At the end of the day yesterday, my Manager and I were discussing the status quo of Presentations that we put our customers through. I like to think that I am pretty good at telling a story that supports the presentations that are built for me and in many cases by me but they still remain very static and linear. That got me thinking about the new reality of Presentations…mobile devices, kiosks, online views and all the other wonders that a good presentation can do. From my time as a Toastmaster I learned very quickly that the power of getting an audience to lean forward is the most important aspect of “working a room” and getting them engaged…but in the work that I do every day…I cannot see the people that I am working with for the most part because I do 99% of my work by telephone.
There are several options to make a Presentation more interactive but for the purposes of the experiment that I am trying with my Manager, I did not want to create a new Paradigm that would add confusion and completely change what and how we do things. Change does not always have to be a radical upshift, it can sometimes be in just adding the right value to an already proven process.
I came across several solid candidates but settled on trying out ActivePrez, mainly because it is an actual download that integrates directly with PowerPoint. The real challenge that I faced right off the bat, is how I was going to institute this at home (because there is only one Windows Computer)…so I quickly fired up my old faithful Windows Virtual Machine that has Office 2013 connected and registered for the Free Trial of ActivePrez. That however did not work…which was a bit of a let down because in my humble opinion, the Office 2013 is the strongest version of Office yet…so back to the drawing board and I installed Office 2010.
“A Quick Update” – in working directly with the Vendor on this, it turns out that the fault is not with the product but with the version of Office that I was using. 64-Bit does not play well with the plugin architecture used in the ActivePrez so be aware of this if you are trying to leverage the goodness in a 64-Bit Office Environment. Thanks to Jamie Garroch for the assistance.
The Office 2010 install allowed me to connect to the ActivePrez Macro and I was instantly able to start adding dynamic navigation into the presentation, while enabling some pretty interesting transitions and animations to the presentation that we were mulling over.
I was quite impressed with the ability of ActivePrez to allow me to build Navigation Menus and insert unique options like a discrete Clock, Security Features and my favorite – the Serial Navigator drop down menu that lets me quickly switch to a given slide from within the presentation.
This is a great step towards the world of a NonLinear Presentation that allows a single broad connection of different content that enables the presenter to only show what is actually relevant to the audience that the presentation is being built for. I have tried to add navigation to presentations before and for all the benefits of the advancements in PowerPoint, this is by far the best add on that I have found. I am not sure how long the Free Trial lasts as the site does not express that but for $149 it is a solid purchase none the less and while it is not quite at the level of truly next generation like Prezi or SpeakFlow, it uses tools that most of us are used to using and builds an easy to use flow to existing PowerPoint presentations without needing to learn anything new (or minimally new as the solution is very intuitive and the supporting documentation and videos are very solid.
Chris J Powell