Serving as the presentation component of the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft PowerPoint offers a way to compile information and broadcast it to an audience, whether viewers are live in a ballroom or scattered around the world reading paper printouts or downloading a slide show from a website.
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Anyone who is a little nervous about public speaking or has one too many facts and figures to remember may appreciate PowerPoint's speaker notes tool. Within the PowerPoint set-up screen is a small box where a presenter may type information important to the slide being shown on the screen. That information appears on just the speaker's view of the PowerPoint presentation (options include both an on-screen view and printouts with the speaker notes added) and is not visible to the audience. This feature is ideal for capturing comments and asides to add to a slide without forcing them to actually be one of the bullet points or paragraphs on the slide. The space may be used to cite parenthetical references, bibliography notes or just reminders to the speaker.
PowerPoint may seem like just a digital means of clicking through slide after slide, but the software handles much more than just text on a screen. PowerPoint allows importing of many other file formats, from photographs and charts to illustrate slide information to video clips. Instead of having to stop the presentation to open a PDF (portable document format file), for example, import the PDF directly onto a slide and make it part of the presentation. After compiling 100 slides about how a product works, add in a short video clip of it in action, right within the slide viewer. These insertions are handled through PowerPoint's "Insert" menu and take just a couple of clicks.
Even if you've never opened or seen a PowerPoint program before, chances are its interface looks more than a little familiar. Because PowerPoint is a member of the Office Suite, many of its toolbars, menus and functions are the similar, if not the same, as other Suite products such as Word and Excel. Navigation throughout PowerPoint works the same way as other Suite products, with scrolling, drop-downs and clickable buttons. PowerPoint also offers cut and paste within these products. If a slide is compiling data for an annual summary of sales figures, that bar graph created in Excel can be pasted into PowerPoint just by clicking and copying it. Highlight text in a Word, Publisher or Outlook document and paste it into PowerPoint the same way.
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