SlideRocket Blog

Come see SlideRocket onstage at SF New Tech!

By Tracy Frey on February 12, 2010

Have any exciting plans for next Wednesday, February 17th? Well, we do – and we’d love for you to join us!

SlideRocket founder and CTO Mitch Grasso will be onstage at The SF New Tech Meetup demo-ing some exciting new SlideRocket features.

We can’t let the cat out of the bag quite yet on what these updates are, but you’ll definitely want to catch the live demo onstage.

The SF New Tech Meetup is a networking event for people just like you who want to see the latest and greatest technologies coming from the innovators right here in our backyard.

The theme for Wednesday’s meetup is Working Smarter – that is definitely something we aim to help our users with here at SlideRocket and we are excited to be sharing the stage with other innovative companies.

The good news is that you can still get tickets to come join the excitement next week! But don’t worry, if you can’t make it, we will still let you know about our exciting news.

Who: You, SlideRocket and the whole SF New Tech community

What: The SF New Tech Meetup – drinks, demos & networking

When: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 from 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM (PT)

Where: 119 Utah Street here in San Francisco (Cross street is 15th. Look for the big black doors)

Why: Because it’s going to be a lot of fun, and even informative

Check out SF New Tech’s website for ticket information and we hope to see you there.

Apple Versus Adobe – Will They Come Together for the Customer?

By Chuck Dietrich on February 4, 2010

Competition in Silicon Valley, whether it is friendly or cutthroat in nature, is persistently linked to technological innovation. These struggles are inherent in the Valley – startups vying for market share, established businesses trying to squash the competition and both small and big companies alike pushing to develop the most marketable product.

At SlideRocket, we know what it’s like to be up against the big guys. As a result, we are constantly pushing ourselves to make our product the best and most innovative, while forming more meaningful relationships with our partners and customers.

In regards to a recent battle of big versus bigger, I came across this article by Michael Copeland over at Fortune- “Behind the Adobe-Apple Cold War”.

Before last week’s big Apple release, speculation was rampant regarding details of what we now know as the iPad. With, what Copeland quotes as, “Apple’s seemingly resolute refusal to put Flash on its mobile devices”, would Apple’s new device follow suit? The answer? Yes – there is no Flash support on the iPad.

Sources quoted in this Wired article site Jobs’ opinion that Flash will soon be replaced by HTML 5. Interestingly, while we can only speculate whether or not Jobs will budge on his stance, Kevin Lynch over at Adobe says that, “Flash is ready to work on the iPhone and new iPad — it just needs Apple’s support.” On Lynch’s blog, he goes further, saying in regards to HTML 5, “Even in the case of video, where Flash is enabling over 75% of video on the Web today, the coming HTML video implementations cannot agree on a common format across browsers, so users and content creators would be thrown back to the dark ages of video on the Web with incompatibility issues.”

What do you make of this apparent conflict between Apple and Adobe? I found the articles particularly interesting, especially since SlideRocket came up a few times.  One reader commented:

“Flash isn’t going away. While HTML and someday, HTML5, can play video, and provide basic interactions, its far from even close to matching the capabilities. Take a look at Aviary.com as a good example of whats’ possible in Flash. Image editing, Vector editing, Audio editing. Take a look at SlideRocket for a PowerPoint-like slide editor. There’s room for both, and neither HTML nor Flash will spell doom for the other.”

This reader makes some interesting points, which I support. Customers, whether they are developers, consumers or business users, always benefit from competition and choice. As a result, it’s critical that both Flash, HTML5 and possibly other rich media development options co-exist and push each other towards further innovation. In order to meet the needs of the market, it is equally important for major hardware and operating systems to support customer choice. In this case, that’s both Flash and HTML5. Both Apple and Adobe have been on either sides of the compatibility fence in this debate, and have both seen the mistakes of protectionist practices and, contrarily, the benefits of openness and serving their customers.

