Take Your Online Presentations to the Next Level with Prezi

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:YouTube

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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.

Click to view full-size image

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:

Click to view full-size image

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.

About Leigh Ann Whittle:


Leigh Ann Whittle owns Sapphire Commu­ni­ca­tions, which provides marke­ting commu­ni­ca­tion and public rela­tions services to small busi­nesses, non-profits, and indi­vi­duals. She has 15 years’ expe­ri­ence in public rela­tions and contract writing, as well as writing and editing for a variety of audi­ences. Leigh Ann has also taught college-level English and commu­ni­ca­tion courses for the past six years, both in person and online.

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