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Putting the Personality Back in Online Presentations

Saturday, March 12, 2011
posted by Geetesh on 12:10 PM IST





Michael KolowichMichael Kolowich is founder and CEO of KnowledgeVision, which has developed tools for creating, managing, and distributing synchronized interactive online video presentations for communications, marketing, training, and sales professionals. He writes regularly about online presentations at his blog.

This is a guest post by Michael for Indezine.com -- do note that the content in this post is his opinion, and not necessarily endorsed by this site.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little tired of the "disembodied voice" approach to online presentations. Whether it’s through webinars or online meetings or voiced-over sales decks, there's no denying that the narrated online presentation has started to gain traction. But this popularity comes at a cost: most online presentations, to be blunt, lack personality.

Think back over the last couple of years to the most memorable and impactful presentations you’ve seen. And if you haven’t seen any lately, go to TED and take in a couple of the so-called "TED Talks". Or reflect on some of the great lectures you might have seen in college. Or look at what Steve Jobs does with his product launch presentations. Great presentations are, at their core, performance art, augmented by the power of illustration in the form of powerful images and provocative text. Great presenters are storytellers, and they tell those stories with every tool they have – with the inflection of their voice, with their gestures, with their facial expressions, with the images they show, and with the useful handouts they pass around.

A voiced-over online presentation is handicapped right from the start, because the speaker is denied many of the communication tools that are available to a live presenter. What's more, presentation narrators often compound the problem by reading from a script, further stripping the personality from the experience.

While narrated presentations certainly have their place as a quick-and-dirty tool in an online communications portfolio, they are hardly the way to put a company’s best foot forward – especially with an organization's best communicators.

Fortunately, online video presentation tools like KnowledgeVision are now emerging that are easy, affordable, and powerful. And I'm not talking about just dropping video clips into a presentation; I'm talking about a fully-synchronized reproduction of a presentation experience, with all the body language and nuance of the storyteller. Take a look at this 6-minute example of an online video presentation and I think you’ll see what I mean.

Too expensive to produce? Hardly. At a time when most teenagers know how to create and upload video clips to YouTube, video capture and uploading skills are everywhere you look. And the best video online presentation platforms can create quite serviceable "ad-hoc" presentations right from a webcam, plugged into your computer's USB port. Video online presentations can be produced in literally minutes from any computer, anywhere an internet connection can be found, with no special equipment.

Today's most advanced online presentation platforms don’t stop at video synchronization, though. They further enhance the experience by providing just-in-time footnotes, virtual handouts, calls to action, forms, quizzes, surveys, interactive transcripts, and other tools as part of the entire interactive experience. And they augment that experience with powerful analytics that show how the presentation material is being viewed and interacted with.

Will this spell the end of audio-only narrated presentations? Hardly. Both narrated presentations and fully-synchronized video presentations have a place in a company's communications portfolio at every level – from the corporate communications and training departments to product managers and sales reps. And now that both capabilities can be found in a single flexible tool, there's no reason not to spread that capability widely in an organization.

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