Richard Michaels is an expert at applying critical thinking to address large-scale business challenges and has been responsible for the implementation of training initiatives for organizations including: Bristol-Myers Squibb, IBM, Novartis, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Schering-Plough, Sanofi-Aventis, FDA, U.S. Army Training Command, and the Singapore Institute of Management.
In addition to expertise in instructional design, writing and education, Richard is also an expert software developer and a Microsoft Office for the Mac MVP.
In this conversation, Richard discusses George, his add-in for PowerPoint.
Geetesh: Tell us more about George, and what motivated you to create this add-in.
Richard: My motivation for writing George came from attending seminars and either receiving no handout upon which to take notes or receiving one that was so poorly done that it detracted from an otherwise very good presentation. I came to conclude that time and skill are the two primary factors that prevent presenters from making worthwhile handouts based on their PowerPoint slides. I also concluded that something could be done to improve the situation.
All presenters labor over their presentations. They try to find the right design, content sequence and delivery method that will make their message heard and this of course takes time… so much so that often they run out of time to produce a “leave behind piece” that is on a par with the quality of their presentation overall.
Top presenters know well that details matter and in the end, in addition to the relevancy of the delivered content, their audience judges them based on how well they dressed, spoke, coordinated, emphasized and enriched their message by the media they used. I believe presenters consciously rationalize their decision of what to “handout” based on those factors and often conclude that since they are short on time and maybe even skill with Word, they will just concentrate on what they do best… the verbal delivery of their message and creating the supportive PowerPoint slides.
Admittedly making a really good handout document, especially one with a level of quality that compliments and does not detract from a great presentation, is a lot of work. However, I believe it is a worthwhile effort because a handout has the potential for being the tangible “reminder” component that facilitates future knowledge gain, understanding, and action.
PowerPoint does provide a mechanism to produce Word documents from the slides but unfortunately its output choices are limited and still requires a high level of skill with many advanced Word functions. To produce a “professional” looking final product including a cover page, acknowledgements page, table-of-contents, as well as properly formatted and aligned headers, footers, slide images, notes and capture area content, requires a solid understanding and competency with using Microsoft Word. Not many presenters or even people who produce great PowerPoint slides are also experts at creating proper Word documents.
And then finally for the time constrained presenter and PowerPoint presentation author, who also happens to be an expert level user of Word, there is the following dilemma when thinking about the work involved with making a “professional” looking handout that causes even them to take pause… What happens when the content of one slide has to change or a slide has to be sequenced in the slide deck? All that work on the handout document has to be redone!
Geetesh: For anyone who wants to create handouts for the PowerPoint slides, how does George do it better than PowerPoint’s own options?
Richard: I can think of 10 good reasons why George is a better solution…
- George provides 24 layout options across 3 page orientations. That’s 72 different document styles. PowerPoint provides their standard 7 layouts in one page orientation.
- George automatically creates a Cover Page, Acknowledgement Page, Table of Contents, establishes and sets all Headers and Footers, automatically inserts the appropriate Heading 1 (Topic) and Heading 2 (Subtopic) labeled Paragraphs in the document. PowerPoint provides none of that by itself.
- George automatically personalizes the finished document with your Document Title, Logo, and Copyright. PowerPoint provides none of that by itself.
- George is fast! If you have to recreate the document, it’s done in minutes not by hours of copy and pasting, or inserting of topic and subtopic text, cover page, logo, etc.
- George allows you to control the PPI quality of inserted images, which also allows you to control file size better.
- George allows you to insert new pictures into your PowerPoint slide file in 8 different layouts and to do them all at once, not one at a time.
- George extracts into other Word documents, copies of the slides or elements of the slides such as Text, Notes, Charts, Tables, SmartArt, Pictures, and Video Poster. The extract can be from “All” or “Selective” slides.
- George creates picture files from the Slides, Charts, Tables, SmartArt or embedded Pictures. Picture file creation can be from “All” or “Selective” slides and you control the format of the outputted image.
- George converts linked images in “All” or “Selective” to embedded images or linked & saved image types.
- George extracts text from the slides (“All” or “Selective”) placing it into a Word document, while maintaining the text’s original formatting. This is a very handy feature for translation or when text changes need to be made to the slides and still maintain the text formatting