I attended a networking meeting yesterday at the FSM conference in Manchester, where the guest speaker was Phil Jones, MD of Brother UK. Being evangelical about good presentations and especially Prezi presentations, you can imagine my joy when he started and I immediately recognised the opening screen as Prezi!
As Prezi is a relatively un-adopted presentation tool for businesses in the UK, it is rare to attend a presentation or event and see it being used, and even rarer to see it being used well! (I recently spoke at a national healthcare conference and over 3 days and over 100 speakers I was the only speaker to be using Prezi!) Given this fact I wanted to dedicate this piece to it, in the hope of convincing more business presenters to discover the difference it can make to your presentations!
So back to Phil Jones and his Prezi – as he is clearly a dynamic, innovative and forward thinking business leader it is no surprise that his presentation reflected just this. So what was particularly effective about his presentation and in particular his use of Prezi?
1/ Structure and content – the back bone to every presentation! He had interesting and engaging content, he had created a clear structure with well thought through messages and most importantly he had wrapped all of this up in a visual metaphor, taking the audience on a journey and ending up back at where he started. You cannot underestimate the power of this in a presentation. If you just start at slide A, move through a bunch of information and end at slide Z, with no reference back to slide A or the journey you have been on, the chance of your audience remembering any of your messages or connecting with your overall vision are slim to none! Whereas, if you start with a big picture, go into detail, take your audience on a journey and come back to your big picture at the end, people will better retain and engage with your messages and leave your presentation having experienced and shared your vision.
2/ Use of a visual metaphor – coming up with a visual metaphor for your overall message is a very powerful way of communicating with your audience. Phil did this really well using a tree and branches, which, although undoubtedly will have been used before, it is a clear and powerful visual metaphor that people are able to relate to. It is not always necessary to be completely original with your artwork and visuals. As long as you are clear and relevant then that is the most important thing. I often notice people shy away from using visuals and images in this way because they don’t know what to use or are scared that they cannot come up with something that is good enough, when often the simplest images are the most powerful. And an image is always more powerful than text!
3/ Consistent colour schemes, fonts and artwork – The design of the journey and each element of the presentation was kept simple, so not distracting for the audience, yet it was well through through and each ‘slide’ had a purpose.
4/ Moving with a purpose – one of the criticisms with Prezi is that it can make you a bit ‘sea sick’ as an audience. This happens if there are too many moves, spins and zooming in and out. With Phil’s Prezi he only moved when it was relevant. His zooms and journey path was structured with the audience in mind and all made perfect sense. It supported his talk rather than the other way round, which is what a ‘visual aid’ should be!
5/ The journey – his movement, pathway and canvas kept our interest as an audience, as we didn’t always know where he was going next. It kept us engaged in the content and moved fast enough so we didn’t have time to switch off, but equally it was not all about the slides.
In a nutshell, as an audience member of Phil’s, I connected with what he was saying, learnt loads and can still remember his key points about what it takes to grow my business from an acorn to an oak tree and learn from what big businesses do well and how I can learn from that success and use that in my working life. And judging from the reaction from the rest of the audience I think they were equally as positive.
Obviously a good presentation is not all about good visual presentation; you need a combination of a confident, articulate and inspiring speaker, with good, well structured content and well designed, dynamic visual aids to help the audience retain the messages. This is what Phil delivered yesterday and it was a breath of fresh air!
1/ Prezi is more visual, more dynamic and results in a much higher impact presentation. The Prezi environment encourages this and we teach your teams to be able to deliver this, quickly and easily.
2/ Once your template assets are created and in place, a Prezi presentation is quicker to build and make slick than Powerpoint.
3/ Prezi is massively flexible in terms of delivery. Presentations can be readily shared online; both live and archived. They can be downloaded to anywhere as they are saved on server space. They will play on any device without requirement for software. This includes Apple devices, ipad and iphones, with the use of a free app.
4/ PDFs are easily created for handout and provide further easy sharing and updating opportunities.
5/ Prezi is also very good at helping demonstrate processes, detail and a big picture view. This means that you can convince people of your process and systems strengths more easily and clearly.
Virtual meeting technology has been around for a long time. Lots of businesses use solutions such as Web ex, gotomeeting, anymeeting and there are many more out there, all with varying degrees of usability and features.
However, regardless of the platform chosen, many opportunities are missed and audiences not engaged clearly enough with due to lack of clarity with content, presentations and information.
Using this web conferencing technology is a great way to communicate information internally in an organisation who have multiple offices and sites globally. It is also an extremely effective training solution, but only if the content and presentations are prepared, created and delivered in a way that is relevant and engaging for the target audience.
There are many opportunities to create presentations that are more than just bullet points, incorporate multi-media and content that enhances the message delivery. But this content needs to be thought out, sourced or created appropriately in order to have impact.
If you are using Prezi as a presentation tool then you may realise the great potential there for creating a presentation that provides links and associations to your audiences brain that they will remember. And if you are presenting remotely using a presentation tool like Prezi will be even more effective because it takes the audience on a journey, allowing them to be more involved in your presentation than a simple deck of bullet filled slides.
Using PowerPoint and other media can be as effective if you put time and thought into the preparation and don’t just translate information from the printed form or from live presentations and take it into the virtual environment. You need to think about it specifically for the virtual environment or you are missing an opportunity.
Of course, engaging with audiences virtually is a lot more challenging than in person as you don’t have a lot of the traditional rapport and face to face skills to support your message delivery. This is why the content you are showing people when presenting this way is critical. You don’t want them to be doing something else at their desk or looking elsewhere on their computer when they should be fully involved in your presentation.
Here are five tips for virtual presentations or online training to make it effective and ensure the online learning experience you deliver is a success.
1/ Sit on the other side…
Always sit in the audiences shoes and consider why the training will help them and what benefits they are going to get as a result. Then tell them this upfront.
Too many presentations, both live and virtual, fail because of poorly structure material. Group your content into associated themes and topics. Good grouping will help your structure and aid audience understanding massively.
3/ Visualise, Visualise, Visualise!!…
It is even more important when presenting virtually that your visuals are captivating and communicate successfully. Really think through your visuals, don’t just come up with bullet point text. Think creatively and take some time to do some brainstorming – the difference will be remarkable. If you have points to represent that are difficult to visualise or intangible then think about the effect or impact instead and visualise this.
4/ Use questions…
If the audience is made to think, they will naturally engage more. It is as important as anything to get the audience to relate to you and do this by getting them to think. The best way to get someone to really think is to ask insightful questions, so put time into preparing questions that will deliver this insight for your audience.
5/ Carefully consider duration…
Duration needs to be considered carefully and you should plan for mini summaries to be used throughout, especially if you are delivering detail content for the training. For especially detailed information consider referring them to further documentation later, rather than trying o cover everything in one session. In training it is far more effective to chunk sections and deliver these sections effectively over a period of time rather than try and cover everything at once.