Prezi: a big step from Powerpoint


The worst presentations you can attend are those where the presenter reads out his PowerPoint to you without adding anything to it. The root of the problem is of course the lack of presenting skills from the presenter, but PowerPoint doesn’t really help. It forces the presenter in a linear one-dimensional mode, often bringing out the worst of the presenter.

I do my share of presenting at workshops, webinars, conferences and expo’s. I’m not a brilliant presenter, most of the times I do OK (sometimes a bit better). So if I find something that can help me improve this, I’m interested. And now I found Prezi. It is a presenting tool like PowerPoint but it has some important differences that really make it far better than PowerPoint. I used Prezi for the presentations I gave at DevLearn, it was my first experience with it and I liked it a lot. It has some advantages over PowerPoint in presenting, but I found that it has the biggest advantages in creating the presentation.

Presenting
If you are not familiar with Prezi you should take a look at some examples. You have to click the links because I didn’t manage to embed these in the post (it should be possible). The first one is my presentation at DevLearn on Outcome learning, the second one is a Prezi about Prezi. In presenting with Prezi I found the biggest advantage is in the zooming. When presenting an image or a screen shot it allows you to zoom in to the part you are referring to, this makes it a lot easier to let your audience focus on that part of information you want to discuss. The other obvious change is that you browse through the presentation in a very different way: you fly over it and it zooms in on the target information. I like it, though you have to be careful not overdoing it. It can make your audience a bit seasick.

Creating it
For me the biggest advantage was not in the presenting mode, but the authoring mode. It works completely different from PowerPoint. In stead of working in slides you start out with a big empty space. You can put anything in that space, text, images video’s. You can group information by using frames and you can set a path for browsing it. Working this way breaks the linearity PowerPoint forces you into. I started out creating the six main topics I wanted to cover by drawing some circles (frames) and worked from there. This gives a whole other perspective on your subject and I really likes it.

The other great thing is the zooming, there is no limit to it. So if you are working in a subject you can just add a smaller frame and add more detail. Because you can zoom in on everything (a frame, a text, a letter, an image) you are still able to present it (and to read it for yourself). This enables you to move away from the one-dimensional approach PowerPoint forces you in. These two things really allowed me to create better presentations.

At the same time there are things left to wish for. You are quite limited in the lay-out, there is no spell check, you are not able to embed your Prezi in  a Word press post, things like that. But in spite of these things, I will never use PowerPoint again, I’m now a Prezi fan.

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