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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: February 2009

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

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PowerPoint and Presenting Notes
PowerPoint and Presenting Glossary
PowerPoint Programming

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FILEminimizer Office 5.0: The Indezine Review

Friday, February 27, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 11:36 AM IST



In the last few years, there have been a spate of products that offer compression and optimization for PowerPoint presentation file formats. Many of these do an awesome job, making PowerPoint files more lean and compact, and easier to share. Now the next generation of these products does the same compression and optimization for many more file formats including the ones introduced in Microsoft Office 2007. Our review product, FILEminimizer Office is one of them.

Read the Indezine review...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:48 PM IST



Don BrittainDon Brittain is CEO and a founder of Instant Effects, a California company that develops software to visually enhance presentations, communications, and collaboration. In this conversation, Don discusses the new v3.5 release of Instant Effects Presenter.

Geetesh: What’s different in this release of Presenter v3.5, and what are “brandable” themes?

Don: The Presenter product line is known for producing very fluid presentations from content authored in PowerPoint. In addition to the large number of included professional looks, 3D artists have always been able to add fully-branded backgrounds, transitions, and logo treatments to Presenter by using our free theme authoring tools.

Presenter v3.5 takes this ability to create customized motion backgrounds and transitions to a whole new level. With the new “brandable” looks introduced with this release, 2D user-supplied images are seamlessly integrated with our brandable themes in such a way that everyone can produce custom-branded broadcast quality results.

This feature raises the bar for visual branding by allowing people to easily produce customized results that are not possible with any other presentation package available today. And you should see the effect on potential clients and customers when they see their own logos and brands appearing in your presentation in TV-like fashion!

Moreover, with a single button press, the custom-branded looks can be captured, in still form, as PowerPoint backgrounds, so that branding remains consistent across live motion presentations, traditional PowerPoint presentations, audience handouts, and user-produced digital movies made with Presenter.

With Presenter v3.5, we’ve also enhanced the user interface for dual monitor shows, improved support for HD video, and enhanced playback performance for all ranges of hardware. Users can often pay for the Presenter software license with just the savings that come from reduced video equipment rental and setup charges at their first video-rich show!

Geetesh: How well does Presenter v3.5 work with PowerPoint 2007 files.

Don: We put a lot of work into Presenter v3.5 to provide tighter integration with PowerPoint 2007. Due to bugs and missing features in Microsoft’s programming interface for PowerPoint 2007, some features in the previous release of Presenter were only available to people running PowerPoint 2002 or PowerPoint 2003.

Presenter v3.5 uses alternative approaches to get around many of the limitations present in the PowerPoint 2007 programming support. In particular, support for bitmapped text has been dramatically improved. This feature is critical for presentations that contain text that reads right-to-left, and for improving text clarity on computers with minimal 3D graphics support (e.g. integrated Intel graphics).

As with earlier releases of PowerPoint, we now support the use of external sound files and event triggering in PowerPoint 2007. And all new features and benefits of v3.5 also work well with PowerPoint 2007.

Geetesh: Do you provide any samples that can be downloaded and viewed?

Don: Yes. We encourage people to try our software with no need to buy anything. You can download a free copy of Presenter from this link. This free version runs with a "watermark" on the images that is removed if you purchase a license. There is no time limit to the trial, so you can test out various features of Presenter as your schedule permits.

We also have videos throughout our web site that show our software in action, and, of course, we would be very happy to discuss how Presenter can help you improve your presentation effectiveness. Feel free to contact us via the links or numbers on the contact page of our web site.

Categories: add-in, interviews, officefx, powerpoint

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Monday, February 23, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:36 PM IST



In a previous tutorial I showed you how to apply the preset effects to shapes in PowerPoint 2007. In this tutorial, I'll show you how you can apply shadow effects to shapes in PowerPoint 2007.

Learn more here...


Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 3:29 PM IST



PowerPoint 2007 offers six effect types that you can apply to most slide objects including shapes. However there may be times when you don't want to go through the trouble of experimenting with these six effects to see if a particular shadow effect style works well with another bevel effect. If that sounds familiar, you will love the Presets option that combines effects that generally work well with each other.

Learn more about these Preset Effects...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 3:14 PM IST



PowerPoint 2007 shape effects can be applied to selected shapes on a slide. There are six shape effects available in PowerPoint 2007: shadow, reflection, glow, soft edges, bevel, and 3-D rotation. In addition you also have presets. I'll explain each of these effects options in individually detailed pages. In this tutorial, I'll explain basics of applying effects.

Learn more here...

