9 Steps to Better Presentations: Part 1 – Don’t Default to PowerPoint

9_-_A_Simple_Guide_to_Better_Presentations.005NOTE: This is the first in a series of posts taken from our guide 9: A Simple Guide to Better Presentations. Can’t wait and want to get it all now? Download the eBook for FREE here.

Who ever said every talk, meeting, or presentation needs PowerPoint?

Nobody.

Here’s a handy rule of thumb: if it (and “it” means anything in your presentation) helps you make your point, fine. If it doesn’t, consider dropping it.In fact, your presentation may be stronger without slides. (Abraham Lincoln never used PowerPoint.)

Do slides help you make your point? No?

Then do you really need them?

Swipe File Friday: Evernote

Bad artists copy, great artists steal - Picasso - slide designed by Michael Gowin, Renovate Communication Design, LCC

Welcome to Swipe File Friday.

In this series so far, we’ve pointed to some sites that provide visual inspiration (Serifs&Sans, Art of the Menu, SwissMiss), a tool for annotating screen captures (Skitch), a site that offers free fonts (Font Squirrel), a site that lets you view and upload slide decks (Slideshare), a source for quotes (Observation Paper), sites that help you find images for your presentations (Flickr + Compfight), and a site that lets you watch some really cool presentations (TED).

Some of these are easily bookmarked for quick reference. In other cases, though, you may want to save a specific post, image, or quote for later use. Bookmarking the page isn’t the best way to do that.

Fortunately, there is a tool that’s perfect for this.

Evernote

Evernote is an application for Mac, Windows, and mobile devices that helps you “remember everything.” Evernote lets you organize your data in notebooks and notes. A notebook can be a collection of related notes, similar to a folder that you might use to organize files on your computer, while a note contains the data (text, images, audio, etc.) you want to save.

Swipe File Friday: Evernote at Renovate Communication Design, LLC

When you want to save something for later, simply create a new note and add a tag or two if you want (the tags are used to help you search or group notes).

For example, you might start saving quotes that you could use in your presentations. Create a new note (maybe title it presentation quotes) and then copy and paste or type the quotes into your note. When you come across a new quote, simply add it to that note. Alternatively, you could create a notebook called presentation quotes and save each quote as a new note within that notebook. Either method will work and this is one of the strengths of Evernote: you’re not forced into a specific way of organizing your data.

Evernote features a powerful search function which makes it easy to find your stuff. All of the text in your notes is searchable so there’s no need to invest a lot of time creating an elaborate system of notebooks.

If you spend a lot of time in your browser (I do) and find lots of things online that you like to save (I do), Evernote’s handy Web Clipper make adding notes to your notebooks a breeze. You’ll find extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer that enable you to clip an entire web page, part of the page, or just the URL.

I use Evernote to save all kinds of things: articles that I want to read later or have for reference, quotes (I’ve got a thing for quotes evidently), pictures and graphics for design inspiration, email templates for form letters, meeting notes, agendas, and sometimes blog posts or ideas that I want to develop. Since I also use the Evernote apps on my iPhone and iPad, I have access to my Evernote data almost anywhere, anytime.

Evernote is available as an ad-supported free download. A premium version ($45/year) eliminates the ads and offers more storage space, a good option for heavy users.

If you want to learn how to get the most from Evernote, check out Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials guide. Also see Michael Hyatt’s “A Handy Index to All My Evernote Posts” to learn how he uses Evernote to organize his life.

Start using Evernote today to organize your swipe and the things you want to remember.

Swipe File Friday: Skitch

Bad artists copy, great artists steal - Picasso - slide designed by Michael Gowin, Renovate Communication Design, LCC

Welcome to Swipe File Friday.

“You know, I’m sure this would be a lot easier for you to understand if I could just show you.”

Who hasn’t said that before?

Finding the right words to explain an idea, give directions, and who knows what else is hard. After all, research shows that we’re visual creatures: pictures win versus words. That’s why well-designed presentation slides can be so powerful.

Do you suppose there’s an app that could help me show you what I mean?

Why, yes, there is.

Skitch

Skitch screen grab

Skitch is a screen annotation tool that, according to the Skitch people, lets you “Get your point across with fewer words using annotation, shapes and sketches, so that your ideas become reality faster.”

With Skitch for Mac, you can

  • Do a screen grab or take a picture with your computer’s camera and mark up the image with comments and shapes
  • Open a picture or graphic file (like the one above) and mark it up
  • Share your annotated files online with a free Skitch account
  • Send your annotated files to Evernote
  • Resize and save graphics for blog posts, email, presentation slides, or any time you need a smaller image (much faster than doing the same work in Photoshop)

In addition to the desktop application, there are also Skitch apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android phones, enabling you to mark up anything you can photograph. This Skitch demo video shows some of the ways you can use the app.

All of the Skitch apps are free so grab one (or more) today and start marking up and sharing your screen grabs.

Note: we’re not Windows users but there’s a Skitch app for Windows 8 on the way.