So, is it back to the dark ages? Seems like that’s a contradiction to the notion that competition in the Valley leads to technological innovation. But, as this saga continues to unfold, I think that we will be seeing some really interesting innovation emerging from both camps. In this industry, while people often start off in business as enemies, more often than not, companies come together for the sake of product development and happy customers. Our opinion on the matter: while it is fun to imagine the controversy continuing, I suspect that Apple and Adobe will eventually come together to address the wants and needs of consumers.

What do you think? This topic is getting a lot of interesting thought- check out some of the comments on this TechCrunch post by Erick Shoenfeld.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Rules For Delivering Great Web Presentations

By Nat Robinson on February 2, 2010

Presenting over the Web, instead of in person, can offer many benefits – reduced travel costs and increased convenience for participants, just to name a few.  But, effectively conveying information to a remote audience can be a challenge for even the most seasoned presenters.  What works well in face-to-face sessions may be ineffective in a Web venue, and you must alter your presentation style accordingly.

Presenting over the web can offer many benefits.

Here are some sure-fire ways to deliver a great Web presentation:

1. Keep It Short
When you’re presenting in person, you’ve got a captive audience.  But, Webcast participants are either at home or in their offices, leaving room for many distractions like ringing phones, knocks at the door, or the temptation to perform other work while they’re listening to you speak.  Therefore, your discussion should be shorter than usual, 30 minutes maximum plus time for questions and answers, to avoid potential interruptions.

2. Use Stronger Voice Inflections
Remember, your audience can’t see you.  You won’t be able to use hand gestures, facial expressions, or body language for emphasis.  All you’ve got is your voice.  So, use a stronger tone and more prominent inflections than you normally would, to make sure key points get across.

3. Keep It Interactive
It’s harder to keep your audience engaged when everyone is scattered across multiple remote locations, so speaking non-stop for a half hour, then saving Q&A until the end may not be the best approach.  Take polls or surveys, ask questions, or solicit input at various points throughout the presentation.  This type of ongoing interaction will keep attendees interested until the end of your session. Watch how author Cliff Atkinson engages attendees using Twitter in his presentation, The Backchannel.

4.  Eliminate Background Noises
Your cell phone rings.  An email or pending appointment alert sets off a loud chime.  A colleague enters your office, without knocking, and begins speaking.  Day-to-day background noise in your office can be annoying and distracting to your audience – and your microphone will pick up all of it.  Be sure to turn of any phones, intercoms, alerts, or other noise-making mechanisms, and hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door, before you start presenting.

5. Check Your Equipment Ahead of Time
If your equipment fails while you’re presenting in person, you’ve got other ways to communicate.  But when you’re hosting a Webcast, your options are limited in the event of a technical disaster.  That’s why its so important to do a “test run” of your presentation several hours before your session, to ensure that your slides have uploaded properly, and that your microphone and other equipment are all in working order. If necessary arrange to have a backup set of equipment on hand to ensure your presentation can continue.

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 Tips For Dealing With Hecklers

By Nat Robinson on January 26, 2010

Fortunately, the majority of your audience members will kind and respectful during your presentation.  But, every once in a while, you may encounter someone who will go out of their way to disrupt your session and distract you as you’re speaking.  Whether it’s someone acting in a confrontational or argumentative manner, joking during the delivery of serious content, or holding side conversations with other attendees, coming face to face with a heckler is sure to rattle even the most seasoned presenter.

Here are 5 proven ways to effectively deal with a heckler.

1. Prepare in Advance

The best way to combat a heckler is to beat him to the punch.  Review your presentation content, and try to anticipate the kinds of trick questions someone could ask, or the snide comments or jokes a person may have the opportunity to make.  Be sure to have a comeback or response ready – their inability to throw you off your game will hopefully be enough to silence them.

2. Keep Your Temper in Check

While the natural reaction will be to get angry or upset, do your best to stay calm and composed.  Seeing you lose your cool is exactly what the heckler wants, and if you do so, it may encourage him to keep at it.

