The Power Of Prezi

Prezi offers speakers new options for capturing an audience's attention
Prezi offers speakers new options for capturing an audience’s attention
Image Credit: Jerry Michalski

When we are giving a speech, we often want to capture our audience’s attention and make sure that they understand what we are trying to tell them. More often than not, what we do is to create a set of PowerPoint slides that we’ll then display to our audience during our presentation. The only problem with doing this is that is exactly what all of the other speakers out there are doing. This can make your next presentation look pretty much like anyone else’s presentation. However, it turns out that there is something that you can do about this. There are other tools that you can use to create material that will back up your presentation. Say hello to Presi.

What is Presi?

Speakers know that Microsoft’s PowerPoint has been the go-to presentation software since the early 1990s. There are estimates that 500 million people use it every day. However, now there is worthy competition: Prezi (which can be found at Prezi recently hit 20 million users, and this year it is on pace to add 1.5 million users each month. Its market share may still be small, but Prezi’s growth shows that it is an increasingly popular alternative to PowerPoint when it comes to creating presentations. Prezi was launched in 2009 and is favored by many TED-style speakers, who are known for presenting bold ideas with compelling stories in a dynamic delivery style. Prezi is often recommended for people who are craving a change and want to do presentations in a drastically different way from what is possible with PowerPoint or Keynote which is the PowerPoint-like software offered by Apple.

So what make Prezi different from PowerPoint? The cloud-based presentation software has a “zoomable canvas that makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. Speakers quickly understand that zooming makes Prezi special. Prezi can be fun to work with and speakers can make beautiful designs with a few simple text elements and basic images. What makes a Prezi presentation different from a PowerPoint presentation is that Prezi encourages you to do things in a simple and elegant way, but not necessarily a linear way. As with any new technology, there is a debate among speakers about the utility of Prezi. While no software is right for every speaker and situation, knowing more about Prezi will help you to make the best decision the next time you are considering using presentation tools.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Prezi?

One or Prezi’s biggest advantages is that it can show ideas, connections and the big picture. Prezi is the most conducive software for showing the relative importance of ideas and the relationships between them. Unlike PowerPoint and Keynote, where each slide is the same size and advances one after the next, Prezi allows a speaker to change the size of frames on a canvas, much like a whiteboard, and nest smaller frames within larger frames. Prezi allows a speaker to show listeners a hierarchy in content. What this means is that in Prezi, you can enlarge a key frame but still can zoom into the less important ideas around it. By doing this you can show a relationship: you can say that this idea is more important than these others. Prezi is unique in the way it enables you to show your audience how details are connected without losing sight of the larger context.

Unlike PowerPoint, Prezi provides for the easy integration of images and video. Prezi makes it easy for a speaker to incorporate images and videos from the Internet or their own files. Since the software is web-based, speakers don’t have to worry about the file size of their presentation.

Many speakers believe that Prezi gives them more creativity and flexibility. Each presentation that you give using Prezi has a canvas from which the speaker zooms into smaller frames that are connected by paths. Prezi does provide a speaker with canvas templates – which surely will become overused as more speakers adopt the software – but it also allows speakers to add frames and visuals to a blank canvas, or to edit its existing templates. Savvy Prezi users have created impressive visual displays using Prezi, many of which can be viewed online at

Prezi presentations are compatible across all types of computers. Too many speakers have gone to pull up slides on a computer they are using to give a presentation, only to find that it runs an older or newer version of their presentation software. If this has happened to you, you know that incompatibility can cause glitches or formatting inconsistencies within your slides, making them look less polished and professional. Since Prezi is web-based, this allows speakers to avoid compatibility issues. Additionally, a speaker can easily collaborate with colleagues by granting them access to edit a presentation online. An added benefit of doing this is that it eliminates the problem of having multiple versions of a presentation floating around and the confusion that comes with different people working on different versions of the presentation.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using Prezi?

So as every speaker knows, nothing is ever perfect. Prezi has a lot of benefits but of course it comes with its own set of unique disadvantages. Chief among these is the fact that a Presi presentation is difficult to manipulate initially. Prezi can be frustrating to get the hang of initially. If you struggle with new technology or you have to create a presentation in a short time frame, you likely will be better served sticking to PowerPoint. But once you craft a few Prezi presentations, using the Prezi software will become more intuitive.

Although zooming is one of Prezi’s key benefits, zooming can be disorienting for an audience. Prezi’s zooming function can make some audience members dizzy or even feel seasick. This problem is more common with inexperienced speakers using the product. Speakers should avoid the sudden and long zoom. Instead, what they need to do is to use horizontal and lateral movements for the same effect. Speakers will also want to avoid changing paths frequently. During your speech you will want to spend at least 30 seconds explaining an idea before zooming to another point.

When using Prezi, it’s not easy to make handouts. If you are making a speech that requires printed handouts, you might want to think twice about using Prezi. Unlike both PowerPoint and Keynote, where listeners can follow the advance of a slide on the screen with the slides on their handout, Prezi’s visual components are not necessarily linear and, because of this, they are more difficult to capture in a printed format. Handouts of Prezi presentations can lose the value of zooming into ideas and details from the big-picture perspective of the canvas. This is which is why Prezi is best suited for audiences who listen as opposed to those who take notes.

What All Of This Means For You

Let’s face it, when we are preparing for our next speech, if we want to use visuals we will automatically fire up PowerPoint. However, perhaps we need to take a step back. We need to understand that using PowerPoint is what just about every other speaker out there is going to be doing and so there is a very good chance that our speech is going to end up looking like everyone else’s. If you want to have a unique speech, you might consider using different presentation software. Maybe use Prezi.

Prezi is online software that allows a speaker to create visuals that will support their speech. Prezi is different from PowerPoint in that it has a “zoomable” canvas that can allow you to embed ideas within ideas. Using Prexi allows you to show the connections between ideas. Videos and images can be easily integrated into a Prezi presentation. Since Prezi is online, it is compatible with all computers. However, Prezi can be difficult to master. Zooming can also be overdone and leave an audience feeling disorientated. It can also be difficult to create handouts from a Prezi presentation.

Any new technology has drawbacks and Prezi has its own. But there certainly are some compelling reasons for speakers to consider Prezi before automatically turning to PowerPoint for presentations. The question is will you be one of the 1.5 million people who are expected to try Prezi this month?

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What speech topics do you think that Prezi would be well suited for?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, the world in which we are living has changed. More and more often the speeches that we give are being done online. It turns out that in order to be an effective online speaker, there are several things that you need to be doing. Yes, giving an effective speech is still important. However, did you know that there are a number of other things that you have to be doing in order to make your next online speech have an impact?