Poor presentations are like the undead. They paralyze the audience, make them fell asleep while the rubbish presenter speaks sotto voce on stage reading the speach word-for-stumbling-word. There's no presentation tool that can make a zombie speaker stand out, and a poor idea shine, but if you need a little "oomph" to make your good presentation great Prezi can make the change. These words have been written by Denna Jones, a writer, designer and consultant in a guest post (read part 1, part 2 here) for communications expert Ian Griffin's blog. Denna points out that instead of creating a linear line of slides, Prezi allows the speaker to encourage a dialoge, and visualize ideas as if you were drawing a mind map for your audience.
We have become excited about the piece and asked Denna to share her thoughts about how to become a better presenter with Prezi and never again be a dead man walking on stage.
You say many Powerpoint users don't even get through the first level of understanding the tool, that's why there are so many bad presentations.
Remember the “I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” adverts? The characters could easily be switched to PPT and Prezi, and I probably don’t need to point out which one is Prezi! PPT has its virtues, but it’s not an intuitive programme, so I’m not surprised users balk at learning more than the fundamentals. My confession? I don’t know all that PPT can do either. I do two things with PPT. I import designs I’ve created in Photoshop, and I embed short video. That’s it. And maybe I should rephrase those last couple of sentences in the past tense. I *used* to do that before I upgraded to Prezi!
How do you think Prezi helps it's users to develop their skills?
Prezi shows the user their cloud of ideas, and also how to see their ideas and information in the way they think – a non-linear conversational dialogue. Here’s what I hope is an effective analogy. Before 1974 the generally accepted World map was the Mercator projection, but then along came the Gall-Peters Projection - an area accurate map. The US shrunk. Africa ballooned. Our perception of our world, ourselves, our countries and our roles changed. Gall-Peters led to a plethora of new maps with new relative values. This is how I see Prezi. It allows each user to establish their own relative values “map”.
As you put it, Prezi can provide the little "oomph" to propel your presentation from good to great. How do you think Prezi can help the audience to understand more of the topic?
The audience experience is not dissimilar from the creator’s experience. The audience may be familiar with a subject – or belive they are – but Prezi frames the material in ways that allow new insights and “a-ah!” moments.
How can prezi help to generate a dialog about ideas?
I think Prezi can work a bit like Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies card deck. The cards unleash the creative powers we all possess, but sometimes we just need a push to unlock our unconscious mind. Prezi is that powerful “push”.
In your article you agree with others who say it's all about the speaker and then comes the tool. How do you think one can be a better public speaker?
That’s an easy answer. Know your subject inside and out. And hopefully if you do know your subject inside and out it’s because you’re interested in the subject. So knowledge and enthusiasm should by default make a good speaker. I really believe most stage fright happens when presenters don’t know their subject. And if you can’t project your voice, make sure you’ve got a headpiece mic. And if possible move around a bit rather than be rooted to one spot!
You are a designer and writer. What do you use Prezi for?
Pitches! I used to do a lot of public lectures as well as lectures to students when I was Designer in Residence at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, but in the last six months my presentations are all about getting organizations to buy into my ideas and either commission me or fund the idea. I feel I’ve got almost an unfair advantage with Prezi because it has such a “wow!” factor. And I was interested in what a colleague tweeted about recently. He had an arts funding meeting with UK wealth managers. He reported they complained that creative organisations were not very dynamic or enterprising. I feel good about that negative comment because I know I’ve got great ideas AND I’ve got Prezi – a winning combination!