Archives for January 2013

Essential New Apps for iPad Presenting

What are the essential apps for iPad presenters?  I compiled a list a year ago; it’s time for an update.

I love the iPad for presenting. I use it to create my notes, and then put them up on the comfort monitors in front of me but hidden from the audience. Or, if there are no monitors, then the iPad itself does the job, and allows me to keep an eye on the clock so that I end on time.

I also use the iPad to show video. Readers of this blog will know that I’m not a big fan of slides, but I do show the occasional one, and it’s easy to do so from the iPad.

At an earlier stage in the presentation food chain, I use the iPad for research, note-taking, and collection of ideas, stories, video, and images for later use.

I love the iPad for presenting because it’s light to carry, fast, easy to use, and relatively crash-free. I’m nearly at the point where I’m leaving the computer at home, and taking the iPad plus keyboard instead. As soon as I get over wearing both belt and suspenders, I’ll travel computer-free.

So how about those apps? I’m an app junkie; I have over a hundred on my iPad, and I’m always swapping them out for shiny new ones when they come along. But here’s my current hit list. Caveat: Apps change daily. This is not a list for all time or even an exhaustive one right now. It’s just what is working for me today.

Prezi, Pages, Keynote. If you don’t know Prezi, it’s time you did. It’s slide presentation software, but much cooler than either Keynote or PowerPoint. Then, of course, there are the basics from Apple. Pages provides word processing for writing out notes, speeches, ideas, and so on.  Keynote is for slides. But do give Prezi a try. Especially if you’re a slide-heavy presenter, this is the software for you.

Goodreader. Still a big favorite. I looked long and hard for this app and tried a bunch of others before I settled on Goodreader.  Basically, it’s a way to store files on your iPad.  What’s the big deal?  You can easily store video, pdfs, slides, etc – and then play or view them with a click or two.  With the right adaptor, you’re set to play video clips with the least muss and fuss I’ve found so far.  And it’s real easy to move video files from computer to iPad with a drag and drop when your iPad is syncing.

Evernote. My entire life is now stored on Evernote, and that includes the speeches. I use Evernote on my computer, my iPhone, and my iPad.  It’s the single best note management system I’ve found. You can take pictures, notes – information in any form – and store it for future use in a presentation or simply in your preparation for a presentation.  I use it to store ideas I run across – to ‘remember everything’ as the advert says.

Noteshelf.  There are lots of note-taking apps; this one is cool because you can hook it up to the projector via the iPad and write in real time. Voila – instant white board.  It’s great for capturing audience feedback, ideas, and so on in a way that’s visible to the entire audience (assuming you have those giant screens on either side of the stage).

Office HD. This app is one of those combo apps that allows you to read or create a word processing file, or a slide deck, or a spreadsheet. I like it because it is easy to use and saves you real estate on your iPad, and it seems to coordinate more easily with my mail program than either Pages or Keynote does, so that I can edit documents or grab images and slides on the fly.

I’ve often used it to make last-minute changes to speech notes and get them to the conference tech people or just to myself when I use the iPad as a note display device.

Dropbox. Great for moving large files around. And storing them in the cloud. I’m sure this one is familiar to just about everyone. Essential for dealing with large slide decks on the go.

Prompster Pro or Podium Pro. Good for speakers who need a teleprompter, Promspter Pro seems to work well and costs less than some of its rivals at $5.  Beware the super cheap ones.  Podium Pro is a dollar less (at $4) has a number of features like the ability to record your talk, color-code sections and other nifty things.  I don’t have deep personal experience with these, but friends report that they both do the job.

