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Prezi  - What is Prezi?

Prezi  -, what is prezi, prezi what is prezi.

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Prezi: What is Prezi?

Lesson 1: what is prezi.

Prezi is a web-based tool for creating presentations (called prezis for short). It's similar to other presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint, but it offers some unique features that make it a good alternative. In recent years, it has become popular in schools and businesses. If you're looking to create a presentation that's a bit more eye-catching and engaging, Prezi may be for you.

How does a prezi work?

Most types of presentation software use a slide-based approach, where you move back and forth between individual slides, kind of like pages in a book. Prezi, however, uses a canvas-based approach. Instead of using slides, Prezi has one very large canvas that your presentation moves around on, zooming in and out to view various frames .

This concept is much easier to describe with a visual aid, so we've embedded a sample prezi below. Simply select Start Prezi , then use the arrows at the bottom to navigate through the presentation.

Why use Prezi?

You might be wondering what makes Prezi different from other presentation software, like PowerPoint or Keynote . For one thing, Prezi is completely free to use. There are upgrades you can pay for to unlock additional features, but everything you need to create and share a dynamic prezi is available free of cost.

Another great reason to use Prezi is that it is run entirely through your web browser, meaning there will be fewer compatibility issues than with other programs like PowerPoint. Your prezi will always look the same , no matter what computer you're viewing it on.

Because of its unique presentation style, Prezi can use movement and metaphor to help communicate a point you're trying to make. If you want your audience to really feel a sense of space and distance between locations, you could use a map template , like in the prezi below.

Or maybe you want to illustrate how there's more to a certain topic or viewpoint than there appears to be. In this case, perhaps an iceberg template would be more effective.

In the next lesson, we'll show you how to create and edit prezis of your own!

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What is Prezi and How Can it Be Used to Teach? Tips & Tricks

Prezi is a powerful presentation system that uses lots of media types making it very versatile as a teaching tool

Prezi

Prezi is a presentation tool that uses different media types to help make whatever is being shown as engaging as possible. This is specifically targeted at education, as well as business users.

The free version offers lots of functionality, but there are more features on the education-specific tiered payment options. 

Everything is made with easy-to-use guidance and templates so it can be utilized both by educators and students alike. This is a helpful way to learn design but also acts as a useful online tool for sharing with students wherever they are, in or out of the class.

So is Prezi the right tool for you?

What is Prezi?

Prezi  is a multimedia presentation tool that is based online and works across most devices with a browser window. That makes this very minimal in terms of strain on the device but also on the user, who should find everything clear to understand.

Prezi is made up of three basic sections: Prezi Video, Prezi Design, and Prezi Present. 

Prezi Video allows educators to present streamed video to the class from wherever they are. This, with Present, is more than just a video as you can add in images, graphs, documents, and more to be overlaid on the screen as you talk.

Prezi Design is a template-based slideshow-style presentation builder. This lets you create a slideshow with rich media such as images, video, graphs, and more.

Prezi Present is a bit like a combination of the above two, letting you create video-based presentations that combine slides, PowerPoints, videos, and more.

How does Prezi work?

Prezi is easy to sign up to with just your email and name needed to start an account. You can be in the system and building your own presentation within a minute or two. You're then given all the options on a clear home page that features the sub sections mentioned above, all listed on the left menu bar.

Jump into the Prezi Design section, for example, and as you can see in the above image, you're met with an intuitive slideshow design template that you can edit to suit your needs.

Usefully, in the Present section, you can upload a PowerPoint you've already created and use that in your presentation, adding your own video as needed or editing the presentation itself. Similarly, in the Design section you can upload your own PDF and DOC files to convert and use in your presentation.

A wide range of templates is available and makes starting very easy, and can be a helpful way to make sure the learning curve isn't too steep for younger students using this tool.

What are the best Prezi features?

Prezi is graphically very inviting as everything is spaced out without too much clutter or information, making it very intuitive even if it's your first time with this or any presentation tool.

Videos are easy to record immediately from within the website, allowing teachers and students to upload directly from their smartphones or laptops. The ability to layer more information in these videos, effectively combining a slideshow presentation and a video presentation, is a super appealing feature here.

The library feature offers lots of different projects, including pre-recorded videos, that can be used freely. There are more options in the paid versions, and you can be pestered to upgrade as you use the system, however generally, the free versions can be enough for teaching.

How much does Prezi cost?

Prezi is free to use the Basic plan, which is limited to five projects, however, there are also paid options specifically for educators.

There is a Plus version for educators, priced at $5 per month , which gets you unlimited projects, importing of PowerPoints, PDF export, video download, the desktop app, and offline access.

The Pro version, at $10 per month , has all the above plus analytics, training, and support.

The EDU Teams plan is available for scaling up, and is offered on a quotation basis.

Prezi best tips and tricks

Turn in Have students turn in projects using Prezi to teach them how to design and layout work in a more engaging way, which for example, could be useful in future jobs.

Be timeless Create a presentation lesson and save it so you can use it again the following year, or share with other teachers that may find it helpful.

Flip the class Build a lesson presentation and have students work through it before coming to class, then use what they've learned to hold a debate in the room to see how well the content has been understood.

  • What is Padlet and How Does it Work?
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Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.

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Presentation Geeks

How to use Prezi

5 second powerpoint handouts.

Prezi is a cloud-based presentation application that lets you use different motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to create visual representations of your ideas. Interestingly, it’s based on an infinite canvas. This canvas, along with Prezi’s zoom in and zoom out capability, are very powerful features that currently sets Prezi apart from its competitors.

Prezi is the brainchild of Adam Somlai-Fischer, a Hungarian media artist and architect, who felt that the traditional form of slides limited his creativity. He joined forces with Peter Halacsy, and Peter Arvai to develop the first version of the application, called “ZuiPrezi”. ZUI for the Zooming User Interface and Prezi as the Hungarian diminutive for presentation. However, the name was soon changed to Prezi.

Prezi works as if it were a huge mind map where you are free to arrange your images, videos, and text. You can easily make the important aspects big, to get your audience’s attention easier, and the details smaller. Once you have the components of your presentation on the canvas, you can set the storyline using a path. If these terms are new to you, don’t worry. Let’s get started and learn how to. use Prezi.

If you are relatively new to Prezi, can feel different, and people can find it challenging when they first start. it’s features, such as paths, and frame animations. When used incorrectly, transitions could make your audience feel dizzy. Of course, you are keen to avoid that. However, when correctly using the frames and paths, Prezi is a great tool.

Prezi doesn’t force you to use a linear storyline. Instead, you are free to follow any format suits your presentation best. You can easily communicate complex and nonlinear concepts, move seamlessly between frames, and build each idea separately before showing the big picture to your audience. With Prezi, it is also very easy to switch back to any frame when you need to answer questions from your audience.

Another big advantage you get from using Prezi is its ability to facilitate collaborative work by allowing several persons to edit and add content to the same presentations. However, when you choose to create in Prezi, there is much more to it. Prezi’s user interface shows in real-time the activity of other members.

How To Use Prezi?

Prezi frames.

Frames are used to group several pieces of content together. You can think of Prezi frames the same way you think of PowerPoint’s slides.

Prezi Canvas

It is the blank space you use to create a presentation. Unlike a physical canvas, you can zoom into any parts and hide the rest.

Unlike Powerpoint, Prezi lets you preset transitions between different frames. Even if it’s not mandatory to define the path you wish to take, most people rely on paths to set the speed of transitions and other visual aspects.

20160217205210-speaker-public-presentations-audience-conference-hand-gestures-body-language-information-meeting-talking

Get Started with Prezi

Now that we have an understanding of Prezi’s key terms, let’s see the steps needed to get started. Even if Prezi allows you to begin working with a blank canvas, this approach can be time-consuming, at least for a newcomer. Instead, to give your presentation a slick look in a few minutes, you can choose to start working with one of the many built-in templates. With only a few steps, you will be able to tweak your template and create your own personal touch.

Now that we have our presentation created in a Prezi template, we can choose the colors and fonts. To do this, you must click the customize button on the top of the screen and
 start working on your presentation.

