Making an important presentation can be a taxing affair, whatever the circumstances - keeping managers abreast of a project, perhaps, teaching a class or illustrating a new policy. Even if you're not inclined to have nerves when standing before an audience, there's always much preparation to be done to ensure that your subject (and yourself) comes across in as positive a light as possible. Anything that can help smooth the way must be a benefit.

Microsoft PowerPoint can do a lot to help your presentation come across as engaging, stylish and professional, and enable you to get the information across in a clear and accessible manner. PowerPoint presentations can be put together quickly and easily, and with a huge range of templates available online, effective displays can be created with little effort or expertise. So if you're making a presentation for a vital occasion, you can be sure that PowerPoint will give you every opportunity to turn your ideas, information or plans into a successful impact on your audience.

But if you have to make such talks on a regular basis, the time taken to prepare can really mount up. With PowerPoint you can rely on the finished piece being as impressive and dynamic as you need - but how to stop using up too much of your time on getting it ready? Well, you still have to come up with the ideas, do the background research and compose the written content; there's no software that's really going to do that for you. However, there is another area in which PowerPoint can offer you a lot of assistance and save you a great deal of time, whilst ensuring that the quality of your work is maintained (and potentially improved).

PowerPoint 2007 comes with Slide Libraries. What this means is that, by running Microsoft Office SharePoint alongside your regular office applications, individual slides from a presentation can be stored in an online library and accessed and reused from anywhere in the world. Whenever you need to cover a familiar topic in further displays - perhaps a teacher explaining the same detail but in different courses and contexts, or a manager elaborating on the progress of a project to shareholders, updating some details but keeping others from the last statement - slides that have served you well can be downloaded time and again. This can be particularly useful if you don't always give presentations in the same place, from the same computer, or if keeping sensitive data on a memory stick or hard drive might compromise security or business confidentiality.

But Slide Libraries are more than just a repository for useful slides. If we look again at the manager making a progress report, what's to say that all presentations about that project will be carried out by the same individual? You can choose who has the right to access your library, and allow named and trusted individuals to make use of your slides in their own work (and you to make use of theirs). This of course saves time, without the need to physically exchange data or email slides as attachments, as well as again promoting greater security. Slide Libraries help to ensure that your data only goes to those who ought to have it - and all slides are time-stamped, so you can clearly see if, when, and how they may have been altered.

Using Slide Libraries brings a further benefit. You can associate the slide you're using with the original slide that resides on the server. If any of the information you're working with changes, the information can be updated on the original slide that resides on the server. Anytime you go to use that slide, you'll be notified that the information has changed, and can choose whether to use the updated version or not. And if you're uncertain about the provenance of the change, the library maintains records of all accessing and altering of every slide stored within.

Producing and maintaining presentations, particularly when you need to make them frequently, can be made a much smoother process with PowerPoint Slide Libraries. You might find that a short training course would be very useful in helping you make the most of a tool that can both save you time in preparation, and ensure that the outcome is up-to-date, highly professional, and produced with the utmost security for your sensitive information. And with this tool to hand, you can present yourself and your information in a more positive light than ever before.