Presentation Clock. A giant timer, plain and simple. Useful for making sure you don’t run over your time.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and presentation skill coaches. In his blog he covers modern communications from a variety of angles, including the latest developments in communication research, the basic principles and rules of good communication, and the good and bad speakers of the day. His passion is to connect the latest brain research with timeless insights into persuasive speaking in order to further our understanding of how people connect with one another. For more information on his company, visit


Using Prezi to Build Visually Captivating Presentations Outside of PowerPoint



In today’s changing technology landscape, PowerPoint has some competition as new technologies such as Keynote and Prezi offer enticing alternatives.   It is about finding the right tool to match what you need for your presentation.  Watch and listen as Prezi’s Drew Banks and David Malpass explore how you can learn to think differently about your presentations and how to create cinematic, 3D experiences for your audience.  They transform a standard PowerPoint presentation into a Prezi presentation so you can discover the differences for yourself.  They show us how to get started with Prezi and how to maximize the power of the technology with tips and ideas.


About Drew Banks

banksAfter treading across NC State’s “Brickyard” plaza and down MIT’s infinite corridor, Drew cut his entrepreneurial teeth within game-changing companies such as SAS and Silicon Graphics. Hooked on disruptive innovation, Drew co-founded Pie Digital in 2005 to make home networking easy as Pie! At Prezi, Drew returns to his SGI-spawned passion to change the world through visualization. Drew also writes. He’s published a couple of business books on communications and social media, as well as a couple of novels on … life.


About David Malpass

David Malpass

David is familiar with myriad aspects of marketing optimization, especially in the necessarily agile start-up environment. Using metrics to create and optimize marketing campaigns, David analyzes and perfects marketing operations ranging from all aspects of electronic messaging and search engine marketing, to social media marketing and beta testing programs.

Professional Graphics Secrets for Non-Designers

Make amazing slides… fast. Great slides increase attention, retention, and success. Learn the secrets industry leaders use to turn Screenshot 2014-07-28 15.00.08bad slides into clear, compelling slides. See what makes a slide the best-of-the-best and how to do it yourself using free or low-cost tools and best practices. Watch as Mike Parkinson from Billion Dollar Graphics transforms ho-hum, real-world slides into slides you will never forget using the techniques he will teach you.

Topics include:
• Make professional graphics fast
• Validate the success of your slides—before you make your slides
• When and how to use logos, bullets, icons, symbols, pictures, animations, and graphics
• Slide-making techniques that save you time and money

Attendees also get the following tools:
1. Graphics Cheat Sheet
2. Slide Success Checklist
3. Top 12 Free and Low-cost Websites for Graphics


About Mike Parkinson:

mike with spaceMike Parkinson is an internationally recognized visual communication expert, presentation specialist and award-winning author. Mike regularly works with large and small companies to make clear, compelling, successful presentations. Visit Billion Dollar Graphics ( and Get My Graphic ( for helpful presentation tools. He also is a partner at 24 Hour Company (, a premier marketing and visual communication firm.

Speak, The Movie

If you’re ever had a bad case of nerves before speaking — and count yourself in the minority if you haven’t — you’ll want to check out the movie Speak, released last fall. The documentary follows the trials and triumphs of six people who compete in the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, chronicling how they cope with and ultimately overcome the age-old fear of public speaking.

The filmmakers spent more than two years visiting Toastmasters clubs to interview members about their public speaking anxiety, and the movie culminates with a behind-the-scenes look at a Toastmasters speaking competition in Calgary, Alberta.

The six finalists the directors chose to feature all have inspiring life stories, which makes for intriguing and at times riveting viewing. The film also followers the finalists after they return home from the competition. In an interview with The Toastmaster magazine, the filmmakers say one of the film’s core messages is that every person has a story to tell.

“The contestants focused all of their efforts to be the best, not just the best speakers, but the best human being they can be,” Brian Wiedling, one of the filmmakers, told the magazine. “They looked on life’s hard moments, learned from their mistakes and dug deep inside themselves to live their dreams.”

For more on the movie or to host a screening, visit The site also allows you to post a YouTube video of one of your  presentations to the Speak Facebook page, where you can get feedback from peers and Toastmasters around the world.

