Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prezi: The PowerPoint Alternative?

Do you zoom when you present? A zooming presentation moves through ideas more conceptually than the standard computer-mediated presentational aids. Prezi, offered for online and desktop presentations, is an alternative to the text-filled boxes and slides found in PowerPoint. As a public speaking professor, PowerPoint has quickly become the bane of my existence as I watch students read from one slide to the next. In meetings, I feel much the same way. The lights dim, the slides go up, and my attention span instantly goes down.

So what is an alternative? Prezi, found at www.prezi.com, creates a zooming flow or conceptual map of your presentation that is not limited to the confines of a slide. When you are ready for a certain topic, the screen zooms toward that topic, it becomes the center of the screen and sized to be viewed as the focal point. When you transition, the screen shifts to your next topic and again situates that as the new focal point. Though PowerPoint can be incredibly useful and professional, students often type every word of their presentation on each slide and then read from it. Prezi allows a less-rigid display of knowledge which seems to enhance the students' abilities to speak extemporaneously.Above is an example of my most recent Prezi creation. From afar, it looks jumbled and unclear, but the process of watching the Prezi (with each element "zoomed" into the center of the screen) was delightful. Warning: There was a learning curve to creating the Prezi presentation. It is fairly intuitive, however, and opens with a video tutorial that is incredibly helpful. I still found a tendency to textually lump items together and quickly challenged myself to avoid this and embrace the free-flow and space of the Prezi.

I found that I enjoyed preparing the Prezi more than the PowerPoint. This could simply be due to the fact that it is a new tool and has a novelty factor, but I don't think that is it. Since Prezi allowed for creativity and worked with a flow of ideas, it actually helped me brainstorm for my discussion. I was hesitant to try it, but have now determined the students should be introduced to this and other options for computer-mediated presentational aids.

Do you seek other PowerPoint alternatives? Others do exist and they are worth exploring if you find you are teaching students the use of presentational aids, if you use presentational/teaching aids, or if you are just looking for new options for that afternoon meeting. Check out GoogleDocs Presentations or Zoho Show (which offers audio chat!) and are free--a great feature for students and professors alike.

So, the only question is...are you ready to break out of the PowerPoint box? If so, I recommend you click on PREZI and sign up (free), watch the video, and zoom away!


  1. I have made several prezis myself and found it an exciting tool for personal presentations, in-class collaborations and student work as well. Would love to see your prezis.

  2. Hi Heidi. I'm using Prezi more and more. In fact, here's a very brief Prezi I used for a mini-lecture in class today: http://prezi.com/m52fjjyziepu/chapter-3/

  3. Very impressive. I like the little builder people. I have used a prezi in class within a music unit in a course called The Creative Process, to collect brainstormed ideas. Then, students were able to use the prezi as a tool to help them remember the unit, and I added instructions for their response assignment. Here's that one:

    What is really gratifying is that now, students are beginning to create prezis of their own.