Presentation Program Tips

Presentations Tips


PROPORTION IS EVERYTHING

In both PowerPoint and Freelance, you can use the mouse to drag an object's edge to change the object's proportions. If you want to stretch an object horizontally, grab one of the horizontal handles and drag. The handles may not be obvious in Freelance. To locate the handle, move the mouse over one of the object edges. When the cursor changes to the right-left arrow, you can click on it, then drag the edge.


GHOST ARTIST

PowerPoint 97 offers you a semi-transparent option. To use this, the object you want to apply this to must be a PowerPoint object. So select the object and choose Draw|Ungroup. Now choose Draw|Group to put it back together. Now, right-click the object and choose Format Object. When the dialog box opens, click the Colors and Lines tab, then select the Semitransparent check box. Click OK to close the dialog box and put your option into effect.


JUST A REALLY SMALL PIECE FOR ME, PLEASE

Pie charts are a very effective way to show proportions. You may have a problem when you encounter a very small slice that you need to label. If this happens to you, adjust the numbers to make the slice larger. Then make sure you add a label showing the correct numbers.


ANIMANIA

Here's an effective way to simulate animation in a slide show. First, add an object (perhaps an arrow) that you'd like to move across the screen. Place the object on the left side of the slide (or the right side if you want to move right to left). Now select the object and press Ctrl+C (Copy). Next, create a new slide and press Ctrl+V (Paste). Move the object a little to the right, select it and click Ctrl+C. Then create a new slide and press Ctrl+V. Continue this until you reach the right (or left) side of the slide. Each time you do a copy and paste, the object's position is pasted into the new slide. When you show the slides rapidly, the object will appear to move across the screen. This works in both PowerPoint and Freelance.


SEPARATED AT BIRTH

Do you sometimes want to replicate an object? In both PowerPoint and Freelance, hold down the Ctrl key while you drag a copy of the selected object to a new position.


IT'S NOT YOUR DEFAULT

If you've changed the proportion of a PowerPoint picture, you're not stuck with it; you can reset it. First, make sure the Picture toolbar is available. To do this choose View|Toolbars|Picture. Now select the picture by clicking on it. Click the Format Picture button in the Picture toolbar and when the dialog box opens, click the Size tab. If the Lock Aspect Ratio check box is selected, deselect it. Click Reset, then OK.

This tip doesn't work on PowerPoint objects. So if you've Ungrouped a picture to convert it, you can't use this method to return to the default size and proportions.


PICTURE YOUR AUDIENCE NAKED

You've been rehearsing. Here are some tips for how to handle a presentation in front of an audience.

  • Always project your voice but don't shout.
  • Keep a glass of water handy, but don't drink too much during a long presentation.
  • Don't drink carbonated beverages-they might make you burp.
  • Stay put--pacing distracts your audience.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • If you need to point out objects on the screen, use a pointer--don't point with your finger.
  • Stay calm.

ACRONYMS AND YOUR PRESENTATION

Although some acronyms have become so much a part of the language that their use is OK, you should use acronyms very sparingly. You should only use acronyms that are in general use. For example, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FCC, FDA, etc. are all acceptable. In fact, it wouldn't be acceptable to use the full version of those acronyms--American Broadcasting Company and Federal Communications Commission are too cumbersome.


TEXT AND PICTURES IN POWERPOINT

When you have both text and pictures on a PowerPoint slide, you may find that you'd like to move both without changing the relationship between them. You can do this by including the text in a group with the picture.

To do this, click on the text to select it. Now hold down the Shift key and click on the picture. Choose Draw|Group and the text and picture will become one. To ungroup your objects, select the object and choose Draw|Ungroup.


TEXT AND PICTURES IN FREELANCE

You can group text and pictures in Freelance so that two (or more) objects become part of a single group. To do this in Freelance, click on the text and then hold down the Shift key and click on the picture. Now choose Collection|Group. To ungroup Freelance objects, select the object and choose Group|Ungroup.


COLOR CONNOTATION

Some colors are traditionally used to denote one of the sexes. For example, most people will associate reds, browns, dark greens, and dark blues with masculinity. And most people with associate light colors such as pinks and lavenders with femininity.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't use pink for a presentation to a group of men: Studies indicate that light colors such as pink have a calming effect on people.


FANCY POWERPOINT 97 ANIMATION

Want to use some really cool animation in a PowerPoint slide? If so, try this new PowerPoint feature.

PowerPoint 97 will let you specify animation that will make a ClipArt figure come together a little at a time. To try this, insert a ClipArt picture onto a slide. Click on the picture to select it and choose Draw|Ungroup. Click on Yes when the dialog box appears and then click somewhere away from the drawing to deselect it. Now choose Custom Animation in the Animation effects floating toolbar. (It's the only one available at this point).

When the Custom Animation dialog box opens, you'll see a list of items labeled with the name of the object type. You may see Freeform 1, Freeform 2, etc., or you may see some objects labeled Oval 1, Oval 2. To animate them all, click on the first one in the list and then hold down Shift and click on the last one. Now select the Animate radio button and then select the radio button labeled Automatically.

To see how the animation will look, select Preview. When you finish with your selections, choose OK. Now you can see how your animation looks in a slide show. Just choose View|Slide Show and sit back and watch.


A SHAREWARE DRAWING PROGRAM

If you'd like to check out a drawing program, go to http://www.pcworld.com/cgi-bin/database/file_body.pl?ID=3025
to download a trial copy of SmartDraw. This is a full- featured drawing program that you can use for 30 days without registration. If you decide you like the program and want to keep it, it costs $49. SmartDraw won the Best Business Program award at the 1997 SIAF Awards. This is one you might want to try.


MAKE A NOTE

If you'd like to add a personal note to a PowerPoint slide, choose View|Notes Page. You can type in anything you want and nobody but you ever needs to see it. Notes are often very helpful during the slide-show development period.

To enter a personal note in Freelance, choose Create|Speaker Note and enter your note. To read the note later, right-click on the slide and choose Open Speaker Note.


WATCH THE COPYRIGHTS

Although you can freely use the ClipArt that comes with PowerPoint and Freelance, many people like to expand their ClipArt collection. When you purchase ClipArt on a disk, you're usually paying for the right to use the ClipArt. However, you're not always paying for the right to use it commercially.

For example, if you create slide shows that you then sell to a third party, the copyright may not apply. This is something you need to check on before you sell those slides.

Be especially careful with CDs that feature shareware ClipArt. Most of these objects are for personal use only. This is exactly the same as ClipArt downloaded from the Internet.


SIZING GROUPED TEXT

When you group a picture and text together in PowerPoint, you'll find that sizing the picture has no effect on the text size. To modify the text size (or change the font), select it and choose Format|Font. Make all your font changes (including color if you wish) and then click on OK.

In Freelance, the text size follows the picture size. So, if you resize a group comprising a picture and text in Freelance, the text gets resized too.


FILL IT UP

If you'd like for a text box in a PowerPoint slide to have the same fill color as the slide background (but somewhat lighter to make it stand out), right-click on the text and choose Format Text Box. Under Fill, click on the Color list box to expand it, and then select white as your fill color. Now select the Semitransparent check box and then click on OK. This will allow the slide's background color to show through. For special effects, try experimenting with other colors.


USING HUMOR

Most people appreciate a sense of humor, and it's always a good idea to use a bit of humor in your presentations. The problem is that you need to be sure your humor is appropriate. For example, a variation on the old Groucho joke, "I wouldn't work for any company that would hire me," is almost always inappropriate.

Make sure your humor isn't mean-spirited, either. Don't make jokes about the boss, the current salary structure, politics, race, or religion. In short, stay away from anything that might offend anyone. It's a good idea to try your humor on a small rehearsal audience to see how they take it.


POWERPOINT PICTURES AND WORDART

In an earlier tip, we pointed out that text grouped with a picture won't automatically resize along with the picture. This is true only of text added in a text box. If you insert WordArt and then group it with its associated picture, resizing the picture will also resize the WordArt. This is because WordArt is an art object as opposed to standard text.