Solving the Handout Dilemma

Most of you know the dilemma. You’re trying to save time by creating PowerPoint slides that also double as handouts for your audience. But the problem is the best presentation visuals usually make the worst handouts, since they use short, pithy bullet points that serve as memory prompts, not as teleprompter text. Such slides don’t have sufficient detail to make for good audience take-aways.

But there is a solution — the Notes Master in PowerPoint. In his webinar last month for PresentationXpert readers, titled Survival Skills for Overcoming Death by PowerPoint, presentation skill trainer Rick Altman demonstrated how you can use the Notes feature as a shortcut for creating quality handouts, saving time and ensuring you create two distinct documents. For more detail on the approach, click here to view Rick’s recorded webinar.

Viewing your projected content and your printed or “leave behind” content as two different animals will ensure you meet audience needs on two distinct but equally important levels.

How to Use Typography and Visuals More Effectively in Presentations

When it comes to typography in presentations, there’s a wealth of power in playing up contrasts. Notice in this Slideshare example below how our designer used two different types throughout the deck: A plain san serif type, and a unique, bubble-like type.

They contrast each other nicely, while remaining alike enough that they don’t look strange together. Also, notice how the designer used varied text sizes, and varied weights (thin versus thick), on each slide so as to keep the text-heavy slides visually interesting.

Strive for sensible contrast when working with typography.


The SlideShare example has a relatively text-heavy deck, so our designer used very simple visuals to make the text the most prominent element on the page. Always make one element (text or visuals) more prominent than the other.

If you’re working with a visual-heavy deck, for example, you’ll want to keep the amount of text on the slide minimal. It’s also helpful to use natural word associations to come up with appropriate visuals (i.e. time = clock, fly = plane, quotes = speech bubbles, Michael Jordan = basketball) for your content.

Our designer used illustrations to convey the deck’s simple visuals. He created them in Adobe Illustrator using shapes and sometimes, icons.

Look at Slide 2 for an example of using overlapping shapes to create depth (i.e. the simple tree shape overlapped again and again to create the impression of a forest). Also, play with the opacity of your visuals to make an element stand out more or less than another element.

Notice how on many of these slides, the designer dropped the opacity of the illustrations to make it seem like they live in the background, which further draws our attention to the text on the slide.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company. From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information about the company’s services, visit

What PowerPoint’s ‘Set Up Show’ Dialog Box Can Do for You

Recently a reader asked me how to present without using any of the animation he had created. You can do that in PowerPoint’s Set Up Show dialog box, but I realized that most people never go there, so they don’t know its settings. I thought I would systematically run through this useful dialog box.

What’s It For?

The Set Up Show dialog box has settings that determine what happens when you go into Slide Show view and deliver your presentation. You can use these settings for many purposes.

Here’s the dialog box:


Specifiy The Show Type

The show type is the type of window that PowerPoint uses when you go into Slide Show view. There are 3 types:

  • Presented by a speaker (full screen): This is the default option. Slide Show view is full screen and you can click from slide to slide.
  • Browsed by an individual (window): If you choose this option, Slide Show view is not full screen. Instead, you get a resizable window. You can click from slide to slide.
  • Browsed at a kiosk (full screen): If you choose this option, Slide Show is full screen but you can NOT click from slide to slide. So, how does the viewer navigate through the presentation? You can create automatic timing so that the viewer doesn’t have to navigate or you can create action buttons or other hyperlinked objects that allow navigation.Such a presentation can be called a self-running presentation, good for a variety of purposes. I explain the concept in my post, “How to create a self-running presentation.”

Set Show Options

You have a number of options that you can set, including running the presentation without animation, as I mentioned at the start of this post. Here are your options:

  • Loop continuously until ‘Esc’: This loops your presentation over and over. It’s a good option for a trade show situation. I also use it for a looping introduction. See my tip, “Create a looping introduction.”
  • Show without narration: If you use PowerPoint’s narration feature, the narration will play when you present. You may have narrated the presentation for a self-running presentation but need to sometimes present live; then, this is a useful option.
  • Show without animation: You may have animation that you only want to use with certain audiences or in certain situations. If so, you can turn off all animation here. I recommend going through the slide show this way to check it.
  • Disable hardware graphics acceleration: Hardware acceleration helps animation and video move more smoothly. You might get a message suggesting that you upgrade your graphics card or its drivers. If you can’t or don’t want to do so, you can stop seeing this message by checking this checkbox.
  • Pen color: Sets the pen color for drawing during Slide Show view.
  • Laser pointer color: Sets the laser pointer color. This feature is new for PowerPoint 2010 and creates a circle that you can move around like a laser pointer.


