episode 57: Do You Like (PowerPoint) Sections?

  • PowerPoint Sections, first introduced in PowerPoint 2010 are still a hidden feature to many. Troy, Nolan and Sandy spend a whole episode to talking about this great, and underutilized feature. How they use, when they use, and reasons to use PowerPoint sections, along with tips & tricks, asks of Microsoft and examples. Enjoy another PowerPoint conversation!
  • History lesson – when did Sections get introduced into PowerPoint?
    • Nolan: no idea. 2013?
    • Sandy: I remember it happening, I was SO excited and I even wrote an article about it for Microsoft. But I don’t remember when…
    • Troy: Wikipedia is our friend, because I also guessed PowerPoint 2013, but Sections were added in PowerPoint 2010.

  • Describe what Sections are, and how to create them.
    • Nolan: Essentially you can put slides into groups, or sections, that can be named, moved around, or deleted as groups. You can view the sections in the normal layout mode on the left hand thumbnail sidebars, or in the slide sorter layout.
    • Sandy: Sections are like creating a graphic outline for your presentation. To create sections through the ribbon; 1) In the Navigation Pane (thumbnails on left), place your cursor where you want to create the new Section 2) Go to the Home tab. 3) in the Slides group, click the More Arrow next to Sections. 4) Choose New Section. But the right click option is easier: 1) Place cursor where you want to create the new section. 2) Right click. 3) In the dialog that pops up, choose Add Section. 4) In the Rename Section dialog that pops up, type the name of your section 5) Click rename.
    • Troy: Sections are a way to organize slides, as well as select, hide, or delete slides. The important thing about Sections is they are transparent to a slideshow, they are only for organization.
  • Tip 
    • Sandy: You can cheat and have PowerPoint automatically create sections by using the Zoom presentation feature.
    • Nolan: I love this trick.
    • Troy: I use Zoom to create sections from existing slides, then delete the zoom navigation slide.
  • Describe a real project where Sections were used:
    • Sandy: My single largest use of sections is in template building. When I deliver a template to my client, I divide the layouts into sections: 1) Instructions. 2) Title, Agenda, Section Headers, Signature / Closing. 3) Content layouts. 4) Big statement layouts. 5) Sample Slides. 6) Assets.
    • Troy: I do a lot of meeting presentations that combine a lot of presenters into a single master deck for each day. Sections are easily my best tool for working with these decks and keeping things organized.
    • Nolan: The biggest advantage for me is that it allows people to better organize and create presentations by chunking the parts out and then getting a visual idea of the percentage each section is going to take. If there are 15 slides in the introduction and 7 slides in the main body, it would be an indication that the presentation is lopsided in terms of content. I often have a “Parking Lot” section at the end where I can dump slides that might be needed again.
  • Tips and hacks for using Sections:
    • Sandy: Sections are a great tool for setting up / organizing Custom Shows.
    • Troy: My favorite tip is leveraging Sections while using Presenter View, where each section is a quick link to slides in the Presenter View slide sorter view.
    • Nolan: The free TalkTime plugin allows you to set or record individual timings on a slide and then calculates the grand total of how long your presentation will take. It also inserts the total time for each section at the beginning of the section name.
    • Troy: For a content presentation, add sections for each segment, then collapse all sections to see an overview talk.
  • Any asks of Microsoft on ways to improve Sections?
    • Nolan: Nested sections!
    • Nolan: Keyboard shortcuts for adding sections.
    • Sandy: Create sections in Masters.
    • Troy: In-line editing of section names please!
    • Nolan: Send section to end/beginning.
    • Troy: In the right-click dialog, list all section and pick where to move a section.
    • Troy: Click a section name, it selects all slides in the section. But cannot right-click and hide the selection of slides! Have to unselect and manually select slides to hide – ughh!
    • Troy: Print a section.
    • Nolan: Include sections names in a print file.
    • Troy: Loop a section as a slideshow.
    • Nolan: Create new file from section, and create PDF from section.
    • Troy: Apply a specific master slide to a section.
  • Any gotchas with Sections?
    • Nolan: Can’t select multiple sections.
    • Troy: Maybe not a gotcha, but section names do not need to be unique link nearly every other application where a layer or file name cannot be the same. As example, Master slides and master layouts cannot have the same name.
    • Troy: Deleting slides does not remove empty sections. I see lots of presentations with remnant sections stuck in there.
    • Nolan: For the deleting slides in a section, a nice pop-up if you delete all the slides in a section asking if the section itself should be deleted would be helpful to users.
    • Nolan: It’s a small annoyance, but I don’t like the fact that as you arrow down from slide to slide, when you get to the first slide in a new section, it highlights all the slides in that section, then return to individual slides. It means I have to arrow twice at the start of each section when going through slides.

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