How to launch presentations directly

One way is to find the file or Shortcut to the file, right-click on it (or highlight it and hit Shift-F10), then choose Show. The other way is to rename the file extension from .PPT to .PPS, then click on the file or its Shortcut (or highlight either one and hit Enter). Either way, put the files or Shortcuts on your desktop for maximum convenience.


How to run presentations from the keyboard

You can use the keyboard, not just the mouse, to advance to the next slide (or animated object) by pressing N, Space, Right Arrow, Down Arrow, or PgDn. To return to the previous slide (or animation), press P, Left Arrow, Up Arrow, or PgUp.


How to restore default designs

Using design templates to change PowerPoint presentations is basic. Less obvious is how to remove a template you've applied. To return to the default design, apply the template called Blank Presentation.pot, which stores the default format for a blank presentation. You should find it in the \Microsoft Office\Templates folder.


How to restore the default presentation slide

If Blank Presentation.pot has been changed or damaged, or is missing, you can re-create it. Start by renaming (or deleting) the current Blank Presentation.pot; then load PowerPoint, choose Blank Presentation in the start-up dialog, and select OK. Pick any AutoLayout choice in the New Slide dialog and choose OK again. Next, select Edit|Delete Slide, then File|Save. Save the file as a Presentation Templates type in the Microsoft Office\Templates folder, using the name Blank Presentation.pot.


How to simulate templates

Although PowerPoint limits you to one template per presentation, you can simulate more than one. To eliminate the graphic portions of a template for any given slide, choose Format|Custom Background, check the Omit Background Graphics From Master box, and select Apply. To change the background color, use the drop-down list above the check box or choose Format|Slide Color Scheme.


How to use a picture file as the background

To use a picture file, rather than the template's defined background, choose Format|Custom Background, check the Omit Background Graphics From Master box, open the drop-down list above the check box, and choose Picture. Select the picture file, choose OK, and then Apply.


How to print in reverse order

To put the last slide at the bottom of the stack, just enter the slides that way in the Print dialog. For example, if there are 20 slides, enter 20-1 in the Print Range box.


How to add accented characters

PowerPoint lacks an Insert Symbol command, but you can use the Windows Character Map instead. To add a Character Map button to PowerPoint, choose Tools|Customize. In the Categories list, select Tools, then find the Character Map Utility button, drag it to the toolbar, and click on it to open the utility. Click on the characters you want to add, one at a time, pressing Select after each choice. Character Map adds them to its "Characters to copy" text box. When you've selected them all, copy the characters to the clipboard and paste them into the slide.


How to optimise videos

Make sure any video clips you embed in a presentation are stored in the PowerPoint folder, normally \Microsoft Office\Office. If they aren't in the folder, make sure you copy or move the clip itself, not just its Shortcut.


How to use video effectively

To maximize the visual impact of embedded video, use an absolute minimum of colors in slides containing these clips. In particular, avoid special effects such as two-color shaded fills in the slide backgrounds. Also, keep the backgrounds as simple as possible.


How to embed a presentation

You may occasionally want to create a presentation in PowerPoint but show it from within another document that supports OLE, such as a Word file. To insert the presentation in another document, choose View|Slide Sorter and select the slides you want to include by pressing the Shift key as you click on each slide; then copy the slides (or drag and drop them while pressing the Ctrl key) to the second app. You'll see only the first slide in the target application, but if you double-click on it, PowerPoint runs a slide show using all the slides you copied.


How to embed individual slides

When you embed a presentation, all you see is the first slide. But if you want to see individual slides when you copy them to another document, to insert illustrations in a Word document, for example, here's what to do. Copy individual slides from the Slide Sorter view to the document, one at a time. If you're copying to a Word document and want to include every slide in a presentation, use the Tools|Write-Up command, make the appropriate choices in the Write-Up dialog box, and choose OK.


How to copy slides

When you drag and drop slides between presentations or from PowerPoint to other apps, Windows moves the slides instead of copying them. To keep the slides in the original presentation as well, press Ctrl while dragging and dropping.


BUGS, ETC..

PowerPoint's spelling checker has a problem with some words. The abbreviation etc., for example, will be tagged as an incorrectly spelled word. However, the spelling checker will suggest etc. (with a period) as the correct spelling. If you click Change, you'll get etc.. (with two periods.) The only way around the problem is to ignore the spelling checker's protest and leave etc. as is. This is a bug in PowerPoint (even in Office 95), and we'll let you know if we hear of a fix.


ON THE BORDER

If you'd like to add a border to some text in a Freelance presentation, right-click on the text and choose Text Properties. When the dialog box opens, click on the Color, Pattern, and Line Style tab (it's the one with a blue, yellow, and red line). Now select the border style, width, shadow (if desired), and color. After you make your selections, click on the Close box at the upper right corner of the dialog box.

To add a border in PowerPoint, right-click on the text and choose Format Text Box. When the dialog box opens, click on the Colors and Lines tab. Select Color, Style, Dashed (or not), and Weight. When finished, click on OK.


COLOR CODING

Here's something that might help you during your presentation. If you create your handouts in a variety of colors, you can simply say, "Now look at the blue page." This can help prevent confusion among your audience members. You can find paper in a variety of colors in almost any office supply store.


SHAPELY TEXT IN FREELANCE

When you need to use text labels associated with pictures, try the Shapes With Text option in Freelance. Look at the Drawing toolbar under Shapes With Text. On the lower left of this section, you'll see shapes with a down arrow. Click on the leftmost of these selections. This will expand the menu and offer you a selection of comic book-type text balloons. Make your selection and use the mouse to draw the balloon. Now add your text and place the object where it's needed.

If the arrow points the wrong way, right-click on the object and choose Flip. Then choose the type of flip you need.


SHAPELY TEXT IN POWERPOINT

In the last tip, we told you how you can add comic book-type text balloons to a Freelance slide. You can do the same with PowerPoint, but the procedure and the nomenclature is somewhat different

.

In PowerPoint, click on Autoshapes|Callout and choose from one of the offerings. Draw the object using the mouse and then add the text. Now right-click on the object and choose Format Autoshape. When the dialog box opens, click on the Colors And Lines tab. Select the fill color, line color, style, etc. After you make all your selections, click on OK to close the dialog box and save your changes.

If the arrow points the wrong way, select the object and choose Rotate or Flip. From the submenu, choose the desired action.


BE PREPARED

Although you have the modern technology of PowerPoint or Freelance at your fingertips, here are a few items you should keep in mind.

If you're using a transparency projector, bring along a few blanks just in case you get asked something that's not covered by your slides. Bring along some markers, too.

And whatever you do, don't forget to have an extra projector lamp on hand.


KEEPING TRACK IN POWERPOINT

If you want to keep track of some of your Clip Art pictures, try this: Open Clip Art by choosing Insert|Picture|Clip Art. Click on the picture you're interested in and then click on Clip Properties. This will open a dialog box that displays information about the selection--you'll see the file size and the name. You can now record the name for later use.

When you need to locate a picture in Clip Art, click on Find and enter the name you've recorded. Find will locate the picture, and you can insert it by clicking on Insert or by double-clicking on the picture. If more than one picture exists with the selected name, both will appear.


BE YOURSELF?

This may be obvious to most of you, but it isn't obvious to everyone. When you make a presentation, your personality and your own reaction to your topic will show through. If you're personally enthusiastic about the topic, you'll have no problem. However, if you're not--if your boss simply assigned it to you, you'll have to do some acting. In fact, you should really try to work up some personal enthusiasm for the topic--acting for more than a few minutes at a time is difficult. Another point: If you really enjoy doing presentations, the topic won't be a problem.


MORE IS BETTER

We have suggested several times that you limit a slide to no more than four or five colors. When you use too many colors, the slide may look too busy. There is a definite exception to this general rule: If you have access to full-color Clip Art, by all means, use it. Full-color Clip Art falls into the same category as photographs--they both look better in a full-color rendition.


ON THE SUBJECT OF PHOTOGRAPHS

When you include photographs in a slide show, make sure the computer on which you'll present the show can display full color. It's best if the computer will handle the full 16.7 million colors. However, one that displays 64K colors will do a creditable job.

Whatever you do, don't let yourself get stuck with a computer that can only display 256 colors. If you can't get around using such a computer, substitute something else for those photos. Photos will look terrible at 256 colors.


