When you say the word
presentation, most people immediately think of
Microsoft PowerPoint. While that standby is still the most common
presentation tool, it is far from the only one. A whole industry
has sprouted up to provide additional features and capabilities to
enliven presentations. Following are a few examples of the ways in
which you can change your medium or spruce up your message.
An increasing number of online and
remote presentation tools are available, so the need to “be there”
to get your message across is not as important as it used to be.
I’m not proposing that we do away with F2F (face-to-face)
meetings -- but you can provide enough information to get things
started from afar, and that will make your F2F time more
I use Live Meeting (www.livemeeting.com), a Microsoft product, every day
to present online database solutions to people throughout the
world. I’ve given one-to-one presentations as well as multiple-site
presentations, in which my audience was scattered across the
country -- all conducted entirely online.
Numerous other online presentation
tools are available, such as GoToMeeting, from Santa Barbara,
Calif.-based Citrix Online (www.gotomeeting.com), and WebEx, from San Jose,
Calif.-based Cisco Systems (www.webex.com).
Prices for these solutions vary
depending on the features you need, the number of simultaneous
licenses required, and the number and duration of the presentations
you will give. All are packaged with audio and VoIP (Voice-over
Internet Protocol) capabilities, or you can use your own conference
or calling services.
Most of these tools also allow you to
record your presentations, so you can use them for training or to
provide access to people who can’t attend a scheduled meeting.
Beyond the Slides
Many add-on products are available to
create graphics and animation that will liven up your PowerPoint
(www.microsoft.com/powerpoint) presentations. Not long
ago, I worked with Microsoft Agent (www.microsoft.com/msagent) technology to add animated
characters to my PowerPoint presentations; these characters helped
to guide the audience through the session by speaking and providing
background information. You can even use speech-recognition engines
to have the agents respond to questions or to search the Internet
and read the results of that search.
Agent characters are included with most
versions of Windows, but they do need to be installed. MS Agent
Ring (www.msagentring.org) is a user group that provides
information and examples of how to use these characters and link to
add-on utilities and language libraries.
Atlanta-based PresentationPro (www.presentationpro.com) is one company that provides
PowerPoint-based software, including templates and tools for
developing presentations or enhancing existing ones. They have a
number of products available, from $49 for templates to $399 for
the Power Presenter Suite, which includes a variety of enhancement
and distribution tools. You can convert PowerPoint presentations to
Flash for the web, create e-mails that include graphic links to
your presentations with click-through monitoring, or add mood music
and sound effects to your
San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems
Inc. offers Adobe Pre-senter (www.adobe.com/products/presenter), a set of tools that
complements PowerPoint and can be purchased as a software download
or for a monthly rental or per-minute usage fee. Presenter is part
of a larger product package from Adobe called Acrobat Connect
Professional, which includes a variety of tools for training, web
presentations and web conferencing.
Bob Walters,based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is founder of Phoenix Solutions
and developer of MeetingTrak Software.