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Why I’m Not In Love with Prezi

Why I’m Not In Love with Prezi

It’s time to write this post. This may be the most frequently asked question in my workshops on evaluation reporting, data visualization, and graphic design.  What do I think about Prezi?

Most people’s first reaction to being in the audience of a Prezi presentation is “Wow, that is so cool. This is going to change my whole life.”

But that’s not what we want people thinking when they are in our audiences.

We want them listening to us. Digesting our words. Relating our message to their own experiences. Getting activated to go make changes in the world. We don’t want them distracted by our dizzying presentation software. This, sorry folks, is probably the same reaction audiences had to the introduction of those clever fly-in animation tools in PowerPoint.

I understand Prezi is working to provide more control over the quick zooming in and out, after early reports that some audience members were getting motion sickness. That’s a good development and a smart response to user feedback.

Even still, I find Prezi vastly too limiting. While all manners of media can be embedded in the show, the predetermined font choices are insufficient in that they’d threaten an organization’s existing identity and branding system.

Prezi also crashed around May 9. A desktop version is available, but for those who had relied on the online version of Prezi so they only had to be concerned about an internet connection, there may be a bit of a false sense of security in the platform. Prezi crashes seem rare and the company offered free 1 year trials of their Pro version for all who were affected. Nice handling of a tricky situation. But I’m not in love.

14 thoughts on “Why I’m Not In Love with Prezi
  1. Patricia Rogers says:

    What I don’t like about Prezi is that it requires visual literacy that most people lack. Adding in swirls, spins and zooms that don’t relate to the mental map of the presentation is distracting and irritating.

  2. Susan Kistler (@sukist) says:

    Oh thank you!
    I hate prezi. With a passion.
    Most prezi presentations forget about the overall design – making the individual pieces part of a whole – and in the absence of that it tends to be a baffling mess tossed on a board.

    Never mind the seasickness that comes with…

  3. Leah Goldstein Moses says:

    I had almost the same reaction I experienced Prezi. I thought it had the potential to be cool, but in reality was a jumbled, distracting, dizzying mess. Thanks for your analysis!

  4. Sue Griffey (@SueMentors) says:

    Thanks so much, Stephanie, for writing this. I feel the same way as the other commenters. And all this time, I thought I was the only one who didn’t like Prezi (since I first learned about it from an AEA coffee break). Nice to know I’m not alone!

  5. Jennifer Sullivan Sulewski says:

    I agree with you on this. I was intrigued by Prezi – particularly the way it can link the details to the overall design/flow of a presentation – and I’ve seen it used effectively. But it’s not very good from a universal design standpoint since a lot of people have trouble following (or are made dizzy or seasick by) all that movement. And just like PowerPoint, it’s just a tool and can be used well or not so well.

  6. Pingback: Susan Kistler on Whether to Prezi or not to Prezi · AEA365
  7. JRyven says:

    I totally use prezi because I spent an hour in a presentation thinking, “yeah, I wanna be cool like that“. I do not know what the presentation was on.
    Volunteer Management, maybe?

  8. Katina says:

    I love Prezi. I am a teacher, and this gets my students excited to present. Most of my students, particularly the art students, love using Prezi. I think they like the idea of a flat surface and utilizing their own creativity to design the presentation, instead of slide after slide. I understand your issue with Prezi, but I have used this tool so many times I have lost count. People tend to talk to me after a presentation and they knew my topic and key points. I try not to get people seasick though.

  9. Makash says:

    First, as a Prezi user and fan, I totally respect your opinion.

    Aren’t we confusing two different things here?
    Are you saying you don’t like Prezi as a tool, or the Prezi presentations that you saw?
    Of course, you can make bad presentations with Powerpoint as well as with Prezi.
    I love Prezi because for years I fought against the linearity of Powerpoint. Prezi allows me to express the multi-dimensional picture that I have in my mind. Now, it’s true, I find that not so many people have a 3D, big-picture perspective in their minds. These will make bad Prezis anyway.
    The bottom line has always been and still is: the problem is the presenter, not the tool. Don’t you think?

    • Stephanie Evergreen says:

      Almost absolutely! I’d say 90% of the problem is the user. No matter the tool, the user still needs to know how to develop visuals that rock. But there’s still the other 10% of the problem, which for me is mainly around the zoom. I understand the intention but have yet to see it really work well – in a way that conveys a hierarchy – despite many many people’s attempts. Do you know of a great Prezi? Send it my way. I’d love to be able to share a good example.

  10. @dan_steer says:

    I agree that Prezi can do terrible things in the wrong hands

    But one does not blame the pencil for the spelling mistakes…

    Most audiences DO respond very well to the right use of Prezi. I don’t think people lack the visual literacy required to follow them, but many presenters using the tool lack the visual development skill to do make them well.

    I have written a post on how to use Prezi well based on respect for message and structure:

    http://dansteer.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/prezi-structure-tips

    As a conference speaker, speaking for 90 minutes or so, Prezi is a great tool to reinforce message and structure. The transition problem that can upset audience members who really “feel” the movement is not relevant when they only occurs once every few minutes.

    @dan_steer

    • Stephanie Evergreen says:

      My concern would just be the way the movement can take the attention away from the content. The same thing happened to me when I say a Keynote presentation with these around-the-corner transitions between major sections. Its was a powerful visual, but I was so into the transition that I missed what the speaker was saying. The attention belongs on the speaker, not the tech. That said, I totally agree that it can be helpful for communicating structure.

  11. TD says:

    I actually love Prezi, it’s such a great creative platform. My professor uses it as an example for final projects to this day. I do work in a more creative field where the viewers are more open to Prezi though.

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I'm suddenly amazingly sleepy.

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