7 Tips for Making the Most of LibreOffice Impress

LibreOffice, a successor to the OpenOffice.org project, is a full-featured set of productivity applications, much like Microsoft Office. I use LibreOffice Impress, which is similar to PowerPoint, for all of my presentations and slide generation. Over the years, I’ve probably tried every feature available. And, let me tell you, it’s tough striking that sensible balance between using just the right amount of techno wizardry on screen and not distracting the audience away from the speaker who is, after all, the real show.

Here’s a collection of Impress presentation tips that will add polish to your act and introduce some features you may want to try. A few of the effects are so cool you’ll want to use them everywhere, but don’t. In presentations, a little well-placed wow usually goes a long way.

Lead With Black

A great way to start your presentation is with a black slide. Draw a box that covers the entire first slide, then just change the area color to black. You’ll want the audience totally focused on you and not distracted by a logo or something on the screen as they sit waiting for you to begin. Snap them to attention with your bold, opening statement, then down-arrow to transition to your first real slide.

Use The Presenter’s Console

The presenter’s console is a LibreOffice Impress extension that displays a timer, next slide preview window, a notes window, and the current slide on your laptop screen. The regular, full-sized slides go out to the projector. It works well if you can periodically look at your notebook during your presentation. I tend to like to use notes, so being able to see them helps me quite a bit. Post your notes for each slide using the notes view. Of course, if you are a raving lunatic and run around all over the stage during your talk, the presenter’s console might only be marginally helpful. I think those kinds of presenters are always interesting and a lot of fun.

Set The Tone With Interesting Master Slides

Impress has 28 master slide themes. Put your presentation together, then open the Master Pages under the Tasks tab. Click a theme and your slides will instantly acquire that background. Once you select a theme, adjust the text colors and positions for the best aesthetic layout.

Alt-Tab To Switch Between Apps

Start other applications that you’ll use during the presentation before starting your slide show. You might load the Chrome browser and point it to a certain Web page. Or, prepare a terminal with vi running. Switch to those apps during your presentation, using the Alt-Tab key combination. It even toggles your slide show to the next Alt-Tab position, so you can go back and forth easily, between the current and previous app.

Custom Animations Add A Little Zip

Impress has a huge list of animations, like the standard fade in/fade out, classic fly-in, or magnify. Single or multiple animations are added to text, shapes and graphical elements with just a few clicks. One of my favorites is to make text or shapes follow a path.To do it:

  • Select the text or shape, then under Tasks → Custom Animation → Modify Effect.
  • Press the Add button.
  • Select Free-Form Line under Motion Paths.
  • Draw the desired path you want your shape to follow.
  • Start the slide show, then down-arrow to preview the motion of the shape.You’ll probably need to experiment a bit before you find all the right combinations for your particular needs.
  • Delete the effect by highlighting the shape directly below the Effect → Speed drop-down, then right-click and select Remove.

Transitions Create Drama

While custom animations add motion to text and shape, transitions add effects when moving from one slide to the next. I especially like the Fade Through Black transition. As soon as you hit the down arrow for the next slide, the current slide fades to black, then fades in to the new slide. It gives that added dramatic second or two to bring the audience’s focus back as you launch into the next slide’s commentary.

Export A PDF

An easy way to get your slide stack to colleagues is to export it as a PDF file and send it to them via email. Just select Export PDF under the file tab, then the Export button at the bottom. Give the file a name and note the directory. Press Save to create the file. Now just slip it in an email and shoot it off.

That’s it for now. I hope you liked my list of LibreOffice Impress presentation power tips and can put them to good use. Feel free to share your own special slide show tips in the comments below.