Peter Arvai loves technologies that enable world-changing stories to be shared. In 2008, he joined forces with Adam Somlai-Fischer and Péter Halácsy, an architect, and an innovator, to create a more memorable and engaging way for people to share stories. Today, their creation is known as Prezi. Before co-founding Prezi, Peter was already active in the information-sharing realm. In Sweden, he founded omvard.se, a company that aggregates data on treatment outcomes for hospital patients. Soon after, he developed the world’s first mobile newsreader so people could follow TED Talks from their mobile devices.
In this conversation, Peter discusses the findings of the Prezi/Harris Interactive Survey, which looks at how critical presentations are for success.
Geetesh: In your recent survey, it was found that most presenters are not effective – and audiences are not receptive! What do you think about this scenario?
Peter: Part of the reason people aren’t paying attention is related to presenters “winging it” and not taking the time to make their content relevant to their audience. Thinking through the presentation beforehand enables you to connect the dots and make sure the presentation is as succinct as possible. Mark Twain’s commonly referenced quote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,” applies to presentations as well. Remember, humans are programmed to engage, and not only to listen. An overly long data list and bullet point-heavy presentation will put an audience to sleep and will be hard for everyone to get through. Create an overarching story and a few main points that back it up.
Geetesh: How can Prezi help in creating a better environment for presenting?
Peter: Prezi helps the presenter formulate a conversation with the audience by showing them the big picture and the fine details, putting the message in the context which makes content more memorable and engaging. If a small business owner is explaining their company overview, for example, they could navigate between categories and details, pulling back to reveal the big picture that shows how everything relates at the end. Visually depicting the relationships between main points provides context and reinforces the larger story, helping the audience understand and remember better. Zooming in on details and zooming out to show the big picture is a powerful way to emphasize your main point, something linear slides cannot provide.
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