Here are some of the most useful tips that will help you work faster with Prezi:

  • use left-click and hold to move around,
  • hover the mouse over a piece of content to select it (a blue box will appear). Then you can zoom into it.
  • move your mouse to the middle of the screen to display the zoom in and zoom out box

Another easy way to start working with Prezi is to import existing content from a PowerPoint presentation. With Prezi, each slide is turned to a separate frame. When a slide is imported, Prezi smartly identifies each individual element like title, body, and images. This allows you to edit work on the elements separately.

Prezi Examples

Prezi is a great tool for making presentations and sharing them online with your colleagues or customers. Here are some collected Prezi presentations that could inspire you for your next presentation:

  • MGB – Luxury Airline Interiors
  • Student Universe

business woman giving presentation

Prezi for Companies

PowerPoint allowed anyone in business the chance to express an idea. It added much needed visual effects to business messages, and it was easy to use. As such, has become an almost standard piece of software in many companies.

As a result, these days, most of the business presentations show the standard PowerPoint themes. They might have some minor tweaks, but still look outdated.

Prezi brings important advantages. It will help you stand above your competitors. It will allow you to share your ideas online and collaborate with your colleagues. Even more, with Prezi you can import your old PowerPoint slides.

Prezi Alternatives

Choosing presentation software is an important decision. The right tool can make the difference between an average presentation and one that keeps the audience engaged and successfully delivers the message. If for some reason Prezi doesn’t appeal to you, here are some alternatives:

Prezi Alternative No. 1: Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is included in Microsoft Office and has been the most widely used presentation software for many years. It benefits from an impressive gallery of themes and it has a large user base that can help if you run into trouble.

Prezi Alternative No. 2: Apple Keynote

Apple Keynote is an established product that, for years, has been the standard for many Mac users. Common to all Apple products, it is tightly integrated with the macOS ecosystems and it provides easy access to multimedia content via iTunes and iPhotos. F For Mac users, Keynote is included in the price of their computer. Also, its iCloud version is free to use for anyone with an Internet connection.

Prezi Alternative No. 3: Google Slides

It is part of Google’s productivity office suite and you can access it from any browser. Like using Prezi, it is a good option when you need to create and share your slides online. Many users choose Google Slides due to it’s a collaborative approach that allows different contributors to simultaneously work on the same document. Furthermore, Google offers the Q&A feature that lets attendees communicate with the presenter through an HTTP link.

Prezi Next vs Prezi Classic

Prezi Next, the latest update from Prezi, uses the best storytelling elements found in Prezi Classic and adds several innovative features such as private presenter notes, intuitive editing, and customizable designer templates.

In many aspects, Prezi Next simplifies your options to create standards of continuity from slide to slide. Creating Prezi Next using. HTML5 instead of Flash provides the audience to see a smoother-looking presentation.

Some users still choose to use Prezi Classic when creating their slides as they like to see more control over the customization. The good news for them is that the old version is still available and the company announced that it has no plans to discontinue it.

Prezi Accessibility: Desktop Software vs. Online

Prezi Desktop is in many aspects similar to the online version of Prezi, but once you have completed the registration process it does not require an Internet connection.

Prezi desktop is useful when you work offline. Just imagine when you have to incorporate some last-minute information on a flight.

When creating you next presentation, if you choose to use Prezi give yourself a little more time. Creating a Prezi for, the first time can be a challenge, but should you choose to do so, the outcome can be very rewarding. appeals with its innovative features the let your creative juices flow. These days, audiences are tired of slide-based presentations, so Prezi’s immersive presentations have the WOW factor.

In the future, Prezi might become more commonplace or other ingenious alternatives might appear. But, until this happens, Prezi should be the go-to application for creating an engaging and beautiful presentation.

Whether you are presenting to management, colleagues, a venture capitalist at a conference, meeting, or sales demo – here are some basic tips that will help you wow your audience. Using these helpful tips will turn your next corporate presentation from ‘good’ to ‘great’ and make you a winner.

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Presentation styles: Explore different ways of presenting

Get your team on prezi – watch this on demand video.

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Anete Ezera June 01, 2023

In the realm of public speaking and professional communication, mastering different presentation styles is essential for engaging and captivating your audience. Whether you’re delivering a business pitch, an educational lecture, or a sales presentation, the way you present your content can make a significant impact on conveying your message effectively. This article aims to explore various presentation styles and highlight the versatility of Prezi presentations that can elevate your delivery to new heights. From the classic approach to storytelling and demonstrations, we’ll delve into how Prezi can support and enhance each presentation style.

Presentation styles: A presenter on stage giving a presentation using one of the presentation styles

Why is it important to choose the right presentation style?

Selecting the appropriate types of presentation styles is crucial for effectively delivering your message and engaging your audience. The choice of style can significantly impact the overall effectiveness and success of your presentation. Here are some reasons why it’s important to choose the right style for your presentation.

Audience engagement

Different presentation styles have varying levels of audience engagement. By selecting a style that aligns with your audience’s preferences and expectations, you can enhance their level of engagement and create a more impactful presentation. For example, an interactive style may be ideal for engaging a tech-savvy audience, while a visual style can captivate visually-oriented individuals.

Message clarity 

Each presentation style has its strengths in conveying specific types of information. For instance, a storytelling style is effective for presenting narratives and evoking emotions, while a demonstration style is suitable for showcasing the practical application of a product or process. Choosing the right style ensures that your message is communicated clearly and resonates with your audience.

Retention and memorability

A well-suited presentation style enhances the audience’s ability to remember and retain information. By utilizing visuals, interactive elements, or a freeform approach, you can create a memorable experience that helps your audience internalize and recall key points long after the presentation is over. The right style can make your content more memorable, increasing its impact and effectiveness.

Personal connection

The presentation style you choose can also influence the level of personal connection you establish with your audience. Some styles, such as a freeform or conversational approach, foster a sense of rapport and authenticity. By selecting a style that aligns with your personality and communication style, you can establish a stronger connection with your audience and create a more engaging and relatable experience.

Brand representation

Your presentation style should also align with your brand identity and values. Consistency in style and tone across your presentations helps build brand recognition and reinforces your messaging. Choosing a style that is consistent with your brand image ensures a cohesive and professional representation of your organization or personal brand.

Audience needs and preferences

Understanding your audience’s needs, preferences, and expectations is paramount when choosing a presentation style. By considering factors such as their industry, demographics, and familiarity with presentation formats, you can tailor your style to cater to their specific requirements. This customization enhances their overall experience and increases the likelihood of achieving your presentation goals.

To explore the different presentation styles in a video format, watch our comprehensive video on this topic:

Classic presentation style

The classic style of presentation serves as the foundation for many public speeches and business presentations. It follows a structured and logical approach, with a clear introduction, main points, and conclusion. This style often utilizes bullet points, accompanied by concise explanations. By employing the classic style of presentation, speakers can effectively communicate their ideas, engage their audience, and leave a lasting impact.

Integrating Prezi into the classic style of presentation introduces an interactive dimension, enabling you to craft visually appealing slides that captivate and sustain audience interest. Through Prezi’s dynamic capabilities, such as zooming and panning, you can accentuate essential details and maintain an engaged audience from start to finish. For a classic presentation style, check out the following Prezi presentation templates.

Prezi presentation templates that can be used for different presentation styles

Storytelling presentation style

Storytelling is a powerful technique that can breathe life into your presentations. It goes beyond simply relaying facts and figures. It taps into the power of narrative, engaging the audience’s imagination, emotions, and personal experiences. Through storytelling, you can create a shared experience with your listeners, allowing them to relate to your message on a deeper level. By presenting information in the form of a story, you can captivate attention, maintain interest, and ensure better retention of key points. 

Storytelling also provides a framework for organizing complex information, as it follows a natural progression of beginning, middle, and end. It allows you to introduce characters, conflicts, and resolutions, which help in clarifying concepts and illustrating the practical applications of your ideas. This style invites active participation from the audience, as they become invested in the narrative and eagerly anticipate the outcome. Overall, storytelling is a potent tool that enriches presentations by fostering emotional connections, enhancing understanding, and leaving a lasting impact on your audience.

Prezi offers a range of templates and design options that enable you to create visually stunning storytelling presentations. You can incorporate images, videos, and other multimedia elements to enhance the storytelling experience. With Prezi’s seamless transitions and cinematic effects, you can take your audience on a captivating journey, effectively conveying your message in a memorable way.

