Monday, June 9, 2008

The Future of Presenting?

Cary pointed me to an interview with Mitch Grasso, co-founder of SlideRocket. It's impressive. What do they do? From their web site, they say:
"We make a fully featured, rich internet application (RIA) called SlideRocket (TM). It's offered as a service with a variety of prices to suit different needs, including free!"
I've been seriously working on changing my technical presentation style to be more dynamic and visual. I posted back on May 22 about a book by Garr Reynolds called Presentation Zen that has really had a profound effect on the way I look at the content of my presentations.

Here's an example of how I took one slide out of one of my presentations and converted it to a new, more visual style.

The "After" style requires the speaker to provide the details, but I think that's kinda the point, huh? I've heard it said before (and agree) that if your slides say everything, then why are you there? I really like the impact the "After" version will likely have on the audience. I think they'll be much more engaged with me than if I'd just popped up one detailed slide with alot of text for them to read.

I use PowerPoint. I never really thought or knew there was another option. As long as I've been doing presentations that weren't printed on transparencies (oh yeah, I did a bunch of those), I've used PowerPoint. I know there is KeyNote for the Mac, but since I've just recently seen the light and converted to a Mac (my MacBook Pro rocks!), it's never been on my radar.

But, having seen the new SlideRocket, I think they're really on to something. Creating presentations becomes more about making your point (and making it well) with lots of easy options for formatting, adding photos, dynamic content and a bunch of other nifty stuff.

What I've noticed for myself is that my presentations were always put together while thinking in bullet points. So, that's what came out on the slides. If you shift to thinking about your story...the thing you want to communicate to the audience... you immediately move away from bullet point thinking. I think SlideRocket will facilitate this process much better. Take a look at the interview and their web site and see what you think.


Unknown said...

Great post, Karen! And I am happy to see where you landed! Best wishes for you and Cary!

Joel Garry said...

My son is 12 and is learning Powerpoint in school. A few days ago I mentioned to him about how Scott McNealy famously banned Powerpoint and saw productivity go up some noticeable amount. In the ensuing conversation, I also mentioned how Cliff Stoll (in a speech at OpenWorld, I believe) pointed out how everyone remembers filmstrips, but no one remembers what they learned from filmstrips. My wife claims to have never heard of filmstrips, but I'm not sure what that shows :-)

So some thoughtful people don't think Powerpoint is a great idea for communicating, and of course the jokes about it are pandemic.
(My wife thinks powerpoint presentations are good though, and funnily enough had mentioned the bullet-pointing as the big value. Among other things, she teaches graduate school, so she has a set of discrete bits of knowledge to impart within a grand context.)

So is the new paradigm (ouch, sorry) a good idea? Personally, I find Powerpoints fairly boring, but useful if they can be accessed and annotated later. Changing all the info from visual to auditory - won't that make everyone go back to the "can't think, must listen and write down everything" mode? And some people will naturally just shut down thinking it's all marketing if the presentation is too glossy or they perceive the information density is too low. After a while, new and shiny isn't any more.

word: twkmdivf
word: ofacn (I couldn't make that up! How does blogger know about Cary :-)

Karen said...

Joel - I think the key is to make sure a handout/paper containing all the details of the presentation is available. That way folks can be engaged with the presenter during the live "show" and have the full details available later for reference. I've been given many hard copy PowerPoint presentations that I still couldn't really use as a reference after the fact so I can't really buy that as a reason to continue the "Death by PowerPoint" madness. :)

In the end, a style that works for some may not work for all, but I think in today's world of high dollar advertising (like companies spending one million dollars for a 30 second SuperBowl commerical), people want and expect a bit of sparkle. I'll certainly post my results as I try new ways of delivery!