Thing 12: Tools for presenting your research

Albert Einstein delivering lecture
Albert Einstein delivering the
Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture
of the American Mathematical Society
at the Carnegie Institute of Technology,
Pittsburgh, PA, 28 Dec 1934.

We’ve all been there: that presentation that was death by PowerPoint… Presenting your research well is of course about more than the tools you use, but thinking critically about those tools can also help you to reflect on the structure and pitch of your presentation itself. Thing 12 looks at a number of presentation tools that provide a more dynamic alternative to PowerPoint. This week’s post was written by Kylie Tran (Client Services & Liaison Librarian, Giblin Eunson Library), Mary Stone (Client Services & Liaison Librarian, Baillieu Library) and Wilfred Villareal (Copyright Information Officer, University Copyright Office).


Since its inception and dominance of the presentation market in the mid-1980s, PowerPoint has provided an effective but linear approach to creating and sharing research content. Researchers now have the option of creating and sharing their work using more high-end digital presentation tools which navigate more like a website. These new tools such as Prezi, Slides and presentation-sharing platform Slideshare offer greater features and sharing capacity, and many might confess, a welcome change from your standard PowerPoint presentation.  Here we will outline a few popular tools on offer and how these can be used to enhance your research.

Note: Before you begin presenting your information, ensure that you understand your audience and you deliver the how, what and why of your research effectively.  To assist you, take a look at: Inger Mewburn’s “How to talk about your thesis in 3 minutes”.


Prezi is a web-based presentation program that allows users the freedom to manipulate their own narrative.  You can zoom in, pan out and layer information.  If used effectively, you can adopt a non-linear approach while easily highlighting key points.

Why would Prezi be helpful to researchers?  First, it’s different and tends to make audiences sit up and take notice. Second, and more importantly, as a non-linear presentation, it can help you to reconceptualise your ideas and think about what you’re trying to say in a new way.

Take a look at this great summary and presentation by Ned Potter from the London School of Economics: “Your ‘how-to’ guide to using Prezi in an academic environment”.


When used well these tools can communicate information effectively.  However, if the structure and development of storyline has not been planned properly, it can leave audiences bamboozled.

Think about:

  • Coherence:  Prezi gives you the freedom to place objects anywhere.  This is great but think carefully and have a planned structure.  The cohesion of object placement should happen naturally as a result.
  • While the zooming feature is fun, it can give people motion sickness if over-used.  Be careful when you use it and try to ensure it has a practical purpose within your presentation besides from being a neat trick.
  • Your visual theme: make it consistent in terms of colours, fonts and shapes.
  • As a researcher, you can upgrade to an Educational Licence for free providing you sign up with an academic email address.  This will allow you more storage space and set your Prezis to ‘private’.

Here are some great guides and examples of Prezi usage:

Try this:

  • Display your presentations on a Virtual whiteboard (apps for iPad and iPhones will allow this) (Prezi)
  • Don’t let the medium confuse the message.  Make sure you design and structure your presentation to effectively communicate your message.
  • Read the helpful tips from the examples provided above before designing your own.  A great Prezi show is wonderful – a bad one will may be off putting to your audience.



Slides is a free web-based slide editor and presentation tool which makes use of open-source presentation frameworks such as Reveal.js. Founded in early 2013, Slides is a relatively new presentation tool with a slick interface and dynamic presentation features, including non-linear slide progression, various transition options and themes, and the option to customise via a CSS editor. Slide decks are stored as HTML documents that allow users to edit via mark-up. Users also have the option of “forking” or using other people’s designs and layouts as templates for their own work. For researchers working in groups, you have the option of signing up for a “Team” account, which enables you to custom brand your presentations and own your own subdomain.

Slides’ sharing features include the option to email your slide deck, export it as a PDF, share online via the Slides platform or print for your audience. Its presentation features include the standard option to present offline or live to an audience. Dropbox synching is also available as well as the very handy availability of a revision history option, which allows users to revert or roll back to a previously saved version of your work.

Try this

  • Slides is very user-friendly, try setting up a free account and a test slide deck (it should only take you about 10 minutes).
  • Explore Featured and Popular decks.
  • Learn more from the Slides Blog.
  • Advanced users: learn more about the Reveal HTML Framework.

Useful links



Also known as the “YouTube for Slideshows”, Slideshare is not so much a presentation content creator or editor but rather a platform for publicising and sharing your research. Launched in 2006 and owned by LinkedIn, Slideshare is a free web-based slide-hosting service, which allows users to upload their work in various forms such as PDF, PowerPoint, Keynotes or Open Document. Slide-decks can be viewed on the website itself and commented upon, rated and shared by viewers.

The purpose of Slideshare is for users to share knowledge online and discover research content in their field. Slide-deck topics range from Arts and Photography, to Business, Social Media and Education.

Try this

  • Upload a PowerPoint presentation
  • Explore slides in your research area and comment and/or “like”.

Useful links


Comparison table

Slideshare Prezi Slides
Recommended for Sharing and discovering research content Creating and sharing presentation content Creating and sharing presentation content
Account Types FreeGoPro (currently N/A) Public ($0)

  • Public presentations
  • Edit and share
  • 100 MB storage


Enjoy ($4.92/mo)

  • Private presentations
  • Use own logo
  • Premium support
  • 500 MB storage


Pro (13.25/mo)

  • Prezi for Win & Mac
  • Private presentations
  • Use own logo
  • Premium support
  • 2 GB


*Student & Teacher Licences, and Multiple Licenses options available

Basic ($0)

  • 250 MB storage
  • Public decks only


Pro ($6/mo)

  • 2 GB storage
  • Private deck
  • Share decks privately
  • Present offline
  • Export to PDF
  • Sync to Dropbox
  • Custom CSS
  • Additional themes
  • Deck revision history


Team ($12/mo)

  • Everything on Pro plan
  • 4 GB storage
  • Custom branding
  • Theme editor
  • Shared custom themes
  • Clone other decks
  • Priority support
Privacy & Security
  • Most popular presentation sharing platform
  • SEO benefits if using tags and naming titles effectively
  • Option to discover content on research topics
  • Dynamic presentation features (non-linear)
  • Lots of themes to choose from
  • Freedom to map presentation structure
  • Slick interface
  • Website aesthetic
  • Easy to add images and GIFs
  • Be wary of copyright when uploading content
  • Be wary of credibility of content uploaded by users
  • Accessibility
  • Slight learning curve
  • Private Prezi option not available for Free account
  • Rigid transition structure (unlike Prezi)
  • Private deck option not available on Basic account
  • Theme options can be limited
Tips & Tricks
  • Spend a bit of time to plan and experiment
  • Start simple
  • Use transition options wisely (common complaint is motion sickness)
  •  Keep consistent colour theme
  • Slides can be plain – make use of colour and images


Copyright Considerations for Prezi, Slides and Slideshare

When showcasing your research online using these tools, you need to make sure you are able to do so compliantly.  It is important to ensure you have permission to use any material that you have not created yourself in your presentations that you make using these platforms.  Depending on how you intend to present your research, you may be able to use Creative Commons licensed content.  Your ability to use your research in presentations on these platforms may also depend on any research or funding agreements you may have to be sure to seek advice before proceeding. For more information on copyright and online presentations, have a look at Astrid Bovell’s post on the Copyright Office blog.

 Kylie Tran (Client Services & Liaison Librarian, Giblin Eunson Library), Mary Stone (Client Services & Liaison Librarian, Baillieu Library) and Wilfred Villareal (Copyright Information Officer, University Copyright Office).

Do you use any of the tools discussed above? Are there others you would recommend? Do you have any tips and tricks? 

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