelings (not true), but because they help give me a vocabulary with which to understand myself and make sense of the actions people take in the workplace. Now, when I'm coaching others on my team, I can tell them that they are a "Low-D" and might need to intentionally step outside of their comfort zone when having difficult conversations - especially when dealing with "High-D"s. And, more importantly, help them understand the triggers that cause them tension and proactively modify their behaviors when they encounter different situations.

Because behavioral assessments, and their associated vocabulary, have helped me so much in my career, I'm planning on writing several posts around behavior, specifically in the workplace, over the next year and wanted to start off with a foundational post about my favorite personal assessment tool: DiSC (pronounced "disk"). DiSC has helped me become a better employee, leader, and even husband and I hope that some of the information I share here will help you as well. Let's get started.

DiSC Overview

There are several behavioral assessments, most with a great deal of research behind them. I've taken most of them and my results are largely the same across the spectrum. However, my favorite is DiSC. I like DiSC because it focuses on behavior. And, after all, behaviors are what's important in the workplace. I don't care if you think my idea is stupid, I just want you do do it.

Simply put, DiSC characterizes the behavioral profile of an individual - describing how you generally behave, in aggregate - across four areas: Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Conscientious (some people use Compliant here). These four archetypes compliment and oppose each other in different ways and are typically outlined as a quadrant.

DiSC

To be "High" in any one of these areas means you tend to exhibit the associated behaviors when you are in your default mode, and it will take conscious effort to behave counter to them. On the other hand, being "Low" in an area means you do the opposite.

I'll outline a quick description of each type here. Note that these are fairly general and very few people fully fit into one specific type, but rather should be considered on the "spectrum" of behavior.

  • Dominant - Direct and Action Oriented. Sometimes can be seen as aggressive and can steamroll people if they aren't careful. Impatient. Think Captain Kirk.
  • Influential - Extroverted and impulsive. Busy bodies with great ideas but have trouble following through. Loves drama and being the center of attention. Craves group settings. Your typical salesman who has never met a stranger. Think Muhammad Ali.
  • Steady - Stable and supportive. Seeks harmony and avoids confrontation. Sometimes sensitive because they have high levels of empathy. Think Mother Teresa.
  • Conscientious - Cautious and careful. Calculating and by the book. Strives to follow the rules and always has her facts straight. Think Dr. Spock.

Even if you've never taken a behavior test before, you could probably identify the area (or areas) that you trend towards more often than not.

"But, why is this important?"

I'm so glad you asked.

The key benefit in understanding your personality, and the tendencies of those around you, is that you can work to adjust your behaviors to accommodate who you are interacting with. Ultimately, this is the best way to excel in your relationships with others, making you more successful in every area of your life.