Monday, August 9, 2010

Prezi: You will swoon as I zoom

Forget about slides. In today’s hyperlink world, a classic presentation feels like being inside of a corridor without the option to enter any of the side doors.
If you’re still stuck on PowerPoint presentations, it may be time to try out more dynamic alternatives, like Prezi, which has the financial and advisory back of TED and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

TechCrunch contributor Robin Wauters called Prezi "the coolest online presentation tool I've ever seen." And Garr Reynolds, who coined the phrase ‘Presentation Zen,’ earlier this year declared Prezi a presentation tool more suitable for the digital natives than its competitors.
That’s a lot of praise for Prezi. So, let’s see what it’s all about.

Elevator pitch
Prezi is a flash-based nonlinear storytelling tool for creating dynamic multimedia presentations. The end result is not a set of slides, but a canvas where the user can zoom in and out, discovering contextual relationships.

Prezi’s strengths
As Prezi's Community Manager, Zoltan Randai, explains, “slideshows haven't really changed since the late 1950-s, when the first acetate slide projector hit the market, while Prezi matches the way we consume information on the internet.”

Prezi is more customizable and agile than Power Point or Keynote, and offers the ability to integrate video, .pdf documents and vector images.

Because it’s an online service, Prezi is not only a creation tool, but also a distribution platform. This is fostered by the fact that many “prezis” are created as public objects that anyone can see, embed, and even copy and modify.

To keep the final product private, you need to sign up for a paid plan, but since January students and teachers can get the basic paid plan (“Enjoy”) for free. This has helped boost traffic to their site.

In addition to educational purposes, Prezi can also be a powerful tool for businesses.

“Prezi allows the audience to get your points immediately, while they have a clear picture about relations, arguments, and the tiny details. Many customers use Prezi not only for business presentations, but also for project planning, market research and analysis. They use it as a media wall in their offices or on the smart board at meetings. But the most interesting way of using the tool is collaborating in workgroups,” says Randai.

As storytelling starts to be more important in all complex organizations—from
schools to companies—Prezi seems to be in a great position to become a basic tool for internal communication, and even as a journalism tool for multimedia pieces.

Some examples
The best way to learn what you can do with Prezi is to take a look at what others have done:

How to make business presentations
Sweet recipe to solving problems (a good example of Prezi’s animation capabilities)
Playing to Learn? (an example of an educational prezi)
MySpace LeWeb Keynote (by MySpace Mike Jones)

For more examples of public prezis, visit

This article was originally written for the class Digital Media Economics and Management. MCDM, Spring 2010.


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