There are many reasons for sharing and distributing your PowerPoint presentation. I’ve found that in most cases, distributing your slides in PDF format has some important advantages, both for you and your presentation’s recipients
If your presentation stands on its own statically, without dynamic elements such as animations, transitions and media, such as video, then you may find the PDF solution ideal for your needs. Some of the advantages include:
- Your Receipients Don’t Need PowerPoint: Nearly everyone has Adobe Reader these days, but not everyone has PowerPoint (or PowerPoint viewer) installed on their system. Nor do you need to worry about which version of PowerPoint your recipients have, something complicated by PowerPoint 2007 which introduced a new file format (.pptx)
- Fast and Easy: PDF files open in a snap and it’s something that everyone already knows how to do.
- Your Presentation Will Appear the Way You Prepared It: If your recipient’s computer doesn’t have all your presentation’s fonts installed on their computer, your presentation may appear completely differently to them as Windows will substitute another font instead. Converting your presentation to PDF format “locks down” all of its elements, ensuring that everyone sees exactly what you prepared.
- Protect Your Content: OK, I admit it. I don’t like to share. I put many many hours into preparing my presentations, and if someone hands me their USB flash drive at the end of a talk and asks me for a copy, I’m a bit hesitant if I think they’ll simply take my slides and use them as their own. Distributing a PDF file doesn’t eliminate plagiarism, but it doesn’t distribute your hard work on a silver platter, either.
In addition to creating a PDF file of your presentation’s slides, you can produce handouts, speaker notes, etc. Even if your presentation includes video or other dynamic elements, and if those elements live on the Internet or corporate network, you can embed hyperlinks in your presentation. For example, see the last page of the PDF file which includes a link to this site.Saving your presentation as a PDF is simple, especially if you’re using PowerPoint 2007. Microsoft has added “PDF or XPS” as one of the “Save As…” choices. However, this feature is not enabled after you initially install PowerPoint 2007. You’ll need to download the “Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-in for 2007 Microsoft Office programs.”
Still using an earlier version of PowerPoint? No worries. Use the freeware product CutePDF Writer which, when installed, shows up as another printer on your system. Simply choose CutePDF as your printer and “print” your presentation and it will be saved as a PDF file. I still use CutePDF for other applications that don’t support PDF.
I hope you’ll give the PDF approach a try. It’s one of those rare solutions that benefits both you and your audience.