Think you know PowerPoint? 6 things you might not know…

6 reasons why PowerPoint is totally underrated

PowerPoint, yippee! Well it’s no surprise that we think PowerPoint is a fantastic bit of kit, but some of the (new) features may surprise you.
This blog is longer than usual. You’ll need a few extra minutes for this one!

1. It’s constantly improving!

Yes, PowerPoint of the 1990s is a thing of the past! Microsoft’s latest release features a multitude of new buttons that have steadily been enhancing the design experience since Office 365 began. Yes, I said the “design” experience…

Even though 99% of PowerPoint’s users are NOT trained designers, the team behind the software have added the following, to help you improve your slides:

  • Design suggestions. Pretty much as soon as you add a photo to a blank page, PPT’s side bar will pop up with half a dozen design suggestions for layout. You can choose one, be inspired by one to do your own, or of course, turn it off!
  • Icon library. What’s taken them so long? Yes, farewell clipart, and hello icons! These small items of graphical 2D art can be enlarged without any pixellation and recoloured, just like a PPT shape in fact. It’s free, built-in, and well worth using!
  • Extra whizzy features. Additional transitions, zoom tools and animations – more on those in point # 5 below. *Warning* please use wisely!

2. You can save as a video

You can save your PPT in mp4 format. Simply “Save As” and choose the right option!

The software converts the click animations and timings automatically so the video of your presentation plays without pause.  Wait! If you’re picturing slides with bulleted lists appearing one by one as a movie: stop that train of thought right now. If you haven’t looked before, have a butchers at Presented’s vimeo channel for a few examples of what we mean by PowerPoint videos.

Videos can be any dimension, can be used to sell your product, show your company creds, and so on. Video marketing is so powerful, and you probably have the software on your computer already to create and edit high quality video files. And thanks to a recent PowerPoint upgrade – you can now also choose from various export qualities. Lower res perhaps for mobile social media shares, or high quality 4k!

PowerPoint made videos can be good, and we mean really good. You might be tempted to use a professional video making company – and you’d get a great result, but for all future edits and text or simple statistic updates, you have to go back to that company and pay a fee. When you have a video in PowerPoint and you need to make edits – well, you have the software, you can go ahead and make the changes yourself and resave. You’ll be able to keep your company presentations up to date – for a long time and in the most cost-effective way.

3. PowerPoint can be a fully hyperlinked and interactive document (and will save as a PDF)

Need an interactive PDF? PowerPoint can be your base document.
Need an interactive “screen”, like a website, but off line? A PowerPoint screenshow is the answer.

Hyperlinks can be applied in PowerPoint to any object, shape or text – you simply point the link to other slides within the presentation. So, you can jump around a presentation – or a document – and be led by the flow of the questions arising in your meeting, or by your own curiosity, by your specific area of interest, or your client’s. You can assign a “home” hyperlink to an icon, so you can return to Agenda slides, or main level slides.

You can obviously use hyperlinks for a menu style navigation, but you can also use it for extra detail slides that you might otherwise skip over. For example, you might want to include the full spec of a product, but only to show it if the customer displayed an interest. That way you can keep the nice layout you have and not lose the impact of a great photo and the product overview. The spec list would simply reside on an extra slide: click to view, and then click to return to where you were previously in the presentation. If you don’t want to show it – simply don’t click!

If you’re an advanced PowerPoint user, you can combine hyperlinks with “Custom PowerPoint Shows” to best show mini-sections within a deck, but that’s a feature that’s too in depth for this particular blog!

In short, hyperlinks are great. More and more of our clients are looking for interactive PDFs and PowerPoint does a fantastic job in this respect.

The next reason why PowerPoint is underrated is linked to the functionality of a hyperlink…

4. PowerPoint can do trigger events

Sometimes when you click on an object onscreen an action is triggered. For example, a quotation could appear next to the object which then disappears again on a click.  This type of animation is simply called a “trigger”.

We like to use triggers to reveal pop-out menus. They can also be useful for advanced animations within a presentation. They can be great for interactive quizzes too – see our Pop Quiz example on the link below.

Other examples of a trigger event could be a spec list popping or sliding onto the slide. If you want a video to play, but not to take up slide space, you can store it off the screen, then on a trigger event the video appears.

We have a short presentation that you can download here which contains several triggers. It’s a highly interactive PowerPoint slideshow, and it is full of features that maybe you didn’t know PowerPoint has. Perhaps you haven’t thought about how those PowerPoint features could be used to add value to material that you have? Download our “Essentials” slideshow here and click away on those trigger loaded objects!

presentation designers

Get trigger happy!
(this link expires in 7 days, if you miss it: just drop me a line and I’ll send it over!)

5. PowerPoint has whizzy animations that can help understanding AND look fab…

Everything in moderation – especially when it comes to PowerPoint animation. At Presented we follow the rule that animation must serve a purpose: and these are:

When you want to prevent your audience from reading ahead: If you are presenting a list of bullet points (although we recommend you don’t!), then it’s crucial that the audience stays with you and the point you’re discussing, rather than having their attention split by skim reading everything they can see ahead on the slide. Animation can help keep your audience with you.

