Death by PowerPoint is a popular term. It’s unfair that PowerPoint gets the stick as there are more than a few presentation tools around. As anyone who has taken the pains to make a memorable PowerPoint presentation will tell you – the secret of the steak is in the sizzle. The sizzle also comes and stops at creativity. If you have creativity by your side, you can use PowerPoint as your canvas.
We have looked at a few offbeat uses earlier. Visual resumes on PowerPoint could make you stand out in a crowd. I looked into how to turn a PowerPoint slideshow into a video. But these are still common uses. It’s PowerPoint 2013’s time now and the search for creative and uncommon uses of PowerPoint still continues. Here are five.
1. Create a Children’s Book or a Comic
PowerPoint is one of the easiest visual tools to master for education. If you have Microsoft Office installed (e.g. at the school or office), it is also one of the cheapest tools you can use for interactive storytelling. All you need to do is combine the right images with callouts and /or speech to make a simple children’s book. A previous PowerPoint tutorial I wrote on how to make speech bubbles with PowerPoint should also help. A PowerPoint comic book or children’s book can be a series of static images with dialogs or an interactive one with hyperlinks, action triggers, and animation. You can scour YouTube for video tutorials like the one below:
2. Make Your Own Vision Board
You may debunk the Law of Attraction, but giving your goals a visual form isn’t detrimental in any way. Keep your life goals in sight by creating powerful motivational images on a vision board. A pushier term would be – an “action” board. You can cut out representative photos and paste them on a board, or use PowerPoint to create a digital vision board. You can insert a series on images – one per slide – and create a slideshow in the right order.
You can also think of a vision board as a “graphic GTD organizer”. Combining a visual slide with Speaker notes is a neat way to use motivational images with GTD prompts for productivity.
3. A Handy Vector Graphics Editor
PowerPoint is a very useful tool for creating quality vector diagrams and icons. While it may lack the finish of an industry-grade tool like Adobe Illustrator, it doesn’t come with its steep learning curve or price tag either. PowerPoint gives you a full complement of illustration tools like Shapes. These can be combined, merged, subtracted, grouped, ordered, and formatted into interesting graphics like custom icons, vector backgrounds, vector animations, and 3D charts etc.
You can also repurpose simple Adobe Illustrator tutorials and modify it for PowerPoint. The 3-D Circle to Show a Cyclical Process was a simple attempt to demonstrate the visual effect of PowerPoint graphics. The video tutorial from Rapid Elearning Blog and Tom Kuhlmann shows you how to make an envelope icon on PowerPoint.
4. Create a Flyer
The same ease goes into making professionally designed flyers. Flyers help you get your messages out loud and clear. They can be used for marketing, activism, events, and education. Start by customizing the size of an individual slide. We are accustomed to seeing slides in the landscape format; while a flyer can have a portrait orientation. Flyers generally come in four standard sizes – but the most popular is commonly 8.5” x 11”.
You can make your flyers by combining stock images, text, and PowerPoint shapes. Alternatively, you can be up and running with many flyer templates that are available on Microsoft Office.
5. Chart Your Family Tree
PowerPoint SmartArt can be used to visualize family genealogy on a family tree. The simple graphics are a quick but surefire method for showing children the relationship between different members of the family. Alternatively, it can be used as a teaching aid to demonstrate relationships of many kinds (e.g. among animal species). Great for family reunions and bonding, wouldn’t you say!
You can also choose from many of the templates that are available or make one from scratch. Here are the steps in brief:
1. Start with a blank canvas. Go to Insert tab – SmartArt. From the Hierarchy SmartArt graphic, choose the Organization chart as the building block for your family tree.
2. To simplify the hierarchy, remove the blocks that are not needed. Select the boxes and press Delete to remove them.
3. The top-level of a family tree usually has a single box and two boxes branching from it. Enter the parent-child names which correspond to those boxes.
4. Add extra connecting boxes to show relationships by right-clicking on a box and choosing Add Shape and then select Add Assistant.
5. Add names and branching relationships to draw out the family tree till all the generations you want represented are done. Like any other graphic on PowerPoint, the blocks can be formatted with different colors and SmartArt styles. As a finishing touch, you can add a family photo to the slide as a background.
How Do You Use PowerPoint?
From creating Flash cards to using it as a collaborative brainstorming tool, PowerPoint has more uses beyond presentations. Even when it comes to presentations, the tool is never at fault…it is the presenter who fails to make it interesting enough. Like any other tool, its limitations are defined by the person using it. So, throw away those mental blocks and tell us if you have ever used PowerPoint for anything other than speeches and presentations.