23 Sep Ich bin ein presenter: With new web tools, it's not your father's PowerPoint
We might not all be Berliners or Georgians, but as business people we certainly are all presenters. Whether conducting department meetings, carefully staged presentations or ongoing training sessions; we often need to create and tell a story for prospects, clients, colleagues, community groups or industry associations. (For the purpose of this article, I’ll use the term presentations although the concepts can easily be applied to training sessions as well.)
In today’s business world, these presentations are often created using the much maligned and tarnished Microsoft PowerPoint. Sensing an opportunity, technology entrepreneurs have jumped on the PowerPoint juggernaut to create improved image databases, web 2.0 based services, PowerPoint add-ons and utilities, PowerPoint search engines and other features that can help bring your presentations to life and help maximize their lifetime value.
To fully grasp the changing nature of presentations, you need to re-define how you think about your presentations – from transitory events into valuable content assets with residual value. Given this re-definition, the investments made in presentation creation, delivery and distribution can often be leveraged over a broader audience and longer timeframe than previously seen. These presentation assets need to be managed and monitored much like other marketing and knowledge assets within your organization.
So how do you go about enhancing your presentation strategy using these newer tools?
Well let’s start by looking at the components of your presentation strategy – your presentation objective(s); the audience(s) you’re communicating with; the story line you’re creating and following; the research you undertake to generate your story; the images, animations, video, text and other items you create or re-purpose to generate your presentation; the quality of the delivery of your presentation whether live, recorded, online or offline; the distribution of your presentation once it is complete and the retention and inventory management of your presentation assets, both presentations and individual slides alike.
Your presentation objectives, your audiences, the story line you’re creating and the research you conduct are critical to your presentation, but these are aspects of your strategy that I’ll leave to you. Let’s look at some of the other strategy components that lend themselves to newer technologies that can help maximize your return on presentation investments.
Once you’ve established your story and mapped out your presentation content, you can begin to create your individual slides. To enhance your slides, you can use images sourced from a wide array of new and improved stock photography database providers. Among the providers you might find useful are FreeDigitalPhotos, iStockPhoto, MorgueFile, Shutterstock, StockXpert, and stock.xchg.
Other image tools that are out there that can be useful for your presentations are maps that allow you to tell your story with a focus on a particular geography you’d like to cover. Among the tools to do this are the following: Maps for Design, PresentationMaps and PresentationMapz.
You can also insert video into your PowerPoint presentations using video you create, purchase or video that you link to or convert from existing YouTube video clips. The YouTube file format (.flv) can not be embedded or inserted into PowerPoint directly. This means that you need to convert YouTube video into a file format (like .wmv) that is compatible with PowerPoint for video insertion using a tool like MediaConverter, Magic YouTube Video Converter or Alive Video Converter.
Web-based alternatives to PowerPoint are coming into play with new tools like SlideRocket that promise new features like collaboration, a marketplace of add-ons, etc.
You’ve created your presentation, you’ve rehearsed it and your ready to get in front of your audience, yet something is missing – audience interaction. Among the newer tools that are out there are Poll Everywhere, a text message-based system that allows presenters to embed a poll into PowerPoint and have responses come in automatically from the audience as they respond via text message. This technology replaces the expensive audience response systems that require proprietary software and expensive devices be distributed to your audiences.
Another new tool that has been introduced is a video/slide synchronization tool launched by Omnisio that according to TechCrunch “takes slideshows uploaded in PDF format or into SlideShare and synchronizes them with video uploaded into YouTube, Google Video of Blip.tv”. The technology was seen as so interesting that since this May story, Google has acquired the company
Video Annotations are now being provided by YouTube, where you can put text comments right into a video itself. We’ve seen this used increasingly with political videos that have created commentary to go along with the video. If you’d like to learn more about this technology you can do so by watching this YouTube video (interestingly they’ve disabled the video embedding feature which means I can’t embed the video in this story).
Once you create a presentation, be it a winner or a dud, there are often other people you need to send the slideshow to. Unfortunately, PowerPoint slideshows are huge. This large file size makes it difficult for presenters to re-distribute their slideshows due to limitations on files sent via e-mail. This problem has generated a number of software solutions that are designed to compress PowerPoint presentations well beyond the capability built into PowerPoint itself. Among the compression tools available are the following: NxPowerLite 2, PowerPressed, PowerShrink and PPTMinimizer.
Another way to distribute a smaller file size presentation is to convert your PowerPoint presentation into a Flash (.swf) presentation. Among the tools to do this are the following: AuthorPoint, Conaito PPT2Flash SDK, iSpring, PointeCast, Wildform Flair.
Beyond these distribution methods, one of the more interesting new Web 2.0 techniques is the uploading of slides to a site that converts them into a flash format that can be easily embedded into web sites and blogs much like you can do with YouTube and other online videos. Among the services that are out there that allow you to do this are Authorstream, Empressr, Flypaper, Sliderocket, Slideshare, Thumbstacks and ZohoShow.
With SlideShare and the other tools referenced above, you can track viewership, receive comments and feedback. For example, when this article was written, this slideshow had been viewed 60,506 times, marked a favorite by 267 people and embedded in blogs or website 72 times.
Presentation asset management
We all are familiar with the time that it takes to locate slides you’ve used before for updating and inclusion into a new slide presentation. Well instead of having to scratch your head and search through your many slide presentations to find that slide, you can use newer tools to find your slides easily. Among these are SlideBoxx and SlideExecutive, search engines that generate a slide library with thumbnails of all your slides. Meanwhile tools like PPTshare and SlideManager, allow you to manage PowerPoint presentations across the enterprise to make sure the latest versions are those being used by presenters around the world.
Regardless of which tools you investigate and implement, the days of slapping together a PowerPoint presentation without thinking through the entire life cycle and value of the presentation should be coming to an end. Using newer web-based tools, you can take your presentations from the ordinary to the extraordinary and be able to say “Ich bin ein Guten Presenter”.
For more information on presentation strategies and access to related resources, please see my blog, PPT – Powerful Presentation Techniques.
Here is the URL if you have trouble with above.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.