SlideRocket Blog

Quick Poll – Presentation Productivity

By Nat Robinson on May 25, 2010

We hear tons of stories from folks (who aren’t using SlideRocket) about how long it takes them to build out their presentations and decided to run a quick poll to get some numerical data.

Thanks for your response. You’ll see the results once you click Vote.

10 Tips to Successfully Moderate a Panel Discussion

By Nat Robinson on May 19, 2010

This week’s presentation tip is in the form of a narrated SlideRocket presentation from Kathy Reiffenstin of And…Now Presenting. Kathy is a passionate educator in the art and science of public speaking. With more than 20 years as a business owner, trainer, manager, speaker and published writer, Kathy has what any good decision-maker is looking for in a professional trainer and business partner – practical experience combined with the ability to transfer knowledge, assess skills and coach performance.

Kathy’s assembled a set of best practices and advice for moderating panel presentations that can be used to ensure these kinds of presentations are productive and enjoyable for the audience, the panel and the moderator. Add your own tips by posting a comment below.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery? Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

Top 10 Reasons to Consider Moving Your Business to the Cloud

By Nat Robinson on May 12, 2010

More and more companies are investing in cloud-based solutions, also commonly referred to as software-as-a-service (SaaS) or hosted, Web-based, or on-demand software.  In fact, leading technology industry analyst firm IDC forecasts that worldwide spending on cloud software will top $42 billion by 2012, representing close to 27% compound annual growth over the next several years.

Why should YOU consider taking your business to the cloud?

1. No Capital Investment
Desktop software can cost a lot of money upfront.  You’re not just purchasing the software itself, you’ll often need new hardware to support the application.  And, that can get quite expensive.  As a result, total cost of ownership will be much greater, and it will take longer for you to realize a return on your investment.  Cloud solutions typically offer a much more affordable and budget-friendly “pay-per-use” pricing model.

2. Simplified Licensing
Vendor contracts for on-site solutions can be rather complex, and license allocation can be quite a challenge to track and manage.   Licenses are often used improperly – and in some cases, illegally – distributed, putting companies at risk for fines and penalties for non-compliance or software piracy.   Usage agreements for cloud-based software are far simpler, and therefore, much easier to adhere to.

3.  Rapid Roll-out
Desktop software is often associated with long, cumbersome installations.  Depending on the sophistication of the solution, it could take weeks, or even months, before your users can start reaping the benefits.  But, because cloud solutions are already up and running at the service provider’s site, customers can often begin utilizing the software almost immediately.

4.  Minimized IT Burden
Ongoing maintenance, troubleshooting, and support are provided by the vendor with Web-based, on-demand software.  Unlike on-premise systems, this frees IT staff from tedious day-to-day monitoring and administration, allowing them to spend time on other important IT projects.

5. More Enhancements
Traditional desktop software vendors only release new versions every one and a half to two years.  Which means, customers must wait that long for new features and capabilities.  However, because cloud solution vendors can more easily rollout new functionality, they tend to do so more often, which allows them to respond much more rapidly to customer feedback and user demands.

6.  Customization
Cloud solution providers understand that the “one size fits all” approach to software is ineffective – a message that some on-premise vendors have yet to receive.  Many experts believe that on-demand systems are much easier to modify to meet specific business requirements, or to satisfy unique end user needs.

7. Go Green
Eliminating the need to operate new hardware will cut down on energy consumption significantly.  This makes cloud-based software the more environmentally-friendly option.

8. Improved Information Sharing / Collaboration
Want to share data with customers, suppliers, and other business partners?  With cloud computing, it’s fast and easy.  All they need is an Internet connection, a user ID, and password to gain access to your application.  Granting them access to your desktop software, however, can be far more complicated, since they will need to connect to your internal corporate network.

