PowerPoint has been around for a long time. Since 1990, in fact. Since then, it’s become the de-facto standard for presenting the world over. Recently scores of new software innovations are popping up threatening to replace or add to the venerable PowerPoint. But have we become better presenters? Can technology make you better? That’s a difficult question. To answer, I turned to the CMO’s and CTO’s of various start-ups vying to help you. They will answer the question:
“What can technology do to make
you a better presenter?”
Kevin Leneway, Haiku Deck
At Haiku Deck we are dedicated to helping our users become better presenters, so this is a question that I think about literally every single day. We designed our app around presentation best practices, such as focusing on one idea per slide, using consistent fonts and layouts, and illustrating key points with beautiful, high-impact imagery. Our focus on making people better presenters inspired the development of some of our newer features such as private notes, which can be used as a personal teleprompter to build confidence during in-person presentations, and public notes, which provide context for printouts or slides posted online after a live presentation. But as product owner and developer, one of my favorite uses of technology is the ability to optimize the creation process to help our users enter a state of flow. I measure the time it takes for each step of the process, and I spend hours shaving off a few milliseconds here or removing a feature there. Why am I obsessed with these seemingly minor details? Prior to starting Haiku Deck, I spent years working in traditional consulting / big company cultures, and I was shocked at how much time was spent tweaking the look of a presentation versus the actual content itself. The typical workflow would be to start with some content…then adjust the font, maybe change a color here or there…and before I knew it, it would be lunchtime and my slide would be a mess of broken tables, mismatched font sizes, and stretched, pixelated images. My goal with Haiku Deck was to use the technology to force our users to focus on their message above all else. I optimize each step of the slide creation process to be as fast as possible, so users can keep their message top of mind and let it flow into their presentation with minimal distractions. We hear all the time from our community that Haiku Deck not only saves them time but makes them feel more creative and more confident about their slides, which makes me feel like we’re on to something.
Justin Foster, SlideKlowd
To a large extent, “technology” is a synonym for “change”. One of the biggest changes presenters are dealing with is that smart devices have tipped the balance of power from the presenter to the audience. Simply put, an audience with smart devices no longer sits passively and consumes the presenter’s content. Instead, the audience can Google your statistics, tweet your comments, take pictures of your slides and more. Further, the audience’s technology advantage means a presenter is also competing with whatever’s in their in-box, on social media, etc. This is a shameless plug, but this is exactly why we invented SlideKlowd. While many are trying to fix PowerPoint, we are fixing presentations by involving the audience via their devices, capturing data and responses, and putting a performance metric on the presenter and his/her content. Not only does this make any presentation more interesting, it gives a presenter a baseline for improvement – and tips the technology advantage back to him/her.
Drew Banks, Prezi
Technology in presentations is like technology in movies: it provides audio-visual enhancement to a narrative. And like movies, presentations can be more content-focused (documentaries/indies), technology-focused (animation/sci-fi), or a balance of the two. I usually prefer a balanced presentation where the technology is so tightly integrated with the presenter and story that the audience’s attention is not split between speaker and screen but amplified by the duality.
Gavin is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at makeapowerfulpoint.com. You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.