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June 02, 2008

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J.D. Williams

I would tell them that most of their bundled themes are not great. I do like the ones bundled with Office 2007 better though because they are not as busy.

Liju Jacob

There should be some easy way to get to sites that sell pictures from powerpoint.
Not having to go to the site through a browser, buy/save the picture, and then import the pic.

Extending on this idea - if the person can't find a picture on the available sites - then (from powerpoint itself) - put in a request for a picture and a price he's willing to pay.

These ideas are already out there but its not possible without leaving powerpoint. I guess all I meant to say is reduce the number of steps to finding a good picture.

Dave Parker

If they must have a default slide layout, make it the one that imports images, etc.

Karthik

Hi,
I work at Microsoft and have been using your book to make my presentations better, 1 at a time. Can you tell me when exactly you will be here at MS (and the time)? I want to make sure I attend.

Thanks.

Samuli

Garr,

on powerpoint notes it would be nice to be able to edit the font size, format and layout on the notes box. Any formatting shows only on printed version, not on the notes box when you prepare it.

Inserting pictures is a pain, since ppt always triest to guess what is my preferred size (and quite often guesses wrong)

From formatting pictures there is one important feature missing. There is no easy way to make the size of the picture the same as the slide size. First you need to make it close enough on the formatting box, then drag it to match.

I think I could go on and on, but still I manage with powerpoint - after years of curious practice. Normally there is always a way to do the trick. You just have to find it. MS normally also guesses what I try to do and most often guesses wrong. So I would prefer them to turn off all auto formatting.

Regards,

Samurai

tsx

If I could ask Microsoft something for me :

Better handouts (also said above).
If they could find some way to better make documents to give out (create word document from slides+handout).
Better ppt-handout edition would be nice as well

If I could ask Microsoft something for the others :
Drop 3d graphics from all their applications.
You can see (for example) this wonderful example : http://blogs.msdn.com/macmojo/archive/2007/10/06/the-chart-is-the-message.aspx

Have fun,

Saleem

I wonder if there were a way they could include examples of great presentations using Powerpoint in interesting ways... A help link that points to a blog by an interesting Microsoft-er that highlights recent presentations that use Powerpoint well?

Mark Normand

Hi

I only have a few simple suggestions:-

MOVIES
Problem - any text or shape we put in front, dissappears when played as a slide show.
Suggestion - allow for text boxes and shapes to be written over the movie and kept in order when playing as a slideshow. Perhaps even place a movie in an Autoshape (like any other picture file).


PICTURE/ TEXT EFFECTS
Problem - a few new effects were added an now become default, however even these don't posses much 'wow' compared to other currently available or upcoming applications such as SlideRocket.Any add-ons or new effects must be from third party.
Suggestion - To be more web enabled, to allow new effects to be added. For example, a 'Blur' effect for a picture could be downloaded (for free?!) or for a small fee directly from microsoft and not thrid party venders.

3D:
Problem - (a)images can only be filled on one-side. (b) animation is impossible aside from slide-to-slide.
Suggestion - Each side of the (e.g. cube) could have a image fill. Custom Animation has to have a seperate optio for 3D Shapes such as 'rotate on axis' and similar animation.

Well, my wish list anyway.....
Cheers and hope it goes well with Microsoft!

Mark
http://presentationslides.blogspot.com

Vijay

I made a presentation to a group of people who seem to like bullet points / text / data on every slide (Academia, anyone?). I read your book and applied visual techniques as best as I could and I used Powerpoint 2003.

After the presentation, I wanted to give my audience a printed version of my slides along with the associated notes to take away. But there was only one "Notes option" while printing, which meant I had to print multiple copies of each of the 25 slides to have the notes on it.

I decided to save the earth and gave them a consolidated word doc instead! At this point I realized how useful it would be to have a printing option for notes, similar to the handout option (with 3 slides per page) and have the notes by the side instead of those blank lines.

Vijay

I made a presentation to a group of people who seem to like bullet points / text / data on every slide (Academia, anyone?). I read your book and applied visual techniques as best as I could and I used Powerpoint 2003.