9.  Advanced Security
Any software you install on-site will be subject to the same security techniques as your other network systems.  This doesn’t pose a problem if your company is diligent about the policies and tools it uses to protect data from breach – but how many organizations can actually make that claim?  Cloud solution vendors, on the other hand, understand the impact a breach can have on their business.  They can’t afford for customers to lose confidence in their service, and therefore leverage the latest and greatest security features to maintain the full integrity of information at all times.

10.  Disaster Protection
What kinds of mechanisms do you have in place in case disaster strikes?  Chances are, not many.  On-demand solution providers, however, are always well prepared.  Frequent backups, redundant servers set up at off-site data centers, and other techniques are employed to ensure full business continuity and recovery in the event of a hardware failure, natural disaster, or other catastrophe.

To learn more about moving your business communications to the cloud, visit our Web site at

The Cloud is about Choice

By Chuck Dietrich on May 11, 2010

Cloud computing has been a term-du-jour for several years now, and proponents laud the on-demand model for its simplicity, cost savings, and technical advances. Those are great benefits of cloud computing, but we believe the biggest benefit of the cloud is choice.

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Choice fuels competition, and competition fuels innovation – and that means better products for customers. For years, Microsoft was dominant in the office applications space, and the company didn’t focus on innovating its Office suite, because it didn’t have to. Companies would buy Office no matter what. Now, however, cloud computing has driven a surge in innovation, with dozens of companies creating new office applications that run natively in the cloud, cost much less than packaged solutions, and deliver better functionality. Companies can pick and choose the cloud-based office apps they need – from Google docs, to Box.Net document management, to SlideRocket for presentations – and quickly assemble their own “suite” of best-of-breed products delivered on demand.

Look at what choice has done for presentations. Here are some of the ways SlideRocket has innovated on presentations – leveraging Internet technology and cloud delivery to make presentations more social, shareable, and interactive.

Centralized, dynamic content and branding control: SlideRocket makes it possible to create a unified presentation that’s on brand, on message, and always up-to-date. Because SlideRocket is “plugged into” the cloud, users can automatically update charts and financial numbers by feeding data from a Google spreadsheet directly into their slides in real time. What’s more, SlideRocket is a native web application, so it’s easy to insert rich media like photos, video, images, Twitter feeds, and real-time stock or information tickers into presentations. Unlike text-based, static slides, SlideRocket presentations leverage the strengths of the cloud – secure collaboration, real-time Web data, and rich media – so that presentations become an extension of your brand.

Analytics: Without cloud computing, you’d never know the answer to important questions like these: How do you know if your presentation was successful? Did your prospects view the presentation? How many times? Did they forward it to other decision makers? How much time did each person spend viewing each slide? SlideRocket leverages the connected cloud model to deliver this level of analytics for every presentation. Companies know immediately which topics are of interest to their prospects and customers and, therefore, can personalize presentations for the best results.

Secure collaboration and sharing: The cloud also makes collaborating and sharing infinitely easier than with desktop-based, packaged software. No more emailing attachments and suffering through version control. Because SlideRocket presentations are fully hosted in the cloud and don’t reside on your desktop, users can collaborate on slides in real time, click a button to share them with colleagues, prospects, or partners, and clearly see what changes other people have made. Of course, often, you don’t want other people to change your slides, so SlideRocket also offers locking and security features.

The cloud has enabled some amazing advances in office applications, providing people with a choice of innovate applications that help them work more efficiently. We’ve banded together with some of the most innovative cloud companies around – including, Zuora, Socialtext and more – to support and spread this important message of choice.

What will you choose? We choose the cloud.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 6 Best Practices in Sales Presentation Delivery

By Nat Robinson on May 5, 2010

No group of professionals is more reliant on presentations than sales representatives.  Day in and day out, the primary job of the sales rep is to deliver pitch after pitch, “wowing” potential customers to win new business and generate new sources of revenue.

The sales pitch is a critical part of any sales cycle.