STANDARD POWERPOINT ANIMATION

Although PowerPoint 97 offers more animation effects than ever before, you can still set transition effects for a slide quite easily. All you have to do is choose Slide Show|Preset Animation and make your choice.

In Freelance, choose Page|Page Properties and click on the Screen Show tab (the tab with the movie projector icon). Make your choice and then click on the Close box.


ALPHA AND OMEGA

If you ask most speech writers to tell you about the basic form of a speech, they'll tell you this: "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them." You can't go wrong using this approach.

When you start your presentation, refer to what you intend to present. And when you finish the presentation, refer to your opening remarks. By doing this, you tie the presentation together.


SPEEDY COMPUTERS WANTED

You can successfully run a presentation on any computer that runs PowerPoint or Freelance. However, keep in mind that people have become accustomed to fast, polished graphics. So use the fastest computer available to you.


ANALYZE YOUR AUDIENCE

When you begin working on a new presentation, take a little time to consider your audience. Will most of them be engineers? Or will most of them be upper-level managers? Will there be a mixture of engineers and managers? You need a different presentation for each of these groups.

If you're making a presentation to engineers, and you're an engineer yourself, you won't have any problems at all--you'll understand what the engineers need to hear.

On the other hand, if you're an engineer and you're presenting to a group of managers, you need to really watch for too much technical detail--and leave much of it out. Managers want to hear about the bottom line. They want to see that what you're presenting is feasible and then make a decision on how to approach the project. You should also make the presentation shorter for managers--they will resent spending more time than they feel is necessary to make their decision.


AUTOMATIC SLIDE SHOWS

If you'd like to double-click on a PowerPoint file and have it open as a slide show rather than have to wait for PowerPoint to open and then choose View|Slide Show, all you have to do is save the file in the right format. When you're ready to save a file that you want to open directly to a slide show, choose File|Save As. When the Save As dialog box opens, click on the arrow at the right of the Save As Type list box to expand the list. Select PowerPoint Show (*.pps) and type a name into the File name text entry box. Click on OK to close the dialog box and save the file.

When you double-click on the PPS file, PowerPoint will open it in Slide Show mode. It will display the slide show as you instructed it to and, when the show is finished, PowerPoint will close.

This doesn't mean you can't edit a PPS slide show. To modify the show, all you have to do is open it from PowerPoint by choosing File|Open.


MEDIA CONTROL

Here's a truly modern problem--it's easy to let the medium control you. When you start designing a slide show, it's very easy to put too much emphasis on creative graphics. If you don't watch out, your presentation will look as though its only goal is prove that you're really good at making slides.

Don't let yourself get carried away by the technology. Don't add cute Clip Art that has nothing to do with the topic. In fact, it's best to add very little cute Clip Art even when it does relate to the topic. Make sure that everything that goes into your slide show makes a point that the audience needs to know about.


AUTOMATIC MOVIES

When you use a movie (AVI file) in your PowerPoint slide shows, you can tell it when to run and what to do, just as you would any other object.

Let's say you insert a movie onto your first slide. To tell PowerPoint how to start the movie, right-click on its icon and choose Custom Animation. Click on the Timing tab, select the radio button marked Automatically, and set the delay time--0 (zero) will work here if you'd like it to start as soon as the slide opens.


CLICK THE BUTTON

Have you tried PowerPoint 97's Action buttons? Navigate to a slide and choose Slide Show|Action Buttons and select a button with which to experiment. Once you've selected a button, use the mouse to draw the button on your slide.

When you release the mouse button after drawing the button, the Action Settings dialog box will open. Select the type of action you want to apply to your new button and then click on OK. You can choose mouse activity based on mouse click, or mouse over. Just choose the appropriate tab for the action you want to use.

In many cases, you'll want to select the default mouse action for a particular button in order to stay consistent. However, you can add text to any of the buttons.

In all cases, you can choose the line and fill color just as you would with any other PowerPoint object.


USING NUMBER CHARTS

When you use number charts in a slide show, keep it simple. Too many numbers are confusing. If you want to show sales by division, consider showing only the total sales for each division. You can print the full data in your handouts for the audience to view later.

Also, make sure that any number charts you use in a slide are completely readable from the most remote position in the room. Whether numbers, text, or pictures, you don't want to make people squint to see your slides.


TOWARD BETTER SOUND

Modern sound cards are capable of very good fidelity. Unfortunately, most multimedia computer systems have a serious weak link in the amplifier and speaker system. One way to make your sound better is to hook the sound card into an existing complete audio system.

To hook to a sound system, you need a cable that will attach your sound card output to the audio system. You should be able to find all the cables and adapters you need at your local Radio Shack.


USING MOVIES

Inserting movies (AVI files) into a slide show can certainly enhance your presentations. But be careful with this one--movie technology isn't really all that good yet. If you use movies, leave them normal size and stick with the short ones. If you use long movie files, the audience will become distracted by the flaws.

Also, keep in mind that the computer's speed is often critical when it comes to showing movies. This can become worse if you're presenting a slide show on a computer at a remote site. What looks fine on your computer may well look awful on theirs.


NEW POWERPOINT ANIMATION

If you've had Microsoft PowerPoint 97 for a short time, you may not have seen some of its new animation. To test this animation, open a new PowerPoint slide and place some WordArt on it (choose Insert|Picture|WordArt, choose the style you want to use, then enter your text). Now right-click on the WordArt and choose Custom Animation.

When the Custom Animation dialog box opens, click on the Effects tab and then click on the down arrow at the right side of the list box named "Entry Animation and Sound" to expand the list. Scroll down to Spiral and select it. Now click on Preview to see how the effect looks.

While you're in the Custom Animation dialog box, look through the list box for some of the other new features. You'll find Stretch, Zoom, and Crawl, among others.


ANIMATION IN FREELANCE 97

Freelance 97 has a lot of cool animation. To experiment with Freelance animation, insert an object onto a new slide (Clip Art will do fine here). Right-click on the object and then choose Group Properties. When the dialog box opens, click on the Screen Show tab (its icon looks like a movie projector).

Now click on the arrow at the right side of the Transition list box to expand the list. If you scroll down the list, you'll find Spiral. Select it and then select the radio button labeled After. You can enter whatever time period you need, but 0 (zero) will do fine for now. After you make your selections, click on the dialog box's Close box (the little X at the top right of the dialog box).

Now you can choose Presentation|Run Screen Show to see how your animation looks.


CHANGING YOUR MIND

Here's the scenario: You've got a hefty collection of slides all put together when you decide that you'd like to change a slide's layout, or maybe even change the background of the entire show.

If you use PowerPoint and want to change a slide's layout, navigate to the slide, choose Format|Slide Layout, and choose the new layout from the dialog box.

If you want to change the background, choose Format|Background. When the dialog box opens, you can select a new color and a new fill effect. You can choose to apply the changes to the current slide by clicking on Apply, or you can click on Apply to All and modify all the slides in the presentation.

To change to a new layout (for the current slide) in Freelance, navigate to the current slide and choose Page|Switch Page Layout. When the dialog box opens, make your choice and then click on OK.

To change the background color, select the background and choose Page|Page Properties. When the dialog box opens, click on the Color, Pattern, and Line Style tab (it's the multicolored tab). After you make all your selections, click on the Close box.


CHARTING YOURSELF

Your company may not be the largest in its industry, but your customers already know that. So go ahead and use bar charts to show the company's position, just make sure that your company gets the most prominent spot in the chart.

For example, if you decide to use a horizontal bar chart, you may want to organize it alphabetically with one exception--put your bar at the top of the chart. If you use a vertical bar chart, consider placing your bar at the left.

Another approach is to place your company in the correct alphabetical position, but make its bar a different color to make it stand out among the others. You can also place an arrow pointing at your company's bar.


WHERE DO I STAND?

As you rehearse a presentation, you should practice where to stand for each part of the presentation. Consider this: Whenever professional actors, comedians, or lecturers go on stage, they have marks on which to stand at each part of their performance.

Perhaps you can't conveniently make marks on the floor, but you can rehearse your position at each part of the presentation. If you're going to walk toward the viewing screen, decide on where to stop and then rehearse the spot and stick with it.

