PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: December 2009

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

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think-cell: Conversation with Markus Hannebauer

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 10:47 AM IST

Dr. Markus Hannebauer Dr. Markus Hannebauer is think-cell’s Managing Director and in charge of Marketing, Sales, Operations and Finance. Markus has studied computer science and business and holds a doctoral degree in Artificial Intelligence from the Technical University of Berlin.

In this conversation, Markus talks about how think-cell chart can help PowerPoint users create effective charts.

Geetesh: Tell us about think-cell, and your PowerPoint add-in products.

Markus: While working for a well-known consulting firm, my colleague and co-founder Arno Schödl faced a lot of problems in creating data-driven charts using PowerPoint. The consultants often struggled with small details like integrating graphical elements into charts and getting label-placement right. Arno and his colleagues were also frustrated because at that time, there was a dearth of decent tools which would alleviate this daily grunt.

Eventually he asked me if I was interested in building something to make the consultants’ lives easier. Arno is my friend since school and we knew each other very well; besides this, his idea sounded really convincing to me. Thus in the year 2002, think-cell was born.

After carrying out experiments at various partner firms, we launched our first product called think-cell chart. The users were happy with the fact that they could create various PowerPoint charts like Gantt, Marimekko, waterfall and many more within their well-known working environment with minimum effort. What they appreciated most was that after chart creation, it was really easy to edit them and to share them with colleagues and clients. Presently, we are working on a new tool to automate the entire layout of conceptual slides, where the layout is automatically calculated by understanding the user requirements and constraints.

We have come a long way since 2002. An excellent development, support, and sales team is responsible for think-cell’s spectacular growth. Over the last three years we have continuously been featured in Deloitte’s annual Technology Fast 50 ranking, securing the fourth place in 2009 with a revenue growth of 3,154% over five years. Four out of five top consulting firms and a majority of the companies in the Fortune-100 are think-cell’s customers.

This journey has been our reward and the best satisfaction is helping people solve real world issues with our software. think-cell’s users are our greatest assets since their feedback helps us craft our products to a high quality. Arno and I believe that supporting students and non-profit organizations is a good way to give back to our user community. Moreover, this also prepares students for future consulting and related career paths. Licenses of think-cell are available free of charge for students and researchers.

Geetesh: How easy is the think-cell chart product to use, compared to creating the same charts in PowerPoint or Excel alone without using think-cell chart? Explain more.

Markus: The main difference to traditional PowerPoint charting is the user interface and the degree of automation. This is where we put all our efforts, because it makes our software easy to learn and quick to use. A very influential customer once desired some changes in a particular user interface component of think-cell chart. We had to alter and field-test the respective component at-least five times, but finally we achieved the perfect solution. Experience gathered by our users is taken really seriously and we always try to go the extra mile to help them enjoy their work with think-cell.

Claims do not carry much value unless there are measurements to support them. So we conducted case-studies with some of our customers to see if think-cell really improved the users’ PowerPoint experience. A test set containing business data visualization tasks in PowerPoint was supplied to a sample group. Using PowerPoint with templates and macros alone required more than ten hours of work. Less than three hours were invested to finish the same tasks using PowerPoint with think-cell chart.

Consequently, after six months of experimenting, it was confirmed that even PowerPoint veterans achieved efficiency gains by factors of 3 to 5 by using think-cell chart as compared to their chosen existing methods. Today, thousands of users trust our products in their day-to-day work and we intend to continue the tradition.

You can start using think-cell and get proficient using the program even if you are using it for the first time. Making a chart with think-cell chart is like scribbling the same on a piece of paper or whiteboard. The documentation and screen-casts on our web site will help you quickly in getting started with think-cell chart.

I can only invite your readers to try think-cell themselves and see their productivity go up while creating PowerPoint charts. Once at a party in Berlin, Arno came across a consultant who really liked an add-in she was using to create charts in PowerPoint. He let her talk about it for a while and then responded with a smile: "Glad you liked it, that’s us!"

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Friday, December 11, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 12:18 PM IST

I created this poll for all of us to know how many have tried the new PowerPoint 2010 beta, and if others are considering playing with this new beta version -- so do vote and see what every one is responding with!

As one respondent on my LinkedIn group responded: "Yeah, my company is on 2003, and here I am with 2007 at home, and beta testing 2010 :)"!!!!!

Vote and view responses here...

