My Prezi Conversion

home-presentationsDespite the endorsement of fellow ProfHackers Ethan (in “Challenging the Presentation Paradigm”) and Anastasia (in “Revising Prezi for Presentations”), I’ve long been a Prezi skeptic. After seeing several Prezis full of wheeling and zooming, I concluded it was merely a gimmick: no better than our national fascination with star wipes and spinning slides in the early days of Powerpoint. I haven’t entirely changed in that opinion. Prezi doesn’t benefit all presentations; it can be simply a gimmicky way to present material that would be perfectly well-served by Powerpoint or Keynote.

Recently, however, a conversation on Twitter with fellow ProfHacker Adeline Koh and ProfHacker guest writer Lisa Rhody convinced me to give Prezi another look. We discussed the kinds of material that is well-served by Prezi’s open canvas format. In particular, Lisa and Adeline argued that Prezi works very well with talks that

  1. refer to complex visuals, particularly those with different elements you will want to focus on at different points in your talk;
  2. illustrate relationships between different visual or textual elements; or
  3. deal explicitly with issues of scale, either literal or conceptual.

There are probably more purposes that Prezi is well suited to meet, but these are the arguments that swayed me. Much of my work is about scale—I discuss how individual texts, for instance, relate to analysis of texts across corpora. For those kinds of presentations, it turns out Prezi is perfect. So I’m not a convert: I’m regularly using Prezi to present my research, though I’ve not yet brought Prezi into the classroom (I don’t really give many slideshow-style talks in class in any case). Here’s an example of one of my recent talks, in which I hope you can see how Prezi’s open canvas benefits, rather than distracts from, the points I’m trying to make:

How about you? Have you ‘come around’ to Prezi, or perhaps to another tool you were skeptical of? Tell us about your “conversion experience” in the comments.

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