Two Cents on Prezi

PowerPoint and presentations have been synonyms for over a decade, recently I've had the opportunity to "leave the comfort zone" (as life and career coaches mentor nowadays) and try Prezi for one of my talks. Looks like my next presentation is going to be in Prezi as well.

The idea of Prezi is simple, yet surprisingly powerful, it includes no more than a zoom-able canvas and a camera view. Simple as it is, I've found it to be very intriguing as I believe it revolutionises our perception of presentation making, which up until now has been mostly based on linear PowerPoint slides with titles, bullets and fade outs. Microsoft once tried something similar, but pptPlex was eventually shutdown and archived in the office lab basements as far as I know.

Prezi introduces us to a world where slides get a completely new interpretation, and are in fact more like frames, screenshots of some content from a given position and distance (zoom). The ability to move the camera from one frame to the next enables concept visualization like PowerPoint never has, resulting in a very engaging user experience.

Prezi is a pretty nice implementation for a really awesome idea. Having spent some flight hours on Prezi, I can definitely notice some things left to be desired, but all in all it provides a rather stable and fluent user experience.
The in-frame animations are basically gone, with the exception of fade in. Even the fade out is missing. It's a bit of a headache to fine tune the view area, so if for instance, you have 2 images placed close to each other, creating a frame with only one of them in without exposing the other, is usually extremely tedious. Editing the path (i.e., the order the frames will be presented in) can be cumbersome as well, mostly in cases where you wish to reorder more than one frame. I simply couldn't find a way to have it done other than going head on and repeatedly grabbing one frame at a time. Having said that, on top of the standard features (adding shapes and images) Prezi offers a set of "diagrams" which are basically an out of the box concept images with a predefined, ready to use, camera path. These diagrams can be useful both as time savers and "Hello World!" examples, demonstrating what can be done with Prezi during your getting-started period. 

The paradigm shift from a static, PowerPoint based presentation, to the Prezi film directing style, requires some getting used to. One has to "free his mind" in order to truly unlock Prezi 's potential. Failing to do so will lead to cutting PowerPoint presentations in Prezi, which you will find plenty of on the web. You might want to take a look at this onethis one and some of these to begin grasping what all the fuss is about.  

When Lars Rasmussen presented Google Wave back in 2009 he sad they'd developed Wave inspired by the thought of "what would email look if it was invented today?”. In a way, it feels like Prezi and PowerPoint is another great example of breaking existing thinking patterns and giving birth to a completely new way of seeing something we've been accustomed seeing in one particular manner. As fate would have it, Wave did not pan out.
I'm neither an employee nor a share holder, but I hope Prezi will, it's a cool product.

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