I just found out about an add-in utility for PowerPoint called PPspliT (the capitalization is theirs). It’s been around for a while, and several people in the presentation community have referenced it, so I am a little late to the game.
The basic operation is very simple… Once you download and install the executable on your Windows-based computer (there is no Mac version), PowerPoint gets an additional entry on the main command bar:
Clicking the icon to “Split animations” creates new slides in your file. The utility attempts to show the visual state of the slide after each animation step (or after every click-triggered animation if you leave that default option checked in the command bar).
Slides are inserted directly into the source file, so it’s a good idea to do the operation on a copy of your PowerPoint file to make sure you have access to the original afterwards.
In my tests, I have been pleased by the simplicity, by the fact that it’s completely free and shows no popups or adware, and that it seems to have no other adverse interactions with other add-ins or commands.
Most reviewers have focused on the fact that the utility simplifies the task of creating a handout PDF from an animated slide deck. But there are two other uses specific to web conferencing. I haven’t seen anybody pointing out these advantages, so I wanted to highlight them here.
1) Upload/Convert Technologies: Several webinar/webcast products use an upload and convert step to preload a PowerPoint file. Then in the meeting, you display the prepared slide images. Several such web conferencing products discard animations (ReadyTalk and Webex come to mind as examples). So an animated slide deck may look messy in the web session, with overlaid elements blocking each other on the slides. Running PPspliT would be a good way to break up the slides before uploading so they make sense as a sequence of static images.
2) Screen Sharing Technologies: If your web conferencing product uses screen sharing to display images, you might not think there is any reason to discard animation effects. But there is a case where it can make sense. I often act as host and moderator for webinars featuring multiple presenters. Instead of passing presentation control from one person to the next and forcing each person to share their screen, it is easier for me to display the entire combined presentation on my second monitor and advance the slides for the speakers. It can sometimes be difficult to tell when there is another animation sequence lurking on the slide. If I separate the builds into distinct slides, it makes it easier to match sequential display of the visual information with the presenter’s vocal delivery. It’s also easier for the presenters to print out a reference hardcopy that shows all the build steps so they don’t forget to allow for the sequential elements.
My thanks go out to Massimo Rimondini for creating this handy piece of software, and to Tim Warner and other presentation specialists who alerted me to its presence. Tim also created a rather comprehensive YouTube primer covering details for installation and use of PPspliT.
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