Mandox
Hi everybody. As part of my job, I conduct numerous internal and external presentations and keynote speeches about innovation. As propably most of us, I used to prepare a set of powerpoint slides, starting with a title and an agenda slide. Of course, this was not the most innovative means of presenting a topic to an audience. But ppt slides are nice to visualize concepts, show additional bullet texts etc. during a presentation. There were some major drawbacks to using powerpoint slides:
1. since you can only show one slide at a time, it is sometimes quite hard to explain the linkage of a topic to the overall theme or to other topics
2. slide presentations are sequential. As long as you follow the predefined path, it's ok. but if somebody raises a question and you would like to show some other slide to explain, or if you want to dynamically adapt your presentation to the audiences preferences, it's difficult.
3. different presentations often share similar thoughts. During the last years, I produced many many presentations. I would say that about half of them share at least one identical slide. So I keep duplicating slides over and over to produce presentations, some of them only differ by a few slides. Lots of data garbage!
So I switched to use PB for my presentations, and it is great! In this thread, I'd like to discuss experiences and best practices, especially about PB in conjunction with MS Powerpoint. Please join in.

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Mandox
General setup:
I started by building a brain about my main theme 'innovation', with one thought for each topic I usually present. The good thing: I can now use all the good PB features to show connections between thoughts, different types for topics, examples, case studies, etc.
Then, I broke up my main powerpoint presentations into single files, each one containing one (sometimes a few) slide to explain a certain topic. I linked these to the thoughts in my brain. Sometimes I added pictures, weblinks or pdf documents to the thoughts. I can't believe how big my PB brain was growing within a few days!
So far so good. Now the tricky part: I found out that PB looks in the OS system settings (Windows XP for my part) to choose which application to start when opening attachements. But PB doesn't use the default app defined in the settings, but the app defined in the 'open' command. So I changed the system settings for .ppt and .pptx files to 'open' with the Powerpoint Viewer. Thus, everytime I click on a thought icon, the respective slide pops up full screen. When finished explaining the slide, I just hit 'ESC' and back I am in PB!
It's a great way to do presentations. Also, instead of putting up an agenda or title slide before my speech, I set PB to 'wander' through all the thoughts. This truly is an eye catcher and I get 100% audience attention when I start.

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Mandox
Preparing presentations:
OK, once I set up everything, I can start to prepare for the next speech. Even though PB is great for nonsequential thoughts, I like to define a main path to follow during a specific presentation. I tried using colors, thought types, link types and tags to define such paths, but it all didn't work out well. Since different presentations often share the same slides/thoughts, the look of all quickly gets too confusing.
So I started to use the built-in calendar, which just works great! Since the calendar can't really be used for anything else (functionality is just too limited), I am using it to keep track of my presentations. Here's how: Let's say I will conduct a speech for the IBM Forum on November 14. For each thought I will present there, I set up an event linked to this thought. First slide I want to show is linked to the event "IBM Forum" on Nov. 14, 1:00 a.m. Second slide will get an identical event, just at 2:00 a.m. and so on.
Now when I arrive at IBM next week, all I have to do is start up PB and look at the calendar. There I find all the slides I want to show in the right sequence, each only one click away. And if I need to show some other thoughts during the presentation, no problem. Wherever I am in my brain, I can easily get back to the main stream using the calendar.
Only drawback: you can't turn off reminder alerts for events. So make sure you "snooze" all events for one day before you start presenting, or you will be bugged by PB reminders.
If you want to higlight all thoughts belonging to your presentation, you can use the search function. In my example, searching for "IBM Forum" highlights each thought with a yellowish frame, good way of visualizing your presentation topics within the brain.
EDIT:
With PB Version 5, you can now hide the tools panel and switch to presentation mode and all is set for a quite stunning audience experience
I just love it!
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jostber
Mandox wrote: Preparing presentations:
OK, once I set up everything, I can start to prepare for the next speech. Even though PB is great for nonsequential thoughts, I like to define a main path to follow during a specific presentation. I tried using colors, thought types, link types and tags to define such paths, but it all didn't work out well. Since different presentations often share the same slides/thoughts, the look of all quickly gets too confusing.
So I started to use the built-in calendar, which just works great! Since the calendar can't really be used for anything else (functionality is just too limited), I am using it to keep track of my presentations. Here's how: Let's say I will conduct a speech for the IBM Forum on November 14. For each thought I will present there, I set up an event linked to this thought. First slide I want to show is linked to the event "IBM Forum" on Nov. 14, 1:00 a.m. Second slide will get an identical event, just at 2:00 a.m. and so on.
Now when I arrive at IBM next week, all I have to do is start up PB and look at the calendar. There I find all the slides I want to show in the right sequence, each only one click away. And if I need to show some other thoughts during the presentation, no problem. Wherever I am in my brain, I can easily get back to the main stream using the calendar.
Only drawback: you can't turn off reminder alerts for events. So make sure you "snooze" all events for one day before you start presenting, or you will be bugged by PB reminders.



Hey, great idea! Got to try this one.


TheBrain 8.0.2.0 Slackware 14.1 KDE 4.10.3 Java 1.7.0_25 / (Windows 7)

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grahamrhind
This is an idea I can use!  Thanks for the detailed explanation!