Choose Which Slides You Want to Show

You can specify which slides you want to show. Of course, the default option is to show all slides. Note that you can hide slides — that’s another technique if you don’t want to show certain individual slides. To hide a slide, select it in the left-hand pane. On the Slide Show tab, click Hide Slide.

Use Automatic Timing — Or Not

When you create a self-running presentation, you often set automatic timing.  The default option is to use the automatic timing if it exists. If you’re presenting live, you can disable this timing by choosing the Manual option.

Configure Multiple Monitors

Usually a second monitor is an LCD projector, but it can also be a second monitor attached to your computer. From the Slide Show monitor drop-down list, you can choose where Slide Show view appears. From the Resolution drop-down you can choose a resolution. You may want to match the native resolution of your projector.

Finally, you can check the Use Presenter View check box to see a special Presenter View on your primary monitor. I explain Presenter View in this post, “Presenter View: Your secret presentation tool.”

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is a noted presentation design consultant and trainer, a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and a multi-published author in the presentations field. For more information on her services, visit


The Secret to Storytelling is in the Editing

Presentation lessons abound in the cinematic arts. Many producers and directors will tell you that what can really make or break a film is the editing. You have probably never heard the names of even some of the most prominent Hollywood editors, even though their work is absolutely crucial to the success of your favorite films.

This week I took some time to watch (twice) a documentary called The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Making. Although it is a film about the role of editing in filmmaking, the lessons and principles are applicable to other creative work such as writing, and storytelling of all kinds, including presentations. (Watch a short clip from The Cutting Edge .)

“Murder your darlings”

Arthur Quiller-Couch’s famous advice that we should “murder our darlings” suggests that we be very careful examining those bits of our story that we love the most. Our attachment to a line or a scene or a clever visual treatment may blind us to the fact that its inclusion, no matter how cool or impressive it may be, does not help the overall message.

Objectivity is key, and this is why it is useful to remind ourselves to think like an editor. Because a film editor is not usually involved in all the things that lead up to finally getting the footage in the can (casting, storyboards, weeks/months of shooting, etc.) she maintains the most objectivity and can focus on making the story flow and use her gut too to manipulate shots for emotional effects.

“You don’t need what you don’t need”

In his autobiography, Something Like An Autobiography, legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa spoke briefly on the editing process and the lessons from his mentor Kajirō Yamamoto.

“Yama-san in the editing room,” Kurosawa wrote, “was a bona-fide mass murderer.” It’s difficult for us to dispose of pieces that we worked so hard on, but the value of a bit’s worth—whether it’s in film or literature or multimedia presentations, or even writing software for that matter—should not be measured merely in terms of the labor we put into it. The only question in measuring its value is: from the point of view of the audience, does it work in support of the story?

Below is an excerpt from Kurosawa’s autobiography on the difficulty of cutting what you worked so hard to create:

I even thought on occasion if we were going to cut so much, why did we have to shoot it all in the first place? I, too, had labored painfully to shoot the film, so it was hard for me to scrap my own work.” Kurokawa goes on to say, “When you are shooting, of course, you film only what you believe is necessary. But very often you realize only after having shot it that you didn’t need it after all. You don’t need what you don’t need. Yet human nature wants to place value on things in direct proportion to the amount of labor that went into making them.

