Blog Archives

Prezi structure is essential …or “Why most Prezi users should be SHOT”)

Prezi is a great tool full of functions, but if you don’t follow good structure guidelines it can all go terribly wrong….

I admit it sounds harsh to say people should be shot, but actually it’s an acronym for what should be done to most Prezi users: They should be Stopped, Helped or Trained. Why? Read on..

As people start adopting Prezi, many of them forget 2 of the 4 pillars of an effective presentation: Message and structure.

What do most people do with Prezi? They see a big wonderful canvas that goes in and out and left and right and up and down and they just start doing EVERYTHING. As a result, I am seeing Prezi presentations that swing in and out and left and right, using random animation effects and terrible pictures that for some reason are rotated 37 degrees to the left. This must stop.


In this post, I’ll explain how to apply the fundamental presentation concept of message + structure to a Prezi presentation. If you do what I say, people will be able to follow your Prezi presentation (without sea-sickness) and your main message and its delivery will be reinforced by excellent structure.

(And if you are intrigued about how I phrased that last paragraph, read here why it is important to answer the only 3 questions that count!)


First, here is an example of what I want you to do…

Got it? OK, now let’s break it down…


Prezi is a 3D canvas (surprise!) consisting of height, width and depth.

Prezi dimensions


There are 2 major options for how to present your main message and supporting conclusions. Either do it like a mind-map would (radial principle)…

message and conclusions - example 1

..or, like me, embed your main supporting conclusions IN your main message (which I personally think looks awesome!) :



Now let’s talk dimensions… You can move left/right, up/down and in /out in Prezi. Which one’s work best for which reasons?

If you want to avoid sea-sickness and reinforce the natural (diamond) structure of your presentation, then height and width are used to move BETWEEN structural parts of your Prezi and depth is used to add detail WITHIN one part.

(Note: If you’ve taken my option for presenting your supporting conclusions WITHIN the main message statement, you will be obliged to exceptionally use the depth dimension almost immediately to “add detail”.)

using Prezi dimensions well


..and finally, what should you do with the possibility of spinning and BIG movement in Prezi? When should you use a big spin, rather than something moving gently left/right or up/down?

Its easy: The bigger the movement, the more the audience will feel like there is a big change happening. So restrict your big spins and large in/out movements to major structural transitions. In this way, you can reinforce your structure just like Dora-the-Explorer would.

For movement between sub-points at the same structural level of detail, make your movements gentle left/right or up/down. (A little rotation is OK, but don’t go overboard).



If you apply all these simple ideas, your Prezi will make global structural sense and people will be able to follow. Of course, these are only guidelines and you can make exceptions for effect wherever you like.

To see it all in action, have a look at my conference Prezi on how “How to Improve Formal Learning with Social Media “.


For more Prezi tips, have a look at:


Thanks for reading.

Please share, follow me on Twitter, leave a comment., follow the blog..
..or join me in Prezi training.



Make a presentation in 5 steps (3): Define your message

A well defined message is the heart of a good presentation. This post outlines how to formulate a good presentation message.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)


Create a strong message: Link your objective to the audience and create a message with impact that the audience will recall

Many of the people I meet in training have trouble defining their message… …yet they seem upset and confused that the audience doesn’t understand and can’t remember their point!

Other people tell me that you can’t always define your point in one message. Recently, a training participant told me of a university professor who’s lecture was so complex it could not be summarised into one message – I believe this an indicator of one of the following things:

  • He didn’t have enough clarity to put things together into a concise message
  • He had too many messages
  • His presentation was not well structured (more on presentation structure here)


To improve understanding and to avoid the audience having to figure everything out for themselves *, we need to define a strong message. By doing this, we will also create long lasting impact and recall of our message.

* more on this later when we see the Pyramid Principle in presentation structure


When I ask people in Presentation Skills training what is their message, I get a lot of replies like this:

  • It’s about call-centres and how they work
  • I’m talking about pro-activeness in the workplace

..these are not messages, but subjects!


So I ask them: “So what is your point?” and they answer:

  • I want to show how our company helps calls to arrive in a call-centre
  • I want people to understand that pro-activeness is important

…these are not messages, but purposes/objectives!


So I ask again: “And what is your point?” :

  • I want to sell our services
  • I want people to take action

…again, more objectives (although admittedly more commercial/action driven)


A message is the thing you want to say, the thing you want your audience to understand during and following your presentation. If you did a good job of defining your objectives, you have probably already thought about this.

So I ask again and finally I get answers like these:

  • Our company can help you to install complete contact centre solutions
  • If you create flow in the organisation, people will be more likely to become pro-active

…now we have some messages! These are messages the audience will be able to understand and recall easily after the presentation. These messages are also now a road-map for creation of presentation structure.


To help you create a strong message, answers these 5 questions (write down your answers!):

  1. What is your point? Wat are you trying to say?
  2. If someone asked an audience member after your presentation “So, what did he say?” what should the audience member reply?
  3. What must the audience remember after your presentation?
  4. If you have several points to make, what is umbrella message that brings them all together?
  5. How can you formulate the above answers into 1 phrase, that is short, punchy and easy to remember?


If you answer these 5 questions, you will have something easy to understand, that has a chance of impact and lasting recall and that will help you to develop your presentation structure. Here are some examples of strong messages that we will revisit when we learn about presentation structure:

  • Use story-telling to create imagination, understanding and influence
  • Company X has grown in 10 years to become a leading provider of IT solutions
  • Build effective presentation in 5 steps
  • If you want to understand people, you need to listen to them


Hope this helped!

Now let’s see how to implement the diamond presentation structure


If you have questions, contact me:

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And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…


Make a presentation in 5 steps: Overview

Trainees sometimes ask me: “What is the most efficient way to make a presentation?” Follow these 5 steps and you will know the answer… Objective, Audience, Message, Structure, Content !


The pages linked above outline what to do at each step – follow the links and follow the instructions and you will be able to make a great presentation.

Don’t cheat on these steps. The next time someone asks you to make a presentation, just follow one at a time… Don’t go adapting previous presentations and PPT documents you have already made, start from scratch…


…and even if you prefer other ways to make your presentation, you will still need to deal with 5 basic steps. I can tell you now that the most efficient way is not opening PPT and just getting started on your visual support! Design your presentation first!

NOTE: This is not about making nice PPT documents, but building the whole presentation. PPT is referenced in the entry on building content…


If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me:

If you have comments, add them.

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter of subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…