Video for the Common Man

By Heather Baldwin

Video can be a powerful tool in sales presentations. The problem most salespeople have when creating a video, however, is that they have to pay the high rates of a video production company for a professional-looking product, or they have do it themselves and be content with a more amateur-looking production. As a result, the vast majority of sales reps who send presentations to prospects via the Web or on CD-ROM send copies of their PowerPoint slides and hope prospects understand all the points in those slides – or read through them at all.

That’s the dilemma Rancho Cordova, California-based Serious Magic has sought to solve with its Visual Communicator, a product that enables users to create professional-quality video presentations from their desktops, literally in minutes. In other words, rather than sending a copy of your PowerPoint slides you could send a video showing yourself in front of your company logo or a new product, or beside your PowerPoint slides talking about each slide – or anywhere else that will give your video presentation additional impact. Add the TV-quality graphics and transitions, says Ben Yoder, director of marketing communications, and your video will have the look of a CNN broadcast.

The software is template driven with an automated wizard that builds professional-looking graphics and titles that match the type and purpose of your presentation. It includes an extensive library of customizable graphics, effects, titles, music and templates created by experienced video designers from TV stations. And like the professionals, you’ll type your text into a teleprompter and that text will scroll up your computer as you speak. Want certain slides or effects to appear at specific points in the presentation? Just drag and drop the item onto the typed word in the teleprompter and the software does the rest. Once the program is set up, it’s simply a matter of hitting Record on a camcorder or Web cam, running the presentation program and reading the text on the teleprompter. When finished, you can review, make changes and re-record, or you can click Publish to save it in whatever format you choose.

The software costs $149 for Visual Communicator Plus and $349 for Visual Communicator Pro. The Pro version includes a PowerPoint import feature and lets you save in either Web or high resolution for playing back on a television screen. The Plus version only enables you to save in a lower resolution designed for sending presentations via the Web. For more information, visit www.seriousmagic.com.