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An Interview with Tom Bunzel

In this interview, Tom discusses PowerPoint, multimedia, video and more.


Tom Bunzel Tom Bunzel specializes in knowing what other presenters need. He has appeared on Tech TV's Call for Help as "Professor PowerPoint" and spoken at the PowerPoint LIVE conference in Tucson, Arizona. Bunzel is also a "technology coach" for the Neuroscience Education Institute giving one-on-one instruction to physicians.

Teach Yourself Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 in 24 Hours A prolific writer, Tom Bunzel just completed Teach Yourself PowerPoint 2003 in 24 Hours for QUE. Tom Bunzel's book Easy Creating CDs and DVDs was published by QUE last year and How to Use Ulead DVD Workshop came out in 2002. He updated the PowerPoint 2002/2001 Mac Visual Quickstart Guide¨ for Peachpit Press (2001) and also wrote "Digital Video on the PC" for Micro Publishing Press (1997). He also contributed to "Get More Out of Your PCs and Add-Ons" and "Make the Most of Your Digital Photos, Video and Music", also for QUE.

Visit Tom's site for more info.

Geetesh: You use both PowerPoint and digital media extensively. How suitable are they for each other?

Tom: Once you learn the basics of capturing and editing video it's easy to import and control a movie from within PowerPoint. In fact, you can even trim the movie in a slide if you insert it as a media clip object, which I cover in the book. I think that the future of PowerPoint is actually as a rich media platform.

Geetesh: Nowadays, PowerPoint has made inroads into home and fun stuff like slideshows, multimedia greeting cards, family trees and even screen savers - what's your opinion about these non-conventional uses of PowerPoint?

Tom: I agree that PowerPoint is venturing out of the business world and into the living room, and in fact I try to describe other uses for the features like PhotoAlbum, as you mention, for family pictures. I also am a big believer in other creative uses of PowerPoint to storyboard video projects and movies, to make inexpensive corporate video (by using a video output graphics card), and I have sent animated Valentine's Cards using PowerPoint.

Geetesh: How and where do you typically use PowerPoint?

Tom: Most of my clients need the program for conventional speaker support. But I have used it a great deal for other types of training, and have used add-ins like Apreso to teach others PowerPoint and coach them on presentations. I also use the program when I write books, to catalog my screen captures and mark them up for my editors. I have also used the drawing tools to document different processes and even to diagram the video and audio cables in my home office

Geetesh: What do you think about PowerPoint, especially in light of the various "Death by PowerPoint" proclamations being heard these days?

Tom: I think that if the user goes beyond the basic title and bullet limitations and uses the program creatively he or she need not be handicapped by any shortcomings on the part of the program, because it is a formidable platform for rich media and other visuals. If lazy or sloppy people use PowerPoint poorly that reflects on the user more than on the program or its publisher.

If you watch Cliff Atkinson use PowerPoint, for example, you can see levels of meaning that you might not have gotten from any other presentation medium.

Geetesh: Any tips you would like to share about everyday presenting situations?

Tom: Not really. Just kidding. I would encourage speakers using PowerPoint to tap into their sense of humor with the program, and to have fun presenting. You can evoke great laughs with video, animation and surprise elements in slides and help them convey your message. You can even use the groan that audiences feel anticipating a boring slideshow to your advantage if you surprise them with something exhilarating and different.

Geetesh: Do you collaborate or exchange feedback with Microsoft on how PowerPoint evolves?

Tom: Ric Bretschneider and I talked a bit at PowerPoint Live and he has my book, and I have put him in touch with a colleague who uses the program professionally in some exciting ways, but no, I have had no direct input in its evolution. That would be very cool.

Geetesh: Why is public speaking so frightening for many people?

Tom: A primordial fear is screwing up and looking dumb, and the prospect of doing so in front of an audience is even more terrifying. It's too bad though because it keeps some people from experiencing the incredible high and satisfaction of sharing their insights and experiences with large groups, and getting the energy that happens when a group appreciates what you have to say. Like any skill, it's just a matter of preparation, practice and experience, and once you get into it, you'll never want to be a wallflower again.

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