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Purposeful Presentations

We have been talking a lot recently about Prezi (if you don’t know much about it check out our Powerpoint versus Prezi demonstrations here to find out more) – a lot of people are very excited about Prezi and what it can potentially do for their presentations and their business.

Some people are more sceptical. Either they have been subjected to a bad Prezi and wound up wishing they hadn’t had that extra sandwich at lunchtime (for those new to Prezi, a bad one can often result in a bit of motion sickness!) or they are comfortable with Powerpoint and how they use this tool and are concerned about having to learn something new.

But before you worry too much about what tools you are using for a presentation objective, it is more important to know your purpose and what you are looking to achieve. Only once this is clear can you choose the most appropriate tool for the job.

It may be at this point that you decide that Powerpoint is the right tool to use – you don’t have much time to learn something new, you are comfortable, you already have assets that you use and you know it works to an extent.  The most important thing is to ensure you are always working with your objective in mind and even more importantly, your audiences objective (see our presentation on ‘Their bubble not yours’ to learn more about this….)

Too often with Prezi you see presentations that have been created using this software, but not used to the best effect. You wonder what it is that the presentation creator wanted to achieve with it. You are confused by the messages or just unimpressed and it looks like they have simply used Prezi for the novelty factor and because it is different. They might have seen a fantastic Prezi themselves, but in their eagerness to try that out, they lose sight of their objective of the presentation and don’t put themselves in the shoes of their audience.

My Advice

So my advice is to think first about what you are trying to achieve and why, and then choose the most appropriate tool for the job, based on time, resources, knowledge, budget and creative direction available.

Prezi is fantastic and I can sing its praises all day long, because we are a creative, visual company. The way it works speaks to us and is music to our ears as creators of presentations. You might be more process orientated however and therefore seeing the big picture and visual metaphors for your messages may be more of a challenge. In which case draft in some help. Don’t necessarily think that you cannot use Prezi – find someone who can help you to think about your presentation content a little differently and put it within the context of an audience journey, rather than a series of docu-slides.

But don’t just import your powerpoint presentation into Prezi and expect it to be miraculously amazing!

Ultimately if you want to create a successful presentation, you must know your purpose, then choose the most appropriate tool for the job and make sure you are keeping your objective in mind at all times. Here are some magic questions to ask yourself at every stage of the presentation development process and help keep you on track:

  • What am I trying to communicate here?
  • What will the audience see and interpret here?
  • What do the audience know at this point?
  • What do the audience want to know at this point?
  • Does this enhance, stimulate, demonstrate or prove my messages?
  • What is my big picture and how does this slide / piece of content relate?
  • Where have we just been immediately before this slide and where are we going immediately after? Where are we on the journey?

Keep these questions at the front of your mind and whether you are using Powerpoint of Prezi, you will have significantly more power and purpose in your presentation!