PowerPoint 2007 Beta 2 Testing
Microsoft announced yesterday that there will be yet another delay
in releasing Office 2007 -- which of course, includes the new version of PowerPoint.
With so many delay announcements under their corporate belts, one suspects that Microsoft will roll out an end product that will be nothing short of revolutionary. Early Beta testers have praised the new suite of products
prolifically....but perhaps the delays have more to do with responding to competitive threats that arrive faster than a team of Microsoft software engineers can program.
It's hard to say -- I am not a beta tester. But I will be.
That's my July 2006 "learn something new project".
At 11:21 this morning, I have begun downloading the free Microsoft Suite 2007
I'll let you know how it goes....keep coming back in July to find out more!
About Not-Using PowerPoint...
June is almost over...and I have been not-using PowerPoint to develop and deliver business presentations for the entire month. Rather, I have been experimenting with Impress by Open Office.
One of the key reasons Open Office worked so well for me this month is my personal style. I prefer developing slide shows with simple, clear graphics and limited animations and special effects. And to this extent, Impress works very well.
Online, I found a review that matches my impressions on the key differences between PowerPoint and Impress.
While the article (written by Bruce Byfield in 2004) might seem a bit dated, the summary and main points still hold true in 2006. The summary of this article reads:
"Impress matches PowerPoint in the basics, outclasses it in graphics, and is outclassed itself in special effects."
In June 2006, I found this assessment to be valid.
So how important are PowerPoint's special effects? Personally, I seldom use them in stand-and-deliver type business presentations.
But I have clients who require more advanced audio and video effects. Many clients use PowerPoint not so much for stand-and-deliver type presentations, but for kiosks, trade shows, electronic signage, and the like. And in many cases, PowerPoint's special effects can be an important communication device.
But for a good deal of training and sales presentations, a slideware alternative like Open Office Impress is an excellent choice.
In fact, if you are looking to become a better "stand-and-deliver" presenter, you might do well to design your presentation with Impress. Why? By taking your focus off of PowerPoint's myriad of special effects, you might be able to better focus on the stuff that really matters when delivering an effective presentation.
You know -- the really important stuff. The 3 r's of presenting:
Researching - 'Riting - Rehearsing!
The Business Blog is a Presentation
The business blog is quickly becoming an must-have marketing and communication tool...every bit as essential as a phone, fax machine, or web site.
And I am excited to learn that more and more non-bloggers are interested in learning about how to evolve the blog as an effective business presentation platform.
I gave a presentation earlier this month on "Blogging Basics: the Business Benefits of the Company Blog." I was heartened to receive 2 emails several days after the blogging event -- 2 of the attendees went ahead and began business blogs of their own. Another is planning to launch an organizational blog in mid-July.
A few others are reading and subscribing to blogs: another fine place to start.
And I only gave a one-hour rah-rah speech about business blogging basics. I didn't even get to the intermediate and advanced stuff!Bottom line:
it is easy -- almost too easy -- to START a business blog.The caveat:
Sticking with it; adding regular, thought-provoking content; earning a devoted community/audience -- that takes commitment!
I'll visit the newly hatched blogs in three months -- to see how much further each has evolved over time.
Until then, keep on blogging!
Everything is a presentation.
Think beyond PowerPoint.
Just about everything you do and say is a presentation.
Every single piece of marketing collateral in your business is a type of presentation.
Every word you utter in a phone conversation. The way you dress. The office decor. Your non-verbals: the smile, the smirk, the yawn, the frown, the furrow...
The PowerPoint-Free Business Presentation
We are twenty days into June, and twenty days into my Open Office experiment
. This means that since June 1, I have been PowerPoint-free. I have designed all slideware-type presentations in Impress by Open Office....and for the most part, I have found that designing in Impress is remarkably similar to designing in PowerPoint
However, today I touched another milestone -- I used Impress to deliver
a presentation to a business audience. I walked into the conference room with nothing but Impress loaded on my notebook computer -- hooked up my laptop to my host's ViewSonic data display...and let 'er rip.
I presented for over an hour, and I doubt the audience had any idea that the slides they saw were not designed or delivered by PowerPoint software.
And this is exactly as it should be, of course. If I am doing my job as a presenter, I want my audience to focus on the message, not the mode of delivery. Makes no difference to the audience what kind of software I use to develop and deliver the slide portion of the program...as long as I inform, entertain, and/or persuade.
Shouldn't any presentation software be invisible to the audience?
The PowerPoint Killers
I have been working with the Open Office Suite instead of my usual Microsoft Suite this month. Other than OO being free, there aren't many differences between PowerPoint and Impress; Word and Writer; or Excel and Calc.
I click on "help" a little more often in OO. It's sort of like using someone else's kitchen for a month -- I know how to cook, but they arrange their cabinets a little differently. I keep my cinnamon on the left cabinet lower shelf, they keep theirs in a spice rack over the fridge.
So I have to hunt around a little bit more to find what I need. But "help" gives me a map to find the tools I need. So slowly, I am getting used to this kitchen. I'm finding the stuff I need.
But will I make the switch permanently? Ah, there is the rub....
I do not know. I don't know exactly why I don't know, either.
Seth Godin remarks in his post, Fear of Switching
that "Just because something is newer or better or bigger doesn't mean you should switch."
