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Death by Powerpoint - any alternatives

I am aware that Powerpoint presentations have a tendency to be dull to most people and a presenter normally falls in to the trap of just reading slides. I want to engage the audience with pictures and stylish design, perhaps with a small amount of text from time to time. Does anyone have a recommendation of a low cost alternative to Powerpoint suited to this task?

Many thanks

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Mmm...

Surely the point is that a computer presentation using any software tends towards the dull. I find that talking to an audience using no visual aids is the most effective, providing you have something worth saying.

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It's a valid response, but what about the people who are not receptive to audio communication? I remember reading in the dim and distant past that we should try and adapt our communication for the left/right sided brain individuals in your audience.

 

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Hmm

imain wrote:

It's a valid response, but what about the people who are not receptive to audio communication? I remember reading in the dim and distant past that we should try and adapt our communication for the left/right sided brain individuals in your audience.

I don't really accept that school of thought.  A presentation is in its nature an audio communication, and it is a well established method used in training courses and educational establishments throughout the world.  Of course, different people have different attention spans - but most people can listed if they want to hear what's being said.  One way to make a presentation more accessible is to make it interactive - naturally people tend not to ask questions, but there are other methods of making it interactive such as a case study - although that's probably better suited to a training course.

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Powerpoint not the problem

Powerpoint is an excellent, probably the best (ignoring Keynote for Mac) presentation software I know.  The problem is how people use it.  They want to cram every word onto the slides on a stupidly small font size.

The key is to use big fonts, clipart or internet pictures (use google images) - and only put minimal text on the slides as a prompt which you can talk around (rather than read word-for-word off the slide).  Also, the slide transitions might be tacky but they can make people chuckle.

So I would say it's worth paying out for Powerpoint, just use it right.

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PowerPoint isn't the problem

Its the presenter who decides what to do with it.

Go and have a look at any recent Apple presentation - the slides are pared back to the absolute minimum needed to stress the presenters point.   A single image, a single word even, on a plain background with no distractions

 

 

I think the problems really start when presenters try to make their slides double as 'handouts'.  They try to cram their entire script onto the screen so that they can simply hit 'Print' and get a set of self-contained handouts for delegates.    Don't do that - If you think you need handouts, then do the job properly and write something that works in a written form.

I start my slide by typing my thoughts into the 'Notes' section (not onto the slide itself).  Marshal your arguments first, and then re-read them.  Try to distill a single image or word that sums up your slide and illustrates what you are saying.

If you have your script all worked out for each slide (and embedded in the notes), then this can really help you get your timings right too when you do a practice run.

If you can't manage it to distill the ideas into a single image, then maybe you need to break the argument across several slides instead.

A classic error is making the text/image too small, so people are squinting at the screen in case they miss something - You need to be thinking in terms of 70 or 80 point text sizes (which will also force you to cut the word count!)

 

 

 

 

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Thanks, that is really helpful as an approach to follow. I was thinking of the Apple style when I posted the question, and whilst my subject matter is unlikely to be as cool as their products I will do my best!

I presume that Apple do not lower themselves to use a Microsoft product for their presentations? Does anyone know what they use or suggest a solution that works in this simple manner? If not I am sure I can use Powerpoint for the same effect. It would be nice to hear if anyone has used seomthing else though.

Thanks again guys

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Keynote

imain wrote:

I presume that Apple do not lower themselves to use a Microsoft product for their presentations? Does anyone know what they use or suggest a solution that works in this simple manner? If not I am sure I can use Powerpoint for the same effect. It would be nice to hear if anyone has used seomthing else though.

Apple uses Keynote which i already referred to above.  It's only available on Mac OS.

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Keynote

You can get the same effect on PowerPoint - Just stay away from the assortment of elaborate templates that they ship in the box!

Keynote is pretty good - not as rich as PowerPoint in some areas, but more than good enough.  Keynote's ready-made designs and templates are, dare I say, a bit more tasteful than Microsoft's!

A version of Keynote is also available for iPad - When you add an adaptor to allow you to connect an iPad to a projector, it's a pretty good alternative.

