I have recently given up trying to keep up with Microsoft Office. I have nothing against the product, I just don't want to afford it. Especially when there is an excellent free alternative, namely OpenOffice.
I've been using OpenOffice Impress (the OpenOffice alternative to PowerPoint) for a while now, and I really like it. It has done everything that I have needed it to, until last month's Twin Cities ColdFusion User Group meeting.
I have been trying to make my slide presentations less verbose and rely more on my notes. This means needing to know my presentation material better, which is always a good idea, and it means needing better access to my notes. I don't like paper notes, I prefer using the Notes section of the slideware. This way, I can have my notes on my laptop screen and my presentation displaying on a projector.
Microsoft PowerPoint has this feature built in. It is called Presentation Mode, I think. I looked and looked inside of OpenOffice Impress and I could not find such an option. And when I went to do my presentation for the CFUG last month it really showed. I had the hardest time trying to keep my notes in sync on the laptop screen with my slides on the projector.
When I got home after that little debacle, I started looking into it, and I found the Sun Presenter Console Extension. This extension gives the presenter a "Presenter Screen" which is customizable to the presenters liking. Here is a list of the items that can be displayed:
- Your slide notes
- The next slide
- The current slide
- Your presentation as slide thumbnails
- Running time of your presentation
- Forward and Back Controls
At my next presentation, I used the Sun Presenter Console, and what a difference it made. I was able to focus more on my presentation, and with delivering quality content, and less on making sure my notes were available to me. I was very happy with the way it worked. Here are some screen shots.