PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit: Conversation with Echo Swinford

Created: Saturday, January 19, 2008, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 8:34 am

Updated: at

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. The other author of this book is the owner of this blog — so I thought it will be fun for one author to interview the other!

Visit Echo’s site Echo’s Voice to find several PowerPoint usability tricks…

Geetesh: How much ground does this new book cover for the everyday PowerPoint user?

Echo: Well, I think the PowerPoint 2007 Makeover kit actually covers most of the PowerPoint 2007 hills and valleys, at least enough to get you started walking through the woods!

Seriously, the book does cover almost all of the features in PowerPoint 2007, some to a greater extent than others. One of the goals was to teach users about PowerPoint 2007 while reviewing some basic best practices users can rely on to help make their presentations more polished. As a result, we talk a lot about leveraging themes and color schemes and slide layouts and the like to create consistency throughout a presentation. Because themes are new in PowerPoint 2007, and slide masters and layouts are not well understood (even though they do exist in previous versions of PowerPoint), even accomplished PowerPoint users should learn some helpful tricks.

I was really excited to do this book because I think it’s important for people to see that even non-designers can make good-looking presentations.
Just because it’s PowerPoint, it doesn’t have to be ugly. There are a million design books out there, and there are a million PowerPoint books, but I don’t think there’s another “here’s how to design in PowerPoint,” with some practical things you can do to make your presentations look better.

Geetesh: What types of presentations do you cover, and why were these particular types of presentations chosen?

Echo: Well, we wanted to offer a good representation of the types of presentations we see every day, and of the types of presentations we’re asked about frequently on the Microsoft PowerPoint newsgroup. So you’ll see things like a couple of corporate presentations, a school report, a photo album with a background music track. This way, hopefully at least one makeover will be specifically relevant to most readers. Now, that doesn’t mean the others won’t be relevant — they will be. For example, in the medical presentation makeover, we discuss using tabs instead of spacebar-spacebar-spacebar to align text on an agenda slide. But there are a gazillion other types of presentations that use agenda slides, and, for that matter, there are even more types of slides where you might use tabs to align the text. So the skills and best practices you learn about are transferable to any number of presentations.

Really, though, there seem to be some issues we just see repeatedly, no matter what type of presentation we’re dealing with, and having a variety of presentation types allowed us to highlight those in different ways. To illustrate the point, I’ll confess that I worry a little that readers will get sick of us harping on them to use the placeholders to ensure consistent text placement and formatting…but I’m telling you, that’s one of the fundamental issues I see day in and day out as I clean up slides for various clients. If people only knew how to use the layouts and placeholders to their advantage, they’d save a ton of time — and end up with better looking presentations to boot! I hope the book helps them realize that.

Categories: books, interviews, powerpoint_2007

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