Bullet points, begone!!!

Now that our blog has received national exposure, thanks to Erin Dorney and the good people at ACRL, I’m feeling the pressure to show just how emerging we are when it comes to technology.  And so, I present to you the very first Library Tech Talk entry about…

PowerPoint

Yes, I know.  PowerPoint has achieved ubiquity – it’s like the Kleenex of slide presentations.  Lately you may have heard that those bullet points you use in your presentations aren’t so effective.  Additionally, you may have begun observing a new trend of slides littered with Flickr images.  Not that I’m dismissing the effectivenes of images, but, practically speaking, is there really time to find an image for every message you want to convey to your audience?

Point being, for better or worse, we still use lists with bullet points sometimes.  Now, thanks to the help of PowerPoint’s “SmartArt Graphics”, you can easily turn your mundane bullet points into visually stunning gems of knowledge.

Here’s how…

1. Make your list, like you always do. (Go ahead, admit it.)  Check out my mundane slide in Figure 1 if you need inspiration.

Fig. 1. A typical slide with bullet points.

Fig. 1. A typical slide with bullet points.

2. Select the text box that contains your bullet points.

3. Click the SmartArt icon in the “Paragraph” section of the “Home” ribbon (see Figure 2).

Fig. 2. The SmartArt icon, located in the "Paragraph" section of the "Home" ribbon.

Fig. 2. The SmartArt icon, located in the "Paragraph" section of the "Home" ribbon. And, your ticket to PowerPoint success.

4. Choose your preferred SmartArt graphic (hint: hovering over a particular SmartArt graphic will give you a preview of your transformed bullet points).

Fig. 3. Your transformed slide after applying one of the SmartArt Graphics.  Getting better.

Fig. 3. Your transformed slide after applying one of the SmartArt Graphics. Getting better.

It’s better, but you’re not done yet!

Next, with the SmartArt version of your bullet points selected (make sure you choose the whole graphic rather than just part of it), click on the “Design” ribbon (Figure 4).

Fig. 4. The "Design" ribbon has tools for enhancing your SmartArt graphic.

Fig. 4. The "Design" ribbon has tools for enhancing your SmartArt graphic.

From here, you can change the colors and the style of your SmartArt graphic.  Your B&W bullet points seem light years away now!

Fig. 5. The finished product. Your bullet points, transformed by SmartArt and its color and style features.

Fig. 5. The finished product. Your bullet points, transformed by SmartArt and its color and style features.

A tip…

Different SmartArt Graphics work better for different types of information.  Some are good for representing processes – the design cycle, for instance.  Others work best for hierarchical information.  Choose “More SmartArt Graphics…” for a categorized list with descriptions.

Now do something about those slide titles…

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Google Docs

Have you ever tried to work on a Word document on a computer that doesn’t have Microsoft Office? Or maybe you’ve had to email yourself a document in order to open it on another computer? Online applications such as Google Docs allow you to create, edit, and save word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations on the web rather than on your computer. Not only does this make it possible to create Microsoft Office type documents without purchasing any software, but it also makes it easier to share and edit a document between people.

In the library setting Google Docs can be used many ways. The ability to share a document or presentation gives students a way to work on group projects without messy emails. Library staff can easily co-author papers or simply share a spreadsheet between departments. This can be especially useful when working with people at other institutions who do not share a common server. Need a place to hold all of your committee documents that is accessible by all members? Google Docs can serve as that online repository. Although document sharing is a nice feature of Google Docs, it is not required; Google Docs can simply be a way to access documents on different computers or on computers that do not have Microsoft Office. Google Docs even lets you upload documents currently saved on your computer as a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file.

Google Docs

Professional networking with SlideShare

Drat, you missed the Internet Librarian 2008 conference! Don’t fret. You didn’t get the tote bag, but you can still learn from the conference presenters. Their presentations have been posted to SlideShare.net. As have the slide presentations of millions of scholars and professionals worldwide.

SlideShare is free and easy to use. The site allows you to post and view PowerPoint, OpenOffice, and PDF presentations. You can also add audio to your presentations, by syncing the slides with an mp3 URL, thus producing SlideCasts that can be easily added to blogs and websites with a SlideShare widget.

Slides can be made publicly available to an international audience or made private for a select group of viewers. Like the organizers of the Internet Librarian 2008 conference, you can archive presentations from events you have organized or group other people’s presentations based on your own criteria.

SlideShare encourages professional networking. You can join groups that interest you or establish contacts with people who post interesting content. Like other social networking sites, SlideShare allows members to post public comments or send private messages to other members’ profiles.

With millions of members worldwide, there is always something new to explore on SlideShare. Checkout the “Slideshow of the Day” (today’s is about How people really use the iPhone) and other featured presentations. The site is full of opportunities for learning and sharing. Try it.