I’ve been an avid user of Prezi for quite a long time, which accounts for the fact that I have switched my subscription on and off since the tool came out. I’m sure that’s how many users relate to the product.
So let me say first, it’s very innovative.
Frankly, I’m rather surprised that they have never been bought by Microsoft given the lack of innovation coming from the labs over there for decades, until Nadella got in charge at least. We’re starting to see that change now with tools like Sway and Planner. I haven’t really used Sway yet, but one look persuaded me that they were still making the whole thing too, well, Microsoft-level difficult.
I’ve even managed to use Prezi with paying clients, in one case for a household name in headsets to show use cases for the future of headset usage to Microsoft – its ideal for this task. For a number of others, simply using the zooming animations and unlimited canvas still gets something of a ‘wow.’ I just completed another that I’ll publish soon on thought-leadership blogging, and the whole process brings me back to what I like and dislike about the tool.
First, the development process is a lot more complex than slides (Keynote, PPT, StarOffice — whatever) but zooming animations still end up being one dimensional.
If I were working on Powerpoint, then I would see a 60 minutes presentation as a slide for very 1-3 minutes. So 20-30 slides max. It’s a very easy equation to remember and the development process is simply to start with a dozen or so ideas and convert them into a dozen slabs of text and images (which is also why PPT is so boring).
After the learning curve, it’s simply a lot more fun to work in Prezi and throw 50 graphics on the page and then mentally brainstorm how you plan to present through the linkage process. They have made this as intuitive as they can (and a lot more intuitive than only a few years ago) but its still more complex than slides, with the real possibility of getting lost in the process versus communicating an idea simply. it requires clarity though attrition to work. It takes a couple of times longer than PPT if you want to combine multiple graphics into one view.
The danger is that, at the end of the day, you can stand back and think ‘I’m just zooming my slides. I wish PPT could do this.’ Fortunately for Prezi, Microsoft seems to be unable to make this kind of animation work.
Two, it’s easy to over do it. I was working on the current presentation and the CTO of the company leaned over my shoulder to tell me ‘that makes me feel sick. It’s really easy to rotate everything in sight and make your slides essentially unreadable. You to be really really careful with Prezi NOT to overwhelm the watcher and the trick is in what you DON’T do versus what you do.
I always start the presentation with very few radical animations, preferring to make a few changes in focus per slide. I then throw in one one or two major’effects’ for the whole presentation. Anything more and its like staring at the Parallax effect on your iPhone; can make you sick.