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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: November 2008

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

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Office for Mac: Black Friday Discount

Friday, November 28, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 3:36 PM IST

In an unprecedented promotion, the Mac Observer reported that Microsoft "is offering a special 70 percent discount on Office 2008 for Mac: Special Media Edition on Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28. Shoppers will receive an instant US$350 rebate when they purchase the Office suite on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, or on "Black Friday" from Apple retailers, Best Buy, or"

In addition, "Microsoft will also offer a special 50 percent holiday discount on after November 28 through the end of the year."

Categories: office_mac, powerpoint

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Thursday, November 27, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 4:50 PM IST

John WilsonJohn Wilson (pictured to the left) is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP who creates some cool add-ins for PowerPoint. He participates in the PowerPoint newsgroups and runs the PPTAlchemy site. John is based out of UK, and his newest add-in brings back the pattern fills that were removed from PowerPoint 2007.

In this discussion, John discusses the Pattern Fills Add-in product.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your Pattern Fills add-in for PowerPoint 2007, and what motivated you to create this add-in.

John: While answering questions on the PowerPoint newsgroup I noticed a fair number of questions about how to use pattern fills in PowerPoint 2007. The most usual answer was to create a texture fill that mimicked the old pattern fills and for a while this was my solution also. However it isn’t totally satisfactory and even if you create the fills carefully the final product isn’t really the same.

When I noticed that pattern fills still existed in Word 2007, I posted a tutorial on how to use them to create proper pattern fills in PowerPoint 2007. Pretty soon, I was getting 4 to 5 emails a day mainly thanking -- so there is clearly a desire to use them!

In-house, we were using VBA to create the fills but VBA code is a little scary for many users, and we didn’t have the knowledge to at that time to create a ribbon tab or group in PowerPoint 2007 to make the code simple to use. When I read an article by Eric Patterson I realized that it would be easy to adapt his Excel Ribbon to PowerPoint and Pattern Fills was a reality!

It’s a totally free add in and available on our site.

Pattern Fills add-in from PowerPoint

Geetesh: Who are the folks who miss the Pattern Fills? And why are the Pattern Fills so special?

John: Mostly, they seem to be people who need to print diagrams and charts in black & white. The pattern fills make it much easier to identify parts of the diagram and usually print out much clearer than textures and gradients.

Everyone that writes in now wants to know how to get pattern fills in graphs in 2007! So far I don’t think this can be done as the object model doesn’t expose the new graphing engine. One answer is to switch back to the old MS Graph from earlier versions of PowerPoint temporarily. You can do this with a registry hack. Steve (Rindsberg) has a tutorial on his site here.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 2:07 PM IST

I explained what animation is, and what guidelines you need to follow before you add an animation to a slide object in PowerPoint. You can add animation to any slide object in PowerPoint -- including text, charts, shapes, pictures, clip art, etc.

Follow these steps to add animation to a shape in PowerPoint.

Learn more here...

Categories: animation, powerpoint, tutorials

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 4:29 PM IST

Do you work on PowerPoint for Windows, and often need to share presentations with someone who uses a Mac? Or do you work in a cross platform environment where both Windows and Mac machines exist? Or maybe, you have one of those new Macs that allow you to boot to both Windows and Mac OSs – and you want your PowerPoint presentations to look, play, and print the same all the time – irrespective of whether you are using a computer running Windows or a Mac.

Cross-platform hiccups happen for more than one reason – it’s not unusual for the same company to have both Windows and Mac machines, or there might be a requirement to create an important presentation that needs to be compatible with whatever platform a client has. It might be that the designer hired to create a presentation or a template might use a Mac when the presenter is using a Windows machine – or even vice versa. Regardless, the differences between the Windows and Mac versions of PowerPoint have been giving presenters a fair share of problems.

Read more about being cross platform compatible with PowerPoint...

Categories: office_mac, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 1:08 PM IST

Andre VlcekAndre Vlcek (pictured to the left) is an Australia-based sales consultant and Managing Director of Sales Psychology Australia. He specializes in designing and building advanced selling strategies for sales teams.

In this discussion, Andre discusses the Visual Selling with PowerPoint concept that he evolved with Robert Lane.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your concept of visual selling with PowerPoint, and how this evolved from your everyday work.

Andre: About 2 years ago, I arrived for a ‘typical’ one-hour meeting with the human resources manager at one of Australia’s major petroleum companies. This was my first meaningful contact with them, the proverbial foot in the door. The plan was to discuss the firm’s sales recruitment process. Certainly I had my detailed linear PowerPoint show in hand, for what was supposed to be an informal meeting with only this person—and I had thought a lot about what he needed to hear. As soon as I walked into his office, though, I sensed trouble brewing.