After the presentation, I wanted to give my audience a printed version of my slides along with the associated notes to take away. But there was only one "Notes option" while printing, which meant I had to print multiple copies of each of the 25 slides to have the notes on it.

I decided to save the earth and gave them a consolidated word doc instead! At this point I realized how useful it would be to have a printing option for notes, similar to the handout option (with 3 slides per page) and have the notes by the side instead of those blank lines.

Dan Roam

Garr,

Please pass on to the folks at Microsoft that PPT is just a tool... like a hammer. We don't blame the hammer if our house is badly built. Nor should we blame PPT if our communications fall down. But like any other tool, PPT shouldn't be used every single time we need to build an idea. We need more in our toolkit.

During my work as a consultant at Microsoft, I've seen that up in Redmond they're no better nor worse than any other corporation in overusing PPT. My suggestion: propose that whenever they think about sharing an idea, spend a moment thinking about some way OTHER than PPT to convey it. Tell a simple story, sketch a basic picture, walk your audience step-by-step through an equation; there are lots of options.

We *must* not get caught up in the laziness of business thinking that comes with the ease of using PowerPoint. Relying on that one tool exclusively is really starting to make our brains into 8.5 x 11" rectangles. Our brains are squishy for a reason. Please ask the Microsoft folks to start thinking about what comes after PPT. If *they're* not thinking about it, then we really should be worried.

- Dan

Nevine Henein

Unfortunately, I frequently have to prepare those hated combination slide/documents with a lot of text in them. I am used to formatting in Word which allows me to define my own Styles and saves an amazing amount of time. It would be great if Powerpoint would offer this option instead of making me apply numerous formatting steps to each chunk of text. Even using the Slide Master isn't flexible or time-saving ebough. I use Office 2003.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that this website has been a revelation to me. I now cringe, every time I have to prepare a bulleted list (loved by my boss and clients).

Thank you

Mike Peter Reed

I'd tell Microsoft to copy Keynote and then improve that. Powerpoint is not tactile enough for me and not freeform enough. I don't want software imposing its will upon me, I want to be able to express my idea in as few mouse-clicks and configuration items as possible. I want a canvas with typesetting and easy object embedding which is well presented to me and rarely shows the hourglass. Microsoft already lost me as a customer though, they have to do better than Keynote to win me back.

Chris

Garr,

Please ask them why, oh why oh why oh why, they absolutely refuse to spend any time and effort on training their own people to present.

My company does a lot of work with Microsoft and I attend about 12-15 MS events every year and I have sat through some truly dire presentations that break every single rule of presenting - reading overcrowded slides, talking to the floor, talking to the screen, trying to present and hour's worth of material in 20 minutes, etc. Many of these have been from people with global and continental levels of responsibility - MS is their own worst advertisement for the use of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint is a tool but, in the wrong hands, it can be used for evil.

Ellis Pratt

It would be nice for PowerPoint to support single sourcing.

You could have a "bucket" of re-usable slides and slide objects. If you update a slide, then all slides that use it would be updated.

The benefits - presentations would be more consistent, quicker to put together and maintainable.

Author-it achieves this by generating HTML and XML based slides, but it would be nice if PowerPoint could do that too.

zenator

very cool piece on "back of a napkin". looking forward to learning more about that!!

Dave Gray

Hi Garr,

I happen to think PowerPoint is a wonderful tool for presenting. However, people use PowerPoint in at least two other ways that I am aware of:

1. As a thinking tool, and
2. To create stand-alone documents for sharing, either by email or online.

I think PowerPoint can be -- and is -- highly valuable as a knowledge management tool, and what I'd like to see is some development in these areas that are outside the realm of the presenter on the stage.

Consider the following: It's not easy to use PowerPoint like this:

1. First, to think through your ideas. I use index cards for this. PowerPoint could improve its usefulness as a thinking tool by improving the interface for sketching (Useful for those of us with tablet PC's), and offering more options for organizing slides. The slide-sorter mode is helpful, but with index cards I can stack them or arrange them in columns, like cards in a solitaire game. Why can't I do things like this in PowerPoint?

2. Second, to present your ideas. PowerPoint could be improved here but I think it does this pretty well. I use PowerPoint for this.

