Prezi not a PowerPoint killer?

I stumbled on this post on the Dutch Presentatie Blog: 3 reasons why Prezi is not a PowerPoint killer. In short (and in English):
  1. Non-linearity is great for conveying information, it is poor for building up the suspense of a story
  2. Dramatic zooming effects take away attention from the speaker to the screen (the blog speaks jokingly about "Prezi motion sickness")
  3. The graphical capabilities of Prezi are (still) poor (colors, fonts, shapes, data charts) when compared to other applications
I must say, I tend to agree with the assessment for the traditional stand-up presentation. Does that mean Prezi should be written off? I am not sure either. Where it could be useful:
  • In the hands of highly specialized designers, rather than the mass market. It could be the basis for a great way to let people discover a product or service interactively on a web site. It would be expensive and time consuming to develop, but once it's there it should provide a great return on investment.
  • For the mass market, maybe the product should be simplified to create a basic web-based presentation tool with great ability to embed things into web sites and blogs. With the advent of HTML5, I think we are going to see a dramatic shift in how web sites look. And there will be a huge market for a simple tool that can create great web content. Obviously here it is open to competition from Sliderocket, Google Docs, and others (a PC World review of PowerPoint alternatives via Tony Ramos).
I have been trying hard to get Prezi to work (see an earlier posts about Prezi and my first attempt at making one myself), and I really want Prezi to succeed against the dominant and sometimes ugly PowerPoint monster, but I have not succeeded yet. Hopefully one of you will prove me wrong in the comments.


ignasi said...

I mostly agree.

I've attended a couple of Prezintations... Impressive for the first 3-5 minutes if you'd never seen it before, but makes you sick after that. It left a feeling of "uhhmmm almost..."

However, I can think of it in (interactive) meetings. It'd be useful in its free-mode, that let's you move around the canvas freely. It allows for interactive discussions by showing the various levels of information layers that Prezi can contain, zoom in/out go back, pass it on to someone else... Much better indeed that the "could you please go back to slide where you showed..." and so on.


Jan Schultink said...

Agreed. But your interactive meeting scenario is more about information sharing than a carefully orchestrated pitch.

Ed said...

Powerpoint problem was never it's lack of a zooming, panning transition.

Also, Prezi presentations base an undue amount of importance on the delivery medium not the message. The content is what really matters, not how ridiculously you can arrive at it.

And lastly, I have genuinely felt sick watching some of these presentations.

Not a powerpoint/keynote killer by any stretch of the imagination

Anonymous said...

I've been experimenting with the Prezi App for IPad. While it still has some glitches to work out, I think it shows some promise as a tool for smaller meetings. On the smaller screen, the zooming isn't as annoying.

Martijn vanSteenis said...

I don't think it has to be black or white? I don't think it's a Powerpoint Killer by any means, but it does however have certain advantages that make Prezi an interesting addition to the use of Powerpoint.

I agree a good presentation isn't created by software, it's create by people. But when you do want to use visual aids, in a lot of situations Prezi can be of help. I think it can help explain certain concepts because the zooming makes it easier to put details in perspective for instance.

The thing is, most people go overboard with the zooming and panning, resulting in a messy, confusing presentation. But when you keep the use of these to a minimum (only when functional) Prezi does have a lot to offer. Powerpoint can be used the right way and the wrong way (standard templates, animations), the same goes for Prezi.

Jakob said...

Is it fair to critisize the state of presentations in Prezi when we still bang our heads against the wall looking at current Powerpoint examples?

I agree with Martijn: I think people who condemn Prezi for its nausea inducing experience are making the same mistkae as people who blame powerpoint for, well, being all about bullet points. Prezi not only does have its merits, as ignasi pointed out, it also is far from being a finished product let alone have a user base who has established sound design principles to rely on.

A couple of weeks ago I have tried to put some design principles up for discussion and create a working example that the people at Prezi were kind enough to feature on their home page:

Arnout Drenthel said...

Being one of the authors of the original article, I really enjoy watching the discussion going international!

First of all: PowerPoint is probably the most misused software tools available. So I totally agree with anyone stating PPT not being 'the answer'.

Of course a good presentation starts and ends with a good story by a inspiring presenter. And most of us can improve on that.

However: I still do not think Prezi is a PPT killer. (@Martijn, it does say so on your own website, under the Prezi heading...?)

I think Prezi can be useful in some occasions, as Jan pointed out. Most of the presentations given, however, do not fall in these categories, and thus will not benefit from the possibilities of Prezi.

Most presentations should be linear. Most presentations shouldn't be (too) interactive.

(@Jakob: I really like your Prezi! But I still think it wouldn't work in what I consider a presentation (a girl or guy on stage, connecting and inspiring an audience). It works great on any website however!)

Martijn van Steenis said...

@Arnout True, I do think it's catchy, so for promoting a website 'powerpoint-killer' sounds nice.. ;)

The fact is, I don't think it's a ppt killer because I don't think anyone should limit him/herself to one tool. Different occasions/goals ask for different support. I do think it's a ppt killer in the way that it does have advantages over ppt, but the same point can be made the other way around. Although I don't look for that nuance in that part of the website..

Jakob said...

I wonder where you get the confidence to speak of "most" presentations. Not that I know any better but I'd wager that the education sector rivals the business sector when it comes to the amount of "presenting". Yet their communication needs vary greatly. Would you really say that presentation software is only for the situations where there is a guy on stage?

Then there is the dreaded office meeting - I don't subscribe to the idea that the status reports need to be linear. These are the communication situations I feel Prezi might help design for. Not websites. That still does not make Prezi a powerpoint killer, just a tool that has advantages for very specific uses.

Arnout Drenthel said...

@Martijn: aah... marketing, the world in which lying still is socially accepted... But I'll rest my case. ;-)

@Jakob: good point! But then again: I do think educational 'presentations' would also benefit a build up (ie. linearity). Otherwise: why wouldn't you just read the book?

For some specific parts however, Prezi could just be the best tool for the job (e.g. in explaining details of a complex system). (If they would better integrate, I could imagine using more Prezis within my PPTs).

However, in most cases, I think Prezi is not suited to support a whole (what I consider a) presentation.

A good presentation, whether for a class of students, company meeting or a room full of journalists, is prepared in linear matter. And I don't think Prezi is the best tool for that.

The more I think of it, the more I do think Prezi is (more often than not) quite ineffective.

(But I am still looking forward to anyone who can proof me wrong. I'm really looking forward to it!)

alxross said...

DISCLAIMER: I am a founder of Presentista ( an emerging presentation and story-telling tool.

I agree with most of the points made- that neither PPT nor Prezi are the ultimate answer.

Any thoughts on what an ultimate replacement for PPT and/or Prezi would be? We'd love input from the community.

For example, we think users may be interested in using 3D space to add depth- even if the flow is fairly linear. Any thoughts?

Jan Schultink said...

I am not a big believer that a different way you can control the story flow will be a game changer. If you stand for a big audience, your presentation will be linear. For 1-1 meetings this could be different.

And for 1-1 meetings, an easy tool for putting PPTs on a tablet and being able to navigate them would be useful.

The biggest help would be to get a simpler presentation design software that "forces" people to design more visual charts without bullet points.

PPT has too many features, and people resort to bullet points because they have no clue how to put anything else on the slide.