back to article Microsoft adds useful feature to PowerPoint. Seriously

Some crazy and terrible things have happened in 2016, but none can be more shocking than Microsoft PowerPoint adding a quite useful new feature for presenters. The ubiquitous slide presentation software has finally made a break with linearity. “Presenter was to create presentations—not simply slides,” wrote PowerPoint’s …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arsdel.....

    Is that a new command for removing annoying arses bearing PowerPoint presentations?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Arsdel.....

      How about dronedel - one to remove those who drone on just reading out exactly what's up on the screen without elaborating or explaining anything in any more depth than what's up there.

      PowerPoint is supposed to be presentation software, not a reading tutorial. I think most people who are unfortunate enough to be exposed to it can already read to at least an acceptable level.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still

    Waiting for a feature that makes Powerpoint presentations less boring.

    Bring back clippy to help.

    "It appears you have no personality would you like assistance with that?"

    "This presentation appears to lack purpose and context would you like to see some thin justifications?"

    "I have calculated that this presentation is 8 hours 39 minutes and 14 seconds in length would you like to upload your CV to monster.com"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still

      I would like a feature that forcibly limits each slide to 100 words or fewer. It's a slide not an essay.

      1. Deltics

        Re: Still

        100 words per slide ?

        I recently gave a 4 minute presentation on Eschatological Pantheistic Multiple-Ego Solipsism (not even kidding). Across 15 slides I used a grand total of 18 words in the ENTIRE presentation.

        4 for the title (revealed on slide #3 after 2 teaser images).

        4 more for the plain language translation of the title ("The World As Myth").

        9 for a quote from Bohemian Rhapsody on the penultimate slide.

        1 for the final word in the preso ("Yes").

        The tool you need to limit the words used in a presentation is to not have a tool operating the keyboard+mouse when assembling the content.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still

          The tool you need to limit the words used in a presentation is to not have a tool operating the keyboard+mouse when assembling the content.

          I find actually having something to say usually the most important tool :). I start with structuring what I want to convey, and strip it to its bare minimum - presentations are in my opinion not tools that should go beyond 15 minutes, max 30 (I tend to reserve at least 15 minutes for discussion). If it involves important information I tend to distribute a document after the presentation with detail (never before) or add a URL with more info. It's a good exercise to work to max 15 minutes (even if it's longer) because it forces you to lose anything that is non-essential.

          Very important is that YOU present - not the slides. Slides should augment or support the story you tell, not distract or tell the story for you. .

          As for software, Powerpoint has gotten far too complicated. You can waste hours on how a presentation LOOKS instead of focusing on what it actually SAYS, and that's not productive. It's one of the reason I prefer Apple's Keynote: a presentation in there pretty much looks OK out of the box, and by default it's set up in a way that makes it hard work cramming too much on a slide. It's simple by default, and that's how it should be.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Still

      > Still ... Waiting for a feature that makes Powerpoint presentations less boring.

      The red cross in the top right-hand corner has been there for ages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still

        The red cross in the top right-hand corner has been there for ages.

        Ah, but the UI changes introduced with the Windows 10 installer mean that that now starts the presentation..

        As for random access:

        1 - in my experience, the more slides, and the more IN slides, the less actual content will be presented. If you have that much data to present, you stick that in a doc, not in a presentation;

        2 - I have as yet to present without a hardcopy overview in my hands, and from that you can ..

        3 - .. use the random access, present in presentation software for years - just enter the required slide number and press [Enter] (and "b" for a blank screen).

    3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Still

      "I see you've written your script on these slides. Shall I convert these slides into a Word document?"

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Still

        "I see you've included every animation and transition effect that is available in this presentation. Shall I order some anti-motion sickness pills from that online pharmacy that just emailed you offering little blue pills?"

    4. BobChip
      Unhappy

      Re: Still - and incredibly boring

      Is it that I detest PowerPoint presentations, or just PowerPoint presenters - or both? Still not sure, and I have been exposed to far too many of both.....

      For the ultimate PowerPoint put-down (sorry, critique) I would refer you to Edward Tufte's 2003 short article entitled "The cognitive style of PowerPoint". The words "cognitive" and "style" are of course used tongue-in-cheek. See https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/powerpoint for the cover page. If you don't know who Tufte is, he is THE guru of effective visual information and content.

