In Part I of PowerPoint Alternatives, I talked about presenters who use HTML to display the visual portion of their presentation. Now that blogs are popular, some speakers are using blogs as presentation tools, including Steven Cohen of Library Stuff fame. Here’s a presentation he created in a blog last February and his post on the
topic. Note that he used Blogger, a tool that is free and can get you up and running with a blog in just a few minutes.
Downsides of using a blog instead of PowerPoint include a busier screen that you would find on most PowerPoint presentations. Also, a blog entry is not going to fill the screen the way a PowerPoint slide will, so it could be more difficult for the audience to read. From the presenter's standpoint, getting the slides in the proper order is cumbersome; you need to tweak the dates and times so as to get the blogs to display in the proper order, then remove the date from the blog template, since in this context, it’s irrelevant.
As with HTML, the advantages of using a blog are greatest when you be presenting using a live Internet connection. You can include the links you want to visit in the blog/web page, and easily link out to web sites. The blog also makes a great "take-away." The audience doesn't have to worry about writing down URLs; they can simply revisit the blog at a later time. If you enable commenting, the blog also can serve as a discussion forum for the audience to use to ask questions, or further discuss the topic.
A blog is a natural tool to turn to when the topic is blogging because it helps illustrate the basic features of blogs. I experimented with using a blog for a presentation I recently gave to the Greater Los Angeles Legal Administrator's Association called Blogging 101.
You'll see that I couldn't shake myself of the habit of writing entries in paragraphs rather than bullet points, force of habit, I guess. And in fact, I ended up using the blog as a handout/web page for attendees, just as I used to use a web page for that purpose. So though I liked using the blog as a add-on, I did, in fact, still use PowerPoint for the visual part of the presentation. All those screenshots needed a home since I didn't have a live connection. Even if I'd HAD a live connection, I still would have wanted the screenshots as backup.
But I did learn something. The organization of a blog forced me to think, not in bullet points, but in speaking points. I've been skeptical at claims that PowerPoint dictates a certain undesirable structure upon it's users, but after working with a blog, I'm starting to think there may be something to that idea. But the bottomline is, the organization of a presentation is something that should take place BEFORE you ever put virtual pen to paper. I always regret it when I fail to organize my presentation in advance, without taking the critical step of brainstorming and outlining using Marie Wallaces' Power of Post-its. (http://www.llrx.com/columns/guide10.htm)
You may never use a blog as a presentation tool. Nonetheless, there are things that speakers can learn from bloggers, according to Cliff Atkinson. In the end, it's all about communication.