Powerpoint frustrations!

June 3, 2009

Last year I updated to Office 2007, mainly because I wanted to take advantage of a new feature in Powerpoint. One problem with older versions is that when running a screenshow, what was on the projected image was whatever was showing on the computer screen This has two main disadvantages

  • when switching between programs the viewers can see whatever is on your desktop – including things that you may not necessarily want them to see
  • I could only see the current slide on my computer screen – making it difficult to know what was coming next (unless I ran off a hard copy of the slides – or had a very good memory

Powerpoint 2007, however, allows you to use a “Presenter view” where the current slide is projected while the computer screen shows the current slide plus a ribbon of other slides in the presentation plus any notes that go along with the current slide. This is great as it allows me to skip slides and move backwards and forwards within the presentation without the viewers being aware that I’m doing this. I can also use the notes to remind me of key points thereby avoiding the temptation to adopt the bad practice of creating slides with bullet points that are used as prompts. So I think that this is a great improvement and I’ve been using the presenter view for the past 6 months or so.

The feature relies on the activation of “multiple monitors” within Windows. It won’t work unless this feature is set up on the computer.  This creates a number of problems for me

  1. I can’t rehearse using the Presenter view on my desktop computer which isn’t set up for multiple monitors.
  2. I have not been able to work out how to show videos or photographs unless they are embedded in a Powerpoint slide. I’ve found that Powerpoint can give me problems with videos that don’t work properly (if at all!) when they’re embedded, so I prefer to show them using an independent program. I can’t do this and have had quite a few frustrations with embedded videos that won’t work without being able to fall back to showing them in Media Player
  3. Sometimes I want to demonstrate something on screen using another program – e.g. a spreadsheet file or a pdf document. Again, I’ve not been able to work out how to do this without resetting the computer so it’s not using dual monitors.

I’m sure there are ways to get round these problems, but, as usual, Windows Help is next to useless (actually, that’s not true – it IS useless). I’m not a great fan of Microsoft and its because of things like this. They’ve included something very useful in Powerpoint with the Presenter view – but it’s not been thought through properly from the point of view of the user. Ce’st la vie!


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