Knowledge and Information / Presentation

Presenting ILRI work using Prezi

Conferences, workshops and events of all sorts are at the  heart of ILRI work. ILRI staff travel to many places to present some of the work the organisation does. A long piece of meticulous research work gets synthesised in one presentation that can really glorify or ruin the awareness, attention, dissemination and ultimately the uptake of that work by other actors in the livestock sector.

Public speaking, presenting with confidence, being able to influence others and letting them understand the value and unique opportunities of good research work are critical skills for ILRI staff.

The default presentation tool for such presentations is Microsoft Powerpoint. It is indeed a powerful tool, but if not handled well, this simple presentation tool can induce ‘death by Powerpoint‘. Another problem with Powerpoint is that most people are used to it and more often than not, in conferences, they automatically switch to ‘Powerpoint mode’: a rather active absorption of the presentation, without paying too much attention to the speaker.

An alternative has emerged in the past few years (it first appeared in late 2009): Prezi.

Prezi is a dynamic presentation tool that works in a very different logic to Powerpoint: the latter is essentially a series of linearly connected slides that tell a story. Prezi is a physical canvas – like a drawing board – where all elements are plotted and you navigate around that canvas, zooming in on elements of it and out to other elements to tell the story.

Both tools enable embedding various media: audio, video, graphs and pictures, though Prezi even allows embedding Powerpoint presentations.

Since ILRI’s recent annual program meeting, we tried using Prezi, here’s the presentation by Alexandra Jorge on Napier Grass:

More ILRI presentations on Prezi

Why bother using Prezi?

Perhaps one of the following reasons might want to make you try Prezi?

  • Prezi gives a very dynamic slant to your presentations, which is more likely to keep your audience awake than a series of Powerpoint slides.
  • Prezi forces you to put less text in a ‘slide’, which means people can read the text easily and listen to you carefully at the same time.
  • As you have less ‘support text’, you can more easily talk around the text on the screen. It strengthens your narrative, your sense of telling stories, and perhaps forces you to rehearse a bit more, which is a very good precondition for success in public speaking.
  • Prezi allows you to move around your canvas so you can go anywhere in your presentation without having to clumsily move back on the  menu of your slides.
  • Your audience may not know about Prezi yet, and you may capture their imagination like you never have.
  • It’s a new tool, and every new tool requires you to think slightly differently about your work, stimulating your creativity and parallel thinking skills.

Mind that Prezi, like Powerpoint, can also be used in really bad ways and create a nauseating experience induced by motion sickness. On the other hand, mastered well, Prezi can display great creativity that strengthens the narrative behind the presentation, and give a sense of confidence to scientific speakers, and a good reason to believe that their work might be listened to and perhaps used more as a result.

Prezi may work for you or not, but trying it will be useful to think about your work and learn from your own practice. Many people condemn tools for what they do, though usually the practice of the tool is what causes bad experiences, not the tool itself, but until you try it and see successful examples, you can’t really tell, so when it comes to Prezi, you might as well…

For more information about Prezi, its advantages and disadvantages you can see: 

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