Technology is a funny old thing – it can be used both as a force for good (the internet and the wonders of Google) and a force for evil (phone hacking and old “friends” contacting you via Facebook).
Much the same can be said for our old friend, PowerPoint – in the right hands, it’s a force for good (engaging, informative presentations) or a force for evil (Death by PowerPoint* anyone?).
* For the uninitiated, Death by PowerPoint is where audiences are bombarded with slide after slide of meandering messages delivered via bullet point after bullet point – in many ways, it’s similar to Death by Water Torture but not as much fun.
Despite the fine balance between good and bad, we continue to embrace technology in all aspects of our life, sometimes blindly. In an attempt to stand out and differentiate ourselves or simply find a plausible excuse to play with a new “toy”, the world of presentations is bombarded with new technology.
On an almost weekly basis, the Eyeful studio is sent shiny new software promising to “change the face of business presenting technology”. These innovations break down into 3 distinct groups:
The vast majority sit in the “so what?” category.
In our opinion, re-inventing PowerPoint or Keynote with little additional functionality makes little sense yet companies across the World continue to beaver away in their labs!
A smaller number sit in the “great idea…but how would you ever use it?” category.
Prezi (http://prezi.com) is a great example of this – it’s a slick, interactive and highly animated way of sharing information that, on the surface, looks great. Unfortunately, as soon as you take it out of the studio and start using it with business audiences, the cracks start to appear.
Compatibility is an issue, maintaining a corporate look is painful and the high level of animation brings on waves of nausea in the audience. No matter how bad your PowerPoint presentation, we wager it’s never resulted in the audience vomiting!
Sadly, by far the smallest group is made up of innovations that can be used effectively out in the field.
They can be simple – for example, a tool that allows you to convert a presentation into a web-friendly Flash format with voiceover so that your audience can view your presentation again when the time is right (consider it your own corporate iPlayer!).
Of course, they can also be sexy…
The sleek lines and clever technology behind the iPad and similar tablet PCs may set the heart beating faster but sadly their effectiveness as a presentation tool is limited.
In terms of tablet PCs, our advice is to proceed with extreme caution – engaging presentations can be delivered via the iPad but only after some extensive tweaking! Don’t fall into the trap of equipping your team with expensive technology until you know it’s going to deliver the results you need (or at least spoken to us to understand the limitations!).
And finally, some of the innovations can be blindingly obvious!
For example, some of the new features in PowerPoint 2010 (conversion to video, chapter settings, animation format painting) were long overdue and poorly explained.
However, as with all good things in life, once you start using them, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without them.
In short, the world of presentation is awash with technology.
Some innovations will support you in engaging and communicating effectively with your audience…however the majority will simply get in the way and, at worst, confuse and bemuse.
The key is to understand what you are looking to achieve and only then start browsing the web for relevant software or gadgets.
Whilst tempting, don’t get blinded by the clever advertising and, as ever, if in doubt speak to an expert!