Reel in Your Audience With Reel Presentations

Of all the files we need to share, it seems that presentations often are the most frustrating. PowerPoint 2007 can open a PowerPoint 2010 presentation, but it’ll lose many of the graphics effects and transitions. Keynote presentations look beautiful, but they can only be opened in Keynote on a Mac or iOS device. And online presentation sharing tools, such as Slideshare, are often ugly, slow, and require legacy plugins that won’t work (or work poorly at best) on modern smartphones and tablets.

That’s why I was excited to hear about Reel, a new way to share presentations simply and elegantly. Reel is a new web app from the awesome team at Zurb that’s so great at making unique and useful simple apps. Let’s dive in (perhaps literally) and see if this is the solution to the pain of sharing presentations.

It’s Reel presentations, not Real Player

PowerPoints have been often derided as the worst thing to ever happen to meetings, and rightfully slow. They’re usually boring, full of bullet-points and meaningless graphs, and 12pt fonts. And to think, you’d be seen as a luddite to not use a presentation in your meetings!

But presentations don’t have to be ugly. Done right, Keynote and PowerPoint presentations can almost be an art form, as showcased by the amazing presentations in SlideShare’s annual contest for the best presentations. Big pictures, bold text, and no bullet points, combined with a focused presentation, can be a great way to present your ideas. Once you’ve gone to all that trouble, though, you sure don’t want to put your presentation on a Flash powered site that’s cluttered with ads, or send it in an older format that’ll look different on every computer.

That’s where Reel’s different. It takes your PowerPoint or PDF files, lets you add notes to slides or rearrange them, then lets you share it with the world. Viewers will see the exact same presentation on a Chromebook or iPhone or a standard PC browser; it just works. You can even embed a Reel presentation right into your site, without using Flash or other plugins. Just plain HTML presentations, beautifully presented. Here’s the Zurb team’s Reel presentation about Reel:

Looks nice, doesn’t it? Best of all, it’s incredibly simple to add your presentations to Reel and share or embed them wherever you want.

Making Your Presentation More Reel

We’re so used to sites requiring you to sign up for an account to do anything, it seems like that’s the only way. Zurb proves this wrong again with Reel. When you’re ready to share a presentation, just head over to http://reelapp.com/, and upload your presentation in 2 clicks. You can add standard image files, PowerPoint .ppt files, PDFs, and Word .doc documents, and you can upload as many as you want all at the same time. Unfortunately, Keynote files are not supported right now; you’ll have to export as PDF or PPT first.

Upload directly from Reel's homepage

Without so much as loading a new page, Reel will start uploading your presentation or pictures, and then will create your Reel Preso right on the fly. The water background will shift once the file is uploaded, and you’ll see small previews of you slides underneath as your presentation is processed.

See your slides as they're uploaded and converted

Moments later (depending on your internet speed and your presentation size), you’ll be ready to tweak your presentation. You can add the main presentation title and description from the top. Then, click on each slide to add a unique name and notes if you want. The whole interface feels incredibly fluid (no pun intended), and if it wasn’t running in a browser, you could almost think it was a desktop app. When you’re used to cluttered, ugly interfaces for sharing presentations, Reel is an incredibly nice change.

Add notes to your slides

Best thing is, you’re not limited to just including what you have in one PowerPoint file. You can add more images or documents to your presentation, and they’ll be added right along the slides you’d already uploaded. Just click on a slide to drag it, and you can reorder them however you want. In just a few moments, you can have your presentation tweaked for the web, or even create a new presentation from images and descriptions you’ve added in Reel.

Drag and drop slides to the order you want

Once you’re finished, you can just press the play button on the top to see how the presentation looks. If you’re certain you’re finished, click Save Preso, and your presentation will be locked so it can’t be edited again. Alternately, you could leave it unlocked, and then could edit it later by adding /edit to the end of your presentation’s URL.

Sharing Your Preso

And that’s it. You can share the link with your viewers, followers, friends, fans, and more with the short URL and built-in social network buttons. Just click the share button, and you can copy the link, share it directly, or copy an iframe embed code to put the presentation in a page on your site.

Share your presentation wherever you want

Either way you share it, your viewers will get the exact same experience. Reel presentations look great on full-screen browsers or small smartphone browsers. Viewers can flip through the slides and read the descriptions on the bottom, just like you’d expect in a presentation viewer. Then, as a nice touch, there’s a thumbs-up and thumbs-down button on each slide that viewers can tap to let you know what they think of that part of the presentation.

Your same presentation ... everywhere

With the voting feature, you’ll have a quick way to see how everyone liked your presentation. Just add /report to the end of your Reel presentation URL, and you’ll see a Poll Results page showing the number of thumbs-up and thumbs-downs your slides got. You can even rearrange the slides to see the ones that were liked or disliked the most. It’s a simple way to get feedback, without having to dig through pages of analytics and reports.

See which slides people liked and disliked

Conclusion

Often it seems like apps need a zillion features to be competitive, but sometimes, it’s the simpler apps that are more useful. They fill a specific need in a much better way than tools that have dozens of options you’ll never need. Zurb condensed the essence of sharing a presentation, and turned it into a focused app that’s fun to use. It’s another winning app from their team, and we only hope that we get to see more of their innovation in new apps in the future!

Got an awesome presentation you’ve made that you’d like to share with us? Upload it to Reel, and share the link below in the comments. We’d love to see it!


Summary

Another brilliantly simple app from the Zurb team, Reel gives you a way to share your presentation with viewers anywhere, no matter what browser they're using. Goodbye Slideshare!

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