Categories: effects, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:35 PM IST



We reviewed ConceptDraw Office in November 2008, and already the folks at CS Odessa have released a free update for all registered users of ConceptDraw Office. For those of you who are not aware of ConceptDraw Office, it is a three program suite comprising:

  • ConceptDraw PRO: A diagramming and vector drawing software program.
  • ConceptDraw MINDMAP: A brainstorming tool that utilizes mind mapping techniques to help organize ideas and tasks.
  • ConceptDraw PROJECT: A professional project management software application.
Tanya Kozovaya sent me this list of improvements:
  • ConceptDraw MINDMAP adds a new Full Screen mode, making it easier to present mind maps during meetings, and still maintain full editing capability. Now there is more space to show ideas, while navigation and product features are still available through keyboard shortcuts. In ConceptDraw MINDMAP hyperlinks can now be added by dragging-and-dropping a file on a topic, this makes it easier than ever before to manage all project-related documentation and sources.
  • The new updated version of ConceptDraw PROJECT contains additional visual reports to help project managers follow and control everyday activities and project progress. Project and task status can rapidly be presented in a visual, easy to understand manner, improving information flow within a project team.
  • New libraries in ConceptDraw PRO for the Transport industry, and professional themes that have been added to build professional looking business graphics and presentations.
You can learn more about these updates on the CS Odessa site...

Categories: graphics

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Monday, February 16, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:15 PM IST



First of all, this is not a tutorial -- rather it is a walkthrough that shows proof of concept of integrating a Microsoft Access database within a PowerPoint slide. What's more -- the sample presentation that has been provided let's you use any Access database as the source for your presentation slides!

You can download the sample presentation and database files. You will need to have both Microsoft Access and PowerPoint installed on the same system for this to work -- also it works best if versions of both the products are identical, as in PowerPoint 2003 and Access 2003 -- or PowerPoint 2007 and Access 2007.

Learn more with Naresh Nichani...

Categories: access, microsoft_office, powerpoint, programming, vba

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posted by Geetesh on 2:31 PM IST



This article by Robert Lane and Dr. Stephen Kosslyn explores how the human brain handles visual input and the implications for PowerPoint presentations. We recommend eliminating most of those carefully thought-out words on slides and replacing them with certain kinds of rich imagery. Doing so efficiently feeds the brain what it likes to see, and allows you to communicate messages in ways not possible with words alone.

Read the article here...

Categories: design, opinion, powerpoint

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:42 PM IST



Yury Uskov is a founder and CEO of iSpring Solutions Inc., an innovative software company with the development center in Russia. Yury has a Masters degree in Software Engineering and since 2001 have been working in rich media industry inspired with the idea of making the best solution for online presentation sharing. iSpring Solutions has already launched several Flash technology projects including iSpring, a PowerPoint to Flash converter, and SlideBoom, an online service for presentations sharing. In this conversation, Yury discusses the new SlideBoom Pro account.

Geetesh: Tell us more about how the SlideBoom Pro account evolved, and how it differs from the free account.

Yury: As you know SlideBoom is a professional solution for sharing PowerPoint presentations which offers a full set of services for publishing presentations on the web. Sharing and distributing PowerPoint presentations on the web was normally quite difficult as PowerPoint PPT files are usually large to send, they require the proper version of PowerPoint installed, etc.

SlideBoom makes presentation sharing as easy as never before. It takes just a few clicks: upload a presentation to SlideBoom, and send a link to anybody. SlideBoom has become extremely popular due to the rich set of features, and excellent presentation quality. Plus it’s available for free.

Those who use PowerPoint presentations on a daily basis require additional capabilities for online presentation delivery. We are happy to supply them with advanced features available under the Pro account now.

Professional service cannot be free, but the pricing is quite moderate: The Pro account is available for $99 per year including SlideBoom technical support.

SlideBoom service can be a perfect online companion to iSpring desktop products for PowerPoint to Flash conversion. While free SlideBoom Basic accounts are targeted to users of the non-commercial iSpring CONVERTER freeware, SlideBoom PRO accounts are primarily designed for customers of the advanced iSpring PRESENTER product, widely used in a business sphere.

SlideBoom PRO account adds a number of advantages essential for professional work with presentations:

  1. Acceptable Content: The greatest difference is that Pro accounts can be used to publish business and marketing presentations while Basic accounts are valid for sharing non-commercial content only.

  2. Privacy Features: Pro account users can create private groups, and invite other SlideBoomers to join their private discussions.

  3. Hosting Space Volume: SlideBoom Pro allows upload and share of up to 500 presentations.

  4. Slidelog: Pro account users are offered an option to create and customize their own Slidelog (slides + weblog), their personal space on SlideBoom.

  5. Presentation Playback Customization: Pro accounts provide 3 additional Slidelog players with various navigation control features and playback options: presentation playback autostart, automatic presentation replay.

  6. Presentation Tuning: Compression ratio for images and audio can be easily set before uploading to SlideBoom.
Geetesh: What sort of branding options do you allow in the Pro account -- and how is that a convincing reason to upgrade to the Pro account?

