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How can I hone my presentation to look out of the ordinary?

Are there any add-ons to Microsoft PowerPoint to assist the presenter? Something like showing the next slide as a thumbnail only to the presenter and not the crowd? Any other tools like pptplex?

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closed as off topic by random Dec 30 '12 at 19:48

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If you have a second monitor, PowerPoint already has the ability to show the presenter a different view than the audience. Of course as pointed out, the best thing you can do is know your material and practice your presentation several time beforehand. – Kenneth Cochran Sep 23 '09 at 19:33

While good visuals can be effective at grabbing the audience's attention they don't make a good presentation. Many a horrible presentation has been given with good visuals.

The things that make a really good talk are your presentation and the content.

Random presentation hints:

  • Every presentation should tell a story. A story like "How Learner Discovered An Unforeseen Risk To The Project and is Going To Save The Day" is ideal, as is "Learner: The Quiet Hero Behind Last Quarter's Profits", but even "All The Unpopular Grunt Work Learner Did" will work. You should know the story cold, and you should know it at several different lengths and levels of detail so you can choose judiciously what to pass lightly over if things are taking too long or the audience is bored, and what to elaborate on if time permits.
  • Separate of the story you should know the underling material cold; know it at a greater level of detail then you will be presenting, even in the long version. This is how you will field the hard questions with aplomb.
  • Never read from your slides. The audience can read faster than you can talk. Tell them what is on the slide in different words, and drawing their attention to the point of the slide.
  • It never hurts to guess the questions you'll get and have a couple of backup slides that address them. It makes you look very on top of things. Put these after your "The End" slide.
  • Practice giving the thing. Several times. To the mirror. To your SO. To any friend who'll sit still for it. Give it from a printout while sitting in a coffee shop if that is what it takes. The more times you give it, the better your patter will be,
  • Don't use jokes where you look like a fool if no one laughs unless you really know what you are doing. Humor is good, but make it subtle.
  • Old saw, but definitely worth it: Tell 'em what your going to tell 'em, Tell 'em, and tell 'em what you told 'em. You can sometimes skip this for talks less than ten or fifteen minutes, but don't skip it for long talks or talks concerning anything complicated.
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Nice list of suggestions – Guy Starbuck Sep 23 '09 at 18:24
He was asking about looks of the presentation. These suggestions are OK, but very "handbook", and you hear them all the time... I think these have nothing to do with making the presentation "look out of the ordinary", so don't really answer the question... – Zoran Sep 26 '09 at 7:42

In response to the second question...

PowerPoint includes a rarely-used Presenter View that will show only the current slide to the audience (projector output). However the presenter's screen displays an interface which includes the current slide, slide notes and a thumbnail view of all slides. You can move through the presentation in sequence as you normally would or you can skip around by simply selecting a thumbnail (without having to click through slides in rapid succession - great for going back to a specific slide during Q&A without giving your audience motion sickness as you flip back through 40 slides).

Here's how to enable Presenter View in PowerPoint 2007:

  1. Connect the external video device (e.g. projector) and make sure it is displaying your desktop
  2. Here's the catch: the image displayed on the external display cannot be a clone of your primary video display - you must extend your desktop so that you are able to display different windows on each display (check the video properties and help for Windows and Mac to see how to enable this display mode - it won't be available until you connect the secondary display, so do that first)
  3. Open PowerPoint and your presentation
  4. Click on the Slide Show tab. Check Use Presenter View. (Screenshot) PowerPoint will attempt to detect both displays. If it cannot you will get an error indicating that the feature requires a secondary display. Go back to step 2.
  5. After Presenter View is enabled you will most likely have to experiment with the PowerPoint and operating system display settings to get the right image displayed on the right monitor at the right resolution

As you can tell, it takes some time to get everything working so practice at home and show up early! (But that's just good presentation advice overall.)

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I'd like to congratulate you on tackling the question as asked. I know, I'm the one who started the "do this instead" ball rolling on this thread (and I'm willing to defend the propriety of it) but someone should answer the question instead of just giving contrary advice. You have my vote. – dmckee Sep 23 '09 at 22:16
+1 I agree. Refreshing to see a response tot he question. Good tip. – DaveParillo Oct 13 '09 at 17:11

Don't read from the slides.

That is my #1 suggestion -- if, while you are speaking, the slide supports what you are saying, rather than showing the words that you are saying, you will be doing better than 98% of all powerpoint presenters.

After that, it's all based on the content and your speaking skills.

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This is exactly how I look at it. Many people rely on powerpoint too much these days. You can tell how good their presentation really is when the computer dies or their computer gives them problems and they cant use all their powerpoint slides. The prepared ones will shine even without powerpoint. Not saying to forget powerpoint all together, just use it to visualy assist/enhance the material. – Troggy Sep 23 '09 at 19:44
and please do not go crazy on transition effects. Those are cool the first time and then completely annoying for the other 99 times. I have seen people even pause during these transitions (they were just reading slides). – Troggy Sep 23 '09 at 19:46

I've stopped bothering with PowerPoint for the slides I actually present. Instead, I write notes in PowerPoint (but often don't bother using them) and then draw slides which I then scan in.

I'm not an artist by any means, which forces me to keep things simple. The Eiffel tower is probably the most elaborate bit of "art" I've done. Stick people work well. As others have said, this is to support what you're saying... most of the focus should be on you, not the slides.

I've only started doing this fairly recently, but it seems to be working well so far...

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Two pieces of advice that I've found useful are:

  1. Do not talk past your allotted time.

  2. Don't tell the audience what you've done, tell them why they should be excited about what you've done.

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I think you should take inspiration from how Steve Jobs does it :)

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one thing that makes PPTs look crappy all the time is copy and pasted images with either a white or black background around an icon, where it should be transparent. Do yourself a favor, if you have any of these, edit it, because it causes me and probably others to think the creator isn't bright enough to clean up an image.

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From Guy Kawasaki:

I am trying to evangelize the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

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Another one from him is that the font used should be at least half the size of the largest age in the room, I think. – Barrett Sep 23 '09 at 22:19

Presumably you want to impress the audience so how is showing the thumbnail only to the presenter going to impress the audience?

If you want something like pptplex, why not just use pptplex? It looks to be free AFAICT.

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