Demonstration presentation style

Demonstration presentations are particularly useful when showcasing a product, process, or concept. This style involves actively illustrating how something works or how to perform a task. Furthermore, the demonstration presentation styles cater to different learning styles, accommodating visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Through a combination of visual aids, live examples, and interactive elements, this style ensures a memorable and impactful experience that resonates with the audience long after the presentation is over.

Prezi’s interactive features allow you to embed videos, animations, or step-by-step visual guides to provide a clear demonstration. You can create a path through the presentation that guides the audience through each step, ensuring a smooth and engaging experience. Prezi’s flexible canvas provides ample space to showcase details and highlight important features, making your demonstration impactful and informative.

Interactive presentation style

The interactive presentation styles break away from the traditional one-way flow of information and encourage active participation from the audience. It involves incorporating interactive elements, such as quizzes, polls, and collective exercises, to engage the audience and promote a two-way communication process. By embracing interactive presentation styles, speakers can transform their presentations into dynamic and engaging experiences that foster collaboration, encourage audience involvement, and create a shared learning environment.

With Prezi’s interactive capabilities, presenters can spark discussions, successfully hold people’s attention, and create a collaborative environment that keeps the audience involved and invested in the presentation. For an interactive presentation, discover the Prezi presentation example below.

Visual presentation style

A visual presentation style relies heavily on visually appealing elements to convey information. It emphasizes the use of graphics, images, charts, and infographics to enhance understanding and capture the audience’s attention. 

This style leverages the principle of visual hierarchy, organizing information in a visually logical manner to guide the audience’s attention and comprehension. Visual presentations not only make information more digestible but also enhance retention and recall. The combination of relevant visuals and concise text creates a harmonious blend that aids in understanding and increases the overall impact of the presentation.

Prezi provides a wide array of visually stunning templates, design elements, and multimedia integration options to create visually impactful presentations. Presenters can leverage Prezi’s drag-and-drop editor to easily incorporate eye-catching visuals, ensuring that complex concepts are simplified and memorable. By combining Prezi’s visual capabilities with storytelling techniques, presenters can create visually engaging presentations that resonate with their audience.

Freeform presentation style

The freeform style of presentation offers presenters the flexibility to adapt their content on the go, responding to audience reactions and tailoring the presentation in real-time. It allows for spontaneity, improvisation, and a more conversational tone. 

While it requires confidence, knowledge, and the ability to think on one’s feet, the freeform style allows for a more fluid and natural presentation that can resonate deeply with the audience. It’s a format that encourages active participation, facilitates meaningful discussions, and provides an opportunity for presenters to truly connect and build rapport with their listeners.

Prezi’s open canvas and non-linear structure provide the perfect platform for freeform presentations. Presenters can navigate freely between topics, zoom in on important details, and adjust the flow based on audience engagement. Prezi’s zooming and panning capabilities enable presenters to have a dynamic and fluid presentation, allowing for seamless transitions and a personalized delivery that connects with the audience.

Prezi for different presentation styles

Mastering various presentation styles is crucial for effectively conveying your message and captivating your audience. Prezi serves as an invaluable tool that enhances each presentation style, allowing you to create engaging, visually stunning, and interactive presentations. Whether you choose the interactive, visual, or freeform style, Prezi’s features and versatility enable you to craft memorable presentations that leave a lasting impact. Embrace the power of Prezi as you embark on your journey to deliver exceptional presentations that captivate, inform, and inspire your audience. Elevate your communication skills to new heights of excellence and unlock the true potential of your ideas with Prezi’s transformative capabilities.

definition prezi presentation

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Small Business Trends

What is prezi and is it right for your business.

What is Prezi and Is it Right for Your Business?

They might be nerve-wracking and tensely-awaited but presentations are a vital and often unavoidable part of the business world. Quality, successful presentations can be the key to winning new clients, promoting brand appeal and ultimately growing a business. But how do businesses get crucial presentations right?

Enter  Prezi , a presentation tool that can be used as an alternative to traditional presentation programs, such as PowerPoint, which focuses predominantly on slides.

What is Prezi?

Rather than using slides, Prezi utilizes a large canvas on which users can zoom in and out to specific parts to emphasize text, visual content and ideas. As well as supporting text and images, the Prezi platform supports the use of video.

For businesses that are new to Prezi, the program provides a collection of templates for users to choose from, so they can navigate the system with ease and get familiarized with the interface.

With Prezi’s drag and drop interface, it is easy to create timelines to show historical references and chronological data. The canvas-based presentation tool makes it easy to create diagrams to show and highlight specific information and data.

What is Prezi and Is it Right for Your Business?

Small Business Deals

Nurturing collaboration.

With co-editing and collaborative features, the Prezi platform supports real-time collaboration, enabling different members of your team to communicate with each other directly from their prezis, regardless of where they are located.

With presentations stored in the cloud, different team members, employees and clients can have access to the presentations and open, edit or link to them from a single, shareable location.

You can even integrate Prezi with Slack to enhance collaboration with the presentations and build a community channel designed to improve business productivity.

Remote Presenting

With more and more small business teams working from remote locations and communicating with colleagues, customers and clients via telecommunication methods, having a presentation platform that enables you to host remote presentations makes shrewd business sense.

With the Prezi tool, you can hold remote presentations seamlessly, which can be presented and viewed in HD without having to use screen sharing software.

Prezi Analytics

One challenge of delivering business presentations is knowing how the performances have been received by their audience, in other words gauging an understanding of how effective a presentation is.

Such challenges can be overcome with Prezi and the tool provides real-time analytics which provide businesses with feedback designed to put organizations in a better position to determine which topics and parts of the presentation resonated with their audience and what needs to be improved on. This feedback can be particularly beneficial to small businesses in helping them fine-tune their presentation delivery.

What is Prezi and Is it Right for Your Business?

Which Businesses Is Prezi Right For?

There are of course certain industries and professionals that have a particularly high use of presentations in order to sell their products or services and grow their brand. Such industries and professions include:

  • Training and leadership
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Thought leadership
  • Teaching and academics
  • Executive level

That said, if your small business regularly conducts presentations, then the Prezi platform could prove a pivotal asset in improving the performance and success of your presentations.

PowerPoint may have made presenting easier and more efficient, but company PowerPoint presentations can be all too routine and even mundane.

With Prezi you can inject some color, life and individuality into your presentations and reap the business benefits such informative, successful and collaborative presentations bring to small businesses wanting to nurture growth.

What is Prezi and Is it Right for Your Business?

Mastering the Art of Prezi Presentations

Now that we’ve introduced the power of Prezi, let’s delve deeper into strategies for creating impactful presentations with this innovative tool. Here’s how to master the art of Prezi presentations:

  • Embrace Nonlinear Storytelling : Prezi’s canvas offers the freedom to break away from linear narratives. Use this to your advantage by crafting presentations that allow your audience to explore content organically. Guide them through a journey that keeps them engaged and curious.
  • Visual Consistency : Maintain visual consistency throughout your Prezi presentation. Choose a color palette, fonts, and design elements that align with your brand’s identity. Consistency enhances professionalism and reinforces brand recognition.
  • Engage with Zooming : One of Prezi’s distinctive features is zooming. Use it strategically to zoom in on key points, emphasizing details and data. Zooming out can provide context or reveal the bigger picture. Keep your audience visually engaged with well-timed zooms.
  • Storyboard Your Prezi : Before diving into the canvas, create a storyboard or outline. Define the main points, transitions, and the order in which you’ll present them. This planning stage helps ensure your Prezi flows smoothly and logically.
  • Use Images and Visuals Effectively : Prezi’s canvas allows for rich visual content. Incorporate high-quality images, graphics, and videos that support your narrative. Visuals should enhance understanding and evoke emotions.
  • Keep It Concise : While Prezi offers flexibility, avoid overwhelming your audience with too much content on a single canvas. Maintain clarity and conciseness. Each canvas or zoomed-in section should focus on one key idea.
  • Test Your Prezi : Before presenting to your target audience, test your Prezi with a smaller group or colleagues. Ensure that all zooms, transitions, and embedded content work seamlessly. Address any technical issues in advance.
  • Engage with Audience Interaction : Leverage Prezi’s interactive features. Use clickable paths or buttons to allow your audience to navigate the presentation at their pace or answer polls and quizzes to boost engagement.
  • Storytelling is Key : Just like in traditional presentations, storytelling remains essential. Craft a compelling narrative that captures your audience’s attention, holds their interest, and conveys your message effectively.
  • Practice and Rehearse : Rehearse your Prezi presentation multiple times to become comfortable with the flow and transitions. Practice helps you deliver a confident and engaging presentation.
  • Gather Feedback : After each presentation, gather feedback from your audience. Understand what resonated with them and what could be improved. Continuously refine your Prezi skills based on insights.
  • Explore Advanced Features : As you become proficient with Prezi, explore advanced features such as custom animations, 3D backgrounds, and more. These can add layers of depth and creativity to your presentations.