3. Third, to share your ideas after you have presented, in some kind of stand-alone format. I use PowerPoint for this also, but in order to create a meaningful stand-alone document I have to start over. It would be nice if I could make one document that serves both purposes, and then change the layout with the flip of a switch.

I wish you luck in your conversation with Microsoft.

Bob Harvey - alias Tork & Grunt

Hi Garr

PowerPoint is a great vehicle for projecting visual material to support what you want to say, but there is so much more that it could do if the developers thought like audience instead of thinking like presenters.

However, there are still things it could do for presenters....When I watch digital TV I can have a small screen in the corner running another channel.

It would be great if we could have the laptop screen split like this, showing mainly notes pages (which is the real speaker support) and with the small corner screen showing what the projector is showing the audience(because that's the real audience support.) I think this is the essential step in moving presenters from the comfort zone of bullets to the impact of visuals.

As for handouts, I'd like to be able to produce a document which had all of the notes pages material with the option to include some of the visuals, where appropriate. Keep up the good work! - Bob

Benjamin Mitra-Kahn

Hi Garr,

Thanks for the great blog, and good luck with MS, I just wanted to voice a few suggestions:

Text:
Could we please have some simple clean effects to edit the text beyond the standard stuff. A little along the lines of the photoshop offerings would be nice, like, anti-aliasing text, sharpening, simple backdrops and basic shading. It would help with making clean easy to read slides.

Video:
Maybe I am not good enough with the tool, but embedding video on a slide always causes problems, especially if we want text, and then if it works, having the text change then is pretty much impossible. This makes it very hard to use videos for anything useful, or for editing and adding text to videos.

In the same vein, with so many videos only available on-line an intuitive (and working) way of allowing on-line video to be embedded would be very helpful, and this should be extended to include services like Google Earth and similar, as the films and images of the globe spinning and focusing on an area would be great to have available. Then the possibility for having text on top of this, would be great too.

A good idea?
Writing this down, it occurs to me that one might suggest a way of implementing this really easily, which would be to make it possible to have layers on a slide (as in photoshop), where each succesive layer is transparent, and one can choose which layers will react to mouse/pointer clicks. That might be a seemless way of allowing 2D animation and applications to run smoothly.

I hope that makes sense, Best Regards
Benjamin

Wayne Botha

The Presenter View doesn't work when using a remote presenter. In Presenter view, the keyboard shortcuts don't work, which renders my remote presenter control useless.

I want to see my notes in the Presenter View and use my remote presenter to advance slides, as well as use the "B" button to black out the slides.

Please ask Microsoft to enable the keyboard shortcus in Presenter View.

keithpeter

Picking up an idea from zenator up the screen, how about making it easy to make 'screencasts'?

I'd like to be able to jack a microphone in to my laptop, press F5, and speak through my slides, and then save a video (wmv format would be fine) of the 'screencast' at YouTube like resolution and e-mail it to students who missed the session.

I can do that in KeyNote, but my colleagues at College are not going to buy Macs anytime soon.

Samuli

Garr,

one more thing that is never needed on a presentation and tells that powerpoint is designed for sliduments.

If you paste a graph from MS Excel, you actually by default paste the whole excel file inside the presentation. Double click it and the file opens.

Think about how many times people paste a summary graph from a file that might contain confidential information. And how these files get sent by email and live their own life.

Propably MS could be sued over this bug by someone who accidently sent confidential information. This feature (or bug) has existed 10 years or so.

I can not think of a situation when this feature is needed during presentation. It is only needed in a slidument - and even then sending the Excel file separately would be more suitable and controlled way to distribute just the information intended to be distributed.

Samurai

Ian

Hi,

I use ppt as a tool, so the work I am doing will dictate if I use it or not.

We keep blaming ppt for the problems, it is the limitations of the designer that must be addressed, thankfully as your site etc does.

Use ppt as one of the tools from your presentation palette, the real issue is to understand what you are doing as a designer of presentations and introducing more tools to your palette.

Jon Swerens

These are great questions! My only request is please post your talk online somewhere afterward. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to see it.

