Improve technical presentations by using ZoomIt

Onscreen annotation during a presentation can be a powerful way to explain a process or concept. Learn about ZoomIt, a tool for tech presentations.

For the most part, I hate PowerPoint presentations. Sure, there are some instances when PowerPoint is a great tool, but I've seen many more bad uses of PowerPoint than I have good ones. Sysinternals offers a great tool that can help you enhance your live presentations.

Sysinternals bills ZoomIt (now at version 4) as "a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations." ZoomIt allows a presenter to draw on any screen, a la tablet PCs, but without the tablet and without first having to take a screen shot and then mark it up. Think of it as a virtual laser pointer.

Figure A is an annotated screen shot of ZoomIt. The annotation was placed on this screen before I captured the window; basically, I was able to annotate and place text on the live screen and then take this screen shot. In a live training session or presentation, I wouldn't take a screen shot, but this gives you a look at the possibilities. Figure A

Figure A: ZoomIt in action

During the presentation, you can completely clear the screen with an all-white or all-black slate and do some free-form drawing on the window. If you're running Windows Vista, you can also use ZoomIt's LiveZoom feature, which allows you to continue to view updates to the viewable window while the picture is zoomed. Normally, when you hit one of ZoomIt's hot keys, the window updates pause.

ZoomIt has a couple of modes. In the mode implied by the product name of ZoomIt, the viewable window is zoomed to a particular subsection of the screen on which you can annotate and call out specific sections. Alternatively, you have the ability to simply annotate the screen as it's normally viewed and at the native resolution. With ZoomIt, you can change the color of the annotations and text as well; once a screen is zoomed, you press the first letter of the color you want from pink, red, yellow, orange, blue, or green.

ZoomIt can make the concepts you're trying to show a little clearer to your audience. I've used and appreciated a number of Sysinternals' utilities over the years, and I suggest giving ZoomIt a shot.

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About Scott Lowe

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

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