Presentation Alternatives: Prezi

This is a new series offering alternatives to Microsoft’s Powerpoint by highlighting various presentation software.

As librarians, it is our responsibility to learn about new technologies and software that could be beneficial to the patrons we serve. Our new series is designed to introduce new presentation software. Today we will focus on Prezi. I first became familiar with Prezi when I was in graduate school for Classics in the fall of 2011. As a teaching assistant for the Writing Intensive Program on campus, we were required to give short presentations on the grammar topic of our choice, so I decided to give Prezi a try. You can see my very first presentation here.

What is Prezi?

Prezi is a web-based software that allows you to create and present from your browser, desktop, or mobile devices. Presentations are stored in a cloud, so all you have to do is login to the Prezi website to retrieve your presentation. No flashdrives required!

On the Prezi website, there is a quote from Chris Anderson, CEO of TED: “Prezi is helping to reinvent the art of presentation.” Prezi relies on an open, zoomable canvas that can be completely customized, resulting in a unique and visually appealing presentation. The result is a presentation that is truly capable of being a work of art. However, it does take some work to get there.

How does it work?

For an introduction to Prezi, check out the video, This Is the Moment, that introduces the software and explains the concept of the zooming canvas and why it’s a powerful tool for presenting big picture concepts and small details alike.

You can select from one of a few pre-loaded templates, or start completely from scratch. Your canvas will have “frames” in which you can add text or insert images, symbols, YouTube videos, arrows, lines, background music, or other media and files. The layout is completely flexible, with the ability to drag your frames across the board and link to other frames as desired.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based, so you’ll never forget or lose your presentation! You can download your prezis, too.
  • The ability to present remotely.
  • Flexibility: Keep your presentations private, or make them public and even reusable by others! Perfect for champions of open access!
  • Embedding videos and other media is an option.
  • Sky’s the limit! You can start a blank prezi, which gives you the complete freedom to create visually interesting, creative, and engaging presentations.
  • Fun templates, like an antique world map or subway lines.
  • Zooming canvas tells a story.

Cons:

  • Learning curve. There is a learning curve to using the software, due to the zooming canvas technology, and it can take a while to get your presentation just right, especially if you haven’t used it before. If you are in a hurry to get a presentation together, this is not for you.
  • Not ideal for image heavy presentations. As a visual resources librarian, I still prefer to use the basic slide presentation format provided by Powerpoint. I don’t think Prezi is ideal for presentations in the art history classroom. However, Prezi offers exciting possibilities for art and design students.

It’s free and easy to create a Prezi account and I encourage you to give it a try. I still use Powerpoint most of the time for my presentations, but I think Prezi is a powerful and fun presentation tool that could really appeal to disciplines that rely on creative and engaging presentations to share or “sell” ideas.

4 replies

  1. It is worth noting that motion sickness is a concern with Prezi. I’ve had to stop watching more than one presentation because of their rolling and zooming features. There are lots of ways to mitigate the effects that can lead to motion sickness and I highly recommend that anyone using Prezi investigate them before creating a presentation.

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