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A book about Prezi

10 Aug

 

the cover of the book

Mastering Prezi for Business Presentations, by Russell Anderson-Williams, has just been released by Packt Publishing.

I have an interest in this, because I served as one of the two Technical Reviewers for the book. Check it out, I even get a little bio in there!

A bio, of me

 

About the book

As the name suggests the book is aimed at people giving business presentations – but basically all of it is applicable to anyone wishing to progress their Prezi skills to the next level. What I really like about it is it’s written by someone from a proper design background, so there’s a lot of technical stuff which is really handy if, like me, you quite like designing multimedia things but have no real idea what you’re doing. The sections on using audio and video are really good, and Russell certainly knows a lot of tips and tricks which were new to me. He really gets to grips with the potential of the software, and it’s very engagingly written.

About being a technical reviewer

The way the process works with this particular publisher, is that they send you each chapter basically as soon as it has been written. You’re encouraged to use the comments facility of Word to go into as much detail as you can, suggesting changes and improvements or highlighting the bits you think work really well. There’s also a questionnaire for each chapter, which includes questions like ‘what do you think the next chapter should be’ and so on. You send back the chapter and the questionnaire, they pass it on to the author along with the other reviewer’s comments, and then you get sent the next one or two chapters once they’re done.

It’s an odd process because you want to be doing a good job as a reviewer and actually making constructive suggestions, so you want to add as many comments as possible – but at the same time you don’t want to be finding fault where there is none, and the fewer comments you make the more complete the chapter is already, which is a good thing. So the balance is a hard one to find.

I was doing this around the same time I was finishing off my own book, and I have to say I would have found it very difficult to work like this – showing people what I’d done as I went along. I’m the kind of person who likes to have anything creative more or less complete before showing anyone – and that includes having all the chapters drafted, for context! Facet asked for one chapter early on in the writing process (to check I could actually write) but then let me get on with it thereafter till it was a completed draft. At this point they said they could send it off for proofing, indexing etc – or they could get it reviewed. I asked for it to be reviewed, and specifically asked if Antony Brewerton could review it; I’m really glad I did as the extremely helpful comments he came back with led me to actually restructure the book quite significantly, moving content around and adding some stuff in.

All in all reviewing this Prezi book was enjoyable. Sometimes I found it hard to turn around the work in the time the publisher wanted, and I never really had a sense if what I was doing was actually useful – I asked for feedback but I was told they’d be in touch if there were any problems, so hopefully that means there weren’t any. The best part of it was definitely getting to read a great book! There are loads of really useful tips I’ve adopted, and my recent Prezis are much better than my earlier ones because of it.

One thing is certain – I much prefer this kind of reviewing than critical reviewing for publication, and when I get asked to do that I always suggest someone else to take it on. Knowing what goes into writing a book means I could never really criticise anyone else’s knowing they might read that criticism, so a review from me is of no use to anyone…

 

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Comments
  • Ned Potter August 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Blogged: A book about #Prezi http://t.co/CYrbYmNg (About being a technical reviewer for a book which just came out, called Mastering Prezi)

  • Lisa Van Gemert August 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I enjoyed reading about your experience. I think there’s a strong lesson for educators in your experience – you’ve got to give feedback. Now, you don’t know what you did right! Of course, the most important thing is that you were able to apply it in a practical level in your own work (which I am about to go look at and quite possibly imitate in the best form of flattery).

  • Kelly Quaye August 10, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Hi Ned,

    I really enjoyed this blog post. At some point in the future, the book itself may actually hold some relevance for me (I don’t currently give presentations about anything ever!), but I was really interested in the review process you talked about. Perhaps you might talk about how to become a reviewer in a future blog post? I’m sure there are lots of avenues, but I’d be interested to hear how you were approached for this particular book. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Kelly

  • thewikiman August 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment – apologies for the misunderstanding!

  • thewikiman August 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Hi Kelly, I really don’t know how they pick reviewers, I’m afraid! I think each book has a project manager, and it’s their job to find suitable people to review stuff. My name comes up quite early on in Google searches about Prezi because of a couple blog posts which have been linked to a lot, so I’m guessing they found me that way, read some of the advice I’d written / viewed some of my Prezis and reckoned I was worth a punt. The kind of advice I’ve given is very different from the sort in the book – we’re approaching it from very different angles really – so perhaps that was part of the reason; to complement the way the author thought, rather than duplicate it…

    Part of the reason I always tell people enthusiastically to get a blog is that putting your opinions out there to be found, opens up all sorts of possibilities like this. :)

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