When you want to prevent cognitive overload:  Even if you’re presenting a visual – a flow diagram, a business process – it’s still worth introducing that diagram piece by piece rather than overwhelming the audience with all the information at once. As the presenter you might be familiar with the content and not find it at all taxing, but for an audience seeing something for the first time, slide after slide, cognitive overload is something you really want to avoid if you can.

When you want to attract attention: Another good thing to know about animation is that movement attracts attention. You can use animation to draw attention to areas of the slide where you want audience focus. As we say: use it wisely. Don’t animate too many things – that might be distracting.

When you want to impress: However, for those occasions when you want to impress the room and elevate PowerPoint to the highest level (as we try to do) then you will want to get into slide transitions as well as animation. A transition is how the slide changes, rather than how the objects on the slide animates (animation). Different transitions can enhance the overall feel of the presentation – the push transition for example can create a “big canvas” feel that you get with online apps like Prezi. PowerPoint now includes a “morph” transition. The morph transition means that objects will move, grow, and shrink so smoothly that PPT will look nothing like PPT as you knew it. For example, the following is just 2 slides: See our Clint Eastwood example here.

And still more impressively, PowerPoint can now handle 3D objects. Yes, 3D objects can rotate around freely. It’s going to change how you think about this software. If you have Office 365 you may already have this feature… and if you don’t… then yes, you should get 365!

When you want an Agenda or Contents page that shows hyperlinked images of your sections: ANOTHER cool extra that PowerPoint has is a way to create an agenda or contents page that features a thumbnail of the dividers in your slideshow. The thumbnails will not only hyperlink to each section, but they will also zoom in to travel there. It’s a nice feature, and so long as you design the dividers nicely and lay them out well, it can help your audience understand the navigation and structure of your presentation. Simply drag the divider slide from your left hand navigation bar on to the surface of your contents page. PPT does the linking automatically.

6. PowerPoint is fantastic for print layout and design

I know, you should be using InDesign, but few people have the right skills let alone the licence for that lovely package. Here at Presented we also offer Word and InDesign layout services, although we don’t tend to shout about it because we are, obviously, PowerPoint specialists.

Indeed, PowerPoint offers a very good option brochures. Unlike Word, but like InDesign, PowerPoint can follow templated layouts for consistent display. The main disadvantage is the lack of “text flow” from slide to slide, or text box to text box. If PPT could add a linked text box option for pagination issues then it could potentially take over from Word. Even with that limitation, we find it to be a very easy to use software for posters, leaflets, forms, documents and brochures. If you wanted to see some samples, please drop us a line to ask.

There we have it. Just 6 reasons here, but there are heaps of further advantages to using PowerPoint, and also heaps of further reasons to prove PowerPoint is both a very good software, and probably not the software that you thought it is.

Don’t forget – several of the features can be demo’d in the slideshow we call “Essentials”. It’s a PowerPoint file, of course.

Drop us a line if there’s anything we can help you with,

Philippa

Raising the bar for videos in PowerPoint

Advanced videos in PowerPoint

I’m sure you know that videos can play within PowerPoint. But did you know that you can overlay text, illustration and music too? Take a look at the short sample below to see an example; the first part shows the video alone, the second part shows the same video with a few elements added: custom illustrations, graphics and text, animation and audio. It’s effective and looks great too.

Advanced video animation in PowerPoint from Presented on Vimeo.

The video shows a short before and after sequence (51 seconds)

How do we enhance videos in PowerPoint ?

The simple answer is layers. The video plays in the background, and we show / hide various layers on top of the video, with animation applied. At times we pause the video and animate a static frame, then we resume the video and apply different effects. It’s easy when you know how!
And of course, because it’s in PowerPoint it’s very easy for anyone to edit. Users can type over text to update key info, stats etc and simply re-save as a video file.

PowerPoint saves in video format at an .mp4 – simply “Save as…” and then wait. It does take quite a long time, but it’s okay, because it’s clearly doing something quite clever. We regularly save high level PowerPoint animations as mp4 files so we can upload to websites, share on vimeo or youtube, and use for social media like twitter, linkedin and facebook. The above video is actually a PowerPoint file, with an embedded video, and then the whole thing is saved in mp4 format.

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for your future presentations!

There are lots of ways to use advanced PowerPoint animation to really enhance your presentations. This is just one idea, we have lots!

If you need any help or advice – simply drop us a line and ask for Philippa.

Amazing PowerPoint presentations

Amazing PowerPoint presentations

PowerPoint is amazing. No really, it is!

PowerPoint is such an amazing tool, and there’s so much it can do – with the added advantage that just about anyone can edit it.

Here’s just a few things we can do for you in PowerPoint:

Interactive slides: Use triggers and hyperlinks to have a navigation-led deck. Ideal for engaging your small audience and letting the meeting control the flow of the story. Great for tablets and laptops.

Explainer videos: People are more likely to buy from you if they’ve seen a video. We can give you your very own dynamic, editable web video. See PPT created videos on Presented’s Vimeo page.

