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There are several importance of e-presentations. Below are some of them

o Keeps your audiences stimulated

The ability to have interesting transitions between visuals, have words and objects "fly in," play video or sound clips, all contribute to audiences staying with you. Unfortunately, no matter how interesting your material, or how good a speaker you are, people's minds drift. We all need ways to keep them coming back to us.

o Higher quality than many visuals used in presentations

Presentations are rife with poor visuals, too-small lettering, crammed charts-you've seen them all, haven't you? So have I. Presentation software offers templates so that even those who are taste-impaired can produce attractive visuals easily.

o Instantly adaptable

Does this ever happen to you: You were told you have 30 minutes to speak, but 10 minutes before it's your turn, you're told you only have 20. What to do? Talk faster? Skip the last slides? Don't spend as much time on each one?

Unfortunately, this scenario happens to me often. Now, I can easily look at my visuals, move them around, and eliminate some.

And something I really love is being able to quickly create a slide and add a quote from a previous speaker that day, or even one of the audience members.

Some software allows you to have a "hidden slide" which you prepare beforehand and insert in your presentation, but only access if that issue comes up. If you don't get asked the question, you skip right by it and no one even knows you skipped it!

o Easily reusable

Another thing I love is being able to reuse the visuals I've created. Now, of course, you could reuse overheads and slides, but what if you want to change something small, like the title? With electronic visuals you can reuse most of the visual, and easily change the title. The real beauty of this is the next point-

o Once you have the software and hardware, there's no additional hard cost

With overheads and slides, there is a cost each time the visual is printed. Even with black and white overheads there is still a cost, even if it's small. But with electronic presentations there is NO cost! Zip. Nada. Nothing. You can change anything you want, as many times as you want, and there's no output cost!

o Helps increase your credibility and status

I've seen data on how visuals help increase your credibility. I don't know the statistics, but I believe electronic presentations increase your credibility even more. Your audience members perceive you as current. I believe they give your information more weight.

What are the downsides?

As with most everything in our lives, there are pros and cons. Let's look at what could be the cons of electronic presentations.

o Initial cost

Of course, you have costs. You need a computer to run your presentation, the software, some way to project the images, and the time to learn how to use everything so it runs smoothly.

o Hardware

You (or your organization) probably already own a computer that will work for electronic presentations. I find a laptop computer works great, and I've seen people use a desktop model. Obviously, the latter is bulkier so more trouble to move around. Since I make my presentations all over the country, I use my laptop. If you work for an organization that has you make presentations at many sites, you could take your presentation on a diskette, a Zip disk, a CD-ROM, or you could carry a hard drive with you.

To project your visuals you'll need to connect the computer to an LCD panel, projector, or TV. If your presentation is for only a handful of people, you could even show your visuals on a large computer monitor.

o Software

There are many easy-to-use software programs for presentations. Ask around and see what your colleagues are using, what they like about it and what they don't like.

o Learning curve

Learning anything new takes some time. The software programs now available seem pretty straightforward and easy to use. But to speed your learning curve, I'd suggest you take a class. Then you can learn shortcuts that you might have to dig far to find in the manual.

o Equipment doesn't always work

I've been told that there are people who make electronic presentations and never have equipment malfunction. This is not my experience. Since I make my living making presentations, it's important that I always look smooth and professional.

For that reason, I always carry a set of bare bones back up overheads (not the whole set of visuals). You could have back up slides, instead. If the visual is important to enhance what I'm discussing, then I carry it with me.

I also get in the room early to make sure that we can get what I need to make it work. Often I find the connector is missing that goes from my computer to the projection unit. Now I carry my own. I also carry my own power strip extension cord so I can set up my computer where it's comfortable for me.

o You can be seduced to continually tweak.

I still wrestle with this issue. I can spend hours and hours trying to make my visuals look better. Often, the improvements are so small no one else would notice. So now I try to limit the amount of time I spend just to make them look a little better.

o Traditional outputs

There are various ways you can print your visuals.

o Slides

You can take or send a diskette of your visuals to a service bureau that will print them onto 35mm slides. Or you can send your file via modem to a service bureau. The one we use (Imagers) will then print them overnight and FedEx them back to you within 48 hours.

o Overheads

You have the same options as with slides. Additionally, you can print them from a color printer, which now costs less than 500ghc for an adequate one. I print my visuals on my HP DeskWriter when I don't have a color background. When the background is color, it takes forever to print and eats up color cartridges quickly. I've decided it's less expensive and more convenient to send my color-background slides to a service bureau.

When I do send my overheads to the service bureau, I've found the colors to be a bit darker than what I see on the computer screen, so I purposely lighten them up before sending them via my modem.

o Handouts

You can print hard copy of visuals in various formats: one per page, 2 per page, 3 down the left side of the page so the audience can take notes on the right, 6 per page, and who knows what other formats. You can also print one visual on the top half of the page with the bottom half with text you provide, or blank for note taking.

o Speaker notes

For your own notes, you can print one visual on the top half of the page with the bottom half filled with your notes.

Electronic outputs

Electronic outputs are when you don't print anything out; you show your visuals through various methods.

o TV with encoder

An encoder (also called a scan converter) hooks from the computer to the TV. Mine is about as big as a videotape, so it is easy to carry. By using an encoder, it allows me to show my presentation anywhere (almost) that has a TV. (Remember the downside I mentioned above, that the equipment doesn't always work? I was speaking at a small manufacturing firm in Kansas and their old TV didn't have a way for me to connect, even though we tried all the attachments I had.)

Showing your presentation on a TV is an easy, inexpensive way to have an electronic presentation. I find it works well for a group of up to 35 or so, depending on how large the TV screen is.

o LCD panel/projector

An LCD panel sits on top of an overhead projector which has a high-lumen (usually over 4000 lumen) bulb. Although the image is much larger than that shown on a TV, I find the visuals seem washed out, even with the lights over the screen dimmed.

A projector allows you to show the images even larger than an LCD panel, and these don't get washed out. Projectors are either free-standing units about the size of a slide projector, or are units you may see ha

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