Tinkering with tools: (Pretty) Easy Prezi


Prezi the (really not so) new cool presentation tool

Prezi the (really not so) new cool presentation tool

Prezi is a presentation tool. An alternative to Powerpoint. It has been around for a while now (four years), and I hadn’t used it since 2010 when, among others, I was wondering ‘What is learning?‘ but current circumstances at work have brought me back to using it again – as testified in one recent blog post on partnerships.

This time it’s not so much for my own use (I tend to facilitate events a lot more than present anything at those events) as for my colleagues’ use, so this ‘Tinkering with tools‘ post is about Prezi, some resources about them and a couple of tips to enrich one’s experience with it.

So what is Prezi?

Prezi is a dynamic presentation tool that is built in a totally different logic to Powerpoint. Let’s examine closely the differences between the two:

Powerpoint

Prezi

Series of interconnected slides following one path – ‘Slide’ logic, whereby the slide is the playing field Canvas offering a navigation pathway amidst an infinity of other ones – Canvas logic where the whole canvas is the playing field – it is possible to step out of the indicated ‘pathway’ to look at any element on the canvas
Lecture-like experience ‘a la overhead sheet’ though can be used very strongly (the tool is never the problem, the tool user can be) Dynamic exploration-like experience where the user is invited to discover a brave new world
Possibility to emphasise certain elements with animations or formatting (bold, colour etc.) Few formatting options (3 types of fonts though colours possible) but endless possibility to emphasise elements by scaling them up or down, adding dynamics to the presentation
Many animations possible in the slide (if used well, one of the powerful features of PPT) Some animations possible but mostly animation happening between sequences of text e.g. nesting images into images into images
Possibility to embed images, videos, audio etc. Possibility to embed images, videos, audio etc. AND Powerpoint presentations
Risk of putting too much text in and to bore the audience OR risk of putting too many animations in and to annoy the audience ‘Death by Powerpoint Risk of putting too many transitions and movements in and to get the audience sea-sick ‘vertigo by Prezi
Embedding in websites happens through prior uploading on e.g. Slideshare Embedding in websites directly (though via a rather not so straightforward logic for WordPress sites)
Software used from the client’s PC Online, or pay-for – free 30-day trial – desktop application

If this doesn’t help you visualise what I mean, perhaps you might want to take a look at this example:

Now let’s have a look at some useful ways to build Prezis, from my experience…

Practical tips and tricks?

First off, focus on three things:

  1. your story (the content and logic of it),
  2. the storyboard of that story (e.g. what element will you disclose one by one, flanked by what possible visuals and other media etc.)
  3. and finally how will you plot these onto your canvas. It is really crucial to think about this because the prezi will be used all the more as you incorporate a strong story in a smart way of using the canvas.

This means that once you’ve got these elements figured, you should plot (i.e. add, write, upload, include) all these elements of text, visuals, audio and video bits more or less where you want to put them on your canvas. Your use of the canvas and of Prezi’s navigation logic is what makes the difference between a good prezi and an excellent prezi. Then you can scale them differently to hide them a bit for an element of surprise.

Prezi is not Powerpoint, so don’t build a Prezi the way you would a Powerpoint. Forget about overview slides, forget about animations on slide, and certainly forget about the biggest mistakes in building and delivering (death by) Powerpoint e.g. having too much text to read, adding useless visuals which don’t strengthen your point etc.

On the other hand, use the strength of Prezi: move around, scale in and out, turn the text, play with the canvas and with details in it (e.g. nest an image in the dot of an ‘i’ or in the brain of a person in the picture), use a visual as your canvas and move around, get a hang of options with the templates offered, think for yourself and try a story canvas that suits your style and your needs. It can be a blank canvas, a pre-existing template, a picture…

However, here are also some other tips to avoid shooting yourself in the foot with your innovative prezi (at the risk of putting your audience off Prezi for a while):

  • Even on a prezi, too long a presentation can bore your audience. Time yourself and avoid speaking over 10 minutes
  • Scaling in and out is great but doing too much of it really gives vertigo. Spend some time talking over each ‘bit of text’ rather than moving straight into the next bit, to allow your audience to find its balance and sense again and to avoid vertigo
  • Use pictures not in a Powerpoint slide kind of way but rather embedding the text in the picture or vice versa, or show the picture after or before the text
  • Add different kinds of media (e.g. video) to also time your presentation and give space for your audience to stabilise its senses
  • Keep a consistent use of fonts and colours to give a sense of balance to your presentation
  • At all times, keep your story in mind. As much as early Powerpoint presentations used all kinds of animations and lost the plot (and the audience), Prezis are cool only if they strengthen the point, not dilute it.

