Presentation software “Prezi” recently ‘upgraded’ to Prezi Next. The original is now called Prezi Classic. (I reviewed it on the old presentation skills blog a while ago.) New users can’t get to Prezi Classic and presentations made on Prezi Classic won’t play on Prezi Next. So is this a good restart for the one-time New Kid On The Block of presenting software? For the first time in a long time I’ve been asked to do some presentations training focusing on Prezi, so it might just…
Side note: Is there a difference in how you think about your presentation?
Although Prezi talked for a long time about one of its big advantages was that the big overview board you start your presentation with required you to have thought more about the structure of your presentation than PowerPoint did I have a couple of problems with that. The first obvious one is that the principles of good presentation structure apply to any software (and none!), so there’s nothing to stop you using the approach of know-what-you’re-doing-before-you-start-clicking for PowerPoint too (and in fact you should!).
The second is that moving from Prezi Classic to Prezi Next seems to have abandoned that idea, given that it’s now pretty much all template driven!
I’ve seen some great presentations made using Prezi and I’ve seen some bloody awful stuff – all it did was replace death by bullet point with death by sea-sickness, and looking at the zillion-and-one templates Prezi Next offers you when you try to start writing a new presentation, (almost) all they expect people do to in a Prezi presentation is something very PowerPoint-like, just using a different slide transition. Instead of moving from slide to slide in the traditional way you slide around a big overview. (There’s one cool feature though, in that you can jump around the overview in a way that allows you to skip un-necessary bits of your presentation that’s a bit easier than it is in PowerPoint or Keynote.)
With that limitation, the advantage of Prezi Next seems to lie in its interface – is it quicker/easier/better than PowerPoint when it comes to making decent ‘slide decks’? The short answer is no – it’s not quicker. Or at least it’s not quicker at first, but once you get the hang of the work-arounds and short cuts it speeds things up quite a bit. The reason is, basically, that Prezi ‘thinks’ of each object as unique. If you make a change in on object (let’s say you change the colour of your font) that change affects that object but only that object. It doesn’t cascade in any other way.
In short, if you change your mind about how you want something to look after you’ve done an hour’s work, you’ve got to go through your work and change each bit manually. Shift-click can make things a little quicker by selecting multiple objects at a time when you’re looking at them, but the limits are pretty clear.
The trick lies in getting thing just right, and then doing repeated copy-paste-edit throughout the rest of your presentation.
Well I can’t pretend this is a representative sample of all professional presenters ‘cos it’s just the result of a straw poll amongst members of the Professional Speaking Association in the UK on their facebook page, but it’s fun… That’s hardly a ringing endorsement as a presentation tool! 😉 Okay, professional presenters aren’t real people (because, for example, we take more account of how long a presentation slide deck takes to put together vs the quality in a more overt way than amateur-presenters do) but even so, it’s worth thinking about.
Well I can’t pretend this is a representative sample of all professional presenters ‘cos it’s just the result of a straw poll amongst members of the Professional Speaking Association in the UK on their facebook page, but it’s fun…
That’s hardly a ringing endorsement as a presentation tool! 😉 Okay, professional presenters aren’t real people (because, for example, we take more account of how long a presentation slide deck takes to put together vs the quality in a more overt way than amateur-presenters do) but even so, it’s worth thinking about.
One or two presentation ‘gotchas’
It’s not cheap. If you want any of the cool features you have to stump up. There’s a free trial but other than that you have to pay for a year’s membership. And by the way, Prezi defines ‘privacy’ as a cool feature. Unless you pay, anyone can (in theory) find your presentation, so you might need to think about commercial and confidential issues.
Another paid-for feature is the ability to use it off line. Unless you pay, your presentation is vulnerable to:
- the weight on your local Wi-Fi
- the download speed of the connection to you
- current load on the Prezi servers.
I’m not saying you can’t work around that, just that you need to be aware of it. In fact on a recent ‘Presenting with Prezi’ course I was using I wanted to show what Prezi themselves have labelled as ‘the best’ Prezi but I had to abandon it because it too long to load via my client’s WiFi!
One more ‘gotcha’ that PowerPoint users will miss the Link feature. While it’s almost always a good idea to ’embed’ objects in your slides rather than ‘link’ to them (to make your slides more portable etc and less likely to screw up) there is something to be said for linking – as it allows you to magically update (say) graphs by working natively in excel to update the data etc. In Prezi if you want to do that you need to make the changes, export the graph as an image, and import it to your Prezi, before your presentation.
A final ‘gotcha’ – though ymmv! Not all remotes work with Prezi. A prezi-based presentation would, for me, mean giving up the ability to control my slides using my iPhone (a godsend!). And the new presentation-control-love-of-my-life doesn’t work either.
How about an example or two?
…and this one is a real marketing Prezi we produced… though I’m not sure we ever actually used it! 😉
You might need to expand to full screen to watch the presentation. If you do, just hit ‘esc’ to get back to the real world! 😉
Oh, and speaking of examples of Prezi-based presentations, I venture to point out that the ‘best prezi presentation‘ ever isn’t a real presentation. Nope, it’s a presentation about how cool Prezi can make your presentation look. Frankly, I struggle to see a redeeming feature, as a presentation-professional, because it’s well… boring! (And God only knows what an expert in access for people with disabilities would make of it!)
My feeling is that Prezi might be handy, once you’ve got used to it… so long as you’re happy with your presentation just being zoom-show-zoom-show-zoom. If you want any sophistication it’s a bit of a car crash. Lots of stuff we take for granted can’t happen and the things that can, are a bit clumsy. The video walk through is about then minutes long and it pretty much tells you all you need to get started. What do you think?