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Preparing Killer PowerPoint Slideshows for Online Presentations

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PowerPoint comes with so many features, it's easy to create a slideshow with more special effects than Star Wars. But that doesn't mean your slideshow will be any good! If you want to create a slideshow that presents well online, Neale Monks shows you how crucial it is to consider its content, style, and the way you're going to arrange and reveal your facts.
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At its simplest, all that’s required to publish a slideshow online is to first export the slides as a series of image files and then paste those images onto a succession of interlinked web pages. But there’s a world of difference between a slideshow that’s been carefully planned and tested and one that’s just been thrown together. Furthermore, presenting slides on a web page isn’t the same thing as presenting them in person, so care needs to be taken to work around the limitations inherent to online slideshows.

PowerPoint Online

Presenting slideshows online is somewhat different than presenting them in person. When people present slideshows in person, they normally have things they want to say, and the best speakers use their slides exclusively as aids to their vocal presentation. As anyone who’s sat through a poor presentation will know, nothing is worse that watching a presenter simply reading what’s shown on the slides!

Online slideshows are different because there’s no voiceover. You could perhaps add a vocal track via an MP3 that played in the background, but that would add substantially to the size and complexity of such a project. And if you wanted a slideshow that combined visuals with sound, you’d probably be better off using something like Flash instead.

So to keep things simple, it’s best to work from a paradigm that limits your slides to graphics, charts, tables, and text only. Sound, movies, and animations can’t be used, so you’ll need to create a slideshow that works without them. To be honest, many of the bells and whistles added to slideshows don’t really anything so far as communication of information goes, so the fact they can’t be used is no big deal.

Besides the absence of sound and movement, the other restriction placed on an online slideshow is the size of the slide as it appears in a web browser window. A normal slideshow presentation is projected against a screen several feet across, but slides viewed online will be a fraction of the size. This places a premium on slide real estate, and everything needs to be clear and legible even when relatively small. This shouldn’t be too difficult to manage with text, but tables and charts become difficult to read at smaller sizes.

Figure 1 For online usage, slides need to be simple enough to work as a stack of JPEG image files—no animations!

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