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!