Prezi versus PowerPoint for presentation visuals

Prezi_vs_PowerpointHave you heard of Prezi?

Sometimes called the ‘zooming’ presentation software, Prezi is an online program you can use to create presentations that are considered more dynamic than PowerPoint because of its Zooming User Interface.

What does that mean?

The presentation or story is laid out on a virtual canvas and the scale of the viewed area can be changed in order to see more detail or less detail. Like the way Google Maps lets you zoom into a street, then back out to the view of the city.

So instead of seeing a progression of slides, the audience feels like they are zooming in and out of text, images, videos, charts, etc.

In fact, Prezi calls it a ‘map’ and your presentation zooms in and out of your map to show relationships between information.


Prezi and PowerPoint are not that different

A lot of people seem to think that:

“It’s not PowerPoint, so I’ll avoid the Death by PowerPoint syndrome.”

Sorry, it’s not that straightforward. I remember hearing the same hopeful cries 10 years ago when companies started employing FLASH animators to put their presentations together. If you haven’t nailed the message and structure, neither tool will help you. How we use these tools is the only thing that matters.

Cheating death is not that simple.

You can still make a bad Prezi speech but your audience will have to deal with both boredom and motion sickness!

Prezi was created by a Hungarian architect who wanted to be able to zoom in on his designs to show the detail of a room, then zoom out to show the bigger picture. So Prezi is great at achieving that visual goal.

But as I see it, it’s just an animation feature.

(By the way, ‘Death by PowerPoint’ is more of a DELIVERY problem, not a software problem. For a simple solution read this or especially this).


Presentation Software should support your speech

Don’t forget what presentations are all about. They should provide information that is relevant, useable and memorable.

And the presenter is meant to be in control. (Otherwise, why are you standing in front of the audience? You could email your presentation to them to read.)

Flashy animation, like Prezi, can take the attention away from the presenter and the message, with all that cool panning and zooming.

Although, Prezi is good for zooming into stage one of a flowchart, then zooming out to see all the stages, then back into the detail of stage two, and so on. And if you like MindMapping, you’ll probably be thrilled with Prezi.

But remember; you don’t want compliments about your animations, you want people talking about your ideas! Your graphics can be powerful, but they should support your ideas, not distract from them.


So, what are the strengths and weaknesses?

Prezi strengths:

Prezi Map

  • Free, but only if ou’re happy for your presentations to be public. Private presentations require an upgraded account.
  • Prezi gives a feeling that the presentation is more fluid and more visual.
  • Can add energy and movement in the same way zooming cameras fly into and away from a contestant on ‘The Voice’ or Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’.
  • Web based (can access from any computer, tablet, etc.)
  • Prezi’s collaboration feature makes it easy to edit presentations with other users in real-time.
  • Non-Linear navigation and ‘map’ metaphor is preferred by some people.
  • Short learning curve.

Prezi weaknesses:

  • Prezi can make people dizzy. Can include a lot of useless motion (you can use grouping and frames to avoid motion sickness).
  • Limited printing options.
  • Web based (best if you have an internet connection).
  • The animation novelty can wear off. (If you saw 10 Prezi presentation in a row at a conference you might throw up).
  • There is a learning curve.


Powerpoint strengths:

  • More features and options (may not be a strength of you want simplicity!).
  • May be more reliable to carry your presentation on a USB stick.
  • You can have WOW impact with Powerpoint animations (and you’re not limited to just one).
  • Linear slide format and design is preferred by some.
  • More people are familiar with this format if you are working with other on your presentation (no learning curve).

Powerpoint weaknesses:

  • Animation not as smooth as Prezi.
  • Most people don’t use it well and so can seem visually boring.
  • Most people use 10% of the features so it’s by being all things to all people it’s harder to get a simple, visually stunning result.


Your strengths and weaknesses

How good are you at sorting the noise from the signal? The wheat from the chaff? The forest from the trees? The detail from the message!

This should really be your starting point. Find a method that works for you. Create a mind map or a speech outline first, so that you’re super clear on your message, key points and subsequent structure.


The steps for creating creating a Prezi

  • Plan your Prezi MapPrezi logo
  • Gather your resources
  • Create your presentation
  • Double click anywhere in window to write
  • Zoom in to add detail
  • Use Zebra to change location, resize and rotate
  • Add images and/or video
  • Add Frames to group related items
  • Add Path to create a storyline
  • Click Show to present

If you’re really hot for Prezi, here are 10 tips for getting the most out of it.


If you’d like to develop your presentation skills, consider:


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