As you can see, I also need to explore Prezi to improve my own style since my 2010 attempts.

Some more resources about Prezi:

Related blog posts:

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Of partnerships, DEEP and wide


Partnership, an anchor and harpoon forged over time (Credits - Rob Young)

Partnership, an anchor and harpoon forged over time (Credits – Rob Young)

PARTNERSHIPS!

The holy grail of development!

Well, when you bother about collaborative approach that is. And some prefer to use partners for results rather than relationships. But for any development organisation with the right frame of mind, partnerships are central. Only it tends to be a lot of discourse and perhaps not enough action.

Let me offer, in this shoot post, a few ideas to work practically with partners:

  • Partners are not a category of actors. They’re not NGOs, they’re not governmental agencies, they’re not donors. They can be all of them. Partners are all the actors we care enough to listen to, to work with, to deliver together with, to enrich mutually, to develop each other’s capacities… They go way beyond the vague and slightly demeaning term of ‘stakeholders’. As was said in this week’s annual programme meeting of my employer:

Let’s turn ‘stakeholders’ into partners

 

 

  • Partners are not just for our own benefit, they should be mutually enriching. Otherwise we’re not talking about partners but about parties that we benefit from, like  fat sheep that we prey on. Is it the vision of development you wish to spread around? It most certainly isn’t mine.
  • Partners are not obscure organisations hidden behind generic terms of reference. They are groups of people that we know and that rely on individual relationships, hopefully formally or informally institutionalised enough that they don’t depend on just one person. But let’s not underestimate the deeply human nature of any meaningful (even institutional) ‘partnership’.
  • Building partnerships is hard work. It takes time to find the people that coalesce around some ideas; it takes patience to understand each other’s language, to accept each other’s vision and agenda, to recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses frankly; it takes courage to want to bridge the gap, to invest in the partnership beyond the inevitable bust-ups and possible breaches of confidence; it takes resources to bring our organisational apparatus behind those partnerships. It takes years to achieve meaningful partnerships.
  • Maintaining partnerships is also hard work. It implies having genuine discussions about the end of funding for a given initiative, exploring other options together, but also keeping regular visits and holding ongoing conversations – even chit chat – throughout, as two old friends do, without always having an interest in mind.
  • Investing in partnerships is not about multiplying the amount of organisations that are mentioned in our initiatives and projects, it’s about deepening the relationships we have with them, the only way to build the trust out of which authentically well grounded, relevant, jointly owned, sustainable work can emerge. In this sense…

Partnerships are not necessarily about ‘widening’ the list of our institutional friends, they’re about ‘deepening‘ the relationship we have with them, increasingly bringing to the light the difficult questions that one day might threaten those very partnerships and finding ways to address them, together, with maturity.

  • Finally, for genuinely helpful partnerships to emerge, mutual capacity development and a collective eye for critical thinking and adaptive management are key. That is what helps partners understand how the situation evolves and take decisions in a better informed way.

Some of these messages are strongly echoed in the synthesis reflections about the ILRI annual programme meeting:

Partnerships are perhaps key, but they’re not a word to throw around so as to tick boxes, they’re a long term investment, philosophy and care for people of blood and flesh, of ideas and ideals, for development that makes sense and makes us more empowered, honourable and human every day.

Related blog posts:

KM for Development Journal news, zooming in on the facilitation of multi-stakeholder processes


Some news about the Knowledge Management for Development Journal, for which I’m a senior editor: the upcoming issue (May 2013) is just about to be released and will be the first open access issue again after three years of commercial hosting by Taylor and Francis. This is a really welcome move – back to open knowledge – and the issue should be very interesting as it focuses on knowledge management in climate change work.

The September 2013 issue is dedicated to ‘Breaking the boundaries to knowledge integration: society meets science within knowledge management for development.’

Discussing innovation and multi-stakeholder platforms (Credits: WaterandFood / FlickR)

Discussing innovation and multi-stakeholder platforms (Credits: WaterandFood / FlickR)

But here I wanted to focus a bit on the December 2013 issue of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal which will be about ‘Facilitating multi-stakeholder processes: balancing internal dynamics and institutional politics‘.

Multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) have been a long term interest of mine, as I really appreciate their contribution to dealing with wicked problems, their focus (conscious or not) on social learning, and the intricate aspects of learning, knowledge management, communication, monitoring and capacity development. Multi-stakeholder processes are a mini-world of agile KM and learning in the making – thus offering a fascinating laboratory while focusing on real-life issues and problems.

What is clearly coming out of experiences around MSPs is that facilitation is required to align or conjugate the divergent interests, competing agendas, differing world views, complimentary capacities and abilities, discourses and behaviours.

