A good structure and its visualization are the strongest, and at the same time, the most disastrously used facets of Prezi. That is what turns 92% of the prezis I see useless. The situation is best demonstrated by the fact that most people think about spectacular zooming when they think about Prezi, even though this should only be used rarely. How to use it well, what are the elements of a good Prezi from a design point of view?

 

Think! (inventio) 

When they start using Prezi, most users are past their first 100 ppt presentations, and therefore their usual routine directs their though processes. In other words, they open and start using it. This is not how Prezi works, and it will be evident by the result.

With Prezi, the first step is (as it should be with PowerPoint) to plan what I’m going to say, determine what my goals are, what the message is, and what the arguments are behind the message. This can be done using the software, but is my experience that a clean sheet of paper and a pen, or even post-its can do wonders. So the first step is planning. Write down:

 – Who is to be your audience (create an audience profile), what is likely to interest them (don’t forget that this is about them and not you)?

 – What is your goal with this presentation?

 – What are your messages? (what are the 5 things they should take away with them)

If you got this far in reading this entry, think about your last 3 presentations and determine whether you considered the above.

 

Gather! (inventio) 

As the quality of grapes determine the quality of the wine, the quality of the information will have an effect on the presentation. During one lecture, an argument can be relevant, whereas it can turn irrelevant at another.

So, having learned the above, we know what to look for: arguments behind the message that can be data, images, metaphors, stories, depending on the profile of the audience. The principle of more is more is at work here because it provides us with a selection, and a way to customize.

The Internet is obviously the first step, but only if used judiciously. Here are some useful tips:

    1. Slideshare, ppt-based search: Instead of searching through endless word and pdf documents, take a look at slideshare (for ppt and keynote-based materials) or narrow your search criteria to ppt files. This will allow you to find developed and filtered materials immediately. 

 

  • Flickr, or individual “gallery”: Most people search via Google where the quality and resolution of images is not consistent. In contrast, “galleries” have selected materials. This can reduce search time by half, not mentioning the fact the quality of the final product will be so much better.

 

 

Think differently

Most beginner Prezi users have slide-based thinking. We want titles of the screen, with text below along with a small image (many people put these in circles, that’s what we call Prezi 1.0). In order to create a good Prezi, we have to break with these notions. We should imagine presentations as our individually compiled photo albums (this method is otherwise known as digital story-telling) for which we select our images. Or as a huge desk on which we drop our materials, photos, texts, objects. The goal is the demonstration of the sand table in details. Or we should let our imagination guide us when one thing recalls another (in their relationship), and then a third. This is closest to Prezi.  

And if none of these works for us, we still have the possibility of classic drawing.

These phases make up 40-50% of the time allocated to the creation of a Prezi, even though we haven’t even opened the program yet. If you skip this part, you will decimate the effectiveness of your presentation, no matter that you haven’t written a single word yet.