What is Prezi and Is it Right for Your Business?

Creating Impactful Prezi Presentations

Crafting impactful Prezi presentations involves a strategic approach to content creation, design, and delivery. Here’s a focused guide to help you create presentations that leave a lasting impression:

  • Audience-Centric Content : Understand your audience’s needs, expectations, and interests. Tailor your Prezi presentation to address their pain points and deliver valuable insights.
  • Clear Storyline : Develop a clear and compelling storyline that flows seamlessly from one point to the next. Ensure that each element contributes to the overall narrative.
  • Visual Hierarchy : Use visual hierarchy techniques to guide the viewer’s attention. Employ size, color, and positioning to emphasize key points and maintain a cohesive visual flow.
  • Interactive Elements : Leverage Prezi’s interactive features like clickable paths, embedded surveys, and audience polls to engage your viewers actively.
  • Relevant Multimedia : Incorporate multimedia elements judiciously. Use videos, images, and graphics that enhance understanding and support your message.
  • Practice and Timing : Rehearse your presentation to ensure a smooth and well-paced delivery. Practice zooming in and out to create a dynamic experience without disruptions.
  • Feedback Loop : Seek feedback from colleagues or mentors to refine your Prezi. Fresh perspectives can help identify areas for improvement.
  • Simplicity is Key : Avoid overcrowding your canvas with too much information. Keep it clean and focused, allowing your audience to digest the content easily.
  • Transitions with Purpose : Use transitions sparingly and with purpose. Avoid overly flashy effects that can distract from the message.
  • Engage with Narration : If presenting remotely, consider adding a voiceover or live narration to guide viewers through your Prezi.
  • Accessibility Considerations : Ensure that your Prezi is accessible to all viewers, including those with disabilities. Use alt text for images and ensure proper contrast for readability.
  • Mobile Optimization : As many viewers may access your Prezi on mobile devices, optimize your presentation for mobile-friendly viewing.
  • Continual Improvement : After each presentation, assess the impact and gather feedback. Use these insights to refine future Prezi creations.

In the ever-evolving landscape of business presentations, Prezi emerges as a dynamic ally, offering the potential to transform your presentations from routine to remarkable. Its canvas-based approach, multimedia integration, and interactive features provide a platform for creativity and engagement.

With the ability to craft nonlinear narratives, maintain visual consistency, and foster real-time collaboration, Prezi empowers you to deliver presentations that resonate with your audience. It’s a tool for not just conveying information but for telling compelling stories, sparking discussions, and leaving a lasting impact.

As remote presentations become the norm, Prezi’s seamless remote presenting capabilities ensure that your message transcends physical boundaries, reaching and captivating a global audience.

The real-time analytics offered by Prezi grant you invaluable insights into audience reception, allowing you to continually refine and enhance your presentation skills.

In a world where presentations are an essential part of various industries and professions, Prezi proves itself to be an asset, not just for enhancing your presentations but for nurturing business growth and success.

So, whether you’re in sales, marketing, education, or any field that demands effective communication, Prezi offers the means to inject color, life, and individuality into your presentations. Embrace Prezi, master its art, and watch as your presentations evolve into engaging, impactful, and memorable experiences.

Image: Prezi

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Definitely a cool tool, but make sure you’re on your own machine to avoid issues. Powerpoint’s ubiquity is one of its main advantages.

I have tried Prezi before and it is great for presentations that have a big picture.

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The 11 Best Features of Prezi to Create Meaningful Presentations

Prezi offers some impressive features that can help you create compelling presentations. Here are some of them!

Prezi is an all-in-one communication and collaboration suite that takes care of slideshows, graphic designing, and even social media posts. It has features like Prezi Design, Prezi Video, and Prezi Present to make notable presentations.

In this article, we outline the features of Prezi that make you a master of presentations.

Open Canvas Slideshows

Prezi slideshow canvas is a fresh and more creative approach to slideshow making than any other apps. All the slideshow pages show up in one large canvas. The following features are essential in designing great presentations:

1. Zooming on Topics

Prezi calls individual slides topics. So, you can add multiple topics to increase the length of the presentation. Within each topic, you can add many subtopics. You can control how a subtopic appears and moves away within a slide by choosing different Subtopic layouts .

If you zoom onto a topic, that element will open as a new slide so that you can make fine adjustments. You can also zoom in on subtopics.

2. Free Movements

Unlike other slideshow makers, you don’t need to go back and forth to revisit the previous slide during the presentation. All you need to do is zoom out to maximum by scrolling up the mouse wheel, and then drag the canvas to pinpoint a topic that you want to revisit. Now, zoom in again to open that slide.

Related: Slideshow Design Mistakes You Should Avoid in Your Next Presentation

3. Zoom Reveal

In usual slideshow makers, all elements are visible on the slide unless you apply transitions. It's a time-consuming task. However, the Zoom Reveal feature of Prezi helps you show critical details as you keep unfolding the story.

Add multiple subtopics within primary topics. By zooming in on the subtopics, you can generate a creative effect of unfolding new facts as you go on with the presentation.

Drag-and-Drop Slideshow Building

Prezi makes slideshow making simple through their drag-and-drop slideshow editor. The following are the basic elements that you need to create a professional presentation:

You can use the Prezi Design tool to create informative charts and graphs. You can simply pick a pre-built infographic or chart from the canvas and edit that to meet your requirements. Furthermore, you’ll find many pre-built formats like Reports, Dashboards, Email Headers, Posters, Social Posts, etc.

5. Element Blocks

Prezi’s presentation builder looks kind of a modular tool. You’ve got everything that you need in the Explorer menu on the right side. All you need to do is choose the one you like and place it on the canvas. In this app, you don’t need to draw shapes from scratch.

You can right-click on the canvas to bring up the menu where you’ll find element blocks for text, image, and topic. On the same menu, you’ll see the option to modify the background. Prezi has an image library of royalty-free images for you to use.

You can further beautify the slideshow by applying custom color for the topics and subtopics. The Subtopic layouts enable you to customize the way topics appear on the final presentation.

The Prezi media library consists of royalty-free Photos , GIFs , and Stickers . When you click the Insert image option from the menu, the library appears automatically on the right-hand side.

You can drag-and-drop images or stickers to your canvas and customize them by right-clicking on any media. You may also upload your own media or embed videos from other sources to play them directly in the presentation slides.

7. Professional Branding

Branding is an essential part of your profession. Therefore, branding shouldn’t be a complicated task. That’s where Prezi becomes useful. From the Change colors option, you can access the right-side menu that shows many color palettes.

Click on the Create new icon to define your own brand color palette. When you create a second presentation, you can select this personalized palette to apply your brand design.

Related: How to Keep Your Branding Consistent With Adobe Spark

Smart Presentations

Don’t just present! Show your creativity, knack for technology, and professional body language when presenting in video meetings. That’s how smart the Prezi presentation is. Here are some of the features that help you along the way:

8. Slideshows on Video

Picture-in-picture mode for video call-based slides presentation could become boring. However, when your slideshow and you appear on the same screen, that’s way more interesting.

You get an elaborate presentation console where you can adjust slideshows and your video to maintain the flow. You can show gestures that perfectly sync with a certain figure or chart appearing on the screen or moving away.

9. Offline Presentation

If you need to present slides when there is no Wi-Fi connectivity, you can do that on Prezi. For offline presentation purposes, there is a desktop app that you can download on laptops.

You can also install the Prezi smartphone app on an Android or iOS mobile. Then you can download essential presentations from your account when you get the internet. Now, sync your mobile with your laptop by using the Start remote feature on the mobile app and present offline.

