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“Should we be using Prezi?”

Getting away from PowerPoint can be a wise move in your next presentation... but is Prezi the right alternative?

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:

[slideshare id=5652173&doc=you-suck-at-power-point-jesse-dee-101103032057-phpapp02]

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!

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