The Prezi Virgin: update

My post as TigerSteph on the TigerNash site about the presentation I gave on 19 September can be found here. I won’t repeat myself, but I did have a great time and would love the chance to do it again. What I do want to say is how I got on with using Prezi.com, following my post that I was going to trial it.

Firstly, I’ve come to the horrific realisation that I’ve hit ‘that age’ where technology has annoyed me because I didn’t get the hang of it staight away, so I thought it was a waste of time and headed back to my Microsoft safe haven of PowerPoint. A week or so later, I came to my second realisation that I am older, wiser and there is more in my brain, hence it takes longer to learn things and having kids is my excuse for less active cells anyway, so I should give it another go.

I would love to say that I enjoyed the experience, but honestly I much prefer being shown how to use things in person rather than learning online, that’s just how I am. The video tutorials for Prezi were really good though and if I had the time, I reckon I could get the hang of it and make some pretty nice presentations. Depending on the type of account you create with Prezi, it allows you to store, share, edit and publish your canvas creations.

Considering I’m a PC rather than a Mac chick (I think Mac users will feel a more natural affinity with Prezi), I did manage to import my existing PowerPoint presentation and make it a little more funky than your average bear (yey me!), but given more time I would like to create something from scratch in Prezi. So for those who would like to see my first attempt, have a butcher’s here and if you want to make your own, then set aside some time, take a deep breath and give it a go!

  

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Most writing sucks – 5 ways to stop it

I’ve just read Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. It didn’t take long. It’s certainly more a novelty gift than a book, so don’t get your hopes up for anything revolutionary and read the reviews before parting with your money.

Why am I telling you this? Well, whether it’s a novel, a magazine article, or a company website, a lot of writing I read today sucks. It’s often carelessly written with a lack of understanding of audience engagement. So, I want to share a few basic things I’ve learnt over the years of writing press releases, case studies, websites and tweets, in the hope that it prevents silly mistakes and sloppy writing slipping into small business:

1. Spell check everything (just make sure what country your spell check is set to if you’re not sure when it should be a z or an s).

2. Grammar and punctuation still matter even in tweets, blogs and websites. Don’t fall into the trap of text speak – it’s not becoming of a professional business.

3. As much as possible, use active rather than passive language. For example: ‘I write’ rather than ‘I am writing’. An easy way to look for this is to check words ending in _ing and replace them with the more active form of the word. It may mean adjusting the sentence structure, however this is almost always beneficial to the flow of the copy.

4. Read your copy out loud. Always. See where you stumble and rewrite as necessary.

5. Avoid jargon and buzzwords. Read it to your gran or your ten year old. If they don’t get it, it may be poorly written. Complex concepts can be explained in plain English for anyone to understand with the right wording.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll think up some more and let you know in due course.