Prezi: A Non-Linear, Rich Media Alternative to PowerPoint

Rose M. Baker, David L. Passmore

Penn State College of Education

The introduction of Microsoft PowerPoint boosted productivity in the development of graphical support for oral presentations over techniques used previously to create slide presentations. Through use of templates and prepared styles, PowerPoint reduced the need for specialized skills and materials for slide preparation. With integration of design and presentation into one software package, PowerPoint, even the most unsophisticated user could act as both designer and presenter.
The use of PowerPoint has become de rigueur for practically every business, technical, and even general-information presentation. However, in The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, Tufte contends that use of PowerPoint templates erodes verbal, visual, and statistical analysis and that PowerPoint’s bullet-pointed style promotes overly simple, linear arguments that are merely read to or by audiences in rooms darkened to enhance projection qualities (and, inadvertently, the potential for audience naps). In this presentation, we demonstrate Prezi, an alternative to PowerPoint that allows rapid, online development of rich media presentations and that allows branching, looping paths through presentation content. A free version of Prezi is likely to meet the needs of most users, although premium versions allowing more online storage are available for a fee. Prezi is available at http://prezi.com.
Prezi development starts with an online palette that is scalable to allow placement of objects at almost any level of granularity. Varying the level of granularity allows the objects to be hidden or revealed by using zoom controls. Among the objects that can be placed are text, images, video, audio, PDFs, Excel files, and YouTube videos. Web links can be attached to objects. Visual links between objects include arrows and lines. All navigation and controls operate through an intuitive point-and-click graphic user interface. Prezi presentations can be delivered through a browser or a local Flash animation file. We created an example of a Prezi at the bottom of the page at http://prezi-example.notlong.com

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