The sales pitch is a critical component of any sales cycle, giving reps one shot to sway their audience into signing on proverbial “dotted line”.  But, surprisingly, many reps don’t present as effectively as they could.  Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when delivering a sales pitch:

1. Keep It Short and Sweet
Most sales reps want to highlight each and every single feature and benefit of their product or service.  While this may seem like a good approach, most prospects simply don’t want to sit through a 90-minute sales pitch.  Keeping it brief, and focusing primarily on key differentiators and what it is that makes your offering unique, will have the greatest impact.

2. Customize It
When it comes to sales pitches, there is no such thing as “one size fits all”.  Every potential customer will need or want your product for a different reason.  Perhaps they have a challenge they are looking to overcome, or a certain goal they want to achieve.  It is best to gather a little intelligence ahead of time, and structure the presentation in a way that speaks directly to the audience’s specific problems or objectives.

3. Engage Your Prospects
A sales pitch should never be a “one-way” conversation.  During the process, you will need to interact with your audience, to learn more about what makes them tick, and what will compel them to buy.  One of the best ways to do this is to ask open-ended questions frequently throughout your presentation.  This will give them the opportunity to freely share important information that will help you close the deal.

4. Image Is Critical
Of course, you want to present your product or service in the best possible light. But, today’s buyers want not only superior products, but loyal and reliable vendors who will be there to support them throughout its life cycle.  Therefore, it is also important to project a positive image of both yourself, and your company – one that convinces your audience that you will be a trusted business partner.

5. The Proof Is In the Pudding
While hype and marketing-speak are a great way to grab your audience’s attention, you’ll need to back it up with hard facts.  Be sure to sprinkle in as much third-party validation as possible, such as endorsements from industry experts or testimonials from satisfied customers.

6. Save the Demo Until the End
Product demonstrations can be highly effective selling tools, but they work best after you’ve already provided an overview of the solution you’re pitching, and demonstrated the potential value it can provide.  This background will enable the prospect to view the demo in context, with a greater understanding of how they can apply and benefit from it in real-world scenarios.

Find more great tips and resources at the Presentation Skills Launch Pad.

Pleased to meet you

By Heidi Jackman on May 4, 2010

Hi all, my name is Heidi Jackman, I am the new CMO at SlideRocket and I’m thrilled to be here.  I’ve built my career around my passion – the intersection of a problem and the development of a technical solution to address it.  How many times have you thought “there’s got to be a better way!?”  That’s where I want to play and that’s why I’m here.

I can’t believe 2 months have gone by since I started at SlideRocket.  I meant to write sooner to say ‘hi’, but got swept up in the wave up excitement around being part of the Google Apps Marketplace launch, followed immediately by going to SXSW as the official presentation provider. All of this happened within my first week on the job! Talk about trial by fire…

I’m loving every minute as a part of this team, especially getting to know SlideRocket customers and prospects. Including hearing what you love, don’t love and want more of in this product.  I see my role here as much more than marketing.  First and foremost, I am an advocate – which is very easy for me to be when I truly believe something addresses an unmet need.  Today, for me, that need is business communication, specifically in the form of presentations.

Honestly, before I heard of SlideRocket, if you said ‘presentation’, I thought ‘necessary evil.’ But now there’s a different way. SlideRocket brings presentations back from the land of lectures to the land of story telling.  And, how does the best communication happen?  Through sharing stories.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty pumped to be on board and help introduce SlideRocket to the world. And to continue to get to know you.  So please keep in touch, I want to hear the good and the bad.  I want to hear about the cool ways you are using SlideRocket and the ways you wish you could. I’ll work to stay in touch as well – we have a lot of exciting news and events coming up and I look forward to sharing it with all of you.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Reasons To Mind Map Your Presentation

By Nat Robinson on April 13, 2010

This week we’ve partnered with Mindjet to bring you a special post on mind mapping your presentations. For more great tips on mind mapping your presentations check out the Mindjet blog and then build your own presentation mind map with a Mindjet free 30 day trial.

