Multimedia: how to make your point.
But if you want your audience to sit up and take notice (and even be able to watch your presentation in a normally lit room so they can take notes), think multimedia--in full color and high-fidelity sound.
Multimedia is not tomorrow's technology; it's here today. It's not that hard to become quite proficient in creating multimedia presentations that will help you deliver a persuasive message with maximum impact and minimum effort. And, the multimedia software products on the market today are very affordable.
THE SOFTWARE SIDE
There are many presentation software packages on the market. They fall into three categories:
Advanced. Products that are loaded with features and are a little difficult to learn. The two leading packages in this category are Astound and Director.
Standard. Packages that include all the basic features plus enhancements and are moderately easy to learn. The category includes Freelance Graphics, Harvard Graphics, PowerPoint and Presentations.
Basic. Software that contains just the bare-bones utilities for the one-time user and is easy to learn. One such product is ASAP Word Power.
Exhibit 1, page 59, identifies vendor information for these products, and exhibit 2, page 60, rates each multimedia software package.
Exhibit 1: Multimedia Product Vendors Product/company Telephone Internet address MULTIMEDIA SOFTWARE ASAP Word Power 800-557-3743 http://www.spco.com/ Astound 888-4ASTOUND http://www.astound.com/ Director 800-326-2128 http://www.macromedia. com/spoftware/dms/ Freelance 800-343-5414 http://www.lotus.com/ freelance/ Harvard Graphics 800-557-3743 http://www.spco.com/ Persuasion 800-521-1976 http://www.adobe.com/ proindex/persuasion/ Powerpoint 800-397-8508 http://www.microsoft. com/mspowerpoint/ Presentations 800-772-6735 http://www.corel.com/ products/wordperfect/ cp7/ PROJECTING SYSTEMS Ask LCD Inc. 800-275-5231 http://www.ask.no CTX 800-888-2012 http://www.ctxintl.com Dukane Corp. 800-676-2485 none Epson 800-GO EPSON http://www.epson.com In Focus Systems 800-294-6400 http://www.infocus.com Panasonic 800-726-2797 http://www.panasonic.com Polaroid Corp. 800-662-8337 http://www.polaroid.com Proxima Corp. 800-447-7692 http://www.prxm.com Sharp Electronics Corp. 800-BE SHARP http://www.sharp-usa.com Sony 800-222-7669 http://www.sony.com CLIP ART Corel Corp. 800-772-6735 http://www.corel.com IMSI 415-257-3000 http://www.imsisoft.com Nova Development Corp. 818-591-9600 http://www.novadevcorp. com Softkey Multimedia Inc. 800-227-5609 http://www.softkey.com T/Market Co. 415-962-0195 http://www.clickart.com REMOTE CONTROLS AND POINTERS Lyte Optronics 310-450-8551 http://www.laserlyte.com Mind Path Technologies 800-736-6830 http://www.mindpath.com Varatouch Technologies 916-331-6300 http://www.varatouch.com SOUND SYSTEMS Bose Corp. 800-444-2673 none Gateway 2000 800-846-2000 http://www.gw2k.com Sony 800-352-7669 http://www.sony.com Yamaha 800-492-6242 http://www.yamaha.com SCANNERS AGFA 201-440-2500 http://www.agfa.com Microtek 800-654-4160 http://www.mteklab.com/ flatbed.html Pacific Image Electronics 310-214-5281 http://www.scanace.com UMAX 510-651-9488 http://www.umax.com/ scandir2.html Visioneer 800-787-7007 http://www.visioneer.com Exhibit 2: multimedia Software Packages Multimedia Software Presentaion Multimedia Output Development Capabilities Capabilities Astound Excellent Excellent Excellent Director Excellent Excellent Excellent Freelance Excellent Good Excellent Harvard Graphics Excellent Good Good Persuasion Very Good Good Excellent PowerPoint Very Good Good Excellent Presentations Good Good Good ASAP Word Power Fair Fair Fair Multimedia Software End of Use Astound Difficult Director Difficult Freelance Fair Harvard Graphics Fair Persuasion Fair PowerPoint Fair Presentations Fair ASAP Word Power Excellent
Let's look at the products in detail:
Astound and Director have advanced features not found in the other products. While the packages are well designed, the sheer numbers and types of available features make them more difficult to master. Some of their features include powerful animation, video, audio and editing capabilities. Both packages allow users to convert presentations for the Internet. They also include extensive clip art and template libraries designed by graphics professionals. In addition, they have many slide-transition styles--such as having images fade in and out--which give a presentation real pizzazz.