In particular I am personally interested to hear more about:

  • How homegrown innovation and facilitation can be stimulated and nurtured for more sustainable collective action movements, especially if the MSP was set up as part of a funded aid project.
  • How the adaptive capacity of a set of stakeholders is being stimulated beyond the direct issue at hand (be it education, competing agendas on natural resources, water and sanitation coverage etc.) or not and how it becomes a conscious objective of these processes.
  • What facilitation methods seem to have worked out and to what extent this was formalised or not.
  • How the facilitation of such complex multi-stakeholder processes was shared among various actors or borne by one actor and with what insights.
  • How individuals and institutions find their role to play and how their orchestration is organised in such complex processes (i.e. is there a place for individual players, how does this address or raise issues of capacities, turnover, ownership, energy, collective action, trust etc.).
  • To what extent – and how – was the facilitation of these processes formally or informally reflected upon as part of monitoring, learning and evaluation or as part of softer process documentation.

This special issue, which is very promising with almost 25 abstracts received in total, should explore these issues in more depth and bring up more fodder for this blog and for exciting work on using social learning to improve research / development. The issue will come out in December 2013 as mentioned. In the meantime, a couple of upcoming events in my work will also touch upon some specific forms of multi-stakeholder processes: innovation platforms.

What else is boiling around this blog? A lot!

Coming up soon: Another couple of KM interviews, some reflections on open knowledge and related topics and perhaps getting to a Prezi as I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of working with it after three years of interruption. Only even more is boiling outside this blog – as this turns out to be the most hectic season at the office these days. More when I get to it the week after next.

Read the December 2013 issue’s call for papers.

Related blog posts:

Assessing, measuring, monitoring knowledge (and KM): Taking stock


Been a while since I last properly ‘took stock’ of a specific topic in my knowledge garden. The last one about storytelling. But I’ve recently been working again on one of my pet topics: assessing knowledge work, so a good stock-taking exercise will be really handy for upcoming work, and hopefully for you too!

Some takes on M&E of KM via IKM-Emergent (Credits: Hearn, Hulsebosch & Talisayon)

Some takes on M&E of KM via IKM-Emergent (Credits: Hearn, Hulsebosch & Talisayon)

Knowledge Management Impact Challenge (KMIC) work and related KM4D journal issue

In 2011, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a KM impact challenge, inviting authors to submit entries explaining how KM could be effectively assessed. 45 different case studies were shared and reflected upon in a final report and a series of articles published in the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. These cases spanned a spectrum of KM interventions from capturing lessons, developing capacities, improving organisational performance, looking into learning events, impact of communities of practice etc. A lot of common challenges to assessing KM and practical recommendations and question to move forward are identified in this (to my knowledge) penultimate attempt at taking stock of assessing KM in development work.

Read the KM Impact Challenge final report or discover the Knowledge Management for Development Journal issue dedicated to the KMIC experiences (limited access, come back to me for specific articles).

Methods for measuring intangible assets

I first came across this resource in a blog post (itself worthwhile reading) from Gerald Meinert about ‘KM asks for value compensation‘. Karl-Erik Sveiby is one of the KM tycoons. He has been writing a lot of really good conceptual and practical pieces on KM as a professor and as founder of Sveiby Knowledge Associates. Although this list of approaches to measure intangible assets is not strictly focusing on assessing KM, it is very useful to consider as KM relates very much to intangibles. Sveiby looks at four different methods to measure intangibles: Direct intellectual capital methods, market capitalisation methods, return on assets methods and scorecard methods. He goes on looking into 42 different methods falling in either category.

The merit of this work is to consider the valuation of knowledge capital in various ways. Perhaps not enough is said about how knowledge leads to other changes but that is covered by other methods and resources listed here.

See Sveiby’s methods for measuring intangible assets

Nick Milton’s series of quantified KM stories

Nick Milton, of Knoco Stories, is a prolific blogger on KM and he totally should have been much higher on the top 100 KM influencers on Twitter. Among the many things that Nick has been blogging about are a series of quantified success stories – 60 to date while blogging here – which look at ways KM helped make or save money, adoption of new practices, increasing implementation speed, increasing effectiveness and benchmarking it against other comparies etc.

Have a look at these Knoco Stories ‘quantified success stories‘.

The use of indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of knowledge management and knowledge brokering in international development

This is the latest I’ve come across. Compiled by Philipp Grunewald and Walter Mansfield on the back of a KM4Dev Innovation Fund grant, this survey report came together with a workshop report which consists in fact mainly of a list of 100 indicators to assess knowledge (management, sharing etc.). See the survey report or discover the top 100 indicators in the workshop report.