The room contained five people, instead of one, and my HR manager contact proceeded to enthusiastically introduce me to his ‘unexpected’ guests, including the general manager of sales, a psychologist HR consultant, the firm’s call center manager, and of all people … the CEO! His guests happened to hear about the meeting just that morning and were curious about individual issues related to their job responsibilities. All of a sudden, my simple, casual talk turned into a full-blown sales demonstration, addressing multiple competing interests and perspectives. Those careful, late-night preparations for this meeting subsequently evaporated into thin air.

Five minutes into the talk, the psychologist interjected that another meeting was coming up and he had just a few quick questions to ask. Of course, my canned slide show didn’t contain appropriate answers to his issues, or, in some cases, slides sat somewhere 30 transitions away. Other attendees soon asked questions, as well, and a discussion ensued. The GM of sales wanted to know to what extent previous projects had increased sales revenues. The HR manager hoped to explore the candidate testing process; and the call center lady was wondering how all this related to her call center environment.

Over the next hour, most of my PowerPoint content sat worthless and unused before me because I couldn’t properly adjust it to the rapidly changing situation.

Annoyance with PowerPoint’s linear design eventually led me to look for alternative ways of presenting information. It was unacceptable that my reputation hinged upon how well I could foretell the future by lining up perfect slide sequences in advance. Surely I needed something other than PowerPoint, I thought, and then I happened across Robert Lane’s Relational Presentation approach while reading another article. That was the solution I needed and eventually Robert and I teamed up to develop the interactive PowerPoint-based selling process featured in this article, called Visual Selling. The Visual Selling Whitepaper published by Microsoft is now available as a free download from the Aspire website.

Geetesh: How do you believe this can benefit end-users -- and is this approach restricted to sales presentations?

Andre: I recommend anyone using PowerPoint apply the innovative organizational and navigational structure called Topical Navigation developed by Robert Lane – CEO and Founder of Aspire Communciations. Doing that will provide powerful flexibility to respond to your audience and overcome the constraints of PowerPoints traditional linearity.
In my case, with my branding, it turned out like the example in Figure 1. Categories of information appear along the left side of slides and individual topics within those categories display in the menu at bottom-left. While working with customers, I now can move seamlessly between hundreds of slide options, in any order, at any time.

Visual Selling
Figure 1: Modified version of the title slide with navigational hyperlinks on the left side

Having that kind of flexibility has been a lifesaver several times already. The other day, I scheduled another hour-long meeting with a major bank, to discuss improving prospecting skills for their nearly 200 mobile business bankers. I don’t know. Maybe I attract these things, but upon arriving at the establishment, I could see the buying team was visibly distracted and anxious. The Vice President of Sales then informed me that some kind of technical glitch had occurred within their operations and that he could spare only fifteen minutes for our meeting. My timeslot promptly diminished in size by 75% before my eyes! I had to cut right to the point and hit the highlights of my proposal, without appearing frazzled or disorganized in the process.

These days I can do that, and it’s not nearly as difficult as I once thought.

That same kind of powerful flexibility and adaptability is available to anyone who needs to communicate, persuade, or sell their ideas using Microsoft PowerPoint. In conclusion the power of flexibility is one of the best kept secrets within Microsoft PowerPoint!

Categories: case_studies, delivery, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 11:28 AM IST

Now that I have discussed what animation is (and where you should draw the limits as far as animation goes), let me get started showing you how you can work with animation in PowerPoint. All animation in PowerPoint can be divided into four categories.

Learn about animation types in PowerPoint here...

Categories: animation, powerpoint, tutorials

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 4:49 PM IST

Harman Singh (pictured to the left) graduated with a Masters degree in Computer Science at the NC State University in Raleigh, NC -- here he did Masters Research in the field of eLearning and distance education. Under the guidance of his mentors, Dr. Steve Walsh and Dr. Tom Miller, he founded authorGEN Technologies in 2002 with the vision of providing teachers with tools to teach online. In this conversation, Harman discusses authorSTREAM, their slide sharing site.

Geetesh: Tell us more about the new improvements at authorSTREAM, including enhanced profile features.

Harman: We've experimented with a lot of things on authorSTREAM. The basic idea behind bringing in the new design was to increase usability, performance, navigation and PowerPoint uploads. We've introduced "Your Stuff", "Like it/Dislike it", "Active Users", and updated the presentation page layout.

"Your Stuff" refers to users' dashboard. Your Stuff is a single page from where you can see all featured presentations, active users, what's up on authorSTREAM, and can easily access "Your Uploaded Presentations" page, Profile and the "Import contacts" page. Now you can add your web address and information about yourself to your profile. Your web address will be visible on your presentation pages and on your Profile page thus providing you as many link-backs as the number of presentations uploaded by you.