You also can create a run-time file that lets you show the presentation file on any computer--even if it's not loaded with that application software. Both packages come with excellent tutorials. They operate on both IBM-compatible personal computers (PCs) and Macintosh and provide an easy conversion between the two. However, because presentations that include unusual fonts and imbedded objects such as spreadsheets may encounter some conversion difficulties, it's wise to test a file on both computers to be sure no problems exist.
Director, the more sophisticated of the two, sells for about $850. Astound is priced at about $199.
Programs in the standard group (Freelance Graphics, Harvard Graphics, PowerPoint and Presentations) don't offer many advanced features, but they can create professional-looking presentations. Each has a variety of well-designed templates, presentation aids and clip art libraries. Their tutorials are helpful. The latest versions of these packages even offer limited animation, video, audio and Web-authoring capabilities. Importing Excel or Lotus spreadsheets is as easy as inserting clip art.
If you are a novice at multimedia software, you'll have to devote some time to learning how to use it--although not as much time as with the advanced packages. The standard programs are adequate for most presentations. However, if you give presentations routinely, you may soon outgrow their limited features and turn to the more advanced programs.
These software packages also allow your finished presentations to be converted into run-time modules or to be used in connection with a custom viewer provided by the software company. If you want to provide handouts of parts of your presentation, all the products have well-designed print features.
All three major office suites--made by Corel, Lotus and Microsoft--include multimedia applications. Corel Office 7 has Presentations, Lotus SmartSuite 97 has Freelance Graphics and Microsoft Office 97 has PowerPoint. Although the presentation packages are available as stand-alones, it is generally more economical to buy the entire suite
The cost for each stand-alone software package:
* Freelance Graphics: $330. The entire Lotus SmartSuite, which includes Freelance Graphics, sells for $370.
* Harvard Graphics: $290 (it is not included in any suites).
* PowerPoint: $280 to $300; between $470 and $545 for the entire Microsoft Office 97.
* Presentations: The product is not sold as a standalone. The fill. Corel WordPerfect Suite sells for $330.
If you need to use both an IBM-compatible PC and a Mac, consider PowerPoint; it's especially good in either computer.
ASAP is the newest package in this group. Its outstanding feature is ease of use. Even without training, most users can create basic presentations in just a few minutes. However, there is a trade-off between ease of use and customization. For example, the type of template you select determines the transitions you must use on all slides. If the presentation is very long, the viewers will soon tire of the repetitive transitions. Also, setting the color combination is easy, but placing clip art where you want it is difficult. While importing electronic spreadsheets is easy, too, customizing the look can be frustrating.
However, if you are a novice and prepare presentations only occasionally, ASAP may meet your needs. It costs about $90.
THE HARDWARE SIDE
Following are the hardware items you will need to stage effective presentations:
Computer. While these programs will run on a 486 computer, they generally demand more power and will operate more effectively on a Pentium with the following minimums: 133-megahertz processor with 16 to 32 megabytes (Mb) of random access memory (RAM) and an audio subsystem.
Projector. A great presentation shown with a poor projection system can be a disaster, so select a system with care. Exhibit 3, page 60 lists the things you should consider.
