Prezi’s are to presenters as 3D printers are to designers; no one really knows what they are or how they work, but everyone wants one! I get more questions about Prezi than any other presentation design tool. It is 100% unique, used by presenters all over the globe, and contrary to popular belief, quite easy to use.
Is Prezi worth all the hype? In my opinion, yes, it is, and here are the top 5 reasons why:
1. Escape from linearity. How long have we been creating linear presentations? 20 years or more? Is that the right way to present? Do we think and comprehend in a straight line? We are creatures of habit, and I believe “PowerPoints” have become a convention that we follow without question. Normally, all of our slides are the same size, one fades into the next, and we present them in the same order… every time. Prezi allows you to group objects together with “frames” and then build a “path” that moves the viewer fluidly through the content (on one, big canvas), but those paths are rarely a straight line, and the presenter or viewer can step off that path at any time and create their own!
Example: Check out my first Prezi. To create your own viewing path, click-and-drag to move the canvas, click on objects to focus on them, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to zoom in/out, and click the home button to reset the canvas.
2. Creativity rediscovered. If PowerPoint is lined paper and a pen, then Prezi is a canvas and finger paint. Text, images and multimedia are freely placed on the canvas, and easily sized, rotated or formatted with a few clicks. Add to that the ability to build presentation paths that move in any direction, zoom and rotate… and you can’t help but feel creative again. For those of us that insist on lining everything up on a nice, neat grid… well, you can do that too because Prezi provides a grid overlay and alignment tools. The open-ended freedom you have while building a presentation in Prezi is intimidating at first, but that quickly fades after you add a few pieces of content.
3. Visual context is king. In PowerPoint or Keynote, your individual slides exist as independent objects, only linked only by a common background template. With Prezi, your frames are part of a whole canvas, and you can control when/how that “whole” is revealed to the audience. This allows you to build presentations into meaningful shapes and visual metaphors. You can also create your content inside a large image that isn’t revealed until the end of the presentation. Visual context helps to improve audience retention.
4. Prezi is mobile. At the heart of Prezi’s development environment is the web interface. You just need a web browser and an Internet connection, and you’re off and running. They also offer a desktop version, which allows you to work offline (though you will need to pay and upgrade your account for this feature). And now, they have added support for the iPhone and iPad. The Prezi app is free from the Apple App Store. You can view and present right from your iPhone or iPad! The iPad app also provides editing capabilities. Click here for more info on Prezi’s mobile options.
5. Free account upgrade. Educators get a free Enjoy account. This is an upgrade over the standard/free account and offers more storage, better support, and allows you to make your presentations private. As long as you are a member of an educational institution, and you have a “dot edu” email account, you’re in!
If you read this post and can’t wait to try it out for yourself, simply head over to Prezi.com to create your free Enjoy account. Also be sure to check out their Learn and Explore pages for instruction and inspiration.
Before I completely turn you lose, though, I’d like to leave you with a few closing thoughts. First of all, rest-assured that Prezi is not difficult to use. Yes, there is an initial learning curve, but if you watch their instructional videos, you’ll get over the how-do-I-do-that hump quickly. With great power comes great responsibility, though, so go easy on the rotation, panning and zooming until you get the hang of it. I’ve seen a LOT of Prezi’s that should come with a free Dramamine tablet! Subtle movements are better, and much less likely to annoy the audience.
Also understand that Prezi is not necessarily meant to replace PowerPoint, it’s simply a new tool for your tool shed (and a shiny one at that). There are a number of advanced functions that you simply cannot do in Prezi, like embedding charts or building dynamic tables. There are often work-arounds, though, and simpler is usually better, so try to keep an open mind.
And finally, if you STILL aren’t picking up what I’m laying down, check out the presentation below for a great overview of the product. 10 million users is a LOT!