Presentation Software: Presenting... You
Easy-to-use presentation software can give your message a lasting impression. The only decision you'll need to make is whether to buy a generic or real estate-specific product.
August 1, 1998
Whatever your computer skills, you can create impressive presentations that’ll help you win the allegiance of buyers, sellers, or peers. Your partner: presentation software. It is affordable and easy to use and can be indispensable for communicating a message that people will remember.
At heart, it’s a graphics application for formatting information. Presentations can take the form of printed reports, 35mm slides, overhead transparencies, or a multimedia blend of sight and sound.
There are even real estate-specific products that incorporate images and data pulled from an MLS; multimedia CMAs and photo “tours” you can display from your laptop, and generic business graphics applications that create presentations you can share on paper, on screen, or over the Internet. All are available for less than $500.
“It’s truly awesome, and people are impressed,” says Joan Taylor, principal broker at RE/MAX Associates, Salt Lake City, of the Envision multimedia presentation software she uses. “I can import photos from my MLS, drop them into the software, and make the presentation from my laptop.”
In Nashville, Tenn., all Realty Executives Fine Homes salespeople now rely on the ExecuList presentation software developed for the company and loaded on salespeople's laptops.
“When salespeople want to make a listing presentation, all the information they need is there,” says Peggy Gloger, managing broker at the company. “If a client wants something on paper, they just connect a portable printer, and it’s ready.” Most of Gloger's salespeople have invested in a portable printer.
Larry Daniel, a salesperson with Billy Long-Keller-Williams Real Estate, Springfield, Mo., uses Prep Presentations to convert market data and pictures into an eye-catching CMA report for use when making his pitch to prospective sellers. Microsoft PowerPoint has enabled him to script electronic slide shows highlighting his company and features of the homes he sells.
“During an open house, I’ll run the slide show as a loop on my laptop,” explains Daniel. “It’s an effective way to establish rapport, especially with those interested in technology. PowerPoint makes presentations easy to put together, even if I include sound effects and animation.”
In fact, ease of use is the standard in presentation software. Publishers have assumed much of the responsibility for creating effective, impressive presentations. Whether the presentation will be made as a printed report or viewed as a multimedia production, the software incorporates preset designs and templates for organizing images and information.
Most applications also let you customize the presentation with personal touches such as art, photos, and pertinent information that distinguishes you and your company.
But any presentation is only as good as the information you enter. And even easy-to-use software comes with a learning curve. Take your computer skills into account when shopping.
Do You Lean to Real Estate or Generic Presentations?
The most important decision to make when considering this type of soft-ware is whether to opt for software developed specifically for the real estate industry or one of the generic business presentation solutions.
Those with limited computer skills, or looking for a quick fix, will prefer the industry-specific software, which generally uses proven formats to produce CMA reports, buyer “tours” of a company and market, and sales presentations.
“The good thing about these canned programs is that most of the work is already done,” comments Daniel. “But if you want to go further with the presentation, something like PowerPoint may be preferable.”
PowerPoint and other general tools, such as Lotus Freelance Graphics, let you choose design sets and templates or create your own presentation. The packages include a rich assortment of art, images, sounds, and effects to distinguish reports, slide shows, or multimedia programs.
Although most presentation software automates the production process, the presenter retains control.
“I can go through the entire presentation or concentrate only on those areas that interest the client,” says Taylor of her Envision software.
She has the option of printing maps and marketing plans for the property, but she likes the fact that all her information stays on the laptop so it can’t fall into competitors’ hands.
The convenience of downloading MLS data and converting it into reports for buyers and sellers may be all that many practitioners require from presentation software. It’s a major advantage for the salespeople using Realty Tools Inc.'s Toolkit at the seven Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate offices in New Castle County, Del.
“It interacts with the MLS and puts the data into a format they can customize to some degree,” says Sue Kennedy, director of information services at the company. “If you're not using something like this, listing presentations can look very stale.”
In fact, presentation software has set a new standard in how real estate information is delivered. Says Gloger: “The software is so easy to use that it gives salespeople more time to focus on their real purpose: helping potential buyers and sellers.”
How to Choose Presentation Software
Presentation software won't necessarily make you more money, but it can help produce communications that turn potential clients into loyal believers in your professional skills.
Which software you buy and use should depend on how you communicate most effectively, whom you want to reach, and what their information needs are.
What do you need to say? If you're looking for presentation aids to deliver such information as CMAs and your sales strategy, you'll be served best with software developed specifically for this industry. Producing the reports can be as simple as importing or inputting the appropriate data and images.
- If your needs are more diverse and you're occasionally called on to speak before groups, business presentation software may prove more useful. Use it to prepare slides and graphs, and back up the presentation with paper handouts, which most programs let you print in a variety of formats.
- You can dazzle your audience with a multimedia production running on your laptop. Most hotels have the equipment you need to project your presentation from your laptop onto a screen. For other meeting sites you may have to rent equipment—an expensive proposition—or print your presentation onto transparencies for use with an overhead projector.
- Whom are you trying to reach? If you want to cultivate relationships, make sure the software produces printed reports that demonstrate your professionalism.
