Years ago, only the biggest organizations could afford fancy presentations on slides, overhead transparencies, or paper. And only the most expensive of these efforts showed a sophistication of design and professionalism of execution that made the presentations watchable.
Today, anybody in business with a PC can and should have presentation software that makes vivid charts and text as easy to prepare as a typewritten document. Of course, these programs work better on capable Macintoshes, or on 386 and faster machines with VGA displays and possibly with Microsoft Windows. So far, no personal computer is fast enough to make presentation software operate instantly and transparently. But if you are patient, you can make do with even the slower and less capable equipment.
The "presentation graphic packages" (or PGPs) now available will do several different jobs that are important for business. They will convert numbers to pie, line, bar, or other types of business charts. They will present ideas, facts, and persuasive arguments in vivid form for important presentations. They will combine small amounts of text with drawings, logos, charts, and other graphic elements to give materials more impact. As necessary, they will provide disk files of these presentations that can easily and cheaply be converted to computerized presentations, standard slides or overhead transparencies.
To convert numbers to charts, you simply load the PGP, such as Harvard Graphics, Lotus Freelance, Ashton Tate's Applause, or IBM's new Hollywood. Then you enter or import the table of information. In the simplest case, this might be the number of widgets sold per month during 1990/91. But you might have data for several different products, or for much longer time periods. The PGP will automatically create a chart that covers the values and time periods you are graphing. You can also choose to display the data as a line chart, a pie chart (better for relative
performance), a bar chart, or some other arrangement. PGPs generally let you type in chart titles and other information and select format details like type faces, point sizes, line weights, and even colors or shades of gray.
If you're dealing with ideas, facts, and arguments, it's easy to type the words into the PGP or to import text files that already contain the information. The programs then let you arrange the words on the screen, slide, or page and use bullets, arrows, underlining, and other effects to make the message more vivid. By setting standard formats within the PGP, it's possible to create dozens of similar pages, slides, or transparencies with hardly more time or trouble than just typing the words
on your keyboard.