One of my favorite stories from the 2008 SharePoint Conference happened during Dustin’s presentation "SharePoint Designer: I didn’t know you could do THAT!". Dustin was running through his patter and zooming the screen in and out. Every so often for emphasis he would zoom in and then draw a red circle for emphasis. One of my coworkers waved me over (for what I thought was a technical question about something Dustin had just said…) and asked me "How does he ZOOM like that?"

Presentation tricks and posting tricks are all part of the delivery. They don’t make bad material better, though, properly used they add that polish that makes folks pay attention, they can make it easer to draw attention and emphasize and clarify the point you are trying to make. So here, in the order from most used to least (but still important) are the tools that I rely on for my posts and presentations.

1) SnagIt – It should come as no surprise to you that I think SnagIt is the single greatest tool for creating visualizations. This product (well…the team at TechSmith) consistently delivers high quality tools and features that real world users need to be productive. If you have written off SnagIt in the past as "just another screen cap tool" you need to take another look. Or worse if you are so cheep that you think Alt-PrintScreen + Paintbrush * (fiddling around time) = Screen Capture then think again. The street price for SnagIt is $50. Time is money. How long would this screen cap take in Paintbrush? Right, you just paid for your copy of SnagIt and still have a bit left over for a Grande Mocha.

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2) Camtasia Studio – While I use SnagIt several times a day, I use Camtasia Studio at least once a week. Camtasia Studio is the premier desktop video capture utility. The ability to Capture, Edit, and Publish content for consumption over the LAN, CD, DVD, or Web is unsurpassed. I have a series of captures that I hope to release soon, but I have published many "How tos" internally here at Catapult, and there is no easier tool for production. Oh, and it is also from the folks at TechSmith.

3) Word and Windows Live Writer – For composing blog posts I switch back and forth between Word and Windows Live Writer. In word I appreciate the autocorrect expansion of short cut phrases (I type "MS" and Word expands it to "Microsoft", I type "SP" and Word expands it to "SharePoint", I type "BS" and Word expands it to "marketing", etc.) If they added that feature to WLW I would stop using Word all together. The advantages of WLW is the connection to my blog via the Metablog API which supports multiple categories per post (unlike the SharePoint connection) and I can set the publish date from WLW.

4) ZoomIt – This is what Dustin used in his presentation. It is now a standard in all of my presentations. Thanks Dustin! Oh, it’s free from your friends in blue.