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If you've ever hosted a conference call for training or to give a sales pitch, you know that you can only get so much across over the phone. If you e-mail your attendees your slideshow you've no doubt run into these two problems: They can't open your file, or they just can't seem to stay in sync with you as you advance through your slides. PowerPoint 2010 solves both of these problems with one very slick feature, broadcasting your presentation. Let's demonstrate. When I'm ready to get started, I choose the Slide Show tab and then Broadcast Slide Show.
The introductory dialog box tells me that it's going to securely upload my file to Microsoft. It usually takes less than a minute. If this is the first time you've done this, you are going to need to use your Windows Live login. and if you don't have one, you can click Get a .NET Passport. You may already have one if you have a Hotmail account, or if you've used any of Microsoft's other similar services. Let me go ahead and log in.
When it's done, this dialog box appears. You can use it to send an invitational e-mail to your recipients, or you can copy and paste this URL and send it via Instant messenger or post it on your blog, or really just get it to people in any way you can. The link will only work while you're broadcasting, which means that when you exit this feature, others will no longer be able to access your presentation. It is, after all, a live show. Recipients who access the links are shown your presentation, regardless of the computer that they have.
I've seen this work with attendees using Firefox, Safari, the iPhone and of course Internet Explorer. They don't even have to have PowerPoint. Let me show you what this looks like from the viewer's perspective. I'll copy the link, open up Internet Explorer and visit the Web site that I just e-mailed myself. So the viewer sees Waiting for broadcast to begin. When I head back to PowerPoint, I can choose to start the Slide Show. Let's assume that at this point I'm on conference call with everybody who wanted to hear my voice, and everybody who has received my invitation has opened up the link and is seeing the waiting for broadcast message.
When I click Start, my computer goes fullscreen, but everybody who is watching me is going to see the exact same thing that I do. As I advance, theirs will automatically advance. Animations are triggered the same way, just by advancing through the slides. And every time I do that, they will see the same thing. I can even go backwards, just as if I was connected to a projector. This feature, being new and rather cutting edge, does have its limitations. Although the list is pretty short, the big one is that audio and video are not transmitted, so if your presentation requires either you are going to have to find an alternative method.
Another almost insignificant limitation is that all transitions will be converted to the standard fade. Third, the Arrow, Pen and Highlight features are disabled when you're broadcasting. That means you can't use the computer to point just yet. One last note about security: Any of your recipients could easily pass their invitation on to someone else; anyone who has the URL will be able to see your slideshow during your broadcast. But remember when you end your broadcast, the Slide Show ends.
Anybody else will no longer be able to access your presentation through the link that you gave them. And that's it, the new Broadcasting feature available from PowerPoint 2010.
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