1486 Preparing Powerful Presentations
 Timothy Prentiss iPhone Life 1528-5456 2009-11-16 Winter 2010 2 1 72 Work Business Editor's Choice Photogene Presenter Pro WriteRoom Other

There are only two things people fear more than speaking in public—a tax audit and death. Even if you’ve had extensive experience making presentations, the days or hours before you speak can be nerve-wracking. About the only thing you can do is to prepare and practice. You need to make sure that you have a dynamite presentation and run through it until you feel comfortable with the material.


Preparation and practice


Putting together an exceptional presentation isn’t a natural activity—otherwise none of us would be afraid of the prospect. It takes preparation and practice, and that’s where Presenter Pro can come to the rescue.

Presenter Pro

$1.99; reximedia.com


imageimageTo accomplish your goals in business you have to frequently and effectively make your case to your customers, colleagues, boss, and others. Successful presentations, whether formal or informal, begin with good preparation, and one of the best tools available for that is Presenter Pro. Promoted as a “presentation training program,” it quickly became one of the top 25 business apps.


Presenter Pro’s main screen (left) organizes key information in six categories, from structure to practice. The structure screen (right) gives you a step-by-step path to planning and creating.

imagePresenter Pro is organized into six major sections: structure, visuals, words, voice, gestures, and practice. These sections are listed in sequence; you begin by developing the structure of your presentation, insert eye-catching visuals that support your points, create words (text) that clarify your ideas and add emphasis, and so on. Presenter Pro also includes:

• Advanced presentation techniques and distinctive graphics, audio, and video clips.

• A “tip shaker” for accessing hundreds of quick presentation tips. Shake the device while viewing any of the sections for a quick tip.

• A checklist feature, which enables you to store and e-mail paragraph(s) about any topics you want to refer to later.

• A notes feature for jotting down ideas and e-mailing them to yourself.

• Exercises to practice your skills, and quizzes to help you remember the information.

Compelling visuals

Presenter Pro emphasizes that compelling visuals are key elements of a good presentation. These can be acquired from a variety of sources, including the iPhone’s built-in digital camera. Unfortunately, even with the higher resolution camera found on the new 3GS, the majority of these photos have to be edited before they can be used in a presentation. Since the built-in Photos app doesn’t have image editing capabilities, you’ll need a third-party app to tweak the photos for your presentation.

Photogene

$2.99; i-photogene.com

imageimagePhotogene is a great tool for cropping photos, allowing you to bring the essential section of each image to the forefront. The app also lets you add text balloons and frames to any picture in your Photos directory.


Photogene is a handy app that lets you take photos directly from the app, crop them, adjust brightness, add frames, and more.

You can take a photo from within the Photogene app and edit it immediately, bypassing the built-in Camera app. You can crop the image and adjust color, brightness, saturation, contrast, and more. You can even apply special effects to the image, add frames, and insert text bubbles. It’s a lot of fun!


Adding words


It’s important to select compelling images that help make your points, but presentations include words as well as graphics. Key concepts and summaries can appear in the graphics, but you speak during the presentation as well.

imageIn developing a presentation, you need to jot down your ideas and refine them. A pad of paper and a pen are common tools, but paper is bulky, inconvenient, and easy to lose. A great alternative for iPhone and iPod touch users is the built-in Notes app. It makes it easy to get your ideas down on “paper” whenever and wherever they come to you. You can do simple editing in Notes, but it’s probably better to e-mail them to yourself and finalize your presentation on your desktop computer.

Give your individual notes titles that make it easy to find related notes.

The main Notes display lists the items you’ve created by the first line of each note. Make sure you identify the presentation or project in the first line, along with the sub-topic or related visual, so that it will be easy to find the notes associated to your project. For example, if you’re working on a presentation about losing weight, your notes might refer to the text shown in the presentation’s visual. Notes are listed in order of creation time and date, so you may have to scroll through the list to find all the items you need.


WriteRoom

$4.99, hogbaysoftware.com


imageimageThe Notes app is functional, but I prefer to use WriteRoom. This app is promoted for its “distraction-free writing environment,” which means it’s a lot simpler than Word or other desktop word processing programs. WriteRoom provides the features needed to get your words on the page and little else. It does have a spell checker, and you can select from different background and text colors. But its main focus is text.

WriteRoom is a handy app for taking notes which you can e-mail as attachments for editing later or sync with the WriteRoom Web site and edit online.

Users praise the app’s sync feature (still in beta as of this writing) which allows you to upload a copy of your document to the WriteRoom Web site. You can access and edit these documents from the Web browser on any computer. You sign in using your Gmail or other Google account name and password.


The Document Sharing feature lets you access WriteRoom documents stored on your PC via a Wi-Fi connection. You activate this feature by tapping the Document Sharing icon in the Docs section, then opening Safari on your computer. Your shared documents are located in the Bonjour folder in Safari’s bookmarks. WriteRoom doc sharing is not password-protected at this time; be careful what you share through Wi-Fi.


Taking notes, organizing your points, and creating compelling visuals are important parts of the process. But you still have to stitch everything together into an effective presentation, and that takes us back to Presenter Pro.


Improve your presentation


imagePresenter Pro is a well-organized teaching tool. Each of the six major sections includes activities that will help you master the concepts and techniques covered and refine your presentation. I particularly appreciate the app’s Notes feature, which allows you to jot down ideas and save the most important and useful tips you find in the app.

Presenter Pro’s Notes feature is always available at the bottom of the screen.


The app has plenty of useful tips to help you improve your presentation, which are available through links at the end of many sections. You can also enable the app’s tip-shaker function and shake your iPhone to display random tips. When you find a tip or topic that you think is particularly important, you can drag your finger to the right and it will be added to a personal checklist. Your entire checklist can be easily accessed by tapping on the Checklist icon in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.

In the latest update of Presenter Pro, a “Rate Me” tab is available from the main screen. This enables presenters to rate themselves after a presentation and save the results. Users can also rate other presenters as well and e-mail them the results from within the app. This feature makes Presenter Pro more interactive and allows people to see how they improve over time


The latest version is more compact, and the app and future updates can be downloaded without a requirement to connect via Wi-Fi.


Presentations from the iPhone


I haven’t found a presentation app for the iPhone with the capabilities of PowerPoint (PC) or Keynote (Mac). However, there are a number of apps that let you use the iPhone or iPod touch to control a presentation running on a PC or Mac. If you’re interested in one of these, check out Presenter ($4.99), iPresenter ($3.99), Wooji Presentation Remote ($7.99), and others in the App Store. The Presenter app, and others like it, requires that you install additional software on the computer running the presentation. In addition, the computer and your iPhone will both need to be connected to a common Wi-Fi network.

You can make a presentation directly from the iPhone using a series of pictures stored on the device. Use Photogene or another photo editing app to create or modify your images and add text to them. Then use the built-in Photos app or another third-party app to display the images as you make your presentation. For small, informal, or spur-of-the-moment presentations, you can display the “slides” on your iPhone’s touchscreen. For larger, more formal presentations, you can connect your iPhone to a TV monitor or video projector using the Apple Component AV Cable available through Apple’s online store (apple.com). No laptop is needed!

In the end, even with the best apps available, it’s up to you to put what you’ve learned to use. You can start from scratch and create a brand new presentation, or you can enhance existing ones. Keep your iPhone with you at all times and jot down ideas as they come to you, and don’t forget the power of graphics.

You may still face a tax audit, but the apps discussed in this article can help make presentation panic a thing of the past.