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lsimoncini
Mandox, thank you very much for the excellent idea/explanation
I had been thinking long without finding a solution, I'll copy you!

At some point it would be nice to be able to automatically assemble the entire slide deck into a single presentation eg to print it, send it to sb else, move it to a PC with no PB on it... but how?
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Mandox
Quote: At some point it would be nice to be able to automatically assemble the entire slide deck into a single presentation eg to print it, send it to sb else, move it to a PC with no PB on it... but how?
Yes, that's the drawback of having single slides and I don't see an automatic solution to this. I do it as follows (assuming that you use the same or at least compatible powerpoint templates for all slides):
1. First, change back the "open" command for ppt files to open with powerpoint in edit mode (instead of presentation mode or the powerpoint viewer)
2. then, go into PB and go to the first thought of your presentation, activating the attachment
3. In the now open powerpoint app, copy & paste the slide to a new presentation
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all of your presentation is assembled. Save it as new file
To automate step 1, you can use regedit and export the different ppt. commands to disk (resulting in two .reg files) You can then just dblclick the reg files to change the command.
Instead of step 1, you can right-click the attachment in PB and choose "open with", then select MS Powerpoint

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lsimoncini
Thanks Mandox,
I tried st more automated by

1.select presentation parent thought
2.crawl/select all children
3.copy (as xml)
4.process xml with some XL macro (the xml contains info on all attachments paths)

didn't really finish step 4 but it seems doable... thought there should be some more friendly tool to work with xml, will look for it...

EDIT: maybe these (both free)
http://xmlfox.com/download.htm
http://code.google.com/p/powerpointjoin/
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sjeeke
Hi Mandox,

I very much like your idea, suggestion as it opens many new possibilities. I am prototyping your suggestion (cutting a presentation in single or modular slides that each reside in a different thought).

Do you know who to set the default for the PPT-VIEWER to NOT display the splash screen each time when I open up a slide. I do not want to add the /s command switch to each slide in the brain but would like to make the non-display of the splashscreen the default when opening any ppt/pptx slide.

Thanks

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Mandox
You can set the default behaviour of PPTVIEW for powerpoint files as follows (in win XP, Vista is similar but a little different):
  1. open the windows explorer (or 'My Compuer')
  2. from the menu, select Tools - Folder Options - File Types
  3. in the list, scroll down and select the 'PPT' entry
  4. click the 'Advanced' button
  5. select the 'Open' action (this is the one and only action PersonalBrain will launch when you activate a ppt attachment)
  6. click 'Edit'
  7. in the field 'application used to perform action' enter the following:
    "C:\Program Files\...\PPTVIEW.EXE" /S "%1" (use the path where you installed pptview
This will open any ppt files with pptview without splashscreen.
If you also have pptx files (Office 2007), repeat from step 3

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sjeeke
Hi Mandox,

Thanks for the response.

I am not able to find how to make make this work in Vista :-( . Do you happen to know how to make this change in Vista, or at least point me to where I should look make the change. I appreciate your suggestions very much.

Again I really like your idea very much because it looks a like a 'killer app':
  • you can navigate in a way that suits you or the audience best (vs linear)
  • you can link to files that show support, references etc (never seen that in PPT)
  • you can use some stunning visual effects with PPT and PB
  • it allows for very unique presentations vs always doing the same pre-canned stuff
  • you can build components of presentations one by one - far more efficient.
The only item I see still needs some thought is if the audience wants a copy of the slides: perhaps there is a semi automated way to do this (thoughts for later...)


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lsimoncini
I tried coding a PPT macro to automate the process
a bit rough but it seems to work, sharing it for further testing/feedback

the code is open so you can check and/or improve it

instructions:
-select relevant thoughts (with ppts attachment), eg by crawl-select and copy selection
-open this ppt ( http://wikisend.com/download/511398/joinppt_anon.ppt ) - macros must be enabled
-launch the only macro in it (tools-macro-Macros-mergeppts)
-a dialog appears with buttons that allows you to paste thoughts, reorder them, create a (read only) joined ppt
-save, print, email at will

EDIT: corrected a bug, updated link
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Mandox
Hi sjeeke,
unfortunately, there is no easy way to do this in Vista, unless you change the registry.
I downloaded Powertools from Creative Elements (Link). Here you can easily change the filetype associations.
@lsimoncini: Great, I'll tried your macro immediately. Works really well, as long as all the attachements have been moved into the brain. Even works with ppt files containing several slides, wow!
I'll try it in more detailed next week with more complicated files (e.g. with different slide masters)

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SmartDust
Mandox,

Great stuff, thanks for sharing
I was exploring a similar idea but abandoned PB for presentations because there is no script or scenario possible, this makes the whole exercise quite daunting. Hence my suggestion to add a scenario based wander feature into one of the next releases (automated or timed to your speech or presentation). One should be able to save that scenario and recall it.
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lsimoncini
yes, I strongly favor keeping all the files in my brains for portability and easier backups.
I'll try to enhance the macro for external files if there's a demand for that.
Also tinking of using link types to order slides in the brain and a way of autogenerating slidedecks agendas.
Don't think it will work well for slide groups with different masters though.
Feedback/ideas welcome...
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