Many people seem to consider PowerPoint to be a tool to provide and display static info. Now, what do I mean by static info? Static info is something you feed in, and it never changes unless you go and make changes manually. When I say static info, the info could be anything: sentences, figures, web links, pictures, charts, diagrams, videos, and even sound bytes!
But you get the irony, right? All this info in PowerPoint is static. What you put in stays right where you decided to put it. Nothing updates on its own. There is no intelligence involved, and life continues, just as it did for eternity. If that’s what you want, then who can deny that PowerPoint is an awesome program.
But why even use PowerPoint? Why not use many of the free slide programs that can do all you need to do with the static info? After all, unknown to many PowerPoint users on this planet, PowerPoint does not need to be static. Your slides can provide dynamic info that changes as often you want, with what you need! And for now, PowerPoint may be the only program that can create dynamic slides.
But wait: if you are happy with what you have, then read no further. But if you want to do something different, and want PowerPoint to work for you, rather than you working on PowerPoint, then continue reading! Taking PowerPoint further is your goal and my goal. Let’s explore more with an example.
If you have some content that’s on an Excel sheet, you could copy the content and paste into PowerPoint, or even manually look at the Excel sheet, and type in those very figures. If you need the figures to be updated when you receive a new or updated Excel sheet, you just repeat the data input process again! OK, this was just a basic example of boring, repetitive work. But wouldn’t it be better if we could automate the entire process? Really? Is that even possible?
What if PowerPoint was intelligent enough to understand that the data has been updated in the Excel sheet, and then told you, “Eileen, don’t worry copy/pasting or overwriting. I’ll do it for you! Why don’t you run down to the cafeteria and get yourself some coffee instead? Or even call home and find out if Adam is back from school? But you know, I’ve already updated the data for you, while I was talking!”
Well, this may not seem a huge deal in today’s world, but here are some fun thoughts:
- Please don’t expect PowerPoint to talk to you Siri-like unless you plug it in with a new text-to-speech add-in!
- And unlike what you see in the picture above, we don’t even know if PowerPoint is he or she!
- For now, we will not even explore if PowerPoint and Excel can be best friends. Let’s leave that topic for some other time.
If there’s one takeaway from this post, then that has to be the realization that you no longer need to be stuck in the world of static data. Let’s welcome dynamic data into PowerPoint!
Dynamic data is the exact opposite of static data. Everything updates automatically, or when you expressly want it to update. But if you want to really benefit from dynamic data in PowerPoint, then there are two more thoughts that I need to share with you:
- Only PowerPoint, of all the presentation programs and slideware has the ability to show dynamic data on a slide. No other program, and we will not spell out any names can perform this magic! I must say that I sometimes wonder why Microsoft never used this capability of PowerPoint to shut up all those doomsday prophecies that cry, “Death by PowerPoint!”
- To use these dynamic abilities, you need to use programming within PowerPoint. If programming is your forte, then that is great news. Otherwise, you need not worry because PowerPoint’s add-in equipped architecture has ensured that there is more than one add-in to do what you need!
This was a reflective post–one in a series of posts that will explore ways in which the world of dynamic data can enrich your PowerPoint experience. Now that you have explored, and hopefully understood the basic benefits of using PowerPoint as a dynamic destination to display data, we will look at some case studies and ideas in future posts.
About the Author
Geetesh Bajaj is an internationally acclaimed PowerPoint, storyboarding, info-diagramming and presenting expert who has been awarded the Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) every single year for 16 years now. As an MVP, Geetesh interacts and collaborates with the Microsoft PowerPoint product development team.
Geetesh runs Indezine.com, the foremost PowerPoint and presenting site. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Presentation Guild, a presentation industry trade association, based out of Cincinnati, USA.
Based out of Hyderabad, India, he believes that any presentation is a sum of its elements—these include abstract elements like story, concept, color, interactivity, and navigation—and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. Geetesh has authored six books.