Flip charts. White boards. Overhead projectors. We’ve come a long way when it comes to the visual aspects of our presentations, but it seems most of us have settled on PowerPoint when it comes to presentation software. We try to avoid the “death by PowerPoint,” yet we have all sat through meetings – or even conducted meetings – with cumbersome, text-heavy presentations that only bore the audience. Visual techniques such as Presentation Zen help, but there must be something more.
Fortunately, there is: Prezi. Long known for its use in education, Prezi is ideal for use in the business sector. We’re visual creatures; we pay attention to things that attract our attention. Prezi makes material more visually appealing, but it’s more than just a shiny new toy. Let me show you what Prezi is, why it’s better than PowerPoint, how you can combine your online presentations with Prezi, and engage with your audience on a new level.
What Prezi Is
Prezi is a Flash-based software that enables you to create presentations online and share them either as a link or a downloadable file. One of its most endearing characteristics is that it enables viewers to “fly” through content, zooming directly to the topic being discussed with a single mouse click. Prezi is also a mini-storage device in that it can embed articles, videos, images, multimedia, and other web links in one single place. Because they are embedded, videos and podcasts won’t fail to show in presentation rooms with limited (or slow) internet connections – making it also great for presenting during a screen sharing meeting.
Why Prezi is Better Than PowerPoint
PowerPoint is like that old sweater you slip into after a long day at work: it might be ugly, but it’s comfortable. Why take time to learn Prezi when PowerPoint does the same thing? Because it doesn’t. Prezi does have a few similarities to PowerPoint, but it offers an array of other features, such as the ability to zoom in on an object. Have you ever seen a chart projected in such small font that the audience has to peer through squinted eyes to read it? With Prezi, that chart can be zoomed into focus, highlighting key figures throughout. This video shows some of Prezi’s capabilities that PowerPoint simply cannot provide:
Prezi also engages your audience better than PowerPoint. True, both come with colorful templates, but the ability to move through your presentation, zoom in on key aspects, and zoom out to see the entire presentation as a whole provides intrigue that flipping through slides just can’t accomplish, no matter how cool of a transition you apply. However, the movement and intrigue is subtle enough to not distract; after all, you control how much movement actually happens. Remember, when you present, your visual aid should enhance your presentation. It should work in tandem with what you say to engage the audience and help them retain the information.
The thing I like most about Prezi is that it is not linear like PowerPoint. Let’s say my audience asks to revisit an earlier point. If I were to jump from one idea to another in a PowerPoint, I’d have to flip forward and backward between slides. That’s awkward. On the other hand, I can jump between ideas on Prezi seamlessly and with a single mouse click. What’s more, I can zoom out my entire presentation and see how each idea links together in a single glance. You can see this feature in the below screenshot of one of my presentations. This is particularly helpful with complex ideas or in situations with multiple presenters.
You can also group like items in a single section instead of multiple slides. In my example Prezi, I put what could be two to three slides worth of notes in a single circle, so that all ideas on the topic are visible at once. Here’s a close-up of how this looks:
How to Use Prezi in an Online Meeting
This couldn’t be easier. You power up an online meeting and get your attendees to join. Then you just open your Prezi presentation on your screen and your attendees can view it live. You can then take advantage of the cool presentation features such as the zooms, the transitions between content, etc. It runs very smoothly for your attendees.
Not only can you easily present the Prezi, but you can also collaborate on it during your web presentation. You and your collaborators can then add notes and make changes to the Prezi as thoughts and ideas arise. This eliminates the need for separate notes on the presentation. Audience members who were unable to attend can also get a glimpse into the discussion via the updated Prezi without being limited to static, pre-made PowerPoint slides.
Sound complicated? It’s not. Prezi is rather user-friendly, and its website offers a variety of tutorials for beginner Prezi presenters to Prezi pros. It also offers a variety of attractive templates, so you don’t have to be an expert designer to make an appealing presentation. I consider myself moderately skilled at presentation creation and find I can put together a decent basic Prezi in under an hour.
The Bottom Line
PowerPoint has become a mainstay in business presentations, but it’s time for a change. Sixty-five percent of us are visual learners; 100 percent of us like things that catch our eye. Therefore, we need to bring creativity to our workplace presentations. Prezi enables us to do just that without being overwhelming. Its ability to show the “big picture” of our presentation, be shared among a large number of users, and ease of use suggest that it needs to find a place in our toolbox of visual aids.