Why LibreOffice?

LibreOffice ImpressSo you have to get that slide show created for your presentation but you don't want to pay through the nose to Microsoft just so you can get PowerPoint. I don't blame you. A lot of us are dealing with tight budgets these days. The economy is still hurting a lot of us and we don't have a lot of money to spare for luxuries like a software package that costs more than $100. So we look around for cheaper options that still work about as well as the software produced by big tech companies.

Fortunately for those of us who are students working for something for class or run a small business and have to watch our bottom line, LibreOffice Impress is available as part of the LibreOffice software package that you can download on their official website. No joke, no gimmick, no Trojan virus. Just software that's nearly as good as Microsoft Office for free.

While You're Waiting For The Install To Happen...

Life After Death By Powerpoint. Or, as I like to call it, "What Not To Do When Creating A Slideshow."

Checking Out LibreOffice Impress

Anyway, now that you're back from installing it, you probably want to know how to use it. Open LibreOffice Calc, and you should see something that looks like this:

Open LibreOffice Impress

Click in the box that says, “Click to add title,” and you can type in a title for your slide show. You can also add more text, maybe the main points you want to cover during your presentation. Or you can...

Add a Picture

Add Picture in Impress

Click on the “Insert” drop-down menu, point at “Picture,” and select “From File.” When the dialogue box pops up, browse to the folder where your picture is and double-click on it to add it. Then you can drag it around to place it exactly where you want it or resize it. (Need to make more alterations to the picture? I recommend GIMP. But that's a whole another article.)

Add a new slide.

Add Slide in LibreOffice

Of course, you want more than one slide. Go back to the “Insert” drop-down menu and select “slide.” This gives you an additional slide that looks similar to the first one. You can change the layout by choosing from the layouts to the right of the Impress screen. Add text and pictures however you like.

Animations and Slide Transitions

Animations with Impress

These are pretty cool for calling attention to specific points, but like the person in the video said, don't overdo it. Animations and slide transitions can be set by clicking on the “Slide Show” drop-down menu and selecting “Custom Animation” or “Slide Transition.” If you're at the point where you're ready to practice giving your presentation, the “Slide Show” menu also includes useful options like “Rehearse Timings”.

Make Notes in Impress

This is useful for keeping track of what you want to say in each part of your presentation. Just above the slide, there are options that include “Notes” for typing in an expansion of each point, “Handout” for printing out your slide show, and &ld

Change Themes

Change Themes

A plain white background is boring, right? Well, to get a templates that I actually liked, I had to go out to SourceForge to download the Modern Impress Templates extension. With any download from a third-party site, you do want to be careful – the virus thing again. So make sure you don't download anything you've never heard of, or ones with names you know from a site you've never heard of.

Anyway, now that you've got some snazzy themes, go to the right slide of your screen where the Layout options are and click on Master Pages. Scroll through the themes until you find the one you like and click on it.

The Slides Should Look Different!

Slideshow with new theme

Snazzy, right? These themes are fun for adding something interesting for your audience to look at. When choosing your theme, keep in mind that you don't want to distract from your message. You might choose different themes for giving a presentation to the board of directors of a Fortune 500 company than you would for giving a presentation to a roomful of parents who are interested in horseback riding lessons for their kids.

Running The Slideshow

Print anything you had in the “Notes” section of the slide show for reference. Hook your laptop up to a good overhead projector. Hit F5. The slideshow comes up. A left click of your mouse proceeds to the next slide or activates the next animation. If you ever scroll one slide too far, right-click your mouse and select “Previous”.

Conquer The World of Open-Source Software

So you get sick of Microsoft everything. I do, too. So you can start breaking free of Microsoft with a new Operating System, Ubuntu, and free office software, LibreOffice.