In my continuing (or is it endless?) exploration of free digital storytelling and presentation tools, I’m talking about Prezi this week. And I have to say—I wasn’t prepared to love it so much.
I’m not quite sure how to describe it. I guess the two attributes I find most attractive are: 1) it takes the “linear” out of presentations, opening them up to be much more creative and fluid, and 2) its multimedia capabilities. You can educate, entertain, and persuade through images, videos, sound, and text that all flow together in a pattern you determine. The show you produce is going to be much more engaging to people, whether they’re watching you present or viewing it themselves online.
Having gushed, now I have to tell you that it takes more than 5 minutes (or 20 minutes) to learn. There are lots of videos on YouTube about it, and many on the Prezi site. Here’s one that’s a pretty good introduction. Getting the hang of the navigation may take an hour or two, but the results are well worth the investment. (You’ll never go back to PowerPoint, that’s for sure.)
The key is the Prezi navigation cluster, which is pretty intuitive, and the zebra circle (it’s that blue and white striped disc in the photo at the top of the page)–which allows you to size, move, and rotate anything you’re placing. It took me two practice sessions before I started getting somewhat proficient at it—but I still have a ways to go. You have a 100 MB limit on the free level of Prezi (higher limits on the two paid levels). My six steps Prezi so far uses only 12% of that limit–so you can get pretty robust, even at the free level.
Although it’s a live presentation tool, I think it has great potential for online users in the nonprofit world–especially if you’re trying to convey something complex. It allows you to layer information, connect to quality resources on other sites, and use sight, sound, and motion—all in a very cool design template you create yourself. It’s fun for the user, too.
I experimented with designing a Prezi version of my Six Steps to Social Media Savvy page on this blog. Here’s the result. Note, I didn’t have time to finish this whole presentation this week (but I will finish it.) So you’re only seeing the first two steps represented. Still, you get the idea. (Just click on the photo link below.) Once you’ve opened the file, use the forward/back arrows at the bottom right of the screen. And you should know that the two boxes in the first circle are videos–they’ll start to play automatically after a second or two.
For more sophisticated Prezis, look here.
I highly recommend spending a little time with this tool. This may be wild thinking—but I could actually see creating an “annual report” using Prezi, or a research highlights report, or. . . (They’re coming to take me away.)