Keep this in mind when deciding on locations: Always face the audience while you're speaking. To make this work well, you need to hold down the distances over which you move because as you walk from spot A to spot B you should keep silent. Don't rush from one spot to another, though--walk at a normal rate. When you arrive at spot B, turn toward the audience before you resume speaking.


ALIGNING OBJECTS IN POWERPOINT

You might frequently like to align your PowerPoint 97 objects so they fall into the general categories of left, center, or right. This can be a bit tricky. Let's suppose that you've placed three objects on a slide and now you'd like to align them so the top one is on the left, the center one is in the center, and the bottom one is on the right.

First, you need to tell PowerPoint what kind of alignment you want to use. Click on Draw (at the bottom left of the PowerPoint window) and choose Align or Distribute|Relative to Slide. Now you're ready to click on the top object to select it.

After you select the object, click on Draw and choose Align or Distribute. This time, when the submenu opens, choose Align Left, Center, or Right (or Top, Middle, or Bottom if you like).


ACTION IMPACT MOVIES

Freelance includes a set of animations called Action Impact Movies (AIM). To see how these can enhance your slide shows, choose Create|Add Movies and click on one you'd like to try. To see how the movie looks before you complete the process of adding it to your slide, click on Preview.

To make the movie start automatically, first choose Page|Page Properties and click on the Screen Show tab. Next, select the Trigger Automatically, After radio button and set the time to zero if you want the movie to start as soon as the page opens. Next, to finish the job, right-click on the movie and choose Movie Properties. Select Display Page First, Then Play Movie and then select After 0 Seconds. Click on the Close box to close the dialog box.

When you play the slide show, the movie will start playing immediately after the slide opens.


ADD SOME CURVES

One way to enhance a Freelance slide's appearance is to make text on the slide wrap around the object to which it's related. To do this, insert a picture and then insert some text. Now select the text and choose Text|Curved Text. Select the shape you want to try and click on OK.

Now you can size and move the curved text to match the picture object.


CURVED TEXT IN POWERPOINT

You can use WordArt to create curved text in PowerPoint. To try this, insert a Clip Art picture (Insert|Picture|Clip Art) around which you'd like to wrap some text. Now choose Insert|Picture|WordArt. When the WordArt dialog box opens, select the text format you want to use and click on OK. Next, type in your text and click on OK.

Once the text is in place, click on the WordArt Shape button in the WordArt floating toolbar (it's the one with the curved ABC icon). Choose the shape that looks closest to what you need.

You can use the mouse to size and shape the WordArt to make it fit the picture object. To get the best fit, you may need to double- click on the WordArt and change the font size.


SAVE THAT COOL SLIDE

Now and then you may produce a slide that you'd like to keep as a separate picture file. To save that Freelance beauty, choose File|Save As and then click on the arrow at the right of the Save as Type list box to expand the list. Select the type of graphic file you want to use for the picture. If you want to use the picture as computer wallpaper, choose Windows/PM Bitmap (BMP), type in a file name, click on OK to save the file, and close the dialog box.

You can do the same thing with PowerPoint. Choose File|Save As, expand the Save As Type list box and choose your file type. PowerPoint offers JPG, GIF, and WMF graphics file types. After you make your selection, type in a file name and click on OK.

At this point, PowerPoint will ask if you want to save all the slides, or only the current one. It's up to you. If you decide to save them all, PowerPoint will provide the names based on the name you typed in.


POWERPOINT EXTRAS

If your PowerPoint 97 came with Microsoft Office 97, you have some extras that you might not be aware of. Insert the Microsoft Office CD into the CD-ROM drive and double-click on My Computer to open it. Now locate the CD-ROM drive icon and double-click on it. When the window opens, double-click on the Valupack folder to open it.

In the Valupack folder, double-click on Musictrk. To add these extra PowerPoint sound tracks to your system, double-click on the Setup icon and follow the instructions.

To use the custom soundtrack, choose Slide Show|Custom Soundtrack. When the dialog box opens, select the type of music you want to use. This is loads of fun to experiment around with--try 'em all. After you make a more-or-less final choice, click on OK.

Now run the slide show, and the sound track you selected will start.


HOLD THE LINE

Watch the line length in your presentations. The longer the line, the harder it is for the audience to read it. It's far better to use three or four short lines on a slide, than to use one or two longer lines.

You might want to consider breaking a sentence down into several lines by using a larger font size. Bulleting your primary points is often a good way to hold down those line lengths.


MAKING IT FIT

We've suggested that you keep line lengths short in a slide presentation. You also need to watch the line length when you change fonts. Some fonts take up more space than others and will therefore change the line length. For example, one font may produce a line 18 picas in length, while another font of the same size will require 21 picas.


GRADUATED COLOR IN YOUR SLIDES

We've often discussed the value of color in your slides. We've mentioned numerous times that you need to restrict the number of colors and that you need to stay with a simple background. So this tip might seem to be suggesting a technique that's counter to our general philosophy--we're going to talk about using graduated colors in your slides.

Graduated colors can be very effective. However, a graduated color background forces you to be more careful than usual about making sure that none of your slide text is obscured by the background. When you use graduated colors, you should avoid dark colors. If you stick with the lighter colors, you'll have less trouble getting your text to show up well.

To use graduated color in a PowerPoint slide, choose Format, Background. When the Background dialog box opens, click on the arrow at the right side of the Fill list box and select Fill Effects. Select your colors and your fill effect, and click on OK. When you get back to the Background dialog box, click on Apply.

In Freelance, right-click on the slide's background and choose Page Properties. Now click on the arrow at the right side of the Pattern list box to expand it and then choose your gradient from the choices offered. Now expand Pattern Color and make a choice, then expand Background and make a selection there. When you're happy with your selections, click on the Close box at the top right side of the dialog box.

In Corel Presentations 8, choose File, Page Setup and click on the Page Color tab. Select your two colors (Foreground and Background) and then click on the Gradient button. Select a gradient and click on OK.


MAKE AN INTERMISSION SLIDE

Here's an idea you might like to try when you're making a very long presentation. Let's say your presentation is long enough to need an intermission. Why not take a cue from those long movies and put something on the screen during the intermission to help provide some continuity from part one to part two?

You can create a set of intermission slides with a bit of colorful animation. For example, if you want to insert a five-minute intermission in PowerPoint, you can insert a new slide at the correct spot and then choose Insert, Picture, Clip Art. Now select Gestures and choose the one showing five fingers. Add some text (or WordArt) that says something like, "We'll begin again in" above the hand, and "minutes" below the hand. Once you have the graphics and text in place, press Ctrl-A to select it all, and then insert a new slide. Press Ctrl-V to paste your text and graphics onto the new slide. Select the hand and delete it. Choose Insert, Picture, Clip Art again and select the hand displaying four fingers. Repeat as necessary. After you finish the slide displaying only one figure, you should double-click on "minutes" and change it to "minute." At this point, you need to insert another slide with some message indicating that you're ready to go again. You could also add some sound or music to this slide as an attention-getting device.

Now you need to set the timings. Right-click on the first slide in your intermission sequence and choose Set up Show. Make your choices here and under slides, select the From radio button. Now enter the start and finish slides for your intermission. Select Using Timings, If Present radio button, and click on OK.

Now right-click on the first slide and choose Slide Transition. Select No Transition and then enter Automatically after 60 seconds. Click on Apply to All and view your intermission sequence by choosing Slide Show, View Show.


STARTING OFF

Since the first thing your audience will see is the title slide, you should use the opening titles to set the style for your presentation. Don't make the mistake of creating a flashy (and very appealing) opening slide that has absolutely nothing to do with the presentation. You want to get the attention of the audience, but not at the expense of continuity. A pretty, but meaningless slide is like starting off with a joke that has no relationship to your topic.


WATCH THE SYMBOLS

Be careful using symbols. For example, if you want to show that the cash flow improved last year, don't add something like ???!!! to your slide. Too much punctuation tends to irritate some people.

If you're showing a financial growth, you could perhaps make this year's numbers slightly larger than last year's. Or you could use a different color for the two sets of numbers.

