Give Yourself a Prezi
17 February 2009 4 Comments
It certainly has been a new user interface experience diving the depths of the Flash-based Prezi.com. I was due to give a talk about Twitter to the class of a colleague and decided Prezi might add a wow factor. Thus I started a period of self-training which strangely was delightful and frustrating at the same time.
A presentation done with Prezi asks you to choose a template up front which they freely admit can’t be changed later – 1st hurdle. Once a template is chosen there are only 3 fonts for headings, emphasis and body text – 2nd hurdle. There is no menu to change the font size – 3rd hurdle. Different pieces of text can’t be automatically aligned – 4th hurdle. Eventually the penny drops, every object including a block of text is manipulated by the innovative Prezi transformation zebra:
Change orientation with the outer circle, change size with the rings and change position by dragging the vertical bars. Thus all hurdles are solved except for alignment where you have a grid and your own hand-eye coordination to help you. As the Prezi guys point out, beautifully aligned text/objects usually make for boring presentations.
The Prezi menu uses animated circles of decreasing size and seems obvious at first glance. However, each circle forces you into its own mode, and although the mode is well highlighted you have to move into the correct mode before a certain action is available.
I started doing my Twitter presentation in Prezi only to discover I couldn’t find how to insert links, crucial for my talk as I needed to flit between several web pages. This stopped me in my tracks, and with time running short I headed back to trusty PowerPoint.
Nevertheless after the talk the attraction of Prezi was still strong and an email to the beta testers fired my enthusiasm once again and showed how to make a Prezi public. The link to the forum allowed me soon to discover that as long as you close and reopen your Prezi then all URLs become links automatically. I only had to learn how to introduce interesting orientation changes and define a path through the presentation surface to produce a workable presentation derived from my Twitter slides. I am a little disappointed with the quality of the images but hopefully that will be improved. Being able to insert a YouTube video player in a Prezi would be good too.
I will certainly use Prezi again, and it lends itself to just throwing together text representing ideas, remarks, comments and snippets from other sources, then arranging them in a more sensible order. People will recognise mind-mapping behaviour here. Idea arrangement can be done by just defining a path through the text objects without having to go to the trouble of moving them or having to define a hierarchy. Another approach is to drag related objects into vague clusters. Zooming in and out and panning are easy once you are in the correct mode.
Now Prezi allow you to download your presentations in a Zip file containing a free standing player, at least on Windows and Mac. You then don’t need an Internet connection and a browser with the correct Flash player to use your Prezi presentations.
I recommend you to try Prezi as soon as you can get an invitation.