Microsoft said Tuesday that an upcoming Presenter Coach feature for PowerPoint will offer AI-powered suggestions to improve your presentations, including the use of gender-inclusive language and even reminders not to swear.
PowerPoint’s Presenter Coach will turn on only during a practice session, when you’re rehearsing your slides. It’s an optional feature that will be available to PowerPoint on the web later this summer—not the Office 365 app, at least for now.
Based on a YouTube introductory video on Presenter Coach, it appears the tool will give you real-time feedback on how fast you’re speaking. Presenter Coach will also record your voice as you speak, then use speech recognition to parse your language. Then, Presenter Coach will offer a series of suggestions, keyed to the audio: advice to use gender-inclusive language, for example, or avoid filler words like “basically.” If you swear, beware: PowerPoint will flag that, too.
Applying AI to Office apps is becoming more common. Last month, Microsoft introduced “Ideas,” with an emphasis on gender-inclusive language there, too.
Adding intelligence to Office dates back to 2016 and before, when Microsoft launched Sway and introduced PowerPoint Designer, offering suggestions on how to make PowerPoint slides more interesting and informative. All told, more than a billion slides have been published using Designer, Microsoft said.
Microsoft has continued to sprinkle AI here and there within Designer. Microsoft said Tuesday that it’s adding a suggestion to ground large numbers in real-world terms, such as equating 30,000 feet to the height of Mt. Everest. Designer now also suggests high-quality photographs licensed for commercial use, keyed to the theme and text your slides include. The new themes are rolling out for Office 365 subscribers on Windows and the Mac, as well as the web-only app.
Naturally, users who prefer to buy a product like Office 2019, instead of a subscription service like Office 365, won’t see many of these benefits. That’s the not-so-subtle catch: You’re free to buy a standalone license to Office, but if you want Microsoft’s help, you’ll need to pay for an ongoing subscription.
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As PCWorld's senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.