When you need to present information to a group of people, OpenOffice.org
2.0’s Impress makes it very easy for you to create professional slide shows. In
fact, you’ll discover that Impress contains almost as many fancy bells and
whistles as PowerPoint. To achieve this feat Impress provides you with access
to a host of multimedia elements and special effects that will really make your
presentation stand out. With this in mind, let’s take a look at performing some
common PowerPoint tasks in OpenOffice.org 2.0’s Impress.

Using animations and transitions to add impact

As you may know, using animation and transitional effects
can increase your presentation’s effectiveness and visual appeal by redirecting
the audience’s attention and emphasizing a point. However, be careful not to go
overboard–too many fancy effects can have just the opposite effect.

In the world of Impress, animation works on individual
elements on a slide while transitions work on the entire slide. When it comes
to using animations and transitions you must make two basic decisions: which
effect to use and how to time the effect. Of course, the type of information in
your presentation will help you decide.

Applying animations and transitions to your Impress presentations
is a fairly straightforward procedure and the built-in preview feature allows
you to sample before you commit. Once you’ve essentially created you
presentation, you can select and add animations and transitions from the Tasks
pane, which appears on the right side of the screen in the Normal View, as
shown in Figure A.

Figure A:

You can find both animation and transition effects in the Tasks pane.

To add a transition to an entire slide, you select the slide
and then select any of the options in the Slide Transition section of the Tasks
Pane. You can separate the Tasks Pane from the screen and enlarge it in order
to allow you to better view all your options, as shown in Figure B. There are
over 50 different slide transitions to choose from and you can control the
speed as well as add sound effects.

Figure B:

Separating the Tasks Pane allows you to more easily view the options.

To add an animation to an element on a slide, such as a
heading or a bullet point, select that element and then Click the Add button in
the Custom Animation section of the Tasks Pane to display the Custom Animation
dialog box, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C:

The Custom Animation dialog box provides you with access to a plethora of special

As you can see, the Custom Animation dialog box contains
four tabs that allow you to choose the time and configuration of the effect.
For example, on the Entrance tab, you can choose what effect to use when the
when the element first appears on the screen. On the Motion Paths tab, you can
choose how you want the element to react when you click.

Printing handouts

As a way to complement your Impress presentation, you may
want to print handouts for your audience. By providing printed copies of your
slides you provide your audience member with an easy way to take notes
pertinent to individual slides that that can study later. You may also want to
print notes for yourself to help you while you’re presenting your show.

To do so, locate and select the Handout tab in the center
pane, as shown in Figure D. You can then select one of the page layouts in the
Layouts section of the Tasks Pane to choose the number of slides you want per

Figure D:

When you click the Handout tab, you can select one of the available

You can then drag the slide images to different locations on
the page to make room for notes. If you want place a few horizontal lines for
people to take notes on, you’ll need to use the Line tool on the Drawing
toolbar to manually draw a set of lines by the first slide. To make them even,
select all the lines as a group, right click on any one of the handles, and
choose Alignment | Right (or Left, or Center) To align them, select them again,
right click on any one of the handles, and choose Distribution from the pop up
menu. From the Distribution dialog box, choose Center in the Vertical panel, as
shown in Figure E, and click OK.

Figure E:

To align your lines, use the Center option in the Vertical section.

Now, you can select the lines again, right click on any one
of the handles, and choose Copy from the pop up menu. Once you paste them, you’ll
need to drag the lines to the other slides, as shown in Figure F

Figure F:

Once you paste the lines, you’ll need to drag them to the other slides.

When you’re ready to print your handouts, pull down the File
menu, and select the Print command. When you see the Print dialog box, click
the Options button to bring up the Printer Options dialog box and make sure
that in the Contents section only the Handouts check box is selected, as shown
in Figure G. To complete the operation, click OK twice. Keep in mind that it
may take some trial and error testing and reconfiguring to get everything to
look just right.

Figure G:

It is very important that you only select the Handouts check box in the
Contents section.

Presentation tricks

Once you’ve created your slide show in Impress and are on
the road giving your presentation, here are a few tricks that you can use
during your talk. If you find yourself at a point where you want to pause the
presentation to discuss a point in more detail or to give you audience a break,
press the B key to display a black screen or press the W key to display a white
screen/ Press any key to resume your presentation.

If an audience discussion leads you back to a previous
slide, you can return to a specific slide number by pressing that number key and
then [Enter]. To return to the first slide in your presentation, simultaneously
double-click both mouse buttons.

Exporting to Macromedia Flash format

If you want to be able to provide your audience with the
ability to refer to the material from your presentations at any time they want,
you can take advantage of Impress’ ability to export presentations to
Macromedia Flash format as well as Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

To export presentations to Macromedia Flash format, just pull
down the File menu, select the Export command, type a filename in the Export
dialog box, select the Macromedia Flash in the File Format list, as shown in Figure
H, and click the Save button. You can then run your presentation in any browser
that has Macromedia Flash installed.

Figure H:

Impress makes it possible to save your presentation as a Macromedia Flash

Leaving a good impression

When it comes to creating presentations, you’ll discover
that, like PowerPoint, Impress provides you with everything you need to create
very professional looking presentations. In this article, we’ve taken a look at
performing some common PowerPoint tasks in OpenOffice.org 2.0’s Impress.