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Moving to multimedia: computer presentations can enhance your business.

They say image is everything. This is especially true for small businesses that need to differentiate themselves from the competition. Many of these businesses are using multimedia presentations to market their firm's expertise, products and services in ways that can outshine their rivals.

If prepared properly, multimedia presentations can benefit any small business, says Michael Thomas, executive director and CEO of Executive Suite Consulting in Sunnyvale, Calif. He suggests that multimedia presentations can create the perception that the small business is larger than it is, or has more resources than it actually does. This kind of "deception" may create opportunities that did not exist before. In other words, perception sells.

The best reasons for using multimedia presentations include marketing new products and services, raising capital to fund new business ventures, making pitches for lucrative contracts and increasing exposure for small businesses. These presentations are also useful for training programs, meetings, reports and application development for corporate clients. According to Thomas, there are four venues where multimedia is used: conferencing, video conferencing, filing and electronic messaging.

Conferencing (same time-same place interaction). Getting an appointment for a presentation meeting is often one of the biggest hurdles for a small business. Once these opportunities arrive, they must be maximized. Each time you make a presentation, you must prove to potential clients that their decision to hear your pitch was worthwhile. Presenting a multimedia layout in person can increase your chances of landing that major account.

Video Conferencing (same time-different place interaction). Video conferencing is the fastest growing segment within the multimedia arena. If members of your potential client's decision-making team are spread out between Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York, the magic of video allows you to make your presentation to all locations simultaneously. A camera and a dedicated phone line make it possible. Since you eliminate the need for travel and the logistical problems of transporting equipment, time and money are saved.

Electronic Filing (same place-different time interaction). This is the least used form of multimedia presentation. With electronic filing, you can store a multimedia file on a CD-Rom or on a computer system hard drive. The presentation can be retrieved whenever the client accesses the system the file is stored on. Feedback will not be as immediate as with conferencing or video conferencing, but using electronic filing demonstrates the flexibility and creativity small businesses now have to get a product to a client.

Electronic Messaging (different time-different place interaction). In the age of e-mail, the World Wide Web and the Internet, this avenue for presentations is becoming more popular. You can send your presentation in the form of an electronic message that your audience can retrieve at any time, anywhere in the world. Like with filing, feedback is delayed. However, electronic messaging represents an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition.

To determine how elaborate a multimedia presentation should be, decide on your audience, the purpose of the presentation and the delivery medium. Multimedia presentations are often most effective when used to supplement documentation, such as business plans.

But remember, a presentation can backfire if it isn't prepared properly. Also, multimedia presentations should be viewed as an investment. If the presentation doesn't address the client's needs and doesn't increase potential customers' awareness of your products or services; or if it costs more to prepare than what you can hope to gain in return, you may need to reconsider using multimedia.

Multimedia presentations are no longer a thing of the future--they are part of today's business environment. For help preparing your multimedia presentations, consult the following books:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Multimedia, by David Haskin, Alpha Books, $20. Includes CD-ROM with interactive game demos and multimedia programs, plus sound clips, animation and more.

The Business Week Guide to Multimedia Presentations, by Robert L. Lindstrom, McGraw Hill Group, $40. Includes CD-ROM that has demos and test drives of some of the most popular software applications for developing multimedia presentations. The guide also provides free samples of media clips that you can use with your presentation, drawing or editing software.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:Techwatch
Author:Roner, Valencia
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:Sep 1, 1995
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