episode 29: What Else Do You Use PowerPoint For?


PowerPoint is an amazingly versatile application. The core focus of the application is on presentation slides, but it is used for so much more, so Troy, Nolan, and Sandy are sharing their top 10 things uses PowerPoint for – outside of presentation slides.


Print Design

  • Nolan: Printed reports, posters, spiral bound books, etc. I have used PowerPoint for just about everything, including inserted bleed, spreads, odd sizes, and more.
  • Sandy: Financial pitch books (printed report), pitch leave-behinds (handouts), and training materials.
  • Troy: Lots of “PowerPoint Document” projects with a customized 8.5×11 template and final output is a PDF, all in place of something like InDesign. Zero animations, transitions and standard Microsoft presentation layouts.
  • Nolan: Don’t forget about handouts which can be done on regular slides or as 1-1 companions to on-screen slides using the notes layout for each slide. I produced a webinar that wanted a 10-page pre-read, wanted to do it vertically and wanted to keep everything in one file, so I just created 10 extra slides at the end of the deck and designed the handout in the notes layout, not on the slides.


Video Editor

  • Nolan: Combining numerous video segments, quick editing, animation exported to video.
  • Troy: Replacement for several After Effects info graphic style videos all created in PowerPoint as the “video” editor.
  • Sandy: Screen recording videos.


Design Vector Graphics

  • Sandy: I’ve used PowerPoint, almost exclusively, to build vectors to be used in PowerPoint and other materials. As a matter of fact, I very recently built a complex animated graphic for a PowerPoint presentation. Those graphics were all vector and used outside of the presentation in video and print materials. My standard process is to create in PowerPoint, then export as an EMF, then convert to an EPS or SVG in Illustrator.
  • Nolan: Never really done this, probably because I’m pretty comfortable in Illustrator.
  • Troy: I am necessarily not creating vector graphics in PowerPoint for use outside PowerPoint, just have a good workflow using Adobe Illustrator for that. But I am doing lots of my vector element design in directly in PowerPoint now, which does make the workflow for presentation design faster.


Lower Thirds

  • Troy: “Lower third” is a common video term that means adding a graphic overlay at the bottom of a video. Generally this is a personal name and credentials so everyone knows who it is. For live show events, I have taken care of live lower thirds (done for a live event vs. added for later for a video) using PowerPoint as it is a faster tool for quickly creating and calling up lower third video overlays vs. developing a video, rendering a video, and then setting up a video for playback.
  • Nolan: Completely agree. Along the same concept, PowerPoint can also easily be used to annotate video.


Marking Up an InDesign/PDF document

  • Nolan: This is a new a one that I recently did at a client request. For an InDesign project I sent a PDF proof. But the client requested “the slide version” so they could make notes. So I converted to PDF to PowerPoint in Adobe Acrobat, sent to the client, received their feedback and things were great.



  • Sandy: I’ve created grayscale slides to begin storyboarding a presentation. Then, I export the slides to a Word handout and create a side-by-side format with a thumbnail of the slide on the left and the description of slide content and script on the right.
  • Troy: PowerPoint is used to map out website projects, video projects, and even presentation projects, sort of an inception thing where we use PowerPoint to map out a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Nolan: Not storyboarding, but along the same lines is prototyping. Apple Keynote has been used for prototyping mobile apps to get the initial design and layout of the app screens and interaction.


Show Cues

  • Troy: For our live show events, we have a workflow of adding lots of hidden slides, that are information slates about the show; Presenter name, speaking time, where a video is to play with the file name, run time, special music requests, etc.
  • Sandy: I have created information that is only outside the presentation content, but kept in PowerPoint to make things seamless, such as, count-down or timers for training presentations, anywhere from 2 minutes to 1 hour. The timer includes a 5 minute warnings (sound and text) and a final buzzer (sound and text).
  • Nolan: I’ve seen people use a separate deck as the teleprompter, speaker notes run off a different feed.
  • Troy: There is an industry term, or at least a term we use, “Power-promptor”. It is when an event does not have a real teleprompt operator and software, always the better option, and want to use PowerPoint instead.


Game Shows

  • Nolan: Haven’t done one in a while, but I’ve done a few including a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game, they’re kind of a fun puzzle to put together.
  • Troy: We are creating an amazing Jeopardy game right now, all using PowerPoint and trigger animations. Over the years I have built versions of most game shows, so I have a good library of starters for these. I also do a lot of ARS, Audience Response System, projects where we integrate audience input directly into PowerPoint. Some of it is specifically for group games (specifically I use the Turning Point system any time an audience input game show is requested).

Animated Greeting Cards

  • Sandy: Each year, I create a customizable holiday greeting card, that is animated and editable in PowerPoint. I then let anyone download it, and they can edit and use it to send out.
  • Troy: We do something similar, but more as a show piece, not something we let people download. Each holiday season the entire design team has 20 hrs of design time to log to our TLC Holiday PowerPoint, which has some amazing animation all done in PowerPoint. I then stitch them all together, export as a video and post our site and blog – you can do some creative things in PowerPoint!

Live Audience Capture:

  • Troy: Think of this as a digital notepad that the entire audience can see. I run an extended desktop, type on a slide edit view, and magically the text appears live on audience screen.


Touch Screen Information Boards

  • Nolan: I just had a client call for this, but the project never really got underway…
  • Sandy: This isn’t touch screen, but I created an interactive DVD for Kellogg for their in-school breakfast program from PowerPoint. It was 5 modules with interactive menus, self-running with interactive quizzes. If this same project came up today, PowerPoint has so many new options that would be great to use, and I would do the entire project so differently today.



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