There are so many newer, better, cheaper options than the programs in the Microsoft Suite -- witness Open Office or Google Spreadsheets. And there are numerous firms working on online slideware applications -- these are the potential PowerPoint killers -- firms like Thinkfree
are working on online applications so that road warrior presenters don't have to lug their laptops around...among other benefits.
But what is it REALLY going to take for people to switch from using PowerPoint as their slideware instead of an alternative solution?
What would make YOU switch...for good?
Free PowerPoint - 2007 Microsoft Office Beta Download
Yes, you can preview the beta edition of the Microsoft Office 2007 upgrade for free.
And for a limited time only.
Microsoft lets you evaluate the next release of PowerPoint, Excel, Word, etc. "for testing and planning purposes." You can either download it, or request that Microsoft mail you a DVD.
And it is beta, so that means it is NOT a final product, nor does Microsoft recommend that you use it for anything that is mission critical.
Here is the link to the Microsoft Office 2007 free beta offer:http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx
Google Software Freebies
The big news today is the announcement of Google Spreadsheets
. Looks and acts just like Excel...only it is online and it is free. I cannot get in to play with it at this point: I can only take the tour and sign up to try it.
But we are seeing more and more open source solutions for the popular Microsoft Suite of products. Seems like every internet and software company is developing a product that aims to take a bite into Microsoft's lunch.
And for still more Google software freebies, there is always Google Pack
, "a free collection of essential software." It includes Mozilla Firefox with the Google Toolbar, a special edition of Norton Antivirus, Ad-Aware, Adobe Reader 7, Picasa, Screensavers, and more -- all in one handy-dandy free download.
Calling OO Experts!
Now, exporting Writer and Impress files to pdf is easy
, but I need the help of an Open Office expert for something a little trickier. A few OO experts have written to me or commented on my blog, so I'd appreciate learning from you about the following issue:
A client wants to post an online, 5-page PDF survey so that his online members can fill-in-the-blanks and save their completed forms to their hard drives. However, my client wants to retrieve the data from the completed survey/form.
Is Writer up to the task, or will I have to use Adobe Acrobat? And if Writer is up to the task, how do we do it?
ps - for those who have written to me or commented on the blog -- thanks for your support!
PowerPoint and the PDF File
I am very pleased with the Open Office export-to-pdf capability. This lets you easily save your Word and Impress files as a PDF file. It is so easy to do:
1. File > Export as PDF
2. Select your options (see below)
3. Hit the Export
Nothing to it.
Now, Microsoft had planned
to support PDF in its next version release of its popular Office Suite, but now Adobe has asked Microsoft to remove PDF support
from the test versions, and has threatened to sue. Now that I have enjoyed export-to-PDF, I would hate to pay the big bucks for a MS update and lose this marvelous, easy, and absolutely necessary functionality.
Exporting your presentation to PDF is critical for people and companies who post their presentations online. No IR or PR department should be without it. Bottom line -- your online version of your presentation is usually safer and your message is stronger
when you export it as a PDF file with show notes.
OO makes it easy.
Open Office: So far, so fabulous
So far, my Open Office experiment has been positively delightful. I am opening, editing, and saving all of my old .doc, .xls, and .ppt files without a hitch.
It has only been six days, but so far I have two pieces of advice for anyone who is considering migrating to the Open Office Suite from the Microsoft Suite.
1. Editing existing files
is a great way to get started with any new software program. This gives you a basis of familiarity. And you probably have a ton of data files to edit, so you will have plenty of material to work with.
2. Start small.
So far, I have only created two new files from scratch -- and both are very small projects, indeed. But instead of beginning with a mammoth project, I can learn by creating, say, a one-page letter in Writer or I can calculate a weekly marketing report in Calc.
Granted, this is not a very ambitious start-up to learning a new set of programs...but I did not intend it to be. At the moment, I am swamped with work, and I can't afford a slow-down to luxuriate in a more thorough training program.
But with Open Office, I am not experiencing a productivity loss, even though I have not invested in training. The Open Office interface is very familiar: i.e. -- if you know PowerPoint, you know Impress. If you know Word, you will easily grasp Writer. If you like Excel, you will love Calc.
I can see some potential hang-ups down the road: many of my third party PowerPoint add-in products (like Camtasia Studio
and Image Importer
) won't work in Impress...so I will likely have to go to my other computer and bust open the PowerPoint in order to enjoy the functionality of these add-ins.
Time will tell.
The Open Office Experiment
So I have a fresh, new notebook computer. And I am getting ready to insert the MS Office CD, when I stopped myself cold.
Why should I?
Sure, I do a lot of word processing and spreadsheet work. And regular readers know that I use PowerPoint a whole bunch in my line of work.
But why not become more literate, I wondered. Why not download OpenOffice.org...and skip the MS Suite altogether?
After all, I can still open up and edit all my old Word, PowerPoint, and Excel data files with the Open Office Suite. And I can save them as .doc, .xls, and .ppt files, too.
Plus, I can save them as PDF files. Microsoft products don't do that.
The Open Office products seem to be more powerful. And even better, they are free.
So here it is, June 1. MS Office is still happily loaded on my desktop. But for the month of June, I will (try) to keep the Microsoft Suite -- including PowerPoint -- off of my laptop.
I expect that it will be a little like visiting England -- they speak the same language over there, but with a different accent. And like England, I also expect that I will get used to Open Office very quickly.
Heck, I might even more fully appreciate some of the subtle differences. Here is to the month of June and a month of Open Office experimentation....