Since PowerPoint was first released, there has been a slight backlash to it. It reminds me of a couple of things. I remember in the late 1990’s, people discovered they could put dancing chipmunks all over their webpages and put twinkly lights as their backgrounds. Perhaps worse was when the site would have background music you could not turn off.

Here is the World’s Worst Website. Don’t look at it too long though – it might hurt your ears or your eyes. My how times have changed.

Skip to today and MySpace profiles look much like the early webpages of yore. Ok so I had it wrong – they were hamsters. Whoops. Anyway – if you are missing those hamsters, you can get a little taste here – though for the love of your co-workers, turn down the sound! Oh my. I just looked again at the page and started to drool.

Then we have PowerPoint. PowerPoint turned 20 this year! There are plenty of bad PPT designs out there, and I’m sure we’ve all had our experiences with them.

Some best practices for using PPT:

  1. PowerPoint is not a teleprompter. Don’t include every word you plan on saying on every slide
  2. It is meant to be a compliment to a presentation
  3. Use sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica (easier to see) – I like Verdana because it is similar to Arial but a bit more spread out
  4. General guidelines:
    • Titles 44 pt
    • Subtitles 28 pt – 34 pt
    • Bullet points 24 pt
  5. Don’t include too much text
  6. 6X6 rule – no more than 6 bullet points and no more than 6 words per bullet point
  7. Check your spelling – people will notice errors and start looking for others
  8. Don’t go crazy with colors – test your presentation on a projector before you go live
    • Colors can have cultural connotations and even increase or decrease respiration and mental stimulation
  9. keep your background and graphics simple
  10. Use sounds, animations or transitions sparsely (an example was a presentation I saw in Phoenix once for PLA where there was a blooming cactus on each slide – very distracting! I don’t even remember what the presentation was about…)

You can upload your presentations to SlideShare and then share them – also people can comment on your show or subscribe to your shows.

Zoho has had a presentation component for a while now. It’s called Zoho Show. Here is what I found about it:

  • You can have presenter notes
  • You can add shapes
  • There are more choices of fonts in Zoho than in Google Presentation
  • You can use “Public Gadget” to make it available as a side panel listing on your blog or website
  • There are more choices of slide layouts (including one with title and bulleted list which Google does not currently have)
  • You can add tags to your show
  • You can add symbols and shapes to it as well like arrows or boxes etc.
  • You can customize the background colors
  • The themes available: Plain, Dark Cloud, Simple, Professional, Casual, Fusion, Brushed Metal, Midnight, Royal Blue
  • Can set timing
  • Can export to HTML
  • This is my example

Google Documents and Spreadsheets now have a sibling. They just added (drumroll please) Google Presentation to the brood. These are my findings from testing it out:

  • There are numerous themes available: Blank, Gradient White, Gradient Black, Graph Paper, Grass, City, Bubbles, Pink n Pretty, Liquid, Shelley, Sparkling, Rustic, Plain Jane, Texturized, and Chalkboard
  • Four slide layouts: Title, Text, Two-Columns, Caption, Blank
  • You can move slides up and down
  • You can add new slides but you can’t change the layout of an existing slide
  • You can duplicate slides
  • You can insert new text boxes and images
  • You can share and publish your presentation and see revisions
  • You can subscribe to your presentation or others presentations via RSS
  • When you start your presentation, there is a collapsible box on the right that lists people in your presentation at the same time – Very nifty!
  • It can be saved as a Zip file but I don’t see how you can export it as a PPT.
  • Here is a link to one I played around with: Good Food
  • though it seems currently you have to create a Google Docs login to view it

Check ’em out!