Zack Hiwiller

Garr, you have some great suggestions above (especially re: handouts, which I echo), but my biggest peeve with PPT is that I can never start with a blank slide. It's always wanting to throw default text boxes and junk in there. I assume I can set a default template with this gone, but it is probably the reason we see the same boring-looking decks time and again.

Christian Rehné

Hi Garr,

I would ask MS to improve ppt support for windows mobile > LCD/projector.

Carrying a laptop just for showing a presentation feels wrong when I easily should be able to use my ie. HTC as both a presentation device, and as a remote.

/Christian

Diogo

Better multimedia support. I can't display hi-res videos or use a slide bar, speed control, etc. Videos can't be cropped. It's not possible to put an object in front of a video and so on. Putting a flash animation on a slide is always tremendously unpractical.

Congratulations for the blog, absolutely awesome, so as the book!!

MIkeD

One feature would dramatically improve user productivity when creating PPT slides, "Copy/Paste and Match Style", as in Keynote.

Katherine Lawrence

I'll echo the comments about Presenter View. I still use Office 2003, so I don't know if these issues have been improved in the latest version. Overall, the function of the presenter view is cumbersome.

1. Like the earlier commenter, I have trouble with the remote in presenter view--the back button acts like the forward button.

2. It is very difficult to scroll down through the notes, and any formatting of the notes is lost. (I personally like to underline key words for quick sight recognition.) I've also had problems with moving between slides and ending up at the end of the notes on that slide, rather than the start. Because there's no formatting, it is hard to see where I am.

3. It would be useful to see more of the notes with a smaller slide image (as mentioned above).

4. The timer starts as soon as presenter view starts, but I often have the presentation open before people arrive. It would be more useful to be able to start the timer when I'm ready for it to start.

The main reason I use the presenter view is to make it easier to jump ahead or back to a slide if necessary. Otherwise, the other functions end up being useless, and the inability to go backwards using my remote is the final straw.

Thanks, Garr, for asking for our input. I love Presentation Zen and have recommended both the blog and the book enthusiastically!

Stephen

Ability to print notes all on one page.

Ability to view notes and animation at same time. Perhaps an optional notes text box overlay in Presentation mode?

barmarbybroox.wordpress.com

John Meister

I would like non-destructive grouping (maintaining animations). I would like a layer function, without grouping. This would allow hassle free selection of buried objects, among other things. I would also like to be able to set a rotation point on objects, rather than the current mathematical centre being used. As you see, most things I would like relate to animating elements. It would be nice to be able to do more complex animations within the program rather than turning to an outside app like flash.

Brad

Hi Garr:

Suggest to them that they hire outside design consultants to redo their presentation templates. Whoever is giving final approval to the templates that are currently available in PowerPoint (and, for that matte, Word and Excel) doesn't have the same eye for design as the person(s) that Apple has on board. For my purposes, most of them are less than satisfactory (I'm being kind)

Mariella

This is an article I wrote last year, in September about PPT2007. I just copied/pasted it, so it's the real spontaneous original one.
Here it goes:

Warning: this post contains explicit details of my relationship my with soon-to-be ex.

I heart PowerPoint. I started using it when I was a student, I think around 1997. At that time most people outside the business world didn’t know it existed.

At first I was shy, just writing a couple of key words on a few slides. Then I started falling in love and I wanted more - that’s how girls are. I got a glimpse of all its nice features: the transition effects, the sounds, even the programmed buttons and hyperlinks. We had passion. PowerPoint came along with me when I presented my thesis to the jury in college, and we did a great impression.

Then came corporate world, and I must say, if I am good at one thing in business, it is making presentation. That was so easy, with my beloved PowerPoint.
Everyone knew about us and our great relationship.
Event at home, when I switched to Mac 4 years ago, I couldn’t leave PowerPoint for Keynote. Keynote was nice, but it was just a fling.

Of course, people (hum, softwares) change, and PowerPoint was getting older, more mature, a bit different, but always the same old one I had always known.
Until recently. Maybe it’s mid-life crisis, but that much change came unexpected to me. I changed jobs in April, got a new PC, and there it was: PowerPoint 2007, all brand new.

