SlideDynamic is a PowerPoint plug-in that creates Flash-based menus within PowerPoint, promoting a high level of interactivity with audiences. The software saves the user a lot of time and effort, automatically creating navigational systems that enable the presenter to skip backwards and forwards within slides with ease.
How easy is it to use?
SlideDynamic is very simple and straightforward to use, and there are 2-minute tutorials available on the website on its main features. The ultimate aim of the software was to be really quick and easy to use, and it certainly succeeds.
What functionality does it add?
SlideDynamic automatically creates navigational menus within PowerPoint, which can be used in Slideshow mode. The presenter can choose from two custom menus – a list, or thumbnails – that appear when the menu trigger is clicked. From these menus, the presenter can navigate to any slide in his presentation, or to any slide that he has chosen to include in the menu.
The software certainly offers the presenter unlimited interactivity without having to leave slideshow mode. Being able to navigate slides in this way without leaving Slideshow mode is a real professional touch for any presenter. Extra touches of personalisation, such as being able to use an image (e.g. a company logo) as the menu trigger, can give the presentation a more polished feel.
The back navigation is a great tool that allows the presenter to click back through the slides he has just delivered. This would be useful when recapping content, or if an audience member were to ask a question about something that was mentioned earlier. The place in the presentation can also be bookmarked, so that the presentation can be set to start up again at the same slide, after being closed down. This could be useful when taking breaks, or switching between applications on the computer.
By far the biggest benefit however, is the amount of time saved creating hyperlinks. Even those proficient in PowerPoint would spend a good deal of time creating a menu that is half as functional as those SlideDynamic offers. It really is a case of clicking the mouse a few times, and the menus can be created in thirty seconds. This means that the presenter can not only create interactive presentations, but can easily adapt and edit them, without having to worry about reworking the hyperlinks.
What can it do that PowerPoint can’t?
The SlideDynamic software is designed to make navigating presentations in Slideshow mode far easier for the presenter. It saves the presenter having to remember slide numbers, or having to exit Slideshow mode to switch between slides.
PowerPoint itself can be used to create hyperlinks. However, this is time-consuming, as each link has to be created separately. Recreating the navigational function in SlideDynamic would be difficult for the thumbnail menu – and impossible for the text-style menu. In addition, any changes to the slide order would require a manual rework of all hyperlinks affected, whereas SlideDynamic can recalculate its menus automatically.
Presenters experienced with PowerPoint could recreate SlideDynamic’s main functions – to a degree. But this would take a lot of time and effort, which SlideDynamic was designed to replace.
How could it be improved?
SlideDynamic would benefit from allowing more personalisation, particularly on the menu bars. The user currently has the choice to select the colour of the menu bars to tailor them to slide design, but they must be a solid colour. Allowing further design elements, such as a gradient fill, would enable users to project a more professional image.
I also noticed a slight delay when clicking on the trigger button to open the menu, which wasn’t present in the tutorial menus. This could be due to operating systems, but a smooth transition would further enhance the experience.
Is SlideDynamic worth it?
The solution behind SlideDynamic is definitely a good idea. The menu promotes a real interactivity with the audience, allowing them to choose the content. This level of functionality can’t quite by reached by using hyperlinks – and with SlideDynamic, it is far easier to create.
Ultimately, this is a great piece of software. It should definitely be used with caution – as creator Tim James stated in an interview, a presentation should not be designed to jump all over the place – but it serves its purpose well, and saves a great deal of time and effort on the part of the presenter.
For more information about SlideDynamic, read our interview with Tim James, SlideDynamic’s creator.
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