Why Does Presentation Software Exist?
There are two basic reasons to use presentation software: as an authoring
environment and as a presentation environment.
When preparing a presentation, a tool like Powerpoint can be invaluable.
It offers distinct modes of editing:
Over the last several years I've prepared a lot of written articles for
the print world, HTML documents for Web delivery, and presentations
for live delivery. My unscientific observation is that my productivity
in preparation is probably the highest using Word. For most of my writing,
final layout will be done by someone else at a publisher. Since
I don't worry about the ultimate look of text and graphics, I can
concentrate on the words. Microsoft Word's built-in spelling and
grammar checking, in current incarnations, are helpful and non-intrusive.
- an Outline view, in which you can organize your main points,
editing and inserting new points and subpoints iteratively. Bullet
points appropriate to each sublevel are inserted automatically; you
merely hit the Tab key to indent one level as appropriate.
- a Slide view, in which you can insert text and external graphics (such
as captured screen shots, photographs, diagrams, etc) and a rather
complete drawing module
- a Slide Sorter view, in which you can move slides up or down
in the presentation. You can also use the Slide Sorter to grab
a handful of slides from one presentation for re-use in a new
When I prepare Powerpoint presentations, I must worry about how
things will look on screen. But Powerpoint is
engineered towards the relatively narrow goal of putting slides
together, and it has a built-in understanding of slide formats.
The drawing tool is reasonably powerful. Handling of placed
graphics has improved in Powerpoint '97. I can worry about
content in the Outline view, and can usually make each slide
look the way I want without too much hassle in Slide view.
By contrast, the HTML work that I do, such as this column, is
the least productive. I haven't met an authoring tool yet that
doesn't screw up the look of sites that have a carefully designed
look and layout. And if I'm building a Web presentation for
live delivery, look and layout are important.