PowerPoint is one of those programs I've used for a very long time and have tons of experience with. It's been my application of choice to make presentation material from 2006 onwards.
Unfortunately, I'm now replacing it with Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and OpenLP as these programs allow for faster prototyping and are way more flexible.
But to say good bye to PowerPoint I have prepared a top four list of things I wish I knew when I first started using PowerPoint.
1. The Quick Access Tool Bar
The very first version of PowerPoint I used was PowerPoint 2003 and this version had a very customizable interface. You could drag tool bars around and place them where you wanted them and change which tool bars you wanted and didn't want to be displayed in the interface.
When Microsoft redesigned the interface for Office 2007 with the ribbon menus you could only access a set type of actions at once. Having to go through these menus is a constant hassle and luckily there is a way you can pin all the main actions you use the most. This pin menu is called the Quick Access Tool Bar (QATB). The QATB is disabled by default and needs to be manually turned on by:
- Right clicking (RMC) on some white space in the ribbon menu and then select in the drop down menu 'Show Quick Access Tool Bar below the Ribbon' option will show the QATB.
- You can then add any of the items in the Ribbon Menu to the QATB by RMCing on the item you want to add and then selecting in the drop down menu the 'Add to Quick Access Tool Bar' option.
- You can remove items in the QATB by RMCing the item in the QATB you want to remove and selecting the 'Remove from the Quick access tool bar' in the drop down menu. In this same drop down menu you can also select 'Customise Quick Access Tool Bar' to change the order of the items in the QATB.
2. Setting the Aspect Ratio
By default most versions of PowerPoint – (PC) 2003, 2007, and 2010 and (MAC) 2004, 2008, and 2011 – have the 4:3 aspect ratio set. If you use the 4:3 aspect ratio on projectors that are 16:9 or 16:10 you end up wasting a large amount of potential content space.
It's fairly easy to change the aspect ratio of the slides. All you need to do is to go to the 'Design' tab in the Ribbon Menu and then select 'Page Setup'.
With the drop down menu labelled 'Slides sized for:' you can select the aspect ratio you want to use. Press 'Ok' when you finish and the slide will resize to the selected aspect ratio.
If you change the aspect ratio on an existing presentation your PowerPoint will automatically resize all the content in all of your slides. However the resize process is not perfect and you may find that some of your content no longer fits correctly on the slide.
3. Exporting as video
Another reason to set the right aspect ratio is that in PowerPoint you can actually export the presentation as a video. The only editions that I'm aware of that don't support this feature are the PowerPoint 2003 and 2004 editions.
In order to export as a video properly you need to do a couple of things first, otherwise each slide will only appear for five seconds in the video.
- On each slide you need to set the duration before slide change. This can be done by going to the transitions ribbon and then unchecking the 'On mouse click' tick box and then checking the 'After' tick box. After doing this you can increase or decrease the time by clicking on the up and down arrows on the right of the 'After' tick box. Keep in mind that the total time the slide is assigned needs to be slightly longer than the total times all your animations on the slide run for, as not doing this will mean the slide will transition before all the animations on your slide have finished.
- The second thing you need to do is change all your animations to be either 'Start after previous' or 'Start with previous' trigger events. To do this you need to enable the 'Animation Pane' and right click on every animation in the Animation Pane and select 'Effect Options' in the drop down menu.
- In the window that appears you will need to set the following under the 'Timing' sub menu:
- Set the 'Start to' option from 'On Click' to either 'Start After Previous' or 'Start With Previous'
- Set the animation start delay if you want a delay before the animation happens. To do this set the Delay option to the number of seconds you want the delay to be.
- When you are happy with how your animations are set up you can then go to the 'File' ribbon and then select the 'Save As' option. In the 'Save as Type' drop down menu select the 'Windows Media Video (*.wmv)' file type. Navigate to where you want to save the video and press the 'Save' button to export the video as a video.
4. Presenter View
Presenter View allows you to use a second screen to monitor what slides are coming up in the presentation. This is particularly helpful when you have someone else advancing the slides for a speaker as you can look ahead, listen to what the speaker is saying in order to change the slides without the speaker saying, 'Next slide please', every five seconds.
In order to use Presenter View you will need to set your computer's display mode in the Windows Control Panel or Mac OS System Settings to extended mode.
Back in PowerPoint go to the 'Slide Show' ribbon and then check the 'Use Presenter View'. After this then go to the "Show on" drop down menu and select the screen you wish to display the presentation on. To keep these new settings you will need to save any PowerPoint file and the changed Presenter View settings will be set to default for all your presentations.
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast and is studying IT and Multimedia at university and is also a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Operation Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html