This New PowerPoint Feature Could Cure Your Stage Fright

Whether you're in front of a small classroom or a packed auditorium, presenting can be stressful. For some people, speaking comes easy, while others (like myself) dread being the center of attention.

If you're in the latter group, then Microsoft has a new feature that will help you face your fears.

Microsoft PowerPoint Presenter Coach

Called Presenter Coach, this new PowerPoint tool will give you real-time feedback as you practice your speech so you can nail it down by the time you take the stage.

When in rehearsal mode, Presenter Coach will listen to you as you practice your presentation and give you help along the way. Microsoft gave a demonstration in a press call that showed Presenter Coach listening to users and giving them on-screen prompts urging not use certain words, like "basically" or to be more original and not read directly off the slides.

Other hiccups Presenter Coach will flag you on include pacing, inclusive language, use of profanity, filler words and culturally insensitive phrases. Presenter Coach will also give you a detailed report at the end of each session so you can see how you're improving and which areas you should focus on next.

Microsoft Presenter Coach will be available for the web later this summer.

New AI Features in PowerPoint Designer

Along with Presenter Coach, Microsoft announced some interesting new AI-powered features coming to Powerpoint Designer, a tool that automates the creation of slides and presentations.

Now, when you open a blank presentation and type words onto the slides, Designer will suggest high-res photos to add to the slide based on what you type. In a demo, a Microsoft representative typed "Ocean Life" into a blank slide and was instantly shown ocean pictures in the sidebar that they could quickly add to a slide. Themes and complimentary colors will also be recommended based on the subject you're presenting on.

Another clever AI feature, called perspectives, recognizes when you add a large number to a slide, then automatically provides context to that figure by adding a relevant statistic to your presentation. For example, if you write, "The size of Afghanistan is 652,232 square kilometers," Designer will automatically add "which is about equal to the size of Texas" to the slide.

The idea is that large numbers can be hard to conceptualize within a slide, even with graphs and charts, and that adding related facts will help people can better understand them.

And lastly, Microsoft is making it easier for companies to use corporate branding within a slideshow. Companies can now design their own templates that adhere to their branding guidelines, then Designer will automatically choose the best layouts for the content, crop images and recommend relevant icons and pictures.

Each of these Designer features is rolling out now in PowerPoint for Windows, Mac, and on the web for Office 365 subscribers.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.