At first I got curious about its new features: new templates that look young and professional. New styles and color sets.
But then came hell. I got used to the “office button” because it’s on every Office program and I had to deal with it. Still, I don’t like it much.
That ribbon idea, it got me confused. Where, oh where were my buttons and menus??
And then came the worse: things that I really liked in PowerPoint, things that were making my life easy, were gone. The drawing bar, gone. The selection pointer, gone. When I want to draw 10 lines, I need to go to the insert/shapes menu and click on the line button and draw ONE line and DO IT ALL AGAIN. That makes me crazy.

And I haven’t even tried to apply effects to objects or transitions between slides, yet.
I am telling you, PowerPoint and I, it’s over.
Thing is, we are going to have to keep on living together for a little while. I can’t pay the rent/do my job on my own without it. But I'll be leaving it as soon as I can.

Maria

Layout. You know the Keynote functionality that makes guides magically appear, those yellow guides that tell you that two elements are aligned etc... ?

Yes, that. Saves me so much time. This stuff needs to be a whole lot quicker in Powerpoint.

Also, an *obvious* option to turn off auto formatting. It's particularly painful when it attacks line spacing and such.

Another productivity future could be about simplifying color palette management. Somewhere to park the colors I use in my presentation, somewhere obvious, that allows me to change the colors of elements really quickly and easily, and not have to pick it out every time.

Brad


I'd really like to see some feature uniformity between Mac and Windows versions. I was recently reading "Why most powerpoint presentations SUCK (and what you can do about it)" and wanted to try some of the tricks on my Mac. Sadly, some of the features do not appear on the Mac.

On top of that, I would like to have confidence that, once I have created a slide deck on my Mac, that when I put it on a Windows box that it will play as expected. Image formats, fonts, effects - I cannot rust any of them.

Finally, make it easier to import quality graphics into PowerPoint. Many plots that I create in third-party (in this case, mainly free, Unix heritage) applications simply get blurry in PowerPoint. A postscript (NOT .eps) file should be simple. PDF should be simple. Any image with an open specification should work. They don't.

Charles Martineau

I bought Back of the Napkin yesterday and its really really brilliant! Its helping me a lot with a new business case analysis I have to do! great book indeed!

Garr

Thanks everyone for your comments. Here are some photos from yesterday:

http://snipurl.com/2ea56

Your comments were very useful. Arigatou! -g

Marcus Breekweg

Garr,

on the slide sorter view (which I would like to use more extensively) I miss functionality to make a hierarchy (chapters) of slides. This would make it a lot easier to manage presentation structures (along the lines of books like Beyond Bullet Points and the Storyboard Approach). I noticed that Keynotes does have this simple feature.

Another challenge I often have is the need to change the language setting throughout the presentation after having started creating it.

Russ Conte

Hi Garr,

I'm going to go way out on a limb here. Let's pretend that they are at the beginning all over again. What would they actually do, if they had a chance to start clean and fresh? If I was in their shoes, I'd honestly take the source code for PowerPoint and make sure that it is never used again. It's a tool from a bygone era. It truly is like AM radio in a world of digital surround sound. Start over, from the beginning. No preconceived notions, no limitations. And the beauty is we've really learned one lesson from the millions of PPT presentations. It's not about the PowerPoint. It's the quality of the presentation, not the quality of the slides, that matters. So for the new (as yet unnamed) product, focus on story telling, communication, listening, building relationships, making connections. The world does not need another iteration of PowerPoint. It needs people that can communicate effectively, in ways that are as far above what PPT can do as digital surround sound is above AM radio.

So my charge to them would be to start fresh, to start over. Focus on what's really and actually important in a presentation, in a way that is fresh, unique, and really takes very well educated risks that can pay huge dividends. Don't improve on Keynote, instead start over, from scratch, and make the first new business killer app for the start of the 21st century.

Just my 2¢

Russ Conte

Joey Asher

Great post Garr. Dan is really on to something. Drawing your visuals in real time allows you to customize your thoughts and your visual aids to your specific listeners. It makes the presentation feel far more personal. Joey Asher http://speechworks.net/wordpress/

Erik Alberts

It'd be great if powerpoint had cue cards for the presenter's laptop only, while the audience viewing the presentation on the projector could only see the slides themselves.