Mind mapping is a cutting-edge visualization process, where thoughts and ideas are organized into a non-linear diagram.  At the heart of each mind map is a central theme, with supporting topics and sub-topics logically surrounding it.  Mind maps are commonly used for brainstorming, decision making, problem solving, and planning.

When designing and building a presentation, a mind map can be a highly valuable tool.  Presenters often find that their slides are more thorough, more complete, and more compelling when they begin the creation process with a mind map.

How can a mind map help you?

1. Improve Brainstorming
Imagine you’re sitting down to create your presentation, with just a few brief, high-level thoughts in mind.  The next step is to expand on those concepts, fleshing out your content so that it provides the level of detail the audience requires.  Mind mapping can facilitate this process, giving your imagination a boost and allowing you to evaluate or “test” different approaches or ideas before you commit them to writing.  This will help you rapidly turn a simple concept into a comprehensive outline for your slide deck.

2. Better Organize Content
With a mind map, you can more readily see how the items you plan to highlight during your presentation relate to each other.  This will help you better determine the best structure for your deck – making it easy for you to see how your slides should flow, and in what order key ideas should be discussed.

3. Beat “Writer’s Block”
Building a slide deck can be a challenging task, even for the most inspired presenters.  In addition to how your content should flow, you also need to consider how to most effectively convey key points visually (should you use text, graphs, images, etc.?) and orally (what are you going to say?).  Presenters often get so overwhelmed, they find themselves staring at a blank slide, with no idea where to start.  But, those who use mind mapping firmly believe that it can make you more productive and more creative.  As a result, the entire process will be much faster and easier.

4. Avoid Gaps
As thorough as you think your slides may be, there will likely be pieces of important data missing, leaving your audience with questions or seeking further details.  Because a mind map displays ideas visually (and many believe, more intuitively than traditional text outlines), it makes it easier to see where information gaps may exist, or where specific ideas may need to be expanded on.

5.  Keep the Objective in Mind
It’s easy to lose sight of your ultimate goal when you’re building your slide deck.  But, with a mind map that puts the core objective in the center, “keeping your eye on the prize” at all times – whether it’s to educate, to close a sale, or to prompt the audience to take specific action – will be easy.  So, you’ll be able to ensure that your entire presentation ties directly into your overall mission.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery? Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Ways To Deliver a Killer Close

By Nat Robinson on April 8, 2010

The “close” – those last few minutes during which you summarize your key points and wrap up your thoughts and ideas – may be the most critical portion of your entire presentation.  It is your chance to go out with a bang.  Handle it right, and you’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience.  But botch it, and your entire presentation will fall flat.

The close may be the most critical portion of your entire presentation.

Here is some helpful advice for developing a “killer” presentation close:

1. Keep It Brief
The primary objective of your close is to reiterate the most important points of your slide deck in the most efficient, yet unforgettable way possible.  Studies show that your audience is more likely to retain what you say in those last few minutes, than they are any other section of your presentation.  So, try to keep it to as brief as you can.  Stick to three or four points at the most, to make your summary easy to remember.  Any more than that will dilute the impact.

2. Tell a Story
Stories, jokes, and anecdotes not only lend credibility to your content, they also help make it more memorable.  Tell a story that’s interesting and exciting as well as relevant to your presentation.  Or share a quote from a famous person that ties directly into the topics you’ve spoken about.  When they remember the story, your audience members will instantly recall the key points that relate to it.  An added benefit?  They may even repeat the story to others, further spreading your message.

3.  Don’t Forget the Call to Action
In many cases, you want your audience to take some sort of action once you’re done presenting.  Perhaps you’re a sales rep looking to convince a prospect to make a purchase.  Or, maybe you’re a trainer teaching a basic course, hoping that attendees will sign up to take the more advanced class.  Whatever your goal may be, be sure to remind audience members what the next steps are during your conclusion.

