User Group Recap: 6 Ways to Create More Engaging Presentations

User Group Recap: 6 Ways to Create More Engaging Presentations
December 10, 2012

Each year we travel across the country, and to the UK to visit our customers and host user group meetings as part of our annual City Tour.  This year, we held thirty public events for customers in 24 cities. These included keynotes by thought leaders, user group meetings, and presentation workshops.  The highlight of these meetings is watching the connections being made by Brainshark authors from different companies. For instance, at the Omaha user group meeting, two people who worked together in the Air Force 20 years ago re-connected. They now both work for large corporations in the Learning and Development field, one was an experienced Brainshark user, and the other was very new, and listening to them talk about their work, share ideas and experiences, and learn from each other truly highlights what these meetings are about.

user group recap 2012

In addition, we convened a series of on-line and on-site private User Group meetings for authors from individual companies. We are starting to plan the 2013 and if you would like us to come to your city, or are interested in a private user group, let’s talk.

As I think back on the hundreds of presentations we looked at during this year’s user group meetings, a common theme was identifying the simple tools to create more engaging Brainshark presentations.  In this article, we compiled some common themes and “brain spikes” that came out of the first half of this year’s user group meetings.  Here are a few of my favorites, and some best practices for implementing them in your next presentation:

1. Table of Contents. Slide titles can be edited on the Manage Slides screen, and while you are there, consider adding chapter titles, especially for presentations wit 10+ slides. If you would like to hide the Table of Contents (i.e. for a presentation with just a video) just add the URL parameter &dm=1 to the end of any standard Brainshark URL, or add ?dm=1 if you are using a custom URL.  Brainshark also offers a number of other ways to adapt the URL using this list of URL parameters.

2. URL slide. Rather than take a screen shot of a web page, why not include the full web page itself.  The Brainshark URL slide provides you with the option to display a fully functioning website within the Brainshark player to offer your viewers a chance to peruse the website’s content without ever leaving your Brainshark presentation.  This is perfect for registration pages or forms.

3. Multiple Narrators. There is nothing that prevents you from having multiple voices on different slides. This can be done in a few ways including by Guest Audio, and by conferencing the Brainshark recording system into your conversation if you record by the telephone.

4. Background audio. We provide 20 or so royalty free sound tracks that can easily be added to any slide in your presentation. We typically recommend using background audio for opening and closing slides, and transition slides for presentations which contain narration. If the presentation has no narration, leave the volume at 40%, and if the presentation does have narration, reduce the volume of the background audio to 10%. Additionally, if you have your own music, you can upload your own .mp3 files to the media library as well, just make sure not to violate any copyright laws.

5. Pause audio. Any slide can be automatically paused when the viewer reaches the end of that slide. To enable this, click edit for the desired slide from the Manage Slides screen, and then on the following screen, check the box labeled “pause after audio completes.”  This is an effective way to emphasize a slide, and can be particularly valuable if a slide contains hyperlinks that you would like your viewers to browse before advancing to the next slide.  

6. Personalization. Finally, one of my favorite features to write about is Personalization. It takes a little more work, but adds a valuable customizable element to the presentation. Personalization enables another author in your Brainshark site to add their own opening and closing slides, with their own audio, to your presentation core presentation. Here are a few examples of use cases where personalization would be particularly valuable:

  • A channel partner or broker, takes your new product presentation, adds an opening and closing slide and sends it out to their customers

  • The HR manager of a company provides a brief update to a health care insurance provider’s presentation as part of the open enrollment process

  • The head of a business unit adds some context to the quarterly executive briefing for employees in a particular department

  • A sales person adds their comments to a marketing created presentation, to tailor the message for their individual clients.

For an example of personalization view this personalized presentation and note the first and last sides. 

There are many benefits of Personalization including:
  • On average your audience will watch 10% more of your presentation

  • If the core presentation is changed, the personalized presentations are automatically updated- this is a great way to insure consistent messaging across an organization.

  • Instant or daily/weekly/monthly reports can be sent directly to the personalizer

  • The Presentation author can run reports of views generated by the personalizer and see who is generating activity and who needs some help.

For details on how to personalize a presentation visit this document or view this Brainshark presentation.

Thanks to all our customers for making the 2012 user group meetings a fantastic success again this year, and we look forward to seeing you all during next year’s tour. As you are working on your presentations, if you have any questions about how to implement any of these concepts, contact, and our Customer Success Team will be happy to assist!