Get your presentations noticed

For small business owners making a sophisticated presentation to clients, PowerPoint is the tool of choice. Some tips on how you can make your presentation stand out.

Fear of public speaking is so common it's a cliché. but for PowerPoint warriors, there's no time to cower in the corner—you need serious tools to deliver dynamic, attention- grabbing presentations and trounce the competition. Read on to find the right tools and winning techniques to keep your audience on the edge of its seats.

Smaller Is Better

If you still lug around a 20-pound projector in a case that looks like it might store plutonium, you're missing the portable revolution. Today's lighter models weigh less than 5 pounds and deliver sharp, bright images at resolutions up to 1,024 by 1,024dpi. They even boast internal speakers, digital inputs for your notebook, and wireless remotes. Watch for projectors with digital light processing, which brings brighter and sharper images with less overall heft. Turn to page 134 for this month's A-List pick, the 3.5-pound Proxima UltraLight X350 ($4,999; www.proxima.com).

Change the Color

Though PowerPoint's design templates give your presentation a snazzy look with little effort, everyone uses them—and that can make your presentation look just like all the rest. Few people realize, though, that you can work with an existing design template and tweak it a bit just by changing the background color. To do that, choose Format, Background and select a color from the drop-down menu. All of the template's design elements will remain in place, but the color will change, giving your show a whole new look.

Global Adjustments

To apply a change to the entire slide show—like adding page numbers or adjusting text size—use the slide master. Choose View, Master, Slide Master from the menu. Now make your changes. When you return to the Normal view (choose View, Normal), you'll find that these changes affect every slide . This is a handy way to add your department name to the bottom of every slide without changing every slide by hand.

Click and Wave

Using a mouse can be a drag. Tethered to a PC, you can't walk around or speak as freely as you'd like. Try a cordless pointing device. The RemotePoint from Interlink Electronics ($160; www.interlinkelec.com) uses infra red signals to mimic a two-button mouse from up to 40 feet away. The Mind Path GyroPoint RF ($199; www.mindpath.com) uses gyroscopes to move the pointer via hand gestures from 75 feet away.