Survey: Is Prezi the Next PowerPoint?

PreziA few weeks ago, we explored Survey: PowerPoint and the Gen Y Crowd and launched the survey to see how readers felt about PowerPoint. (If you haven't taken it yet, there is still time to weigh in.) 

While what appears to be a PowerPoint backlash may just be a reaction to poor presentation skills and a misuse of technology, it hasn't stopped Gen Y from favoring an alternative called Prezi. I had never heard of Prezi until I moderated an impromptu #eventprofs chat last year and invited #genychat to join in. 

Prezi Primer

What is Prezi? It's a cloud-based application for designing and displaying presenatations. Think of it as a cross between PowerPoint slides and a white board.

How is Prezi different from PowerPoint? PowerPoint is a series of slides that can incorporate animations, which can also connect one slide to another. With Prezi, users start with a large blank canvas to which they can add text, images, photos, videos and special effects. The key feature of Prezi is that it allows users to zoom out to see the big picture or inter-connections and zoom in to view details. Here is a quick overview:

Why do audiences like Prezi? It's a constantly moving interface. Rather than transitioning from one area of the canvas to another in a linear fashion, Prezi builds the element of surprise into presentation. You can transition by spinning, moving up or down, to the left or right, zooming in or out.

Sounds good - what's the catch? While younger audiences that have been raised in a media-rich environment love Prezi, there are a couple of drawbacks. For one thing, with the free version of Prezi, presentations must be created and edited online. They can also be displayed online. Heaven forbid that you are somewhere in the world where Internet access can be iffy. As a facilitator who works around the world, my advice that bandwidth issues make it too risky to rely on the free version for professional presentations. This does not leave a margin for error for the inevitable last-minute changes if you run into problems with Internet access or bandwidth issues. (Fortunately, at the time of writing, an entry-level paid Prezi package is relatively inexpensive - US$159 per year - and worth it for speakers who want to create, edit and show Prezis offline.)

Speaking as a representative of Gen X, my other concern is that the learning curve is steep. You'll want to play around with simple content and get comfortable with Prezi before attempting to create a presentation for business use. It is definitely not an application that can picked up in a short time frame, especially if you are under pressure to deliver a presentation in a couple of days. 

Or is that perception, too, a generational divide?

What's YOUR take on Prezi?

Photo Credit: Edd Dumbill

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