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Book Review: Fixing PowerPoint Annoyances by Echo Swinford

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This time of year, students all over the United States are working on their final projects. Around here, that means senior presentations, which means PowerPoint.

I’m not at that school full-time any more, but in years past I’ve seen just about every problem that could crop up related to PowerPoint. I really could have used Fixing PowerPoint Annoyances – especially when I taught PowerPoint, and had students come to me in a panic when the program told them the file on their floppy disk was corrupt. (Page 43 deals with this problem. Wish I had known the solution two years ago!).

PowerPoint has become as important to businesses today as any other program. Presentations are used to pitch new products, ad campaigns, even benefit packages. When it doesn’t work right, it can cause serious problems. But with Fixing PowerPoint Annoyances in hand, those problems are no longer fatal.

The book is very well organized; it starts off with problems related to the actual presentation, even possible problems with displays and projectors are discussed. Problems that crop up during the presentation (don’t you HATE it when your slides suddenly stop moving forward, or when a graphic that was supposed to show up suddenly doesn’t?) are solved right up front, so that you don’t have to go digging through the book – a great idea when the CEO is sitting there waiting for you to get on with it.

Many problems that people run into are caused by default settings in PowerPoint. (Maybe that’s why they call the “default” – de fault is theirs!). Section 2 covers exactly which default settings you need to change, and why. Section 3 covers editing problems, including complaints about some things that Microsoft needs to add to the program. There are also links to some files from some Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs that are very helpful (including some templates).

Organizational charts can be a pain in PowerPoint, especially if you’re trying to add positions. Tips and tricks for doing that, and other things you may need to do to an org chart, are listed in section 5. Importing sound and video is in section 6; I hate it when my sound effects don’t play right, and aren’t timed right. Unfortunately, synching sound is NOT something the book can help with – “PowerPoint is simply not designed to perfectly synchronize slides and sound.”

And that’s one thing I love about this book: they aren’t afraid to tell you when something just can’t be done. Whether it’s a feature that Microsoft doesn’t have, or something that you just might not WANT to do, you’ll find out. And maybe you’ll even feel motivated to let the folks out in Redmond know what you wish their product would do for you. Hey, it couldn’t hurt!

I’m going to be loaning Fixing PowerPoint Annoyances to the senior project advisor at the school I used to teach at. It will save her a LOT of headaches in the weeks to come. But I want it back after the projects are done, because I can see it saving ME some headaches as well. She can buy her own copy.

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About Warren Kelly

  • This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States. Nice work!