Also, if you are presenting something that's currently an unknown, it's a good idea to avoid using multiple question marks.


FILL IT UP

When you're working with shapes, don't forget to spend some time adjusting the fill and line colors. You can often achieve some excellent results if you can find a good balance between the two.

Let's suppose that you've just created an arrow in PowerPoint and you'd like to set the fill color to orange. Select the object and then click on the arrow beside the Fill Color button on the Drawing toolbar. (If the Drawing toolbar isn't on the screen, choose View, Toolbars and select Drawing). Now select More Fill Colors and make your choice. Click on OK to record your change. Next, click on the arrow to the right of the Line Color button and choose More Line Colors. The default is black, and black is perhaps often the best choice. But with an orange arrow, you might find that a shade of red makes a good line color. After you make a choice, click on OK to register your changes.

In Freelance, right-click on the object and choose Text Shape Properties. Under Border, make your color selection and then move to Interior and select the pattern color. When you're finished, click on the Close box to save your changes.

In Corel Presentations, select the object and click on the Fill button. Make your choice and click on OK. Then click on the Line Fill button and make your choice there.


MORE COLOR SUGGESTIONS

We've often discussed using color in slides and how difficult it can be to place color text over a color background. This time, let's look at some specific examples that you can experiment with.

One combination that you should definitely avoid is red on a dark or medium blue background--although it may look OK to you, some people have a lot of trouble with it. Avoid black on medium to dark blue as well. You should never even consider this combination.

How about green and red? This is worse than blue and red.

What about a black background? Well, you can use most colors on a black background (red tends to look a bit dark), but black is pretty heavy for a slide. We suggest you use black only if you need it to set off some graphic, or if you want to convey a feeling that only black can describe. In general, the best approach is to avoid very dark (highly saturated) backgrounds.

One way to test text over backgrounds is to create a graduated color background and then place text over it. This way you can see what happens to a particular color as the background becomes darker.


THIS SLIDE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

There are times when you might want to elaborate on a topic without leaving the last slide visible. One way to handle this is to insert a blank slide at points where you want to elaborate. If you don't want to use a completely blank slide, you can place some kind of picture on it.

Be careful with pictures though; you don't want to distract the audience. If you have a picture that seems to fit the overall topic of your presentation, you can use that. Perhaps you could use something as simple as a photo of your company headquarters.

Do not use a swimsuit calendar picture. This type of thing is sure to distract your audience--by offending some of them and getting too much attention from others.


CHART CHOICES

Just as with everything else in a good presentation, your charts need to be simple and easy to understand at a glance with a minimum of explanation. Try to limit the number of elements in a single chart.

You also need to carefully consider the type of chart you need to use to display your data. For example, if you want to simply show the total income for three consecutive years, give strong consideration to a horizontal bar chart. We suggest that you stay away from any unnecessary labeling. In a case such as this, where there is no real time scale, all you need to do is label the three years on the x-axis, and then label the amounts represented by the bars. A good idea with this particular chart is to place the numbers inside the bars in large numerals.


NEW DESIGNS

In PowerPoint, you can select a new design very quickly. All you have to do is right-click on the slide and choose Apply Design (if the floating toolbar, Common Tasks is visible, choose Apply Design from it). Once the Apply Design dialog box opens, you can select from the list and then see how it looks in the preview window. After you make a choice, click on Apply.

In Freelance, select the slide by clicking on it and choose Presentation, Choose a Different SmartMaster Look. Make your selection from the list to view it in the preview pane. When you find the one you want, click on OK.

In Corel Presentations, you can right-click on the slide and then choose Master Gallery. Make your selection and click on OK.


FLOW CHART FIGURES

Don't be shy about using flow chart figures--they can often help you describe a process or structure that would be difficult to deal with in other ways. For example, if you're making an engineering presentation and need to describe a chemical process, you can use the flow chart figures to help you simplify the process for those in the audience who lack a Chemical Engineering degree.


LINE SPACING

We've discussed the importance of using short sentences with simple fonts in easily readable sizes. Here's another line parameter to watch: the spacing between lines.

When you have three or four lines on a slide, experiment around a bit with the spacing. For example, if two lines are too closely spaced, an audience can get the impression that the two lines make up one sentence. Also, when you have three or more lines, make sure the spacing is the same between all of them. The reason is the same: If the space is different between one pair of lines, the audience might feel that the two closer ones are a sentence.


SHAPE CHANGERS

When you need to use bar charts in PowerPoint 97, don't forget that you can easily change the shape of your bars. To insert a chart, choose Insert, Chart. Go ahead and use the default for experimentation.

Double-click on one of the bars. This opens the Format Data Series dialog box. Click on the Shape tab, choose from one of the six options, and click on OK. Note that the shape change applies only to the data series that belongs to the bar on which you double-clicked.

In Corel Presentations, right-click on the bar you want to change and choose Series Properties. When the dialog box opens, click on Type/Axis. Now make your shape choice and click on OK.


SETTING UP FOR AN AUDIENCE

When you're ready to think about room setup for a presentation, keep your audience in mind. If you're making a formal presentation to a group of executives, it's best to use theater-type seating. That is, the audience seated in rows with you at the front--in the position of the professor in a class. Actually, you should ideally be located off to the left of center.

If your presentation is to a group of peers, try for a more informal audience arrangement. Perhaps seat all the attendees around a rectangular table, with you at the head of it. Just make sure you have room to move around a bit without stepping on any feet or tripping over any cables.


CHART COLORS

We've talked about keeping charts simple and about choosing chart shapes to help enhance your slides. We've also discussed making careful color choices in your slides. Choose your chart colors just as carefully. Although not as potentially damaging as a poor choice of background colors, poor chart colors can definitely detract from your slides.

One way to enhance your charts is to use graduated color. To apply graduated colors in PowerPoint, right-click on the series (a bar in the series) and choose Format Data Series. Now click on the Patterns tab and click on Fill Effects. Click on the Gradient tab and make your choice. When you're finished, click on OK, and then OK again. We suggest that the darker part of the gradient occur at the bottom of the chart.

In Freelance, right-click on the series and choose Series Properties. Click on the Color, Pattern, and Line Style tab (it's the tab on the left). Now choose a pattern, color, and background color (if you want to use two colors). After you make your choices, click on the Close button to get rid of the dialog box.

In Corel Presentations, right-click on the series and choose Series Properties. Click on the Gradient tab, make your choices, and click on OK.


CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

A lot of folks use uppercase text for titles. This is actually a sort of psychological holdover from the typewriter days. The only way to really make a title stand out in those days was to make it uppercase. Uppercase letters are often less attractive than lowercase and usually more difficult to read--not to mention the fact that Internet users in your audience will tend to think of all caps as "shouting."

Try to avoid using all caps in your titles (or anywhere in your slides). Concentrate instead on choosing an attractive and easily readable font and font size.


FANCY FLOW CHARTS?

We've discussed how you can use flow charts to help guide an audience through a process. If you can locate (or create) suitable artwork, you might like to consider using drawings to diagram a process.

Suppose, for example, that you need to describe how a signal travels from a transmitter to a satellite and then down to the TV audience. Locate a map of the Earth and use about the top third (to keep it simple). Then place on the left side of the map a tower to represent the transmitter and another to represent the TV receiver. Draw a line form the transmitter to the satellite, and another line from the satellite to the receiver.

To use this kind of graphic representation, you need to read your audience. Simple graphic flow charts can be especially helpful when your audience is primarily management. On the other hand, a group of engineers might well sneer at it.


IN ONE ASPECT

Although you may prefer a completely electronic presentation over making 35mm color slides from your PowerPoint, Freelance, or Corel Presentations program, many people prefer to use the standard 35mm slide aspect ratio (3:2). This is a pleasing ratio and one people are accustomed to seeing.

To produce slides with a 3:2 aspect ratio in PowerPoint, choose File, Page Setup, 35mm Slides and click on OK. In Corel Presentations, choose File, Page Setup, Size, 35mm 7.33" x 11" and click on OK. In Freelance, choose File, Setup for 35mm Slides. When the dialog box opens, make sure the check box is deselected and click on OK.


