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PowerPoint is a presentation program developed by Microsoft. It is included in the standard Office suite along with Microsoft Word and Excel. The software allows users to create anything from basic slide shows to complex presentations.

PowerPoint is often used to create business presentations, but can also be used for educational or informal purposes. The presentations are comprised of slides, which may contain text, images, and other media, such as audio clips and movies. Sound effects and animated transitions can also be included to add extra appeal to the presentation. However, overusing sound effects and transitions will probably do more to annoy your audience than draw their attention. (Yes, we have all heard the car screeching noise enough times for one lifetime.)

Most PowerPoint presentations are created from a template, which includes a background color or image, a standard font, and a choice of several slide layouts. Changes to the template can be saved to a "master slide," which stores the main slide theme used in the presentation. When changes are made to the master slide, such as choosing a new background image, the changes are propagated to all the other slides. This keeps a uniform look among all the slides in the presentation.

When presenting a PowerPoint presentation, the presenter may choose to have the slides change at preset intervals or may decide to control the flow manually. This can be done using the mouse, keyboard, or a remote control. The flow of the presentation can be further customized by having slides load completely or one bullet at a time. For example, if the presenter has several bullet points on a page, he might have individual points appear when he clicks the mouse. This allows more interactivity with the audience and brings greater focus to each point.

PowerPoint presentations can be created and viewed using Microsoft PowerPoint. They can also be imported and exported with Apple Keynote, Apple's presentation program for the Macintosh platform. Since most people prefer not to watch presentations on a laptop, PowerPoint presentations are often displayed using a projector. Therefore, if you are preparing a PowerPoint presentation for a room full of people, just make sure you have the correct video adapter.

Updated: May 5, 2008

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