Live presenting: Nothing beats the face to face engagement of presenting live in front of an audience. But is your message being remembered? Are your slides visual enough to support learning or increase engagement? Are your visuals the right ones or are they doing more harm than good? Are you using communication science to improve the way you present your slides?

Data visualisation: we help you to communicate your data in a visually appealing and easy to understand way. Think infographics, dashboards, bespoke charts and diagrams.

Templates: a well-created, user-friendly template will look good, encourage company-wide consistency, and can save you hours every week.

Printed material: if you create your printed material in PowerPoint or Word, everyone can edit it, year after year! Annual reports, quarterly reports, brochures, posters, postcards, flyers: everything can be laid out and printed to a high level from PowerPoint.

Not sure what would be useful or why? Want a demo of any of the above? Call us now and we can chat through.

Amazing PowerPoint!

 

Bespoke PowerPoint Training – from us to you

by Philippa Leguen de Lacroix, Co-Founder

Bespoke PowerPoint training will help you get good at PowerPoint, and fast. Of course, reaching expert level in anything takes time. And it’s hard to find the right training course for your particular needs.

I expect many of you have heard of the 10,000 hour rule. I have probably logged that time in PowerPoint easily. Not all of it was quality practice though (and I don’t want to be guilty of oversimplifying the rule here).

Certainly, I didn’t do a PowerPoint course to reach my now (admittedly self-proclaimed) expert level. Initially, I was entirely self-taught. Back in 1998 I literally spent days doing complex animations (the office was quiet) but for the era they were quite cutting edge. Or at least I thought so! By today’s standards they were terrible, but I enjoyed the creativity.

Bespoke PowerPoint training course

I next spent many years working in desk top publishing departments within investment banks. They provided 24/7 pitchbook service to the bank employees, and I hotdesked, covered shifts that included evening and graveyard, and had bankers breathing down my neck. Everything was deadline driven and had to follow strict house style. They did provide in-house PowerPoint training, but it very specific to the needs of that industry. However, I became fast, efficient, and finessed a very high attention to detail. But I was also over reliant on client templates, built-in macros, and found my creativity somewhat sapped.

When my friend and co-founder Pani Theodorou and I started our presentation design company in 2009, we again acquired knowledge as we went. There were no bespoke PowerPoint training courses available for the level of design and animation that we wanted. We now lead a team who frequently share tips and tricks to help us all get faster, stronger and more creative in using PowerPoint.

Since our work is of such a high standard, in both design and technicality, our clients are often asking us is we deliver training. We do.

bespoke powerpoint course

Bespoke PowerPoint training courses can cut through all the boring standard elements and get straight to what’s useful and relevant. The smaller the number of participants, the better the quality of the course – especially when attendees are roughly grouped by existing knowledge or ability.

Common themes include wanting to make PowerPoint slides look more “designy”, how to prevent people taking the deck off-brand, and how to save time.

Often when I demo the “reset” button, there’s an audible reaction from the room. A template sounds like it’s going to be a boring thing, but when they are set up correctly, using layouts will save stacks of time and energy: allowing you to focus on the message of your slides, rather than pouring hours down the drain perfecting the aesthetic.

Whether you’d like a course for a small team, or a 1 to 1 session just for you (or someone special!), then get in touch and let us know about your learning needs.

Bespoke PowerPoint training courses for your team – please drop us a line, at hello@presented.co.uk

Design ideas to help you avoid bullet lists

Avoid bullet lists: two before and after slides to give you ideas…

We know that PowerPoint gets a bad rap as a design tool – it does have limitations, but only a bad worker blames their tools. In the right hands, PowerPoint is a great tool. So even when you have to keep all of your text, there are still options.

Hopefully these slides will give you some inspiration:

Avoid bullet lists with sample 1

BEFORE:
This “Technology” slide shows a typical bullet list layout.
It’s a default layout that we see everywhere and is far from
interesting to look at. (It’s also challenging to remember
the content, but that’s another story!)Additionally, the title
of this slide also had very little meaning – until we developed it.

slide20

AFTER:
The new heading and visuals help to lift the slide and
ignite more interest. This particular slide is best delivered in
an email format – simply because there’s still too much text
onscreen for effective presentation delivery.
To present onscreen: we’d recommend using light animation
to control the flow of information. Animation can prevent the
audience from feeling overwhelmed or reading ahead and
getting out of sync with the presenter.

slide22

Avoid bullet lists with sample 2

BEFORE:
Another typical layout. A boring looking list with plenty of
text. (We’ve swapped out the content with Lorem Ipsum).

Before avoid bullet points

AFTER:
The addition of the image creates visual interest, and the
icon for “explore” does a good job of leading the eye to the
action points. It’s still text heavy, and the image is purely
decorative. But for situations where you have to keep your
text – it’s simply better. And there’s nothing here that is
complicated or difficult for anyone using PowerPoint
to reproduce.

With PowerPoint it’s usually the lack of ideas that is the negative driving force behind so many slides.

We hope this gives you a couple of pointers. The principals are easy! But then, we would say that…

Drop us a line if you need any help.