KM4Dev curated discussions on monitoring and assessing KM

Over time, various KM4Dev members have been asking about this perpetually reappearing conversation topic (and the reason why I consider M&E of KM one of the phoenixes of the KM field). Of all these discussions, ‘Monitoring and evaluating KM‘ and the more recent ‘Measuring knowledge sharing‘ are perhaps the most pertinent pointers, although other conversations helpfully addressed specific aspects related to e.g. after action reviews, partnerships, portals, conferences etc.

There is another one of these conversations happening on the KM4Dev mailing list as we speak. Feel free to join and perhaps to help document the conversation, I may include it in this stock-taking post.

Check the KM4Dev wiki on M&E-focused discussions

The IKM-Emergent papers on monitoring and evaluation of knowledge management

Finally, I couldn’t ignore these two papers that the Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) Emergent project came up with, which I also co-authored:

The first paper takes stock of the major problems with assessing knowledge management in its various forms and how it is currently being done. The second paper suggests an alternative approach to doing it, inviting a variety of people that have a stake in the evaluation of KM and collectively reflecting with them on what assessing KM could be and how it would add more value.

These papers – while in the making – were presented at one of the KMIC webinars:

I have some more resources which I’d like to share with you from my Delicious bookmarks for your own sake.

There must be many other key resources, reports and inputs and I would love to hear from you: What are your personal gems about assessing knowledge work? What resources and ideas have changed your view of this complex and uber-important aspect of our work in the field of KM?

And here I don’t provide a meta-analysis of all these resources, but this might be the next step in my own perpetually restarting journey in the territory of KM.

Related blog posts:

Engagement and deeper connection in social networks, a dialogue with Jaume Fortuny


What? Do I smell something new?

This will not be your typical KM for me & you post. Instead, it’s an idea of Jaume Fortuny (and see his Twitter profile as Jaume’s a terrific and prolific tweeter) which we have gently pushed forward to shape it up into an online conversation that we wish to continue here rather than just among us two (narrating our work life, right?).

The engagement pyramid (credits - FogFish)

The engagement pyramid (credits – FogFish)

The crux of this conversation: how to generate and maintain engagement on social media? In more details, what makes a person follow another person online and keep on doing so over time? Jaume is a regular follower of this blog and it’s time to address you as ‘You’ indeed 🙂

As I told you in our email conversation, I rather approach engagement from the side of social engagement (as in this really excellent resource about youth engagement) and I have blogged about the engagement happy families, engagement in facilitation and how KM can drive more engagement in comms etc.) but never in the way that you portrayed.

You seem to say that there are factors attracting people to a given blog, either aspirations about spreading interesting information or perhaps even improving peoples’ lives. Depending on peoples’ interests, they are attracted to a given blog (or any other social media for that matter but let’s talk about ‘blogs’ for the sake of the conversation) because of its focus and how the content on that blog is crafted. But that is only the first step.

The second step is to make sure that people remain interested in that blog. You suggest this happens through (as a blogger) inviting interaction, displaying humility and kindness, showing that you care for reciprocation. You also suggest that over time, some other incentives help maintain this engagement: recognition, meeting face to face and establishing a physical (i.e. non virtual) bond, rewarding and motivating the person following the blog.

Finally you mention that you also have ‘a gang of people’ that you follow and with whom you entertain engagement over time without waiting for any return.

This is all really interesting to hear and I have a few questions for you – either generic or related to our interactions around this blog:

  • What do you find ‘turn-offs’ (repulsive behaviours) on the blogs and in the people that you follow regularly?
  • To what extent does the content and the content type (e.g. using different media) weigh in compared with the personality of the blogger and the relationship s/he has with their followers?
  • Which posts on this blog have you particularly liked but more importantly why?
  • Do you follow people in their social network ecosystem or around one specific platform?
  • Do you think this engagement is susceptible to change over time with different people and how does this happen?
  • Is there a point for bloggers to specifically invite their audience/readers/followers/friends to react either via surveys or specifically prompting them via e.g. Twitter and other social networks?
  • What do you hope to achieve – if anything – with the people that you engage with more thoroughly and what can make it happen?

I also would like to say that for me, having people like you engaged over time and really following, re-sharing, questioning, reflecting is really great. It’s what helps me get a sense of direction and relevance from this blog. My blog has a niche focus with a likely limited audience, so any feedback is really great and is one of the reasons why I blog after all.

Engagement between social network connections is not a topic I really paid much conscious attention to so far, yet it is the currency of our networked age and a real zeitgeist signpost. Good that you woke me up to it Jaume! I look forward to the next round of this conversation to go deeper in our mutual exploration and understanding. Thank you for your excellent suggestion, and thank you for your engagement, as ever!

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