Prezi Business: Moving out of the Auditorium to the Meeting

I had a chance to chat last week with Peter Arvai, the founder and CEO of Prezi, the company behind the ‘infinite canvas’ presentation tool of the same name. He wanted to brief me on the company’s progress and plans, and give me a heads up on the company’s new offering, Prezi Business.
Prezi is an innovative break from the boxy, bulletpoint heavy style of presentations, allowing a more visual and storytelling-oriented approach to presentationology. By allowing a more free form way to cover the information in a presentation, the presenter can easily adjust to different audiences given the same presentation. As Arvai said, agility is becoming very important everywhere, even in the domain of presentations.
It’s hard to do Prezi justice in words, so maybe you should wander through this prezi I created a few years ago with Harold Jarche for Sibos. It’s by no means a wonderful presentation — especially without the words that Harold and I added to the presentation — but it’s one that I made with a small investment of time.

You can click on the arrow icons to walk through the prezi, or zoom in and out to see more details, in any order.
Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.13.11 AM
The new Prezi Business — which I have not used fooled with — supports real-time cocreation (multiple authors, commenting, and so on), real-time shared presenting (in HD, without other third-party tools), as well as sharing of links to prezis.
Especially in that third use case, Prezi’s new analytics help understand who is viewing what in your shared prezis. This includes leaderboards, very helpful in sales organizations.
Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.13.19 AM
The new offering has garnered some press, mostly focused on the per seat price ($50/user/month) or its adoption by millennials. These pieces don’t hit the most important aspects of what Prezi is doing: the science behind it.
Peter talked with me about the science of better presentations, like the factoid that presentations with compelling visuals are 43% more persuasive than those that lack them, for example.
The company’s grounding in the science behind presentations and storytelling has been effective. Nine months ago the company announced that there have been over one billion views of prezis, and that is now over 1.6 billion. Marketing is the fastest growing paid business segment at Prezi with 52% year over year growth (as of April 2015) and 199% increase in active use as measured by Prezi creation.
As part of this release, they’ve created a Slack integration so that team members can be informed in Slack about modifications made to prezis down to the object level.
And we started to range farther afield, talking about the possibilities for AI in presentation creating, where information from various sources could be combined into rich, navigable tableaux linked by semantic connections.
Prezi Business won’t be the last major release from Arvai and his people, that’s for sure, as they negotiate the transition from the auditorium to the meeting.

Dropbox for Business now support coediting Office docs on the desktop

Back in November, Dropbox announced a partnership with Microsoft and developed the hooks so that users could edit Office documents within Dropbox (see Dropbox partners up with Microsoft). Today, Dropbox has taken the next step, and has released the first Project Harmony tools that extend that capability to the desktop. (I’ve written about Project Harmony before: see Dropbox Project Harmony is breaking the rules.)

When editing in Office apps, a Dropbox badge will appear:

Screenshot 2014-12-12 10.59.53

This allows sharing of a link to the doc so that others can coedit.

When more than one author is working on a doc, the user will be warned about making changes, which will lead to the creation of a new document. When the other editor is done with changes, the user can opt to see that version of the doc, or their own.

Screenshot 2014-12-12 11.00.27

Dropbox users will have to join the early access program to try these features. I guess I will sign up, too.

 

Google Keep and Slidebean add sharing

Two apps that I use frequently — Google Keep and Slidebean — have recently added sharing options, making them immensely more useful.

Google Keep

Google Keep is a small and simple note keeping tool. My principal use is for taking notes during calls or meetings. I could use a text editor like Apple’s TextEdit, or note tool like Simplenote or Evernote, but I find the simplicity of Google Keep appealing. And, most importantly, Google Keep notes have their own URL while in edit mode, which means I can assign myself a task (in Todoist, in my case) that points back to a note. Here’s a note opened to edit, and you can see the URL in the navigation box.

Screenshot 2014-11-21 11.15.23

The new feature is accessed by clicking on the ‘+human’ icon at the bottom of the note, which leads to the sharing panel. Because it’s a Google tool and I use Gmail, all my contacts are accessible.

Screenshot 2014-11-17 15.01.50

After sharing, if another participant makes edits, that is indicated by a gradient and an edit timestamp, like this:

Screenshot 2014-11-21 11.24.17

And once I edit it, that gradient goes away: a simple signally mechanism that indicates the state of the note.

So, a simple sharing feature — which I only wish included the option for a specialized message at the time of the invitation to share — makes Google Keep immensely more useful.

Slidebean

Slidebean is a small and simple presentation tool, one that divides the formatting and the content of a presentation in a clever way. You add content first, and then select a from predefined templates that automate formatting, transitions, color scheme, and so forth. It’s similar to Slides.com (the former rvl.io, see rvl.io is an amazingly small presentation solution), and Bunkr.me (see Bunkr is an innovative small-and-simple social presentation solution).

Here’s a presentation I recently gave, ‘A Brief History Of The Hashtag‘. Note the warning indicators in red saying my bullets are too long.

Screenshot 2014-11-21 11.33.01

In the screen below, I have selected the template, colors, and font. Everything else is done by Slidebean.

Screenshot 2014-11-21 11.36.55

And finally the Publish step, where I also can share the presentation with coeditors. The presentation is public online, so take a look to see how different sorts of slides are treated. Here’s one as an example (note that I changed the template):

Screenshot 2014-11-21 11.46.03

This also shows the controls that visitors will see when viewing online, including fullscreen mode.

Slidebean’s sharing and private presentations are Advanced or Pro feature. Advanced is $119/year, Pro is $199/year. That’s a bit pricey, but I like the simplicity of the tool. And sharing is critical for people making joint or company presentations.

 

Dropbox Project Harmony is breaking the rules

Dropbox announced that Dropbox for Business is now available for all, with features that IT staff have demanded:

Remote wipe helps protect confidential information, account transfer helps you maintain business continuity, and sharing audit logs let you track how your Dropbox for Business information is being accessed.

As a footnote, they mention Project Harmony, which looks to be a means to comment between coworkers working inside of files, while they are being edited in existing tools. In the image below, it’s Microsoft Powerpoint:
project_harmony
 
This is all they say at the moment:

We’re exploring new ways to make working together great. Our new initiative, Project Harmony, will let you see who’s editing a file, have a conversation with other editors, and keep copies in sync — all right inside the apps you already use. Check back here on Friday for a closer look.

The capability does not seem to include the comment-to-paragraph linking that usually accompanies inside-of-doc comments. One the other hand, if the comments are also available externally, at the Dropbox folder level, that would be a real step forward over Google Drive, for example.
This is a real departure from the typical model of document comments: either you use the built-in functionality of the editor associated with the file type — like Word with .docx — or you convert it to another format, like Google Docs document. Dropbox is suggesting a different way, through some clever integration into the native editors. It’s breaking the rules. I presume it will could with Apple’s iWork apps, but not with Google Docs, since Google’s aren’t native but cloud-based. According to some reports it only works with Microsoft Office at present.
I was expecting that Dropbox would be announcing their own office apps, but perhaps that’s in the works for Friday, too.
I will have to wait until Friday to have all revealed, it seems.