In film editing, this natural inclination is the most dangerous of all attitudes. The art of the cinema has been called an art of time, but time used to no purpose cannot be called anything but wasted time. The most important requirement for editing is objectivity. No matter how much difficulty you had in obtaining a particular shot, the audience will never know. If it is not interesting, it simply isn’t interesting. You may have been full of enthusiasm during the filming of a particular shot, but if that enthusiasm doesn’t show on the screen, you must be objective enough to cut it.”

It’s About the Story

“At the end of the day,” says Hollywood film editor Zach Staenberg, “all this stuff [filmmaking process/editing] has to work to tell a story. If you’re not telling a story, it doesn’t matter how much razzle dazzle there is. It’s not about the tools, it’s about the story.”

Every frame matters and the inclusion or exclusion of the little things makes a difference. “The difference between a few frames was a scary shark and a big floating turd,” says Steven Spielberg in The Cutting Edge documentary. Spielberg also admitted that it was very hard for him to let go of as many frames of the mechanical shark in the final cut of Jaws as he ultimately did because he had worked so hard to get the shots. Thankfully he listened to his editor, Verna Fields.

Editors are the unsung heros of film, but if we take a closer look even those of us outside of film can learn valuable lessons from their creative work. Whatever the medium, the key in storytelling is cutting the extraneous and the superfluous, keeping in only what helps tell your story.

About the Author:

Garr Reynolds is the author of Presentation Zen and other best-selling books related to presentation and presentation design. He is the former manager of the Worldwide User Group Relations at Apple Computer and is now an associate professor of management at Kansai Gaidai University, where he teaches marketing, global marketing and multimedia presentation design.


Expand Your Presentation’s Reach By Sharing it Online

Recently I offered some ways that you could turn your PowerPoint presentation into a video that could be sent to others or posted to the web. But what if you want to just share the slides without the extra work to add an audio track? In this article I’ll describe some ways to share your presentation so that others can easily view it. All of these methods work quite well no matter what platform the viewer is using, including mobile devices.

One of the key issues to address first is the security of your slides. I don’t suggest making the PowerPoint file available to others because it has too many risks of being misused and it might accidentally reveal private information contained in embedded objects. If you want to simply e-mail the file or post it on your website for download, I suggest you convert it to a PDF format first. That way  the content is more secure (not perfect, but better than the PowerPoint file format).

The following methods allow you to more broadly share your presentation than e-mail usually allows.

Brainshark/myBrainshark: I suggested this service in a previous article because it allows you to add an audio track to your slides and create a video. But you don’t have to add audio at all. You can skip that step and use this service to simply allow people to view your slides.

You can accept the default slide timing settings and quickly have a file to share. The viewer can pause on whatever slide they want to view longer or skip ahead using the default viewer controls. The resulting file can be embedded on your website or you can send others a link to view it in a browser. Remember that the Brainshark service is a corporate service and myBrainshark is a free service that makes your files public (you can pay an upgrade fee to keep them private).

SlideShare and other slide sharing sites: Most of these are simple to use. You upload your PowerPoint file, input a title and some other information, and you have a set of publicly available slides that others can view through a link to the service. You can also embed the file in your website if you’d like.

One caution from my first experience with SlideShare: your presentation might not look the way you expect if you use fonts other than the standard Arial or Calibri. So you may want to check how it looks on different browsers and platforms before you send a link to others.

File sharing sites like Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive: These file sharing sites are also known for cloud storage. You can upload a file to your account on the service. Then you have the option of sharing it with others, as long as they have an account on the service as well (there may be some options to share without an account, but there may be limitations).

As I said above, you will only want to be sharing a PDF version of the file, not the PowerPoint version. Most of the sharing here is one at a time, so it is harder to share a file using these services to a wide audience. Because PDF is a universal format, everyone will be able to view a file from these services, even if they are on a mobile device.

When you want to expand the audience for that great presentation you just delivered, these options will help you decide which method is the best for you.

About the Author:

Dave Paradi is a presentation expert, the author of seven books, a consultant on high-stakes presentations, and is one of eleven people in North America currently recognized as a PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. Learn more about his workshops and resources at



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