Olivier de Saint Louvent is the CEO of Power-user, which he co-founded in 2015 in Paris. Power-user is one of the leading productivity solutions for Microsoft Office, with 250,000 users globally. Before that, he worked in strategy consulting where he experienced the need to improve how people work with PowerPoint, Excel & Word.
In this conversation, Olivier talks about the Power-user add-in for PowerPoint.
Geetesh: Olivier, it’s been almost five years since you launched your Power-user add-in for PowerPoint. What are the main benefits of this add-in?
Olivier: PowerPoint, Excel, and Word are some of the most widely used applications in the entire world. Over a billion people use them. And yet, we believe that people and organizations are wasting millions of hours every single day because working inefficiently with the Office Suite.
Five years ago, we launched Power-user to bring these intensive users the powerful tool that they needed to work smarter, better and faster. The first version of Power-user focused on three main benefits:
- Bringing to the users an extensive library of visual assets,
- Helping users manipulate objects faster, and
- Automating low added-value tasks such as formatting.
The Library of visual assets
Today, a successful presentation depends as much on what is said as it depends on how it is said. The clearer your slide, the clearer your message, and the higher the impact. Can you realize the number of slides that are created every day, which nobody reads, or remember because they simply don’t have the visual appeal that it takes? This is obviously a terrible waste of time, with potential dire impacts also for those to whom the slides are intended.
To make designing slides easy, we created a feature called the Library. It contains thousands of professionally designed assets:
- Templates for PowerPoint, Excel, and Word,
- Vector icons and flags,
- Stock pictures and logos,
- Editable maps, and
- Diagrams and charts.
Users can browse all this content without leaving the application and insert it with just a click. It’s all optimized to take the user’s color theme and appropriate size on the slides.
This can also be set up to integrate the own content of a specific firm so that they can centrally manage and deliver corporate templates and other assets directly in the hands of those who need them while keeping the content up to date for everyone.
The Power-user Library contains hundreds of PowerPoint templates
Automating low added-value tasks
People spend sometimes considerable amounts of time formatting a presentation. We believe that people should spend hours on their messages and minutes on the format, not minutes on their messages and hours on the format.
We launched Power-user with a set of tools to automate low added-value formatting tasks, so that people can focus their time on what matters. For instance:
- Fixing font issues in the presentation,
- Harmonizing colors,
- Aligning titles,
- Fixing slide numbers and footers,
- Harmonizing the colors and formatting of charts,
- Checking that no confidential data has been left in the presentation,
- … and many more
Automating these tasks allows us to focus on what matters while making the presentation neater and reducing the risks of errors.
Helping users manipulate objects faster
PowerPoint requires a lot of time with even the simplest tasks. You can easily spend 10min just arrange and aligning shapes on a slide.
So, what we did with Power-user, is that we brought at the same place all the buttons that are the most frequently used by heavy PowerPoint users. All the buttons you need to insert, color, resize, align, and arrange objects on your side, they are all next to each other under a single optimized ribbon.
We also added some nice tools to make things even easier:
- Swap the position of 2 shapes,
- Make them same height/width,
- Stack shapes,
- Position all selected shapes symmetrically,
- Bring shapes further or closer, and
- Merge or split shapes
That really makes it 50% faster to do anything on PowerPoint! See for yourself:
Comparison of the steps required to perform basic tasks in PowerPoint, without and with Power-user
Geetesh: Olivier, what are the main additions that were made to Power-user over the past five years?
Olivier: A lot has changed since we started 5 years ago. We have gone from 0 to 250,000 users, and these users are also a great source of innovation through the hundreds of suggestions they send us. We also extended the benefits of Power-user from PowerPoint to Excel, and now Word also, enabling new features and synergies between the different Office applications. Here are some of the main additions.
Since we brought Power-user to Excel, we started designing advanced charts to help users visualize their data in an effective way. Some of these charts include Mekko charts, Waterfall, Sankey, Tornado, and Gantt charts, which are not part of the charts that normally exist in PowerPoint or Excel. They can be created and updated dynamically based on Excel data.
A Mekko chart created with Power-user in Excel
We already had editable maps in Power-user 5 years ago, but we wanted to do more. We wanted to allow any user to have access to a simple and intuitive tool for cartography. It was important for us to bring this in PowerPoint and Excel so that maps can be refreshed easily without leaving the application.
Our new Data maps can now be linked to Excel data, allowing the user to color each shape of the map automatically based on the data. We also allowed users to customize the appearance of the map, by adding a legend or showing the values on the map for example. This is now one of the most popular features of Power-user.
Most presentations have an agenda that allows us to present what the document will be about and how it is structured. It is also common to repeat the agenda at the beginning of each section, so that the audience can follow the document structure and know where they are.
Creating and keeping an agenda updated is a real pain. Imagine that each time you change a single thing in the agenda, you need to adjust and reformat all the agenda pages in the presentation. This can easily take 15min just because you had to change a few words.
So we built an Agenda feature that allows us to automatically create and maintain agenda pages updated. We also allowed users and companies to customize the layout of the agenda so it can match their own branding.
In early 2020, one of our customers in the banking industry asked if we could create a feature to handle tombstones for their proposals. Having worked in consulting, we immediately saw the value in this suggestion. Only 2 months later, and despite working remotely in the middle of a pandemic, we were able to deliver this new feature.
With Tombstones, users can browse from the database referencing all the past projects made by their firm. They can easily filter the relevant tombstones for their newest proposal and insert them all in the presentation. Needless to say that it’s already perfectly formatted according to their corporate standards.
Geetesh: What are your plans for Power-user for the next few years?
Olivier: We want to build the most complete tool for heavy users of Office. Our community of users is also a great source of inspiration through their many requests and suggestions. So, we clearly have a lot of ideas for the future!
One example: we want to facilitate how users can link content from Excel to PowerPoint. Today, linking Excel charts and tables to a PowerPoint presentation is very unstable. When files are renamed, moved, or emailed, the link gets broken and this can cause a lot of damage when you need to update a presentation with dozens of charts in a short deadline! So we are now working on an improved linking solution that will make links robust even when the files are renamed, moved, or emailed.
Geetesh: Do you offer a trial version? Also, can you share pricing information?
Olivier: There are 2 versions for Power-user:
- A free forever version, which only includes a limited number of assets from the Library,
- A Premium version, that includes all the features and all the assets. This Premium version has a 3-months trial; after that the license costs EUR 198. It is also free for academics.
Learn more about Power-user on their website.