Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making slides special: A presenter's quartet of great resources

If you're tired of the same-old, same-old when it comes to your slides, it might be time to try a new tactic, production tool or concept for them.  Here's a quartet of fresh resources,  ideas and inspiration that will help you think about (and make) a presentation that's more energized and effective:

  1. Do you screencast? Here's how to do it while avoiding common mistakes.  Just as with webinars and conference calls, there's an art to screencasting, an online presentation in which you show what's essentially a movie of how a website changes from page to page, with audio or sometimes inset video narration.  Smashing Magazine has a thorough-going post on how to avoid common mistakes in screencasting that also serves as an excellent how-to guide, including the equipment setup and more.  Screencasting is often used to share documentation and how-to information for websites and you can use ScreenSteps to put one together.
  2. Five slides netted $10 million in funding for entrepreneur Tim Young, whose portfolio includes online profile site About.me, just sold to AOL.  Here's how he winnowed his presentation to venture capitalists to just five slides to get the funding--it's an outstanding example to follow if you have technical material to present, or just too much information to put on the slides and an audience that won't want to see it all.
  3. Need to use PowerPoint and want to make magic with it? That's the focus of Cliff Atkinson's book Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire.Here's a video introduction to the book:
  4. You don't need fancy tools to spice up your presentation slides. Heck, you don't even need PowerPoint, especially if you're tired of it. Below is a video of a 450-page presentation, animated and put together using only Google Docs, and assembled collaboratively by different people in different locations.  I don't recommend you use all the bells and whistles here, by any means--and animation is no substitute for content, clarity and pacing. But for demonstrating how much you can do with a simple tool, this video can't be beat. Don't overlook free tools when you're considering how to spice up your slides and presentations.  Gizmodo has the details, including the Google document on which this was based (it's a big file).  And while you're at it, here are five web-based alternatives to PowerPoint (including Google Docs).

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