In boardrooms, convention centers, web conferencing and executive offices across the country, workers conduct 30 million PowerPoint presentations per day, according to the Ohio State University website. The Microsoft software has its detractors -- Sun Microsystems banned use of PowerPoint in 1997 and authors have written entire books against the product -- but its simplicity and familiarity make it an important tool in a business’ communication artillery.
PowerPoint has gone from a black-and-white application for the Macintosh computer in 1987 to one of Microsoft’s PC power players. It has found a home on 250 million computers, covering 95 percent of the presentation software market.
PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office Suite and serves as the Suite’s presentation and slide show tool. Users familiar with other Microsoft products, such as Word and Excel, will find many similarities in PowerPoint’s menus, toolbars and buttons. Companies use PowerPoint to create an electronic version of a slide show, filling in information slide-by-slide, adding photos, charts, text and even movie clips. PowerPoint gives the organization complete control over how the slides appear, including the ability to add a logo, how quickly the slides move and branding/color ability.
Creating a PowerPoint presentation is an important process for businesses looking to produce a presentation once and make it available infinitely. PowerPoint presentations may be placed on a website, sent to customers, downloaded from an FTP site or accessed from a company intranet. Companies can create a variety of business-specific materials with PowerPoint, including employee training, customer help guides, sales and marketing materials plus new product announcements.
Businesses have the potential to fall into what some think as the PowerPoint “trap.” For a piece of software created by the Microsoft behemoth, it may be surprising to note all the different ways PowerPoint presentations can go wrong. Businesses should take care not to use PowerPoint as a crutch, such as a speaker simply reading the PowerPoint text word-for-word directly from the screen or leaving slides up on the screen too long. Companies should also take care not to exploit all of the bells and whistles in the program just because they’re there. Limit the slide transitions, which make the slides look as if they’re spinning, flying and dissolving, or eliminate them completely so as not to distract the audience.
Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.