Every day in offices, schools and cafeterias all around the globe, zillions of PowerPoint presentations are built to present, convince, inform and sell. Most of these presentations are presented live to an audience and then… Then what? Most of the time, nothing. So much of the intelligence, knowledge and expertise embedded in these presentations is lost and never reused. This is an enormous waste and often a missed opportunity for authors who could spread their message to a wider audience then the one who attended the live presentation or webinar.
Whether a presentation is about a lesson, an idea, a product, a company, an analysis, a proposal or a curriculum, the benefits of sharing it to a much wider audience are tremendous. Authors can reach prospects, customers, students, colleagues, peers and team members which have no possibility to attend the live presentation. The presentation once online can also be found, posted in social media and spread virally over the internet. A third benefit is the possibility of repurposing, to allow the ideas presented in the presentation to find completely new audiences and new application areas, as in the example of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).
In case of presentations for which access need to be limited to a company, a school or a group of subscribers there are still valuable benefits in publishing the presentations online, even if behind a firewall or a paywall. Namely allowing the audience to choose when and where to enjoy the presentation, often called just-in-time learning, including possibility for the audience to enjoy the presentations from their smartphones or tablets.
However, if the benefits of publishing presentations online are so tremendous, why do many authors choose not to share their presentations online? The short answer is that sharing presentations online in an efficient way is far from being obvious, and it typically requires the author to deal with problems outside their area of expertise, as choosing proper publishing software or recording equipment.
The goal of this article is to help authors sharing presentations online by illustrating four strategies, with links to existing services and list of benefits and drawbacks for each strategy.
The four strategies for publishing online, explained in the rest of the article here below, are also illustrated by an online presentation, embedded here in form of a video with text-to-speech voiceover.
The first strategy is to just put the slides online, as they are, with no comments. Many presentations are published this way on websites like slideshare.net. The main benefits of this strategy is simplicity, since all that it is needed is to upload the PowerPoint file on a website. The main drawback is that the added value of the author’s comments goes missed, meaning that unless the presentation is made of text-oriented and self-explanatory slides, the audience might find it difficult to understand the message and the context.
The second strategy is to record voice comments to the slides to build a talking presentation and share it online as a video or as a talking slide show. There are many ways to record voice comments, either directly in PowerPoint or using authoring tools like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Presenter, or online services like mybrainshark.com and ispringsolutions.com. The main benefit of this strategy is preserving the author’s comment to complete the presentation. The main drawback is that making the voice recordings is difficulty and time-consuming, unless the author has access to proper equipment and has good vocal skills.
The third strategy is to hire a professional voice talent for the voiceover. There are many ways to find voiceover talents, as contacting local studios or using dedicated online services like voice123.com, primevoices.com and voices.com. The author typically provides a manus to the voice talent that makes the recording. The audio needs then to be synchronized with the slides and transformed into a video or a talking slide show, possibly using some of the tools presented in the second strategy here above. The main benefit of hiring voiceovers is the professional voice and high quality narration. The main drawbacks are the cost for the voice talent and the time required for the project management: choosing a voice talent, negotiating a price, evaluating the result, synchronizing audio and slides. This strategy is typically chosen for higher value presentations, as for instance business presentations, where there is enough time and budget for the production work.
The fourth option is to use text-to-speech for the voiceover. Text-to-speech has made huge progresses in the recent years and there are now many high-quality voices to choose from, in many languages and from several vendors. Text-to-speech audio might be added to the slides using some authoring tool, like Adobe Captivate (mentioned above), but there are also dedicated services like slidetalk.net converting PowerPoint presentations into videos with help of multilingual text-to-speech, hiding all technicalities of audio synchronization and video production from the author. The main advantages of text-to-speech are simplicity (editing text is much easier than editing recordings) and access to many voices in many languages. Multilingualism is very important for instance for authors having English as a second language that may find it difficult to record a comment in English with their own voice, or for English speaking authors wanting to make the presentation available in Spanish, German, French or any other language. To make a presentation available in another language all that is needed is to translate the manus, which is usually much easier than finding proper voice talents in foreign languages. The main drawbacks of text-to-speech is the limited possibility to adjust and personalize the voice.
The choice of which of the four strategies presented here is the best fit for a particular project depends on the goal of the presentation, the type of presentation, the available time and budget and language constraints. Here is a cheat sheet to guide authors when choosing among these four strategies: