No Death by PowerPoint With Cool Presentation Tools

I went to a conference for meeting planners earlier this year and the most crowded sessions were not about hotels, contracts, or the latest trends in catering, they were on event technologies. Then again it shouldn’t be a surprise given the times we live in and all the new communications tools for marketers these days. I became very excited by all the possibilities for meetings, from “hotel keys” that not only open your room door but also manage room functions, to new social networking tools and mobile apps specifically for events. But the ones that really stood out as something I can use right now were the alternative presentation technologies. Marketers are supposed to be “creative” and about ideas but we often fall victim to the dreaded, predictable format of PowerPoint aka Death by PowerPoint. There are now more opportunities available to develop presentations in more creative, thoughtful and unexpected ways while holding the attention of audiences – here are are a few of the biggies.  They are great to know about for internal or external live  events, as well as communicating ideas to online audiences.

Pecha Kucha

PechaKucha seems more like a movement than a technology but it’s both- PechaKucha means something like “the sound of chit chat” in Japanese  and is based on the premise of 20 images for 20 seconds each with audio – no shorter and no longer. This has spawned a vast social network with PechaKucha nights around the world where 20 artists, authors, and anyone else enamored with this format can come together and show their own Pecha Kucha creation. So even though Pecha Kucha is more of an art form, it can be used in the business world. The nice thing about Pecha Kucha is that it is both a rigid yet flexible medium-it has all the ingredients  to be creative  but also make each slide count. Unlike PowerPoint, the tendency for bloated decks is difficult – you have to pare down your story or in some cases recreate it. So in a way using this format can be both a challenge and a gift and will also make you think out of the Microsoft Office Suite and that’s well…sweet!


Yes, another “P” word….Prezi is a tool that can be seen as a blank canvas — you can tell a story  the way you want and guarantee your presentations stand out from the crowd. Using text, images, video, Flash files, line drawings, and zooming in (one of the coolest features), and other unusual effects, Prezi will make audiences sit up and watch a narrative unfold. It’s also great tool to encourage people to focus on a point you want to make while keeping the images flowing (I was getting dizzy from viewing samples so make sure to limit the  zooming-a little goes a long way). Prezi also works with PowerPoint by importing slides from a ppt. deck and following the instructions to can give it a whole new life. There is also a library of presentations on the Prezi web site that you can use to customize and get inspiration from and even a “Prezi for Dummies” out there.  Prezi is free for the basic usage, and step up is $59+/year.

Pico Projectors

From the presentation itself to the medium to display it, there are projectors that are the size of the palm of your hand, or even better, integrated into smart phones. Pico projector formats were a hot item at CES this year and will continue to be a growing market with our insatiable desire for mobile technology. With the popularity of the iPad and other portable display mediums, more and more vendors are getting in on the action, with models starting at $99. Since last year, the Pico projector market is selling a million units a year, and as more mobile phones have them integrated, these numbers are expected to grow exponentially. There is one projector that seems to be designed specifically for Paris Hilton:  iGo released a gold-plated Pico for $1,600, tricked out with lots of bells and whistles. In general Pico projectors are not suitable for large group presentations, but they are great medium for small meetings, impromptu presentations, and handy to have in general. And let’s face it-small gadgets are just plain CUTE!

So what’s the  bulleted list we might put in a PowerPoint “Summary” slide (besides the fact that everything I’ve mentioned starts with a “P”-let’s hear it for alliteration)

  • New presentation tools make the story the center stage, not the format. By having a blank canvas, you have ultimate control of what the audience will see, hear, take away– and most importantly remember.
  • Alternative  presentation formats push us to tell our story in a different, creative way and encourages our mind to be more open, maybe even developing new or other ideas we wouldn’t have thought of using PowerPoint
  • Being in marketing means understanding and using the latest technologies for our field so I will be going to a Pecha Kucha night soon and getting me a Pico projector  (but uh…not the gold-plated one)

One thought on “No Death by PowerPoint With Cool Presentation Tools

  1. It’s encouraging to see new techniques being employed to better communicate and stand apart from the mundane “death by powerpoint.” But whether it’s Pecha Kucha or Haiku that frames the form of communication, the challenge is always with the communicator mastering the function of the message. Junk-in, junk-out is still the cautionary imperative. And if a CEO suddenly starts employing these new delivery techniques, you will see their minions by the thousands aping their management to win approval in form, if not in substance. It is in the substance of communication that real value resides. Bravo to those artists and technologists who offer a way to differentiate our messages, but where’s the app for teaching poetry, wisdom and whimsy?

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