LibreOffice Impress: Creating a Presentation

Impress version

Suppose you took my advice and started with a blank presentation. You can get this in several ways:

  • If the Presentation Wizard opens you can select “Empty presentation, click Next, then click Next, then Create. you should get a blank presentation with white slides and black text.
  • If you have turned off the Presentation wizard as we discussed (go to Tools–>Options–>LibreOffice Impress–>General, look for New Document, and remove the check mark) you should open directly into a blank presentation.

I always have my copy of Impress set to open to a blank presentation directly, and I recommend it for the reasons we discussed previously. When it opens, you will have the things on the screen we went over a few tutorials back. On the left side you will have the Slides pane, which has your slides in order down the left column. since this is a new presentation, you only have one slide there now, but as you build your presentation you will add slides.

In the center is the Workspace, and it has a slide on it ready for you to begin entering your content. The Workspace is where you do most of your editing, so you will be in here a lot. Then on the right side you have the Sidebar, and it will be open to Properties –> Layouts. Here you can see all of the available slide types you can choose from. One of them will have a black box around it, and that is the slide type on your Workspace right now. It will be a Title Slide, because of course that is the first slide in a presentation, and LibreOffice Impress makes the most common choices the defaults.

The Title slide has two sections. In the top section it says “Click to add Title”. When you click inside this box, this text goes away and you can put in the title of your presentation. So start typing. If your presentation has a long title it will wrap to the next line with everything centered.

Note: The way this Title is formatted is governed by a Presentation Style, and we will discuss those in more detail later. For now, though, lets accept the default choices.

Under the title is a box that reads “Click to add Text”. While this could be almost anything, generally on a title slide you would put your name, and perhaps a company or other affiliation. If you wished, an e-mail address or other contact information should go here. These days, many a presentation, particularly at a conference, is uploaded to a Web site for people to download later, and it is a good thing in that case if there is some contact information.

Once you have finished this slide, you need to go to the next slide. There is a button on the Presentation toolbar that looks like a rectangle with a green plus sign. It has a drop-down arrow next to it, but you can just click the button to get the default. In this case the default again has two sections, but slightly different. The top section still says “Click to add Title”, but now that refers to the title of the slide, not the title of the whole presentation. And the lower section still says “Click to add Text”, but now there is a difference. This text has a button next to it, and then in the center of the slide is a square with 4 sections, which tells you that you can insert a table, a chart, a picture, or an audio or video. This slide appears by default because for most people most of the time it is the one they will use. If you start typing in text here it becomes a bullet point.

So if you want to create a list of bullet points you are all set to go. Type in the your first one, press Enter, and you will then jump to the second bullet. Type in something, press Enter, and you jump to the third one, and so on. If you need to create sub-points, go to the Text formatting toolbar (that is the one with the font selector) and look for white outlined arrows towards the right. the arrow pointing to the right is the Demote arrow, and the one pointing to the left is the Promote arrow. Click the right arrow to move your point under the one above, type your sub-points, pressing enter after each one, until you are done. This will leave you with one last sub-point you don’t want, but clicking the Left arrow (Promote) will get you back to level one. BTW, you can move entire groups of points up or down as well, such a bullet point and all of its sub-points. Just highlight the group and use the up or down arrow next to the Demote and Promote arrows.

As you keep typing and adding bullet points the text will go down the page, and at some point you will pass the lower boundary of the box. LibreOffice Impress will, at this point, reduce the font size to keep everything in the box. And it will continue to do that as long as you keep adding bullet points. That makes it very easy, right?

Well, my view is that this is a sign you are trying to cram too much content onto a single slide. If you are doing a presentation in a room where people may be 1o meters or more from the screen, small fonts will kill you. I always aim at 3-4 points per slide when using bullets, or put another way, the default font size is 32-point, and I try to keep to that if at all possible. One of the reasons I mostly create my presentations in a Blank Presentation view instead of as an outline is that it is easy to keep an eye on this kind of thing as I go. But if you do start with an outline, make sure you review the presentation in Normal view to be sure you haven’t created a problem here.

Once you are finished with this slide, click the Slide button to get the next slide. You will get another copy of the same slide with the bullet points, and again that is the default. You can, and I have done so, create an entire presentation of 30 slides using just this one slide type. But if you want to use a different slide type, you have two ways to go about it. First, there is drop-down arrow next to the Slide button. If you click that arrow you will see that you have 12 slide types to choose from. There is also an option that says duplicate slide. That would let you add a copy of the slide you are on, and it would be an exact duplicate, with the same text, images, or whatever. The other way you can change the slide type, while the slide is in the Workspace, is to go to the Properties–>Layouts section in the Sidebar and click on the slide type you want. The slide in the Workspace will immediately change. This works great if the slide is blank, but if it already has content changing the slide type may screw up the content. That is something to keep in mind.

Summary Points

  1.  I work in Blank Presentation mode most of the time, but I still think having at least a rough outline in mind before starting is a good idea. I have a lot of practice at this, including teaching a remote course where all of the material was presentations delivered via video. And I still take time to get things sorted out before I begin to write, and revise frequently.
  2. At this point everything is simply black text on a white background. This is not the time to worry about fonts, backgrounds, colors, or all of the other things. You need to get your content correct first. Once that is done, there is plenty of time to add those other things, and we will discuss that later.
  3. Don’t overfill your slides. This will only annoy your audience, and that is not a good thing. Look for ways to revise how you are presenting the material so that you can break a long slide into several slides. Even just cutting it in half and calling the first slide #1 and the second slide #2 is not a bad thing, and preferable to  12-point font on a slide.
  4. Practice and revise. An iterative process can be really helpful. Actually practice giving your presentation and note where it becomes awkward. That means revision time. Steve Jobs would spend hours doing this, which is why he was recognized as a master presenter.

If you do all of the above, you will already have an above-average presentation. But I promised we would get to the visual aspects, and that will be the next tutorial.

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