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PowerPoint or Prezi: Which is better?

I am often asked if I like PowerPoint or Prezi better. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. In a typical consultant manner I answer: “It depends.” It is not clear which software is better, because both have their advantages.

Is PowerPoint better?

PowerPoint or PreziPowerPoint is probably known to all readers of this training newsletter. Who presents without PowerPoint? Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to think about what PowerPoint is all about.

  • The software follows the same logic as the other Microsoft programs Word and Excel. Many people find it correspondingly easy to operate.
  • You write and draw page by page (slide by slide) – similar to a book.
  • It is the de facto standard in the business world. Virtually all laptops have the software installed and you will have little trouble with it at conferences.
  • The software is installed locally on the laptop/computer. You don’t need an internet connection to hold your presentation (unlike Prezi).
  • PowerPoint for Windows goes well with most projectors. (The PowerPoint version for Mac should be used with caution. Also, the Mac version has less features.)
  • https://products.office.com/de-ch/powerpoint

Or is Prezi better?

PowerPoint or PreziPrezi’s logic follows a different pattern. It was developed by architect Adam Somlia-Fischer, who wanted to show his audience both an overview and details on a map – without losing the overview. Following this logic, you will not find individual pages in Prezi as in PowerPoint, but a single, infinitely large area. You can zoom in and out on it. This way you can see the overview and details on a map as you like – similar to zooming in and out on Google Maps.

  • Prezi is designed as a cloud-based application so that it can be accessed from anywhere and the files can be easily shared. Accordingly, a functioning internet connection is required. (However, there is a downloadable version for an additional charge. This can alleviate problems in hotels with poor internet connections.)
  • It is ideal for explaining a city map to tourists or presenting a floor plan of a production line, for example.
  • Prezi fulfills the criterion to do something different than everyone else. In this respect it can be a good change and thus increase the attention of the audience.
  • If all other speakers use PowerPoint at a conference and you present with Prezi, you will have to overcome additional technical hurdles.
  • It is difficult to produce participant documents. Usually it means an extra effort.
  • If you use Prezi badly, you can cause nausea among your audience. (In the past I already had the feeling that I was on a roller coaster.)
  • The software needs (like any software) a more or less long training period.
  • https://prezi.com

Conclusion

What can you take with you for your own presentations?

  1. Both are good tools. It is crucial that they are used correctly, though.
  2. So it is not a question of “either-or”, but of which tool better serves your purpose.
  3. Use either tool correctly – and it has a great impact.

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Oprah Winfrey inspires her audience.

Oprah Winfrey

“It was 1964. I was just a little girl. I sat on the linoleum floor in my mother’s house and watched the Oscar ceremony on TV “(0:50). With these words Oprah Winfrey begins her speech. The details (cold floor, white tie and black skin) revive the event. She describes the moment when Sydney Poitier was the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor. This means a lot for the little girl, who at that time was following the Oscars from the “cheap seats”. This personal reference makes the speech very emotional.

In 1982 Sydney Poitier received the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the Golden Globes – the award that Oprah Winfrey is now the first black woman to receive. She skillfully draws attention to the fact that little girls are now watching again. So she refers twice to what she mentioned before: First black man/woman, little girl.

Tempo, gestures and repetition

During Oprah Winfrey’s speech, she changes tempo several times. She talks about the Hollywood Press Association, which has a lot of work to do these days: To reveal the absolute truth, to expose corruption and illegality. Her gestures support what she says:”What I know for sure is that truth is the strongest tool we have,” she emphasizes. She says she has great respect for the women who have gone public with their stories. “This year we have become history,” she says. She repeats the word “history” three times. She tries to keep eye contact with the audience – but sometimes it gets lost because of the wide-brimmed glasses.

#metoo

Oprah continues with the #metoo campaign by telling the story of the raped Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks, the woman who took care of the case. She brings her strong message with an anaphora:”Your time is up!” Their time is up! She repeats this sentence three times, while the people in the audience are torn from their seats and give resounding applause.

Come full circle

She comes full circle by returning to the little girls. With that she addresses all the girls who are watching to give them hope:”A new day is coming”. “And this day will be wonderful, especially because of the wonderful women and some phenomenal men who will make sure that no one ever has to say,” Me too!”

Conclusion

What can you learn for your own presentations from Oprah Winfrey?

  • Tell personal stories
  • Make references to events, history, people and facts.