Download: Prezi for Windows | Android | iOS (Free)

10. Presenter Tools

Prezi offers smart tools to help you present effortlessly. It has different features for presentations like Presenter view, Live Prezi, and Voice-over.

Presenter view shows you talking points, prompts, and notes while you present the slide decks. You can only see this extra content on your device and not the audience. Live Prezi turns boring presentations into engaging live-streaming.

You can share a secured link within the target community so that the invitees can stream your presentations on their devices. Here, Voice-over helps you record the stepwise narration.

11. Analyze Presentation Performance

Prezi has an elaborate tool to give you an idea about your slideshow performance. The View Analytics tool helps you measure metrics like time spent, viewership, and shares. Here is how the slideshow analytics help different professionals:

  • Teachers can find out if the students are going through the slide decks or not. They can also know which students didn’t view the slides.
  • A freelance designer can discover if the public likes the slide decks or not by analyzing the views, shares, and total hours spent per viewer.

Present Ideas or Data in an Immersive Way

The above-mentioned features of Prezi enable you to create and present slideshows in a way that makes the audience happy. You’ll be able to communicate your data to the mass in an immersive set up where video, content, and design work hand in hand.

Like Prezi, there are other potential slideshow-making apps that you can also try out to choose the one that suits your style.

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Open Access

Peer-reviewed

Research Article

Does a presentation’s medium affect its message? PowerPoint, Prezi, and oral presentations

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliations Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America

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Affiliation Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America

Affiliation Minerva Schools at the Keck Graduate Institute, San Francisco, California, United States of America

  • Samuel T. Moulton, 
  • Selen TĂŒrkay, 
  • Stephen M. Kosslyn

PLOS

  • Published: July 5, 2017
  • https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774
  • Reader Comments

12 Oct 2017: The PLOS ONE Staff (2017) Correction: Does a presentation's medium affect its message? PowerPoint, Prezi, and oral presentations. PLOS ONE 12(10): e0186673. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186673 View correction

Table 1

Despite the prevalence of PowerPoint in professional and educational presentations, surprisingly little is known about how effective such presentations are. All else being equal, are PowerPoint presentations better than purely oral presentations or those that use alternative software tools? To address this question we recreated a real-world business scenario in which individuals presented to a corporate board. Participants (playing the role of the presenter) were randomly assigned to create PowerPoint, Prezi, or oral presentations, and then actually delivered the presentation live to other participants (playing the role of corporate executives). Across two experiments and on a variety of dimensions, participants evaluated PowerPoint presentations comparably to oral presentations, but evaluated Prezi presentations more favorably than both PowerPoint and oral presentations. There was some evidence that participants who viewed different types of presentations came to different conclusions about the business scenario, but no evidence that they remembered or comprehended the scenario differently. We conclude that the observed effects of presentation format are not merely the result of novelty, bias, experimenter-, or software-specific characteristics, but instead reveal a communication preference for using the panning-and-zooming animations that characterize Prezi presentations.

Citation: Moulton ST, TĂŒrkay S, Kosslyn SM (2017) Does a presentation’s medium affect its message? PowerPoint, Prezi, and oral presentations. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0178774. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774

Editor: Philip Allen, University of Akron, UNITED STATES

Received: November 2, 2016; Accepted: May 18, 2017; Published: July 5, 2017

Copyright: © 2017 Moulton et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All data files are available from the Open Science Framework https://osf.io/fgf7c/ .

Funding: This research was supported by a grant from Prezi ( http://www.prezi.com ) to SMK. In the sponsored research agreement (which we are happy to provide) and in our conversations with Prezi leadership, they agreed to let us conduct the study as we wished and publish it no matter what the results revealed. Aside from funding the research, the only role that any employees of Prezi played was (as documented in the manuscript) 1) to provide us with a distribution list of Boston-area Prezi customers (8 of whom participated in the first experiment) and 2) as experts in Prezi, review the background questionnaire to ensure that we were accurately describing Prezi’s purported benefits and features (just as PowerPoint and oral presentation experts did the same). No employees at Prezi had any role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. None of the authors have any professional or financial connection to Prezi or personal relationships with any Prezi employees. We do not plan to conduct any follow-up research on this topic or obtain future funding from Prezi. As evident in the manuscript, we took special care not to allow bias or demand characteristics to influence this research.

Competing interests: This research was supported by a grant to SMK from Prezi ( http://www.prezi.com ), a commercial funder. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

Introduction

How do the characteristics of a communication medium affect its messages? This question has been the subject of much philosophical and empirical inquiry, with some (e.g., [ 1 ]) claiming that the medium determines the message (“the medium is the message”), others (e.g., [ 2 ]) claiming that characteristics of a medium affect the message, and others claiming that the medium and message are separable (e.g.,[ 3 , 4 ]). As psychologists, we ask: What mental mechanisms underlie effective communication and how can presenters leverage these mechanisms to communicate better? These questions—at the intersection of psychology and communication practice—motivate this research.

That said, the relative efficacy of different communication media or technologies informs the primary questions of interest. If we can demonstrate that oral presentations are less or more effective than those that rely on presentation software—or that presenters who use one type of presentation software tend to be more effective than those who use another—then we advance our psychological and practical understanding of effective communication. Thus, in the tradition of use-inspired basic research [ 5 ]—and as a means to an end, rather than an end unto itself—we compare the effectiveness of three commonly-used formats for communication: oral, PowerPoint, and Prezi presentations.

We focused on presentations because they populate our academic, professional, and even personal lives in the form of public speeches, academic lectures, webinars, class presentations, wedding toasts, courtroom arguments, sermons, product demonstrations, and business presentations [ 6 – 8 ], and because basic questions remain about how to present effectively. Should we present with or without presentation software? If we should present with software, which software? We examined PowerPoint and Prezi because they are popular and psychologically interesting alternatives: Whereas PowerPoint’s linear slide format might reduce cognitive load, focus attention, and promote logical analysis, Prezi’s map-like canvas format and heavy reliance on animation (see the Background section and https://prezi.com for examples) might facilitate visuospatial processing, conceptual understanding, and narrative storytelling.

To inform the present research, we explore the methodological challenges of media research and review past research on presentation formats.

Methodological challenges of media research

To research the efficacy of different communication formats fairly and accurately, one must overcome two stubborn methodological challenges. First, because correlation is not causation and the variables that underlie media usage are heavily confounded, such research requires true experimentation. To study whether a blended learning “flipped classroom” is a more effective instructional medium than traditional lecturing, for example, researchers gain little insight by comparing outcomes for students who enroll in one type of course versus the other. To control for audience (in this case, student) self-selection effects, researchers need to 1) randomly assign audience members to different communication conditions (in this case, pedagogies) or 2) manipulate format within participants. Moreover, the same methodological controls need to be applied to presenters (in this case, instructors). Instructors who choose to teach with emerging, innovative methods probably differ in numerous other respects (e.g., motivation) from those who teach with more traditional methods. If students assigned randomly to a flipped classroom format perform better than those assigned randomly to a traditional classroom format, we risk drawing inferences about confounds instead of causes unless instructors are also assigned randomly to instructional media. To make strong, accurate inferences, therefore, researchers interested in communication must control for audience and presenter self-selection effects. Such control introduces new complexities; when randomly assigning presenters to formats, for example, one must ensure that all presenters receive sufficient training in the relevant format. Moreover, such control is often cumbersome, sometimes impractical, and occasionally unethical (e.g., randomly assigning students in actual courses to hypothetically worse instructional conditions). But there are no adequate methodological substitutes for proper experimental control.

A second thorny methodological challenge inherent in conducting media research concerns how to draw general inferences about formats instead of specific inferences about exemplars of those formats. For example, if one advertising expert is assigned randomly to design a print ad and another expert a television ad—and a hundred consumers are assigned randomly to view the television or print ad—can we actually infer anything about print versus television ads in general when the two groups of consumers behave differently? Arguably not, because such a finding is just as easily explained by other (confounding) differences between the ads or their creators (e.g., ratio of print to graphics, which sorts of people—if any—are shown, and so forth). In other words, even with proper random assignment, researchers who intend to study different forms of communication risk merely studying different instances of communication. Statistically speaking, one should assume a random not fixed effect of the communication objects of interest (e.g., presentations, lectures, advertisements). To overcome this challenge and draw generalizable inferences, one must (at the very least) sample a sufficiently large set of examples within each medium.

