For most business users of mobile computers, the ability to create and share presentations is of the utmost importance. This is because often the whole reason for undertaking business travel is to make a presentationfor example, in order to sell a product or service or to explain a business process or technology.
Generally, PowerPoint is the software of choice for creating these presentations, also called slide shows, or decks.
As I mentioned earlier, you might already have PowerPoint as part of the Microsoft Office Professional Edition. If not, you can buy a copy of Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 for a list price of $229. (Yes, because this single program costs about as much as the Microsoft Office Small Business Edition suite when bundled with a computer, you might just as well buy the whole thing.)
I have given hundreds of PowerPoint slide shows for a wide variety of purposes. When PowerPoint works well, and you've prepared a good deck, it is a thing of wonder and grace. However, a PowerPoint presentation given at a place you've never been to before is Murphy's law waiting to happena lot can go wrong. A PowerPoint slide show that is full of fancy effects such as fades and dissolves, or in which the speaker simply reads the slides, can be dreadfuland self-defeating.
I can't tell you everything about creating slide shows with your mobile computer without writing a whole book just on the topic. But if you follow these simple guidelines, your presentations are likely to be effective and trouble free.
Creating the Slide Show
It's really important to keep your audience in mind when you create your slide show using PowerPoint (or another presentation tool). You need to understand who you are "speaking" with, and also to respect your audience. Don't bore them!
Creating a slide shows involves writing, visuals, and designso it really can be a pretty complex undertaking. That said, it is pretty much true that (when it comes to a presentation) simpler is better. The following guidelines should help:
Your slide show is not your speech: Create a slide show that consists of talking points for what you are going to say, but don't just read the slides. Verbatim reading of a slide show is boring, boring, boring and bad, bad, bad.
Keep the big picture in mind when you create your presentation. Know what you want to say before you start trying to say it. A PowerPoint presentation is essentially a white paper in outline form. Each slide should be a topic.
Use a PowerPoint template when you create your presentation. A simpler one is best.
Creating a personalized template is a great way to make your presentations more professional. You can easily create a personalized template by modifying a few elements in one of the templates that ships with PowerPoint and by adding your company name or logo.
Be careful to choose background and text colors that make your slides readable at a distance.
Font size needs to be big enough so that even those in the back of an audience can read the slides. In no event should you use a font size less than 14 points. While we're on the topic of fonts, choose a simple font. (Arial or Times New Roman are fine.) Don't mix and match font families (in no event use more than two font families, and one is better).
Better presentations are svelte: I have actually sat through PowerPoint decks with hundreds of slides, and I can assure you that shorter is better, and far more effective.
Always leave room for questions and dialogue with your audience.
Break up your words with visuals such as flow charts and pictures. Visio is a great and easy-to-use tool for creating flow charts and system diagrams.
Once and for all, eschew those fancy effects. I've already mentioned that you don't need fades and dissolves between slides. (They alienate the audience, and make them giggle.) You also really, really don't need to individually add elements to each slide (where you click the Next button, and elements such as text loop one by one onto the slide). This wastes time and drives your audience crazy (not in a good way).
If a tree falls in a forest, and no one sees it fall, has it really fallen? This pseudo-Zen question is by way of driving home the point that all the work you spent on creating your presentation will be for naught if you have no way to show it.
Following these guidelines will help minimize the chances of getting caught in a show stopper:
If possible, test drive your slide show with the projector you will be using, in the location for the presentation. If you can't get to the location, check to see what kind of projector will be used and see if you can test with a projector of the same type locally.
Check in advance to see if you will have wireless connectivity at the site of the presentation. If you do, you'll be able to connect to your home network in an emergencyfor example, you lose the only copy of your presentationand use some of the other file sharing options explained later in this chapter.
Bring redundant copies of your presentation.
Make sure that you are showing the final version. (You can name it using the word "final.")
Use the PowerPoint Pack and Go Wizard to create an independent version of your presentation, complete with viewer. Burn the slide shown onto a CD-ROM, and take that with you (in addition to your mobile computer) as one more form of redundant backup.