Click here for the video.

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Using a common reproach against your opponent

AfD politician Bernd Baumann uses a reproach against his opponents, that is usually used against his own party – and this at the first AfD speech in the German Bundestag. He certainly convinced at least his base. In his speech, Baumann criticised the decision taken at the end of the previous legislative period to determine the opening speaker no longer on the basis of years of service rather than years of life. The aim is that an AfD representative should not be allowed to open the first session.

“Only in 1933 did Hermann Göring break the rule because he wanted to exclude his political opponent. Do you want to go on such a wry path? Come back to the line of the German Democrats,”emphasizes Baumann. A rhetorically well-prepared speech in which Baumann is supported by the regular applause of his party members. What is more, in his speech the politician also referred to the press reports according to which this decision “does not cast a good light on the parliamentary culture in Germany” (focus). And this despite the fact that the press “is not usually in favor of the AfD”, says Baumann.

He skillfully takes elements from German history and tradition as supporting arguments for his point of view.

“How big? How great must the fear of the AfD be?”repeats Baumann. The icing on the cake is the end of the speech: In just one sentence, Baumann lists all the topics that are important to his party. “From this hour on, the issues are being renegotiated here. … also about the euro, gigantic borrowings, gigantic immigration numbers, open borders and increasingly brutal crime on our streets, ladies and gentlemen “, says Baumann.

What can you learn for your own presentations?

  1. Use analogies, including those from the history of your country.
  2. Make verbal judo and take a reproach that is often made to you and turn it around.
  3. Make sure you have people in the audience to support you.
  4. Summarize everything in one last sentence.

Click here for the video.

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The British Exit - and the European Future

John Major on The Brexit

John Major on The British Exit – and the European Future; University of Zurich, KOH-B-10, October 17, 2016, 18:40 – 19:26 h. Organised by the Schweizerisches InstitutJohn Major on the Brexit - and the European Future für Auslandforschung SIAF.

It was an honor and a privilege to have the former British prime minister visit the University of Zurich.  It was great to be able to experience the Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH at first hand. The presentation was even more relevant because of the recent vote of the UK to exit the European Union. Therefore it was no wonder that the lecture hall was filled to almost the last seat available, i.e. about 440 attendees.

Former prime minister John Major argued that the exit came as a surprise to many. According to him there were going to be many negative consequences. Subsequently he praised the overall achievements of the European Union, acknowledging some difficulties. In particular the key achievement being peace in Europe after the first and second world war. On the other hand, one of the mistakes the EU in his opinion did, was to let too many countries  adopt the Euro too early. As a result, Sir John argued that the vote in favor of the Brexit had to do with the fact, that many British citizens hadn’t seen a raise in their living standard for the past 10 years.

Now to the topic of this blog: How good a public speaker is John Major?

On the positive side:

  • Use of humor: He opened and ended his speech with a joke. First with a joke about Gorbachev, then with one about Jelzin. John Major also deflected some potentially difficult questions with humor during the Q&A session.
  • Declaring his standpoint: He clearly said what his personal opinion was about the Brexit: He thinks it was a mistake. Comment: This puts things into perspective and let’s the audience understand more easily that he leans to one or the other side of the argument.
  • Relate to the audience: Sir John related to a large part of the audience when he (sarcastically) asked the students in the audience: “Are 65 million British citizens going to get the same deal as 500 million citizens of the EU? Discuss!” He earned a big laugh from that (, assuming that that will not be the case).

Areas for improvement:

  • Voice: John Major’s voice was not constantly audible. His voice tended to soften at the end of sentences to the point that he could no longer be understood. Suggestion: Articulate clearly and loudly until the end of every sentence.
  • One sided: Many arguments were unbalanced. E.g. NATO is good, Russia is bad. (No mention of the promise that NATO gave to Russia: We will not expand NATO if you let us reunite Germany.) Suggestion: When preaching to the converted that works fine, probably less so when speaking to a large number of (most likely) critical university students.

Conclusion:

Most noteworthy is Sir John Major’s humor. Unfortunately he could not always be acoustically well understood. In addition, in a school paper (and, in my humble opinion, hopefully by the press) he would have been asked to give a more balanced view.

This was a worthwhile event to go to, if only to experience first hand how a former and current leader speaks.

On a scale of 1 (stay home) to 10 (world champion): 7