Research on presentation software

Methodological shortcomings..

Considerable research has been conducted on how different presentation formats (particularly PowerPoint) convey information (for review, see [ 9 ]). However, much of this research is anecdotal or based on case studies. For example, Tufte [ 10 ] claims that PowerPoint’s default settings lead presenters to create bulleted lists and vacuous graphs that abbreviate arguments and fragment thought. And Kjeldsen [ 11 ] used Al Gore’s TED talk on climate change as a positive example of how visuals can be used to effectively convey evidence and enhance verbal communication.

Research that goes beyond mere anecdote or case study is plagued by the aforementioned methodological shortcomings: failure to control for audience self-selection effects (71% of studies), failure to control for presenter self-selection effects (100% of studies), and a problematic assumption of fixed effects across content and presenters (91% of studies). As is evident in Table 1 , no studies overcame two of these shortcomings, let alone all three. For example, in one of the most heavily-cited publications on this topic Szabo and Hasting [ 12 ] investigated the efficacy of PowerPoint in undergraduate education. In the first study, they examined whether students who received lectures with PowerPoint performed better on a test than students who received traditional lectures. Students were not assigned randomly to lecture conditions, however; rather, the comparison was across time, between two cohorts of students enrolled in different iterations of the same course. Any observed outcome difference could have been caused by student or instructor variables (e.g., preparedness), not lecture format. The fact that no such differences were found does not obviate this concern: Such differences may in fact have been present, but were overshadowed by confounding characteristics of students or instructors. In the second study, the authors varied presentation format within the same cohort of students, but confounded format with order, time, content, and performance measure: student performance was compared between lectures on different days, on different topics, and using different tests. As the authors themselves note, the observed differences may have had nothing to do with PowerPoint. In the third study, they counterbalanced lecture order and content; some students received a PowerPoint lecture first and others a traditional lecture first, and the same topics were presented in both formats. However, students were assigned to conditions based on their course enrollment, not randomly, but more importantly the study included only four presentations, all by one presenter. Any advantages of the two PowerPoint lectures (none were found) might have been particular to those instances or that presenter and not representative of the format more generally.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t001

Most studies—even those that control experimentally for audience self-selection—relied on only a single self-selected presenter, and some relied on only one presentation per format. In one study ([ 13 ]: Experiment 1), for example, one of the authors varied the format of his lecture instruction randomly across the semester, using transparences or PowerPoint slides. In another study [ 14 ], students who were enrolled in one of the authors’ courses were assigned randomly to a PowerPoint or Prezi e-lecture that contained identical audio narration and written text. In a third study [ 15 ], one of the researchers gave the same lecture over the course of the year to rotating medical students, using PowerPoint on odd months and overhead slides on even months. What reason is there to think that we can make general claims about presentation format based on studies of single lectures or single presenters? That is, how can we reasonably assume fixed as opposed to random effects? If the use of presentation software does meaningfully influence student learning or experience, surely that effect is not constant across all presenters or presentations—some instructors use it more effectively than others, and within any format some presentations are more effective than others (see [ 16 ]). And how can we assume that presenters who select both the content and format of their presentations are not designing them in ways that favor one format over another?

Research on the efficacy of presentation software has numerous other flaws, most notably the failure to control for experimenter effects or demand characteristics. In 82% of studies we identified, for example, the researchers investigated their own instruction and studied their own students. It is difficult to imagine that one would make these instructional and research efforts (e.g., creating new course material, conducting a field experiment) without a strong belief in the efficacy of one format over the other, and it is plausible (if not likely) that such beliefs would influence students or confound instructional format with instructional effort and enthusiasm.

Another common issue is the confounding of lecture format with access to study materials—in studies that contrast PowerPoint with traditional lecturing (e.g., [ 17 – 19 ]), students in the PowerPoint condition (but not the control condition) sometimes have access to PowerPoint slides as study material. This access could bias student motivation, behavior (e.g., attendance), course satisfaction, and performance (see [ 20 ]).

PowerPoint: Performance, perception, and persuasion.

Despite their methodological shortcomings, what are the findings of this research literature? The majority of studies examined the use of PowerPoint in higher education and measured both objective and subjective outcomes (see Table 1 ). They typically involved students enrolled in one or more of the researchers’ courses, and contrasted the efficacy of lectures (or whole lecture courses) that used PowerPoint with those that used a more traditional technology (e.g., blackboards, overhead projectors). In terms of student performance, their findings were notably mixed: Of the 28 studies we identified, 17 found no effect of PowerPoint lectures relative to traditional lectures ([ 12 ]: Experiments 1,3; [ 13 , 15 , 21 – 33 ]), 9 found a performance benefit of PowerPoint over traditional instruction ([ 12 ]: Experiment 2; [ 17 – 19 , 34 – 38 ]), and 2 found a performance benefit of traditional over PowerPoint instruction [ 39 , 40 ].

There is near consensus in the literature, however, when it comes student perception: Of the 26 studies we identified, 21 found that students preferred PowerPoint over traditional instruction ([ 12 ]: Experiment 1; [ 13 , 17 – 19 , 21 , 23 , 25 , 26 , 28 , 29 , 31 – 33 , 35 , 39 , 41 – 45 ]), 2 found that students preferred traditional over PowerPoint instruction [ 40 , 46 ], and 3 other studies found no preference for one or the other formats [ 15 , 22 , 37 ]. As one example, Tang and Austin [ 45 ] surveyed 215 undergraduates in business courses about their general perceptions of different lecture formats; on measures of enjoyment, learning, motivation, and career relevance, they found that students rated lectures with PowerPoint slides more favorably than lectures with overheads or without visual aids. An additional 7 studies did not contrast student perceptions of PowerPoint with another technology—they simply surveyed students about PowerPoint; these studies all found that students had, on average, favorable impressions of PowerPoint-based instruction [ 36 , 47 – 52 ].

In addition to these studies of how presentation software impacts student performance and perception, two studies examined PowerPoint‘s impact on audience persuasion. Guadagno, Sundie, Hardison, and Cialdini [ 53 ] argue that we heuristically use a presentation’s format to evaluate its content, particularly when we lack the expertise to evaluate the content on its merits. To test this hypothesis, they presented undergraduates with key statistics about a university football recruit and asked them to evaluate the recruit’s career prospects. The same statistics were presented in one of three formats: a written summary, a graphical summary via printed-out PowerPoint slides, or a graphical summary via animated PowerPoint slides (self-advanced by the participant). Participants shown the computer-based PowerPoint presentation tended to rate the recruit more positively than other participants, and there was some evidence that this effect was more pronounced for football novices than for experts. The findings of this study suggest that some presentation formats may be more persuasive than others, perhaps because audience members conflate a sophisticated medium with a sophisticated message.

In the second study to examine the impact of PowerPoint on persuasion, Park and Feigenson [ 54 ] examined the impact of video-recorded presentations on mock juror decision-making. Participants were more persuaded by attorneys on either side of a liability case when the attorney used PowerPoint slides as opposed to merely oral argument. They also remembered more details from PowerPoint than oral presentations, and evaluated both attorneys as more persuasive, competent, credible, and prepared when they presented with PowerPoint. Based on mediation analyses, the researchers argue that the decision-making benefit of PowerPoint results from both deliberative and heuristic processing (“slow” and “fast” thinking, respectively, see [ 55 ]).

Both of these studies, however, share the methodological limitations of the educational research on PowerPoint. The first study [ 53 ] used only one PowerPoint presentation, and the second [ 54 ] used only two. The presentations used were not selected at random from a larger stimulus pool but instead were created by researchers who hypothesized that PowerPoint would enhance presentations. But even if the presentations had been sampled randomly, the sample is too small to allow one to generalize to a broader population. In studying performance, perception, or persuasion, one cannot reasonably assume that all presentation effects are equal.

Prezi: A zoomable user interface.

Released in 2009, Prezi has received generally favorable reviews by researchers, educators, and professional critics [ 56 – 60 ]. With a purported 75 million users worldwide, it is increasingly popular but still an order of magnitude less so than PowerPoint (with as many as one billion users; [ 61 ]). Like PowerPoint and other slideware, Prezi allows users to arrange images, graphics, text, audio, video and animations, and to present them alongside aural narration to an in-person or remote audience. In contrast to PowerPoint and other slideware in which users create presentations as a deck of slides, Prezi users create presentations on a single visuospatial canvas. In this regard, Prezi is much like a blackboard and chalk. But unlike a physical blackboard, the Prezi canvas is infinite (cf. [ 62 ]) and zoomable: in designing presentations, users can infinitely expand the size of their canvas and can zoom in or out. When presenting, users define paths to navigate their audience through the map-like presentation, zooming and panning from a fixed-angle overhead view.

