Presenting with Google Docs

Take a look at Google Docs. Here’s proof that creativity can trump tools. Since it was made with software that does not support animations, this little demo is like making a stunning photograph with a pinhole camera instead of the latest mega pixel DSLR.
Although this presentation is clearly a promotion for Google Docs, but I think it serves as a great reminder that our creativity doesn’t have to depend on software. This cool show was made one frame at a time then played back to give the illusion of an animation.

Preparing for a Great Presentation

No doubt we would all love to present like Steve Jobs did. A lot of people think that truly great presenters are just “naturals”. But. according to Carmine Gallo, author of How to be Insanely Great in Front of any Audience – The Presentation Skills of Steve Jobs:

Truly great presenters like Steve Jobs visualize, plan and create ideas on paper (or whiteboards) well before they open the presentation software.

This slide show by Mr. Gallo has been viewed by over a hundred thousand people in the last couple of years, and one slide in particular is my inspiration for this post. Your presentations will improve if you adhere to this rule of thirds. Presentation software just isn’t designed for the initial planning process. Do your thinking, sketching and scripting with a white board or a note pad or sticky notes. Any method that helps you develop a free flow of ideas.

If you spend the majority of your time working on building slides, keep in mind that slides are meant to support your message, not replace it.

great presenters prepare
You can see the entire slide version of this presentation: The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs here.


Or buy the book it came from here:

Presenting Data – Charts or Infographics?

Since I just posted a resource for statistics, I thought you might need some inspiration for using statistics in an engaging way.  We aren’t all designers or illustrators, but looking at good infographics may just give you a different perspective about how to present data.

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education.

via Information graphics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Check out the Infographics section of GOOD for examples of truly creative ways to present information.   Infographics is a regular feature of this site and they have an article showing their most popular examples of 2010.

great infography

GOOD’s Most Popular Infographics of 2010 – Design

And while you’re there, give the Slideshow section a browse. Get inspiration for great slide graphics and content.

What does that number in your presentation really mean?

A lot of our presentations include statistics.  We use charts, graphs and numbers to tell our stories.

Statistics get thrown about for shock value sometimes, so understanding the data source, the sample size and the measurement referenced can help you decide if that headline is really meaningful.

statisticsIn case you have a few questions about exactly what a statistic means, check out this great reference called Statistics Every Writer Should Know.  Find everything from the basics (what is the mean, median, average?) to more advanced topics regarding sample size and confidence.  The author has even compiled a fabulous list of where to find statistical data on the internet.   His list covers sources for information on crime, military, economics, agriculture…you name it – he lists a source for it!

Statistics from over 100 US Government agencies.  The preeminent source for federal government statistics is at FedStats.gov.

What is the Future of Presentation Software?

We communicate with texts and tweets. We update our friends with our current status on facebook, control video games with our body movement and watch movies on our telephones. When I can do a quick interview, put a video on YouTube, upload it for the local/national news, and embed it on any blog in a very short time…I wonder – what is the future of presentation software? I’m not suggesting that a video replaces a presentation – but does our audience expect more than a set of slides to accompany our talks?

In the video above, I asked Matt Long – a participant in a local competition – to help me with a short promo for the event. The result was a little piece that the news, weather channels, etc. could run almost immediately. This experience made me think about the ways I presented in the past vs the tools available today. As an ex-salesperson, I wondered…how would I make presentations to my most important clients now? We can make presentations on the internet without traveling – but they still tend to be static slides. Are we using the available technology effectively?

If I want to share an idea with you, in just a few minutes using very affordable hardware and software – a camera and After Effects (or Movie Maker or iMovie or YouTube editing tools…), I can create a message. Just like using PowerPoint – the message can be well or badly done, but the format helps to engage.

I’d love to hear from expert presenters and consultants –

    – what tools are you using now, and what will you be using in the future?
    – has the latest version of PowerPoint (which allows a bit of text over video at least) made this tool viable for the future?

How should be thinking about our presentations? Are we using the right technology if we stay with the tools we know? I do know that a video is far more likely to be engaging than a series of slides with bullets. Can we harness that and make more effective presentations?

I’ve been presenting since the days of writing on transparencies and overhead projectors. From Harvard Graphics to the latest version of PowerPoint – the tools have always seemed to shape the message. I don’t blame PowerPoint like some do. I just wonder if we can get past how easy it is to follow the dots to boring and use our tools in a more effective way. At a time when self published video is so accessible, when a plethora of easy to use software presentation platforms are available, is PowerPoint still relevant?

If it is, how do we make a leap to the kind of engaging experience we have all come to expect? What’s your opinion?

Top 20 resources for traveling presenters

If you spend enough time on the road making presentations, there are a few resources you’re bound to need at one time or another. Following is my top 20 list of links for the road:

Where’s my stuff?
Track that important package online at:

FedEx
UPS
Airborne/DHL

I need it now!
Run out of paper, ink, pens… Need stamps, copies or a presentation bound? Find the nearest:
Kinkos / FedEx Office
Office Depot
US Post Office

Destination Information
Get the latest weather information anywhere at NOAA
Get the maps and driving directions you need at Mapquest
Get the Zipcode

Need Your News?
Links for online news:

PBS
NPR – listen online, from anywhere!
CSPAN
BBC
From the Independent Media Institute, an alternative view of the news.
Headline news, right now.CNN
News and Finance up to the minute at Reuters
Quick market news at Yahoo Finance

Airlines

The FAA provides current links to all US airlines, so if you need to book a flight online or check out the customer service policy of an airline, go here. The thing that’s nice about this site is you get all the links on one page…so if you’re looking for options, this is the place.
Want to know the rules for lost baggage, ticket refunds, overbooking and delays? Everything from the agency that enforces the rules, the DOT Consumer Protection Site.

WI-FI

Stay connected, find wi-fi hotspots when you travel.
Here’s another source forfree wireless connectivity.
Here’s a list of airports with free wireless

Do you have links you use frequently when traveling for business or vacation? Leave a comment.

Add Symbols to Your Presentation…¢®Ω

You can easily add non-keyboard symbols to your presentation without the Windows Character Map. See our tip below on quickly adding symbols like, ©, ™, ¢ and graphical symbols from Wingdings and Webdings.

You can insert symbols not on the keyboard by placing your cursor in a placeholder and choosing Insert/Symbols or by clicking on the Symbols button.
insert symbols into powerpointchoose the symbol
Select the symbol you want and click Insert.
choose a symbol to insert

Your selected symbol will appear at the point where your cursor was placed.
click insert

If you frequently use Symbols, add the Symbols button to your toolbar for easy access to symbols like ©, ™, ¢. You can also access alternate bullets, wingdings, webdings, etc.

Download free backgrounds

Free for your personal presentations, backgrounds for any presentation software. These designs are in .JPG format, so you can use them with any software that displays images. The download includes 3 .JPG slide backgrounds in a zip file. The abstract designs work for inspirational, sales or classroom presentations.
Download these free PowerPoint backgrounds in a single zip file.

free powerpoint background free background download background download for your presentation