7 Best Practices for Making Great Prezi Presentations
By Megan Hamilton
Breathe new life into your presentations with Prezi. It is great for visually depicting the relationships between ideas.
Prezi is a flexible Web-based program that instructors and students can use to create dynamic presentations. Think of Prezi as a giant virtual whiteboard, where you can post images, videos, and text to explore the connections between ideas.
Most people are familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint, which is a traditional tool for creating linear, text-heavy lecture materials. Unlike PowerPoint, Prezi is great for making highly visual and engaging non-linear presentations. In Prezi, you can navigate through a presentation by zooming and panning through content as it is arranged on a two-dimensional canvas, as if you are selecting and viewing different locations on a map. This allows the instructor to play with the scale and size of the content in the presentation to denote emphasis, relationships, and a sense of discovery.
Before you get started, review our 7 practice guidelines to help you make the most of this tool.
Tip #1: Consider Your Content
Include a mix of image, text, and video to engage your students.
Image Source: http://goo.gl/gU5J8
Great Prezi presentations are a judicious blend of text, images, diagrams, and video. If you would like to use Prezi, but have a traditional presentation that is very heavy on text, consider how you might break it up into key talking points paired with an image or video that illustrates your topic.
Tip #2: Create a rough "Blueprint" Before Building Your Prezi
To make building your presentation in Prezi's limitless canvas easier, sketch a basic outline of the presentationís structure and proposed arrangement of components on the canvas.
The best Prezi presentations are well organized from the get-go. They not only present information, but tell a story of how each part of the presentation relates to another to define a whole concept. Storyboarding your presentation with pencil and paper will help you organize the flow of your content and make a more effective presentation. Knowing how you want your information arranged and presented will also help you become more efficient when using Prezi's tools to add your detailed content.
Tip #3: Choose Your Design Theme Early
You can impart customized style to your presentation through the Colors & Fonts bubble menu's Theme Wizard.
Image Source: http://prezi.com
Prezi allows you to create a customized palette of colors and fonts that will be used whenever you add headings, body text, frames, and shapes to your canvas. This is done through the presentation's Colors & Fonts menu bubble.
Although the range of choices is limited, choosing the right color and font combinations can impact the legibility and tone of the presentation.
It is best to make these choices early in the design phase of the presentation because font sizes and colors will impact the display of text on the screen, especially if text is placed within shapes. Making changes to the font and color scheme after you have arranged your content will surely result in having to re-arrange and re-size components of the presentation all over again.
Tip #4: Design Big and Use Changes of Scale
Incorporate at least one dramatic change of scale to denote emphasis and create interest.
Image Source: http://goo.gl/35Edq
Prezi's blank canvas is like an infinitely large poster board. When building your presentation, give yourself plenty of room to arrange your content. Donít be afraid to make use of larger font sizes. Make your frames large enough to accommodate your content, but also leave enough white-space so that content does not appear cramped or cluttered.
Also, don't be afraid to incorporate changes in the scale of shapes, frames, or text in your presentation to denote emphasis, hierarchy, and relationships between ideas. When playing your presentation, Prezi will animatedly zoom-in on a content item to make it display in the full-width of the Prezi-player. For example, you might scale a chunk of text very small and overlay it on an image so that it remains invisible until the Prezi window zooms-in on it.
Tip #5: Design to Minimize Fast Motion
Be mindful of the animations and placement of content in your presentations to minimize disorienting effects.
Image Source: http://goo.gl/JWl4t
What makes Prezi so fun for presenters and audiences are the zooming, panning, and rotation animations that happen when you navigate to and from content in the presentation. However, too much of these animations can make audiences dizzy and confused.
To prevent this issue, consistently arrange your content to minimize the amount of animation that occurs. For example, you could arrange content that will be viewed in succession near each other, such as in a vertical row or circular cluster. Second, create paths between content items that are smooth and consistent (i.e. a straight path that moves from item A to item B, which are next to each other). When you do this, you will have short, gradually accelerating animations and not disorienting wild spins or turns.
Reserve any dramatic changes in orientation that produce a swooping or spinning animations to add special emphasis to a point.
Tip #6: Use Hidden Frames to Reduce Clutter
Hidden frames help you organize and zoom in on content without the added visual weight of frames. This is ideal for highlighting details on a large image or block of text. To add a hidden frame to your Prezi, select the Frame menu bubble and select the "Hidden" frame option. Then, draw your frame on your canvas by clicking and dragging a bounding box around the content you want to frame. A hidden frame will appear as a dashed blue outline.
Tip #7: Understand How Prezi Effects Image Resolution
Sometimes in Prezi, you will want to click on an image to examine it closer or play with the scale of images and make them larger. However, you may notice that the original resolution of the image becomes distorted or pixilated. What happens is that Prezi is zooming in on and stretching the image to fill the screen. This issue is most noticeable when using smaller or lower resolution images.
There are a couple things you can do to improve your image quality. First, if you are going to use the scale of images to communicate your message, itís better to import larger resolution images into Prezi from the get-go than to use Preziís scaling tool to make the image bigger. Second, consider drawing a frame around the image, leaving a generous amount of room around the image, and zoom in on the frame instead of the image. This will put focus on the image, but not so close as to reduce the image to blurry pixels.
The Next Step is Getting Started
With these tips, and Prezi’s helpful tutorials, it's easy to start communicating information to students in a new, more visual format. In fact, you might find that using Prezi may invigorate your teaching style and help engage your more “visual” learners.
Most instructors realize that students learn best when information is presented to them in a blend of media formats, such as graphics, video, and interactivity. According to recent research, adding images to a presentation can increase student recollection of content from the presentation by at least 65%. You can provide a rich interactive multimedia learning experience with a Prezi presentation through the careful arrangement of text, video, and images on the zooming Prezi canvas. Of course, the mix of content you add in to the presentation is just as important to multimodal learners as the visual-spatial organization of the content on the canvas.
Beneficial to instructor and student alike, non-linear storyboard-type presentations can support free-form branching lecture formats. This allows the instructor some flexibility in the order in which content is presented and promotes more immediate student interaction with information. Students are more free to ask questions, explore ideas, and brainstorm during the lecture. Using Prezi’s frames, shapes, and path navigations, you can visually organize information to depict the relationships between ideas. For example, you can explore diagrams, create timelines, and present broad concepts followed by specific details. Prezi’s “zoom-focus” navigation abilities can be useful for guiding attention and staging the presentation of information. This can be very useful for clarifying topics in science, technology, and mathematics.