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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: April 2008

Thoughts and impressions of whatever is happening in the world of PowerPoint

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PowerPoint 2008 or Keynote 08

Monday, April 28, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 7:40 AM IST

The folks at PC World recently created the same presentation in both PowerPoint 2008 for the Mac and Apple's Keynote 08 -- the results make interesting reading. There's no clear winner, but PowerPoint 2008 may have surpassed Keynote 08 in several areas.

Read more on the PC World site...

Categories: keynote, office_mac, powerpoint

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 12:52 PM IST

Christian Lund-Sørensen is co-owner and serves as Managing Director at SkabelonDesign. He is responsible for all international activities in the company and also focus on strategic development of the company. In this interview, Christian discusses the PresentationEngine product, and how it can make life easier for PowerPoint designers.

Christian Lund-Sørensen

Read the interview here...

Categories: interviews, powerpoint

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Sunday, April 13, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 4:53 PM IST

Echo Swinford (pictured to the right) is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional). When she's not working on new media, she is answering almost all the questions on the PowerPoint newsgroup. Echo is also the co-author of Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit, published by Que. She also creates tons of presentations for the medical industry -- you can contact her for your presentation requirements through her site: Echo's Voice.

Geetesh: Tell us more about yourself, and the PowerPoint work you do in the medical industry.

Well, I started working for a medical education communications company in 1997. The owner was considering outsourcing her slide work, but she was worried about quality control. I knew my quality control was good in general, so I proposed that she let me create her slides. I didn’t tell her that I didn’t really know PowerPoint, so when she agreed, I had to learn it – and learn it fast!

I think my background in journalism and desktop publishing has really helped me with slide development, especially if you think of it as page layout on a large scale. I know that my proofreading skills are a definite plus, and the fact that I’m a bit of a math and puzzle geek sure hasn’t hurt!

Here I am, 11 years later, still developing presentations for a variety of industries. In the healthcare and medical education industry specifically, I do a lot of slide cleanup work, making presentations consistent and visible for conferences and meetings as well as developing collateral materials like scientific posters and syllabi. I also do a lot of promotional decks, speaker-led presentations, CME materials, and stand-alone enduring education modules that are distributed in a variety of ways. In addition, I can often be found with the production crew backstage at meetings, running speaker review or minding the presentation equipment. I love being self-employed, so I have the opportunity to do all of those things and more (like write PowerPoint books!).

Geetesh: What sets the presentations created for medicine to be different than conventional PowerPoints?

Echo: Honestly, I don’t know that there is such a thing as a “conventional” PowerPoint! PowerPoint is used in so many ways….

One thing common to many medical presentations, though, is the sheer amount of data-driven slides. That means lots of charts, lots of tables, and lots of really text-heavy slides. I find that the extreme mix of chart slides is always a challenge in medical presentations – more so than with what I see in other industries. For example, it’s not unusual for a medical presenter to want four or six very small charts on a slide, with the goal of comparing various studies or compounds at different stages. Therefore, understanding what point the speaker wants to make becomes imperative to the design of the slide. If you can eliminate or at least downplay the extraneous information, you can emphasize what’s important – what the audience should remember.

So, maybe after this four-chart slide, there’s a column chart. Then a line chart, then a pie chart, then a column chart with a trend line. Some have error bars, some don’t. Some slides have two or three or four charts, others have just one. The challenge is making all of these different charts look like a cohesive set, especially when the data varies so greatly. It’s also important to understand what types of charts show what types of data the best so you can advise your clients appropriately.

When you toss in text-heavy slides, it’s important for the presentation developer to understand what’s important and what can be moved into speaker notes or downplayed on the slide. Some text slides work better as tables, especially if the text has lots of numbers and specific data.

And then, of course, there’s always the struggle with where to place references, P-values, and acronym definitions, and it’s not unusual to have a lot of all of those on an individual slide! That extreme amount of “fine print” just isn’t as much of an issue in the presentations I work on for other industries. And finding some of the symbols used in medical presentations can be an adventure, too.

Categories: interviews, medicine, powerpoint

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Friday, April 11, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 11:37 AM IST

This exclusive book extract from Advanced PowerPoint 2007 is presented here with permission from Pearson Education.

The book, authored by Wayne Kao and Jeff Huang will help an intermediate PowerPoint user improve their skills to an advanced level. The book goes into deep technical detail about the Office 2007 theme engine and how color schemes, effect schemes, and font schemes work; as well as the new PowerPoint XML file format, showing you how to edit PowerPoint files without using PowerPoint at all.

Read the excerpts here...

Categories: books, powerpoint_2007

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posted by Geetesh on 9:59 AM IST

Google Presentations, a component of Google Docs now provides a much-requested feature that allows you to save your presentations as PowerPoint files. This will allow users to create presentations using Google's online office suite, and then share them in the omnipresent PowerPoint file format.

Save as PowerPoint

This is a great move on Google's part and will help users exchange information in various file formats easily. I like this option because I can now create the skeleton of the presentation using Google's great collaboration tools, and then save the outline to a PowerPoint file. Once this is saved as a PowerPoint file, I can then use PowerPoint's powerful features to create a great presentation.

Here's a link on Google's blog that explains more...

Categories: google, powerpoint

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Thursday, April 10, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 10:58 AM IST

Christina Deatherage serves as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ShowLogicTM for Catevo. Prior to joining The Catevo Group, she worked for IBM/Lenovo where she held various marketing, sales and strategy positions. In this interview, she discusses Catevo's new ShowLogic presentation platform.