INSERT A NEW SLIDE

When you're in the middle of developing a slide show, you need all the help you can get to reduce the number of steps it takes to get the job done. If you work in PowerPoint, you can save a few steps each time you need to add a new slide. Rather than clicking on the menu to insert a new slide, press Ctrl-M.

If you use Corel Presentations, you can press Alt-I, N (in sequence) to insert a new slide. When the dialog box opens, click on OK.

In Freelance you can insert a new slide by pressing F7.


ORIENT YOURSELF

As you know, you can produce slides in either landscape or portrait orientation. Landscape is horizontal and portrait is vertical, and never should the two mix.

Pick an orientation (horizontal when you can) and stick with it through an entire slide presentation. Having a vertically oriented slide suddenly pop up in the midst of a horizontally oriented slide show will momentarily confuse your audience.


SPECIAL WORDART EFFECT

If you use PowerPoint, you know that WordArt allows a large number of special effects. But along with the special effects that you can see, there are others that aren't quite as obvious. For example, if you change the width of your text's border lines, you can create a whole new effect.

To check this out, insert some WordArt into a slide by choosing Insert, Picture, WordArt. After you size and place your new WordArt, click on it and then click on the Format WordArt button in the WordArt floating toolbar (it looks like a bucket pouring paint). When the Format WordArt dialog box opens, click on the Colors and Lines tab.

Not all the WordArt selections have lines. If you happened to choose one of these, just click on OK to close the dialog box and go back to the beginning to select a WordArt style that has lines.

When your sample WordArt uses lines, you'll see Line Color, Style, and Weight listed. Increase the weight. Try something rather heavy, perhaps two or three points. Click on OK.

After you see how the new border looks, you might want to try a new line color. Select the WordArt and click on Format WordArt again. This time select a new line color and click on OK.

This is one you can experiment with. Sometimes a combination of color and line width can produce some very striking effects. Don't hesitate to try some very wide line widths. We've seen some excellent effects produced by using as much as 4.0 point lines.


IMPORTANT STATES

When you use maps in a slide show, make sure the states of interest show up well. After all, the most important state is always the one in which you're giving the presentation. If you're making a sales presentation in Rhode Island, don't use a full map of the United States with an arrow pointing to the approximate location of Rhode Island. At least zoom in on New England. If necessary, zoom in on the single state. After you've established the premise showing the state of interest, you can zoom out to show a full view of the country when necessary.

Another problem to watch for is map distortion. This sometimes happens when a map doesn't seem to fit horizontally. Many presentation developers simply squish the map to make it fit. This is a bad idea. You may think that it's no problem if Tennessee looks a bit squished. You may not even notice it. But if you show it to a group in Tennessee, they'll notice.


VERTICAL VS. HORIZONTAL

When people use charts in a slide presentation, there's a tendency to place descriptive text vertically in the chart's bars. Don't do this unless you must. The problem is that people are accustomed to reading horizontal text. Reading vertical text requires a little thought. And this means a slight loss in immediate comprehension. Your goal is to always make your slide show as easy to understand as possible.

One approach that some like to use with bar charts is to place the description horizontally above the bar and then also add the description vertically in the bar for the sake of appearance. If you like the vertical text in the bars, you might want to test this approach and see if it looks effective for your slide show. Ask a few others for an opinion.


POINT PERSPECTIVE

Here's an approach that you can use to create some very attractive (even unusual) slides. Unfortunately, the technique may be a bit difficult to explain. Let's try though.

Consider a drawing of a train track. The tracks are far apart at the bottom of the slide and then move closer together until they meet at a single point at the top of the slide.

Now imagine dozens of lines, all far apart at the bottom of the slide and all meeting at the single point at the top of the slide. Next, imaging that you place all your objects on these converging lines. Then, when all the objects are placed, you erase the lines. This method of drawing (or placing and sizing objects) can make very effective slides.

Now try moving the single point to the upper right corner of the slide. Or move the point to the upper left. Each location for the point will produce a different look for the slide.


IN THE SPOTLIGHT

In PowerPoint, you can simulate the appearance of a spotlight shining on your ClipArt by drawing a circle and setting it to semitransparent. For this to work, the scene must be flat.

Insert your ClipArt and then use the Oval tool from the PowerPoint Draw menu to draw a circle. To draw a perfect circle, hold down Shift while you use the mouse to make the circle. Now size the circle and move it over the ClipArt. Make sure that it's over a flat scene--for example, on one wall of a building.

With the circle selected, click on the arrow to the right of the Fill button (the Fill button shows a bucket of paint). When the list expands, select white. Right-click on the circle now, and choose Format AutoShape. When the dialog box opens, select the check box labeled Semitransparent and click on OK.


SNAP TO IT

When you're trying to align ClipArt, or other art objects, you'll find the Snap To option handy. Snap To forces your objects to align themselves based on a grid (which is usually invisible). To set Snap To in PowerPoint, choose Draw and select Snap, To Grid.

In Freelance, you can activate the Snap To option by choosing View, Set Units & Grid. When the dialog box opens, select Snap To Grid. Click on OK.

In Corel Presentations, to align objects with the grid, choose View, Grid/Guides/Snap and select Snap To Grid.


TYPE DISTORTION

When you elect to distort type for effect, watch for some inadvertent bad effects. Typefaces are designed to look good when viewed in the correct orientation. When you fold, spindle, and mutilate a typeface, you can't expect it to remain as beautiful as it is when placed on a page properly. We're not saying that you should never add special effects to any typefaces--we're saying that some take it better than others do. We're also saying that you should check each character to make sure it remains readable.


AUTOMATING MUSICAL SLIDES

Using PowerPoint 97, you can insert a CD sound into a slide. To do this, first insert the audio CD you want to use and then choose Insert, Movies and Sounds, Play CD Audio Track. Right-click on the CD Sound icon and choose Edit Sound Object.

When the Play Options dialog box opens, use the Start and End spin boxes to tell PowerPoint which track(s) you want to play. When you're finished, click on OK. Right-click on the CD icon again and choose Custom Animation. Click on Timing and select Animate. If you want to fully automate the CD sound, select the Automatically radio button and use the spin box to set the number of seconds you want to wait before the sound begins (zero is OK). After you make your choices, click on OK.

Since the previous event is the opening of the slide, the CD will begin playing x (whatever you chose) seconds after you open your first slide.

Now click on the Play Settings tab, and you can choose to pause your slide show while the CD selection plays. To do this, select Pause Slide Show. Click on OK now to close the dialog box and save your settings.

To add CD-track sound to Corel Presentations 8, right-click on the slide. Choose Sound and click on CD. Choose the track(s) and click on OK.


BUTTERFLY CHARTS

When you need to make up a chart comparing two views, you may find the butterfly chart an effective way to present your data. A butterfly chart is made up of two horizontal bar charts placed back to back.

Suppose you have a two sets of data: one for men and one for women. You can place a vertical line as a separator and then place the bars for the male data set on the left of the line and the bars for the female set on the right.

This is an effective means of displaying data sets that need to be closely compared.


PLENTY OF BACKGROUND

Corel Presentation 8 offers a wide selection of ready-to-wear backgrounds. To see what's available, choose Format, Background Gallery and then click on Browse.

Double-click on one of the folders to see its contents. You can pick from any of the files in the folder. If you'd like to check the files in another folder, you can press the Backspace key to back up one level.

After you choose a background, click on Insert.


PICTURE THIS

When you import pictures of any kind onto a slide, you can save those pictures to separate files for later use. For example, if your slide consists of a combination of ClipArt and original art that you'd like to keep intact in PowerPoint 97, you'd choose File, Save As. Then click on the arrow to the right of the Save As Type list box to expand the list. Now select JPEG File Interchange Format (*.jpg) and then give the new file a name. Click on Save. To save only the current slide, click on No. If you use Freelance, you can save your slide as a bitmap (BMP) file. Choose File, Save As. Under Save As Type, select Windows/PM Bitmap(BMP). Give your new file a name and click on Save.

Corel Presentations offers you a choice of what to save. Let's say you've inserted several ClipArt pictures and you'd like to save all of them. But you don't want to save anything else on the slide. Select one of the ClipArt objects and then hold down the Shift key while you select the others. Now choose File, Save As and click on OK. Under File Type, choose the type of file you want to use (we chose Tagged Image File [TIF]). Name the file and click on Save.