3. Never Let Them Smell Fear

If a heckler detects even the slightest bit of nervousness, his behavior will certainly continue.  By remaining confident at all times, you’re demonstrating that you can’t be shaken, and letting him know that he’s wasting his time. In fact, some experts have even suggested moving to a position either behind or next to the heckler as you’re speaking, to send a clear message that you will not be intimidated.

4.  Take a Break

If the heckler gets out of control, a short break – 10 or 15 minutes at most – may be in order.  This will give your audience a reprieve from an uncomfortable situation, and allow you to collect your thoughts.  You might even want to speak to the offender privately, and ask him to please be more respectful of both you, and the other audience members.  You can even offer to continue the discussion or debate with him at a later, more appropriate time.

5.  Ask Them to Leave

This, of course, should be used as a last resort.  But, when it becomes clear that the heckler won’t stop being disruptive, in spite of your best efforts, he will need to be removed from the audience so the presentation can continue uninterrupted.

Do you have other ideas on how to deal with hecklers or ornery audience members? Share them in the comments 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.

SlideRocket Presentations Tip – 5 Best Practices For Using Handouts

By Nat Robinson on January 20, 2010

Handouts are a great way to enhance your presentation, serving as a valuable reference tool for your audience members.  Yet, most speakers simply print out and distribute copies of their slide set, rendering their handouts somewhat useless.

Here are the five valuable tips for most effectively using presentation handouts:

1. Content is Key

The primary goal of handouts is to provide your audience with additional background materials during the session, and/or valuable reference materials afterward.  In other words, handouts should do more than just repeat what’s already on your slides.  They should expand on that content with additional quotes, examples, tables, and figures, to validate and drive home the points your making.

2. Focus on Readability

While handouts should not be long documents, like the slides they compliment, they do need to be easy to read.  Use a clean font, in at least 12 point size.  And make sure graphics and images are large enough so all details and labels can be easily viewed.  And though you’ll want your handouts to have a sharp, professional look, it is best to avoid colored paper or fancy layouts that may distract from the content.

3.  Leave Room for Notes

Each member of your audience will take interest or find importance in different portions of your presentation content.  Additionally, you may make mention of certain facts, or cover certain topics that aren’t spelled out specifically on your slides.  Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that your handouts give attendees room to jot down key points.

4. Double-Check Your Work

Nothing will hinder your credibility more than a handout full of typos and mistakes.  Proofread carefully to ensure proper spelling and grammar.  And, make sure you have a handful of spare copies, in case your audience is larger that originally expected.

5.  When to Distribute

Should handouts be given to audience members before or after your session?  Well, that depends.  If they will need to refer to it as your speaking, or if they will need to take notes, then it is best to distribute them beforehand.  But, if the handout content mirrors what’s on your slides, and you want to prevent them from reading it as your speaking, or even jumping ahead, then it is best to wait until you’re finished.

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 Use Body Language to Enhance Presentation Delivery

By Nat Robinson on January 13, 2010

While what you say is very important, most often it’s the non-verbal cues you give that will determine how the audience responds to your presentation.  Your body language, the subtle movements and gestures you make as you speak, is crucial.  The right body language can help you build a rapport with your audience, and add impact to your content.  But, the wrong body language can make your presentation less effective.

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind whenever you’re giving a presentation:

1. Keep Your Eyes on the Audience

Nothing conveys confidence and authority more than direct eye contact.  Failure to look at the people you’re presenting to may give the impression that you’re insecure, or even worse, dishonest.  What’s the key to maintaining eye contact throughout your presentation?  Preparation!  Know your content well, so you can look at your audience instead of your notes or slides.

2. Avoid “Blocking”

Certain gestures – like crossing your arms, putting your hands in your pockets, or standing behind a podium or laptop – can make you appear standoffish or unfriendly, and hinder your ability to connect with your audience.   This type of body language is known as “blocking”, and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, walk around the room and try to use deliberate hand gestures to emphasize what you’re saying.

