How Prezi’s Managing Editor is helping people give better virtual presentations

1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Lorraine, and I’m the Managing Editor at Prezi, which is a virtual presentation software. I lead the Editorial team, which curates and features the best Prezi videos, to educate and inspire people all over the world to communicate their ideas through engaging and interactive virtual presentations. My team works with a lot of educators as well as business thought leaders, particularly in the sales industry, to create these great videos and to broadcast their insights to our 100 million plus registered users. 

Before Prezi, I was a News Editor at LinkedIn for six years based in both San Francisco and Hong Kong. Prior to LinkedIn, I was on the marketing team of a startup founded by one of the first 10 employees at Google. 

Outside of work, I’m a mentor at Digital Women Leaders, which is a free mentoring resource for women working in news, who are looking for advice on a wide range of topics. I also take muay thai classes on the weekends and voice lessons during the week. Thanks for stopping by to check out my story!

Celebrating my birthday on my boyfriend's roof. Lockdown was put in place just a few weeks before I was set to celebrate in LA, so the trip was replaced with my first Zoom party.

2. What motivated you to choose remote working?

Last year, Prezi announced that the whole company was going virtual-first, meaning that employees can work from anywhere. However, WFH isn’t anything new to Prezilians — our workforce is distributed across the globe with teams in San Francisco, Budapest, Riga and Berlin. We’ve also hired remote employees in other parts of the world, too. 

3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?

The first few months of full-time WFH were challenging, primarily because of my setup at home. For the first few weeks I didn’t have a proper desk, monitor, chair — anything. As each week went by, I started building my home setup with the tools I needed to be as productive as I was at the office. If possible, I highly recommend getting a monitor, an external mouse/keyboard, and a proper chair at a minimum to drastically improve your at-home setup! 

4. How did you find remote working roles?

Hiring in 2020 was a unique experience — not only was it my first time doing so, but I was also hiring for a completely remote role. When we created the job posting, we had received more than 1,000 applications! Some of this was in part due to the economic climate at the time, but I also think that posting the role as a remote position attracted a lot more talent from across the country. 

Thanks to the very talented recruiter who partnered with me, we were able to narrow down the list of 1,000+ candidates to a dozen or so in a short time.

The most impressive applicants were the ones who went that extra mile — either they wrote a cover letter or they reached out to me directly via LinkedIn. Because we were conducting virtual interviews, everyone was coming from a level playing ground, so I appreciated these extra steps applicants put in to put their best foot forward in a virtual world. And during the interview itself, those who used Prezi Video stood out even more.

Initially I was worried whether I’d be able to get a good read on candidates over video chat, but it wasn’t an issue at all. They all came across as comfortable on video and we were able to get to know each other on a more personal level by asking questions like, “Where are you calling from today?” At the end of the year, I brought on another new hire based in Seattle, so now I have two remote employees on my team and we’ve been more collaborative than ever in the new year

5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?

I’m very much used to WFH now. I eat healthier everyday since I usually make my own lunch, and it’s nice cutting out commute time. And I can’t complain about wearing sweatpants to work! It’s also easier to pop out quickly to run a quick errand or even do chores at home like laundry, which creates a more symbiotic relationship between work and home life.

Visiting Muir Woods to get some fresh air!
Visiting Muir Woods to get some fresh air!

I do miss seeing and chatting with my coworkers. Although a quieter home ‘office’ can lead to a very productive work day, it lacks the high-energy and sense of team camaraderie that we have at Prezi offices. This is one of the things I’ve missed the most about working in the office, since I joined only a few months before the pandemic hit and I was still getting to know my coworkers. Also, I used to walk to and from the office, and I miss how walks were an integrated part of my day. At home I’ve found that it takes an additional effort to step away from the computer and get outside for a walk and fresh air.

6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?

The first has to be Prezi Video, of course! We use Prezi Video in our team meetings, both async and live in Zoom, and I’ve used it in webinars and virtual events.
#ProTip: Opting for async meetings over live meetings has been a total game changer for productivity — sending async status updates or pre-meeting content reduces the time our team spends in meetings, makes live discussions more productive and helps teams avoid ‘Zoom gloom.’

I also use a number of productivity tools that I talk about in this Remote-how panel about building healthy habits that stick, including Calendly for scheduling meetings; TimeOut to remind myself to take breaks and look away from the screen; Clockwise to optimize meeting times to make me more productive; and Notion to keep track of to-do’s, notes, and more.

Don’t forget to also sync your Google Calendar with Slack so that your notifications are automatically paused and your status is updated when you’re in a meeting.

7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.

I’ve been able to do more speaking engagements around virtual presenting, which has been a new and exciting challenge for me. Prezi Video was the first-to-market tool in the virtual presentation space, and when the world went remote, it really pushed me to learn more about video and the advantages of going digital, and allowed me to see the creative ways others were using video (here’s an example of standout webinars).

This year I’m hoping to take advantage of the benefits of WFH and explore more of the U.S., while working in different cities for a few weeks at a time. My home base will still be San Francisco, but I’m excited to travel and get a change of scenery!

8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?

Make an effort to connect one-on-one with your colleagues in different departments or teams, as well as cross-functional teams. This is not only a great way to learn about what everyone does and to better understand the inner workings of the company, but to also start building relationships and keep a human connection with your coworkers.

When I joined Prezi (in-person), I did this and learned so much from many of my teammates, which helped me build out my team strategy. It’s something I recommend all my remote reports do when they join, too, and it’s helped them get acclimated and acquainted with the team and projects more quickly.

9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?

I’m thankful to have had so many amazing professional experiences, and that I feel inspired and motivated each day at work. When I graduated, I had no idea that editorial roles in tech existed, nor that my journalism background would position me so well for this industry.

I’ve learned that I thrive best building teams, processes, and strategies from the ground up. I also need to work at a company whose mission and vision I believe in, and whose product I think is making a difference in the world. That is definitely the case at Prezi.

I want to continue growing my team at Prezi and to build on the foundation we’ve created. That means working with even more thought leaders, educators, and Influencers who can help us build Prezi Video into the market leader in virtual presentations by sharing their expertise around topics like virtual presenting, selling remotely, and training remote teams. It’s a big goal but one that I am certain we can achieve with such a talented team at the helm.

Personally, I plan on doing even more presentations this year and speaking at more events and conferences. I think this is something that needs to be done over and over again to keep improving, and I’m up for the challenge.

I hope to move back home to L.A. one day (working remotely!), but for now, I’m happy in San Francisco.

10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?

In the future, I expect many companies will implement a remote-first or more flexible remote work policy, or give employees the option to WFH permanently. We’ve already seen Microsoft, Twitter and a handful of other large companies announce these changes. Virtual presentation tools, video conferencing platforms, and collaboration tech tools have made remote work possible and even more efficient for some professionals. Video meetings may become the preference, as people begin to take advantage of the features that going digital offers.

For example, with Prezi Video you can bring your content with you on screen and interact with it in ways you can’t in-person. You can have instances where your content is floating around you (see a screenshot of one of my favorite examples below) as you virtually present to your clients or team. You can’t do this in-person. Companies are seeing the benefits from remote work and will likely continue to adapt and develop more flexible policies in order to attract and retain top talent, and prioritize the wellbeing of employees.

In the future, I expect many companies will implement a remote-first or more flexible remote work policy
In the future, I expect many companies will implement a remote-first or more flexible remote work policy

11. Where can we follow you on?

Connect with me: LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter | My Website
– What is Prezi Video?
– Best Prezi videos, curated weekly by Prezi’s editors

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