WEIRD VISUAL EFFECTS

Corel Presentations offers some striking visual effects called Quickwarp. Quickwarp molds an object, text, or picture to a shape that you can select from a dialog box.

To check out Quickwarp, open a blank slide and then insert a ClipArt object. Select the object and choose Tools, Quickwarp. Now select one of the shapes and see how the preview looks. When you find a shape you like, click on OK to close the dialog box and apply the new shape.


THERE'S ALWAYS A SOLUTION

This might seem obvious to most of you, but it's a common presentation mistake--don't point out problems without supplying a solution. Many presenters go to a lot of trouble to identify a problem. Then they discuss the problem in great detail. In short, they beat the problem to death without ever offering a solution.

Once you've identified a problem, you should offer a solution. Then perhaps it's time to stop the slide show and have an open discussion of possible solutions.


COLORING CHARTS

Here's a mistake that many presenters make. Let's say you're making a slide that shows the organization's steady growth. One of the best ways to show this is with a simple line graph. That steadily rising line tells the story.

So what is the mistake? The mistake is that some people like to put one color above the line, and another color below the line. In some cases, this might be effective, but it usually isn't. What happens is that most people opt for bright colors. So there's that growth line with a green background above the line and a red one below.

This isn't good because the colors get all the attention. You want the growth line to get the attention. Furthermore, solid colors above and below the line serve to confuse the audience. When people stop to wonder what's going on, you're in trouble.

Keep those growth charts simple. And use a single, light background color.


ADD SOME BOUNCE TO YOUR SLIDES

Corel Presentations offers an animation called Fly In and Bounce. This can be effective in many slides. To check it out, run Corel Presentations and create a blank slide. Choose Insert, Graphics, ClipArt. Select a picture and drag it onto your slide. Now right- click on the picture and choose Object Animation. When the dialog box opens, select Fly In and Bounce. Click on OK and then choose View, Play Slide Show. Click on Play to start the show. When the slide opens, press the Spacebar. The object will appear from the top and then bounce when it hits its bottom point.

Note that you can also choose to have the object fly in from the upper right corner and bounce. Just right-click on the picture, choose Object Animation and this time select Fly In from Corner and Bounce. Click on OK after you make the selection


WHAT IS YOUR IMAGE?

When you make a presentation, you convey a specific image--whether you know it or not. So the best approach is to decide what kind of image you want to convey, and work on it.

If you're selling a product, you might want to adopt an aggressive image. You know all about the product. You know what the product can do for the customer.

If you're going before a committee to request funds for product research, your attitude must be different. You can't be too aggressive when presenting to such a group, but you must still be confident. You must convey a forward-looking image. You need to give the impression that funding your project will produce a bright future.

As usual, you need to practice all you can--before an audience. Ask for critical feedback. For example, if you intend to project an aggressive image, ask your rehearsal audience about their impressions. There are times when aggressiveness can irritate an audience. The same goes for a confident image. You need to avoid over-confidence--it looks like aggression.


GENDERLESS CARTOON CHARACTERS

Be careful about placing cartoon characters on your slides. You definitely don't want to have a preponderance of one gender. If you must use cartoons of men and women, use an equal number of each.

For example, if you have a male and a female character on the same slide, make sure they appear equal. Don't use a male figure wearing a business suit along with a female figure in a swimsuit-- or vice versa.

When you can, use unisex characters. PowerPoint includes a set of characters called Screen Beans. These characters display no obvious gender characteristics. You can often draw your own stick figures to enhance the slides without showing any gender characteristics. Give it a try.


ANOTHER APPROACH TO ANIMATION

We frequently discuss animation in presentation slides. Animation is an excellent way to add interest to a slide presentation, and we've discussed a number of ways to do this. Now, let's look at how you can animate PowerPoint slides by cropping pictures.

First, open a new slide and insert a picture. Choose Insert, Picture, ClipArt, and insert one of your choice. Now size and position the picture. Click the picture to select it and then press Ctrl-C to copy it. Now press Ctrl-M to create a new slide, and press Ctrl-V to paste the picture into the new slide. Now select the picture and choose the Cropping tool from the Picture toolbar. Grab the picture by the top and drag down until you've cropped as much as you want. Once again, make sure the picture is selected (click it if not) and press Ctrl-C to copy the cropped picture.

Next, press Ctrl-M again to create a new slide and then press Ctrl-V to paste the copied picture. Keep repeating this procedure until you've created all the incremental views of the cropped image. When you view the slide show, the full image will appear on the first slide and then slowly disappear from the top down as the show runs.


GET SOME SUPPORT

When you design a presentation, keep in mind that what you're really doing is providing support for what you're saying. Make sure that anything that goes into your slides supports your opinion.

This is similar to a lawyer's job when making a court appearance. When the lawyer tells the jury why the client is not guilty, information proving that the client was in another country when the crime was perpetrated would go far to convince the jury.


YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS AN ANIMATION TOOLBAR

Several subscribers have asked about how to place an animation toolbar in PowerPoint when working with slide animation. This is no problem in PowerPoint 97--there's already one available. All you have to do is choose View, Toolbars and select Animation Effects.

All the buttons on the Animation Effects toolbar will be grayed out unless you have objects that can be animated. Try this: Select the Animation Effects toolbar as described. Now choose Insert, Picture, ClipArt. As soon as the picture is placed in your slide, the Animation buttons will become usable (no longer grayed out).


ANALYZE YOUR AUDIENCE

The more you know about your audience, the better your presentation will go. However, this can be a difficult task--especially since you may not always have any prior knowledge of your audience. So you may have to try to read the audience in a matter of only a few minutes.

If the audience appears to be rather loud and you see a lot of interaction between them, you may be able to assume that, on the average, they are an outgoing group. As you make your presentation, you should try to emulate their style somewhat. You could try to act a bit more animated yourself. Move around a bit more than you may have practiced.

If your audience comes in, takes their seats, and seem to have little to say to each other, you can assume that they are a rather serious bunch. In this case, you might want to slow down a little. You should be a bit quieter yourself and try not to move around too much.

By the way, this is just the type of audience that will ask those tough questions. You should be prepared to accept some theoretical questions along with the more practical ones.

The best way to handle any situation is to anticipate the possibilities and practice to cover them all. You should be ready to switch gears as soon as you see what kind of audience you have.


VECTORS AND BITMAPS

Several of you have asked why you can perform certain tasks with ClipArt that you can't with imported BMP files. The reason is that ClipArt consists of vector graphics. This means that all the drawings are made from a series of lines and shapes.

You can see this if you ungroup a Clip Art file. To check this out in PowerPoint, select a ClipArt picture by clicking it. Now choose Draw, Ungroup. Now you can use the mouse to separate various picture components. To break the picture into even more components, select it again by pressing Ctrl-A. Choose Draw, Ungroup again to break down the picture even further.

A bitmap file, on the other hand, is constructed of a collections of small dots. You can't break this down into components. If you select a bitmap picture and then choose Draw, you'll see that Ungroup is grayed out.

In Corel Presentations, you can ungroup an object if you right-click it and then choose Separate Objects.

Freelance works much like Corel Presentations: Right-click the object and choose Ungroup.

Of course, you can also crop from the bottom up or from one side. Or you could start with a cropped image and make it appear more fully in each slide. All you have to do is reverse the sequence-- or use Slide Sorter to rearrange the slides you created.


FLIPPING OUT

When you draw objects in PowerPoint, you can add interest to your slides by rotating or flipping some of the objects. Let's say you have one of your own drawings on a PowerPoint slide. If you'd like to show the same object on another slide using a different view, you can select the object, choose Ctrl-C to copy it, and then move to a new slide and choose Ctrl-V to paste it.

Now that your object is in place on the new slide, click to select it and click the Free Rotate tool in the Drawing toolbar (it's a circle with a green dot in the center). Now you can grab a corner of the object to rotate it.

If you'd like to flip the object, select it and choose Draw, Rotate or Flip and then choose the type of Flip you want to apply.

