Prezi Presentations

by Patrick Kammermeyer on April 11, 2010

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas.

While not every new idea is a gem, even less-than-great ideas can sometimes contain a noteworthy seed of inspiration. So, in my quest to find a presentation tool that can somehow add a new way of approaching information, I came upon this interesting online presentation tool called Prezi. (Yes, I know, it sounds a bit like a snack.) It’s an interesting beast.

The Prezi interface.

Prezi’s interface is basic, staying true to the non-standard conceptual model of the tool itself. At first, it may seem a bit awkward. But once you understand the model, learning to use Prezi takes 30 minutes or less.

The emphasis in a Prezi presentation is on a dynamic, non-linear, macro and micro perspective of the topic at hand. So, for example, a presentation of the human body would move from the whole body perspective to a zoom in on a particular organ, to a further zoom in to a cellular view, to perhaps an even further zoom in on the molecular level. And then, zoom back out to the whole body again to explore perhaps another organ. And so on.

Prezi is designed to present scale in a very dynamic way. The slightly Mandelbrot-like interface suggests this function as you work. Although you can import and manipulate graphics in Prezi, the clear emphasis is on text. And it is this emphasis that I find the most troublesome. Generally, my inclination with text is to want to easily read it. (OMG, that so sounds like my grandparents 20 years ago.) But, Prezi seems to encourage the zooming and twirling and rocking and bouncing of text all over the place.

In my exploration of the potential of Prezi, I did a quick tongue-in-cheek presentation (using a few extra tools for demonstration purposes):

I’m not yet sure that I’ve come to any conclusions about Prezi’s approach to user interface and presentations. While I found Prezi to be intriguing, quirky, and potentially inspiring, I am not yet convinced that it helps produce a better presentation. Undoubtedly, the folks at Prezi will continue to refine this tool and perhaps move in new and interesting directions. So I will keep my eye on where they go with this tool.

To explore Prezi for yourself, go here: Prezi

(Note: If you are running Snow Leopard, Prezi will not work on the Firefox browser. )

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