      PowerPoint remains the ideal straightjacket for presenters who have no ideas or information to impart, but is useless for any other purpose.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Still - and incredibly boring

        +1 for the good ref. and link to Tufte; it's also worth checking out this hilarious PowerPoint version of the Gettysburg Address

    5. Jan Hargreaves

      Re: Still

      Randomly inserted slides of Karl Pilkington flying in, pointing at the "presenter" and saying BULLSHIT would be appropriate.

  3. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Have they fixed the distortion effect that plagues callouts when you move them ? This bug crept in in Office 2007, and has not yet been fixed ... 9 years, FFS, and it is a regression!

    Wake me when that's fixed ...

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      That's nothing

      I'm still waiting for them to fix a bug with page numbering that they introduced in Word 2.0c.

      As of the latest Office 3.65 / Word 2016, it's still there.

  4. gobaskof

    This will make conferences hell - like prezi did

    These features are probably good in the hands of serious presenters. As a scientist at conferences, there are too many people who present badly, and spend too much time designing overcrowded slides rather than considering 3 things:

    1. What do I want the audience to learn?

    2. What do I need to say so they can learn this?

    3. What visual information will add to this?

    When Prezi first introduced its non-linear presentations, suddenly a bunch of enthusiastic PhD students spent hours writing incomprehensible talks, where the field of view spirals around zooming in and out of a giant page, inducing motion sickness to the audience. The first one I saw got people somewhat engaged, I heard the audience guessing where it would next zoom, no one learned anything.

    Bringing these features to powerpoint will bring the ability to write mind warping presentations to everyone who has never strayed from powerpoint. And you just know that everyone who still uses slide transitions will be all over this feature, like a tramp on hot chips.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: This will make conferences hell - like prezi did

      I once sat through a prezi presentation about the benefits of Second Life et al. to science. It managed to bore me senseless (I think every sentence contained the phrase "virtual world"), while simultaneously giving me motion sickness.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a single paper [..] plant starts by burning down 5k+ square miles of forest"

    ??

    The process of making paper includes steam or chemicals.

    Burning entire forests is listed nowhere in the requirements.

    Typical PowerPoint presentation material.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "a single paper [..] plant starts by burning down 5k+ square miles of forest"

      Perhaps it is an example of “structured, safe and credible information from the web”.

  6. N2 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Perhaps

    A limit on the total number of slides per presentation to about 15 would be useful

    To the audience that is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps

      A limit on the total number of slides per presentation to about 15 would be useful

      Only if that included auto-deleting any presentation that exceeds that limit, with no chance of recovery, basically using the same principle as giving web designers only a 56k modem at work :).

      Some more triggers:

      - using more than 3 different fonts;

      - using more than 30 words on a page;

      - using the word "utilise" instead of simply "use" (add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will)

      - (feel free to add)

      That sort of automation would benefit Word as well, nuking docs where local formatting is used instead of proper used of document styles. The only problem there is that that would zap about 99% of everything written because that very basic first aspect of using a word processor is not even taught in so-called "IT classes"..

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps

        - Using slide transitions and animation in the same presentation.

        - Using more than one different animation effect on a single slide.

        - Using animation on more than two objects on a single slide.

        - Hiding the fact that what you've got to say is boring or irrelevant by having it dancing all over the screen and flying about like the Red Arrows in a hurricane.

        As you may be able to tell I'm not a huge fan of PowerPoint animations, or their inherent eye-strain and headache.

      2. Geoff May (no relation)

        "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

        Yes, things like:

        updation - who invented that one?

        resources - they are people not things so say "it will require 10 people to complete the job"

        acronyms - it irritates me when people use acronyms and then try and look smug when you ask what they are

        I could go on but it is nearly home time and I'd suspect most readers would prefer not to read about my pet gripes ...

        1. Naughtyhorse
          Happy

          Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

          We have a TLA spreadsheet at work for this...

          I could make you a powerpoint deck of it if you like?

        2. Richard 81

          Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

          Updation? That's a new one on me.

        3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

          @Geoff

          acronyms - it irritates me when people use acronyms and then try and look smug when you ask what they are

          Never ever attend a presentation on-site at Intel then, at any of their fabs. Your brain will melt and flood out your ears.

