Today I'm sharing a really fun present to help you to ring in the new year. When I told Laura Drake about the new Microsoft Sway, she about lost her mind. It is extremely creative and cool, but super easy to use. Best of all, it integrates seamlessly with OneDrive and Office Online and it's FREE. Laura begged me to share it with everyone at WITS because y'all need it.
Many people are comparing Sway to PowerPoint, but I think it's more like a digital scrapbook. Imagine being able to brainstorm and scrapbook your story in a format that could be shared via social media or embedded in a blog. Or gathering video and photos in one spot to spark your own creativity. Or being able to quickly fashion a video to share with a book group or your agent.
Welcome to the new world of Sway.
Laura's Sample Book Trailer - Sweet On You
We made this trailer in under 20 minutes. Half that time was taken up with Laura saying, "Oooh! Oooh! Try that one...no THAT one!"
I really like how it turned out for such a quick slap-together and I can't wait to do more, especially once the program goes beyond the Preview stage. We didn't add videos or links, just some photos and some text. There is so much more that can be done with this program.
[How fabulous is that? Feel free to click either of those social links to share it!]
Now that I have your attention, let's talk about Sway.
- The program is viable on any platform or device - Windows, Mac, tablets, etc.
- Go to http://sway.com if you want to get signed up.
- Sway Preview is now open to anybody (as of 12/15).
- Sway is perfect for storytelling - whether it's your book, a camping trip, or an ad campaign.
- Like paper scrapbooking, Sway is all about your imagination.
- You must have a Microsoft account.
- There are limits to the current options like layouts, colors and styles. More are coming, but Microsoft is really taking their time collecting feedback before they go live with the "full" version. Here's the "official" Sway Suggestion Box.
- You need to get used to creating in the "Storyline" and then using the "Preview Pane" on the right to see the results. (But WOW, the results.)
The first thing I thought of when my friends at Microsoft showed me a demo was, "Book Trailers!" Sway is ideal for a visual pitch of your book, and I hope authors take advantage of it.
My favorite Sway features
- You can add content from just about anywhere on the web or from your own device (see pic to the right).
- You can also share content in tons of places, either via social media or by sending a link. The person doesn't even need to have Sway to view what you send.
- Since creating/editing Sways works in any browser, on any device with a screen width >600 pixels, it can work on tablets, Macs and PCs.
- It integrates with Office Online, which is also free.
- You can search the web for content from inside the app.
- Since it integrates with OneDrive, all my photos are easy to access.
- It's much more user friendly than PowerPoint. Example: it took me 10 minutes to give Laura the gist of Sway and turn her loose. It takes me at least an hour to get people up to speed on PowerPoint.
- Sway is very kid-friendly, and I expect to see tons of Sways at future school and scouting events.
- Microsoft actually really wants our feedback so the users have a golden opportunity to influence the direction and features of the software via UserVoice.
Here's a post with "5 Things To Know About Sway."
Demo of "How to Use Sway"
Okay, it's your turn! Had you heard of Sway? What are your questions? What ideas do you have for how this program could be used?
As a fun New Year's gift, I will pick a commenter and create a Sway based on their links, photos and text. Simply let me know in the comments that you want to be added to the drawing. We'll announce the winners next week and post their final Sways on the social media channel of their choosing.
Happy New Year, everybody!
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About Jenny Hansen
By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes news articles, humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.