Categories: powerpoint_2010



Tuesday, December 08, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 1:41 PM IST

It's often very time-consuming and expensive to record voice-overs with professionals -- of course you can record your own voice these days but not everyone is entirely audible and has the proper pronunciation, vocal control, and confidence to do that. And trust me -- lots of users want to add high quality narration to their PowerPoint presentations so that these can be shown as a sequential walkthrough without a live presenter. Fortunately, a product that we have reviewed in the past has been updated to make this task automatic, easy, and usable!

Read our review of Speech-Over Professional 4...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 1:34 PM IST

Aurelian LaicAurelian Laic has worked in software development and IT consultancy since 1997 creating many business and enterprise applications. He's been working as consultant for large companies listed in DAX and M-DAX and has been writing articles for various security magazines. He is now the owner of a software company that creates XL-Addin.

In this conversation, Aurelian talks about how XL-Addin can help PowerPoint users.

Geetesh: Tell us about your XL-Addin product and how it works with PowerPoint.

Aurelian: XL-Addin is an Excel add-ins suite designed for business and enterprise use.
All components are designed for business users, not experts or technologists, but the results will look as made by experts. The main purpose of XL-Addin is to improve the productivity by spending less time involved in tasks that could be easy automated.

One component of XL-Addin is Export to PowerPoint, a feature that automates the export of Excel ranges into new or existing PowerPoint presentations. Export to PowerPoint allows user to transform Excel workbooks into professional PowerPoint presentations with progress bars, content slide, navigation etc. using existing presentations or new presentation.

Geetesh: What are the scenarios in which this Excel add-in can be useful to PowerPoint designers -- how does it make their work easy and their workflow faster?

Aurelian: XL-Addin is helpful especially when you regularly have to create or update PowerPoint presentations using data stored in Excel workbooks (financial or budgeting data, monitor HR changes; sales data, project management data).

Normally this operation is done manually, by copying the ranges and charts from Excel and then pasting it to PowerPoint slides. But this operation is time consuming and the quality of the export is poor in many cases.

By using XL-Addin the copy/paste procedure became totally automated and the user can create large presentations in less than a minute. For exporting to PowerPoint, XL-Addin uses a different approach: it saves the ranges/charts as images, process them and then inserts the images into slides. This technique assures a good compression level keeping the quality of the images very high.

Furthermore the user is able to set exactly the format, position and sizes for each exported range. A special feature of PowerPoint exporter allows the user to visually adjust the position and size using a preview of the slide where the export will be done. Anything can be customized: the user can create custom presentations by selecting the slides to be exported with just a few mouse clicks; the slides/page order can be changed very easy, the picture format or sizes and positions for all slides can be adjusted/changed quickly. All settings for export are saved and stored in workbook for later use.

Categories: add-in, excel, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 9:18 AM IST

After they put on a similar sale last week, I convinced our friends at Wildform to offer the same great deal to Indezine subscribers -- and they agreed!

So, for the next 2 days you'll get 50% off on everything in the Wildform store. This offer ends at midnight on Wednesday, December 9th. At the store you'll find the Flair Deluxe Bundle, which includes everything you need to create Flash movies from your PowerPoint presentations (including controlling each individual aspect of the PowerPoint to Flash conversion!)

More info here...

Categories: powerpoint_flash, wildform

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Saturday, December 05, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 12:42 PM IST

Carmen TaranDr. Carmen Taran's presentations and workshops help business professionals to use communication and presentation skills to increase revenue, train or motivate others, and overall to stand out from too much sameness in the industry. A published author, Carmen is frequently invited as a keynote speaker at various conferences. In this interview, she talks about her book, shares ideas about creating better presentations, and then discusses imagination and sincerity.

Read the interview here...

Categories: books, design, interviews, powerpoint

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 12:08 PM IST

Carmine GalloCarmine Gallo is a communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a sought after speaker and author of the new book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.

In this Indezine exclusive article, Carmine discusses how you can create better slides, and become a better presenter -- all techniques are inspired by Apple CEO Steve Jobs' presentation skills.

Read Carmine Gallo's article here...

Categories: books, opinion, presentation_skills

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posted by Geetesh on 10:13 AM IST

I already covered this concept using PowerPoint 2003, and now will be exploring the relationship between text boxes and text placeholders in PowerPoint 2007. But maybe someone just said stop, and asked me these questions: Aren't text boxes and text placeholders the same? Are they really different? And why should I bother even if they are different?

All these are valid questions, and the answers to them form one of the most important foundations in learning to create more structured presentations.

Read more here...

Categories: outline, powerpoint, powerpoint_2007, text, tutorials

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