Public Speaking

Prezi Makes it Easy to Show Context in Presentations

One problem with PowerPoint presentations is that it is sometimes hard give the audience context or hints on where you are in an outline for a speech. You can do a running outline in PowerPoint, but it is laborious, and small presentation changes can require a painful rework of outline slides. Apple’s Keynote and LibreOffice’s Impress have similar problems. LaTeX and Beamer make this easy, but the PDF file format limits the use of video, transitions and other useful capabilities on some platforms.

Prezi is a relatively new web-based presentation tool that provides an easy way to give your audience powerful visual cues on how your speech fits together. Figure 1 shows a Prezi presentation on audio/visual tools that members of a Toastmasters club should consider mastering.

Figure 1. Prezi presentation on audio/visual tools for Toastmasters.

Human Factors and Prezi Presentation Design

As the speaker moves along the path through a Prezi presentation, the audience sees the whole presentation, and where a particular topic fits. With Prezi, it is important to use good design–remember that the eye for western readers moves left to right, top to bottom and clockwise from a logical perspective. Early in my career, I wrote a set of network configuration instructions that were tested in a human factors lab. The diagram and procedure started in the upper right and each successive step moved counter-clockwise; the test subjects were unable to complete the configuration. I reorganized the procedure to start in the upper left with each step moving clockwise; the test subjects finished the configuration smoothly and quickly.

If you show a path that does not necessarily fit this progression, make sure that it is at least clear. Note that the presentation in Figure 1 starts at the upper left, moves down, then moves to the right before finally moving upward. Although the overall movement is counter-clockwise, the initial point and subsequent moves are logical and it does not jump around. Note that some of this is language and culture sensitive; know your audience.

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