It Isn t Going To Be Exact

It Isn't Going To Be Exact

The quick answer to Wayne's problem is "You can't." One of PowerPoint's biggest limitations is it doesn't run presentations consistently from one computer to the next or even from one showing to the next . PowerPoint depends on system resources to run. Since different machines have different processor speeds and different background tasks , the timing of a presentation on different computers can vary widely. To minimize these problems, try the following:

Build On The Slowest Machine

Always build the presentation on the slowest machine running the presentation. PowerPoint will not speed up a presentation if more resources are available then needed, but it will slow down if fewer resources are available than needed.

By building the presentation on the slowest system, the timing is set using the worst resource. PowerPoint will not change that timing if more resources are available, so the timing should stay as set.

Pre-Run Presentations

The first time a presentation is run, PowerPoint goes through a preload process. That is, it sets up the next slide while it displays the current slide. The preload can use up valuable resources. The preload runs each time PowerPoint is closed and reopened, and run a particular presentation. After that, the presentation can be run as much as wanted without having to preload as long as PowerPoint is not shutdown.

When showing a presentation for the first time, do a dry run on the machine to be used for the presentation. This will force the presentation to preload before being done for real. Simply click through the slides. PowerPoint will do the pre-loading and continue on. Now, when presentation is run, it will not be working against another PowerPoint process.

Pre-running the presentation will lessen the need for the extra work during the presentation, but will not eliminate it.

Run From A Local, Hard Drive Copy

Running a presentation from a network drive, a web site or a CD slows down the presentation because it take longer to access the presentation itself. The less work PowerPoint has to do to access the presentation, the more resources it has to run the presentation. For optimal performance, always run the presentation from a copy placed on a local hard drive

Turn Off Background Programs

Any program running in the background of the computer is going to steal resources from the presentation. Examples of these programs include:

  • Anti-virus software

  • Email checkers

  • Instant messenger programs

  • Browser sessions

For optimal timing, turn these programs off while running the presentation. It is safe to turn off the anti-virus software after all programs with access to external files have been shutdown. Remember to enable or turn on the programs when done running the presentation.

Improve Your System Performance

In addition to turning off the background programs, also look at improving the overall system performance. The better the system is running, the better PowerPoint can run the presentation. Here are some simple tasks to improve performance.

Clean Up Temp Space

Every program run on a computer uses space on the hard drive. Many of the programs leave temporary files behind on the hard drive to make it easier for them to start up next time. These files can and should be deleted.

Every time you visit a website, the browser stores that site and its cookies in temporary space. These files can be deleted, as they will be recreated on the next visit the site.

If Windows 2000 or XP is the operating system, clean up disk space by right clicking on the disk and selecting Properties. Towards the bottom of the first tab you will see the Disk Cleanup button. Use it to remove temporary files.

If running one of the older Windows operating systems, you will need to clean up temporary files by hand. Linda Johnson has a great tutorial on her site about cleaning up temporary files by hand. The URL is Another good tutorial can be found on The Office Experts website at

Turn Off Fastfind Indexer

When Windows was installed, the operating system started a process of indexing every file on the hard drive. This process makes it easier to find files by content, but it can really slow down a computer.

I never leave this turned on and have never had a problem searching for and finding files I need. When I first turned it off, I noticed a 10% increase in my computer's processing speed. That doesn't sound like much, but it can greatly impact PowerPoint's abilities to keep to a pre-defined timeline.

To turn off the indexer, remove the program from the StartUp folder. Open Windows Explorer and find all folders named StartUp. There will be one per user on the computer, plus one for All Users. Check each folder for a program called "Microsoft Office FindFast Indexer". Drag the icon to the desktop. Make sure to remove it from each startup folder where found.

To turn the indexer back on, drag the icon from the desktop back to the StartUp folder. It will start back up on the next computer reboot.

Another way to prevent StartUp items from running is to temporarily disable them. From the Start menu, select Run. Type msconfig and hit enter. Uncheck the Load startup items and restart the computer. After presenting, run msconfig again, recheck Load startup items and restart the PC. While Windows 2000 does not come with msconfig, the executable, msconfig.exe, can be copied from a Windows XP machine, or downloaded from the internet.

Do Regular Disk Maintenance

Remove unneeded programs. Clean out the mail folder. Empty the trash. Defragment the hard drive regularly. Each of these items is one more step toward making a computer run smoother and free up resources for PowerPoint.

Hard drive fragmentation happens when files are deleted and added to a hard drive. Files are packaged into chunks by the operating system. These chunks are then spread across the hard drive. The smaller the available spaces on the hard drive, the more pieces the files are broken into. Each file just be put back together in order to be run.

click to expand
Figure 8-1: Sample Fragmentation Window

When you run defrag on a hard drive, the picture will be color -coded. The codes are explained on the defragmentation screen. Figure 8-1 shows a disk badly in need of defragmentation. Notice there are many small stripes showing. These stripes represent used and unused areas on the disk.

Click the View Report button to view a text report summarizing the fragmentation of the hard drive. Note the Volume and File fragmentation sections. They look something like Figure 8-2:

start figure

Volume fragmentation

     Total fragmentation

= 15 %

     File fragmentation

= 31 %

     Free space fragmentation

= 0 %

File fragmentation

     Total files

= 12,434

     Average file size

= 170 KB

     Total fragmented files

= 1, 012

     Total excess fragments

= 10, 230

     Average fragments per file

= 1.82

end figure

Figure 8-2: Sample Defragmentation Report

If All Else Fails

Get more memory and/or a faster processor for the PC. The more power available, the better PowerPoint runs. If distributing the presentation for use on other machines, you probably won't be able to affect the setup of those machines.

Another Option: Manual Advance

Another option is to run the music outside of PowerPoint and use clicks to advance the animations and slide transitions on the correct beats or measure starts.

For example, during services, each slide Wayne displays shows one verse of the current song. At the proper point in the music, he moves either forward to the next verse or back to a previous verse. The congregation never gets lost in the music and the transitions are timed exactly as Wayne wants them.

This works well if the PowerPoint user is familiar with the music. Unfortunately, since Wayne's choirs are just learning the music, this is not an option for his holiday music.

Wayne did make as many of the system changes as he could, cleaned up the PC's temp space and things ran better. It still wasn't what he wanted, but it was closer.

So, is Wayne out of luck? No, he isn't and neither are you. You can fake time-criticalness. Before we do that, consider whether PowerPoint is the right application for what you are trying to

Are You Using The Right Application?

PowerPoint is designed with the intention there be some human intervention in the presentation. Either someone is running the presentation or someone is interacting with the presentation. If you don't want either of those to occur, think about an alternative solution:

  • Create the presentation in PowerPoint and record it with a screen capture program.

  • Create a movie instead of a presentation.

  • Convert the presentation to a Flash movie.

In many cases, people use PowerPoint to create displays that really should be movies or streaming video. They use PowerPoint because they know it or because they cannot afford additional software. The temptation to do this is even greater with the new animations and timeline features added in PowerPoint 2002.

In Wayne's case, the church could not afford to purchase any other package to do what he needed. He opted to develop the music training in PowerPoint, then record it using the Windows Media Encoder, a free download from Microsoft.

If the Windows Media Encoder is hard to use, try Camtasia from TechSmith. It will do screen recordings and output the recordings in many different formats. For more information on Camtasia, check out TechSmith's website at

Kathy Jacobs On PowerPoint
Kathy Jacobs On PowerPoint
ISBN: 972425861
Year: 2003
Pages: 166 © 2008-2017.
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