In this conversation, Jamie and Nolan talk about their new PowerPoint add-in, TalkTime.
Geetesh: Can you tell us a little about how TalkTime evolved? Is there a story here?
Nolan: I do a lot of speaking and training, and it’s not unusual for me to have to pull together a 60-minute talk from hours of material and hundreds of slides. Knowing how long a given section or individual slide will take me to present is vital to correctly estimate my talk time. And so, I have long wanted to be able to indicate talk time for a given slide directly within PowerPoint. I brought this up casually in a conversation at the recent Presentation Summit with Jamie, and he surprised me by sending a prototype of an add-in with this exact functionality just a few hours later.
Jamie: I’ve always been an avid problem solver of real-world needs so when Nolan approached me at the Presentation Summit with his idea, I could instantly see the benefits of the functionality he had in mind. We then worked in a highly collaborative mode from that day to the day we launched TalkTime, taking just under a month to complete the first version for PowerPoint on the PC. That time also included a feedback phase, which included the proposal from Geetesh Bajaj of Indeine.com to add the narration timing feature. I hope to build a Mac version once Microsoft has equivalent tools to enable a solution.
Geetesh: Can you share some scenarios in which TalkTime can be used? Also, this add-in looks far too full-featured to be a free add-in. What motivated you to offer this free to PowerPoint users?
Nolan: Personally, I will be using TalkTime to assemble talks and pieces of training from existing sets of slides. It will help me ensure that I don’t prepare too much or too little material. Presenters—whether old pros or newbies—can use the Record feature to get precise timings for every slide and then surgically edit their talk for the future as well as get private feedback and metrics on how long they spent on a given topic. I also envision scenarios where a talk gets cut from 45 to 30 minutes at the last minute and with just a few clicks to hide certain slides, a presenter can confidently and accurately shorten his or her talk down to exactly the requested time.
Jamie: The initial motivation came from the incredible energy generated by the Presentation Summit but we hadn’t considered it would be free until some way into the project. Having discovered some new limitations that I faced as an add-in developer, I thought that TalkTime functionality should really be a native feature of PowerPoint and the best way to achieve that would be to get as many people using it as possible. There is also part of me that takes immense pleasure in giving something back to the presentation community. Finally, I believe “extensibility” (extending the functionality of Office apps) is a largely unknown capability and a free add-in contributes to my personal goal of evangelizing about this topic.