"Active users" is a way to acknowledge sincere efforts of dedicated PowerPoint uploaders who spend hours to create wonderful presentations. Recent updates on authorSTREAM include Guest uploads, a Facebook application, PowerPoint for Peace, and Present Live. Improvement efforts are still on, and you will see a lot of other features in the coming days.

Geetesh: How did these new features evolve – did they come about as a result of user feedback? Also, how can a user send feedback to authorSTREAM.

Harman: Well, some came from user feedback and support queries while the others are a result of brainstorming within the team. We always wanted that users should not feel restricted while sharing PowerPoint online. Why would you use PowerPoint if you don’t require animations, sound and automatic timings? You could rather share a document or PDF. We understand that sharing a PowerPoint presentation online should be exactly the same as you are watching a PPT on your computer within PowerPoint. authorSTREAM is the solution that addresses all such issues.

authorSTREAM offers the following features, which any PowerPoint lover would expect from an online PPT sharing platform:

  • Animation, sound, timings, etc. are retained in the output.
  • Your narrated or rehearsed presentations are also converted to video formats (video for iPod, video for YouTube). The ‘Send To YouTube’ feature lets you port videos to YouTube instantly from your dashboard.
  • authorPOINT Lite - a free desktop tool to support hassle-free conversion and uploads.
  • Present Live - Enables presenters to share a presentation with a select circle of friends or associates, live on the Internet. A quick and easy way of discussing a presentation using text chat and third party audio conferencing, this facility has opened up a new channel of live communication for use in business, education, entertainment and other sectors.
Users can send their feedback through the contact page.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by rmarsiglia

Categories: authorstream, powerpoint

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Monday, November 24, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 10:57 AM IST

Ellen FinkelsteinEllen Finkelstein is author of several PowerPoint, Flash, and AutoCAD books, including the bestselling Flash CS4 For Dummies.

Her company, Ellen Finkelstein, Inc. helps clients create presentations and designs that communicate clearly and achieve their goals. She maintains a web site that offers PowerPoint and Flash related tips, and a selection of free backgrounds.

In this discussion, Ellen discusses her Flash CS4 For Dummies book.

Geetesh: You work with both PowerPoint and Flash -- can you tell us more about which program works best in a given scenario, and also how do you use them together.

Ellen: For advanced animation, especially programmable animation, Flash reigns supreme. And you can morph shapes in Flash, a feature that I'd love to see in PowerPoint. Also, Flash is created for the Web; it creates small, fast SWF files that almost everyone can play.

PowerPoint is much easier to use and doesn't require programming to add interactivity. Its strong point is in delivering presentations. PowerPoint is focused towards displaying from the software itself; to distribute on a Web site, you almost have to convert a PowerPoint presentation to SWF format.

There is an area of overlap, for self-running presentations. For a high-end result, you could use Flash, but you could also use PowerPoint. There are animators that can create amazing, Flash-like results in PowerPoint. I have several tips on my site that explain how to duplicate in PowerPoint an animation technique that I originally saw or created in Flash. Some examples are a bouncing ball, magnifying an image, dissolving one image into another, a revolving earth, a line drawing itself, and cutouts (transparent areas through which you see another image).

Of course, you can insert a Flash movie into PowerPoint. I explain how to do so. This allows you to take advantage of the advanced animation features of Flash within PowerPoint.

Geetesh: Tell us about your new book Flash CS4 For Dummies -- can PowerPoint users benefit from this book, and how?

Ellen: Flash CS4 For Dummies is our latest edition -- and it's finally in color!

CS4 has some fantastic new features. Perhaps the most well-known is Inverse Kinematics, which makes it easy to animate people or animals walking. Pattern fills and the spray brush are other great, new graphics tools. This book has always been a best seller, because it explains Flash is a clear, simple way. PowerPoint users who want to bring their animation skills up to another level will benefit from this book, because they can create their own SWF files to insert into PowerPoint.

Categories: interviews, powerpoint_flash

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Saturday, November 22, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 10:15 AM IST

Vikas JoshiVikas Joshi (pictured to the left) is regarded as a thought leader for pioneering e-learning and knowledge management. He is also known for his groundbreaking work in the online learning industry, product innovations, and offshore outsourcing models. Under his guidance and leadership, the Harbinger group has built innovative software products for the global marketplace.

In this discussion, Vikas discusses the new YawnBuster product.

Geetesh: Tell us how YawnBuster evolved -- and what is its raison d'etre?

Vikas: As presenters, we all know how difficult it is to keep boredom away in meetings and enliven them. We try various tricks to make the presentations more interactive. With this need in mind, we thought of YawnBuster. YawnBuster is useful for every person in the world who needs to make a presentation since it brings together PowerPoint and Flash, two most popular tools used in presentations and web development. With YawnBuster, a PowerPoint user can quickly and easily introduce Flash based group activities in the presentation, with no need for programming.

