Jamie Garroch, CEO of GMARK Ltd., founded the company in 2009 to provide presentation professionals with PowerPoint software, content and training. Jamie conceived the idea for the company’s first product, ActivePrez from a non-linear presenting need and has recently added several other add-in products; MapPrez, SwiftPrez, Circlify and interactive maps. Jamie uses PowerPoint for most of his graphic needs, for everything from designing logos to creating web banners and even printed marketing collaterals.
In this conversation, Jamie discusses PowerPoint’s graphic prowess.
Geetesh: It is very interesting to know that you use PowerPoint for so much graphic stuff, such as designing this logo or even creating ads for websites. What makes PowerPoint such an attractive proposition as a graphics program.
Jamie: There are several things that make PowerPoint so well suited to this type of work. Firstly, the graphics engine has really come a long way. There’s not much you can’t do if you set your imagination free.
Secondly, as a daily PowerPoint user, I have become very familiar with the tools. Knowing them inside out and using them effectively instead of having to half learn how to use multiple applications is a real benefit.
Thirdly, when you design content that has to be on-brand, the design themes used in Microsoft Office mean it’s easier and quicker to design in the same environment rather than switch apps (which also consumes computer resources).
Finally, the content is very easily transportable and editable as almost everyone in business has PowerPoint but they often do not have dedicated graphics or illustration applications. Clients love this ‘open source’ concept.
Geetesh: Most business and home users these days have Microsoft Office installed, and yet – a very miniscule percentage of them is aware that PowerPoint is a full functioned graphic program that they already know how to use! What is your advice to them so that they can create graphics in PowerPoint?
Jamie: The first thing I would say is ‘empty your mind and think paper’. That means you need to have an idea of what it is that you want to create and that is actually best conceived on a piece of paper. When you do eventually open PowerPoint, create a new blank (plain white) document and set the layout to blank to get your piece of ‘e-paper’.
The next part is about getting the tools you need for the job in hand. Customize your QAT (Quick Access Toolbar) so that illustration tools are close at hand. These are the essentials I recommend: Layer Controls (Bring/Send – Forward/Back), Alignment (Center, Middle, Top, Bottom, Left, Right, To Slide), Group & Ungroup, Distribute (Vertical, Horizontal), Rotate and the best one of all, the new Combine Shapes tool. An essential skill that is needed is the use of Ctrl, Shift and Alt key combinations to adjust the various properties of shapes.
With all of this in hand, it’s just a case of ‘practice makes perfect’.