You'll notice that you can't rotate or flip ClipArt objects because you can only work with PowerPoint objects. As we've mentioned before, you can convert ClipArt to PowerPoint objects. To do this, select the object and choose Draw, Ungroup. You'll be asked if you really want to covert the object. Say yes. Now, leave the object selected and choose Draw, Group. The object is now a PowerPoint object, and you can flip it or rotate it to your heart's content.


EDITING A BIT OF THE BITMAP

Corel Presentations 8 offers you a way to edit individual pixels in a bitmapped graphic. This is a handy feature when you have a BMP file that's almost exactly what you need.

Let's say you've imported a BMP file that needs just a bit of fine-tuning to make it perfect. First, choose View, Zoom. Double-click the picture to open the bitmap editing view. Now click the Zoom button in the Toolbar (it's a magnifying glass with a plus sign in the center). Corel Presentations will open three frames: one showing the full bitmap, one showing the actual size of the picture, and one displaying the bitmap editor.

Using the bitmap editor, you can make changes to your picture one pixel at a time. You'll see the effect of your work in the Actual Size frame. When you're finished editing the bitmap, choose File, Close Bitmap Editor. This gets you back to your slide where you need to do more editing.


DRAWING LESSONS

No, we don't mean that you should run right out and sign up for drawing lessons (although it couldn't hurt). You can teach yourself how to draw basic objects. And once you can draw the basic objects, you can put them together to make a complete drawing.

Consider this--a computer drawing is usually made up of two rectangles (or cubes). One to represent the monitor, and the other to represent the computer. So, if you can draw rectangles, you can draw a computer.

A generic face is made up of an oval for the face. Now add a pair of small circles for the eyes. Put in a pair of semicircles for eyebrows. Add part of an oval for the nose, and part of an oval for the mouth.

If you design many presentations, practice your drawing. By the way, when you make a good object, keep it. You can use predrawn objects to make up new drawings.


WRITING A GOOD INTRODUCTION

The introduction may well be the most important part of your presentation. If you don't get your audience's attention right up front, you may never get it. Spend a lot of time on your introduction and then locate some victims to listen to and criticize it.

We have suggested several times in the past that you start with a joke, or humorous story related to the topic. See what you can do with this, but don't force it. And if the topic is one that isn't at all humorous, don't use humor. In such a case, a simple statement of the facts might be the best approach.

Mark Twain said that it takes approximately three weeks to write a good impromptu speech. He knew what he was talking about. So keep working.


A COLORFUL SCHEME

When you create a PowerPoint slide, you might like to look at PowerPoint's default color schemes. To do this, choose Format, Slide Color Scheme. When the dialog box opens, you'll see that there are seven predefined schemes. These schemes determine the colors that will be applied to charts, etc. You can choose from one of the seven and then click Apply to use it on the current slide, or Apply to All to use it throughout the slide show.

If none of the standard schemes appeals to you, click Custom and design your own. The dialog box provides you with a good way to see how your changes look before you apply them. All you have to do is click each element and then choose a color. When you're finished, click Add as Standard Scheme if you want to keep your new design. In any case, you can click Apply or Apply to All to accept the scheme.


EXPAND ON THAT FOR ME

PowerPoint 97 has a command that you might find useful--especially when you're trying to cram a lot of info into a slide show. The command is called Expand Slide. Here's how to test it:

When you have a slide that looks a bit too crowded with text, you can see how Expand Slide works. Open a blank slide, one that has text boxes in place, and add text. Then add some more text, and when you're finished, add some text. Now, choose View, Slide Sorter. Next, choose Tools, Expand Slide. PowerPoint will now split the text across a group of new slides. You can go with the PowerPoint version. You can also move parts of the expanded slide into a new slide and customize things a little.


COLOR SEQUENCES

We're always harping on the best way to use color in your slides. The problem is that there isn't any single answer to what color is best for a given application. With that in mind, here are our suggestions for some colors that look good in a slide:

  • Background: black
  • Text: pale yellow
  • Bullets: blue
  • Symbols: orange
  • Highlight (level 1): yellow
  • Highlights (level 2): red

We suggest this color scheme as a starting point only. Try it and modify it to suit yourself and to match your slide show.


IN STARK BLACK AND WHITE

Although we're always talking about color, there are times when plain old black and white is the best way to go. White text on a black background can be very effective.

One example of an instance in which black and white is more appropriate than color is when it's necessary to report unpleasant occurrences. If you need to report the number of fatalities in a military action or weather disaster, you should strongly consider black and white.


GRID USE

When you're doing your own drawing, or when you're simply trying to place objects on a slide, you'll find that a grid will help you keep everything lined up properly. In Freelance, you can choose View, Set Units and Grid. When the dialog box opens, leave Units set to Inches and select the Display Grid check box. The default is to display grid points at a spacing of 0.2 inch. If you like, you can type in a new spacing. Now click OK. In Corel Presentations, choose View, Grid/Guides/Snap. When the submenu opens, choose Display Grid.


MULTIMEDIA: LESS IS MORE

Multimedia is the rage these days. And because multimedia gets so much attention, inexperienced presenters tend to overuse it. If you want to place a movie and some sound on a slide, keep it short. And don't place other animated objects on the slide while the movie is running. The best way to handle a movie is to place it on a slide of its own, with nothing to detract from the movie's video and audio.

If you use movies, don't use too many. One or two per presentation is enough. Remember that the primary focus of any good presentation is the presenter. So, don't depend on a movie to get across information that you should provide.


PICTURE PERFECT

The problem is that most pictures aren't perfect. Often, when you scan a photo to use in a slide, the photo is too dark, too light, has too much red, or too much green, or has too many little speckles on its surface.

If you use WordPerfect Suite 8, you may want to use Corel Photo House. You can use Photo House to modify photographs or even ClipArt to enhance their appearance. When you're finished, you can import the file into your slide presentation.

If you use Microsoft Office 97, it also ships with a program called Microsoft Photo Editor that allows you to modify photos.


SCALING THE SLIDE

When you need to show a data chart in one of your slides, pay close attention to the chart's scaling. For most audiences, the best scaling to use is linear. This means that a bar showing $20,000 is twice as long as one for $10,000.

If you have to deal with a range of numbers that won't allow linear scaling, make sure your audience understands what the chart represents. In this case, you might want to consider using a pie chart so you can extract the slices as described in the last tip.


KEEPING ORDER

In the old days (before personal computers), those of us who made up slide presentations used thumbnail slides to help us decide on a final presentation order. We had the slides printed onto a single sheet of photo paper in their (35 mm) original size. We would then go over the presentation and often rearrange the slides.

PowerPoint, Corel Presentations, and Freelance Graphics all have a thumbnail view that lets you arrange the slides as you wish.

In PowerPoint, choose View, Slide Sorter. To change a slide's position in the show, just grab it with the mouse and drag it to its new location.

In Freelance, choose View, Page Sorter. Again, move a slide by dragging it with the mouse.

In Corel Presentations, choose View, Slide Sorter and move the slides by dragging them with the mouse.


ANIMATE IT BY HAND

Although you can automate almost everything in a PowerPoint slide, you may prefer to initiate some actions manually. The problem with using all automatic animation is that you're tied to the timing of the slide show. When you need to allow some flexible time for questions and comments, you should consider triggering some of your slide animation manually.

Let's say that on a particular slide, you'd like an object to move into the slide from the left. Right-click the object you want to animate. When the menu opens, choose Custom Animation. Click the Effects tab and choose the animation effect that you want to apply to the object. Now click the Timings tab and select the Animate and the On Mouse Click radio buttons. Click OK to close the dialog box and record your changes.

Now choose View, Slide Show and click the mouse button to initiate the animation.


DIFFERENT COLORS FOR DIFFERENT APPLICATIONS

In a previous tip, we published a list of colors that we think offer a good starting point for slide show development. This time, let's consider the changes you might like to make based on the type of show you intend to present.

If your show is made up of overhead transparencies, consider using a light yellow background with text in dark blue. If you're using 35 mm slides, try a dark blue background with yellow text. If you want to present your slide show on a computer, go with a sort of medium blue background with yellow text. Experiment with these colors a bit. You may find that a lighter yellow looks better.