YawnBuster is the ideal tool for enhancing PowerPoint with group activities for the busy presenter. Its quick-to-learn and easy-to-use interface allows you to create lively interactive presentations without having to learn Flash ActionScript or the Flash timeline. It's a great way to add Flash to the PowerPoint presentations.

Geetesh: Can you share some usability scenarios for YawnBuster.

Vikas: Well, YawnBuster can be used in corporate training, education, sales presentations, business meetings, and many more such applications. YawnBuster allows the presenters to include various Group Activities such as audience polls, games, group exercises and competitions in your presentations. With these, the presenters can get their audience to think, enjoy, participate and identify key takeaways quickly and easily.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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Friday, November 21, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 4:33 PM IST

Novatrox AB, a Sweden based company announced the release of their new version 2.3 product: Slide Executive Professional enables organizations to store their presentation content in a slide library, making it available to business professionals and decision-makers throughout the enterprise through any web browser, anywhere in the world. Slide Executive can also be used as a digital asset management system since it handles document formats other than PowerPoint, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PDFs, graphic files, movies, etc.

More info can be found on the Slide Executive site...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint, slide_management

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posted by Geetesh on 1:29 PM IST

Rick Altman (pictured to the right) is a presentation consultant based out of Pleasanton, CA. Rick is well known as the host of the annual PowerPoint Live User Conference and has a strong sense of the needs of the presentation community. In this conversation, Rick discusses the PowerPoint Live in San Diego that was held in September 2008.

Geetesh: Looking back at the just concluded PowerPoint Live held in San Diego, tell us about the highs and lows, wows and anything else.

Rick: The biggest wow for me was the demographic of the patrons -- so much enthusiasm and spirit this year! Most of them were first-timers, but sent from companies that had sent people in previous years. So they were fresh and yet predisposed to having a good experience. As the host and organizer, you gotta like that!

The highest high and the lowest low were actually the same event: the Wednesday keynote address with Garr Reynolds was amazing, as we established a video connection with him from his home in Osaka Japan, at 1:00a in his morning. It was an incredible experience for everyone. And it was, without any doubt, the most stressful hour of my conference career, as we careened out of control, totally at the mercy of the technology and a fragile hotel Internet connection.

The non-academic high water mark had to have been the concert at the beach Tuesday evening, where we took over a Mexican restaurant on the boardwalk for a big margarita party and visit from a Journey tribute band who really played and sounded like the real thing. People were buzzing about that all day on Wednesday.

Geetesh: What gets PowerPoint Live to San Diego every alternate year?

Rick: I just love the city. I grew up vacationing down there (I'm from Northern California, about 500 miles north) so it's in my blood. It offers a perfect September-October climate (when other parts of the country are beginning to get cold and even snowy), it's easy to get to, affordable, with lots of attractions.

Also, the hotel we choose fits us like a glove and has many services and amenities nearby. At some point, the patrons might get bored of going there every other year and will tell us so, but so far, nobody has.

Geetesh: Why did you choose Atlanta for the next PowerPoint Live in 2009?

Rick: We are alternating between east and west each year, but we have not yet gone all the way to the East Coast. We know of many people who will appreciate direct flights or simple drives to Atlanta, as well as people whose companies simply don't have the budget to travel for conferences.

And the Buckhead community of Atlanta is a fantastic place to visit, with lots of dining, shopping, and entertainment. The hotel we chose was purchased by Marriott six months ago and is almost finished with a $65M renovation, so it will essentially be a brand new hotel for us.

Categories: interviews, powerpointlive

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posted by Geetesh on 10:32 AM IST

Anand Khanse and Ramesh Kumar, Microsoft MVPs from India have announced the launch of their free Windows Vista tweaking tool that fulfills a need for a TweakUI equivalent in Windows Vista. This new tool, called the Ultimate Windows Tweaker allows you to customize several facets of Windows Vista including personalization, security, Internet Explorer, UAC, network optimization, etc.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker

Download Ultimate Windows Tweaker here...

Categories: microsoft_windows, troubleshooting

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Thursday, November 20, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 1:15 PM IST is a specialized PowerPoint backgrounds site that provides 865 ready to use backgrounds for themes like Christmas, Thanksgiving and other festivals. These backgrounds can be used as backgrounds or graphics in PowerPoint presentations and templates, or in posters, cards, etc.

You can see a few designs here.

Read the review here...

Categories: powerpoint, templates

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posted by Geetesh on 1:03 PM IST

Ppted released a new PowerPoint template set -- this one is called Thanksgiving. 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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posted by Geetesh on 12:55 PM IST

Ppted released a new PowerPoint template set -- this one is called Graduation. 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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