Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Online Presentations Work

Using PowerPoint for Online Presentations
Software programs like PowerPoint let users create slide presentations to emphasize points.
Software programs like PowerPoint let users create slide presentations to emphasize points.

Microsoft's PowerPoint recently marked its 20th birthday. Over the last two decades, PowerPoint has become the standard in presentations.

Using PowerPoint for online presentations is easy, fun and can help your work stand out. The program provides seemingly endless means of expressing ideas through its many options and features, while also helping the author organize his ideas.­

PowerPoint allows the presenter to create a series of panels -- similar to slides -- which can hold text, graphics, hyperlinks, spreadsheets, digital photos, video or sound, and animation. Presenters are limited only by creativity and their judgment as to the appropriateness of each of these features. The latter is not a small point. The software and those who use it have at times received criticism for putting the presentation's flashy nature over the message's importance [source: Manage Smarter]. As management consultant Abhay Padgaonkar reports, PowerPoint users must know and understand their audience to craft an appropriate presentation.

Once the author has assembled the presentation, he can give it live in a meeting using a computer-screen projector. In this way, PowerPoint can be used to augment points, entertain an audience and bring cohesive understanding to a subject in the traditional meeting setting. Another advantage is that such presentations are highly reliable and portable, which would assist, for example, a vice president tasked with making the same marketing presentation at several outlying offices.

That same vice president, however, could also choose to skip the travel and place the presentation online.

By converting the files to HTML, a PowerPoint presentation can be placed for download on a company's Internet or intranet site, where it can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. The author also can turn the presentation itself into a Web site that contains files necessary to display the presentation in any Web browser.

Other options for using the Internet to make the presentation available include sending it directly to audience members via e-mail or broadcasting it live over the Internet using a microphone and digital camera.

The PowerPoint files also can easily be converted to XPS or PDF files, which makes them sharable across a wide variety of platforms. Also, a new, compressed Microsoft Office PowerPoint XML format reduces the file size and offers big advantages in terms of storage and bandwidth requirements.

On the next page, we'll talk about using Google Docs for presentations.