How to Jazz up PowerPoint

PowerPoint is the brunt of many a meeting complaint or joke.  It has become the easy target to blame the software rather than the presenter.  Many a sale has been lost because of a PowerPoint presentation gone awry. You are probably tired of presenting using the same old slides yourself.  Microsoft Office Labs (bet you never heard of these guys) has created an enhancement that might just provide the tools to re-energize you and your PowerPoint presentations.

I have written recently about an entirely new web tool for presenting ideas called Prezi.  It is a terrific tool that is getting traction with those that present all day, every day.  Think teachers and corporate trainers.

However, most of you have PowerPoint, you know how to use it and you don’t have the time to explore a whole new approach to presentations. Microsoft Office Labs has stepped in to fill that gap by releasing a free add-on for download called pptPlex.  You will need Microsoft Powerpoint 2007/2010 to use it. Once installed, it will expand how you use Powerpoint in your next presentation.

It brings you a Prezi like canvas approach, while utilizing all of your existing slides.  You access these new capabilities from a new tab in Powerpoint.  Behind this new tab is where you will manage the “canvas”.

The basic concept is simple.  You have all your slides on one large canvas, then zoom in and out of individual slides, moving between slides during your presentation.  If you use an interactive style, then you will be able to move back and forth between slides with ease in a fluid movement.  Ever have someone ask a question that you are going to cover in a few slides or complain that they can’t read the small print?  With pptPlex installed, you can zoom out to the big canvas, then click on the appropriate slide to respond and engage with your audience.  Or zoom in to view your data and have it readable from the back of the room.  The “canvas” concept is terrific to provide context within a large presentation.

If you are willing to practice your presentation before your first use, you should find that it is relatively easy to incorporate into your presentation style, hopefully eliminating the dreaded “death by PowerPoint” feeling.  I have found that I can also include material that would not have made it into the presentation previously.

Another benefit that I have discovered is when presenting at a conference where they have a required template that speakers must use.  With pptPlex installed, I can enjoy the best of both worlds, and I will be able to get my message across in a more engaging, flexible way.

Click here to download pptPlex, and give it a go.

Share your experiences with pptPlex and/or Prezi with our readers.  Are you dazzling your audiences?

  • Great find Miles! I downloaded and will be using as soon as I have practiced with it a few times. Very nice change-up to the usual PPT presentation. One thing to point out though – on the pptPlex website the videos crash if you’re using the Chrome browser. Hmmm, could that have anything to do with Microsoft vs. Google. Thanks.

    Phil

    • Great to hear Phil. Let us know how the presentations are received by your audiences. As for the Video crashes, yes you are correct. You can view them by clicking on the “Watch as WMV” message in orange that pops up at the bottom of the original window.

      Wouldn’t it be great to have everyone play nice together?

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