This was one of the fantastic suggestions in Seth's Godin's guide to better powerpoint.

Leo Bottary

Visuals rather than bullet points! Just posted about it. Thanks for sharing Dan Roam's simple but powerful insights!

Kristian Still

I would support the handouts issue, but also like the ideas of screencasts. I know Authorslide works with ppt to Ipod.

Further to the above, the young students I teach (11-13) genuinely like ppt. Have MS ever thought on a basic versions, a young leaners User interface? For example Studywiz uses two UIs, one for Primary and one Secondary Schools? Have MS ever consider changing the UI to suit the user?

vozome

Hello Garr.
In your book there were a few statements that, to me, were real eye-openers.

1) the presentation is not the document.
2) the presentation is not the handouts.
3) to make a killer presentation, spend some time offline organizing your ideas rather than create stuff in PPT.

I have committed those 3 presentation sins many times, but feel I should be pardonned because PPT made me do that.

I honestly don't know how MS could address the first 2. include engaging guidelines in the help, maybe, could help. they could also come up with a good, accessible sketching/diagramming application like a visio for dummies so that people won't use PPT for anything and everything. Another problem we see in PPT is that many users focus on including exotic features in their PPT hoping to woo the audience with those tricks. That reminds me of the flashing HTML of ten years ago. but this is really encouraged by PPT that keeps on offering more and more options. I feel users shouldn't be encouraged to use them.

for the 3rd, however, I think that MS should admit that if ppl need time off PPT to make things great within PPT something is amiss in their application. I suppose beefing up the slide sorter could be a good start.

Jeremiah Ty

hi garr!

since my work involves advertising, my biggest pet peeve is how powerpoint handles video. i wish it could handle more formats in higher resolutions. being able to layer on top of video (text and graphics) while it plays would be nice as well.

also annoying is how it handles font embedding - on powerpoint for the mac it's not possible at all. on the pc you're limited to true-type fonts. i really wish they could allow open-type font embedding.

powerpoint is a great tool that makes it very easy to share ideas and media. giving us better embedding options would make it even greater.

TechieBird

I think an interesting question is whether we should ask for features 'good' presenters want (better multimedia support etc.) or whether to ask for stuff to help 'default settings' presenters generate less awful slide decks. Microsoft know that most people who use PPT fall into the later group, and their employers mostly don't want to pay to train them to be less awful, so sadly I think damage limitation is the best we can hope for.

Then again, I probably spend more time sitting through really bad presentations than trying to create good ones, so the net gain for me would be greater with that approach anyway.

Eric Bodden

Powerpoint 2007 is great as it is. I have never used Keynote, which might even be better, but Powerpoint 2007 is definitely a very usable tool. I think the problem is rather the way how people use it.

Some things that are still lacking a bit:
- Slide transitions (could be nicer and more smooth)
- Motion paths sometimes move around in funny ways when you move the objects they are connected to

Guillaume Gete

Hi Garr,

I think that Keynote blows away PP in one aspect : how its interface does not come in the middle of your work. It is inobstrusive, easy on the eye...

Also, PP still has many difficulties to deal with transparency. Keynote's alpha channel and Alpha tool are winners here.

One of the most incredibles and unfair aspects of PP on Mac is that it does NOT allow to make an object animate on a path... though it manages to animate objects on their paths from files created in PP on Windows ! Scandalous :-(

And finally… tell MS to put really good templates, and to think about how they could remove the many modal boxes still present in PP.

Even with all of this though, they have a lot to fight with Keynote. I'm not sure anything could make me go back to PP now :-)

Maria H. Andersen

I am a college instructor, and I am in the process of starting to rebuild every PP to be a) simpler, and b) to use action buttons to make it easier to loop through different topics as they come up in our discussion.

If Microsoft could make it EASY to develop presentations with action buttons, like a way to insert a 5-slide loop, or several templates that you could start with, that would be awesome for creating more interactive presentations.

I also think they should be incorporating mindmaps (like what you can do with Mindomo) into their presentation technologies.

hermes bags

i think the way internet technology is moving i think it will replace the whole concept of television viewing!

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