If you need to make a presentation to a group, you can use the computer to create a presentation. Several software packages, such as Microsoft's PowerPoint, are available that you can use to automate the creation of a presentation. Presentations can include graphics, text, sound, and even video.
Once you have created your presentation, you can connect your computer to an office projector to project the entire presentation onto the wall and step through the pages of the presentation as you speak. This is much easier than having a large crowd grouped around a single computer monitor.
This chapter presents several tips for both creating presentations and connecting a projector to your computer.
There are several different versions of presentation software available. The more popular ones include Microsoft PowerPoint and Corel Presentations. For those that are budget-minded, there is also a freely available presentation package called OpenOffice Impress. Regardless of the package that you choose, they all have roughly the same set of features.
When purchasing a presentation package, be sure that the software you select can save the file to a standard format that others can read.
You can purchase Microsoft PowerPoint separately or as part of an office suite. It includes wizards that walk you through creating a presentation step by step, or you can manually build slides by adding images, text, and audio.
When you first open PowerPoint, the program divides the window into three separate panes, as shown in Figure 36.1. The left pane shows a thumbnail of each of the slides in the current presentation. If you click on any of these slides, its content loads into the center pane where you can change its text and load images or sound. The right pane of the PowerPoint window displays links and thumbnails for selecting specific tasks or loading different slide templates and/or designs.
Figure 36.1: PowerPoint divides the window into three different panes allowing quick access to each of the slides in the current presentation.
To create a presentation using PowerPoint, follow these steps:
Open PowerPoint and click on the Create a New Presentation link in the right pane.
Click on the From Design Template link in the right pane. This causes thumbnails of the available design templates to load in the right panel.
Select a design template and double-click on its thumbnail in the right panel. The design template automatically applies to all slides in the current presentation, as shown in Figure 36.2.
Figure 36.2: The selected design template automatically applies to all slides in the current presentation.
Click on the box in the center panel that holds the title text. Type the title of the presentation, and then click on the subtitle box and type in its text. If you drag on the title or subtitle box's corners you can change the size of the box or you can drag on its edge to move the text box.
To add a new slide to the current presentation, click on New Slide at the top of the window. This opens several new slide template thumbnails in the right pane, as shown in Figure 36.3. It also adds a new slide beneath the current slide in the left panel.
Figure 36.3: The New Slide thumbnails let you choose from several different templates.
Double-click on a slide thumbnail with a bulleted list. The bulleted list template adds as a second slide. Enter the text for the bulleted list.
Click on New Slide again. Double-click on a slide thumbnail with an image. A new slide with a box for loading an image is added to the presentation. In the center of the image template's box is a small window that lets you load a Table, a Chart, ClipArt, a Picture, a Diagram, an Organization Chart, or a Media File.
Click on the ClipArt button to open the Select Picture dialog box. Select an image and click OK. The image is added to the current presentation slide, as shown in Figure 36.4. You can resize the added image, as well as move it and rotate it by dragging on its corner handles.
Figure 36.4: You can move images anywhere within the slide by dragging it to its new position.
To preview the current presentation, select the View Slide Show menu or press the F5 key. The first slide of the current presentation fills the screen. Pressing the Spacebar or the arrow keys allows you to move between the various slides.
If you have some elements that need to be added to every page of the presentation, such as the date, page numbers, or a company logo, you can add these elements to a single page called the Master page. All text added to the Master page appears automatically on all slides within the presentation. You can access the Master page in PowerPoint using the View Master menu.
PowerPoint's Insert menu includes options for automatically adding the current Time/Date and Page Numbers to the current page.
To add sound and video files to the presentation page, use the Insert Sound and Movies menu command. This opens a submenu of options for opening movies and sound files from several sources. There is even an option to Record Sound directly into the presentation. You can also include charts and graphs created in other applications into the current presentation page.
Be consistent with the design and font used throughout the presentation. Changing the design and font throughout the presentation shows poor design and destroys consistency.
Elements placed on the page can be moved and resized by dragging the elements around the page. There are also alignment features for making the edges or centers of elements line up. The style of the text font and size can also be changed.
PowerPoint also includes several different transition options that you can select. A transition is the effect that appears between two slides. Transitions such as fade out and fade in are good for slowly introducing new slides. They also give the audience that is busily taking notes time to see the slide before it completely disappears.
Before completing the presentation, be sure to use PowerPoint's Spell Check feature. Nothing can damage an effective presentation quicker than misspelled words.
Once the presentation is complete, you can switch between several different view modes. One view lets you see your outline, and another lets you see the entire presentation as thumbnails. This is helpful if you need to reorganize any of the pages. You can also view and create a page of notes, which is helpful for creating handouts for the group. The final view option is Slide Show. This option makes the current page fill the screen and should be used when you present slides.
While presenting, you can press the spacebar to move to the next slide, or you can use the arrow keys to move forward and backward through the presentation pages.
You can also navigate through the presentation slides using the left mouse button or the mouse's scroll wheel.
OpenOffice is an office suite with word processor, spreadsheet, database, and presentation modules. The modules are developed by a team of developers that work together over the Internet. It is multiplatform, which means it can work on several different types of computers. The software is free to download and use, but you are encouraged to donate funds. You can download and find more information about OpenOffice at http://www.openoffice.org.
If you are considering moving to Linux in the future, then OpenOffice may be an excellent choice because it works the same in Windows and Linux.
The presentation module that comes in OpenOffice is called Impress. In many ways, it is similar to PowerPoint. Impress starts with a wizard that lets you choose specific templates. In the main view, shown in Figure 36.5, you can select from the current set of slides in the left pane and choose a new template to use in the right pane.
Figure 36.5: OpenOffice Impress provides an alternative presentation package.
The tabs across the top of the main window let you switch between the various views. To run the presentation, choose the View Slide Show menu option. The arrow keys let you move through the presentation pages.
Another key benefit of OpenOffice is that it can import and export files in a format that PowerPoint can read, so files created with PowerPoint can be opened in OpenOffice Impress and vice versa.