Exhibit 3: Projection System Characteristics Characteristic Description Resolution Sharpness of the projected image Weight Portability Backlit buttons Buttons with lighting source Number of colors Spectrum of colors able to display on the screen Response time Quickness of projector system to respond to commands Rear projection Ability to reverse the projected image On-screen controls Menu options are projected on the screen Sound System Ability to provide sound Multiple input sources Availability of more than one input source Lumens Amount of light output from the projector system Bulbs Light source Characteristic Importance Resolution Resolution is measured in pixels. Generally, higher resolutions provide sharper images and cost more. Weight Generally, lighter weights are preferred to fond-the-road presentations. Backlit buttons Backlit buttons are easier to find when the room is darkened for a presentation. Number of colors Most projection systems support between 1 million and 16.7 million colors. More colors are useful when showing the video clips. Reponse time Quicker response times become more important when presentations include video or animation. Rear projection Rear-projection capability allows projection from behind an opaque screen. On-screen controls On-screen controls are helpful in a dark room when adjustments are necessary. Sound System Built-in speakers alleviate the need for external speakers for many presentations. However, many projection systems have outputs to accommodate external speakers, should they be necessary. Multiple input sources Multiple input sources allow users to freely switch between inputs such as VCRs and a computer during a presentation. Lumens More lumens allow projections in larger, light-filled rooms to be seen; less lumens work fine in smaller, darker rooms. Bulbs For many projectors, bulbs can be quite costly ($6-$500). Also, some projectors have space for a second bulb in case the bulb in use burns out during a presentation.
Until recently, liquid crystal display (LCD) panels were the most popular projection tool because they are lightweight, portable and reasonably priced ($2,000 to $5,000). However, LCD panels are dependent on the light and magnification from an overhead projector. As a result, the all-in-one LCD projector--which combines the panels and the projector--recently has become more popular. Also, LCD projectors have become more portable and less costly ($6,500 to $9,500) than they were in the early 1990s.
An alternative projecting system is a cathode ray tube (CRT) projector that has three image projecting guns (red, green and blue) to display a full-color image on a screen. CRT projectors are not portable and range in price from $9,000 to $120,000. Another option is to use CRT monitors (generally with a diagonal screen size of 27 to 35 inches) that are priced between $2,000 and $11,000. For the extra investment, CRTs offer higher resolution and better image quality than even the best LCD projector.
One of the most recent developments in multimedia projection is the plasma display panel (PDP). The image quality of a PDP is better than a high-end CRT. Also, PDPs are lighter, so they're easier to transport. However, their prices are quite high: While a CRT monitor starts at about $700, a 21-inch PDP (which offers the same viewing area as a 31-inch CRT) costs about $3,000.
Digital light processing (DLP) is another new technology that provides crisp, bright images in almost any environment. Their images are so bright there is little or no need to dim the light in the conference room. A low-end DLP system costs about $8,500, with high-end systems costing as much as $35,000. Prices may fall as the market for DLPs expands. This technology is certainly worth a look.
Another projection option is the use of a large-screen television, usually with a display of at least 35 inches diagonally. However, special equipment is needed to make a TV set accommodate a computer signal.
Clip art. Cartoons and photos can add humor, color, emphasis and creativity to a presentation. Although several multimedia software products include some clip art images, many users add additional art as needed. You can purchase a wide assortment of clip art for between $15 and $100. When purchasing it, consider the following
* Is it compatible with your computer system?
* Does it have online search features to allow retrieval of specific images?
* Does it include online image browsers to allow previews before inserting an image into a presentation?
* Is there a hard copy index to aid with clip art selection (especially if the clip art software does not have online search and image browser features)?
Scanners. If you can't find the right clip art you can create your own with a scanner, which can digitize any graphic: company logos, pictures of buildings and people. Inserting these and similar items can be as easy as inserting clip art.
The higher the scanner image resolution, the more expensive the scanner. When choosing a flatbed scanner, consider a 24-bit model. While most manufacturers offer a 30/36-bit color scanner for about $1,500 to $3,500, a lower resolution, full-color 24-bit scanner will meet the needs of most users and cost between $300 and $800. Most scanners include the software necessary to scan text and images. Several major manufacturers offer scanners that require a SCSI (small computer system interface) device driver and a card. Before purchasing such a scanner, make sure your PC has the right hardware to run a SCSI device.
