PowerPoint for training, you say? You want me to use the same program that I used 15+ years ago??
No way. Not possible. Isn’t there something more… dynamic?
If you were like me the last time you heard “you should use PowerPoint” you turned up your nose at the very thought of using such a dated, blah program. Just not for me.
I mean, I’m a forward-thinking, tech-savvy, training professional. I research all the newest programs, and I always try to use the best and the brightest.
Can that really be PowerPoint? Aka, your mother’s slideshow presentation? The thing that I’ve avoided because it just CANNOT be interactive and engaging??
I’m here to tell you–I was wrong.
My name is Shawntay and I am a reformed PowerPoint hater. And I’m about to change your mind, too, with some hard truth and a few new features to keep PowerPoint working for you and your learners.
Why does PowerPoint have a bad rap?
So where does PowerPoint get this bad rap? Let’s look back and see where the love died out for all of us.
Back in 1987, PowerPoint (formerly known as the artist Presenter) was brand new and CRAZY exciting. This is also when overhead projectors were the standard in presentations, so having anything digital was just blowing everybody’s minds.
By the late 1990s, Windows 97 had the new and improved PowerPoint with it’s dazzling two dimensional clip art and mesmerizing slide transitions. We were all simply captivated. AOL chat rooms were buzzing.
In 2009, Prezi came glittering in with its fancy zoom and animated features and I, like many of you, left PowerPoint for greener pastures.
(Here’s a cool little infographic on the history of PowerPoint if you want to dig in a little more.)
We got bored of the clipart and the page curl transition. But another big reason PowerPoint continued to be overlooked was because we all saw it being used BADLY. The tool wasn’t the problem. The designer’s design was the problem.
We’ve all experienced the presentation (or created the presentation) with a ton of great and useful information, but the learner just didn’t get it. Or they were asleep in the back because they were seeing a slidument (Slide + document) in lieu of a quality designed slide.
PowerPoint in itself is not a bad program, but we made this amazing tool “bad” when we used PowerPoint for training presentations to completely overload the learner with too much or not engaging with enough stuff to make important brain connections.
Cognitive load theory is used to explain how we intake valuable information and then use it. And, there is a sweet spot for how much or how little our brains can take when it comes to processing information.
When we find the sweet spot–germane load–the learner can store this new information or content in the long-term memory to be used later. Which is exactly what we want!
When that goes into overload, or the information becomes extraneous to our processing brains, we shut it out. Which is not what we want, but many of us have seen and experienced.
Get ready, I’m going to hit you with a hard truth: the tools will never be the problem.
We have to change how and what we present to learners in order for them to take it and use it for the long haul.
That’s when the tool becomes useful and gets a good rap. PowerPoint for training can be an amazing resource for rapid development when it’s used right.
No more endless bullet point lists or teeny tiny text. Only useful visuals, simple key messages, and engaging features that don’t distract from the content.
I’ve got a great program that can help explain these learning strategies without overloading your learners. Check it out here.
PowerPoint has always had some great features, but let’s look at some really cool new ones that are engaging, animating, and pretty easy to incorporate for you.
PowerPoint does a 180 with Office 365
Before the new Office 365, PowerPoint with the other Office programs were only updated when you bought the new version. Which could have taken years!
Now that Office 365 is web-based, updates and bug fixes happen regularly. This means that new features and new fixes are rolled out with the same subscription.
I had no idea the new power of PowerPoint until I attended the 2019 ATD Conference earlier this year. You can read about my entire experience here, but today I’ll just be focusing on PowerPoint today.
Knowing what I know now, Office 365 was such a game-changer when it came to PowerPoint and the entire Office suite.
One of the coolest sessions was led by a company called BrightCarbon and they really turned this skeptic into a PowerPoint for training believer again. Out of the doldrums and back into your hearts with these cool new features:
- The Morph Transition
- Animation Triggers
- Record Audio to Video (Bug Fix for Macs)
Mighty Morphin’ Animations
A new feature of the Office 365 PowerPoint, is the Morph transition. So. Cool.
When applied to several slides, the morph transition can animate the features you want to highlight. No Adobe certification required, just a simple transition selection.
For example, let’s say you wanted a slideshow to explain a road trip and you’d like to show a car moving across the bottom of the screen with changing text boxes.
Simply make each slide with the car in each position with the text you’d like to display and select the Morph transition for all the selected slides.
Morph will automatically recognize the images and text from the previous page and continue them to the next slide. And this will appear like a seamless animation that you spent hours trying to create.
And if you needed more convincing, Morph can also create a Prezi-like zoom transition feature!
For the same road trip slideshow example, you could use a top-view animated map and enlarge the map to show a different part over several different slides. Morph will automatically make this look like an animated map just like in Prezi.
I’m finding more and more reasons to use Morph. And it is just so cool.
For an in-depth tutorial on the Morph transition, click here.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s another powerful PowerPoint feature: triggers. Triggers can be used for interactivity and microlearning–so many possibilities!
So let’s say you want to play a video for learners, but would like to stop in the middle to stop for a learning knowledge check or other animation. You can actually trigger a bookmark in the middle of the video to pushes the user to a new slide.
Or you can use buttons (clip art) to trigger another animation. As a previous Adobe Captivate user, I used buttons quite a bit to create interactive features or knowledge checks.
I once struggled with Captivate because it was a lot to figure out, but the good news for those just starting out is that you can still get the same interaction with PowerPoint for way less money and way more pizzazz.
For an in-depth tutorial on Animation Triggers, click here.
Recording for All (Even YOU Mac users!)
Now you might have heard about this if you are a Windows user. But as a Mac lover, I have missed out on the opportunity to record audio to PowerPoint for training presentations and save the files as videos.
There was a bug in this feature and obviously a little bad blood between Microsoft and Apple. We Mac users were left out in the proverbial cold. But, with Office 365, the fog has lifted.
During BrightCarbon’s very cool presentation on how to record and export as a video file, I ooohed and ahhhed just like everyone else. But I didn’t want to get my hopes up about this really cool thing if my Mac was never going to be invited to the party.
I raised my hand and asked the question, “does this work with a Mac?” The answer: YES! I still didn’t believe them so I came home and tried it for myself.
And. It. Does. With Office 365, the bug that kept Mac users from recording audio and exporting as a video file has been fixed.
And as Office 365 has been updated more often as a web-based program, we all get to bask in the glow of these super cool features without waiting on the newest version years in the future.
For an in-depth tutorial to Record Presentations, click here.
Everyone loves a good comeback story. And, PowerPoint is no longer the bad word it used to be when YOU use it right.
My name is Shawntay, and I am here to tell you PowerPoint is no longer a bad word! You can use PowerPoint for training presentations and get positive results!
My Facebook page is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design, so jump on in and join the conversation.