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Most people these days have used Microsoft Office products at one time or another. Many are regular users who do so every day. But I always find it quite shocking as to how many just use Word and/or Excel, the bees' knees in word processing and spreadsheets, because they're missing out on Powerpoint 2000, one of the finest of all presentation packages and pretty much standard in all the Office releases these days. In fact, a quick check reveals that Outlook, Excel, Powerpoint and Word are all featured as part of the Standard, Professional and Developer packages. Now, I've read a few reviews by Software Snobs (you know, those geeks who populate the PC magazine pages and who profess their undying love for stuff like Opera and Linux, even though most people have never heard of either of them) which give Powerpoint the big thumbs down and suggest other packages. "It's clunky and amateurish," they moan. However, for my money Powerpoint is as far ahead of the rest of the field as most of Office's other modules and I've always sworn by it, ever since I got my first look, way back in the early 90's. Powerpoint has pretty much everything you could wish for in a presentational package, ranging from animation and sound effects, to a hug chunk of clip art and templates to get you up and running really quickly. You can even go off in search of even more photos and graphics by clicking the relevant button when you want to insert a picture. If you're connected to the Internet you're whizzed off instantly into the cyberspace of the Microsoft site to search for all the pics your heart could desire, which are quickly and easily added to your machine's gallery. Like anything, you have to know what you're looking for when you use Powerpoint and it's easy to get lost in the huge range of sexy add ons, like transitions between slides and whoosing noises or applause to highlight you
r inept preparation. However, you need to remain very disciplined and stick to the knitting. The sound of a lamb ushering in a presentation on wool markets might work pretty well in your bedroom as you dream it up, but won't go down so well in the boardroom. If you can resist making yourself look an absolute prat by going over the top with such bells and whistles, Powerpoint is an absolute dream and will do any job extremely well. It's easy to pick up the basics really quickly and knock out an impressive presentation in double quick time and you get all the various outputs you could wish for in things like Notes View and six slides to a page print out, to leave your dazzled audience with a lasting reminder of that erudite lecture on the mating habits of Canadian Tree Frogs. I could go on for hours clueing you in on all the little tricks and wheezes you can come up with, or ramble on and on about the special features, but why don't I just point you in the direction of http://www.fgcu.edu/support/office2000/ppt/ the best site I've seen yet in teaching you how to use Powerpoint and you really should check it out if you're interested. Meanwhile, at umesde.umes.edu/mentor/Office2000/ppt2000.doc you get more decent info with a downloadable document called oddly enough 'Powerpoint 2000'. It lists the new features you get with the 2000 version, such as the following (Sorry about the liberal quotations, but why not): Tri-pane view. PowerPoint 2000 combines slides, outlines, and notes into one view. This makes it easy to perform many actions, including adding new slides, editing text, entering notes, and navigating while editing. AutoFit and Fit to Window. In Microsoft PowerPoint 2000, text is automatically resized to fit into a place holder so that it doesn't ?fall off? the slide. Slides automatically resize to fit the display resolution and window, so you no longer have to
manually adjust their slides or screen resolution. Native tables. You can create tables directly in PowerPoint 2000 instead of importing from Word or Excel. PowerPoint tables are composed of OfficeArt shapes and behave like tables in Word, making them easy to edit and consistent with styles and themes. Flexible handouts. You now have more options for audience handouts. PowerPoint Central. You can get support from helpful PowerPoint resources, such as tutorials, additional textures, sounds, and animations in the Office Value Pack and the PowerPoint Web site. Custom shows. You can create mini-presentations within a single PowerPoint file that are tailored to different audiences. Slide Show menu. The new Slide Show menu consolidates everything you need to deliver presentations electronically, whether in a kiosk, in a conference room, or over the Internet. Types of output. PowerPoint 2000 provides you with every output option: slides, black-and-white and color overheads, black-and-white and color handouts, speaker's notes, and on-screen electronic presentations. In addition, PowerPoint now supports virtual presentations over the Internet. Web integration features Synchronized voice narration. Recorded narration is synchronized with the original presentation, including all transitions and build animations. PowerPoint 2000 also adds the ability to re-record narration for a single slide. Present in browser. PowerPoint HTML provides a button that launches the presentation in full screen. Presentations can be delivered using Internet Explorer version 4.0 or higher instead of a viewer. PowerPoint 2000 integrates two Microsoft technologies, NetShow and NetMeeting, to enable you to collaborate over the network in real time. Presentation broadcast. Using Presentation Broadcast, you can deliver a presentation over an intranet, displaying the presentati
