Prezi is a tool for creating presentations, just as Powerpoint and Keynote are, but with some interesting differences. Since its creation in 2009, it’s been seen more and more in conferences.
One way in which Prezi differs from earlier presentation tools is its metaphor. Both Powerpoint and Keynote use the metaphor of a series of individual slides that can be shown in a predetermined sequence, just as 35mm slides would be shown with a carousel projector.
In Prezi’s metaphor, the creator arranges materials on an infinitely large canvas and— as I think of it— uses a video camera to pan and zoom through those materials. That can be done on the fly or the creator can pre-record a series of pans and zooms. The resulting presentation maintains the spatial relationships among the various materials.
It’s On the Web
Although they can be downloaded, “Prezis” are assembled on the web, through your browser, and can be presented via your browser as well. They can be shared with the general public or with a select group of colleagues (or members of a class.) You can even collaborate with others on the creation of your Prezi, which makes it a great vehicle for group projects.
Good and Bad Uses
I’ve seen great uses of Prezi and uses that make no sense at all— unfortunately, quite a few of the latter. If your presentation materials consist of a series of bullet-point lists, quotations, graphics, etc. that have no particular spatial relationship to each other, then there’s no particular reason to lay them out side by side and pan from one to another. But if there are spatial relationships— such as in a complex chart, diagram or map— then Prezi may be the perfect tool.
Here are a few examples of great uses for Prezi. You can pan and zoom on your own, or click the Play button to step through a pre-recorded tour.
Go to the Prezi website to explore other materials that various people have made public, to get more ideas on how it can be used.
Prezi offers three levels of licensing:
- Public, which is free, provides you with 100 MB of storage, but requires you to make your creations public.
- Enjoy, which costs $59/year, provides 500 MB storage and allows you to make your creations private.
- Pro, which costs $159/year, provides 2GB storage.
However, students and teachers— anyone with an “edu” email address— can get the Enjoy level of license for free.
The website also provides a gateway to “Prezi U,” a community of educators who share ideas about using Prezi in their teaching.