Archives for October 2012

How to Repurpose Your Presentation as a Web Video

By Dave Paradi

If you read the statistics about online video, you will see that online video is growing dramatically. And it is not just people watching funny cat videos. Executives and professionals are watching video online and making decisions based on the content and quality of what they watch. Earlier this year I was hired to speak because a C-level executive watched my video online.

The expectations of online video have changed. Video should be professionally done, but too fancy of a video could be seen as trying too hard to impress. Viewers are looking for insightful content, which you already have in your presentations. One of the quickest and most cost effective ways to create online video for your organization is to repurpose an existing presentation. Here are four ways you can create an online video from a presentation.

Option 1: Use a product like Camtasia ( that records your screen and you speaking at the same time. This allows you to capture everything in your presentation, all the builds, animation and content. It syncs your voice perfectly with the visuals because they are being captured at the same time. Camtasia is a paid product, but TechSmith also offers Jing, a free product for videos under five minutes long.

Option 2: Use an online meeting service that allows you to record the meeting. Since your screen or slides are being shown using the service and you are using the audio system provided by the service, it allows a synchronized recording to be made. I have used GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar to record webinars for years with very high quality recordings resulting from this service.

Option 3: Use a service like Brainshark to create an online video. Brainshark allows you to upload your PowerPoint presentation to their site. You can then add audio via the phone, your computer mic, or MP3 file. The audio is added per slide so your audio is synced with your slides. You can even set when the animation happens on the slide based on your audio. This video can be embedded in your website with easy-to-use code that Brainshark provides.

Option 4: You can create a movie file from images and an audio track. Save all of your slides as PNG images using the Save As function of PowerPoint. This will create one image per slide. Record the audio track using your computer mic and an audio program like Audacity. Now, you can put the two together in a simple movie editing program like the free Windows Movie Maker or iMovie on the Mac. Import the audio track first. Add each slide image, setting the length of time that the image is on the screen to the correct time based on how long you speak about the slide in the audio track. You can add a Fade transition between the slide images to make it look smoother. The result can be output as a movie file.

Once you have a video of your presentation, you can upload it to YouTube or embed it in your website. One easy way to embed the video is to upload it to YouTube and mark the video as Private. This means that no one can search for it on YouTube. Only people who have the exact URL link can watch it. Once it is on YouTube, you can use their code to easily embed it in your website.

These methods of creating and using a video on your website can be used for product demonstrations or introductions, financial updates, operational change notices, or even customer case studies. By creating a short, 3 to 10 minute video, you capture the attention of web visitors. And by repurposing an existing presentation, you dramatically cut down the cost and effort required to create the video. Now you can extend the reach of your presentations and leverage the effort in creating them.

About the Author:

Dave Paradi is the author of “The Visual Slide Revolution” and “102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint.” He is an expert at helping presenters communicate more effectively using persuasive PowerPoint presentations. For more information, visit his web site at

Anatomy of a Standard-But-Gruesome Web Sales Demo

By Peter Cohan

There’s a rough but strangely consistent timeline for a standard web-delivered “one-hour overview demo” that seems to go like this (starting time for each element on the left side):

00:00:  Fumbling with WebEx/GoToMeeting/Live Meeting – “Did you get the link?  Can you see my screen?” (This consumption of time has been delightfully called the “WebEx/GoToMeeting/Live Meeting Tax”).

00:04:  Semi-mutual introductions, but generally one-sided:  Introductions (and brief personal history of each of the vendor participants), but limited information requested or offered regarding customer participants – and no request to do discovery on the part of the vendor.

00:08:   Corporate overview presentation (gag…)

00:18:    Product overview presentation (yawn), including:

1.  Obligatory architecture slide(s), with equally obligatory rectangles and cylinders representing software and database components (how novel…)

2.  Obligatory product-centric slide (showing company’s product in the center of a circle of other things (e.g., users, other applications, process steps, you name it – so novel, once again!)

3.   Key “differentiators,” presented without context to the customer’s needs or specific situation (and largely forgotten by the customer, since they haven’t yet seen a solution that makes remembering anything relevant)

4.  Case studies, if any, generally appear at the end and are typically skipped over “because we are short on time…” (too bad – real case studies would be the most interesting part of the overview.)