Like Google Maps or modern touchscreens, Prezi is an example of what scholars of human-computer interaction label a zoomable user interface (ZUI). These interfaces are defined by two features: They present information in a theoretically infinite two-dimensional space (i.e., an infinite canvas) and they enable users to animate this virtual space through panning and zooming. Some of the original ZUIs were used to visualize history, navigate file systems, browse images, and—in the Prezi predecessor CounterPoint—create presentations [ 63 , 64 ].

As communication and visualization tools, ZUIs in general and Prezi in particular are interesting psychologically for several reasons. First, they may take advantage of our mental and neural architecture, specifically the fact that we process information through dissociable visual and spatial systems. Whereas the so-called “ventral” visual system in the brain processes information such as shape and color, the “dorsal” spatial system processes information such as location and distance [ 65 – 68 ]. When working in concert, these systems result in vastly better memory and comprehension than when they work in isolation. For example, in the classic “method of loci” individuals visualize objects in specific locations; when later trying to recall the objects, they visualize navigating through the space, “seeing” each object in turn. This method typically doubles retention, compared to other ways of trying to memorize objects [ 69 , 70 ]. Similarly, in research on note-taking, students learned more when they used spatial methods than when they used linear methods (e.g., [ 71 ]). Mayer’s multimedia learning principles and evidence in their favor also highlight the importance of spatial contiguity [ 72 ].

Thus, by encouraging users to visualize and process information spatially, ZUIs such as Prezi may confer an advantage over traditional tools such as PowerPoint that do not encourage such visuospatial integration. As Good and Bederson [ 64 ] write: “Because they employ a metaphor based on physical space and navigation, ZUIs offer an additional avenue for exploring the utilization of human spatial abilities during a presentation.”

Furthermore, ZUIs may encourage a particularly efficacious type of spatial processing, namely graphical processing. In graphical processing, digital objects (or groups of objects) are not just arranged in space, they are arranged or connected in a way makes their interrelationships explicit. Randomly placing animal stickers on a blank page, for example, engages mere spatial processing; drawing connecting lines between animals of the same genus or arranging the animals into a phylogenetic tree, however, engages graphical processing. Because ZUIs force users to “see the big picture,” they may prompt deeper processing than software that segments content into separate spatial canvases. By facilitating such processing, ZUIs may leverage the same learning benefits of concept maps and other graphical organizers, which have been studied extensively. For example, in their meta-analysis of the use of concept maps in education, Nesbit and Adesope [ 73 ] found that these graphical representations (especially when animated) were more effective than texts, lists, and outlines. By requiring one to organize the whole presentation on a single canvas instead of a slide deck, therefore, Prezi may prompt presenters (and their audiences) to connect component ideas with each other, contextualize them in a larger narrative, and remember, understand, and appreciate this larger narrative. Slideware, on the other hand, may do just the opposite:

PowerPoint favours information that can be displayed on a single projected 4:3 rectangle. Knowledge that requires more space is disadvantaged 
 How to include a story on a slide? Distributing the associated text over several slides literally breaks it into fragments, disturbing its natural cohesion and thus coherence 
 PowerPoint renders obsolete some complex narrative and data forms in favour of those that are easily abbreviated or otherwise lend themselves to display on a series of slides [ 74 ] (p399)

Of course these arguments are speculative, and one can also speculate on the psychological costs of ZUI or benefits of standard slideware. Perhaps PowerPoint does confer some of same spatial processing benefits of Prezi—after all, slides are spatial canvases, and they must be arranged to form a narrative—but in a way that better manages the limited attentional resources of the presenter or audience. Our point here is simply that Prezi, as a ZUI presentation tool, offers a psychologically interesting alternative to standard deck-based slideware, with a range of possible advantages that could be explored empirically to discover the psychological mechanisms of effective communication.

Like the PowerPoint literature, most of the published literature on Prezi is limited to observational reports or case studies. Brock and Brodahl [ 75 ] evaluated Prezi favorably based on their review and students’ ratings of course presentations. Conboy, Fletcher, Russell, and Wilson [ 76 ] interviewed 6 undergraduates and 3 staff members about their experiences with Prezi in lecture instruction and reported generally positive experiences. Masood and Othman [ 77 ] measured the eye movements and subjective judgments of ten participants who viewed a single Prezi presentation; participants attended to the presentation’s text more than to its other components (e.g., images, headings), and favorably judged the presentation. Ballentine [ 78 ] assigned students to use Prezi to design text adventure games and reported benefits of using the medium. Two other studies [ 79 , 80 ] surveyed college students about their course experiences with Prezi, and both reported similarly positive perceptions.

All of these studies, however, suffer from major demand characteristics, due to the fact that the researchers observed or asked leading questions of their own students about their own instruction (e.g., “Do you find lectures delivered with Prezi more engaging then[sic] other lectures?”, from [ 79 ]). Moreover, all suffer from the methodological limitations discussed earlier.

Other literature that addresses Prezi is purely theoretical and speculative: In discussing the pedagogical implications of various presentation software, Harris [ 81 ] mostly just describes Prezi’s features, but does suggest that some of these features provide useful visual metaphors (e.g., zooming in to demonstrate otherwise hidden realities). Bean [ 82 ] offers a particularly compelling analysis of PowerPoint and Prezi’s histories, user interfaces, and visual metaphors, and argues that Prezi is the optimal tool for presenting certain types of information (e.g., wireflow diagrams).

The experimental literature on Prezi is limited to three published studies. Castelyn, Mottart and Valcke [ 14 ] investigated whether a Prezi e-lecture with graphic organizers (e.g., concepts maps) was more effective than a PowerPoint e-lecture without graphic organizers. Claiming that Prezi encourages the use of graphic organizers, they purposefully confounded the type of presentation software with the presence of graphic organizers. Undergraduates randomly assigned to the different e-lectures did not differ in their knowledge or self-efficacy gains, but did prefer the graphically-organized Prezi lecture over the PowerPoint control lecture. In a follow-up study [ 83 ], the same researchers assigned undergraduates to create Prezi presentations that did or did not use graphic organizers, and found no effects of this manipulation on students’ self-reported motivation or self-efficacy. Chou, Chang, and Lu [ 24 ] compared the effects of Prezi, PowerPoint and traditional blackboard instruction on 5 th graders’ learning of geography. Whereas the Prezi group performed better than the control group (which received blackboard instruction) in formative quizzes and a summative test, the PowerPoint group did not; however, on a delayed summative test, both Prezi and PowerPoint students performed better than those in the control group. In direct comparisons of PowerPoint and Prezi, there were no differences in any of the learning measures. Taken together, the studies are not just limited in number: They present uncompelling findings and suffer from the same methodological shortcomings of the PowerPoint research.

The current study

In short, the extant literature does not clarify whether presenters should present with or without visual aids—and, if the latter, whether they should use standard deck-based slideware such as PowerPoint or a ZUI such as Prezi. One of the reasons why these basic questions remain unanswered is the methodological challenges inherent in comparing different presentation formats. We designed the current study to overcome these challenges.

To control for individual differences among presenters, we randomly assigned presenters to different presentation conditions. To control for individual differences among audience members, we used a counterbalanced, within-participants design for the first experiment, and between-participants random assignment in the second experiment. And to draw general inferences about the impact of presentation format—instead of specific inferences about particular presenters or presentations—we sampled from a large number of presentations, each created by a different presenter. Our methods have their own challenges, such as recruiting participants sufficiently trained in all presentation methods, allowing presenters adequate preparation time and context, approximating the psychological conditions of real-world presentations, and measuring the “signal” of presentation format among the added “noise” of so many presenters and presentations. In addition, the studies had to be double-blind: Neither presenters nor audience members could be aware of any hypotheses, and had to be free from any sorts of confirmation bias conveyed by the investigators.

