From the Classroom to the Boardroom with Prezi: Michael Baird

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This post is part of a collection of interviews we did for the winners of our Classroom to Boardroom contest. Applicants were asked to submit the story of their use of Prezi in the classroom, and how that discovery carried over into their professional lives.

From the Classroom

Michael Baird discovered Prezi as a graduate student at Washington State University. Tasked with creating a presentation on World War I, he used Prezi to form a timeline of events for his classmates to explore at their leisure. “It allowed the people in my class to learn the story themselves,” he said, adding that enabling viewers to set the pace was what encouraged a detailed and thorough final project. “The story I created was one that could step up and live by itself— I didn’t even need to speak to it for it to be clear.”

To the (Virtual) Boardroom

Today Michael works as a senior management consultant for USC Consulting Group, a company that specializes in operations management. He is constantly trying to tell the complete story of a production operation from start to finish in order to identify gaps and communicate them to his clients. He begins by using classic methods, such as drawing everything out on a six-foot tall piece of paper. “Old school techniques are hard to beat,” he explained. “There’s just something about standing in front of the information, touching it, adding to it, and seeing it as a whole.”

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While pen and paper are great for mapping out the current state of a business, Michael needed a more robust platform to translate it for his clients. “I found myself working on a global project with key stakeholders on three different continents, and as you can probably imagine, the story was becoming increasingly complex,” he said. He then remembered the timeline he created using Prezi back in college, and knew it was worth a try. “Just getting international decision makers into one room is already next to impossible—or very expensive. You need to be able to give them something that’s going to be really effective, and videos and pictures aren’t it. Prezi, however, is like a dynamic summary—it brings the pen and paper process to everyone’s computer or tablet, no matter where they are.”

The Whole Story

In addition to translating a tried-and-true process into something everyone could experience, Michael praised Prezi for being able to bring real context to the issues his client was facing. “The best thing that Prezi does is allow you to take a complex issue and get down to what’s critically important at a functional level,” he said, noting that basic information — such as who operates a piece of machinery — is easy to overlook, but critical to improving operations. “Prezi is very good at demonstrating to key stakeholders the connection between the lowest level of functionality to the highest level of productivity, and that is incredibly valuable. When people understand the entire story, they feel confident with their decisions.”  

Ready to see how Prezi can change the way you work? Explore the features of Prezi Business or request a demo here.

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