Sunday, October 25, 2009

Prezi - I don't get it

I've talked about this on Twitter, but maybe a reader can help me come to terms with Prezi. I don't get it.

I recently saw another person who used Prezi for the presentation, and again I thought, "This is everything that we complained about with Powerpoint. Needless, distracting animations. The only thing missing were sound effects, and I could imagine them containing whooshing sounds and spinner sounds and ratchet sounds to fit the nauseating motions.

Seriously, if Microsoft ever decided to steal .. sorry.. build similar visual effects, wouldn't we immediately begin to complain about them?

Or am I missing something? Am I allowing my stomach queasiness when I watch the zooming and spinning, etc, to cloud my judgment?


Continuity said...

I think you're completely right--if a Prezi uses typical Powerpoint framing, and uses lots of text, and people arbitrarily rotate the point of view--it's just a recipe for nausea.

However, I create my Prezi to serve the purpose of exploring a big picture which includes many, many details. For this purpose, Prezi trounces Powerpoint, because in Powerpoint, you are always presenting at the same level of information density and depth, and furthermore, there is only one path to take through the material--a linear one.

With Prezi, I can use a path to navigate over the big picture, and when my audience has a question, I can easily zoom out and digress, explore, respond; then I can quickly resume the path. Powerpoint doesn't make it easy to go off-track.

Additionally, it's easier to update a Prezi on the fly with content and information that comes from the discussion; using Prezi's zoom features makes visual facilitation of group experiences much easier.

There are many ways I think this could apply in the classroom. Exploring a map of knowledge with a group of students and marking it up, all at different levels of depth (and therefore, apparent complexity) throughout the class session, for example.

If Prezi is just designed with slides and zooms, it's little better than annoying Powerpoint animation, though! Check out this example, step through the path, and let me know if you think it's a step up from Powerpoint.

Adam said...


I am adam, one of the prezi founders - our google search showed us your post

while I couldn't agree more that you can misuse any tool - the focus of this post is mostly about the zooming effect while delivering a prezi - which I think can be very powerful and even useful if sued well.

but - could I just show another point of view - focusing on the process where seeing all your data / ideas in front of you helps in structuring your talk, developing them - this is actually where prezi comes from, why we started making it.

here is a quote from our support page from a user:

"I still use PowerPoint, but honestly after familiarizing myself with Prezi, I lean more and more towards it as it feels much more "organic" to me when I build a presentation. I can literally just slap images and text into and rearrange it with just about as much ease as I would index cards on my desk. That is really, in my mind, the power of Prezi. Also of course it's unique zooming interface is truly captivating to an audience."

hope this shows you some new perspective and you give our tool a try :)


Dean Shareski said...


I don't think I use it all that well yet but the process of designing is quite nice. I'm able to much more easily chunk ideas while PPT or Keynote, tend to force a more linear approach to storytelling.

Also I think this explains a lot more about how to use it well.

I'll need to watch it a few more times to get better. I've used it about 4 or 5 times but again, it's appeal for me lies more in the design but it can have include some important storytelling techniques if used properly.

Tim said...

Thanks for this post, Jim. I thought it was just me who wasn't understanding Prezi.

And Adam, I appreciate all the work you and your partners must have put into creating the site, but I haven't seen the "organic" nature of working with Prezi. Maybe I just need to put more work into learning the system, but for now, I don't see the value in spending that time.

Jim Gates said...


I watched the demo that you posted, as well as those mentioned in the previous comments. I'm willing to accept that I may be in the majority, but if anything, my opinions on the motions are even more solid after seeing those links. It didn't many zooms or twirls to make me want to see a well done powerpoint.

But, as I said, I'm willing to accept the fact that I may be in the minority.

Jilly said...

Hi Jim,
I had the same thought when I first saw Prezi but then I realized I wanted to group information differently for a Google application. I wanted to have a "stream of consciousness" that looked at the little details and then expanded to see the big picture. I think Prezi works well when there are building blocks to a presentation.

Jonathan Wylie said...

Jim, I agree with you. I think there are better ways of presenting information. I can't see myself using it.