Perfecting Presentations

Use These Software Programs to Improve Your Presence in Various Formats.

Mention presentations these days and the reaction might be, "What kind?" Today, commercial real estate practitioners find their presentation materials spanning different media, from printed matter such as reports and handouts to computer presentations. These latter programs can be viewed on projection screens or on computer monitors after being sent by disk, CD-ROM, or e-mail attachment.

Slowly the Internet is eliminating the need for disks of any kind. Most major presentation software packages include directions for converting standard slide shows to HTML files, although in the process, many may lose sound and animation. To experience these added capabilities, viewers have to download a special player plug-in — often a different one for each type of software.

The future, according to Presentations magazine, is live Internet delivery complete with sound, animation, and viewer participation. While the need for faster universal access may slow this reality, major presentation software companies are moving toward this future as they update their products.

In the meantime, commercial real estate professionals rely on a combination of presentation packages, image-editing tools, and Web-publishing programs to meet their needs. In response to an informal survey, many users listed Microsoft’s PowerPoint as their main program, in part because its wide use makes it easier to send and receive files between offices.

But such acceptance has a downside. Phil McBride, CCIM, of McBride & Co. in Denver cites customers who grit their teeth at another PowerPoint presentation. "The software tends to provide more power than the customer is willing to tolerate," he says. "Real estate presentations have to provide information that the customer does not currently know — and in an interesting vehicle."

In addition to regular presentation software, presenters can import their own graphics using fairly sophisticated image-editing tools to scan in and enhance photos. Quentin Dastugue, CCIM, of Property One in New Orleans says his office uses Adobe Photoshop, which is "the ultimate software package" in its field. However, the program is "complex and not as easy to learn and use as many others," he says, and it takes up "considerable hard drive space."

For his needs, Stephen Lucas, CCIM, of Corporate America Real Estate in Charlotte, N.C., has found an all-in-one tool: Microsoft Office Small Business Edition, which includes Publisher for print and Web-based presentations. He says it also includes Business Financial Manager, which can produce lease and investment analysis reports.

The following product listing includes presentation, image-editing, and Web-publishing software. It is for informational purposes only; for further details check with manufacturers or retailers.

All software listed requires a CD-ROM drive, VGA or SVGA monitor, and sound and video support for some functions. Prices are standard list prices — many often are discounted, so check around before purchasing.

Presentation Software

Astound 5.0 Astound, 5155 Spectrum Way, Unit 5, Mississauga, Ontario L4W 5A1; (905) 602-4000;

Features: This program uses Dynamic HTML formats so users can publish Web site presentations without using a plug-in. They also can use Java-based Web conferencing that lets them share their presentations with viewers using different browsers. It offers a Microsoft Office interface; multimedia effects such as 3-D text rendering, image editing, and animation; and transition effects. Users can load PowerPoint files directly into the program to make use of multimedia and Web-publishing tools.

Requirements: 486 processor, Windows 95 or NT 4.0, 16-24 MB RAM, 20 MB hard drive space

Price: $249.95; $149.95 for Macintosh version

Corel Presentations 8 Corel Corp., 567 E. Timpanogos Parkway, Orem, UT 84097-6209; (801) 765-4010;

Features: Part of the Corel Suite containing WordPerfect and Quattro, this program offers 180 backgrounds, 120 transition effects, and a variety of layout templates. Users can tailor presentations to different audiences without saving them as multiple files. They also can import files from PowerPoint, Lotus Freelance Graphics, and Harvard Graphics. The Show It plug-in utility publishes presentations online and the Show on the Go feature offers step-by-step guidance for sending presentations on disk or as e-mail attachments.

Requirements: 486 processor, Windows 95 and NT 4.0, 8-16 MB RAM, 50-120 MB hard drive space

Price: $395

Commercial Pro Commercial Pro Software, 5580 Kennedy Road, Suite 3, Mississauga, Ontario L4Z 2A9; (877) 426-6776;

Features: Developed for commercial real estate professionals, this software package combines presentation templates with a documents package. The customizable multimedia presentations include a commercial services presentation, a marketing proposal, and a representation proposal. All three formats are done in PowerPoint and include graphics, photos, and animation. The 175 documents provided include brochures, purchase agreements, marketing packages, and real estate forms. An additional analysis package features lease, net effective rent, tax comparison, lease vs. purchase, investment and loan/mortgage analyses. A Canadian analysis package is available; a U.S. version is being released in mid-1999.

Requirements: 486 processor, Windows 95 or NT, 16 MB RAM, 17 MB hard drive space

Price: $299

Freelance Graphics
Lotus Development Corp., 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02142; (617) 577-8500;

Features: This component of the Smart Suite comes bundled with Word Pro, 1-2-3, Organizer, and Approach. It offers tools for outlining and diagramming, templates, art, sound, and animation. It is compatible with PowerPoint and Harvard Graphics programs and shares data with other Lotus applications. The Save and Go feature lets users package a presentation with a viewer. The program also can publish presentations on the Internet with a plug-in utility.

Requirements: 486 processor; Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0; 8-16 MB RAM; 18 MB hard drive space

Price: $399

Harvard Graphics 98 Software Publishing Corp., 3 Oak Road, Fairfield, NJ 07004; (973) 808-1992;

Features: This program offers predesigned presentations, a step-by-step graphics adviser, a design checker that fixes style and design problems, data charting, the ability to add sound and animation, and drag-and-drop access to more than 15,000 art images. Presentations can be published on a Web site or intranet using the built-in wizard-driven Webshow Publisher. The program also can import data from Excel spreadsheets.