on slides in HTML along with the narration as streaming audio and video (requires a NetShow server). Using the Outlook messaging and collaboration client, you can also schedule online broadcasts, set up reminders and click a button to join the broadcast. Event Web Page and Presentations on Demand. Using this page, others can tune in to watch the broadcast either during or after, or to get information before the broadcast starts. Also, broadcasts are archived on a Web server and are available for playback at any time. Action buttons. You can connect to another slide, document, or Web site from within a presentation using a set of built-in, universally recognizable 3-D shapes for actions such as forward, back, home, and information. (Okay back to the dave27 show) In reality many of those features are going to be pretty much wasted on most people who want to use Powerpoint for the bog standard slide presentation, but so what, big boys always like their little toys and this baby has got them all. (PS price is as per the full Microsoft Office package)
In olden days, there was no more depressing sight than someone clearly discomfited by having to do some public speaking, having their finely wrought plans unravelled, and their nervousness emphasized by an inability to deal with OHP slides. The advantage of PowerPoint should be to unshackle the jumpy speaker from acetate slides that stick together, the rather prim use of a sheet of paper to mask some of the options as you deal with them one after the other, the agony of the dropped sheet, the endless preliminary fumble to make the OHP stop projecting onto the ceiling. Of course, in reality, all PowerPoint has done is give a new set of problems to the same nervous people - the transition that doesn’t work, the laptop with the wrong version of PowerPoint, the presentation that stubbornly refuses to begin, or go backwards. A very important person at a former workplace of mine was routinely unmanned by the fact that his secretary always did his slides for him, and he really didn’t understand how the program actually worked. As it happens, I like PowerPoint. Apart from Word (which is a piece of cake if all you want to do is type a letter or some simple text) it’s the only Microsoft package I have taught myself completely, without asking someone else or going on a course. This is largely because you can make a perfectly workable presentation using the one default slide template (simple heading, with bulleted text in the body of the slide) and never actually bothering with the animations and transitions. But once you have given a simple presentation, it’s very easy to start fiddling about and find a level of exciting action which you are comfortable with. The big advantage of PowerPoint is the way in which you can deal with the business of making a presentation in an ordered fashion. You create a presentation in one place, and you can then easily transfer it by disk or email to the place where you actually want to present.
This one file also allows you to print off useful handouts, big bright versions you can take away and read up on the train (if like me you travel the counry making presentations), and can be stored so that others can make use of it as well. There are, of course, several things you need to remember about PowerPoint. 1) It doesn’t make you good at public speaking A generation of hunch-backed, muttering, reading-verbatim-from-index-cards people think that they can now make presentations full of pizzazz and excitement - they’re wrong. It is no more interesting to watch someone read their dull presentation from a screen as it was from an OHP or from those index cards. Boring is boring, however much technology you wrap it up with. I am a relatively good public speaker because I can improvise, I am not totally thrown by interventions / interuptions, and I can usually judge the audience well enough to make them laugh (this may sometimes be inappropriate, but it does mean that they’re listening). None of these things is made any better or easier by PowerPoint. 2) The content is the message I recently followed the head of a quite-well known pressure group in making a presentation. He’s exceptionally good at the kind of thing he was doing (intimate talk to about twenty people) - which is good, because his horribly garish PowerPoint slides (I counted six colours, including green, purple and yellow) were an abominable distraction. You’ve probably seen a presentation done by someone who smirks every time some fabulous new animation or (even worse) noise heralds the next slide. This person is a * - nothing they say is as important to them as their use of piece of technology. What matters is the words, and how you deliver them; PowerPoint is a visual aid, nothing more. I had to address a meeting of senior civil servants in Northern Ireland, and had emailed my presentation to them. The problem was that I h
ad been testing out the program beforehand, and had created a version which had a different, and increasingly elaborate transition or animation in each successive slide. And that was the version I sent to them by mistake. Fortunately, they were interested in what I had to say, and weren’t put off by the circus going on behind me - but I’ve seen people use the gimmick-driven approach for real, and it just doesn’t work.
