When it comes to presentations, technology has made it so that you CAN take it with you.

'Waving my laser pointer, I like to say I feel like Luke Skywalker,' said Maurice Ramirez, president and founder of High Alert, LLC. 'Ten seconds after I say that, a text message will pop up on my PowerPoint screen saying 'You go, Luke!' I love the banter in a fun presentation.'

Presentations are an effective way to communicate to large numbers of people at the same time. However, it is not just about communicating information with the standard slide show any longer. Many presentations now use advanced interactive technology to bring the audience into the conversation. Using these advanced presentation tools you can create interest and excitement in your subject matter, which can contribute to the audiences' feelings of trust and respect for you and for the information you bring.

Presentation in your pocket

'I used to travel with a bagful of technology, but now I just bring what I can carry in my pockets,' said Ramirez. 'Laser pointer, wireless mic, and PowerPoint clicker are just about all I carry. The Internet brings the rest, including my slide presentation.' Ramirez uses Slideshare.com to stream his PowerPoint slideshow through the Internet. 'We're in that wired generation now, and being in the same place no longer matters.'

More and more, managing or instructing groups that extend beyond your own immediate work team has become the rule, rather than the exception, so bringing the bigger picture to these distributed groups requires a bit more of a variation in tools. You need more than just a few slides to get the message across, and some of the new Web 2.0 tools provide just what's needed. Consultants who travel and speak to many groups know this better than most.

'I use Polleverywhere.com to do polls during presentations, and Twitter.com for live comments and questions. I insert a slide into the presentation where the poll results will pop up immediately,' explained Ramirez. 'People can also text in questions, and I scroll them right up on the screen as I select ones to use. Every few slides I put a little window on the screen, and the questions from the audience appear live, during the talk.'

Sometimes slides are necessary

Some presenters would rather not even use slides, but it's often a necessity.

'I really liked not having to use any PowerPoint when I was a member of Toastmasters, but in the corporate world everyone needs to see a PowerPoint slide show,' said Natascha Schuberth-Thompson, marketer for SAP's BPX community. 'With online community, many people are doing talks that include online video as well as slides, using online tools like WebEx, bringing multiple locations into the same talk. It's a good way to do presentations long distance.'

Technology can not only make a better presentation, but it can also provide more material for later use.

'Besides my remote clicker, I always have my Olympus digital recorder,' said Belinda Fuchs, financial coach and owner and founder of OwnYourMoney.com. 'I tape every talk I do, transcribe it, and then repurpose it on CD's, articles, and webinars.' Recording quality is a definite issue for Fuchs. 'I use two wireless lavaliere microphones -- one for the live talk, and a second that goes directly to the recording.'

While technology can enhance any talk, one of the most important points is to not let it become the whole presentation. Keep in mind your information is best received when it comes directly from you.

'I think most technology, including PowerPoint, can be a crutch for some,' said Fuchs. 'It should just be used as an aid. You need to be direct, and make sure you connect with your audience, not just reading from the next slide. I keep my PowerPoint really light, and make it a point to keep all my presentations interactive and very engaging. People respond to that.'