The Complete Guide to Office 2010: PowerPoint

Sitting through PowerPoint slideshows that look like they’ve been designed by Picasso’s short-sighted nephew is a rite of passage for anyone in the IT industry. But some of the new features in PowerPoint 2010 mean even rank novices can produce polished presentations.

The Complete Guide to Office 2010: PowerPoint

VIDEO

The standout new feature of PowerPoint 2010 is its ability to edit and format videos. The ease with which you can import, trim and enhance videos is truly astonishing. It takes a matter of moments to correct the brightness or add a tint to a video, and cropping off excess footage is as simple as moving a couple of sliders.

There’s a barrage of video frames and effects, such as the option to flip the video into a “3D” window, although it’s probably a little too easy to overdo the flashy effects. It’s even possible to time animations to kick in at a set point in the video, allowing you to annotate clips with bullet points on the same slide.

PowerPoint includes support for most of the popular video formats (including AVI and H.264), and this extends to YouTube clips. Note, though, you’ll need an internet connection to present web videos and editing/formatting options are limited.

PowerPoint also has all the photo editing and enhanced SmartArt tools found in Outlook and Word. Combined with an enhanced library of animations and transitions, you’ll have to try very hard to make a presentation look bad.

SHARING SLIDES

How many times have you been sent a presentation only to suffer with the presenter on the other end of a telephone telling you to manually click the spacebar every two minutes to move onto the next slide? PowerPoint 2010 does away with such faffing with its new Broadcast Slideshow feature.

Press this button in the Backstage menu and PowerPoint will create a unique URL that you can send to a client to watch your slideshow, while you stay at the controls. Impressively for Microsoft (which usually wastes no opportunity to push you towards one of its web services), there’s no need to register to use this feature – the only downside being that it doesn’t currently support video.

PowerPoint will create a unique URL that you can send to a client to watch your slideshow, while you stay at the controls

It isn’t the only new way to share your slides. It’s now possible to create a WMV video file of your presentation, which can be uploaded to your website, burnt to DVD or transferred onto a portable media player. This time the video and other embedded media are retained, as are recorded timings, narrations and laser pointer gestures.

Given that Microsoft is practically begging PowerPoint users to stuff their presentations with disk-hogging video and photos, it sensibly offers the option to compress the media in presentations to make them easier to fit onto a CD or host on the intranet, for instance.

ORGANISING SLIDESHOWS

As much as we wince at anything that encourages people to pile even more slides into presentations, the new Sections feature does make large slideshows easier to handle.

Slides can be grouped into named sections (such as Introduction, Sales charts), and you can then collapse the slides in each section, so you don’t have to scroll through all the thumbnails to make a change to slide 48, for instance.

PowerPoint 2010 also introduces a Word-like Compare and Combine feature, allowing you to review the changes between different versions of a presentation, which is handy for spotting alterations made by colleagues.

PowerPoint 2010’s key features

  • Video editing and formatting
  • Photo editing
  • Broadcast Slideshow
  • Export to WMV video
  • Slideshow sections
  • Compare and Combine

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