Last Updated on October 7, 2021
The best guest speakers are those who know how to inspire the people who attend their presentation. They’re compelling individuals and natural storytellers, with magnetic personalities, great voices, and boundless energy. They also know their tech – and how best to use it to make their point.
The truth is, in many ways the difference between a good guest speaker and a great one is simply how they use the tools they have at their disposal.
With that in mind, today’s piece is going to focus on a few presentation tools and gadgets a speaker can use to enrich their presentation. Do note that since conferences often provide amenities such as talkback mics, sound systems, and projectors, our focus instead is mostly going to be on software. Let’s get started.
Designed as part of the iWork productivity suite, Keynote is an iOS/MacOS based PowerPoint alternative (which we haven’t included on this list simply by virtue of the fact that everyone knows about it). Available online through the iCloud, it’s capable of opening PowerPoint files, provides a ton of pre-made presentation templates, and allows users to add their own media if the platform’s built-in editors aren’t quite your speed.
In case you’re not sure what Keynote is capable of, it’s the tool that was used to design all of Apple’s presentations during the Steve Jobs era. The online version of the tool is also platform-agnostic, meaning you don’t need to worry about whether or not it’ll work on your PC (it will). There’s just one thing worth mentioning here:
The tool is technically still in beta, so there are bound to be a few glitches and quirks. If you can get around those, however, what you’re left with is a powerful, full-featured presentation platform that’s every bit as formidable as PowerPoint.
Prezi’s got the unique distinction of being the market leader in online presentation software. It allows several individuals to collaborate in real-time on a presentation, and works with pretty much any operating system. There’s just one caveat, unfortunately – it’s got a rather steep learning curve.
There’s something else unique about Prezi, as well. Unlike other presentation tools, it doesn’t actually work with slides. Creating a presentation with Prezi involves working on a large canvas, where you choose the directional flow of your presentation. This allows for a level of customization and control that no other presentation software can match.
That means that once you get the hang of Prezi, you’ll be able to use it to create one of the best presentations you’ll ever see.
No list would be complete without an obligatory nod to SlideShare, a hosting service that allows any presenter to upload and hosts slides from their keynote. By uploading your presentation to SlideShare, you open it up for discussion by some of the greatest minds in your industry – all of whom are constantly on the lookout for stuff to share with their audiences and colleagues. Sounds pretty good so far, doesn’t it?
It gets better.
SlideShare is also one of the 200 most-visited websites in the world. This makes it great for more than just marketing and discovery; it’s also a formidable lead generation tool thanks to its connection to LinkedIn. As such, it can be an inconspicuous way to get your brand’s message out to everyone who attended one of your keynotes – and plenty of folks who didn’t.
If you’ve ever seen a presentation that made use of a ton of animated slides or videos, there’s a good chance it was created in PowToon Studio. Equipped with an extensive, high-quality library of animated characters, styles, templates, special effects and props, PowToon lets just about anyone create professional-looking animations with naught but a few clicks. No matter what industry you’re in (or what kind of keynote you’re hosting), you can use PowToon’s drag-and-drop interface to put together a cartoon that explains it.
For those of you who can’t find anything you like in PowToon’s library, you can also upload and modify your own assets. The basic version of the tool is free, with several additional pricing tiers depending upon your needs as a presenter.
The newest entry on our list by far, #Slides was released by PowToons Studio back in 2014. Since then, it’s been used to make thousands of high-quality presentations. It’s available free of charge, and allows you to quickly and easily embed rich media including video and PowToons animations into your slides. Factor in a library filled with high-quality, professional-looking templates, and #Slides is a winning choice.
The value proposal of Bunkr goes a little something like this: the process of creating a presentation can be difficult, repetitive work. Instead of putting a bunch of effort into learning Prezi or tweaking PowerPoint so your presentation deck looks incredible, wouldn’t it be better to simply gather the materials that you want to comprise your keynote and let someone else handle the slides? That’s where Bunkr comes in.
All you need to do is plug your presentation materials into the platform. Once you’ve got everything in the right Bunkr folders, the tool will do the rest, putting everything together into a finished presentation. Sounds rather incredible, no?
You’re probably a little surprised to see Google Drive make this list. Allow me to explain. See, Drive is one of the best free digital collaboration tools on the web, in addition to being a great place to store any documents or files related to your presentation. While that might not do a whole lot for you during your keynote, you can bet it’ll come in handy when brainstorming presentation ideas, planning an itinerary, or gathering facts and figures.
The Logitech Professional R800
Depending on what sort of presentation you’re doing, you might not need a wireless presenter. In the event that you do, however, The Logitech Professional Presenter is one of the best on the market. At a cost of $80, this device has a range of 100 feet, an incredible battery life, and the capacity to fine-tune one’s presentations with a number of tools including a laser pointer, and timers to indicate when a keynote’s done.
If you’d like more information, you can check out this review, as it gives a pretty decent idea of what the tool’s capable of.
Our last entry is a bit more speculative than concrete. Imagine, if you will, a presenter whose prompts appear directly before their eyes. A speaker who has all the information they need directly at their fingertips, even when they’re looking directly at the audience. Those are just a few of the things wearable technology such as Google Glass can do for keynotes in the near future.
Granted, there’s still a bit of time before any of that stuff’s necessarily viable – but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
Like event planners, guest speakers can be made or broken by the equipment they use. With the right tools, your every presentation will go over like a dream for the audience. You can still get by without any gadgets, tools, or technology, of course – but why would you want to?
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Forget paying for an advertising spot or schmoozing around at a trade show; guest speaking is among the best ways to promote your event management firm.