          They are the only customer I know where you have to go into meetings with an acronym dictionary (I kid you not, we have an ongoing file in the office) and half the time you're still bamboozled by what they're presenting. It's like another language sometimes, probably deliberately so to ensure nothing useful goes out to we vendors and other minions not deemed worthy to wear the fabled blue badge.

          1. Glenturret Single Malt

            Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

            I have often found members of the armed forces to be very fond of unexplained acronyms.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

              I have often found members of the armed forces to be very fond of unexplained acronyms.

              Hooray fuck's an acronym?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

              I have often found members of the armed forces to be very fond of unexplained acronyms.

              Oh, they go one better: they have acronyms built from acronyms. When that first hits you you spend quite some time doing a mental double-decode before it finally sinks in as a direct descriptor.

        4. Robert Moore
          Coat

          Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

          > I could go on but it is nearly home time and I'd suspect most readers would prefer not to read about my pet gripes ...

          Do you perhaps have a Powerpoint of all your pet gripes? Preferably with less than one gripe per slide.

          1. LaeMing Silver badge

            Re: "updation"

            Updation, updation, updation.

            A man had an operation

            They took out his brain

            and put in a moldy cabbage

            (Real life seldom rhymes) updation.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

          acronyms - it irritates me when people use acronyms and then try and look smug when you ask what they are

          I spent quite some time at a mobile phone company to assist them with some network related issues and, not coming from the mobile world, I had to absorb quite a lot of data in a short while on how things work and a large part of that was acronyms. Thank God I've been knee deep in electronics and radio since I was about 10 so I had at least a baseline in how things work :). In this case, the acronyms weren't there to impress people but simply shortcuts to name components of express a way of working and they had a LOT of them. That's IMHO also the proper place for jargon, increasing efficient communication, not to impress people.

          Anyone who uses jargon and TLAs and gets very annoyed when you ask them to explain tends to skate on the edge of their knowledge. Someone with actual expertise tends to have less of an issue switching it off, but doing it to, for instance, a sales rep is fun as it breaks their rhythm (very evil grin :).

          Personally, anyone who attempts to claim "secret" expertise in any way, shape or form and is unwilling to clarify is telling me in no uncertain terms that they actually don't have a clue. Want an example? Ask a politician what exactly they mean when they utter the word "Cloud"...

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: "add any other overly fancy use of language and management terms at will"

            Ask a politician what exactly they mean when they utter the word "Cloud"...

            Joni Mitchell's obviously not a politician then:

            Clouds

  7. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Orientation

    I'm still waiting for basic stuff like being able to have portrait and landscape slides in the same presentation without having to faff about and daisy-chain multiple presentations together to get it to semi-work.

    It's 2016, how complicated can it be?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Orientation

      The same goes for

      Word - Landscape and Portrait in the same doc. Sometimes the LS pages get scaled to fit into portrait.

      Word - Section Numbering. Still can't do it right without a lot of faffing about. Open Office does it better.

      And a host of other things that annoy the hell out of me.

      These aren't difficult but MS seems to be hell bent on adding new things and not fixing things that we use every day.

      Finally,

      The effing ribbon. God what a mess. Far more clicks and effort than before. Why does the heading level keep jumping about. Is it not logical that a 1.1 might be followed by a 1.2 or a 1.1.1. My verion of word keeps showing L7 headings.

      A total and abject failure. Glad to be able to get rid of Orifice in 9 weeks when I retire.

  8. frank ly

    Some years ago ....

    .... when I 'played' with PowerPoint, it had a simple scripting control language and you could have 'active' buttons on the slide to do stuff like go to another slide. Hence, I thought, you could make contents, chapter, section, slide no., previous, next, etc links. Do I have some kind of false memory syndrome or could all this be done since ages ago?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Some years ago ....

      Yup, you can put buttons in which jump about in the presentation, or indeed open other presentations or URLs and all sorts of other stuff. But it's a little too much for most PHB's in my experience, who seem to think that cramming in as much text and whizzy animation per slide is the way to get their message across best (and then just stand there reading the damn thing out word for word to ram the point home).

      I've actually made up more than several reference "helper assistants" on various topics this way for use by engineering colleagues, which they quite like without ever quite realising it's all just PowerPoint.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Some years ago ....

