Prezi’s Big Ideas 2021: Expert advice for the new year

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Note from the Editor:

To say that 2020 was tumultuous would be the understatement of the year. Not only did we grapple with drastic shifts in how we work and learn, we also had to find new ways to stay connected and productive. But humans are nothing if not adaptable, and we can be better informed and better prepared as we enter 2021. 

To help you with this, Prezi’s team of editors worked with some of the biggest names in business and education to launch the Big Ideas 2021 campaign, a collection of insights and predictions from a wide range of experts, including bestselling author Nir Eyal, LinkedIn data scientist Brian Xu, sales enablement leader Tamara Schenk, and many more.

Watch their Prezi videos below for their advice for the new year, and be sure to share your own. If you ever want to reach our team, feel free to email — we’d love to hear from you!

Lorraine K. Lee, Prezi’s Managing Editor

Explore the big ideas: 

The future of learning 

This year was defined by the unknown, which is why Eric Sheninger, an Associate Partner with the International Center for Leadership in Education, stresses the need for educators to lead in times of uncertainty and prepare every kid for anything. 

“All kids have greatness inside them,” says Eric. “It’s the job of an educator to help them find and unleash it.” In his Prezi video, he explains why one-size-fits-all teaching methods aren’t effective, and how to move towards more high-agency, personalized learning.

But learning shouldn’t be limited to the classroom — in fact, we should be constantly striving to learn new things in the workplace, according to Shelley Osborne, the VP of Learning at Udemy. She points to modern smartphone apps, and how they’re constantly updated with both minor tweaks and major changes, as a model for our own growth. 

“We need to be embarking on these little tweaks, these little releases (and the big ones as well),” says Shelley. “We need to consider ourselves learners all the time.” 

She makes the case that “upskilling” in the workplace is not just a nice-to-have, but an imperative. Her Prezi video explores five ways to make learning a core part of your work, including a useful framework to help you rethink your processes: 

However, it’s important to note that organizations can’t simply say they’ll support learning and call it a day. In order to drive business results, companies need to make sure their learning programs are meaningful. Darren Shimkus, who was the President at Udemy for Business and is currently the CEO of edtech organization, dissects the differences between leading organizations and lagging ones when it comes to turning learning strategies into business growth. 

“Envisioning a different future, storytelling, and collaborating — these are what the best companies do,” says Darren. “But these aren’t just characteristics of companies; these are fundamentally human characteristics.” Watch his Prezi video for a deep dive into these three traits and how they manifest in the world’s most successful companies:

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The new workforce 

One of the most significant shifts we’ll have to adapt to is how we work. According to the LinkedIn Economic Graph, which aggregates data from over 722 million people across 55 million companies, the pandemic has drastically impacted the labor market. 

Brian Xu, a Senior Data Scientist at LinkedIn, breaks down the data insights and economic impacts — he explores how the slowdown in hiring has impacted women vs. men, as well as how the rise of remote work has led to a greater migration to smaller, more affordable cities. 

In fact, shares, views, and applications for remote jobs have more than doubled in the past year. “Remote work was treated as a luxury for many companies,” explains Brian. “Now, it’s definitely becoming a trend as the pandemic has accelerated that aspect of working.” 

This democratization of opportunities leads to a silver lining: The data suggests that nearly 150 million new technology jobs will be created in the next five years. Brian points to reskilling efforts as crucial, especially for those most impacted. For example, a sales associate at a retail store can pivot to tech-focused roles like inside sales or business development. Find out more in his Prezi video:

The changing workforce also means that more people have been re-evaluating their priorities over the last year. “When you do that kind of self-reflection, there’s an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned about yourself to your career,” says J.T. O’Donnell, founder and CEO of career coaching platform Work It Daily

According to her, taking a second look at your career trajectory can help you discover key “growth moments,” such as prioritizing flexibility over salary, carving out new roles and responsibilities in the workplace, generating income from your passions, or even completely changing your career. 

Learn how to embrace new career outlooks in 2021 with J.T.’s Prezi video with her Big Idea:

As you reassess your priorities and career goals, you’ll also want to make sure any changes are applied to your resume. 

“You want to think about where you’re headed, and how the skills that you’ve gained along the way can help position you for your new target role,” states Ashley Watkins, a Nationally Certified Resume Writer with more than 206,000 LinkedIn followers. 

In her Prezi video, she provides practical advice to future-proof your resume in 2021, including how to find the right format and structure, avoid overused phrases, cut the fluff, explain gaps, and tap into your professional network:

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Skills to develop

The shift in how we work also reflects the growing importance of avoiding distractions. But one of the most common misconceptions is that the opposite of “distraction” is “focus,” when it’s really “traction” — the things that are aligned with your plans and values.

This misconception, argues Wall Street Journal bestselling-author Nir Eyal, only leads to inadvertent distractions. Checking your email in the middle of a big project feels like you’re still “focusing” on work, but you’re actually distracting yourself from what you set out to do. 

“Time management is pain management,” Nir adds. “All distraction is simply a desire to escape discomfort.” In order to become what he calls “indistractable,” it’s first necessary to identify both the internal and external triggers that distract you, and then recognize what they’re distracting you from

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With proper time management, though, you can more effectively plan out your schedule and become less distracted. Watch Nir’s Prezi video for his tips:

John Hall also seconds the need for better time management (no surprise there, given that he’s the co-founder of Calendar), and points to timeboxing in particular as a useful skill to develop. But he also stresses the importance of looking externally and building better relationships and trust in the next year. 