- What are the audience's information needs? Data can seem overwhelming. Make sure the format is appealing and easily understood, or you'll lose the audience.
Some people like graphs, whereas others prefer bulleted statements; the software should let you decide which is appropriate.
Multimedia can win some people and lose others. If you like the idea of an audio-video extravaganza, recognize that some prospects would rather get right down to business.
Your Guide to Presentation software
|Title/Publisher||Software Type||System Requirements||Features||Price|
CMA Pro and Buyer's Tour
|Presentation--for use with the company's MLS Windows||
Windows 95 compatible
with 486 processor;
8MB RAM; super VGA monitor; 200MB hard drive space; 14.4 modem
|MLS Windows lets users access and organize local MLS information and images for presentations; CMA Pro adds ability to customize CMAs; Buyer's Tour formats information into report for buyers; StreetMaps electronic mapping option also offered||$199-$249 for MLS Windows--which you need to run the presentation software--depending on location of local MLS; additional $169 for CMA Pro and additional $129 for Buyer's Tour|
|Multimedia business presentation||
Windows 95 compatible;
16MB RAM; 40MB hard drive space; CD-ROM;
|More than 1,800 sound effects, backgrounds, video animations, and clip art images; business chart/graphs features; ability to publish presentations to the Internet||$249|
|Multimedia business presentation||Windows 95 compatible with Pentium processor or equivalent; 16MB RAM; SVGA graphics card; 25MB hard drive space; CD-ROM drive||Demo scripts guide users in developing presentations; library of multimedia art clips, backgrounds, animation clips, and sound effects; imports art in all standard formats; ability to create presentations for monitor, video screen, or Internet||$249|
Envision Real Estate Software
|Multimedia real estate presentation||Windows 95 compatible with Pentium 75MHz processor; 16MB RAM; 16-bit color; 4X CD-ROM; sound card; 10MB hard drive space||
Customizable listing presentations for
laptop; images of homes and comparables; local market info with graphs, mapping, and testimonials—with video, audio, or text; independent advice on pricing
Realty Tools Inc.
|MLS interface with built-in presentation and report functions||
Windows 3.1 compatible
with 486 processor; 16MB RAM; 10MB hard drive space
|Imports data and images from MLS and formats them for insertion into presentation and marketing flyers; formats that can be customized by salesperson include CMA presentation and buyer presentation||$295 for individual salesperson version; $695 for office version; additional fees for accessing more than one MLS|
(for Windows 95)
For Windows 95 compatible: 8MB RAM; 26MB hard drive space
For Macintosh: Any power PC processor; Mac OS 7.5 or later; 16MB RAM; 49MB hard drive space
|Includes design sets, templates, and animated templates; clip art library, images, sounds, and effects; sound track or voice narration; charting module converts data into presentation graphics; ability to publish presentations to the Internet||$339 as a stand-alone; $599 when bundled in Microsoft Office with Word, Excel, Outlook Express, and other applications|
Multimedia business presentation,
Windows 95 compatible with 486/66MHz processor;
8MB RAM; 50MB hard drive space; VGA monitor; CD-ROM drive
|Special effects, clip art, video, and sound; background and layout gallery; multiple versions of slide show for use with different audiences; ability to publish presentations to the Internet||$395 for Corel WordPerfect Suite 8; comes bundled with WordPerfect 8, QuattroPro 8, and more|
Lotus Development Corp.
Windows 95 compatible
with 486 processor; VGA adapter and monitor;
8MB RAM; 64MB hard drive space or CD-ROM drive
|Guides for determining content and creating effective presentations; library of templates, art, images, sounds, and animation; imports art in all standard formats; ability to publish presentations to the Internet||$399 for Lotus SmartSuite comes bundled with Word Pro, 1-2-3, Organizer, Approach (database), and a multimedia component|
Top Producer 6.0
Top Producer Systems
|Real estate sales automation with built-in CMA and buyer presentation functions||Windows 95 compatible with Pentium processor; 32MB RAM; 50MB hard drive space||
Produces 30-page listing presentation with graphs; content may be targeted as needed; buyer presentation feature highlights homes buyers will view, tailored to their interests
and concerns; tips on loans; Top Connector software needed to access MLS data
and multimedia presentation
Windows 3.1 compatible with 486 processor;
8MB RAM; VGA graphics; sound card required for
|Prep Presentations formats data, images; 500 screen pages of customizable presentation and marketing tools for practitioner, company, local market, and properties; Prep Productions includes six multimedia presentations for buyers or sellers; both interface with Prep Financial Software||$499 for Prep Presentations; $349 for Prep Productions; $999 to get both bundled in Prep Real Suite with Prep Financial Software and Prep Prospecting Software|
This vendor-supplied information has not been verified by NAR and may not be a comprehensive list of all suppliers. NAR does not evaluate or endorse any vendors or products, and readers should evaluate the products personally before purchasing.
Put Yourself in the Audience
To find out what kind of presentation software will work for you, first sit through some presentations—at meetings, seminars, conferences. When you see something that impresses you, talk with the presenter. Find out how much work was involved in creating the presentation.
And take advantage of the demos and trial versions available from the publishers and on their Web sites. They allow you to experiment before you commit to a tool.
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