“Should we be using Prezi?”

I was sitting across the table from a colleague yesterday and we began talking about presentation skills. When our conversation turned to PowerPoint, I shared this presentation with her:

She looked it over and felt that the concept made sense: PowerPoint slides, when projected, are meant to augment a presentation and enhance the audience’s experience through a powerful visual journey. If people want a bunch of data and statistics and content, then save it for a handout.

Then she asked: “Should we be using Prezi? What do you think of it as a tool for presentations?”

I was honest with her, and told her that I’ve never actually seen a Prezi presentation that I’ve enjoyed. In fact, due to the style in which text zooms in and out, transitioning from one spot to another on the screen, most Prezi presentations actually give me motion sickness.

She seemed a little deflated. I decided to see if I was wrong. Prezi has been around for years, so they must be doing something right. Some people really enjoy using it. In fact, it’s #14 on this year’s edition of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ (C4LPT) list of top 200 tools for learning!

Is it possible that there’s a bright spot in Prezi design that we should be following? What was I missing?

So, I decided to use the #2 tool on C4LPT’s list (I used Google!) to see what kinds of things turned up when I searched for “awesome Prezi examples”.

The #1 search result was Prezi’s own list of the best Prezis of 2014.

The top Prezi of 2014 certainly holds promise. I like the voiceover and background music, which help give a good pace to the speed at which transitions happen in this presentation.

It still seems to me that the zooming and motion paths from one area to the next are a bit gratuitous. You can transition in similar ways in a PowerPoint presentation (having a slide fly in or pushed to the right in order to give way to a new slide) but most people don’t choose those transition effects for good reason. They’re unnecessary.

I continued my search through the “best” examples on Prezi’s website until I came to this year’s award winners. Most of the award winners this year suffered from a similar issue: the transitions just seem very Blair Witch to me – the motion of the transitions seems to overwhelm the content being presented. There was one example, however, that seemed to effectively integrate the transitions with the story they were trying to tell.

In this example, the transition seems to serve a purpose: highlighting the journey that the character on the screen (who represents anyone in the audience) is on, struggling but always climbing to new heights.

Should we (or you) be using Prezi? I don’t know. I’m not sold. It’s certainly a tool with potential, but like PowerPoint, there are so many ways to abuse the tool (and your poor audience is the group that suffers the consequences of such abuse).

Think you can change my mind? I’d love to hear from you if you have some good examples of Prezi that tell a good story and don’t cause motion sickness!

 

 

7 thoughts on ““Should we be using Prezi?”

  1. Hey Brian – as you noted, Prezi can be used for both good and evil. Amateur Prezi presentations definitely use zooming the same way PowerPoint users feature ridiculous transitions that offer no value to the audience. When used effectively though, the “one canvas” concept and spatial movement features produce more engaging and comprehensible presentations for audiences.

    Here’s our “proof is in the pudding” resources:

    4 Examples Why Prezi is Superior to Slides for Data Visualization: https://puffingston.com/blog/4-examples-prezi-superior-slides-data-visualization/

    Ditch PowerPoint! 4 Examples Why Prezi Delivers Your Message Better: https://puffingston.com/blog/ditch-powerpoint-4-examples-why-prezi-delivers-your-message-better/

    Our Prezi Designs in Action: Brandon Dufour at Leadercast 2016: https://puffingston.com/blog/our-prezi-designs-in-action-visionary-leadership/

    Why Prezi makes you dizzy and how to fix it – Cinematography of Prezi: http://www.lafabbricadellarealta.com/why-prezi-makes-you-dizzy-and-how-to-fix-it/

    Hopefully those help demonstrate the potential of Prezi. We look forward to your feedback!

    • I LOVE these examples. Each of these really goes to the heart of: before putting together a visual aid, you need to know what story you want to tell. And I really appreciate the comparisons between what it would look like in PPT vs Prezi. Ok, maybe I’m coming around a bit… maybe I’m even inspired to play around with some data visualization… thanks for sharing these!!

  2. I really like Prezi because it provides a way to consider how to organize information in a non linear way. My brain thinks in mind maps, so Prezi is like “Space”, it allows me to think in multidimensional ways that PowerPoint just crushes. If I need to convey information and be EXTRA creative -Prezi is my preference. PowerPoint takes me back to the days of the 3rd grade outline for organizing information….boring! 🙂

    • Ah, 3rd grade! I can definitely appreciate the need for non-linear thinking. Any chance you have Prezi examples we can take a glimpse of? I definitely think it’s easier to inspire people (like me… the skeptics) when they can see what’s possible!!

      • I don’t have anything to share that is any better than what has been provided, or than what you have found. I actually don’t get to use it that often because I make presentations for other people who their presentations developed in PP. 😦 But man, if I could, I would use Prezi way more!

        In my opinion, I think Prezi’s come across as more visually interesting, and while I agree that too many transitions can make folks sea sick, a concept like the 2014 Prezi would be really hard to do well in PP. I am not sure Prezi is for everyone, but for those who like a Universe to play in, I really recommend they give it a try- It is fun!

      • I don’t have anything to share that is any better than what has been provided, or than what you have found. I actually don’t get to use it that often because I make presentations for other people who want their presentations developed in PP. 😦 But man, if I could, I would use Prezi way more!

        In my opinion, I think Prezis come across as more visually interesting, and while I agree that too many transitions can make folks sea sick, a concept like the 2014 Prezi would be really hard to do well in PP. I am not sure Prezi is for everyone, but for those who like a Universe to play in, I really recommend they give it a try- It is fun!

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