Delegates attending a recent educational conference were asked to forget the PowerPoint and come up with a unique and appropriate way to deliver a presentation based on their years research to an audience of lecturers. While some chose to deliver in prose and recited their entire findings in rhyming couplets, others went for a more visual delivery and walked through the assembled audience wearing a bikini while talking about body image. On reflection, most of the audience said that they probably felt less conscious about their own body shape, but did struggle to remember what the speaker had talked about as they tried desperately not to engage them in any direct conversation. It was a case of, literally, not knowing where to look.

Whether the outcome of the alternative conference was to titillate or to educate isn't really clear. It's obviously not practical to go into a sales meeting dressed as a giant banana, or deliver a client pitch armed with a karaoke machine and a couple of Robbie Williams' tracks. Luckily, then, PowerPoint is here to help.

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2010 now comes with more flexibility for how you and your audience can view your presentation. To access the viewing options, go to the View tab, in the Presentations Views and Master Views groups. There's also an easy to use bar at the bottom of the PowerPoint window where the main views (Normal, Slide Sorter, Reading, and Slide Show) are available. Even if you do not have PowerPoint installed on your computer, you can use the PowerPoint Viewer 2010 to view a presentation.

There are many views in PowerPoint that can help you deliver a professional presentation. Slide Show view takes up the full computer screen in exactly the same way your presentation will look on a large screen when your audience sees it. You can see how your graphics, timings, movies, animated effects and transition effects will look during the actual presentation.

The Presenter view is a key slide show-based view that you can use while delivering your presentation. By using two monitors, you can run other programs and view speaker notes that your audience cannot see. To use Presenter view, make sure that your computer has multiple monitor capabilities, turn on multiple monitor support, and turn on Presenter view.

Reading view enables you to deliver your presentation not to an audience (via a large screen, for example), but instead to someone viewing your presentation on their own computer. Or, use Reading view on your own computer when you want to view a presentation not in full-screen Slide Show view, but in a window with simple controls that make the presentation easy to review. You can always switch from Reading view to one of the other views if you want to change the presentation.

To help you save paper and ink, it's best to prepare your print job beforehand. PowerPoint provides views and settings to help you specify what you want to print (slides, handouts, or notes pages) and how you want those jobs to print (in color, grayscale, black and white, with frames, and more).

Slide Sorter view gives you a view of your slides in thumbnail form which makes it easy to sort and organise the sequence of your slides as you prepare to print. And Print Preview lets you specify settings for what you want to print: for example, handouts, notes pages, outline or slides.

You can also set a view as the default, ensuring PowerPoint will always open in that view. Among the views that are available to set as the default are Slide Sorter view, Outline Only view, Notes view, and variations on Normal view. By default, PowerPoint opens in Normal view, displaying the thumbnails, notes and slide view.

With regards to content, there's a host of feedback online that will give you ideas about the best and worst PowerPoint presentations people have had to sit through. Up there with the best are usually presentations where the presenter has had a fantastic rapport with the audience, set the scene, told an interesting story and managed to get them thinking and making connections to something they can relate to with what they are seeing.

These presenters haven't just talked their audience through a selection of slides. If you do this, without realising, you will probably spend most of your time with your back to the audience. Try to make as much eye contact with your audience as you can. The fewer slides you have, the more chance you will have of talking to your audience and holding their attention with eye contact. The more slides you use, the more distracting it is for your audience. The fewer and simpler the slides are, the easier it will be to keep them listening.

Always think about the typeface you are using on your slides. If the print is too small to read, they'll get irritated. And there's nothing more off-putting than when speakers say "as you can see", or the equally annoying "you probably won't be able to read this".

A presenter is usually judged by three things: First, their delivery. This includes rapport with the audience, eye contact, a good clear voice with lots of variety and a relaxed tone. Second, the way the presentation is organised, which is connected with how you present your PowerPoint with text, images, video or animation; and third, how you feel about the topic; try to be exited, passionate, and confident.

And remember, don't make your audience compete with sensory stimulus; if there's nothing but text on the screen, people will try to read and listen to you at the same time βˆ’ and won't succeed in doing either. Likewise, if you decide to don a bathing suit or a pair of Speedos and take to the floor, it might just be too much for your audience to cope with on a wet Wednesday in Wishaw.