Wednesday, June 27, 2007

“TECH TIPS FOR SPEAKERS”: PowerPoint’s Other Face

So, I’ve only been doing Speech / Presentation workshops for 25 years, teaching clients how to make more powerful presentations. But I’ve just learned of a powerful tool, thanks to David Pogue of the NY Times.

Pogue’s the tech writer for the paper and host of a great weekly TiVo-cast. I heard him speak at the Bulldog Conference in Washington and, at his suggestion, have been using the fabulous voice recognition software package “Naturally Speaking” which allows me to “talk” my written communications, including this blog, without keyboarding.

Pogue also has a great new series on Discovery HD called “It’s All Geek To Me” and in a recent episode on laptops, he taught this old dog a great new trick for using PowerPoint.

One of the worst sins as a presenter is to read your slides to the audience verbatim. (Hello?!? English is my first language!) That’s why PowerPoint has a “Speaker Notes” function embedded in every PPT “deck”. Using “Speaker Notes” the speaker can script what they want to say about each slide that’s not visible on the slide itself.

The problem is, you have to print out those “Speaker Notes” and use them as hard copy while projecting the slides on the screen. Or so I thought.

As Professor Pogue taught me, if you use the “Presenter Tools” or “Presenter View” tool in PowerPoint, you can see the Speaker Notes on your screen while your computer sends the slides to the LCD projector. Duh! Why is this function so buried in such a ubiquitous but essential software tool for business.

Here’s how to find this nifty tool:

For PowerPoint on the Mac just chose “Slide Show” and then “Presenter Tools”.

On Windows, of course, it’s more complicated. From the top tool bar select “Slide Show”, then “Set Up Show”. In the dialogue box check the big “Show Presenter View”. Then, in the “Display slide show on” list select the monitor you want the slides on.

When it’s set-up correctly, your audience will see the slide and your laptop will show you the Speaker Notes version of that slide and, on the left, thumbnails of the entire slide deck. That way you won’t “read” your slides, but give the audience some “value added”, i.e. info that’s not on the slide itself.

It will also make it easier to transition between slides, a technique I call “teasing”. Using Presenter View you’ll know what’s up next and can intro it verbally before showing it visually.

If you’re still confused, check out this explanation from Microsoft.

Try this out and let me know how it works. And thanks, David, for a fabulous tip!

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TECH TIPS FOR PR: “Typing by Talking”

This edition of my blog is being written without me touching the keyboard.

As I dictate this column, the words appear on the screen as fast as I can say them. The future has finally arrived! My computer is listening to me.

Voice recognition software has come a long way since I first tested Dragon “Naturally Speaking” about five years ago. The newest edition of the software from Nuance is up to version 9 and is a quantum leap from the earlier versions.

I have to give credit to David Pogue of the New York Times for turning me on to the software though I had seen it heavily advertised before. Pogue was being interviewed on Connecticut public radio when he recommended the program has been nothing short of brilliant. He was right.

Truth be told, I’m turning into something of a Pogue groupie. Not only do I read his column, but religiously watch his TiVo-cast, and his new series on discovery HD, “It’s All Geek To Me.” He was also one of the keynote speakers at the recent Bulldog conference and wowed the audience.

The “Naturally Speaking” software package costs all of a hundred bucks, including the headset and microphone. Unlike earlier versions, this one requires no learning for the software to adjust your voice. All you do is load the CDs and go.

Ironically, it’s taking some getting used to, to be able to think and speak as fast as this program can keep up with you. It used to be the typing was slow enough you could collect your thoughts before the words were committed to paper. But this program screams it so fast.

I learned to type 40 years ago the old-fashioned way, two fingers at the time but fast. My daughter, who’s in high school, can type faster than me, but is probably in the last generation that will be the perfect keyboard skills.

If you do a lot of typing in your work, whether for e-mail or documents, you should definitely check out this program. It will make your life a lot simpler.

(Full disclosure: OK… I’ll admit I did have to spend 2 minutes correcting a few errors after dictating this column, but it was so much faster than keyboarding the whole thing!)

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