00:28:      “Actual” demo, including:

a.    Opening statement that “we need to compress the planned 45 minute demo into 30 minutes “so we’ll have to go real fast…”

b.    Request that “this be interactive, so please stop me if you have any questions…”,  followed by a fire- hose-like delivery with no time for meaningful questions.

c.     Re-introduction of the offering (again, even though it was covered in the product overview presentation)

d.      Brief introduction of the plan for a “story” and 3 fictional characters whose “day in the life” will be followed in the demo

e.       Overview of navigation elements…

f.        Introduction and definitions of key vendor jargon, acronyms and product names

g.       Explanation of how to set up and configure the application, which then consumes most of the remaining time (even though this task is typically done once, when first implemented, and then rarely ever after)

h.       A walk-through of the workflow (a run-through, in fact, since time is really getting short)

i.        A rapid, largely verbal description of the canned and custom reporting capabilities (often including the claim that “we have over 600 canned reports…” of which a typical user might consume only 1 or 2…!)

j.        Comment that “we didn’t have enough time to show you everything…”

00:58     Sales person summary, with platitude marketing “value proposition” statements (that have little or limited bearing on the customer’s specific situation)

00:60:    Wrap-up with no action items

Frightening, gruesome and remarkably common!

If the objective was to “show the customer a demo” then that objective was achieved – but it is very doubtful that other tangible progress was made in the sale.  Very sad, and largely a waste of time for all involved.

A Few Recommendations

Note – these are not necessarily mutually exclusive!  One or more of these ideas can be combined:

For starters, start the WebEx/GoToMeeting/Live Meeting session to begin 10 minutes before the “real” meeting  is scheduled to start (not applicable if multiple customer participants are connecting from several remote locations, but truly terrific if the customer participants are in a single conference room).

1.    If you must do a corporate overview, reduce it to one slide.

2.    Turn the call into a Discovery session, if possible (and appropriate).

3.    Reduce the product overview presentation to just the case study slides.  Case studies can be a wonderful way to move the customer into doing Discovery – “here’s an example of how other, similar customers have used our capabilities to solve specific business challenges – how does what they faced compare with your own situation?”

4.     Use the Menu Approach (a terrific self-rescue technique), if the audience is a group and/or if your software addresses a range of problem areas.  [See my article entitled, The Menu Approach – a Truly Terrific Demo Self-Rescue Technique for more details.]

5.     Organize the demo itself in chunks – similar to how newspapers and web news services present news articles.

And, for those who often are currently scheduled to do multiple demos back-to-back, consider blocking the 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after each demo as “Prep” and “Clean-Up” time on your calendar – give yourself a fighting chance!

About the Author:

For more on sales demonstration effectiveness skills, visit the website of Peter Cohan’s company, The Second Derivative, at For demo tips, best practices, tools and techniques, join the DemoGurus Community Website at or explore Peter’s blog at

Presenting Through the Fear

By Kathy Reiffenstein

I recently read an essay in The New York Times Book Review by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’ve been wanting to read the book but what drew me to the article was that it detailed her preparation for a TED Talk.

As Cain says, the opportunity to present at TED created a real paradox for her: the honor of speaking at a TED event and her belief in what TED stands for versus her lifelong fear of public speaking. A paradox many can relate to.

Her entertaining essay describes the way Cain attacked her fear. She didn’t avoid her feelings of anxiety by focusing on other projects; she didn’t procrastinate about her preparation; she didn’t short change her rehearsal.

Instead she put a plan together to specifically deal with her public speaking dread and lack of presentation skills.

Did it all get easier as she worked through the stages of her plan? By her account, no. But she persevered — through the fear, through the dread, straight through to the standing ovation.

About the Author:

Kathy Reiffenstein is the founder and president of And…Now Presenting!, a D.C. area communications training firm and also writes the Professionally Speaking blog. With over 20 years of experience, she draws on her background in sales, marketing and customer service to create confident, persuasive speakers. She works with business executives, authors, non-profit leaders and the military to help them speak clearly, effectively and engagingly to their audiences.

Kill Your Darlings

by Jon Thomas

When you’ve spent time and energy designing a PowerPoint presentation, it’s not easy to see your effort disappear with a swift stroke of the delete key. But in order to build a truly effective presentation, one that offers the audience exactly what they need (and nothing more or less), you’ll have to kill a few of your darlings.

