A reader recently asked:
I am currently working on my daughter’s photo slide show for her graduation in June 2011 and I am very concerned the presentation is getting too big to handle. I will have hundreds of slides if I continue. How big is too big?
You are right to be concerned about the eventual file size of your presentation. Photos and sound seem to be the biggest issues with PowerPoint shows (judging by the email I receive). However, the good news is that there are several things you can do. Here are seven tips about PowerPoint file size.
1. Optimize Photos to Use in Your Presentations
Make sure you optimize your photos before inserting them into PowerPoint. Optimizing is reducing the overall file size of each photo -- preferably to around 100K or less. Definitely don't have the file size greater than 300K.
If you are using PowerPoint 2003, you likely have a free program installed -- Microsoft Picture Manager, one of the free tools that comes with Microsoft Office 2003. Use this program to optimize your photos quickly and easily. Otherwise, any photo editing program can be used to reduce the picture file size.
2. Compress Photos in PowerPoint Presentations
Nowadays, everyone wants as many megapixels as possible on their digital camera to get the best photos. What they do not realize is that the high resolution files are only necessary for a printed photograph, not for the screen or the web.
You can compress the photos after they are inserted, and this will reduce their file size, but optimizing is a better solution if that is a possible option.
3. Crop Pictures to Reduce File Size
Cropping pictures in PowerPoint has two bonuses for your presentation.
a) You get rid of extra stuff in the picture that is not necessary to make your point.
b) You reduce the overall file size of your presentation.
4. Create a Picture from a PowerPoint Slide
If you have already added many slides with photos into your presentation, perhaps with several photos per slide, you can create a photo from each slide, optimize it, and then insert this new photo into a new presentation.
5. Break Down Your Large Presentation into Smaller Presentations
You might also consider breaking your presentation down into more than one file. You could then create a hyperlink from the last slide in Show 1 to the first slide in Show 2 and then close off Show 1. This would be a little more cumbersome when you are in the midst of the presentation, but it would free up many resources once you only have Show 2 open.
If the whole slide show is in one file, your RAM is constantly in use retaining the images of previous slides, even though you are many slides forward. By closing off Show 1 you will free up these resources.
6. Why Doesn't the Music Play in My PowerPoint Presentation?
Music problems are the number one issue that readers write to me about. What many presenters are not aware of is that only music files saved in the WAV file format can be embedded into PowerPoint. MP3 files cannot be embedded, but only linked to in a presentation. Unfortunately, WAV file types are usually very large, thereby increasing the PowerPoint file size even more.
Now that being said, there is a workaround that you can try to actually embed MP3 files into PowerPoint. You "trick" PowerPoint into "thinking" that the MP3 file (a much smaller file size) is really a WAV file.
7. What Computer Will Display the PowerPoint Show?
You need to be concerned with the amount of RAM, the CPU and the other resources on the computer. If your presentation will contain hundreds of photos, it would be helpful to have the latest and greatest computer to show it, or at least a relatively new machine.