3.  Smiles and Other Facial Expressions

While all types of facial expressions can help you stress key points, and should be used for emphasis wherever possible, the most powerful one in your arsenal is your smile.  Nothing relaxes an audience and builds rapport faster.  Unless the content of your presentation is somber in nature, which would make smiling inappropriate, smile as often as possible.  This is particularly important when presenting over the Web – believe it or not, those listening really will hear it in your voice.

4. Be Aware of Your Posture

Presenters need to be commanding, and demonstrate an air of authority in order to gain credibility with their audience.  Therefore, slouching, leaning, and shifting your weight from one leg to another is not the ideal way to stand as you speak.  Keeping your back straight and your shoulders up will convey your confidence to attendees.

5.  Your Attire Really Does Matter

Whether it is more appropriate to dress in formal wear, or business casual attire is debatable, and depends greatly on who your audience is.  But, whatever outfit you choose, make sure your clothing is not distracting.  Avoid bright colors, busy patterns, noisy jewelry, and other items that may draw the eye, or make it difficult for the audience to hear you as you’re speaking.

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

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – Using Color to Evoke Reactions and Emotions

By Nat Robinson on January 6, 2010

Color is a very powerful presentation tool.  In fact, some studies show that effective use of color can enhance learning and retention by as much as 75 percent, and promote up to 80 percent more interaction and participation.  And, according to the Board Report of Graphic Artists, color, when used properly, can garner attention and influence moods. But, colors can be overused, or used incorrectly, which can serve to distract more than enhance.

Color can enhance learning and retention.

What are some of the best ways to use color in your presentations?

1. Color Versions

You may choose to have two versions of your presentation, one with a light background and one with a dark background. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first and most important one is readability. If you’re presenting in a dark room then a dark background like navy blue or black with lighter colored foreground elements like white or yellow will be easier for your audience to view with the lighter colored elements “popping” off the slide. In an environment with plenty of light, the reverse is true and you’ll probably want to choose a white background with darker type and slide elements. Another reason for having two background versions is printing. Darker backgrounds will use a lot more printer toner while white backgrounds will use less.

2. Choose Your Colors Wisely

Studies show that certain colors will generate different reactions from audience members.  For example, black promotes authority and strength, while blue conveys reliability and trustworthiness (which is why so many companies use it in their corporate logos).  Red excites people, prompting them to be more innovative and take more risks.  Orange demonstrates a combination of confidence and playfulness.  So, you’ll want to select colors carefully, based on the emotions you are seeking to evoke, or the perceptions you are trying to create.

3. Use Certain Colors Sparingly

While colors like red or purple can be rather effective in certain scenarios, when used too liberally, the presenter – and his or her delivery – can be viewed as overly aggressive.  The opposite is true for colors like white, gray, or pastels, which create a perception of passivity or weakness.  These colors should be used as highlight or accent colors only – as opposed to key colors within the presentation’s design.

4. Be Wary of Color Combinations

While certain colors may work well alone, when used in combination with other hues, they can fall flat. Of course, the most obvious color combination to avoid is red and green – you never know how many color blind people may be sitting in your audience.  Studies show that orange and blue together can actually agitate or distress attendees, because of the “vibrations” the eye picks up when they are placed next to each other.  And, red and blue don’t provide enough of a contrast, making it difficult to distinguish between slide elements.

5.  Busy Patterns are Always a No-No

While you want your presentation to be eye-popping, you don’t want it to be distracting.  Busy patterns and designs really won’t enhance the content of your slides.  Sounds obvious, right?  But, you’d be surprised how many presenters fill in their charts with stripes, or use a polka dotted backdrop.  These will only create a sense of confusion, and prevent your audience members from fully grasping what you’re saying.

Understanding color can be a great way to create reactions or solicit emotions from your audience. Here are some other resources for you to draw from when broadening your presentation palette.

