Tech

Why Prezi Helps You Make Better Presentations


By Alex Schiff, University of Michigan

Microsoft PowerPoint has been the default presentation creator since I was in middle school. They’ve been so dominant that my classmates would frequently use the words presentation and PowerPoint interchangeably, much like Kleenex and tissues. But since about March, I’ve been using a new tool called Prezi — and I’ll never use PowerPoint again.

Rather than imposing a “slide” format, Prezi empowers you to create your own structure. It is completely up to you to build your presentation on top of their blank slate. But that’s the beauty of the tool — when you shed the rigidity and preconceived way of doing things so inherent to Microsoft Office, you end up with a much more creative end-product. To put it simply, you just slap whatever text, images, graphs, etc. you want and tell Prezi in what order to present them.

Getting away from a discussion of features, the most appealing thing about Prezi is that it forces me to make better presentations. Without all the pre-set fields and options, Prezi encourages me to be more concise. If I start adding more than a few words of text it starts to look really ugly and cluttered. All I have to do is slap a picture up there and the topic is sufficiently covered.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that, left to my own devices, I tend to ramble. I inherited this unfortunate trait from my dad’s side of the family, where a nano-second of silence is interpreted as something being wrong or that you’re upset. That’s why Prezi has been such a valuable tool for me. Effective presenters get their point across without making their audience read a novel on each slide. In fact, some of my favorite presenters get by with just a single word or photo on each slide. With PowerPoint, it’s hard to be that disciplined.

Just take a look at the difference. Here’s a PowerPoint slide on our approach.


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Now look at it in Prezi. Rather than sitting on one slide and going through all that text, I move between these three as I talk about them.


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Uploaded with ImageShack.us


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Which presentation would you rather watch?

Prezi is also just plain slick. Sure, you can set up a ton of different animations in PowerPoint. But it’s hidden behind a ridiculous number of menus and settings panels. Do you really care if your text flies in from the right or left? Or that you can set it to print the text letter-by-letter? Didn’t think so. In Prezi, I just set the order, and there is one super-clean “swoosh” (for lack of a better word) from one item to the next.

Ever since I made the switch, I’ve noticed a very real and tangible enhancement in the quality of my presentations. I’m much more confident, and I do a lot more speaking to the crowd rather than reciting from my slides. Oh, and did I mention it’s free for students?

Alex Schiff is a co-founder of Fetchnotes, Agent Boomerang and The New Student Union. Follow him @alexschiff

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About NEW STUDENT UNION

The New Student Union is an online magazine run by and for college students covering the issues we care about. Self-starters with great communication skills and a passion for writing should email info@newstudentunion.com to get involved. Official site will launch in late 2011.

Discussion

One thought on “Why Prezi Helps You Make Better Presentations

  1. I love Prezi! Thanks, Alex!

    Posted by Kathleen O'Donnell | September 23, 2011, 3:24 pm

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