        The absolute best Powerpoints, in my experience (and by "best", I mean "most abysmally cluttered and jarring to the eye") are those presented by electronics sales people. They are usually made up of one or more decks from the manufacturer, combined with slides the sales person has added on their own.

        A more wretched assortment of bad graphics, animation and $ signs you'll never see...

  9. m0rt

    '“structured, safe and credible information from the web” [ Is there any? - Ed.]'

    Surely you would stand behind your own publication, Editor, old chap/chappess?

    1. JudeKay (Written by Reg staff)

      Wot us, structured data? Begone, robot overlord.

  10. cirby

    Presenter View

    If you're using Presenter View, you can jump around in a presentation without a lot of fuss.

    If you have particular "key" slides, you can also just type in the number of the slide you want to go to, so all you need to do is note the half-dozen or so that you'd need in any given show.

    PPT has a lot of other odd and useful features that go completely unused already. Lots of hotkeys. Shift-F5 to take you from Slide Sorter to Slide Show on the slide you've been editing, for one.

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Joke

    Given current economic conditions

    I would expect that the economy will contract by an additional 10% once this new feature promotes additional presentations.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Given current economic conditions

      and the suicide rate for people forced to sit through PP torture will rise to new levels.

      Experts 'presented' to Police Chiefs their findings. The fact that only two deaths happened during the presentation was regarded as a positive move.

  12. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    The best PPT show I've ever seen

    Just to counterpoint some of the posts (including my own) above about the worst presentation/presenter they've ever seen, thought I'd post about the best I've ever seen.

    Was a guy at a scientific conference a couple of decades back (back in my PhD student days). He had a footer running across the bottom of each slide which contained 2 or 3 cells from a cartoon story. As he went through the slides, the story was played out.

    The icing on the cake was when he got to the last slide, where we were all of course expecting a conclusion summarising everything he'd been talking about (fairly well and interestingly, to give him his due) and he just said "and now I bet you all want to know how it ended..." and put up a slide that was basically completely blank except for the cartoons across the bottom, which closed off the story.

    He basically got a standing ovation from the crowd as it was so refreshing from the death by PowerPoint we'd been suffering for the rest of the conference across several days.

  13. AceRimmer

    If you are going to watch one PowerPoint Presentation by choice

    Make sure it's this one:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RxHvQ0eHXA

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: If you are going to watch one PowerPoint Presentation by choice

      Or any of the recent shows by Dave Gorman...

  14. Eddy Ito
    Meh

    So they made presentations into fancy web sites where the pages are slide size. No scrolling, got it.

  15. Small Furry Animal

    10, 20, 30 rule

    No more than 10 slides

    No longer than 20 minutes

    Font no smaller than 30 pt

  16. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Chicken.

    BTW, as to mixing landscape and portrait formats etc: if all you are showing is a linear deck of slides it's sometimes more convenient to convert your presentation into a PDF. Full screen mode, full page shown, one page per click.

  17. SteveK

    This looks veeeery similar to pptPlex - a free addon that MS made available for Office 2007/2010 back in 2011: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=28558

    pptPlex is an Office Labs experiment that uses Plex technology to give you the power to zoom in and out of slide sections and move directly between slides that are not sequential in your presentation.

  18. Lotaresco Silver badge

    I can remember...

    <FX video: "wavy lines" audio: "reverb"> .. when it were all new and shiny and PowerPoint wasn't the only game in town.</FX>

    Aldus Persuasion was the heavyweight presentation package and was miles ahead of PowerPoint and PowerPoint was a flaky, unusable, badly specced and poorly implemented pile of festering dingo kidneys with a stupid "slider" to swipe between slides that was ugly and unusable.

    What's different today is that Persuasion is long gone and the slider has disappeared from PowerPoint.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I can remember...

      Remember Harvard Graphic?

  19. rtb61

    Let me guess, Powerpoint now automatically sends a copy of your presentation to M$ for review, oh wait, Windows 10 does that already.

  20. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    I still miss Aldus Persuasion

    Even waaay back in the late 80s, Persuasion was better than PowerPoint is today.

    PS: Get off my lawn, ya darn kids.

  21. Bullseyed

    Feature isn't new. The presenter mode as offered a grid of slides and the ability to click on one to go to it for a very long time. It is just that most people giving presentations are tech illiterate.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020