PowerPoint gets a bad name, but in my opinion it is often just misrepresented. Are their a wealth of PowerPoint alternatives available for little or no cost? Indeed there are, but do you really know all that PowerPoint is capable of? Here’s a rundown of some common PowerPoint myths and the reasons that PowerPoint is still a worthy tool…in the right hands.
Myth #1: PowerPoints are boring
Let’s get this one out the way from the beginning. We have all sat through some terrible presentations at one point or another. We were bored, tired, and spent more time watching the clock than watching the slides. Death by PowerPoint, right? The real truth, as you probably know, is that it was not PowerPoint that made you bored, it was the presenter. Their performance, and maybe their slide design, were not good enough to keep you interested. Thankfully, performance skills can be learned, as can slide design. Kathy Schrock, for instance, has some great presentation tips and tricks that are well worth a read.
Myth #2: You can’t collaborate on a PowerPoint
If you save your PowerPoint to your school (or personal) OneDrive account, you can go to File > Share > Invite People (Share With People PowerPoint 2016), and add the email addresses of the people you would like to share your file with. Choose whether you want them to have view or edit rights to the file, and write them a short note explaining what you are sending them. Once you are done, click Share to send the invitation. You can also go to File > Share > Get a Link (Share With People > Get a Sharing Link PowerPoint 2016). Multiple people can work on the same PowerPoint at the same time, but as with Google Presentations and other collaborative slideshow apps, it works best when you are all working on different slides. You should also save often when using the desktop version to ensure you have all changes synced when working with other users simultaneously.
Myth #3: You need an Office subscription
You are probably familiar with Google’s online suite of Office applications, but did you know Microsoft has one that is also free? Simply navigate to Office.com and log in with your Microsoft account to get access to free online versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and more. The online apps are not as full featured as their desktop counterparts, but you can create, share and collaborate on any Microsoft Office document for free. So, if you want to work on a PowerPoint with someone who does not have Office on their computer, Office.com provides that option.
Some students and teachers are eligible for free versions of Office through their school. To check on eligibility, visit this website and sign up. Mobile users can get all of the Office apps for free on iOS and on Android. This lets you create, view and edit existing documents on phones or tablets, and it will sync everything between all your devices.
Myth #4: You can’t add YouTube videos to PowerPoint
Some people resort to downloading YouTube videos to add them to their presentations, but if you are familiar with the YouTube terms and conditions, you will know that you are not supposed to download videos from YouTube. Are there sites that let you download videos? Yes. Should you use them? No. What you can do, however, is embed a YouTube video in a PowerPoint by going to Insert > Video > Online Video > YouTube. This works on Windows versions of Office 2013 and later, and it works very well.
Myth #5: You can’t embed PowerPoint presentations
To embed something in a blog or website, it needs to be hosted online, so make sure your PowerPoint is saved to your OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business, account. To get your HTML embed code, log in to office.com with your Microsoft account and open your presentation in PowerPoint Online. Then go to File > Share > Embed and click the Generate button to create an HTML code that you can use to embed your PowerPoint in a website.
Myth #6: PowerPoints are not interactive
You might have seen a lot of static, passive PowerPoints, but the potential is there for so much more. As well as embedding videos, there are a number of other interesting apps you can insert into your presentation from the Add-ins menu. In Office 2013 or later, PC users can add a web browser to a presentation. They can also create or insert polls from PollEverywhere. There are many more of these kind of add-ins so go to Insert > My Add-ins and click Store to see everything that is available.
Another great option for educators is Office Mix. You can download the free Office Mix Add-in from mix.office.com. Once installed, you can create interactive videos for students (and other teachers) with PowerPoint. You can record your voice or live video, annotate over the screen, add quiz questions, and more. It is a great option for flipped classrooms and other blended learning models because it records students responses for the teacher to review later. However, it is also a very useful tool for students to demonstrate their own learning and share it with others online. Office Mix is available for Windows versions of PowerPoint 2013 and later.
Myth #7: PowerPoint is the same as it always has been
If Office Mix and the numerous Office add-ins aren’t enough for you, take a look Designer and Morph – two new features that were announced in the November 2015 update for Office. Designer gives you a variety of new layout options when you add images and charts to your slides. They new layouts make the most of your existing theme and add some design flair. Morph is a new transition that gives you smooth, cinematic movements that are bound to impress. Check out the video below for a quick overview of each effect, and be sure to take a look at the PowerPoint blog for more ideas.
So, there is more to PowerPoint than meets the eye. Yes, it is just a tool, but like all tools, it’s how you use them that counts.