Prezi - My New Favorite Tool

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I recently discovered Prezi software. My verdict - I’ll never create another Power Point again. I’m pretty sure you won’t either if you give it a try. Read on to find out why.

What is Prezi?

Prezi.com describes it as “a cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery.” I find it somewhat similar to the map-based presentation feature of ArcGIS Explorer Online in that you can zoom and pan within a virtual presentation space.

Getting started is quick and easy. You can sign up for a user account, log on to the free online software, and start on your first Prezi within a few minutes. There are tools to add photos, embed videos, add text and shapes, and customize the colors and fonts. After you are done adding content, you create snapshots of your storyboard and connect them together in path. The path can be viewed later on in Show Mode (similar to the Power Point Presentation Mode).

My First Prezis

You can check out my first Prezis using the links below.  I presented these at the 2011 Esri International User Conference. Many audience members ranted and raved about the positive Prezi experience in a sea of endless Power Points.  Let's just say no one was sleeping...

My Favorite Prezi Features:

  • Prezi allows you to organize your ideas on an expandable, scalable, blank canvas. Once you add an element you can scale it or rotate it later on. This makes it easy to get all of your ideas on paper and then improve the design as you move through the thought process.
  • You can really start to get creative in how you tell a story when you aren’t constrained by a linear pattern like in Power Point. I started by creating a story board of my main ideas and then drew lines showing how they connect to each other. This helped me arrange the layout of my graphics and text in a meaningful way.
  • Prezi isn’t set up to easily add lengthy text boxes. I love this feature because it makes you think of simple ways to communicate complex information. It’s easy to get lazy and type out tons of information in Power Point. We’ve all sat through the dreaded 65 slide presentation packed with text… I think it’s safe to say that no one enjoys this experience.
  • It’s simple to embed flash videos in your presentation that start automatically. Videos are a great visual aid to describe many ideas in one “slide.” My favorite program to create free screen videos is called Jing.  
  • I really enjoy the ability to “interrupt” your predefined presentation path to zoom, pan, and rotate the canvas on-the-fly. This allows you to add content you may need just in case it comes up. If someone asks a question not covered in your main material you can zoom to your extra content.  What a great opportunity to showcase how prepared you are!  Another bonus - you don’t have to divert attention from your main ideas if unnecessary.

Not Just for Presentations:

    • Create an Online “Prezume” to Visually Showcase your Work. This is especially helpful if you work in a graphics-heavy field like GIS. See examples at http://prezi.com/explore/prezumes-and-portfolios/.
    • Visual Brainstorming.  I like to visually lay out my thoughts when I’m coming up with a new idea or problem solving. Prezi makes it easy to create a virtual idea board with key words and graphics. It’s easy to access and add to your ideas as long as you have an internet connection. I also like to move my ideas around the storyboard in various configurations. This helps me generate new ideas and connections that I didn’t “see” initially.
    • Run Productive Meetings. Prezi.com allows you to give others editing access to your presentation. You can create a new Prezi and have your whole team keep meeting minutes together in one interactive, virtural space.  Create boxes or circles with each participant's name or picture.  Drag items into them that each person should follow up on at the end of the meeting.

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2 Comments

Excellent summary of Prezi Rachel, thank you. It is a fantastic presentation tool; the other functionality sounds interesting too!

By the way, your presentation at the ESRI conference was informative. Unfortunately I had to duck out right after to get to another session and couldn't discuss with you.

Thanks Eric! Glad to know you found it useful. I sent you an invite via LinkedIn if you want to stay in contact.

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