Energize your slides

Do your presentations bore even you? Keynote 2, included in Apple’s iWork ’05 ($79), offers a host of new tools that can help make your presentations more exciting and dynamic. I’ll show you how to use three new features to jazz up your slides—plus, I’ll give you a trick that may save your slide show if the cheering of your audience causes you to run out of time.

Jump to the Point

If you’ve wanted a way to link to Web pages or add interactivity to your presentation, you’re not alone. Keynote finally includes one of the features requested most by users: hyperlinks. You can now add hyperlinks to any object—text in a bullet point, graphic shapes you create in Keynote, or an imported image.

Create hyperlinks by selecting an object and then selecting the Enable As A Hyperlink option in the new Hyperlink pane of the Inspector palette. (If you can’t see the palette, choose View: Show Inspector.) The Link To pop-up menu offers five choices for the hyperlink’s destination: Slide, Webpage, Keynote File, Email, and Exit Slideshow. Choose Link To Slide, for example, and Keynote lets you link to the next, previous, first, or last slide; type a slide number to link to; or choose the last slide you viewed. The Link To A Webpage option lets you type a URL to link to. Clicking on this sort of link during your presentation hides Keynote and opens the Web page in your default browser. To return to the slide show, click on the dimmed Keynote icon in the Dock.

Secret Links The most obvious use for hyperlinks is to navigate within your slide show during your presentation. But you can also use buttons and links to change the order of your presentation on-the-fly, without your audience even noticing.

For example, let’s say that you’re giving a sales presentation and you come to a slide introducing a new product line. If the audience is receptive, simply continue on to the next slide on that topic. But what if you get a negative reaction? Some creative linking can give you a Plan B. Create a graphic object that matches the slide background or has an opacity setting of zero (so it’s invisible to the audience) and apply a hyperlink that jumps to a particular slide number—for instance, the first slide about another product. You can use this emergency exit button to skip to another section without ever appearing to lose your cool.

Skip to the End This trick can also come in handy for those of us who sometimes run out of time before finishing all our slides. Put an invisible button on all your slides that jumps right to the closing one. (Placing the button on the master slides is easier than adding it to individual presentation slides.)

Bring In the Internet

Perhaps you’d like to display the most recent census statistics for your economics lecture, or show off the new company Web site at your monthly team pep talk. If you want to show your audience a Web page but don’t need to browse through the site, Keynote’s new Web View feature is perfect.

It lets you put a static snapshot of the Web page right on your slide. If you have an active Internet connection during the presentation, the Web View box shows the current version of the Web page. You can also use Web View to add a hyperlink, so if you need more interaction, you can click on it to open the site in a browser. If you don’t have a connection, Web View shows the most recently downloaded snapshot.

To put a Web snapshot on a slide, you simply choose Insert: Web View. A box will appear on the slide. Type the address of the site you want in the Hyperlink Inspector palette’s URL field, and click on the Update Now button. The current site will appear.

You can resize the Web View box as needed. For instance, you might want a small box focusing only on the new navigation bar you made for your client’s Web site, or a large box that shows the whole page. You can also apply some of Keynote’s graphics effects to it. I like to add a drop shadow, to make the box stand out from the rest of the slide. (Go to the Graphic Inspector and select the Shadow option.)

Web-Page Wallpaper Here’s a trick: Use a Web View box as the background for a slide. First, resize the box to cover the entire slide. Then switch to the Graphic Inspector palette, and use the Opacity slider to dim the Web-page snapshot (about 30 percent opacity works well). Finally, use the Back button on the toolbar to send the Web View box to the background. Now the slide’s title and bulleted text will overlay it.

Build Your Own Animations

If you really want to liven up your presentation, Keynote 2’s new Automatic Builds feature allows you to easily create animations to illustrate almost anything. For Access Healdsburg, my local public-access cable station, I created a dynamic diagram that shows the station’s funding sources (see “Diagram Building”). In this animation, the outer circles appear one by one, beginning at the top and continuing clockwise. After the fifth circle, radial lines draw toward the center; as they do, the center circle pops into view.

Diagram Building If your presentation lacks punch, it’s easy to use Keynote 2’s new Automatic Builds feature to illustrate your points with animation. Here, I used the Build Inspector drawer to reorder my animation’s steps..
(Click image to open full screenshot)

An Example Animation You can create a similar animation (and, of course, you can employ this technique to create any diagram) by using Keynote’s Shapes menu (in the toolbar) to create each of the six circles; then you can use the Graphic Inspector palette to color them in. Double-clicking inside each circle lets you enter text. Use the Fonts palette and Text Inspector palette to style the text. Next, place the five radial lines with the Shapes menu, move them into the right positions, group them, and then send them behind the circles.

To create the animation, open the Build Inspector palette and click on Set Automatic Builds. The Automatic Builds drawer will open. Select the top circle on the slide; then, in Build Inspector, go to the Effect pop-up menu and choose how you want the circle to appear. If necessary, adjust the effect further with the Direction, Delivery, and Duration controls. In the drawer, choose On Click from the Start Build pop-up menu. Select the second circle and set the effect as you did for the first object, but this time in the drawer, choose Automatically After Build 1 from the pop-up menu. This makes the second object appear immediately after the first one, without you triggering the effect.

Repeat this process for the rest of the circles in the outer ring. To make the radial lines appear to be drawing into the center, use the Iris effect and set the direction to In. To make the center circle appear at the same time the lines appear, choose Automatically With [Previous Build] in the Builds drawer. You can see a short QuickTime movie of the result.

Get More Animated

Several companies have released themes that take advantage of these new features and create effects it would be difficult to make yourself. For instance, one makes pictures seem to extend from one slide to the next, and another creates the effect of panning across multiple slides. Check out Keynote Theme Park, KeynoteUser, and KeynotePro for themes that you can use to build slick presentations.

But always remember that the line between just enough fancy effects and too many of them is razor-thin. We’ve all seen boring presentations, but we’ve also seen a few that used too much of a good thing. If you err on the conservative side, you’ll get your point across and keep your audience happy.

[ Longtime Macworld contributor Tom Negrino is the vice chair of Access Healdsburg and the author of Creating Keynote Presentations with iWork: Visual QuickProject Guide (Peachpit Press, 2005). ]

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