Tag Archives | Presentations

SlideShare Adds Extremely Simple, Surprisingly Painless Web Conferencing

SlideShare, a four-year-old site that lets anyone share presentations created in PowerPoint and other apps, is branching out. Today, it introduced Zipcast, a nifty, super-simple Web conferencing service that aims to avoid the complexity and high pricetags of established conferencing services.

It’s less of a stand-alone service and more of an extension of SlideShare’s existing features–in fact, anyone can turn public SlideShare presentations created by other people into a Zipcast. The best thing about is how, well, zippy it is.

I’m used to gritting my teeth when it comes time to join a Web conferencing–they can take minutes to load, are occasionally fussy about arcane issues like my Java setup, and sometimes decide they don’t like my Web browser. SlideShare’s service, which uses a combination of HTML5 and Flash, is compatible with all modern browsers and is fast and frustration-free for both the presenter and presentees. (“Modern browsers,” incidentally, doesn’t include Internet Explorer 6.) You can launch a conferencing session in your browser with a few clicks, and it’s live immediately–no plug-ins (other than Flash) required.

The service permits you to allow an unlimited number of attendees into your Web conference; they see your show as you step through the slides and can discuss it in a chat window. You can broadcast a video feed from your Webcam, and there’s a conference line option for dial-in audio.

Zipcast is by no means a full-on replacement for services such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft’s Live Meeting: It doesn’t have full-blown features for inviting attendees (although you can simply paste your Zipcast meeting URL into any scheduler) and doesn’t let you share your computer’s screen, for example. Rather than giving you a unique URL for each conference, it provides you with a single one (such as slideshare.net/technologizer/meeting) where all your conferences take place.

If all you want to do is step folks through a presentation and discuss it, Zipcast gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. But as a presenter who likes to control the flow of a show and build up suspense, I do wish that it were possible to turn off the feature that lets attendees page ahead through your presentation at will. (Then again, I guess it’s better if attendees sneak a peek at later slides than that they abandon my presentation entirely.)

Unlike most Web conferencing services, Zipcast has an offering for freebie lovers. If you don’t want to password-protect your conference and don’t mind ads, you can use it for free, and conference in as many people as you want. By subscribing to any of SlideShare’s for-pay tiers (which start at $19 a month) you can protect shows from prying eyes and ditch the ads.

If you really don’t care who sees your Zipcast–or even actively want random interested folks to discover it and join in–you can make it public. That makes it show up in a Facebook-like public feed of activity on the Zipcast homepage, alerting the world to your conference.

Zipcast is neat. The next time I need to give a presentation over the Web, I’ll be inclined to give it a whirl–and if someone invites me to a Zipcast, I won’t gird myself for potential technical trouble in way I usually do when attending Web meetings.




SlideRocket’s New Interactive Features: Powerful, Not PowerPoint-esque

Of all the classic productivity tools that have made their way onto the Web, presentations may be the most immature. Most contenders pretty much try to replicate the basics of PowerPoint in the browser, including Google Docs, Zoho Show, and Microsoft’s own PowerPoint Web App. It’s not easy–PowerPoint-like fancy graphics and interactivity are tough to achieve, especially if you’re doing so using only HTML and AJAX techniques.

End result: None of the aforementioned Web-based PowerPoint rivals are anywhere near as good as PowerPoint. I can’t imagine anyone who’s very serious about presentations using any of them full-time.

But what if replicating PowerPoint wasn’t really the idea? Enter SlideRocket, a Web-based presentation service that provides many (though not all) of PowerPoint’s core tools but really focuses on collaborative, Web-based communications that go beyond anything offered by Microsoft. (For instance, it has a media manager that lets a company update images across all the presentations in all its presentations instantly–for instance, if its logo changes.)

SlideRocket does its thing using an interface built in Flash, which lets it deliver an exceptionally rich interface and set of features. It’s one of the slickest, most ambitious productivity apps you’ll ever see in your browser–and it’s easy to learn and use even though its look and feel owe little to PowerPoint. It’s releasing a new version today that takes the whole service in an even more interesting, less PowerPoint-esque direction.

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The Search for the World’s Best Presentation

World's Best Presentation ContestI’ve been writing about presentations and tools and tips for creating and conducting them since the Mesozoic era–way back when you most likely created your slides with Harvard Graphics, and maybe even printed them out on overhead transparencies. Today, I’m pleased to be one of the judges of The World’s Best Presentation Contest ’09. The competition is being held over at Slideshare, the neat service for embedding presentations in Web pages–so everyone who’s interested can see all the entries. And there are some neat prizes to be won, including a MacBook Pro, a Kindle DX, an iPhone 3GS, an HP TouchSmart laptop, and copies of Adobe’s Acrobat 9 and Creative Suite CS4.

I’m one of the judges for a category for presentations created with Acrobat 9–Adobe is the sponsor of the whole contest this year–along with Scott Belsky of Behance and Julie Hansen of The Business Insider. And three presentations I put together are on Slideshare. The contest is running through September 8th–check out the entries and spread the word!

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New Targus Accessories Cater to Mac Users

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Seagate’s new hard drives designed specifically for Macs, and noted that it was interesting to see how booming sales for Macs have led large companies to enter the Mac market rather than flee it, as many were doing not so long ago. Here’s more confirmation of that trned: Targus, the big manufacturer of computer cases and mobile accessories, is rolling out its first products tailored for Mac users.

The “Targus for Mac” line includes mice, a USB hub, a presentation remote, a file-sharing cable, a cooling pad, and privacy screens. For the most part, their Mac-isness doesn’t relate to functionality, and Mac users already have access to products in all those categories which are fully Mac-compatible. But Targus has done a nice job of styling the products with a look that’s pleasingly complimentary to MacBooks and MacBook Pros without simply being an unimaginative knockoff of Apple’s own aesthetic.

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