PowerPoint is a tool that is easy to use – virtually everybody who knows how to turn on a computer can create slides. However, when it comes to making presentations engaging, visually pleasing and well functioning, the pool of people gets a lot smaller. Most designers do not like to design for it. I consider myself a PowerPoint expert and actually enjoy working in this program. It has opened many doors over the years.
This weekend after exploring the Art Festival in the Pearl District, in Portland (which had some great art and music to offer – check out these amazing sculptures http://www.annfleming.com and the festival site http://www.artinthepearl.com/festival-artists/2781/ – I spent the evening surfing on the internet. My original quest was to find a list of places that sell the freshest butterfingers in town (they get really hard on the inside when they are on the shelf for too long, and you simply can’t judge the age of a Butterfinger by its wrapper). Well, I couldn’t find any lists, but happen to live next to a place that sells amazingly fresh Butterfingers and so gave them 5 stars and a raving review on yelp.
After giving the Portland community the best place to get a Butterfinger my mind jumped to PowerPoint presentations as I currently work on several ones. Suddenly I had to know how long PowerPoint has been in existence and I was surprised by what I found on Wikipedia: Did you know that PowerPoint was originally designed for the Macintosh computer, and the initial release was called “Presenter” and developed by Dennis Austin??? I am still stunned and wonder if PowerPoint (or Presenter) would be considered a lot cooler to use today if it had been rolled out to the masses on Macs? What if artists had had first dibs in creating presentations? The standard presentation, how it looks visually, how it is presented, its usage overall might be completely different because of it!
Well, the world now also has Keynote. After playing in it for some time I find that it is a lot harder to make a slide look bad in Keynote than it is in PowerPoint. You really need to know what you are doing, to be able to mess it up visually. It might of course also have something to do with the fact that the use of construction paper in charts as well as many other text & shape treatments Keynote offers are not yet overused.
The good thing: It is easy to switch between the two programs as Keynote lets you import PowerPoint presentations and export a file to PowerPoint. So it is generally speaking possible to go back and forth between the two programs (except maybe when using lots of animation) and thus give PC users the opportunity to make updates in PowerPoint, even when offline, while Mac users can work in Keynote. So content matter experts, gifted speakers and curious artists unite: there is still a lot of ground to cover to set the gold standard for tip-top presentations.
Continue the conversation: Talk to us and each other about presentations… share past experiences, trivia, and ideas about it.
- Sandra Augustin, Art Director