What Is PowerPoint?

an image of an old-style slide projector
an old-style
slide projector
Kodachrome Diarahmen
a film slide

PowerPoint is presentation software. Before computers became common, anyone wanting to show images during a presentation would have to use an old-style slide projector (image at right). They would have to create film slides by taking photographs with special film. Titles, charts, or other graphics would have to be created on paper or paste board, and then photographed. Each slide would have to be carefully examined and placed exactly right within the "carousel" (the round carrier on top of the projector). Carousels and slide projectors were big and difficult to carry around. Creating a slide show could be expensive and take a long time.

PowerPoint made this process much easier. Using a computer, a user could create a slide show within minutes, at almost no cost. Graphics could be created directly in the software, and digital photos easily placed. Animations and transitions could be used, as well as music and video. Visual presentations became far more powerful, even as they became much easier to create.

Why Use PowerPoint?

When you give a speech, you may become nervous for many reasons. You may think that people will not think that you, alone, talking is not interesting. You may have difficulty explaining certain things clearly. You may notice that everyone is looking right at you.

If you use a slideshow, you can add many interesting visual effects. Photographs help make images and actions clear. A music soundtrack can add life to your speech. The audience will not be looking at you as much. Also, you will have more confidence in your presentation. All of these points will make you feel less nervous.

For similar reasons, your Public Speaking teacher may forbid you from using PowerPoint. A speaker should be able to make a speech interesting without such assistance. Your words should be written to be interesting; your method of delivery should be natural and friendly; and you should be able to speak confidently on your topic. A slideshow can make speakers feel that such qualities are not necessary, and that can lead to poor speeches. Of course, if you are able to speak well and use a presentation, the effects can be powerful.

The PowerPoint Unit

This unit will teach you how to use PowerPoint effectively. We will avoid the quicker, easier layout-and-template tricks in favor of "hand-made" slides. Templates are quick, but are also over-used and not very creative. Some viewers will even think you are lazy. Instead, you will learn to create unique slide shows which represent your personality and message much more effectively and dramatically.

Terms to Know

presentation softwaresoftware used to make a slideshow to augment a speech or other presentation.
slideshowa presentation created with such software.
Site Top Page First Chapter