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It’s always good to think outside the box, and that certainly applies for something as mundane as Microsoft PowerPoint. What if presentations weren’t its main feature?
Could it be used as a document editor? Or as data storage software? What if it could be used as a handy swipe file? Forget about how PowerPoint is supposed to be used. The possibilities are more numerous than you think, and quite impressive too.
Like the way in which we brought attention to the creative features of Google Drawings, or to something as dull as QR Codes, we wanted to reinvigorate PowerPoint with fresh new ideas. We did it before when we explored five creative uses of PowerPoint, so let’s go on to ten more.
You may not be aware that PowerPoint can be a hip brainstorming tool, whether solo or collaborative. Don’t hold back. Start today, but start small.
Presentation expert Nancy Duarte explains how she uses PowerPoint for planning and crafting her books:
Because PowerPoint is so modular, it allows me to block out major themes (potential sections or chapters) and quickly see if I can generate ample ideas to support them.
She uses PowerPoint slides like index cards or sticky notes to arrange and rearrange her thoughts (via the slides) until it’s all in the right order. Color-coded dots on the slides show the status of her ideas. At the end of it, she can share her slides and even collaborate with others.
PowerPoint on tablets has Ink Tools to help with freestyle drawing or doodling with a stylus. Use View > Presentation View for a bird’s eye look at your content. If OneNote is your note-taking tool of choice, you can even take additional notes on each slide.
Use It for Self-Improvement
Giving a kickass presentation can be a big step in your own personal development, but this visual presentation tool can be useful for overcoming more than just glossophobia.
It can be a vision board for your bucket list. Or, as in my case, a way to display productivity hacks.
Dr. Gabriele Oettingen’s work on mental contrasting prompted me to try out her Wish – Outcome – Obstacle – Plan theory on PowerPoint slides. WOOP has an app for Android and iOS, but PowerPoint has more room to visually design my own wish, desired outcome, the obstacles ahead, and the plan I will use to overcome it.
A daily slideshow is the reminder that helps me take more deliberate actions.
Her in-depth New York Times article explains how to rethink your positive thinking, and her book, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, explains the research. The video lecture below is a great introduction:
Persuasive Digital Storytelling
Go to a site like Maptia.com and you can see the power of digital storytelling. Stunning photos combined with strong narratives can almost compel you to pack your bags. But interactive videos may be beyond your abilities.
So turn to the simplicity of PowerPoint.With a dash of ingenuity, it’s easy to replicate this concept in slides. A few examples for proof:
- Though a Keynote presentation, Al Gore shocked us with an inconvenient truth.
- At 14, Emma Stone used a PowerPoint presentation (called “Project Hollywood“) to convince her parents to allow her to move to Hollywood.
- Roy El-Rayes sold his wife the idea of trading their humdrum Jeep for a 7.0-litre, 505hp Corvette Z06 with a persuasive pitch.
Anyone can write a great story. All you need is one basic ingredient: emotion. After all, our brains are naturally wired for storytelling.
Learn a New Language
Every language has a base set of words that you need to know for passable conversation. The present crop of online language tools are great, but PowerPoint could be the creative vocabulary hack that gets you fluent.
I started learning Spanish with the help of PowerPoint back in the day when Nokia and Symbian were mobile kings. PowerPoint allowed me to do a few things with every new word I encountered.
- Use images (Insert > Online Pictures) to illustrate new words.
- Explain their usage with speaker notes. (View > Outline View > Show Notes)
- Make mind maps to help with retention.
- Use other images as mnemonic devices.
- Add audio pronunciation and video inserts with the words. (Insert > Media)
- Use Presentation Mode as a revision system.
You can also use PowerPoint as flashcards with animation triggers, but it is bit overkill since far easier systems are available now. If you insist, OpenCards can help you use PowerPoint presentations as flashcard sets.
Post a Travel Postcard
We recently explained how to create a professional interactive PDF document with Adobe InDesign. Interactive PDFs have many uses, from sleek resumes to demonstrations of how a machine’s parts work. Why not bring back some old world charm with a “travel postcard” from anywhere in the world?
Most PowerPoint templates are meant to enhance presentations, but there are some available templates that turn each slide into a postcard or travel document. Combine these with the free PowerPoint mobile app for convenient homely correspondence while on the road.
Make a Mockup Design Quickly
Plan your mock designs, form layouts, and wireframes using PowerPoint as a drawing tool. Add clickable animations to UI elements for more realistic prototypes. PowerPoint is far easier to master than complex interface design tools.
Merge and combine shapes, use visual styles, slide transitions, animation triggers, textboxes, and sound effects to jumpstart your mockup. You can also import other UI elements into the canvas with drag-and-drop.
PowerPoint is also collaborative. Showcase your final design with Presentation Mode or export it in a wide range of formats (including interactive PDF).
Learn how to make a prototype in PowerPoint with this short tutorial on the Google Ventures website.
Wireframe and UI templates are readily available for download, but PowerMockup in particular is a paid library of wireframe and mockup shapes for PowerPoint. But it shows how flexible the presentation tool can be.
Embed an Excel Spreadsheet
Tables are dumb and no one has the patience to go through them, but if you ever need to project an ever-changing data table for all to see, try embedding a live Excel spreadsheet right inside PowerPoint.
By embedding the Excel spreadsheet within PowerPoint, you can leverage the projection feature of PowerPoint but the data itself will instantly auto-update whenever the source spreadsheet’s data changes. Example applications of this idea could be scoreboards, schedules, and even live financial data.
A Bit of Office Humor
Funny office wallpapers help liven the mood and stimulate any humdrum atmosphere. Whether you create simple graphics, borrow from the web (Insert > Online Pictures > Bing Image Search), or simply type in a few choice quotes, an always-on projection can be a great source of motivation.
Consider the one below, which was created with the help of Garfield and a Leslie Nielsen quote borrowed from the web:
Welcome a New Colleague
Why not lay out a welcome mat with the help of a PowerPoint “training brochure”?
Start with the organizational hierarchy. Introduce your new colleague to the sights and sounds around the office. Show them photos of department heads or create a flowchart for anticipated training problems and their solutions.
A creative PowerPoint slideshow for new hires can help break down communication barriers quicker than a bar party or an icebreaker session.
The Easiest Infographic Tool
Infographics have succeeded presentations as communication tools, and PowerPoint can help you create an infographic quickly without the steep learning curve of Adobe illustrator. If you run short of inspiration, the PowerPoint Infographics gallery on Pinterest can lend a few cues.
PowerPoint Can Relieve Stress, Too!
While all of the ideas above are somewhat “out there”, they prove that PowerPoint has a lot of potential beyond just visual presentations. But my vote for the top creative use of PowerPoint goes to PowerPoint Karaoke. Who said PowerPoint was boring?
Have you accepted PowerPoint into your life? Tell me the best creative use you have found for it. Share with us below. The comments are all yours!