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From the Idealware blog

How to Share PowerPoint Presentations Online

(originally posted at idealware.org/blog)

Recently a client came to me with a question about how best to offer PowerPoint presentations from previous conferences online. I thought I would share the notes I gave them here for others that might want to see the pros and cons of the various options.

In my client’s case it was important that viewers not be able to edit the original file, so we took additional steps needed to protect the file. I’ll include a basic how-to or just linking to the original file as well as a couple of links for the other options.

Upload the PPT (or PPS) to your web server and provide a download link

This is probably the easiest option if your content management system allows .ppt or .pps files to be uploaded through its media management system. Even if you need to manually upload the file via FTP and link it on a web page the process is not too complicated.

Since the Web doesn’t handle big files (over 10 mgs) as well as our hard drives do, reducing the file size by optimizing the presentation is a good idea.

In PowerPoint you can also save your file as a “PowerPoint Show” which always opens in slide show view so viewers don’t have access to edit your material. Another way to prevent changes is to assign a password for modifications.
PowerPoint 2003 – Tools>Options>Security
PowerPoint 2007 – Save As>Tools>General Options

Pros:

– No conversion necessary beyond save as in PowerPoint itself/ No need to learn new software
– Ability to share original file with collaborators if desired
– You host and maintain control of your files.

Cons:

– Can result in large files to upload and download – so describe file size for visitors when offering presentations for download
– Only viewable with software that reads .ppt and .pps files

Resources:

How to trim down the size of your PowerPoint presentation
Lock PowerPoint File From Being Edited
List of free Powerpoint viewer programs

Convert to PDF

PDF or Portable Document Files have become something of a de facto standard for online file links. The software to view these files is available on most operating systems or as a free download from Adobe, so its a safe bet that anyone and everyone will be able to see your material once its converted to this file type.

You can do this by choosing the Save As PDF option from within PowerPoint and through the options in the Print menu on most systems. You’ll want to optimize the file size if you have access to a PDF editing program since the resulting file might even larger than the original.

Pros:

– Standard file format that will appear the same to users on all platforms
– Embeds fonts and images and can be optimized to reduce file size.
– Not editable by the end viewer

Cons:

– Can mangle presentation formatting
– Individual slides are difficult to reference or find
– Doesn’t retain transitions and animations.
– Browsers deal with PDF files differently and user experience can be poor and unpredictable

Resources:

How to Save PowerPoint as PDF
Free PowerPoint to PDF converter (haven’t used)
Optimize PDF files

Use an online service for slide sharing

There are several good online services for sharing (and even creating) slide-based presentations. Slideshare.net is one of the first and most mature and like Zoho and the others allows you to import/upload your PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentations to be converted to their own sharing format. The usual Software as a Service caveats apply here as with any other “free” service on the web.

Pros:

– Enables remote presentations easily since it is browser based
– Hosts the files so you don’t have to use your own server or bandwidth serving large files.
– Most include version and organization options that can help you keep track of presentations if you have a lot of them.

Cons:

– Not all features of the original PowerPoint may be available in the online service so read through their conversion information carefully if you have media or animations that are crucial to your presentation.
– Currently free but could require advertising or fees in the future and your materials are hosted on their servers so losing access to them is always a possiblity.
– May not allow downloads for presentation files.

Resources:

SlideShare.net
Zoho Show
Online Slideshows: Not So Scary

There are additional options if you are interested in modifying the final presentation and distributing it as a movie, flash presentation or web pages. Microsoft provides some basic tools for doing this right in the program itself and there are third party tools that yield even more robust final products.

Whichever method you choose you might also want to check out the resources at Social Source Commons for some added alternatives and file compression tools.

I hope the information here will make it fairly painless to share and reuse your presentation content for your web audience and get more mileage out of the ideas and effort that went into its original purpose. If you have recommendations on software or other sharing methods, please leave them in the comments below.


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