Everyone in the developed world seems to have been subjected to PowerPoint at some stage. PowerPoint is an unusual tool – one that is immensely popular by the people who use it, and one which invokes shudders amongst some of the victims of bad presentations down the years. One even coined the term “Death by PowerPoint” in 2001.
The presentation tool of choice (be it PPT slides, old IBMers’ acetate “foils”, or any other prop) can form as a useful aide mémoire for competent presenters, however it’s all too easy to put everything you want to say onto a slide, thereby negating the audience’s need to listen to you saying it, as they strain to read it in 14pt Arial Bold behind your head.
Great presenters often show slides with few words but great visuals – if you're on the Microsoft network, search for the Microsoft Story deck by Steve Clayton and his team, as an example of well-crafted slides that reinforce a story rather than telling it for you. Or look at this illustration of “Flat Design” as published on SlideShare.
PowerPoint 2013 added a really nice function to the little icons that appear in the bottom left of a presented slide, if you put your mouse in that general direction. As well as navigating back and forth between slides, you can annotate the currently presented slide, zoom into it (great for highlighting something to your audience), the new “Slide Navigator” icon is of particular interest.
Have you ever sat in a presentation where the speaker drops out of presentation view, so they can ferret around inside PowerPoint to get to a different slide…? Normally a great deal of scrolling up and down, exposing speaker notes (if they are ever written up – and who does?) – it just doesn’t look good.
You should never expose the workings of your presentation, and ideally, never refer to it – don’t talk about “on this slide…”, don’t refer to the clicker being problematic, don’t ever say “this is an eye test, but…” (just don’t show it). Referring to the presentation mechanism is PaNAMBiC. Like this.
Talk as if you don’t need whatever is behind you, unless you’re showing screen shots or diagrams that you have to refer to in order to make sense.
The new Slide Navigator icon is available either in Presenter View (see here) or in the standard duplicate-everything view (which can be easily re-activated if you find yourself in Presenter View against your will).
Clicking on the icon itself will show a nicely ordered overview of all the slides in your presentation, so if you need to jump to a particular slide you can do so, without opening your kimono and showing your goods to the expectant audience. In Presenter View, the section-by-section thumbnails are shown on your own private screen, so you can easily find your slide and jump to it without even letting the viewers realise it wasn’t contiguous in the original flow of your slides.
If you’re in duplicate screen view, it shows the Slide Navigator on the main view, but that’s much preferable to exiting the presentation altogether, navigating to the slide you want, then fishing about with the mouse to find the “Slide Show” button on the lower toolbar to restart the show.
TIP: to start a PowerPoint slide show with the currently-selected slide, just press SHIFT-F5.