Presentations are a group effort more often than not. Sometimes they are truly collaborative–as in everybody contributes equally. On other occasions, there is one person leading the charge while others review and advise. Either way, the ability to communicate and provide specific feedback in the presentation, within context, can significantly improve the collaboration experience and the quality of the content.
Comments are not brand new to PowerPoint–in previous versions you could add a comment. However, comments have been significantly improved in several ways, making the communication with others a lot more intuitive and conversational. In other words, comments are easier to add, view and manage, and therefore are more effective. Moreover, thanks to the PowerPoint Web App, you can now get the feedback from virtually anyone.
Providing feedback with comments
You can add a comment to a slide through the Review tab on the PowerPoint ribbon in the Comments group.
The new comment appears in the new Comments pane, where you can start typing in your comment. To make it easy to know which comment refers to which part, each new comment is associated with a comment hint that appears on the upper left of the slide. You can move the hint around by dragging it, and visually associate the comment with a specific area or shape on the slide.
Once you add in your comment in the Comments pane, it’s accompanied by a friendly time stamp (recent comments show how recently they were added, as opposed to a specific date). There is even an image of the person and his or her presence information (available, in a call, etc.). The presence information is included for enterprise users who use Lync server or services, and by Skype for the home users, who associated their Skype account with Office.
You can easily edit your comments by clicking or tapping on the comment text, or delete them using the X at the top right corner of a comment.
Replying to comments
The new commenting experience is not just about leaving comments for others, but also provides you the ability to have rich conversations right where they matter most–in the context of the content you are discussing. You can easily reply to the comment by typing in the Reply area. The thread will simply build up in the Comments pane, clearly showing who responded to whom and when. The comment hint will update to show multiple comments on the same topic.
Managing comments throughout the presentation
One of the benefits of the Comments pane is that it shows in one place all the comments for a specific slide–no need to open each comment individually. You can also initiate new comments there, reply to existing ones and quickly breeze through all the feedback in the comments throughout the presentation. Simply use the Next and Previous buttons in the Comments pane to go from one comment to the next.
Don’t worry about having many comments in one slide. A comment and its hint are visually connected: when you hover over a comment hint, the respective comment is highlighted in the Comments pane; and vice versa–when you hover over a comment in the Comments pane, the respective comment hint on the slide is highlighted.
Getting feedback from anyone
Thanks to the recent improvements to the PowerPoint Web App, comments are now fully supported there as well. In Editing View, you can add new comments, reply to existing ones and enjoy the Comments pane in the PowerPoint Web App.
To simply view the comments, you don’t even have to go to Editing View–you can open the Comments pane in Reading View as well.
The addition of the commenting improvements to the PowerPoint Web App means you can ask for feedback from anyone, even if they don’t have the latest PowerPoint installed. If you save the presentation on SkyDrive or SharePoint*, it’s easy to share with others directly from the backstage (File > Share > Invite People) by adding their email addresses and assigning them Edit permissions.
*SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online allow for sharing also with people external to your organization, but the proper set-up and permissions need to be defined by your IT manager to enable it.