Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Presentation Tip: Essential iPad apps for presenters

Apple’s latest iPad was released last week and many presenters either already have an iPad or are considering purchasing one. I have had one for about a year (the iPad 2) and have found it very valuable for my work. In this article, I want to share what I consider to be some essential iPad apps for presenters.

GoodReader – This is the first app I suggest you purchase when you get your iPad. It is a file viewer, but it is so much more than that when you dig into all the capabilities it has. I use it primarily as the best PDF viewer I have found. I have eliminated paper speaking notes and use a PDF copy that I view in GoodReader. One great feature is the ability to add handwritten notes to the PDF so I can make last minute updates to my speaking notes. GoodReader can also display images one at a time or in a loop. This means that you could even show your slides (as images) or photos from your iPad.

Penultimate – This app allows you to take handwritten notes on a virtual pad of paper. I use it to capture audience expectations at the start of the workshop. I no longer need a flipchart because of this app. If I want everyone to see what I have written, I can hook the iPad up to the projector and we can all see it. You can also use custom paper designs. I have created a design that has two slides on one page and I can sketch out the slide headline, slide visual, and data source while I am travelling. Then I or someone else can use the detailed slide outlines to create the actual slides.

Dropbox – DropBox is more than just an app, it is a service that can be used on your iPad and elsewhere. This service syncs files from your computer to their cloud space and then you can access the files on your iPad. I have found it to be the best way to move files back and forth between the iPad and my computer. It allows you to keep a copy of travel information, slides, handouts, and other important files in a place that you can access from different devices. Because many apps also allow you to access Dropbox, you can easily import the files into apps such as GoodReader. This service is free for a limited amount of storage and you can pay for more storage space if you need it. Learn more and register at Dropbox.com.

SlideShark – When this app was released, I hailed it as the best app for presenting PowerPoint slides on an iPad and my opinion has not changed. This service allows you to upload a PowerPoint file to their site from either your computer or your iPad. They convert the file into an iPad optimized format. You download the optimized file to the iPad app and you can now present it on your iPad. The conversion is the best I have found. It preserves fonts, most animations, images, and virtually all of the key features you will use. It does not handle more advanced features like hyperlinks and embedded videos, but most presenters won’t use those anyways. You can sign up and get extra storage space in your account by using this link http://www.slideshark.com/r?r=14787B.

I am sure that those of you who have been using your iPad in presentations have other apps to suggest. Go to my blog at pptideas.blogspot.com and add your comments so we can all discover iPad apps that help presenters.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Presentation Tip: Use pre-made slides to cut prep time

In a consulting assignment I am working on with a client in New York, we are developing a set of slides that can be re-used in many different presentations. It is a good idea because it cuts preparation time dramatically. In addition to creating your own slides, you can also download pre-made slides from different sources. In this article I want to discuss some sources of pre-made slides and what to do once you have downloaded them.

In my newsletter last September, I shared that Microsoft allows you to download pre-made slides that include some great animation effects. The slides I spoke about can be found on Microsoft’s site here. There are other sites that allow you to download pre-made slides. m62 is an international presentation consulting company that has created a number of slides for you to download from their site here. My friend Geetesh Bajaj also has some pre-made slides you can download from his Indezine site. There are also sites where you can purchase pre-made slides like bizgraphicsondemand.com and charteo.com.

The first thing you should do when you download any of these slide files is to save it to a spot on your computer that is easy to access. I suggest a folder called Pre-Made Slides or something equivalent so you can always access all the files in one folder. Also, save the downloaded file with a meaningful name. Some of the files may have names that relate to a product code used by the site instead of a file name you can easily recognize later. Use a file name that indicates what is in the file, like Six Wedge Diagram, if that is appropriate for the file.

Open the file in PowerPoint, and view it in Slide Show mode. You want to first view the file in Slide Show mode so that you get a good feel for what the designer was hoping to communicate with the slide. You will notice what you want to change as you customize it to your situation. Exit Slide Show mode and look at how the slide is constructed. Check for any notes in the Speaker Notes section that will be helpful. Look at the different objects and look at the animation settings.

Once you have an idea of how the slide was built and how you want to use it in your presentation, it is time to customize the slide. Copy the slide into your presentation and it will adopt the colors and styles of the corporate template. You can edit the text if you need to, or add more text boxes. If you want to change an image, use the Change Picture function so that the new image, say your logo, comes in at the same dimensions and with the same attributes as the original picture. If you need to change all the text to a different font, use the Replace Fonts function to replace all of the selected font in the entire presentation, saving you a lot of time.

Finally, you need to test your new slide. You can preview the animations using the Play button in the Custom Animation task pane, or use Shift+F5 to start the Slide Show on that slide. Make sure that everything looks and works as you want it to. It is likely that you will need to make some minor adjustments to get it perfect. Now, with all the time you saved, you can work on polishing your delivery with extra rehearsals.

These same steps can be used for any pre-made slides, regardless of the source – downloaded from one of the sites above, provided by your organization, or even copied from another presentation. You can take this idea to the next level by creating your own collection of pre-made slides that will save you preparation time with every presentation. Add notes in the Speaker Notes area so others in your organization can easily customize the slides for their presentations.

Pre-made slides can be a great advantage because they reduce the time you spend creating slides and give you time to spend on other aspects of your presentation. Take a few minutes to consider how you can use pre-made slides in your presentation preparation.