Presentation software for the non-linear thinker

Presentation software for the non-linear thinker

Summary: The Prezi application, now used by more than 5 million people, allows presenters to zoom into images at random for more detail as they give their presentations.

TOPICS: Hardware, Software

I have never really been trained to give a presentation, but I have learned enough over my 20 years in the technology busy to know that "death by PowerPoint" (sorry Microsoft) is a very real phenomenon.

So, for those executives, salespeople and marketing types that want to turn the art of giving presentations on its ears, you might want to check out a cool software as a service (SaaS) application, desktop and tablet based application series from a company called Prezi. The reason that Prezi is on my radar is that it just passed 5 million users, which isn't too shabby for a start-up that really got serious about the idea of "zooming" presentations about four years ago.

The philosophy behind Prezi, which has been a brain-child of founder and CEO Peter Arvai since 2001, is that sharing information should be more visual and "fun." So what you get with Prezi presentations is the ability to "zoom" into different graphics and images for more detail.

"Our medium is different," Arvai said. "You can zoom into a piece of an image for more detail any time you want. The presenter doesn't have to think linearly. The audience can interactively discover what is going on."

The video below gives you a sense of how Prezi presentations are created. You can work offline with the desktop application (as illustrated) and then share the resulting visuals with whomever you want as part of the hosted cloud service.

Arvai said Prezi has found a following with marketers, project managers, human resources executives and educators who are looking for a less linear, more visual way to express their ideas. The software is updated roughly every two weeks with new features. Aside from working on the desktop, you can view Prezi files on the Apple iPad tablet.

You can use the public edition of Prezi for free, which lets you create presentations and then download a copy that can be viewed offline. You need a $59 annual subscription in order to store your presentations privately and include your own logo on the presentations; it costs $159 annually if you want to use the offline desktop creation application.

Topics: Hardware, Software

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  • RE: Presentation software for the non-linear thinker

    Like any other presentation method Prezi is great if used properly. I have seen numerous presentations where I got motion sickness because the content was misplaced, the presenter moved too fast, etc.. Also, one downside with Prezi is that with free version you can't make your presentations private so if you have data you don't want to share you either have to pay up or bite the bullet.

    I personally prefer PowerPoint because it's local and you can make great presentations if you know how to properly use it. "Death by PowerPoint" generally occurs when the person who is creating the presentation doesn't want to spend the time to create their own presentation and instead opts to slap information onto existing templates.

    P.S. ZDNet's commenting system sucks.
  • RE: Presentation software for the non-linear thinker
  • "Less Linear, More Visual" ...

    ... you mean, like a drawing program?

    I once did a diagram for a client, showing how the system I was going to build for them would look, which parts were off-the-shelf, which I had to code, and how they connected together. Suddenly they all understood, and that one diagram became the basis of the work I did for the subsequent 2 years.

    It was done in SVG format using Inkscape. SVG is a nice format because it's open and XML-based, so it's easy to find (or cobble together) tools to work with it.
  • RE: Presentation software for the non-linear thinker

    Prezi has its limitations, as statuskwo5 points out. BUT, as it is possible to have hyperlinks within a PowerPoint presentation (and between presentations) it is perfectly possible to create interactive, non-linear presentations with standard PowerPoint. See the Aspire Communications site for some amazing examples:
  • RE: Presentation software for the non-linear thinker

    Prezi is a great tool for getting your audience attention, but its transitions are rather repeating themselves and sometimes are too much...<br>I found an animation presentation tool that might be of advantage for those who want something more exiting on their presentations, check it out:<br>