Presentation Best Practices: Prezi vs. PowerPoint

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Can the zooming and movement features offered by Prezi be replicated on PowerPoint or Keynote platforms?

You can decide for yourself.

First a little background When the founders of Prezi launched their web based presentation platform in April of 2009, it was fair to say the main presentation program in use at the time, PowerPoint, had not evolved a lot since it’s launch in 1987. Over the years, Microsoft introduced new features like slide transitions, background templates and other effects allowed users to create non-linear presentations without having to learn programming. One could argue though that most of these additions just add to the cluttered and text-heavy presentations that continue to bore us today.

When I first saw a demo of Prezi, I must admit I was blown away and excited to have a new tool that might very-well give PowerPoint and Keynote a run for their money. Prezi’s free web based platform moves beyond slides and allows you to create an entire presentation on a single canvas, or one giant picture, rather than a series of slides. They use zooming and movement features to highlight thoughts and specific content. You can turn in all different directions and pop in and out of photos, graphics and text. Just be careful you’re not zooming or moving too much or your audience will get dizzy.

If you’re not familiar with Prezi, take a look at this TED Talk by James Geary. Prezi was co-created by James and Adam Somlai-Fischer.

Depending on your point of view and the type of presentation you’re planning, you may find Prezi very useful and a breath of fresh air in a world of boring presentations.

Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of tricks and gimmicks to try to get more performance and creativity out of Keynote and PowerPoint. As each platform has added new features, they have both become a much more versatile and practical tool. Still, they haven’t quite equaled Prezi. At least that’s what I thought until I saw Ferry Pereboom’s PowerPoint creation.

Ferry is a PowerPoint specialist at PPTstudio in the Netherlands. He and his team created a presentation in PowerPoint 2010 that looks and feels a lot like Prezi. What do you think? Here is a video of his presentation.

I think Ferry’s work is pretty cool. No, it’s not exactly like Prezi, but I think it clearly demonstrates the potential of PowerPoint. Both Keynote and PowerPoint have a wealth of tricks and resources that only need to be discovered and experimented with to unlock their full potential.

This blog is the first in a series of posts that will point you towards some hidden tools and best practices using PowerPoint and Keynote.

You can follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn to make sure you catch my series.

If you ever need help with your presentations, ping me – I’m happy to review what you’ve done and give you some suggestions or provide training to help you take full advantage of all the tools and resources that PowerPoint and Keynote have to offer.

  • Bruce Gabrielle

    Great post Al. I’m also eager to see PowerPoint evolve beyond ornamentation and gimmick.

    I’ve also looked at Prezi and, although it’s intriguing, I’m actually not a big fan. The zoom in/out makes me nauseous and only encourages a different kind of ornamentation and gimmick. And as long as the slides are simple and visual, there’s not a lot you can do with Prezi that you can’t already do with PowerPoint.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Bruce. I agree. Prezi can be a little nauseating. I have never seen one on a big screen at a conference, but would imagine the zooming and zipping are only amplified. I keep trying things with PP and surprising myself. I just did some training for a group this morning on some Keynote basics. There are more and more times that I am discovering PP is the stronger of the two, especially with PP-10.

  • Anonymous

    Great job, Al. Bet you can always tell when I’m stalking your blog :) )

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Shelly. This is just the first in a series of hidden PowerPoint secrets/tools that often get overlooked.

  • Bseppelt

    This gives me a bunch of good ideas. Prezi is all the rage at my company (a Fortune 50), but it looks like there are some interesting things you can do in good ole PowerPoint.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment. Glad it was helpful. If you ever need any PowerPoint design work or training, we would be happy to help. Some of our work is available here:

  • Anonymous

    Great article! The real time collaboration capability of Prezi truly takes the cake! Additional reading here:

  • Free Powerpoint

    I think Prezi is good and quite innovative but it is also a challenge to remove PowerPoint and classic ppt slides from the market. Accordingly to Microsoft, there are more than 70 millions of PowerPoint presentations held every new day, so, how can you beat that? It won’t be easy…

  • Tuongvananh

    My group presentation was so great yesterday and we got the highest result. Thank prezi very much!

  • Cindyheefteen

    The PowerPoint beats Prezi video is really awesome! I saw another video off this company today. Do you know these guys, Al?