Yury: Branding options are available for Slidelog and customizable players.

You can customize your Slidelog, posting your company logo and choosing a color scheme that matches your company colors. It’s easy to set up a custom appearance for your Slidelog by changing navigation elements and sidebar blocks.

The players also change their colors according to a color scheme, and display your company logo over your content if needed. For example, you may want to include company logo in a presentation when it appears at third-party sites and blogs or only into its offline versions that should be delivered on CD/DVD.

If you’d like to have personal web page at SlideBoom, brand your presentations, and require advanced sharing experience -- then Pro accounts are the right choice. For $99/year you get the maximum from SlideBoom.

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, powerpoint_flash, slideboom

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1 comments




Monday, February 09, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 11:24 AM IST



We have already covered the fill and line options in PowerPoint 2003 and earlier. While these versions of PowerPoint do not have a dedicated "effects" set like in PowerPoint 2007, they do offer some effects like shadows and 3D. In this series of tutorials, we will first explore shadows.

Learn more about adding shadows in PowerPoint here...

Although PowerPoint provides 20 preset shadow styles, you can still create your own customized shadow, or edit the preset shadow styles using the Shadow Settings toolbar.

Learn more about the Shadow Settings toolbar...

Categories: effects, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 12:23 AM IST



Although PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions don't have a specific Effects category like PowerPoint 2007, they do have two effects -- these are shadows and 3D. In this tutorial, we'll cover the 3-D styles. Unlike shadows, 3-D styles only work with AutoShapes -- this leaves out pictures but you can always use a rectangle AutoShape with a picture fill to mimic a picture with a 3D style.

Learn more about 3D Styles here...

You can also do more with 3D Styles using the 3D Settings toolbar using options such as tilt, depth, direction, lighting, surface, and color.

Categories: effects, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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Saturday, February 07, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:46 PM IST



Many PowerPoint users create and send their cards as PowerPoint presentations, mainly as email attachments. These work great, but do have some disadvantages:

  • They make email sizes larger, and
  • They allow recipients to open and edit your files!
Now authorSTREAM has added a new feature that lets you resolve both the problems. Their new option to create and send custom eGreetings is easy to use -- read more on their site...

Categories: authorstream, online_presentations, powerpoint

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1 comments




posted by Geetesh on 12:42 PM IST



Color blindness is some sort of color vision deficiency which results in differences in the way that an affected person sees and distinguishes various colors. It is mostly inherited, but can also be caused due to damage in the eye, nerve, or brain. There is no proven way to change these vision deficiencies.

When a color blind user looks at a PowerPoint slide, he or she might view it differently than other people. Even different color blind users may not see the same slide with the same vision -- there are three known varieties of color blind visions.

Learn more here...

Categories: accessibility, color, design, powerpoint

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Thursday, February 05, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:24 PM IST



I have already showed you the different outline attributes in PowerPoint 2007. In this tutorial, the outline options series will conclude with this article on gradient lines. Gradient lines are a new feature in PowerPoint 2007

Learn more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 11:02 AM IST



I have already explained the basics of outlines in PowerPoint 2007 and changing weight and dash types. In this tutorial we'll learn about adding arrowheads to lines. First things first: arrowheads can only be added to lines within open shapes. Shapes, such as rectangles, circles, etc. are closed shapes. Regular line Shapes, such as straight lines, curves, scribbles, etc. are open shapes.

Learn more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:47 PM IST



Weight is the thickness attribute of the outline: you can change the weight all the way from a hairline thin line to a chunky thick line. Dash type is the variation between a line without dashes to ones with longer or smaller dashes, or even alternating small and long dashes.

Learn more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 10:39 AM IST



We have already covered fills in PowerPoint 2007 and later versions. In the next part of this series of tutorials, we are going to learn about the outlines in PowerPoint 2007. If you moved up to PowerPoint 2007 from an earlier version, you'll find it interesting to know that Microsoft decided to change some terms -- a line is now an outline, and an AutoShape is a shape. Having said that, many interface areas of PowerPoint 2007 still use the term "line" -- so we'll use both line and outline interchangeably.

Learn more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint_2007, shapes, tutorials

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posted by Geetesh on 8:44 AM IST



Lisa LindgrenLisa Lindgren has brought solid presentation advice to hundreds of thousands of people during her professional career. For nearly a decade she published the critically acclaimed Presenters University Web site and its monthly Presentation Pointers newsletter. Now a member of the Steering Committee for InfoComm's Presentations Council, she continues to work to enrich the industry and advocates for improved presentation techniques and standards.

Geetesh: Tell us about Second Life, and how it can be a platform to deliver and share PowerPoint presentations.

