Presenter Screen in OpenOffice 3.0

Sun 25 May 2008 by Peter Ward

Last night, I downloaded the beta of OpenOffice 3.0 (+ en-GB language pack). Then, I got Presenter Screen, and installed it all.

The result is, that OpenOffice 3.0 has a super-cool presenter mode that surpasses (IMHO) Microsoft's Presenter Tools for PowerPoint.

The extension works whenever you run a presentation with multiple monitors, and it displays a console on the main screen for presenters to use. There are 3 views:

  • Show large previews of the current and next slide.
  • Show small previews of the current and next slide, along with the (scalable) notes for the slide.
  • Show all slides, which can be clicked on to switch to any slide.

All 3 views also display "# of #" for which slide you're on, the current time (for knowing when morning tea is), and the time since the presentation was started (for knowing how far overtime you've gone).

Also provided is a small help window, which details all the keyboard shortcuts. There really are some insightful ideas for these - typing a slide number then enter (e.g: "20[Enter]") will switch you to that slide number.

Ever since I came across the notes feature in PowerPoint, I wondered what the point of it was, since you'd have to print it out anyway. The 'Notes' view in Presenter Screen is great, since you can see the notes for the current slide, and zoom them so that you can stand far away from the laptop (and secretly read your speech out!)

However, the feature which really makes me love this is the 'Slides' view. I produce presentations for church services every Sunday, and there's a high probability that the order of events which was given to us on Saturday is completely wrong, and songs, talks and other presentation stuff will get randomly swapped.

In order to manage this confusion, I wrote 3 macros which went onto buttons in PowerPoint 2000, NextSlide, PrevSlide and ChangeTo (essentially Int(InputBox()) ), and then used the Slide Sorter view to monitor slides.

With Presenter Screen, this task is made so much easier, as it's faster (my macros took 1/2 second to actually do stuff), and prettier (always a good thing!). The only problem I've found has been losing the ability to edit slides on-the-fly. I can still switch back to my main window, but OpenOffice doesn't like me editing while in Live Mode. Fortunately, though, I rarely need to do this, and so the benefits out-weigh the cons.

Main Presenter Screen:

Large previews of current and next slides

Notes View:

Small previews of current and next slide, and scalable notes.

Slides View:

Shows all the slides in the presentation, clicking changes to the slide.