Advice on structuring a presentation
April 27, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

[presentation-filter] What is the best way of structuring a complex computer-slide presentation?

I'm working on a complex and long presentation of a research project. I want to try and think about my presentation in a similar way to a mind-map (slides and slide-groupings related thematically and hierarchically).

Are there any tools that enables this mind-map style structure with a presentation tool (keynote/ppt)? I'm was planning on using Keynote, (with slide indenting for personal organization) and Xmind (for mind-mapping).

Alternatively, any advice welcome. I'm struggling to translate my mind-map approach to the linear process that this presentation requires. I've read Tufte's books and this article from today's NYTimes .
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might look at Prezi as a slightly different take on presentations, one that is structured both visually and thematically more like a tree graph than a series of flat rectangles. Here is an example. Navigate through it for a few minutes and you'll see what I mean.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I took a look - Prezi is very nice, and almost exactly what I am looking for. However I get the feeling that it is not formal enough for what I want.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:39 PM on April 27, 2010

You mention Keynote, so you're probably on OS X. If you have access to a Windows box, you might look at pptPlex.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:47 PM on April 27, 2010

You might want to look into upgrading to xmind pro, if you don't already have it. I think it is $50/year. It has some more advanced presentation features and lets you export maps to powerpoint and PDF.
posted by c lion at 4:26 PM on April 27, 2010

Best answer: Prezi is the best bet for working with a graph or mindmap like structures.

The problem is, presentations are a linear narrative, like most good forms of storytelling are. Many people insist "my presentation is so amazing and complex it has to be non-linear" and the results are nearly always awful.

> I'm working on a complex and long presentation of a research project

This phrase alone suggests you might be insisting on being comprehensive, despite the fact your audience almost certainly doesn't want long, and only wants complex provided they're interested enough to warrant it - something they'll decide in the first few minutes of your talk.

The best exercise in the world for this is to force yourself to do a short 3 or 4 minute talk on your topic without a single slide. Only after you've done the work to think about your project concisely enough to achieve this (an elevator pitch if you will) will you have a suitably clear perspective on how to present your ideas in a longer form.

Nearly every Prezi presentation I've seen is entirely distracting, because the speaker got lost in their fascination with their own ideas and their own interest in playing with the whizzy elements of the tool, instead of focusing intently on why the audience is there, what they want to know and what kinds of facts, ideas or new questions the audience came to the presentation hoping to leave with.
posted by Berkun at 11:16 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks Berkun, I appreciate your advice and am reflecting upon it.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 7:09 AM on April 28, 2010

Best answer: VUE, a free mind-mapping application developed by Tufts University, has presentation features like playback-pathways (screencasts).
posted by James Scott-Brown at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2010

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