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

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

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 10 Secrets For Great Communication

By Nat Robinson on December 22, 2009

This week we have a guest post from Stephanie Silverman of SilvermanSpeechConsulting. Stephanie outlines 10 things for us to think about as we create and deliver presentations and some offers some great reminders for business communications and public speaking in general.

1. People Want You To Be Interesting

Though it may be hard to believe sometimes, it’s true:  people want you to be interesting.  It’s a popular misconception that others want to see you fail (it’s also a form of emotional quicksand).

2. Fear Is Like Excitement & It Can Be Harnessed

Some professional public speakers and performers feel fear before and during every presentation – they’ve just learned how to harness that energy to serve them.

3. Relaxation is a Skill

Relaxation must be practiced, just like everything else, if you want to reap the benefits.  The time it takes to “center” yourself shortens dramatically once you’re body has been properly trained.

4. Criticism Doesn’t Have To Hurt

No successful person (success-by-birth excluded) has ever reached full potential without having to take some criticism.  Knowledge is power:  Once you know something needs work, you can begin making improvements.  If you don’t know, you can’t grow.

5. Communication Is A Gift

The more you give, the more you get.  When you approach communication as something that you’re giving to others, as opposed to something to which you are being subjected, self-consciousness begins to vanish and you appear more confident (because you are.)

6. Rehearsal Required

A great performance is one where the work has been done ahead of time.  No one wants to see a play where the actors are grappling with the script after the curtain goes up.  Likewise, it’s a huge mistake to work out your speech while you’re giving it.  Rehearsal is the time to work it out.  Skip this step at your peril!

7. What’s The Angle?

Point of view is everything.  No matter the topic, always have one.  It will make you more interesting to listen to and it will be more enjoyable for you – and enjoyment is contagious.  Besides, if they wanted cold hard facts, they’d just read about it.

8. Find The Hook

Find the “hook.”  Something about what you’re saying must interest you or you will not be interesting to your listeners.  If you look carefully, you will always find something.

9. Be Human

Don’t deny yourself basic human needs.  So many speakers suffer needlessly. If you’re thirsty, drink some water.  People will wait.  If you need your glasses, pause to put them on.  Think ahead and use the restroom just before you have to speak.  Few things are more distracting and uncomfortable than watching someone try to work around these basic needs.

10. Repeat After Me: “I Don’t Know”

In a Q & A situation, if you really do not know the answer, say so.  Commend the asker for the quality of the question, tell them you are intrigued by it, and let them know you’ll look into it and get back to them.  Then be sure you do.  This is by far the more dignified way to respond than to try to make something up.  People can generally tell when you’re faking it and that can destroy the credibility of all you said before.

If you have presentation tips you’d like to contribute to the SlideRocket blog please send them to marketing@sliderocket.com. If we post it on the blog we’ll credit you as a guest blogger and send you a SlideRocket T-Shirt. Check the blog each week for a new tip on making, managing and delivering great presentations.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 6 Best Practices for Recording Presentation Audio

By Nat Robinson on December 16, 2009

With the release of SlideRocket’s audio recording features now is the perfect time to talk about best practices and techniques for creating great audio for your slides.

Creating pre-recorded content is perfect for allowing your prospects and customers to view your content at a time that’s convenient for them. It’s also less stressful for you and gives you the chance to refine your message and delivery until you get it just right. Hey, even the pros do more than one take. Here are some surefire ways to help you capture the best possible audio in your recordings:

1. Minimize Background Noise

Microphones and other devices have come along way in the past decade.  In fact, some are so sensitive that they’ll pick up even the slightest sound.  So, choose a nice, quiet place to record your presentation, and make sure you turn off your cell phone and disable email notifications and other noisy alerts on your PC or laptop.  You may even want to condense your notes onto a single page, since the microphone will likely pick up the sound as you flip through paper or note cards.