Christina Deatherage

Read the interview here...

Categories: interviews, powerpoint

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 12:31 PM IST

Ppted released a new PowerPoint template set -- this one is called Net. Not only do you get five great template designs, you also get the actual backgrounds so that you can use the same designs elsewhere. In this collection, you also get wide screen templates and backgrounds, and ten transparent PNGs you can use in your presentations -- at no extra cost.


Transparent PNGs

None of the templates at are free -- these are all designer templates. I just wanted to say that because lots of readers write in to say that their Indezine passwords don't let them download all the Ppted templates for free!

Categories: powerpoint, templates

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 4:22 PM IST

Users in the field of medicine are among the largest users of PowerPoint as a medium of information, instruction, and distribution. These users however tend to use PowerPoint in a very different manner than conventional PowerPoint users -- they also need a different set of resources that is geared towards their profession. After years of running, one of the largest PowerPoint sites I realized that there really isn't a PowerPoint resource available that has been created exclusively for end users in the medicine sector. And thus was born.

If you work with PowerPoint in the medicine sector, please do share this resource with your colleagues -- and do send me your feedback so that we can make this site better.

Categories: medicine, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 11:08 AM IST

Google Docs is now providing offline access to editing files on an experimental basis -- as of now this only works with Docs, rather than Spreadsheets and Presentations, but it is definitely a start in a direction that may have far reaching results in the way we all use computing.

ChannelWeb provides opinions from many users about this new feature that works on Google Gears, an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality.

Even with Docs, this option has not been made available to all Google accounts, so if you don't see this functionality yet, you might have to wait a little while longer. I'm waiting to see how Google implements this technology into the Presentations component of Google Docs. And while many sites and bloggers seem to indicate that this might be a big blow to Microsoft Office, I think there's so much more to wait and watch before making a blanket statement of that magnitude.

Categories: google, microsoft_office

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 10:41 PM IST

Joel HarbandJoel Harband heads Tuval Software Industries, based in Israel. Their best known product is Speech-Over Studio, a PowerPoint add-in that enables PowerPoint slides to incorporate narrations using automated voices.

Geetesh: Tell us more about the new features and improvements in Speech-Over 2.5

Joel: Sure. First, I'd like to remind readers of Speech-Over's mission: To use narration and animation in PowerPoint to achieve the impact of a live presentation. This boosts the effectivity of PowerPoint-based e-learning, training and web presentations in a easy and economical way.

Speech-Over lets users build effective narrations from individual narration clips, combining general orientation topics, like introduction and summary, with specific content topics linked to screen objects. PowerPoint animations synchronized with the narration clips are added to illustrate and clarify the narration.

Speech-Over uses articulate text-to-speech (TTS) voices to add and maintain professional narration easily.

The new features in Speech-Over 2.5 are designed to raise efficiency when the software is used by teams of authors. The features include the ability to refresh all narration clips in the presentation after changes in preferences, including the slide notes generated in the notes pane, and an improved voice preview function in the narration clip editor that allows skipping sentences during the preview and stopping it in the middle.

Geetesh: Can you tell us more about the TTS voices, what they are, and how one can get more of them?

Joel: Text to speech (TTS) is the automated synthesis of speech from text. The heart of the system is the text-to-speech engine, a sophisticated piece of software that parses the text input, analyzes its grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and capitalization, and activates voice simulations to produce a vocal rendering of the text.

The data for individual voices are provided in separate files called "voices". The TTS engine can work with any of the voices interchangeably.

Advances in TTS technology have replaced the old robotic computer voices with new, amazingly realistic ones.

Synthesized from real voices, these remarkable TTS voices can read books aloud beautifully without a mistake, guided only by grammar, sentence structure and punctuation. People use them to learn and review while driving.

The exciting news is that these articulate TTS voices have been harnessed by Speech-Over to empower users to add professional narration in presentations easily.

Speech-Over, which has an embedded text-to-speech engine, accepts user narration text and launches TTS voices from within PowerPoint to record professional narrations from the text alone.

Change the narration text as often as you need and these tireless voices record new versions quickly and faithfully without complaint.

TTS voices are separate computer applications which, once installed, are recognized by Speech-Over. They are available in male and female gender, in all major languages, and in various regional dialects.

Basic quality Microsoft voices Mike and Mary are included free. For much better results, premium TTS voices are available from voice vendors such as AT&T and NeoSpeech at affordable prices. Speech-Over uses SAPI 5 standard TTS voices. (For info about premium voices, see here...).

For more info about text-to-speech, see here...

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 4:11 PM IST

Flypaper is a cool, new presentation creation program that lets you create Flash presentations that you can instantly upload to sites like YouTube, MySpace,a nd Facebook. In its present beta incarnation, it has some rough edges and any comparison with PowerPoint would be probably like comparing apples and oranges since Flypaper seems to provide a very different concept altogether.

Flash presentations with Flypaper

Flypaper is a free application that runs on Windows XP and Windows Vista only (no Mac yet) -- it's a large download at 89 mb whereabouts, but it's fun to play with and may evolve into something very useful. The screenshot above shows the interface -- click on the screenshot to see a larger preview.

Flypaper does get into new terminology though: slide layouts/designs are called 'models'! Here's a quick one slide pres that I created in Flypaper, and then uploaded to Youtube.

Categories: flypaper, online_presentations, youtube

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