On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Thing 17: Presentations with some zoom, pop, whiz, and wow

Using Prezi can help you produce slick, high-quality, and engaging presentations useful for both in-person and electronic delivery. It can be the WOW factor you’ve been looking for to take your presentations or instruction sessions to the next level. However there is some caution to employ when considering using Prezi. It can get moving too quickly and agitate some of your audience, and depending on your Internet speeds, transitions, zooming and panning may become jerky.

As blingy and zoomy as Prezi might be, don’t dismiss PowerPoint entirely. The new features in PowerPoint 2010, when well executed, create stunning presentations. You can create the impression of zooming and panning in PowerPoint, too.

See for yourself!

Whether you use Prezi or PowerPoint, if you don’t have a sense of design, understand your audiences’ composition, and attend to some basic layout and delivery principles, you will have difficulty gaining attention and buy-in from that audience. In 2008 I bought a freshly printed edition of Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery and immediately adopted it as my presentation style with tremendous success. Follow the blog and read about Garr Reynolds’ newer publications.

Prezi offers a unique zooming tool that allows you to present an idea and dive into a word or image punctuating your message. In my experience, participants are often in awe of my presentation abilities and tend to be more interested in Prezi rather than the actual material and content of my presentation. I limit my use of Prezi to a few events and purposes usually as an introduction or closing prop.

I was introduced to Prezi nearly 4 years ago and can happily report that its path of development has followed user needs and created an intuitive, easy and fun to use interface and an increased variety of tools and style selections. The recent incarnation is wonderful. I like exploring existing presentations and choose the option of using templates from time to time. The easy zebra tools, additional colour schemes, compatibility with iPad or Blackberry Playbook and other features make Prezi the zooming presentation software of choice for many, especially me.

I use Prezi in information literacy and library instruction sessions to:

  • introduce students to session expectations by setting a short Prezi on a 10-seconf loop playing as students enter the classroom
  • present information for students to prepare for the upcoming session (log in to computer, open a browser, go to library home page, etc.)
  • present learning outcomes
  • deliver instruction

Prezi can be used with great success for a variety of other situations, such as:

  • Meetings –  set a loop conveying a welcoming message and preparing participants with information regarding agenda, breaks, follow-up, links to online materials, surveys, etc.
  • Conferences –  an image-heavy Prezi provides a great background for your presentation when set on a timed loop
  • Information booths –  at career fairs, conferences, poster sessions, etc., a Prezi looping through an engaging presentation draws attendees to your material
  • Online instruction –  a self-paced Prezi as an embedded object offers students another level of engagement with material

Prezi can be embedded into Libguides, blogs, wikis, emails, and course management systems. Using Prezi can truly set your presentations apart from others, engage participants more intensely, and help deliver your materials, information, and content, dramatically and emphatically.

The learning curve for Prezi is shallow and short. However, a word or two of caution when using Prezi:

  • learn the techniques to best import images to retain clarity – they have to be rather large
  • slow down rotation speeds to avoid irritating your audience
  • map and plan your presentation to best leverage the zoom feature
  • embed links to media within Prezi to create a seamless and contained presentation
  • think critically if Prezi is the best vehicle for your material – sometimes PowerPoint or no presentation program is best

Investigate purchasing a yearly subscription which has greater options to collaborate, deliver Prezi at conferences, and download to a desktop. I had a subscription for two years allowing it to lapse when I moved to a part-time position with less instruction. I regret that decision because all the Prezis I had created were deleted at the time of subscription cancellation. Harrumph.

I created this simple, clear and clean Prezi to run through the loop feature set at 10 seconds at the beginning of a team retreat I coordinated last spring. It played on three screens while attendees filtered into the room, collected their coffee, settled around tables, and greeted one another. The simple words helped establish the intent and tone for the presentations which followed.

However, regardless of what presentation program you use, if you break some basic etiquette, style, and presentation rules, you’re toast. Check out Ned Potter’s presentation.


I cannot say enough about the potential and creative possibilities for using SlideShare. I have used SlideShare to distribute single Word documents, PowerPoint decks, and my resume, and embed links to presentations and materials created by others. SlideShare works well in LibGuides making the most out of available page real estate. Entire multi-paged handouts can be presented in an easy-to-use format for immediate viewing by users with options to easily download printable versions without having a SlideShare account. I have seen an increase in recent months in the use of SlideShare on LibGuides produced by colleges and universities.

SlideShare might have once been used solely for PowerPoint presentations but no longer. I am creating a PowerPoint version of my Curriculum Vitae for SlideShare. I look to SlideShare for material to use in instruction sessions and for information on topics I am researching. Whatever SlideShare has become, it works for me and many others. And it works well.

Here is an example of a single page on SlideShare. I created this handout for an information literacy instruction class comprised of 2nd-year students. It has been downloaded by other librarians several times in recent months.


Used appropriately and sparingly during job interviews, these tools can set you apart from others demonstrating competency with technology, transliteracy skills, and understanding for the potential of Web 2.0, social networking, media, and software in the context of librarianship.

Used at conferences and seminars, for instruction, meetings, and workshops, both these tools can draw your audience toward the material you are presenting with an enlivened and engaging force. Try them for some added spice and drama.

For librarians, developing transliteracy skills include the ability to understand and use a range of presentation, media, social networking, and technology tools. Specifically, to use them well. Transliteracy promotes a concept of literacy where the ability to read and write are correlated with textual literacy and is a counterpart to fluency in different types of media. When we create a presentation in any presentation software, we include qualities of transliteracy because we understand something about the collective behaviour of presenting (receiving and delivering) and multimodal sensibilities (parsing, zooming, animating, visuals, audio, mash-ups, etc.).

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