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Presentations and Storytelling

Doc Searls got me thinking about presentation software which has become a current topic with Apple’s new Keynote software. PowerPoint dominates presentation software and I really hate it. Maybe that’s not completely fair. I hate PowerPoint in the same way that I hate Flash…not so much the software itself, but how it’s used. With most applications there is a way that you are supposed to use them…it’s how they’re designed. You can work with them in a different way, but you’re going against the grain. PowerPoint seems to tend toward mediocrity in the direction that it pushes people.
Derek K. Miller explains Why PowerPoint is like a sauna in a Saab and Doc’s article It’s the Story, Stupid should be read before anyone prepares a presentation.
Years ago I had to make PowerPoint presentations for other people as part of my job. On the 7100AV that I used it was slow and an incredible memory hog. I didn’t help it a lot since I’d usually make up the shows in Photoshop as a series of images and bring them in. I much preferred doing things like that using Director and later Flash. But one of the hidden, but very useful features of Adobe’s Acrobat reader is the full-screen mode that turns a PDF file into a presentation. I’ve done some presentations that way.
The last presentation that I gave was supported with slides that I created in Photoshop and then assembled with QuickTime Pro as a series of stills. It worked well.
Now when I’m writing something more structured I’ll start in OmniOutliner which is probably the best outliner I’ve every used. Most other things that I write will be in BBEdit (where I’m writing this now). Whenever I have to do another presentation I’m thinking of using BigShow which was written by Aaron Hillegass of Big Nerd Ranch. It’s very small and simple and uses XML. I’m thinking that if I organize things in OmniOutliner and then maybe use a bit of AppleScript to reformat things into the proper XML it can be a quick way to whip something up.

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