Handouts and followups for your presentations. Enter Talkbook

Slides make bad handouts. We all know that (though a depressing number of presenters act as though they don’t, and still insist on giving slides as follow up material). And in any case, giving people handouts during your presentations sucks the energy out of the room in a big way, as the pieces of paper are passed around. On top of that, it’s hard to keep your audience concentrating on you like they should, as the lure of the paper works its magic on them. On the other hand, leaving them at the end of the room in sad piles for your audience to collect inevitably results in a half-baked scrum and many of your handouts not being taken.

On top of that, if you speak in public (rather than internally only, as part of your work – such as reporting to boss etc) the money is in the list, as they say. You’d do well to collect email addresses. Getting cards is embarrassing and sign-up forms at the back of a room misses most people.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to allow people to collect your downloads, handouts and follow-up material with more or less no effort. And by no effort I mean on your part as well as theirs.talkbook logo

Enter TalkBook.

Here’s how it works (once you’ve registered as a user, which takes very little time).

  1. You set up a ‘talk’ and upload your handouts and follow-up materials to it (PDFs, for example)
  2. You get a simple URL (such as gettalk.at/voice which is what I’ve just used successfully
  3. You share that with your audience on your last slide (for example)
  4. They whip out their smartphones, hit up the URL and give you their email addresses
  5. The system magically gives them your documents and then gives you the option to then add their email addresses to your system (by exporting to MailChimp, for example)
screen shot of Talkbook
The upload interface, as you build your ‘talk’.

In practice, it’s easier than that lest makes it sound. The interface is pleasantly clean and it takes only a few minutes to get the hang of it (I had one false start that annoyed me until I realised I’d missed the big ‘save’ button!). At the moment you can upload PDFs, video and a few others such as ‘Gift’. To be utterly honest I’ve not found the need to upload anything other than PDFs yet, but it’s good to see the future potential.

screenshot of talkbook on a phone

Why bother using TalkBook?

Yes, of course, you could create a system for yourself to do this using signup forms and automated emails from your mail provider (I have done this a few times in the past!) but TalkBook gives you what you need in a fraction of the time. Even for me, as fully paid-up geek, this system is quicker and elegant. For my second TalkBook talk, I had everything done in barely under five minutes, including shuffling around on my hard drive when I lost the PDF file I was going to use.

And from the users’ perspective it’s more or less instant and has almost no friction. They just have to fill in two fields in the most clean of web-pages.

From my experience, I can tell you that using TalkBook is faster and more convenient than doing it yourself and it gets a higher take up rate. Why that should be I don’t know, but it does. The only real downside is that it’s not free.  You can use it twice without charge to decide if it’s for you, and after that it’s reasonably priced: even for the biggest package it’s only $25/month. I don’t think that’s much for what you get.

So what’s the catch?

Well, it’s new software and there are a few features that are due to arrive soon but aren’t here yet.

  1. White-labelling. You audience knows they’re not at your site but at a third party. That’s not been a problem for me but it could be if you’re using TalkBook from inside a big corporation.
  2. Exporting. Your options are as a CSV file (which solves all your problems) but is a bit manual or to Mailchimp. If you’re not using Mailchimp you have to import manually at the moment.
  3. Scoring. For me, this is a bit of a daft one: users give your presentation marks out of ten and at the moment you can’t turn that off. I’d like that option for two reasons – the first being that I wonder if filling in a score puts some potential users off and secondly because some clients for whom I speak don’t like me to collect feedback information of my own (they do it themselves).

My understanding is that all of these options are in the pipeline and at least one of them might even be live before you get to read this 🙂

The long and the short of it

You’ll probably have guessed by now that I like this. 🙂   (What gave it away! 🙂 ).  It might not be useful if you don’t want to get into follow-up and handouts etc but for me, it looks like good value for money.

[jbox color=’red’ title=’why no video?’]
Frankly, because it’s nearly Christmas. I’ve got no real gigs coming up in the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to fake up a video, but I’ll do one in the new year when I’ve got a sensible need! 🙂

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