“Technology is just a tool.” I’m sure you’ve heard this before.
Putting in the time to do the work is ultimately what’s going to make you a better presenter and speaker….but…tech tools can make the preparation process more organized and simplify your process.
Today, I share some of my favorite free apps and resources for speakers.
If you have been living under a rock, you may not have used Google’s many free apps available on your computer or mobile device. All the information is stored in the “cloud” (aka internet servers somewhere in the world), so you can access them wherever you are. Long gone are the days when you needed to save content to a USB drive and hope the computer you opened it with had the right software to run it. You don’t even have to hit “save” because it automatically does when you use the Google tools listed below. You just need to login to your free Google account…and you’re ready to go!
Store all your documents in one place. Personal, research, speaking outline, etc. You can make different folders…and can even color them. You can “share” a single document or even an entire folder with anyone easily.
Keep it organized though so it doesn’t get filled with loose untitled documents. (I made that mistake in the beginning.)
One annoying thing is that you can’t copy an entire folder in your Google Drive (only individual documents/sheets) unless you grab a free “add on” called “Copy Folder”. It’s easy to do, but you probably want to watch a video on how. Here’s a link to the YouTube video I watched to learn how.
This is Google’s copycat of Microsoft’s Word. It’s a classic word processor. Since you
can share it, you can allow others to make edits to it (if you happen to have a person reviewing your presentation copy for you…OR if you have group/team members. If you’re all logged in at the same time, you can see the edits they make in real time. (It’s sure cool. I wish this was a thing when I was in high school.)
Yep….this is Google’s copycat of Microsoft’s Excel. It’s fabulous for outlining or creating tables. I store the questions people ask me all the time in a special spreadsheet here. You could also make a “Story” spreadsheet, that you could record your own experiences into you later in your public speaking.
Also…totally shareable with people you’re working with. (Even a teacher!)
Once again, Google’s version of Microsoft’s Powerpoint. If you want to have visuals, try using Google Slides instead of Powerpoint or iOS’s Keynote. It will be especially useful when you are working in a group…and can collaborate virtually.
It’s more than just a calendar. You can create multiple calendars! So, if you have a special project/presentation, you can create deadlines, reminders, meetings…and then color code it! Did I mention, then you can share it with anyone! So, if you’re on a team doing a group presentation, set reminders and notes for when and where info should be put on the calendar. You can even add a link to the Slide Deck inside the Google calendar note!
Evernote is an app you can use on your computer or phone (or both). It allows you to take notes, organize, and archive information. You can do text written notes, hand/ finger written notes, screen captures, photos, or voice memos.
It has a generous free version (with upper tiered levels…that you probably don’t need for now that have a monthly subscription.) Data is stored in “the cloud” and is synced between devices with the same account.
While it can be used for a lot of things, including an outline for your talk…. The coolest thing it does are Screen captures! You can copy an entire page, or a selected section. It’s great when doing research…and you don’t have time to copy everything important on the page to reference back later. Just take a screen capture!
I also store all my jokes/bits in Evernote that I come up with in the moment.
It can be messy if you don’t have a system for organizing your information. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s organizational tips here.
If you haven’t heard of Canva yet, then you are in for a treat! It’s a free graphic design tool website. It’s crazy easy to use because it has a drag and drop interface. It’s simplified and makes creating visuals quickly!
You can upload your own images, add a filter, shape, text, illustration…whatever… and download the completed image in whatever format you’d like. It’s ad free, so, you don’t get annoying pop up. Check it out! Set up a free account…and play around with it!
Presentations often have quotes or data that needs to be acknowledged and given credit. So, this site makes that even easier for you.
Keep track of resources by having this website create your bibliography for you! You pick the format/style you need, add the website…and it generates a document with all your resources cited perfectly.
Need I say more?
Upspash is a website with free high resolution photos that anyone can use. There’s no copyright to worry about! YAY! Add the right one to your slide deck for an instantly stunning visual.
There are other sites like this, but this is my fav.
If you are easily distracted and need some self discipline, try a 30/30 app. (There’s lots of versions) It’s basically a timer that has just 2 options: Set a 30 OR 45 minute work session timer. It’s a visual reminder when you look over at your phone to keep going. When it’s over, it tells you to “take a break”in a robotic voice. So, that’s nice.
If you’d rather, you could just use a regular timer!
This is an automation app that allows you to create chain reactions (called a “recipe”) when something happens. It’s scope is enormous. For example, you could have an email sent to you every morning with the weather. You could have any Tweet containing a word or phrase is …such as one on your research topic…sent to a Google Sheet or a specific Evernote Notebook.
That’s all for my list…so, when you have some time, go on a virtual adventure and play around with some of these tools..See what might make your life easier as a speaker.
I’m sure you have your own favorite tools and perhaps even some are on this list. After you’ve sorted through them, leave me a comment with which ones are your fav’s!