One other way earlier versions of PowerPoint helped give slide presentations an all-important consistent look and feel was with master slide layouts, templates for positioning elements ? titles, text, and graphic elements ? on a slide. You selected a master layout and simply typed or clicked in the "placeholders" to insert content.
You can delete, resize or reposition the few placeholders in the basic default master and add, size and position new elements by selecting Insert Placeholder, choosing a category of placeholder (text, picture, chart, table and so on.) and drawing a box in the slide window where you want it to appear.
The new Presenter view is potentially a huge improvement for managing presentations. Many modern laptops support a dual-monitor mode that lets you attach a second monitor and display information on both the laptop screen and the other monitor. With the new Presenter view in PowerPoint 2007, you can show different information on each.
The second monitor, which the audience sees, displays only the slides. The laptop screen displays Presenter view, which shows a film-reel preview of the next slides in the presentation and previews the text that will appear with the next mouse click ? either the next slide or the next bullet point on the current slide. Presenter view also displays the speaking notes in large, clear type making them easy to read. It shows the elapsed time in your presentation, and it lets you select slides out of sequence.
The Corporate Slide Library
The capability to store individual slide files in a corporate or departmental slide library could also deliver important benefits, but you need to be running PowerPoint 2007 and be connected to a network server running Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. It won't work with earlier versions of either product.
This feature lets you "publish" your slides to a library so they're available for others to use. You can also add slides from the library to your presentation. When you do that, the slide remains linked to the library, and if an author changes the slide ? updates the sales data in a chart, for example ? the system automatically updates the slide in your presentation, too.
This offers two benefits: You're assured of having up-to-date, accurate information in your presentation, and authors can reuse each others work to avoid repeating effort.
There are some additional minor changes. You can now format text with all the standard options available in Word ? all caps, small caps, strikethrough, double strikethrough, and double or colored underline. Microsoft has redesigned tables and charts and made them somewhat easier to work with ? though this is mainly a function of the new Fluent interface.
The Bottom Line
If your business life revolves around giving PowerPoint presentations, PowerPoint 2007, which you can purchase on its own as an upgrade for about $100 or as part of one of the various Office 2007 bundles ($150 to $680), is definitely worth considering. The Presenter view on its own could be a godsend.
And if your organization has several people giving presentations who sometimes need to use the same slides, the capability to set up a slide library on an Office SharePoint server could also be worth the price of admission. On the other hand, f you only occasionally use PowerPoint, you can probably live without the new version.
This article was first published on SmallBusinessComputing.