“People want to deal with people that they trust,” he states. “It’s never been more important.” Cultivating a network of helpfulness — through a combination of empathy, recognition, personalization, and education — will allow you to do more with less in the next year:

One of the key ways to build stronger relationships will be through online meetings. 

“In 2021, companies are not only going to have adapted to remote working, but they’re going to want to level up how they engage with others on video,” predicts Jessica Chen, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and CEO of Soulcast Media — a company all about communications in the workplace. 

Even if you return to the office in the next year, many other companies may still be primarily remote. That means you’ll need to learn how to present on video effectively and better engage during online meetings if you want to succeed in 2021. 

Jessica shares her tips to help you stay connected remotely, whether you’re leading a discussion, giving a presentation, or participating in a 1:1 meeting:

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Industry-specific shifts

The videos above make it clear that there’s been a fundamental shift in how people learn, grow, and work. But what will be key for businesses in 2021 is how to transform those ideas into a measurable impact on the bottom line. 

To start, we turned to Stephanie Chavez, the CMO at marketing agency Zen Media, for her advice for the new year to help you increase your video marketing conversions. Marketing has become increasingly driven by video, and for good reason. “Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined,” she says. “That’s powerful.” 

It also just makes business sense. Not only are videos more versatile (in terms of production and cost, as well as content), they’re also more impactful — customers prefer video over any other form of marketing, and that preference is only expected to grow in the next year. Learn more from Stephanie on how to take advantage of upcoming video marketing trends to drive more leads and customers for your company:

Driving leads is only the first step, though. To convert your leads into paying customers, you need to have an effective sales enablement structure in place. Tamara Schenk, a sales enablement leader and the former Research Director at CSO Insights, sees sales enablement as one of the big areas for executives to focus on in 2021. 

“A modern buyer is actually expecting problem solvers rather than salespeople who are more focused on features and functions,” she says. 

In her Prezi video, Tamara dives deeper into how to set up sales enablement in a more strategic way, how to apply sales enablement to digital transformation, how to align and scale enablement efforts, and more. Learn about the four sales enablement imperatives that executives will need to follow to find success in the new year: 

Even traditional industries like journalism are finding new ways to reach their audiences. Angel Au-Yeung, a Staff Writer at Forbes Magazine who broke the story earlier this year on Bumble and was the first to report on the tragic death of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, looks to the rise of email newsletters as a new outlet for reporters. 

“Journalism as an industry has generally resisted change and innovation…which has led to the loss of a lot of jobs,” she explains. “Reporters are welcoming a new way to reach readers.”

In her Prezi video, Angel highlights the combination of factors — including easier formatting and writer loyalty — that will lead to even more journalism newsletters in the next year:

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Life in a post-pandemic world 

One of the industries most impacted by COVID-19 is the restaurant industry, and 2021 will require a new approach. “There’s no doubt that the evolved customer journey will revolve around innovation,” states Linda Neukirchner, the VP of Marketing at OneDine, a company that provides online food ordering solutions. 

She looks ahead at the future of restaurant dining experiences, and explains how restaurants will have to go beyond just a QR code on the table. In order to attract guests and get them to return repeatedly, establishments will need to look into implementing new technology and making better use of the physical space:

While the restaurant industry looks to technology to better serve their guests, many other industries are embracing technology in virtual-first models to benefit both employees and employers. Dr. Tomi Ademokun, a Public Health Advisor for the CDC and the host of the Wellness & Wahala podcast, points out that “during the pandemic, telework has increased significantly, and will most likely stay like that even post-pandemic.” 

In her Prezi video, she outlines the pros and cons of telecommuting, and why this shift to telework is changing how we work for the better. Watch to the end for Dr. Ademokun’s advice for being more productive while working remotely in the new year, as well as how to take care of yourself and improve the way you communicate:

Even though remote work is here to stay, it’s also important to avoid the trap of comparing the “virtual world” with the “offline world.” Instead, Brian Fanzo, a virtual keynote speaker and the founder of iSocialFanz, argues that we need to embrace a truly hybrid future. 

“I believe that nothing we do virtually will ever replace what we do offline,” he emphasizes. “But if we do it well — we reinvest and reinvent and we don’t just repurpose — we have the opportunity to create new experiences and really extend beyond the screen.”  

Many people advocate for unplugging or going all-in online, but that only results in limited experiences. In order to create a better hybrid future, we need to rethink the way we connect, collaborate, and engage with each other. Find out more about Brian’s “three Cs” to help reshape our perspectives, and how companies should prioritize their focus:

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If there’s one thing we can take away from this year, it’s that nothing is set in stone. But even with the unpredictability of the future, we can still try to prepare and adapt. Turn to these experts’ ideas and advice for the new year to approach 2021 with the right mindset — if you’d like an easy way to rewatch all the videos, check out our Big Ideas playlist. And if you have your own big ideas, trends, predictions, or tips to share, create your own Prezi video, then be sure to tag it with #BigIdeas2021 for a chance to be featured on our Video Gallery

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