It’s not simply about shortening a presentation, or finding reasons to negate all the hard work you put into crafting your presentation content and visuals. It’s about giving the audience only what they absolutely, positively NEED to hear and see. Anyone can dump all the information in their brain onto a bunch of slides. It takes intelligence and restraint to include only what is necessary.

Your audience wants the most important and useful content that matters to them. I can’t tell you what that is, but after years of designing presentations both for others and for myself, I know that the perfect presentation is always at least a little bit shorter than the one originally intended.

Steven King has some great perspective on the topic here. An editor once said to him, “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

It hurts. I know. I’ve been there and had to leave some of my most beautiful slides and useful content on the bench. But like cleaning a wound, sometimes you have to go through a little pain if you want the pleasure of wowing your audience.

About the Author:

Jon Thomas is the founder of Presentation Advisors, a presentation design and training firm based in southern Connecticut. For more on the company’s services, visit

Dare to Be Different — While Still Using PowerPoint

By Gavin Meikle

In the corporate world it’s often seen as wrong to swim against the tide and challenging the way things are done can take real guts. I’ve recently been working with a client to help him transform a bullet point-heavy PowerPoint presentation into something that supports rather than competes with his clear and energetic delivery style.

His concern was that everybody in his organization presented using PowerPoint the same way and he was fearful of taking a risk by deviating from the accepted PowerPoint style.

It occurred to me that there must be millions of corporate warriors out there who feel exactly the same way. They have sat through enough boring corporate bullet- point driven PowerPoint slides to know that they don’t work well, but they don’t have any reference experiences of people doing it differently, especially within their organization. They too don’t have the courage to dare to be different with PowerPoint. If this is you then read on…

Let’s start by considering what is stopping you daring to be different. Odds are it will be a thought or series of thoughts driving this reluctance which have probably never been tested. Let’s take a moment to consider whether any or all of these thoughts actually have any basis in reality.

1. Nobody else diverts from the standard bullet point-heavy formula

Can you be 100% sure of this? Have you seen every single presenter and presentation within your organisation? If there is any doubt in your mind then the possibility that others in your organization do sometimes break away from the limitations of the standard format must be real and so if they could do it, so could you.

2. If I dare to be different with PowerPoint I’ll be punished in some way

How do you know this is true? If excuse 1 is really true, and nobody has ever done it before, how can you know if they would be punished or not?

3. Deviating from the standard PowerPoint style is not allowed in our organization

How do you know that? Have you every seen it written down in a company manual or memo? Has your manager ever told you this explicitly?

4. It’s too difficult to use images and diagrams rather than lots of words

You have never done it so how do you know that it will be as difficult as you think? You’ll never know until you try, will you?

Why you should dare to be different with PowerPoint

  • Ask yourself what is more important, fitting in or being persuasive?
    • If the answer in your head is “fitting in,” then I ask you to really think about whether this belief is  true.
    • Do you REALLY want to be another faceless corporate warrior?
  • Consider the potential benefits coming from being the person known for giving “different” presentations
    • Greater visibility within your organization
    • Increase your chances of promotion
    • Set an example for your colleagues
Dare to be different with PowerPoint – How to get started?
  • Start small
    • I am not asking you to change everything overnight. A great place to start is by reducing the number of words on your slides. Think of your bullet points as headlines rather than full sentences.
    • For each bullet point, ask yourself “Does my audience REALLY need to read this as well as hear me say it ? ” If the answer is “no” then leave it off your slide
    • Learn how to animate your bullet points so that they appear one at a time allowing you to control what your audience is paying attention to. (see  the tutorial on the link)
    • Experiment with fewer bullet points and try replacing one or two with a picture image or graph
  • Start in safety

Go on, do your company, your colleagues and yourself a favour – dare to be different with PowerPoint and let me know how you get on.

About the Author:

Gavin Meikle is a trainer, speaker and coach with Inter-activ Presenting and Influencing, a presentation coaching skills firm in the United Kingdom. Meikle is an accomplished and experienced guest speaker and conference facilitator who has done everything from humorous after dinner events to motivational addresses.  Meikle also is a qualified Toastmaster and a member of the Professional Speakers Association (PSA).

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