Requirements: 486 processor; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0; 8-16 MB RAM; 20-50 MB hard drive space

Price: $395

Scala, 26672 Agoura Road, Calabasas, CA 91302; (818) 673-1300;

Features: This software uses MMX and DirectX, high-performance multimedia and gaming technologies, which give the look and feel of television productions to presentations delivered on computer monitors or video projectors. It features 250 screen effects, backgrounds, 3-D animations, music and sound effects, and demonstration scripts. Text and graphics can be imported from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. With a publishing feature, presentations can be published via the Internet or put on CD-ROM.

Requirements: Pentium processor, Windows 95 or NT 4.0, 16-25 MB RAM, 25 MB hard drive space

Price: $299

PowerPoint 97 Microsoft Corp., One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399; (800) 436-9400;

Features: This standard-bearer program provides an autocontent wizard to help new presenters get started, a finder for keeping track of slides, spell check, design templates, and a clip gallery of graphics, sounds, and movies. Users can save presentations as HTML documents, package presentations with a viewer on floppy disks, and save customized shows as one file. A comments annotation feature lets reviewers offer feedback, and various chart types and animation effects are available. PowerPoint 2000 is due out within a year with improved Web publishing features and a number of small enhancements.

Requirements: 486 processor, Windows 95 or NT 3.51, 8-16 MB RAM, 26-58 MB hard drive space

Price: $339

Image-Editing Software

Adobe Photoshop 5.0 Adobe Systems, 345 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95110-2704; (408) 536-6000;

Features: With this software, users can enhance digital images, retouch photos, and create images. It includes painting, drawing, and photography tools; text-handling capabilities; color-correction tools; and the ability to output professional color separations for printing. This program is geared toward graphic designers and has a steep learning curve for anyone not used to working with graphics.

Requirements: Pentium processor, Windows 95 or NT, 32-64 MB RAM, minimum 80 MB hard drive space; also available for Macintosh

Price: $995

Harvard Design Studio Software Publishing Corp., 3 Oak Road, Fairfield, NJ 07004; (973) 808-1992;

Features: Designed for the nonprofessional artist, this program features drawing, illustration, photo optimizing, animation, and 3-D graphics tools. It has document, text, object, and special effects wizards, along with drag-and-drop access to preset fills, transparency effects, fonts, and additional graphics. Professional standard drawing tools, an animation mode, natural curve editing, 3-D effects, and a graphics package of more than 100,000 images are included.

Requirements: Pentium processor; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0; 16-32 MB RAM; 20 MB hard drive space

Price: $99.95

Web-Publishing Software

Acrobat 4.0 Adobe Systems, 345 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95110-2704; (408) 536-6000;

Features: This program allows users to convert electronic files and printed materials into a portable document format that can be shared via e-mail, Web sites, intranets, or CD-ROMs. It includes Acrobat Reader for viewing PDF documents; Exchange for adding navigational links, annotations, and security options; PDF Writer for creating files from business applications; Distiller for creating PDF files from PostScript applications, which includes desktop publishing programs; Catalog for indexing documents, and Capture for creating PDF documents from scanned materials. Anyone who receives PDF files can download the Reader free from a number of Internet sites.

Requirements: 486 processor, Windows 95 or NT, 16-24 MB RAM, 40 MB hard drive space; also available for Macintosh

Price: $249

Alive 1.0 Yesler Software, 83 S. King St., Suite 414, Seattle, WA 98104; (206) 674-7700;

Features: This Windows-based application lets users create Web presentations without using HTML codes. By following the program’s outline view, they can organize ideas and thoughts. They can import PowerPoint files, and audio, video, photos, spreadsheets, and other digital files, or follow onscreen prompts to record their own audio or video (with necessary equipment). The program synchronizes media into one presentation and offers onscreen directions for posting the presentation to intranets and the Internet. Anyone with an Internet browser and RealNetwork RealPlayer 5.0 software (a free download from can view the presentation.

Requirements: Pentium processor; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0; 32 MB RAM; 35 MB hard drive space

Price: $195

Publisher98 Microsoft Corp., One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399; (800) 436-9400;

Features: Users of this software can create Web sites, along with business cards, brochures, postcards, and letterhead. It includes 1,600 templates, 60 coordinated color schemes, and a library of more that 10,000 clip art images, 1,500 photographs, 1,000 Web art graphics, 175 fonts, and 340 animations. It provides automatic copyfitting and reformatting, several spelling and grammar check features, as well as wizards that can make global changes at any step in the process.

Requirements: 486 processor, Windows 95 or NT, 8-12 MB RAM, 24-109 MB hard drive space

Price: $99


When Technology and Marketing Packages Intersect

Winter 2022

Technology can upgrade how you market properties across digital platforms. 

Read More

Niche Domination


Marketers might call this powerful presence by another name: brand equity. Blaine Strickland, CCIM, CEO at HBS Resources, shares how dominant brokers use several methods to get the power to convene. Learn how you can become a top leader.

Read More

Fire Up Your Business


Foreign Capital Buys Offices In 2014, foreign capital was particularly focused on office assets, purchasing $17 billion of U.S. office properties, according to CBRE. That amount represents 45 percent of last year’s foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate. More

Read More

Fast Pitch


The tour was set for 1 00 p.m. A pizza restaurant chain was considering leasing space in a downtown Wichita, Kan., office complex, but its representatives were skeptical that the market could support the location. Fortunately, Larry W. Weber, CCIM,

Read More