Lisa: Second Life is a 3-D virtual world where you navigate “inworld” using your own, personalized avatar. It claims to have millions of participants and many companies and universities have built presences there with the hopes of capitalizing on it. The reviews are mixed, although I did hear a presentation given by Sarah Robbins from Ball State University about her experience in running her class lab in Second Life. She said that one of the challenges was that her students got so engrossed that they forget to go to their next class! This is precisely why I think that there may be some potential for giving presentations there when you can’t physically be in front of your audience. Unlike a Webinar, or a podcast, it’s a very rich and consuming experience, one that your audience is not likely to listen to half-heartedly while they check their e-mail.

I should make it clear that I am not an expert on Second Life, but I have had the opportunity to visit the Virtualis Convention and Learning Center located in Second Life. There may be other presentation-oriented locations (called islands) there, but this was the one that I got to visit; or, more precisely, that my avatar visited.

Geetesh: Tell us about your experiences. And what sort of potential do you foresee for something of this sort?

Lisa: I watched a basic presentation, without any animation or fancy bells and whistles. But that didn’t really matter, at least to me. I was so engrossed in the total experience that perhaps it was best that the visual slides were simple.

Because it is a virtual world, the possibilities are literally endless. There were a variety of pre-set rooms and seating arrangements, such as a large theater-style room and small classrooms. The classrooms were equipped with individual workstations, where streaming video could be displayed. There were even break areas where your avatar could enjoy a coffee break, and a ballroom complete with a dance floor and disco lights.

Just like a Webinar or Webcast, your audience logs on from wherever they happen to be. Then they direct their avatars to the pre-determined location and have them gather to watch the event. They can sit in chairs, or since the avatars don’t get tired that really isn’t necessary. They could position themselves wherever it was easiest to see. You could even have them fly and hover around the presentation screen. Although in his Tips for Second Life Presentations, Gary Barber suggests you seat the avatars “very close together in almost a tiered traditional speaking pit of amphitheater arrangement…” He offers some other common sense suggestions for the would-be Second Life presenter.

One of the strengths of using Second Life is that the audience members are likely to pay more attention since they are actively participating in controlling their avatars. Of course if it is a boring and truly awful presentation, they are still likely to tune out, just like they do during Webinars or in person. So the responsibility is still on the presenter to provide engaging content.

Second Life has some advantages over traditional in-person presentations too. Instead of simply showing photos of a new product in a sales presentation, one that you couldn’t easily bring to a physical venue, you can literally create a working model of it inworld. And the physical limitations disappear. Need to teach your technicians how to repair your latest copier, for example? Build one 50 times to scale and take their avatars “inside” to see the mechanisms. It’s really pretty amazing when you think of it in these terms.

Geetesh: What does one need to get started with using PowerPoint as a content source within Second Life?

Lisa: The obvious requirement is that you need a presentation forum in Second Life. Similar to presenting on the Web, you can either build/buy your own or use a service. Virtualis is one option for using a service and there may be others. Building your own may not be as daunting as it sounds. Many large companies of course already have islands in Second Life, but Andrew Burton in Giving a PowerPoint Presentation in Second Life, and the ensuing commentary below his article makes it sound like it would be a pretty doable endeavor, assuming that you were already competent in building simple structures in Second Life and didn’t need a lot of fancy extras for your audience.

After you have a place to present your slides, you then need to import them. They must be imported one slide at a time as GIF, JPEG, or PNG files. So no animation or transitions, but because it is such a visually rich environment, you want to keep them simple so that they don’t compete with the experience. Finally you have to pay in Linden dollars to import your images. You purchase Linden dollars with real money, so there is a real expense in this virtual world.

The final “cost” of presenting in Second Life is both you and your audience need to create avatars and learn how to operate inworld. It’s really not very difficult, but I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated at first. My friend, and presentation consultant, Ellen Finkelstein, offered to accompany me at first, and it was reassuring to have her there with a helpful tip or two as I learned the basics. But Second Life really does make it pretty easy. There are standard avatars from which you select, which can be customized later. And you start your inworld experience on a beginner’s island, where everyone is learning. There are tutorials to walk you through what you really need to know and host and hostess avatars available to answer your questions. Only newbies are around you at first, so you are less likely to be embarrassed.

Is Second Life for everyone? Certainly not. You need an open mind and a business culture that will support it. If management or your client base perceives it as just a game, they are not going to be receptive. But for the right companies and markets, I think it’s a powerful option.

Categories: case_studies, interviews, powerpoint, second_life

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3 comments




Monday, February 02, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 1:48 PM IST



I previously explained how you can format a line with color, weight, and dash styles in PowerPoint 2003 and previous versions. Now, let me show you how you can add an arrowhead on one or both sides of a line. Arrowheads can only be added to lines within open shapes.

Learn more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 12:45 PM IST



In a previous tutorial, I showed you how you can format line attributes (outlines) in PowerPoint 2003 or earlier. In this tutorial you will learn more about the cool patterned lines option.



Learn more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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