If you don't want to invest in a scanner, a local printing and photo service business can scan a graphic for you and place the digitized file onto a disk.
Projection screens. There are two types of screen surfaces: white matte and beaded glass. A white matte screen produces less glare and therefore is easier on a viewer's eyes while a beaded glass screen provides brighter projection. Screens on a tripod cost between $ 100 and $400. Fast-fold screens with rear-projection capabilities cost between $450 and $750, and ceiling-mounted screens cost between $130 and $800.
Remote controls and pointers. Remote controls are useful because the presenter can move about the room without being tethered to the computer keyboard or mouse. Remote controls available with advanced features can direct highlighting, spotlighting and zoom. Some presenters find the use of a laser pointer also effective to draw attention to specific areas of a projected image.
Sound system. A sound system is important if any portion of a presentation uses audio. This could include audio from a compact disc, video recorder or the computer. Exhibit 4, above, explains several characteristics to consider when designing a sound system. Before investing in an additional sound system, check to see if your projector has a built-in audio system. Many projectors include speakers that may be more than adequate for presentations in small meeting rooms.
Exhibit 4: Sound System Characteristics Characteristic Description Importance Sound Card Computer hardware Many computer systems that allows the include a sound card that use of sound offers no more than 4 watts of amplication per channel. If this is not enough, purchase an amplifier or speakers with built-in amplifiers. Speakers Provide sound Speakers with built-in to audience amplifiers can plug directly into a computer with a sound card. Speakers are available that use the Dolby Surround Sound technology found in many theaters. Amplifier Boots the signal For an office-size room, to the speaker amplifiers offering 10 watts per channel should be sufficient. For a small conference room, 30 to 40 watts per channel may be needed. For a large auditorium, up to 100s of watts per channel may be necessary. Remember that the amplifiers must be compatible with the speakers. Subwoofer Enhances low-frequency A subwoofer is a nice audio addition to a sound system when presentations include audio below 150 Hz. Mixer Allows multiple audio Mixers provide an input inputs (CD, tape deck, channel and a volume VCR, etc.) control for each audio input.
Now that you have the facts about presentation tools, experiment with one of the less complex products and see how you can perk up an otherwise flat presentation. You may quickly graduate to a more sophisticated package. And once you get good at creating presentations, you may find yourself anxious to step forward and present your ideas in graphic form. That could do wonders for your career.
RELATED ARTICLE: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
* IF YOU WANT TO PUT on a presentation that will engage your audience, turn to multimedia presentation tools. While many take time to become proficient in, they can deliver a message with lots of impact.
* YOU ALSO CAN CREATE a run-time file that lets you show the presentation file on any computer--even if it's not loaded with that application software.
* A GREAT PRESENTATION SHOWN with a poor projection system can be a disaster, so select a system with care. There are many different lands of projectors--from old standby liquid crystal displays to the newest plasma display panels and digital light processing designs.
* CARTOONS AND PHOTOS can add humor, color, emphasis and creativity to a presentation. Although many multimedia software products include some clip art images many users add additional art as needed.
* IF YOU CAN'T FIND the right clip art, you can create your own with a scanner, which can digitize any graphic: company logos, pictures of buildings and people. Inserting these and similar items can be easy as inserting art.
* REMOTE CONTROLS ARE USEFUL because the presenter can move about the room without being tethered to the computer keyboard or mouse. Remote controls available with advanced features can direct high lighting, spotlighting and zoom. Some presenters find a laser pointer also effective to draw attention to specific areas of a projected image.
SUSAN COOMER GALBREATH, CPA, PhD, is an assistant professor of accounting at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee. Her e-mail address is SGalbreath@TnTech.edu. JON A. BOOKER, CPA, CIA, PhD, is professor of accounting at Tennessee Technological University. His e-mail address is JonBooker@TnTech.edu.
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|Title Annotation:||business presentations|
|Author:||Booker, Jon A.|
|Publication:||Journal of Accountancy|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1998|
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