 

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openoffice simpress from www.openoffice.org is free and seems to be similar to powerpoint in terms of functionality, works on Macs and PCs,

 

 

 

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Hmm

daveforbes wrote:

openoffice simpress from www.openoffice.org is free and seems to be similar to powerpoint in terms of functionality, works on Macs and PCs,

That is a rather misleading statement - Impress does not have "similar" functionality, it has noticeably less functionality.  It's not a bad piece of software, but it's not as good as Powerpoint or Keynote.

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I prefer it simpress. It

I prefer simpress. It contains the the same functions that I use in powerpoint. There may well be other features in powerpoint but not features I use. There are features, according to my 11 year old daughter in simpress that are not in powerpoint.

 

I like the fact you can use it on both PCs and Macs.

 

I run the presentation on a windows laptop connected to a projector and control the presentation from an ipad (or my phone) using a little app I wrote.

 

 

 

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Hmm

daveforbes wrote:

I prefer simpress. It contains the the same functions that I use in powerpoint. There may well be other features in powerpoint but not features I use. There are features, according to my 11 year old daughter in simpress that are not in powerpoint.

I like the fact you can use it on both PCs and Macs.

I run the presentation on a windows laptop connected to a projector and control the presentation from an ipad (or my phone) using a little app I wrote.

Isn't it called Impress rather than Simpress? 

You can use MS Powerpoint on both PCs and Macs, so I am not sure I see the point there.

I can however see from a developer's viewpoint, Openoffice might be more accessible due to it's open nature.  But for typical end users, I'm not sure that's any advantage.

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If you want something radically different from powerpoint, take a look at prezi

 

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simpress.exe is the name of the program you run (the thing that shows up in task manager) and simpress is what you have to type to run it if your mouse has run out of batteries. You are quite right the proper name of the program(me) is OpenOffice.org Impress. Sorry for any confusion.

 

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It's the story not the technology

Hi imain,

Whether it's PowerPoint, Keynote, OpenOffice, Prezi (which makes a nice change swooping in and around a big diagram rather than paging through slides) the story is the key.  Here is some suggested reading if you want to get better at this:

You can adopt Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint which at least encourages you to keep it short with big readable text on your slides.

The best (IMO) book on presentations comes from 1981 pre-dating the PC and PowerPoint and from a long forgotten time when we used to make real slides or use foils and an overhead projector with our notes on those cardboard 3M surrounds - Presentations Plus by David A. Peoples.  It's still valid with today's technology.

Nicholas B. Oulton runs a superb company, M62, which does nothing but design PowerPoint presentations for companies, so he must know what he is talking about - take a look at Killer Presentations.

Jerry Weissman has written a book Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story - I found his arrogance and "all about me" writing style really irritating, but if you persevere he has some really great techniques for constructing and sequencing your story that come from the world of Film and TV.  

I hope these help.

David Terrar

D2C and Cloud Advocates

p.s. cverrier is absolutely spot on about slides that are written as handouts or as an "aide memoir" for the presenter, when actually they should amplifying the story to the audience... create a separate document as a handout. 

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Presentation tips from the experts

Thanks for the question - and for all the useful advice offered so far.

I can't add much to what has been said, but would point the questioner and others interested in the subjct to our guide, Presentation tips from the experts.

You'll also find similar material on our PowerPoint tag page.

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I appreciate this thread

I appreciate the list of resources for planning and preparing presentations. Thanks David and John and everyone else in fact.

But before AccountingWeb was upgraded, I could have sworn there was an option to add interesting threads to my personal library and I now I can't see how that can be done.

Or was I confusing it with the option of only receiving an update when anyone else posted?

Thanks

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It's not PowerPoint, it's the Presenter

I have a simple rule for PowerPoint presentations:

Never include proper sentences in the text.
i.e. Never have a sentence that you can read and make sense of.

In a recent presentation I was asked ot look at, the following was one of 6 bullet points ona slide:

Provide a platform for school students to learn about media and communication.

I recommended changing it to:

Encourage Students

That's just one simple example and if you remember the following:

"Why use 12 words, when you can use 2"

you won't go far wrong.

Zooming and moving an image very slowly while you talk about it also make for a very visually appealing presentation.

Music or Sound-effects also add that touch of drama and you should really always consider your presentation as a stage performance.

 

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Answering the question posed...

... death by powerpoint - any alternatives? Natural causes is always a good way to die.

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