\ Reduce Death-By-PowerPoint to a Harsh Beating
Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 07/21/06

Reduce Death-By-PowerPoint to a Harsh Beating

Ovation adds animation, speaker tools, and a lot more control to your PowerPoint presentations

By Esther Schindler

There are some skills I'm not particularly interested in developing. Rather high on the list is gaining professional-class presentation skills. I can easily justify the time necessary to improve my expertise with Microsoft Word and Excel because I appreciate the immediate benefits gained by, say, learning to create a PivotTable. But I don't particularly want to be a brilliant presenter. Brilliance isn't necessary. I'll settle for competent.

I do so few presentations that I've never seen a reason to crack open a book on PowerPoint. On the few occasions that I need to explain a bit of technology or to moderate a panel discussion, I slap slides together with PowerPoint's basic features, and hope my sparkling repartee will keep my audience's attention. That doesn't always work (though surely it isn't the fault of any tarnish on the aforementioned sparkling repartee), but nobody has run screaming from the room. Yet.

You may be in the same situation. You don't have the time or interest to become a PowerPoint expert. But you do want to do a good job on the few occasions when your boss says, "I've reserved the conference room, so you can explain the situation to the Board."

Recently, I had a copy of Serious Magic, Inc.'s Ovation pressed into my hands. It's surely useful for "serious" presenters, I thought, but what about us PowerPoint dweebs?

Within minutes, without cracking open a manual, the quality of my presentations had improved tenfold. And I never felt as though I had to commit myself to an intensive study course.


Ovation uses your Windows PowerPoint files ? and expertise, at whatever level ? and then adds features that Microsoft's software doesn't have. The most visible of these changes is the replacement of the static PowerPoint backgrounds with swirling, moving, animated background graphics. That might sound as though Ovation will give your attendees an attack of seasickness, but instead it keeps their eyes on the screen.

You can customize the graphics, logos, and other content on the screen.
You can also customize the display so that a logo or other "bug" appears on every screen, and you can add text that twists or fades. It's a lot prettier, and you don't create presentations that make you feel as though you're wearing the the same dress as the woman sitting next to you.

As a beginner, you could stop reading right here. All you'd need to do is load up Ovation, choose a "look," and click Start Presentation. That'd spice up your presentation, with no effort whatsoever.

But Ovation's improvements are more than skin deep.


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