Leigh, Sebastian and Brian are rather more than mere salespeople, although at heart it's salespeople they are. The (fictional!) brand they sell goes by the name of Intran Solutions, and its product a variety of public transport schemes that have been established successfully across Europe; the target audience is comprised predominantly of local authorities with a medium- to long-term need to improve their local transport provision. The authorities are always obliged to invite tenders and proposals from a number of different companies, so Intran's success is inextricably linked to the strength of the business in putting its plans across, in persuading and convincing the decision-makers. That's where Leigh, Sebastian and Brian come in, more than mere salespeople, experts at promoting projects that run to many millions in costs and value - and the tool they always turn to is Microsoft PowerPoint.

The three between them have to travel far and wide, and have to make many presentations applying the company's principles and schemes to a diverse range of different circumstances. However, although there will never be a shortage of specific local details to include, many of the key messages remain much the same from one presentation to another, and ideas that one of the group will come up with are usually transferable to another. Fortunately, PowerPoint has ideal solutions - allowing easy co-authorship between colleagues, pooling of resources, storing of reusable slides and easy sharing of the finished presentation.

Creating together

Public transport is a rapidly changing industry, with no end of new technical, economic, environmental and political circumstances to take on board. Sebastian, Brian and Leigh need to make sure that their presentations are as up-to-date as can be, and PowerPoint makes it easy for them to work together on new developments, wherever they may be.

Intrans keep their staff connected using Microsoft's SharePoint server, through which Brian, Leigh and Sebastian can easily co-author their presentations. All three can work on individual slides, and they can do so separately or together: using either Office Communicator or Windows instant messaging software, any of them can instantly see whether their colleagues are currently available, and talk to them directly from within PowerPoint itself - and even if their employer didn't use SharePoint, they could still work together just as easily using a free Windows Live account. By cooperating so closely, and regardless of the distance between them, the three can insure that no new knowledge, improvements or ideas are wasted, and that no presentation is ever behind the times.

Storing and reusing

These new ideas and understandings may well be suitable for multiple presentations, along with standard company principles and logos; if our three intrepid presenters could combine existing, transferable content with location-specific details, they could save a great deal of time and effort without reducing the effectiveness of their work. For this, PowerPoint provides slide libraries.

These libraries do very much what the name suggests - they provide a repository for the storage and withdrawal of PowerPoint slides, and just as with a regular library, the time and date when each slide was taken out and returned is clearly marked. The library also records previous versions of a slide, so if Leigh updates a slide for a new scheme, but Brian needs to use an earlier edit to fit an existing plan, he can filter out all newer updates immediately. Similarly, if Sebastian wants to ensure that every slide he's using is the latest version, PowerPoint can easily provide him with that too.

Sharing creations

Leigh has been working on a presentation aimed at a growing industrial town in the north. This is a crucial bid for the company, and head office want to examine the slideshow she's created before the local authority get to see it. Not a problem: PowerPoint's slideshow broadcast tool allows Leigh to present her work through an ordinary web browser, to anyone she chooses. And of course, this makes it easy for her to move her presentation beyond the immediate audience, and share it with anyone who would benefit from seeing it, but who wasn't there at the time.

Intrans Solutions benefit from their staff using PowerPoint because, as a large multinational organisation, they don't want geography to restrict them when it comes to presenting their proposals. Indeed, for any business - large or small - where more than one person might be involved in making presentations, PowerPoint can be every bit as useful. It's certainly worth considering a short training course for you or your staff, to get to grips with all that this versatile and powerful program has to offer - and no matter how many people you have making, creating and supporting those key presentations, you can be sure that, with PowerPoint, your organisation will be seen in the best possible light.