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Make better presentations

Download free PowerPoint templates, backgrounds and videos. You'll also find great links to online reference and research tools. There are special resources just for teachers, traveling presenters, ministers and business people.

Recent Posts

Convert PPT Presentations to Video

I’m a fan of tools that help me use media for more than one purpose. Since I do use PowerPoint frequently, I started looking for a tool to convert PPTs to video files that I can use for YouTube. I found a CNET review of the Leawo PowerPoint to Video program decided to give it a try. Since it was an Editor’s Choice, with 4.5 out of 5 rating, I decided to download the free trial. You can try it here: Leawo PPT to Video Trial

Overall, Leawo PowerPoint to Video is a sleek program that performs its job with no troubles, just how we expected.

Leawo PowerPoint to Video leaves a watermark on output during its trial period. With a professional look and excellent results, we highly recommend this program to anyone looking to perk up their PowerPoint presentations.

via CNET Download.com.

I tested using PowerPoint 2003 and 2007. I set up a couple of slides, added some custom animation sequences and a music file. I easily output FLV, AVI, MOV, and h264 versions of both MOV and AVI. The interface was completely intuitive and the batch process worked well. The output was clean and lightning fast. (HD h264 takes a little longer, but not an unreasonable processing time.) The product lets you set the time between slides and you can add audio outside of PowerPoint if you didn’t include it in your presentation file. Best of all, all of the animations, timing, links and audio stay intact when you convert.

Here’s a YouTube version of a short little test.
YouTube Preview Image
If you want to use YouTube for instructional or training purposes, if you make content for digital signs using PowerPoint, or if you want a self-running file – I highly suggest trying the free trial version. Leawo PPT to Video Trial (As you can see above, it has a watermark.) But at $44.95 (you can buy it through regnow/Digital River right from the trial interface), I think this little application may really be useful for many presenters.

YouTube Channels – an easy to use Presentation Tool

We all watch videos on YouTube. If you are a teacher, product manager or presenter, you are likely already using or planning to use YouTube to share information, demonstrate product use, show how-tos or tutorials. The power of video as a teaching tool is well documented, so a YouTube channel is definitely a tool you want available for certain presentations. It’s easy, it’s free, and it facilitates collaboration.

Let’s say you are a manager planning to show your employees a series of training videos. You can set up a free channel and start uploading videos to YouTube in 15 minutes or less. There are many channel settings available to you for sharing, embedding, playlists, tagging, etc. (You can even set your videos to be private and only allow a selected list of viewers.)

When you set up your YouTube channel, you’ll choose a username. To send your employees a link to your YouTube channel, just substitute your username after /user as shown below (our PowerFinish Video channel for purposes of this post). You can put your link in any email, document, PowerPoint presentation or website.
http://www.youtube.com/user/PowerFinishVideos
With a little HTML, you can use that same URL to make a text link like this:
Free Professional PowerPoint Videos
Linking to a youtube channel

If you plan a series of videos, you can send that same username as a subscription link and users can subscribe to updates on your channel. So every time you add a video, your subscribers will be notified.

For example, this URL:
http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=powerfinishvideos
can be used in a link that will ask if you want to subscribe to our free video channel at PowerFinish Videos on YouTube.

The only requirement is that your viewers have a YouTube or Google account themselves. When they subscribe, there will be a box post-subscription that lets them opt into the email. So when you have new information, your subscribers will get an email from your channel immediately.  And if you choose, you can allow your subscribers to comment on the videos and even post video responses – so collaboration and interaction is easy.

If you have a website, you can embed the subscribe button, too.

Subscribe to me on YouTube

Just login into your YouTube account and visit the Creator’s Corner:
http://www.youtube.com/t/creators_downloads
You’ll be provided with the code required to place the button of your choice on your website.

Let us know, how are you using YouTube for your classroom or business presentations?

Projector in your pocket: present on the go!

If you are a coach or trainer, your presentations generally take place in a linear and orderly fashion. Likewise, if you’re in the office presenting to colleagues, you have all your presentation “stuff” available. There is a standard presenters discuss in great detail that pertains to presentations we make with the luxury of time and equipment available so we can follow the “how to make a great presentation rules”.

portable projectorBut many presentations are far less formal and made on the fly using tools that emphasize speed and immediacy of information over polish. These aren’t your traditional PowerPoint based presentations. I believe that this kind of information sharing creates a real niche for a tiny class of projectors that start at the size of your iPhone and all weight under a pound.

Check out the Mobile Magazine review of this little device from Aaxa that will hook to your camera, camcorder or iDevice (iPhone, iPod, iPad). At just over $100, I’ll bet there are some tech-savvy travelers out there who will just love this little tool. If you’ve ever shared photos or videos on your phone – this could be for you.

Pico projector’s are relatively new to consumers. They haven’t gained a widespread adoption yet, simply because not many people can imagine the possibilities of carrying one around. At nearly anytime and anyplace you can pull up a 50″ screen on a wall and begin presenting, displaying or projecting a video.
This is not going to replace your LCD TV, nor will it replace your full-sized projector. This will go along in that ever-shrinking gadget bag of yours, giving you an enhanced sense of mobility and that cutting edge ability of blasting a film on the wall at any time.

via Aaxa Technologies P1 Jr. Pico Projector Reviewed – Mobile Magazine.

By the way, the review also includes a coupon code for about $50 off 2 of the small Aaxa projectors – good through 2/23/11.

Is PowerPoint Really the Problem?

If you visit forums for presenters or google ” how to make a powerpoint presentation “, it won’t be long before you see something about the evils of PowerPoint. In fact one company – SlideRocket – currently has a new promotion based on the very fact that we tend to blame PowerPoint when we make a bad presentation.

SlideRocket Celebrates National ‘Say No to PowerPoint Week’
Enter at SlideRocket.com to Win Your Free SlideRocket Pro Account
It’s time to say rest in peace to presentations 1.0 and embrace a new way of presenting that engages the mind and senses. To help drive a stake through the heart of “Death by PowerPoint,” SlideRocket will give away one SlideRocket Pro account every day this week.
via SlideRocket Press Release.

I’m no PowerPoint evangelist. I think it has suffered from a market monopoly that slows product evolution, so new competition is good. In fact, I think that typical PowerPoint use can be just short of criminal. But I have seen really excellent presentations that were made using PowerPoint for the slides – so perhaps this is actually a case of “don’t shoot the messenger”. The presentation is the sum total of the speaker, the story, the enthusiasm, the call to action…PowerPoint slides are there to support the story.

I’ve seen this slide show several times, but each time I get a little grin. Sometimes the most obvious things are the ones we forget. So for your enjoyment and illumination – from jessedee at slideshare…

via Slideshare.

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. 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.