5 keys to knock-your-socks-off Prezi presentations

Let me start out by saying, I’m not a fantastic presenter. I think I do OK, but let’s be honest, I’m no Peter Shankman. Hey, love him or hate him the guy can present his tail off (at least the one time I saw him).

But recently my friend Chuck Hemann turned me on to a new presentation tool I’d encourage you to check out immediately. It’s called Prezi.

Why is Prezi so great? Because it’s non-linear–just like most of our thought processes. It forces you to think it terms of concepts and visuals–not bullets and sentences. It plays off your creativity–instead of stifling it. I’ve only been playing with the tool for a little more than a month, but so far I’m a huge fan. May never go back to Powerpoint again (unless I have to).

So, I figured if I’m going to pimp Prezi, I thought I better come up with a few tips for using the tool if you’re exploring it for the first time.

Here are a few ideas:

* Focus on visuals that illustrate your key points. One of the downfalls of many presentations is the speaker’s inability to use his/her deck as a tool to complement their presentation–not dominate it. With Prezi, the more you can focus on interesting visuals that highlight your key points, the better. This leaves you more time to explain these key points instead of reading them. With the zoom functionality, you can use these visuals more than once, too. And, they’re usually much more interesting to look at than bullets or full paragraphs on a screen.

* Use more videos. Prezi makes it extremely easy to embed YouTube videos into your presentation. Take advantage of that. Introduce humor into your presentations via video. Break up the monotony of you talking for an hour straight. In many of my digital/social media talks, I love to use the Will it Blend series. Funny, light but also hard-hitting in the results it provided for Blendtec. Just one example.

* Take advantage of motion. One of Prezi’s key advantages over Powerpoint is the ability to move about the canvas–mostly using the “path” functionality, but also to zoom in and zoom out whenever you’d like. But, the key is developing a solid “path.” One that twists and turns and keeps the audience interested. Be sure to twist your images to maximize movement. Use a healthy amount of zooming to illustrate detail–and provide perspective.

* Don’t get carried away. The best presentations I’ve seen in the last year have been simple. Few bulleted lists. Interesting visuals. Key phrases and titles. That’s it. So, don’t get carried away by the bells and whistles. Stay away from too much drawing and artwork (Prezi gives you the ability to add arrows and create custom artwork). Remember, there’s an old axiom that holds true for many facets of our professional lives: Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS).

* Move quickly. Another major beef I have with most presentations–far too much time is spent on each slide (I’ve been guilty of this plenty of times in the past). Nowadays, I usually plan for 30 seconds a slide (unless it’s a video–see above–or a key message slide). And, I usually also try to build in a series of visuals, which again, breaks up the monotony of me speaking for an hour straight. Focus on the needs and attention span of your audience. How long would you pay attention to a slide that was on screen for five minutes?

To give you a better idea for what a Prezi presentation looks like, check out a few of my favorite public examples below. Have fun exploring–and let me know if you end up using the tool for a future presentation. I’d love to see the finished product!

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12 comments on “5 keys to knock-your-socks-off Prezi presentations

  1. Ken says:

    A worthy alternative is http://www.ahead.com…biggest difference is that it’s not template based like Prezi so it allows you to create your own layout. A question of taste I reckon

  2. mefloraine says:

    Hmm, I’ve used Prezi too many times now to say that I like it anymore, but your advice is sound.

    The most important thing, I think, is for the presenter to remember that the audience isn’t going to be able to focus well on a completely static Przei, and they won’t be able to hear your words if you’re messing around with a fast-paced, twisting and turning presentation.

  3. Hi Arik,
    Thanks for the great tips for presenting in Prezi! While commenter Ken is right that there are different styles and colors to choose from for your Prezi background/font, Prezi does not have templates – you are free to be creative on the Prezi canvas. If you don’t feel like starting from scratch, you can reuse a Prezi from the Showcase!


  4. Matt says:

    I recently took Presi for a spin and liked it. Maybe its best feature is the fact that it’s not PowerPoint. The people I shared my presentation with sat up and noticed that right away.
    Another strength seems to be pointing out the relationships between ideas (especially through motion, which you mentioned.)
    I was disappointed with the difficultly in adding audio. A Prezi has the potential to act as a reference for information instead of a live-event presentation tool. I’m sure most presenters are fine with the lack of narrative/soundtrack support for meetings or events but I hope they work on this in the near future.

  5. FrankFoster says:

    Hi there, The best in Prezi is that we can create our won story. We can define our world whre we can place our content. This is why I like the this customization of  the template. In case you need quickly special template  for your Prezi presentation, it is worth to look on http://www.ziload.com where you can find many 3D templates, ready for edit.

  6. I like the idea to use videos. Chances are, what you are trying to say has been said. If the video will add to your presentation, add it. I would much rather see a short video clip in a presentation to make it more exciting than a sequence of slide animations. A video makes a bigger impact on people’s attention.