Tuesday, October 28, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Where to get PowerPoint help

When I am giving workshops, participants will often ask me how to accomplish a specific task in PowerPoint. I'm not a technical expert in all the minute details of PowerPoint, but I can answer most of their questions. For those who haven't been in a workshop yet, I've put together short "how-to" videos at http://www.PPtHowToVideos.com to help out. But where do I go to figure out a question that I don't know the answer to? Today's tip will point you to the same sources I use for technical help.

First stop is the PowerPoint FAQ list at http://www.rdpslides.com/pptfaq/index.html . It is created and maintained by Steve Rindsberg, one of the Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs. If you are having a problem with PowerPoint or are wondering how to do something specific, chances are Steve or one of the other MVPs who contribute have already written an article on it.

If it has to do with an error message or a technical issue, I head over to the Microsoft support site at http://support.microsoft.com. This allows you to narrow your search to the version of PowerPoint you have and search for any articles on the topic you are struggling with. It also links to downloads of service packs and other updates that can help solve problems.

Many of the PowerPoint MVPs (experts recognized for their contributions to increasing the knowledge of the user community) have web sites with helpful tips. One of the most extensive is Geetesh Bajaj and his site at http://www.indezine.com. For a list of all of the MVPs and their sites, go to http://www.mvps.org/links.html#PowerPoint .

You can always search Google or your favourite search engine for the topic you are struggling with. I have found I get better answers when I include the version as a search term and make the search as specific as possible. When you get a whole list of possible pages to look at, which ones should you give preference to? I usually look for pages from the site of an MVP (see link to list above) and those at educational institutions since they tend to have good online help pages for their staff and students.

The final destination I want to share is the PowerPoint newsgroup. When you need to ask a question and want it answered by an expert, head over to the PowerPoint newsgroup (microsoft.public.powerpoint in a newsgroup reader or through Google groups). Here you can post a question or search for previous answers that may have covered your question. It is best practice to search for previous answers first as there tend to be common questions that come up on a regular basis.

I wouldn't expect that anyone will know all the answers to every PowerPoint question (although some of the MVPs in the help center at the PowerPoint Live conference come pretty darn close). By using the resources above, you will be better prepared to quickly answer a question and create persuasive visuals that move an audience to action.


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