6 features from PowerPoint that make it 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.

1. It’s constantly improving!

PPT has moved on enormously from the bleak days of the 1990s. Microsoft’s constant updates means that new features have steadily enhanced 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 software boasts the following features:

  • 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 and 3D 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!
  • Whizzy features. Additional transitions, zoom tools and animations. More on these in point #5 below. +Warning+ please use wisely!

* I made 99% up. It’s probably 90% correct

2. Save PPT as a video

Save your PPT in mp4 format. Simply “Save As” or “Export” and choose the right options!

PowerPoint converts the click animations and timings automatically. This means the video version of your presentation can play without pause.  Wait! If you’re picturing slides with bulleted lists just appearing one by one as a movie: stop that mental image right now. If you seen PowerPoint videos before, take a look at Presented’s vimeo channel. You’ll see examples of great animation in our PowerPoint videos.

Remember, videos can be any dimension, can be used to sell your product, show your company creds, and so on. Video marketing can be so powerful. PowerPoint also lets you choose from various export qualities. Low res for mobile social media shares, or high quality 4k!

PowerPoint videos can be good, really good. And, the key selling point here is that they are editable. Compare this to using a professional video making company. You’d certainly get a great result, but all future edits or simple text or stat updates need you to go back to that company and pay. When you have a video in PowerPoint and you need to make text changes: well, you have the software, you go ahead and make the changes and resave. You’ll be able to keep your videos up to date yourself. We think this is far more cost-effective.

3. PowerPoint as a fully hyperlinked and interactive document (and saved as 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 perhaps your own curiosity will lead the way, or your specific area of interest, or your client’s! You can assign a “home” hyperlink to an icon, to return to Agenda slides, or main level slides.

Obviously hyperlinks are perfect for menu style navigation. But you can also use hyperlinks for extra detail in 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. This 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 sit elsewhere, and only be visited if you chose to click. 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.

Extra bonus content: HTML5

HTML5 conversion will maintain hyperlinked content. So when you want to share your presentation online, you can do really give the viewers an interactive experience. See this short example of HTML5 interactive PowerPoint.

4. PowerPoint has trigger actions

Closely linked to hyperlinked navigation is the world of triggers. By clicking an object onscreen an action is triggered. For example, a quotation could appear when you click a client logo. And then it disappears again on a click.  This type of animation action is simply called a “trigger”.

We love using 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. For example, see our Pop Quiz 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, without taking up slide space, consider storing it offscreen. A trigger clicked event could then make the video appear.

We have a short presentation 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? If you’d like to see the original PPT, just drop us a line to ask!

Triggers and Interactive PowerPoint designers

Get trigger happy!

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

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

Preventing 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. Avoid splitting their attention when they skim read everything they can see ahead on the slide. Animation helps keep your audience with you.

Avoiding cognitive overload:  Even when presenting a visual – a flow diagram, a business process – it’s still valuable to introduce that diagram piece by piece. Avoid overwhelming your audience with all the information at once. As a 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 is draining. So slide after slide of this can be exhausting. Cognitive overload is to be avoided as much as you can.

Attracting attention: Another good thing about animation is to know 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.

Being impressive: For those occasions when you must impress the room and elevate PowerPoint to the highest level (as we try to do) then you can use 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.

Dashboards are another PowerPoint feature. Take a look at this type of big canvas way to show the big picture.

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 for 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.

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