Perhaps you've been following the undercurrents? In recent times, ppt has become a four letter word!
The most recent & vocal instance of ppt bashing was the famous "We have seen the enemy and he is Powerpoint" story on the US military. While once could argue that the above incident was more of an attack on "paper pushers" in the army, it is fairly obvious that the epitome of B-schools the world over, the ppt, is losing its sheen.
Step back for a moment. Try and remember that ppts are but a tool to facilitate communication - and that certainly isn't dead, and neither is it going away anytime soon. If anything, we're a lot more garrulous that we ever were!
So how do we communicate...with an audience?
There are a bunch of new tools & tricks out there that, if anything, bring back some magic into the art of presentation. Let's dive into some of these. One of these might be just what you need to infuse enough magic to keep that audience spellbound through an hour long postprandial meeting!
I've always thought of a presentation as a cucumber - that you need to give to your audience. The structure of Powerpoint dictates that you cut your cucumber into slices (slides) that you give your audience, and then hope they'll piece it together the right way.
Besides this 'piecing together' problem, there is the inherent assumption of linearity. Unless you litter it with hyperlinks, a powerpoint presentation is, well, linear! In other words, the flow is constrained to follow a linear path - slide 1 followed by slide 2, and so on.
You probably never gave much thought to these two constraints (piecing together & forced linearity), and maybe, still don't see them as constraints. Hold on while I take you through how much more you can do, if you thought of a presentation differently.
Because that's exactly what Prezi does! It recognizes that your thoughts are more akin to a mind map, and the objective is to take your client or boss through that mind map that's so clear - in your head!
Prezi helps you share your thoughts by allowing you to pan and zoom across a canvas that contains your thoughts in various formats - text, audio, video, and yes, even bullet points - essentially, a mind map of sorts.
What does a Prezi look like? Check out this fantastic TED video, and then take a look at the Prezi used in the presentation. Or check out this prezi on teaching math. I promise you won't look at presentations the same way.
Being a web application, you work online and your work is saved online. They even have a free edition - so you have no excuse for not trying it out.
More tips & tricks
Hopefully you're now sold on the importance of fluidity & simplicity in making a great presentation. There are always interesting new things that keep coming up - that you can use to bring your ideas to life. Google Search Stories is one of them!
For most of its life, Google has steered clear of mass advertising. However, this year's superbowl saw an interesting ad from Google - for something that needs no advertising: Google Search. Nevertheless, the ad was a fantastic example of the power of simplicity in communication.
Following its popularity, Google launched a nifty tool called the Search Stories Video Creator to help you create your own Search Story. While you can't tailor an entire presentation on this, it can help illustrate a simple concept, or simply have some fun. I created a couple of Search Stories here and there. Paul Writer's got one too, and the folks at Pixar just launched one - as a promo for the forthcoming Toy Story film. Have fun creating your own; it takes all of 5 minutes!
While we're on the subject of alternative presentation tools, check out this list of cool presentation tools. You'll notice that most of them are web applications where you don't need to download anything. That certainly seems the way forward; even Microsoft thinks so.
This exclusive guest post was written by Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan, Founder & CEO of EyesAndFeet.com, a web application that focuses on helping local businesses get more eyeballs & footfalls through social media. Eyes & Feet is currently in its alpha release and will be available by August 2010. Lux is also a co-founder at www.sharemycake.org - a new way to celebrate and make a difference, launching by September 2010.
Image courtesy: marcopako
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