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June 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 53 THE CONSULTANTA snippet caught my eye from our sister magazine Conference & Meetings World, where industry association Down Under, Meetings Events Australia, had banned the use of PowerPoint at its conference. CEO Linda Gaunt said: "The bullet point model was created in the predigital era, when there was a shortage of expert information. It was worth fl ying somewhere to hear that kind of speech. Now the web is full of expert presentations, so meetings need to provide something extra. The aim is to deliver presentations that are simpler and more emotive. Presenters are encouraged to tell stories rather than read out lists."In a similar vein, I'm organising an event for September, when our speakers are instructed only to use pictures, not text.Yet simply banning PowerPoint does bring to mind babies and bathwater. In the right hands it can be a great tool, but most users only ever master a fraction of the potential.A Prezi for youIn the right hands PowerPoint can be a fantastic tool; with the bad guys it can be evilRichard John zooms in to a new look for presentationsRichard John is an events industry trainer and consultant. He can be contacted through the Editor.Richard JohnPowerPoint is not the only package available. Mac users have the impressive Keynote. However, as Macs lack the ubiquity of Windows fi les are usually exported as PowerPoint, defeating the object.Another option is Prezi, a cloudbased presentation and storytelling tool for 'exploring and sharing ideas on a virtual canvas'. The most distinguishing feature is the Zooming User Interface, enabling users to zoom in and out of their presentation media. The developers claim that it 'bridges linear and nonlinear information'. Prezi replicates how the brain chooses to absorb information, making presentations far more memorable.Mastering the basics is easy. You select media you want to use, grouping them on your virtual canvas. When it comes to showtime, users just pan and zoom in and between these objects. For linear presentations, users can construct a prescribed navigation path.Creatives love it. The Hungarian developer, Adam SomlaiFischer, an architect, wanted to be able to jump between the 'big picture' of a fl oor plan and then zoom in to view the detail. Word of mouth led to the rapid sharing of the software, and Prezi has been used by numerous leading voices in business and politics to share and explore their ideas. The World Economic Forum is currently using Prezi as part of its presentation and media strategy, and many TED Conference speakers use it.Prezi uses the freemium model of business. If you opt for the free version you must publish your efforts on the Prezi website. Keeping your presentations secret, or enjoying the version with more whistles and bells will cost.If you use good speakers, Prezi will enhance their performance big time. If they're as dull as ditchwater, at least the audience will have something to look at. Win:win, I'd say.