Presentations: A Learning Path

Learning paths road sign.I need to create a presentation for one of my classes.  I used PowerPoint in high school, but I haven’t used the newest version. I’ve also heard that there are other good applications available for creating presentations. What courses or workshops would you recommend?

Nearly ubiquitous in universities and on corporate computers, PowerPoint is one of the most widely used presentation creation tools in the world. It has been around since 1987, and it has come a long way. Today you can add video, audio, animations, transitions, WordArt, Charts, Tables, and more. You can also co-author presentations through Windows Live and share your slide shows via the web in real time. If you’re looking for a robust, tried and true application with lots of flexibility and functionality, PowerPoint is the best bet.

If you are a Mac user, you need to know that PowerPoint is not cross-platform. While there is a Mac version, it is not exactly the same as the PC version. PowerPoint for Mac contains most of the same functionality as the PC version, but the user interface is slightly different. When selecting your training options, keep this in mind. Mac users may also want to consider using Keynote, which is a popular and easy to use alternative to PowerPoint from Apple’s iWork suite.

If you want to create a presentation that looks entirely different than the ones your classmates put together, you might want to use Prezi. This new cross-platform, cloud-based application uses a canvas instead of slides, and makes use of zooming and panning to provide interest. While prezi does not include nearly as many features as PowerPoint, it can be used to create a unique presentation. Prezi is also a good choice if you do not own (or have access to) a copy of PowerPoint. The free version of prezi provides all the features you need to create an impressive slide show.

There are currently 4 different paths that you can take to learn to create a presentation.

Path #1

The first path is to take the IT Training PowerPoint (for PC) workshops listed below:

The first course is very basic, and it is designed for participants who have never used PowerPoint or for those who have not used it for a very long time. If you have some experience with the application, you may want to download the materials from the IT Training website and work through them in self-study mode. After taking the first workshop or working through the materials, you should be able to create a basic presentation.

If you want to create your own customized backgrounds, images, animations, and add audio and video, you should plan on attending the second and third workshops listed above. Each workshop is 90 minutes long.

The fourth workshop listed above is designed especially for power users. If you know you will be editing presentations that you have inherited from others, or if you will be responsible for putting together slide shows regularly, knowing how to use slide masters is a must!

Path #2

Since PowerPoint 2013 is not a cross-platform application, Mac users must use a different version called PowerPoint for Mac 2011. Therefore, if you have a Macintosh computer, you may want to access the following training course from lynda.com to sharpen your skills:

This course, presented by David Rivers, is 4 hours and 42 minutes long, but there is a navigation menu available, so you can view just the exercises that you need.

Path #3

Another option for Mac users is Keynote. This application is bundled in Apple’s iWork suite. Since it is integrated with the iOS, you can use your iPhone or iPod touch to view your presentations. If you are interested in learning to use Keynote, lynda.com offers a number of different Keynote courses. We would recommend the following:

This course is also longer than most IT Training workshops, with a total viewing time of 4 hours and 10 minutes, but it is not necessary to watch the entire course in one setting, and since it has a navigation menu, you can select the sections that you need.

Path #4

If you don’t have access to PowerPoint, or if you prefer to use a cloud-based application that will allow you to create a unique presentation with a different look and feel, you can take the following IT Training webinar to learn everything you need to know about the newest, hippest presentation software currently available:

This workshop is 2 hours long and gives an overview of all features available in the application.

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