Videos and podcasts might be a growing part of sharing information, but it’s a rare researcher or University staff member who doesn’t have to give at least the odd presentation – and many lecturers are using presentation tools on a daily basis. In Thing 15, we’ll explore some new tools for creating presentations, and you’ll take another look at sites like Slideshare that let you share your research and presentations online.
Most of us are, by necessity, familiar with PowerPoint and/or its Apple counterpart Keynote. There are open source alternatives, although you may find they’re not always compatible in the ways you need (there’s a list at Alternative To).
Prezi is growing in popularity and offers an interesting alternative to the usual static slides you normally see. Prezi allows you to zoom, pan and layer levels of information, although these tools need to be used well in order to be effective. Instead of presenting a linear story, you can move around a storyboard, highlighting connections.
Prezi can take some getting used to, but it’s worth jumping in and giving it a try. Take some time to experiment with it and think about what it could offer to help you share your research, present a subject to students or colleagues, or create an informational or induction presentation. You can even use Prezi as a collaboration tool – it’s great for mind mapping with colleagues.
We particularly like this presentation by Ned Potter of the University of York on how to make good Prezis. As well as showing you what Prezi can do, it’s a great example of exactly that – a good Prezi: The how to make a great Prezi, Prezi on Prezi:
Presentation sharing tools
Now we’d like you to think about uploading your own research or presentations to them. We love the following tools:
These tools give you the opportunity to store all your research presentations or teaching material in one place. Maybe you gave a presentation at a conference, and you’d like other people to have access to it (or you’d like other people to see that you’ve been providing expert comment on the topic). Perhaps you use presentations as teaching tools, and you want your students to have access to lectures after the class. These sites bring your presentations to a much wider audience than you can ever hope to reach with handouts or even an institutional website. They also let you embed your presentations in blogs and websites.
Have a look at each site (and feel free to look at others), and pick at least one to try. If you have a presentation floating around, upload it (extra credit: tweet a link to your presentation). Many of these sites let you upload PDFs as well as PowerPoints and other formats, so your ‘presentation’ could even be a simple handout. If you don’t have any presentations to upload, think about when or how you might or might not use these sites.
Exploring further: Some notes on presentations in general
Since we’re on the subject, let’s talk about what makes a good presentation in general. There are blog posts, courses and books galore on this, but we think it deserves addressing. Presentations should be engaging and interesting, and the standard bullet point format, while effective in the right context, can be the opposite of engaging.
If you’re looking to breathe life into your presentations, there are some basic things to keep in mind:
- Cut text. Less is better.
- Don’t read our your slides – they’re there to support what you are saying, not replace it.
- Keep to one point per slide.
- Use good images (studies even show that this improves retention!)
Now that you’ve experimented with Prezi and various presentation-sharing tools, what do you think they could add to your work? Can you see yourself using them? Do you think they can help you find new audiences for your work?
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