Before I jump into to sharing the tools that I use in presentations, I want to underscore that the tools don’t make a presentation great. Good tools and great tools enhance great ideas, but they can’t prop up shallow, vacuous, or meaningless ideas and poor presentation of those ideas.
Tools can have a powerful, positive impact on the overall impact of your presentation but they can’t save a bad presentation.
Okay, disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump in.
I’m frequently asked which presentation software, tools, etc. I use when conducting my seminars, giving talks, or coaching.
I’ll touch on several of the tools I use. Here comes disclaimer number two: I don’t get paid to use any of these products or to endorse these products. I just use them because I like them.
Of course, if one of these companies wants to pay me, I’m happy to rewrite this section! But for now, it stands as is.
I use Keynote. It’s a Mac product and comes with the Mac Book. I’m surprised that so many people—even those who have Macs don’t either know about or use Keynote.
I like it for three major reasons:
- It’s easy to use.
- It integrates with other Mac products like photos, Pages, and Numbers but also non-Mac products too. Drop and drag. Easy.
- It creates the look of motion without being quite as full on motion as Prezi. Here’s an example below of some of the things you can do with Keynote’s Magic Move feature.
This is crucial. I use a Kensington Ultimate Presenter with Virtual Pointer. I like it because it has a curved shape that fits your hand perfectly. Last week I talked about a technique to put a remote in your hand so your hands looked more natural in a presentation. If you didn’t see that video, click here to see it.
It’s easy to keep this or any Kensington remote in your briefcase or bag. I can’t stress this enough: use your own presentation remote. I see too many presenters struggle in the front of the room trying to use someone else’s remote that they aren’t familiar with, hit all the wrong buttons, and spend too much time apologizing to the audience.
You can get a really good remote for under $60. They last forever. And showing up with your own remote is one of the signs of a pro.
If you’re just starting out using a remote, I recommend the Kensington Presenter Expert. I used one for years before I upgraded to the Ultimate Presenter. I have literally traveled around the country with my Kensington remotes and they have never once failed me. Never once.
Here’s the link to the Kensington remotes:
Every other week I put out a new video for my Rules of Engagement series. I edit all of those using a program called ScreenFlow.
ScreenFlow lets you edit video even more easily than Mac’s iMovie with many of the features of more advanced programs like Adobe Premier (with a much shorter learning curve). It also lets you record what is on your screen so you create demo videos. Here’s an example below:
Here’s the link to the ScreenFlow software:
I use three different tools to create graphics for videos, blogs, and my seminars:
Yes, Keynote, the presentation program. If you want to create a simple JPEG, you can create it as a screen in Keynote and then export it as JPEG. Simple.
Canva (canva.com) is a free service that is easy to use to create free graphics. You have more options with Canva then with Keynote. I consider it my medium option.
Easil (easil.com) is my go-to for creating graphics for my programs and my online courses. I use the paid service. It’s $9 bucks a month and for that fee they give you thousands of pre-created graphics, looks, designs that you can easily modify, resize, and adjust the colors to suit your look and your need.
I use Easil to create the thumbnail graphics I use for Rules of Engagement videos. Here’s an example below:
Because I use a mac and most businesses conference rooms, corporate classrooms, and
amphitheaters are designed around PC’s, I carry a MAC VGA Adapter and a 10-foot HDMI cable. Those two tools turn my laptop into projector compatible no matter where I’m presenting.
Don’t show up and presume every place will have these for you to use. As a rule of thumb, the more you need something, the less likely the place where you present will have it.
I like to use Numbers, another Mac program. It’s a spreadsheet program, but much more flexible than Excel.
You can also use Word or Page or any word processing program.
The key isn’t which program you use to create your program outline. The key is making it big, bold, with white space.
Here’s an example of what my outlines look like. Remember, the outline is just for you, as the presenter, to see. It’s your guide for the flow of the program. At a glance you want to see two things:
- Where you are right now
- Where you’re going next
Other Things to Have or Have Access to
Dry erase markers. I keep a few in my bag. A whiteboard is only as good as th
e markers you use onit. Showing up and having to use dried out, faded markers takes away from your presentation. Have a few fresh ones handy. I use Expo markers. They seem to last forever.
Same with Flipchart markers. I keep a couple wide, chisel tipped
Sharpies with me when I present. I like to have a black, a blue, and a red. Color cont
rast comes in handy when you’re
writing on a flipchart and you want to highlight something.
My preference in tools has evolved over years to what feels best, works best, and looks best when it’s go time and show time. Please don’t think you can just copy this tools list, not practice your presentation and think the tools will bail you out and save the day. Won’t happen!
But if you handle the heavy lifting of figuring out your big idea, crafting an excellent program, and practicing your performance, then I promise you good tools will make you better and will help you shine in front of the room.
What are Your Favorites?
I showed you mine. Now you show me yours. What are your favorite presentation and video tools and software? Leave me a comment below. I love learning about what others are using.