4. Stay on Schedule
Be respectful of audience time, especially if you’re presenting to business professionals with busy schedules.  If you run late, you’ll wear out your welcome and aggravate your attendees.  Even worse, it may completely ruin your last few slides, since people will be checking their watches, wondering if they’ll make it to their next appointment on time, etc. – instead of listening to what you’re saying.

5.  Lead Up to Your Ending Gradually
Audience members expect your presentation to include a summary.  So they tend to be more attentive when they think it is about to end, so they catch any key points they may have missed earlier on in the session.  Don’t end abruptly.  Drop subtle hints to let attendees know that you are nearing the conclusion, so you’ll have their undivided attention when you wrap-up.

Find more great tips and resources at the Presentation Skills Launch Pad.

SlideRocket Wins ‘Hot Tech Demo’ Award

By Chuck Dietrich on April 2, 2010

A couple weeks ago, the Fifth Annual Small Business Summit took place in New York. The event is for small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to meet the challenges of the new economy head-on. The theme of the “Summit was Business & Technology: Strategies for the New Economy.” We were thrilled to be awarded as one of seven HOT TECH DEMO winners, honoring the ‘Hottest Technologies for Your Business’. It’s an honor to be recognized among innovative companies challenging the status quo and transforming the way business people work.

We also had the opportunity to speak with Ramon Ray, the well-known small business evangelist, editor of and founder of the Small Business Summit. Ramon has a deep understanding of how technology is enabling small businesses to operate more efficiently and accelerate the growth of their business. Ramon has been making technology recommendations to business leaders over the past decade and I was very encouraged to hear his enthusiasm for SlideRocket and support that our web based presentation technology with analytics and management can be the killer sales and marketing tool.

The majority of the 40 million presentations that are delivered daily are from small business leaders.  Turning their presentations from lifeless ‘digital brochures’ (PowerPoint) to dynamic web content that can be centrally managed and measured can make a material impact on the effectiveness of their sales and marketing efforts. It’s great to have Ramon’s support in our quest to reinvent presentations.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 4 Ways For Using MultiMedia Strategically

By Nat Robinson on April 1, 2010

Videos, audio clips, images, and other multimedia elements are a great way to improve the visual appeal of your presentation.  There have been many studies that have shown that the use of multimedia in presentations can have a significant positive impact on audience attentiveness and information retention.  However, when used inappropriately, multimedia can have the opposite effect, serving as more of a distraction than an enhancement.

Use of multimedia in presentations can have a significant positive impact on information retention.

However, when used strategically, multimedia can take your presentation to a whole new level, helping you to more effectively reach your goal – whether it’s to educate and inform, close a sale, or prompt your audience to take specific action.  Here are some of the best ways to use multimedia:

1. Make Sure It’s Relevant
Sure, it’s important that the multimedia elements you use be exciting and entertaining.  But, choose very wisely.  Entertainment value alone is not enough, be sure that the photos, videos, or sounds you include are directly related in some way to the content you are presenting.

2. Keep It Professional
Avoid home videos recorded on your Webcam or other types of amateurish content, as it will likely hinder your credibility and prevent your audience from seeing you as a seasoned professional. There are a variety of resources available that offer high-quality multimedia elements for licensed use.  So, unless you’re an expert on the creation of multimedia content, it’s best to leave it to the pros.

3. Variety is Key
Video clips, no matter how entertaining, will get dull when used over and over again.  It’s best to incorporate several different multi-media elements into your presentation – using each just once or twice – to keep things fresh and interesting throughout.

4. Think Beyond “Live” Presentations
Yes, multimedia adds tremendous punch to speaker-led sessions.  However, it also extends the value to those presentations that are not live, where it is much harder to engage the audience and keep their attention for an extended period of time.  For example, self-running presentations at kiosks, or those that are available on-demand via the Web would be far more compelling if they incorporated multimedia aids, than if they relied strictly on bulleted slides with pre-recorded voice over running simultaneously.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery? Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

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