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Most people don’t think of hiring a professional trainer to come onsite to teach the staff how to use their presentation programs. Often, managers assume people can simply muscle their way through it and end up with a great-looking presentation. It’s just not true.

We constantly hear from sales people, presenters and field people that they spend hours and hours trying to fix obvious problems with their presentation, tussling with software and help menus — when what they really need to do is spend time on the content. It’s pennywise and pound foolish to force people to work this way.

The presentation industry has become so much more complicated on so many levels. Not only have the programs themselves become more complex, but most of the rules have changed. People want to embed Flash animations, video and audio files into their presentations, but it’s not always that simple to pull off. And working with the wide range of display sizes now available (from standard to various widescreen sizes to formats for stages that are hundreds of feet wide) can require a fairly sophisticated understanding of technology and design. If the presenter isn’t aware of the basics and knows what to anticipate, he or she is going to be dead in the water and wind up very embarrassed on stage or in a meeting.

Here are just a few of the issues that cause problems for presenters: 

  • Using the wrong image format. Gif, jpeg and png are the most popular presentation image formats; each has its uses and limitations. Jpegs, for example, do not allow for image transparencies and thus may not work well placed over other slide graphics or backgrounds. Pngs, which do allow for transparent pixels, have other quirks.
  • Font issues. Perhaps the presentation was created using a special font; then the file was moved to a rental computer that doesn’t have that special font. When this happens, font substitution occurs and the kerning/spacing differences can lead to dramatic, undesirable changes in slide layouts. 
  • Printer problems. Not all printers sync with all fonts or image formats (png files in particular) and presentations or handouts may not print correctly or at all. This can be a huge problem onsite at an event, when no one has checked the particular printer driver/artwork/font combination.
  • Problems with video, audio and Flash files. There are typically several ways to add multimedia files into a presentation. If it’s done incorrectly and the presentation is later moved to a different computer, the multimedia file may not carry over.
  • Using unnecessarily large graphics. If the user doesn’t know how to resize and import graphics, the file may become so large it won’t be able to sent via email or even worse, can hang up during a live show.

These issues (and others) can be easily dealt with. Onsite training will help presenters get closer to the basics, understand the how and why, anticipate problems, and provide shortcuts and tips to get the expected results.