This is the third and last of my looks at what you get within MS Office, having written opinions on Excel and Access previously - I’m assuming that word processors like Word are old hat to the likes of us that write “e-pinions”. So just what is Microsoft PowerPoint? Well, the official description is “Presentation Software”. Loading a blank “slide”, however may convince you at first glance, that it’s yet another desk-top publishing package, after all, there are all the usual features for inserting text boxes and images, but if this were the case, why do Microsoft also produce Publisher? The difference is in what you do with the end result, rather than how you get there. True, I even use PowerPoint for little bits of impromptu DTP, such as running up a quick poster for some good cause or other. At this stage it would be difficult to separate a piece of DTP from a “one-slide” presentation, and it saves me installing a DTP package that would hardly ever get used. It is PowerPoint’s ability to “run” a whole sequence of “slides” that differentiates it. You can do this at any stage of the construction of your slides. You merely cut over to “slide-show” mode from design view, and starting with the first slide, each is shown in full-screen mode, changing on a click of the mouse. You can begin to see from this, that PowerPoint and a PC Projector would be a damned fine combination of kit. As I’ve already stated, construction of individual pages (or slides) follows much the same process as for DTP. Slides can be dimensioned to suit 4:3 screens, overhead projectors or plain old A4 paper. Being an MS product, it integrates well with other elements like Excel. This means that, for instance, a graph in one of your slides can be directly linked to a spreadsheet, needing only the sheet’s figures to be kept up
to date. On next loading of the slide show, the new figures roll up into your slide. Just don’t forget that as you download your work to a CD-R or floppy, both items need to be transferred to a common directory, assuming they were both in My Documents in the first place otherwise the “path” needed to link the two together is broken. What else sets PowerPoint aside? Well, you can not only produce slides, but notes to go with them. These can be printed along with the slides for anyone who misses your masterpiece! You can also print your self a pack of prompts to remind yourself of what you were going to say to accompany the slides. The true impact of PowerPoint slides comes from the degree of animation that can be injected into them. For example, if you have several significant points to make about a particular slide, say a plunging sales graph, you can produce one “bullet-point” at a time to prevent on-lookers reading ahead to the one that mentions “downsizing”! All of this is activated by extra mouse-clicks during the show. You can also arrange for a variety of slide-change effects – dissolves, one slide pushing another off-screen, and digitisation, to name but a few. So what use does a home-user like me make of it? Well apart from testing it on some projected figures relating to whether my endowment policies will pay off the mortgage or not, not a lot really. I really went to town with this one. Graphs linked to Excel sit resplendent in 3-D perspective on tasteful backgrounds supplied by MS – AND they get updated whenever Norwich Union give me some more bad news! Having said “not a lot really”, I am currently working my way through a lengthy photo album of my recent travels to OZ. Essentially, this will not differ very much from a DTP file, but for my friends who are scattered around the world (as Tony Hancock once said, “FRIENDS all over
the world…..none in this country, but all over the world!”), the whole shebang will be a lot more useful when burnt CD-ROM, complete with slide dissolves and extra notes, than posting a few “piccies” ever would. That’s assuming they have PowerPoint, of course. This also gives me the option of making my own print for a real live album – yes a book with pages in it, remember those? So there’s my quick and dirty overview of PowerPoint. Some interesting features set it apart from DTP packages, but don’t be afraid to dig in. If you are at home with DTP, this won’t stretch you much further in terms of new skills to be acquired, but the results, whether you are local secretary to a branch of Train-Spotters Anonymous or a budding Election Night Swing-o-Meter merchant, can be very rewarding.
With Office 2000 you recieve the New and Improved PowerPoint! Or is it? Often programs are released and in appearance things appear differently, but when you get into what it does, there is not much change. _____________________________________________ So what is PowerPoint? PowerPoint is a piece of Presentation Software, a glorified slide projector or OHP (overhead projector). It is commonly used when for giving talks, but can also be seen in entrance halls to business giving a looped slideshow of what they offer. As a teacher I use PowerPoint regularly. I love it, and use it for more than giving a 'lecture' (not my style!) One of the subjects I teach is Art and I use it for showing artists pictures, giving and idea of the scale of the work.....books just don't do that! My students are now using it as an electronic portfolio of their work. I'm sure examiners will get used to it! Yes, PowerPoint is presentation software, but don't just stick to talks....use your imagination, have fun with it! _____________________________________________ Features: The templates provided when you enter the program are a good starting point for those who are not used to working in frames. (You have to draw boxes to write in, or to put a picture in. It's not like Word were you just type.) The templates provide many options, just text, text and graphics, text, graphics and graphs or text, graphics, graphs and tables! You do have the blank slide option aswell....this is usually my starting point! Microsoft have added more styles with 2000. You are provided with an array of colour schemes to work with. They look wonderful on the PC screen, but a word of caution. CHECK that they look wonderful when on a big screen, in a big room, with light flooding in through the windows! As a teacher, for me, I make sure the colours won't cause a
problem to anyone who is colour blind! Once you have designed your slide, it is time to put all the information you require on to the slides. As mention previously this is done in a frame layout. At this point I have found it useful to think about how I want the overall presentation to appear at the end. If I want lots of animation, use lots of frames. Once your prentation content is complete its time for the fun stuff! Adding animation. This is very easy to do. Right click on the frame you want, select animation, and away you go. There have been more options added here in the 2000 version, have a look and play. It is here that you can also add sound Hidden buttons and the ability to add notes while your presentation is being presented (so no one else can see) is also available. As usual you are able to print out the slides in a note form, so that people listening and watching can keep track of what you are doing. With PowerPoint 2000 you are also able to make some attractive web based presentations. However, I have found it limited and would rather use Flash 5. _____________________________________________ Ease of Use With Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 things are getting incredibly simple and easy to use. The students that I teach are 14 year olds and over. They are special needs students and many have a reading age of less than 8. After a 10 min demo and 'how to' on PowerPoint they are able to produce a simple presentation in 30 mins. Microsoft have given us the ability to concentrate on the content of what we are doing rather than getting it all to work. This means that if landed it having to give a talk at short notice, making it look good won't be difficult! _____________________________________________ And finally......... If you have seen on TV programmes, poeple giving talks, amazing computer graphics and s
o many things happening on the screen, you have probably not witnessed Microsoft PowerPoint. If you want that, use a different piece of software. If you want a professional, crisp look presentation that is quick and easy to use, then this is the option for you. Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 is basically the same as it always has been, however, it has additionally templates, designs, animations and has become, yet again, easier to use.
I must admit I am a bit biased about this package as I use it a lot and am extremely familiar with it. However, if you have a knowledge of Microsoft packages then many of the functions will be familiar. It is not suitable for graphic design such as to produce newsletters, rather it should be used to produce reports, slideshows and on screen presentations. It does have quite a few basic drawing tools but for complicated editing of pictures you really need the help of a drawing package such as Corel Draw or Illustrator. It has some pretty good animation effects now and onscreen presentations can look quite stunning with the range of effects that you can put into your presentation. It is easy to learn and can be self taught without too much hassle. If in doubt, there is a useful help feature within Powerpoint.
Powerpoint is a useful little programme which allows you to produce what a lecturer might call 'visual aids'. It will make transparencies, slides (if you have hardware to print them with) or an on-screen presentation for use either on your computer or with a projector. Powerpoint will also produce handouts to accompany your presentation. The basic outlines are designed for the inclusion of images, text, graphs or flow diagrams (although facilities for the last are rather limited). Like Microsoft Publisher, it is obvious that the work put into the design of this software is much less than that put into the more popular Word, Access and Excel. Powerpoint is useful for the occasional user, or someone such as a teacher who doesn't need powerful tools, but for a professional who regularly makes presentations this isn't up to the job.
Powrpoint has saved my life so many times I've lost count. The amazing flexibility and ease of use that this gives you will allow you to create amazing works a presentational art from the templates or being entirely creative on your own. One curious thing though is that microsoft still haven't found a way of making the system stop you creating God-awfull messaes and presenting them to the director of finance. With powerpoint you'll be able to integrate all of the reports, spreadsheets and databases from your other apps right into your slides... in realtime... showing the highs and lows in full glorious animated colour as they happen. I can't say enough good stuff about this app, check out rhe MS site and invest in a copy. The increase in productivity and lower turn-around time on presentations alone will make it worth your while.