Ok, time to get creative! By the end of this Thing you will have been introduced to Prezi as an alternative to PowerPoint. You will also have some hints and tips on what not to do to make a good Prezi.
What is Prezi?
Prezi is a free online programme that you can use to make presentations. In some ways it is like PowerPoint, and, in any situation where you might consider using a PowerPoint, you can create a Prezi instead. What makes Prezi so good though is the extra capabilities it has, that can take your presentation beyond the boring 'slide with text, next slide with text, slide with text and a picture' format of most PowerPoints.
Let's get started.
Go to Prezi, and click 'sign up' on the top right. You'll need to create a free account to use the programme.
When Prezi opens, there are three tabs at the top of the page - 'Your prezis' will display all the presentations you have created. 'Learn' offers tutorials on using Prezi, at both a basic and more advanced levels. 'Explore' allows you to view other presentations on all manner of subjects - a great way to get an idea of how Prezi can be used (and perhaps what not to do as well).
To start your first presentation click the 'New prezi' button on the top left of the 'Your prezi' tab. You'll be prompted to give the presentation a title, and a description, but these can be changed later, so don't worry too much.
You'll then be offered a number of templates to choose from. I would advise not selecting any of these until you have mastered the basics of Prezi, and know the effect that you are trying to create. So select the blank template.
Prezi will offer you a tutorial - it isn't very long, and is quite useful for the basics, so have a watch and then get started.
Now click on the canvas and type to get started. You can add pictures (try using Flickr with Creative Commons licensing), and you can link to YouTube videos.
The tools can take a little bit of getting used to, particularly sizing and the animation. And be aware that your first attempt is likely to be fairly poor - mine certainly was! So practice a bit if you like it before trying to use Prezi for a presentation. The biggest tip is perhaps not to get too carried away with all the features you could use, particularly with the animation - don't underestimate the ability to create a rather seasick effect.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, have a look at this Prezi from The Wikiman (@theREALwikiman) which gives a good video demo: http://prezi.com/_sto8qf_0vcs/the-how-to-make-a-great-prezi-prezi/
Something more advanced
For a good longer presentation you can watch the one below, which you may have seen at the libraries@cambridge conference in January: http://prezi.com/if9wccvvunup/escaping-the-echo-chamber/
If you think you might use Prezi, as you work for an academic institution you can upgrade to the academic use version of Prezi for free. This allows for more privacy options for your presentations amongst other things.