Beyond PowerPoint: New presentation resources

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As I prepare for my upcoming Construct Canada presentation on architectural, engineering and construction strategic alliance best practices, I’ve discovered some intriguing and appealing presentation resources that go beyond the traditional PowerPoint slides.

Notably, Przezi.com allows the presentation to be structured on a zooming, virtual canvas, in which you can embed video and live data.

“Prezi was initially developed by Hungarian architect Adam Somlai-Fischer as an architectural visualization tool,” Wikipedia reports. “Prezi’s stated mission is to ‘make sharing ideas more interesting’, and it is intended to be an intuitive tool to develop and share ideas as a visual narrative.”

As I anticipate a large percentage of my presentation’s audience — and many of my examples — will relate to architects, I sense this tool will be highly effective in making the presentation relevant and effective.

Yesterday, I set out to put it into practice, and discovered (like many things) that the pure “new” sometimes is best developed in conjunction with the old.  While it is relatively easy to structure and move the slides — and (if live Internet is available at the conference site) to embed YouTube videos into the show — the setup of the individual sides is more challenging to someone more comfortable as a writer than a designer.  Of course, Prezi allows you to import your existing PowerPoint slides, though the PDF format required for the transferring suggests you would have some difficulty editing or revising the slides within the new system.  Maybe I’m wrong (it is early going) but this could mean some frustrating back-and-forth, as you work with your old PowerPoint slides, upload and then transfer them into the Prezi model.

Prezi’s is designed in the “freemium” marketing model — the basic tool and resource is without charge but it is public on the Internet, so hardly is the best option to prepare internal corporate presentations.  I really don’t need secrecy for my work-in-progress, so it is there “in the cloud” if you want to find it, but since it is really a rough draft, I won’t encourage you to look at it just yet.

Along with Prezi, I discovered polleverywhere.com, which could allow live polling from smart phones and Internet links during my live presentation.  Again, assuming the Internet hook-ups are reliable at the presentation site, this would allow me to ask the audience members what they think are the most important AEC strategic alliance best practices, and play the results back in real time.  (I’ll write more about polleverywhere.com later.)

(Note that in planning my presentation, I am well aware that relying on Internet availability can be a risky deal.  I’ve seen various attempts at live feeds which look really good in theory, but fail when the connection falters.  The technology isn’t perfect.)

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