2. Smile!

Famous radio host Casey Kasem always smiles when he speaks on air.  It’s a technique that’s helped him create his unique sound and made him a household name.  Smiling expands your facial and neck muscles, and opens up your vocal cords.  So, if you smile while you’re recording your audio, you’ll sound happier and more convincing, and your audience will more readily embrace what you’re saying.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Pauses, “ums”, and “ahs” are far more noticeable in pre-recorded presentations than they are in live ones.  The more familiar you are with your material, the fewer there will be.  Script your presentation in advance, and practice thoroughly to avoid these types of grammar glitches.  If necessary, edit them out.

4. Use Strong Voice Inflection

When a presentation has been pre-recorded, audience members can’t see the speaker’s hand gestures or facial expressions.  Therefore, presenters must rely more heavily on tone and inflection to draw attention to specific details or emphasize key points.

5. Record It All at the Same Time

Weather and other environmental conditions, as well as diet, can significantly affect a person’s voice.  Because your speech may sound noticeably different from one day to the next, try to record your entire session at one time.

6.  Watch What You Eat

It may sound strange, but what you eat in the moments beforehand will have a big affect on how your audio sounds.  For example, coffee and sugary drinks increase saliva production, forcing you to pause and swallow more often.  On the other hand, the pectin in an apple will reduce excess mouth noises.  And, always take a drink of water before you start recording, so your throat doesn’t dry out as you’re speaking.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery?  Want more valuable information on effective presentation creation and delivery?  Check the SlideRocket blog every week for a new presentation tip and let us know what else you’d like to hear about.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Guides For Giving Great Online Presentations

By Nat Robinson on December 9, 2009

Presenting over the Web, instead of in person, can offer many benefits – reduced travel costs and increased convenience for participants, just to name a few.  But, effectively conveying information to a remote audience can be a challenge for even the most seasoned presenters.  What works well in face-to-face sessions may be ineffective in a Web venue and you should think about altering your presentation style accordingly.

Great online presentations.

Great online presentations.

Here are some things to consider when delivering presentations to an online audience.

1. Keep it Short and Sweet

When you’re presenting in person, you’ve got a captive audience.  But, Webcast participants are either at home or in their offices, leaving room for many distractions like ringing phones, knocks at the door, or the temptation to perform other work while they’re listening to you speak.  Therefore, your discussion should be shorter than usual, 30 minutes maximum plus time for questions and answers, to avoid potential interruptions. If you find you can’t cut down your presentation then think about employing some of these other techniques to keep your audience engaged.

2. Use Stronger Voice Inflections

Remember, your audience can’t see you.  You won’t be able to use hand gestures, facial expressions, or body language for emphasis.  All you’ve got is your voice.  So, use a stronger tone and more prominent inflections than you normally would, to make sure key points get across.

3. Keep It Interactive

It’s harder to keep your audience engaged when everyone is scattered across multiple remote locations, so speaking non-stop for a half hour, then saving Q&A until the end may not be the best approach.  Take polls or surveys, ask questions, or solicit input at various points throughout the presentation.  This type of ongoing interaction will keep attendees interested until the end of your session.

4.  Eliminate Background Noises

Your cell phone rings.  An email or pending appointment alert sets off a loud chime.  A colleague enters your office, without knocking, and begins speaking.  Day-to-day background noise in your office can be annoying and distracting to your audience – and your microphone will pick up all of it.  Be sure to turn of any phones, intercoms, alerts, or other noise-making mechanisms, and hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door, before you start presenting.

5. Check Your Equipment Ahead of Time

If your equipment fails while you’re presenting in person, you’ve got other ways to communicate.  But when you’re hosting a Webcast, your options are limited in the event of a technical disaster.  That’s why its so important to do a “test run” of your presentation several hours before your session, to ensure that your slides have uploaded properly, and that your microphone and other equipment are all in working order.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery?  Visit our Web site at www.sliderocket.com.

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