Hey Prezi! A few reflections on our presentations at Scotland’s Adaptation Conference

At Adaptation Scotland we have recently been experimenting with the use of Prezi as a substitute for the ubiquitous PowerPoint slideshow. At Scotland’s Adaptation Conference (Our Dynamic Earth, 9th September 2013) both of our presentations in the morning session used Prezi – and it seemed to work very well.

In fact, an unanticipated downside was that, on the day, I probably had as many conversations about Prezi as I did on climate change adaptation!

Joe Prezi  Anna Prezi

Click on the above to go directly to our Prezi’s from the conference – or see of all our Adaptation Scotland Prezi here

I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the use of Prezi – and how we developed presentations that appeared to be very well received.

Structure – you really, really need to think about an overall structure to the talk. Without something to hang it on, Prezi can be a motion-sickness inducing whirl through your slides. Anna and I spent quite a while discussing structures that would work. But you know what, having a good structure is key to a good talk anyway – my impression is that using Prezi is likely to be less forgiving on a poor structure than the more familiar PowerPoint.

Motion-sickness – be conscious of the potential to move around too much – this may well be the main feature of Prezi, but overuse can lead to distraction. I use the ‘fade-in’ animation quite a bit to build up views rather than pan around. But this is one of the limitations in Prezi – ‘fade-in’ is the only animation available – and this can be quite frustrating.

Vector Graphics – this may sounds technical, but I think that using vectors (rather than bitmap) for shapes – like our Scots Pine – is essential with all the zooming and panning around you’ll be doing. Prezi is based on vectors and unless you use very high-resolution bitmaps (e.g. jpeg or png) then things can get blocky quickly. I used Adobe Illustrator and imported as swf files, but a free alternative is Inkscape.

Vector-based Scots Pine and the structure of the talk

Vector-based Scots Pine and the structure that was an important part of Anna’s talk

So will we keep using it? Is this the end of PowerPoint for us? Well, yes and no. Prezi has a lot of potential, but also many limitations – in the main putting together a ‘good’ Prezi is a time consuming process – as can be getting to grips with some of the vagaries of its interface. It will be interesting to see how much we use Prezi in the future – whether the benefits outweigh some of the frustrations – and if it really is a viable alternative to PowerPoint for the day-to-day presentations we produce, or just something for ‘special’ occasions.


(Oh and it would be nice if wordpress.com would allow us to embed Prezi again!!! At least we can embed them on our main website)

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