To focus on presentations as a form of presenter-audience communication and limit the number of confounded variables, we purposefully controlled for other possible impacts of presentation software on professional practices or outcomes, including 1) the use of presentation artifacts (e.g., PowerPoint files, printed-out slides, online Prezis), and 2) facilitated collaboration among presentation designers. Unlike other research (e.g., [ 32 , 33 ]) we did allow for the possibility that presentation format not only affects how audiences perceive presentations, but also how presenters design or deliver them (e.g., by increasing their conceptual understanding of the topic, or decreasing their cognitive load during live narration; cf. [ 84 ]). In other words, presentation technologies might affect the cognition of both the audience and the presenter, so we designed the present studies to accommodate both sets of mechanisms.

To maximize the real-world relevance of this research, we relied on multimedia case materials from Harvard Business School [ 85 ]; these materials recreate the actual professional circumstances in which presentations are typically used. Because presentations are designed commonly both to inform and convince audiences, we examine outcome measures of learning as well as persuasion. And to minimize demand characteristics, we avoided the typical flaws of existing research (e.g., researcher-designed presentations, the researchers’ students as research participants) and adopted several countermeasures (e.g., recruitment language and participant instructions that obscured the research hypotheses, between-participant manipulation).

We adopted a two-phased approach in this research. In the first phase, participants with sufficient experience in oral, PowerPoint, and Prezi presentation formats were randomly assigned to create a presentation in one of those formats. We provided the necessary context, instruction, and time to create a short but realistic presentation. Participants then presented live to an actual audience, who judged each presentation’s efficacy. In the second phase, recorded versions of these presentations were presented to a larger online audience, affording us greater statistical power and allowing us to measure the impact of presentation format on decision-making and learning.

Experiment 1

Participants..

We recruited presenter participants via online postings (on Craigslist, the Harvard Psychology Study Pool, the Harvard Decision Science Lab Study Pool), email solicitations to the local Prezi community, and campus flyers. To create the fairest comparison between PowerPoint and Prezi, we recruited individuals who “have expertise in using both PowerPoint and Prezi presentation software.” Interested individuals were directed to a prescreening survey in which they reported their experience with and preference for giving different types of presentations. Only individuals who reported that they were “not at all experienced” with PowerPoint, Prezi or giving oral presentations were excluded from research participation. Out of the 681 respondents who completed the prescreening survey, 456 of them were eligible and invited to sign up for an available timeslot. Out of this group, 146 individuals—105 from the Harvard study pools, 33 from Craigslist, and 8 from the Prezi community—participated as presenters in the study and were compensated $40 for approximately two hours of their time. There were no significant differences between the three presentation groups on any demographics variables.

We also recruited 153 audience participants from the Harvard Decision Science Lab Study Pool and Craigslist using the following announcement:

Do you use Skype? Does your computer have a large screen (13 inches or larger)? If so, you may be eligible to participate in a 45 minute long online study. In this study, you will watch professional presentations over Skype from home on your personal computer.

Anyone who responded to the recruitment notice was eligible, provided that they were available during one of the prescheduled testing sessions. Audience participants were compensated $10 for approximately 45 minutes of their time. Table 2 presents demographic information for the presenter and audience participants. This study was approved by the Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (Study #IRB14-1427), and all participants in both experiments provided written consent.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t002

Presenter procedure.

Presenter participants completed a survey remotely before attending the in-person, group sessions with other participants. In the online pre-survey, presenters first answered basic demographic questions (gender, age, education level, English fluency, and occupation). Next, they answered questions about their prior experience with, opinions about, and understanding of the different presentation formats (oral, Prezi, and PowerPoint). This section was prefaced with the following note:

A note on language: When we use the term "presentation," we mean a formal, planned, and oral presentation of any duration, including a public speech, an academic lecture, a webinar, a class presentation, a wedding toast, a sermon, a product demonstration, a business presentation, and so on. Examples of things we do NOT mean are: a theatrical performance, an impromptu toast at dinner, and any presentation with no audience. When we say PowerPoint presentations, we mean presentations that were made using Microsoft PowerPoint, not other software such as Apple's Keynote. When we say Prezi presentations, we mean presentations that were made using Prezi presentation software. Also, when we refer to "oral presentation", we mean a presentation that is only spoken and does not include any visual aids or the use of presentation software.

Participants were asked the following questions for each type of presentation:

  • How experienced are you at making the following types of presentations? [5-level rating]
  • When you give a presentation, how effective are the following types of presentations for you? [5-level rating, with “not applicable” option]
  • When somebody else gives a presentation, how effective are the following types of presentations for you? [5-level rating, with “not applicable” option]
  • How difficult is it for you to make the following types of presentations? [5-level rating, with “not applicable” option]
  • In the last year, approximately how many of the following types of presentations did you make? [free response]
  • In your lifetime, approximately how many of the following types of presentations have you made? [free response]
  • For approximately how many years have you been making the following types of presentations? [free response]

As part of the expertise-related measures, we also asked the participants to identify the purported advantages and disadvantages of each presentation format, according to its proponents and critics, respectively. For PowerPoint and Prezi, we asked participants to identify whether or not it had particular functionalities (e.g., the capacity to record narration, create custom backgrounds, print handouts). Finally, participants viewed three sets of four short Prezi presentations and rank-ordered them from best to worst. In each set we manipulated a key dimension of Prezi effectiveness, according to its designers: the use of zooming, the connection of ideas, and the use of visual metaphor.

Presenter participants were tested in person at the Harvard Decision Science Lab, and randomly assigned to one of the three groups: Prezi, PowerPoint, or oral presentation. A total of 50 data collection sessions were held. In each session, there were typically three presenter participants (one for each presentation format); as a result of participants who failed to arrive or overbooking, there were ten sessions with only two presenters and six sessions with four presenters.

After providing informed consent, participants completed an online survey (in the lab) in which they rank-ordered three sets of recorded example PowerPoint and oral presentations. Identical in form to the example Prezi presentations they judged in the pre-survey, these short presentations were designed to assess their understanding of effective presentation design by manipulating a key aspect specific to each format. For PowerPoint presentations, we manipulated the use of text, use of extraneous “bells and whistles,” and graph design; for oral presentations, the three dimensions were verbal behavior, nonverbal behavior (other than eye contact), and eye contact. In selecting these dimensions (and those for Prezi), we consulted with a variety of experts, including software designers, speaking coaches, and researchers.

Next, presenters were shown material from a multimedia case created for and used by the Harvard Business School. Specifically, they were told the following (the company featured in the business case will be referred to anonymously here as “Company X” to respect their contractual agreement with the school):

For the next two hours, you are going to pretend to be the chief marketing officer of i-Mart, a large chain of retail stores. i-Mart recently made an offer to [Company X] to sell their products in i-Mart stores. Your boss, the CEO of i-Mart, has asked you to make a presentation to [Company X]’s leadership that persuades them to accept i-Mart’s offer. In your presentation, you will need to argue that accepting i-Mart’s offer is in [Company X]’s strategic interests, and address any concerns they may have about how accepting the offer might affect their corporate identity.
As a participant in this study, your primary job today is to prepare and then deliver this presentation. The presentation will be very short (less than 5 minutes) and made live (via Skype) to an audience of participants who are playing the part of [Company X] executives. Before you start planning your presentation, you will first learn more about [Company X] and how they’re thinking about i-Mart’s offer.

On their own computer workstation, participants studied the multimedia case for 30 minutes and were invited to take notes on blank paper provided for them. The multimedia case material included video and textual descriptions of Company’s X’s corporate culture, business model, and constituent communities.

Following this study period, participants were given 45 minutes to create a presentation in one of three randomly assigned presentation formats: PowerPoint, Prezi, or oral. To assist participants in the PowerPoint and Prezi conditions, we provided them with a set of digital artifacts including text, data, and graphics related to the case. Participants were not told that other participants were asked to present in different formats, and the workstations were separated from each other to prevent participants from discovering this manipulation.

After this preparation period, participants were taken individually (in a counterbalanced order) to another room to present to a live audience via Skype. For PowerPoint and Prezi presentations, we shared each participant’s presentation with the audience via screen sharing; thus they viewed both the presenter and the presentation. For those presenters who consented, we also recorded their presentations for future research purposes. After making their presentations, presenters completed a final survey about their presentation (e.g., “How convincing do you think your presentation will be to [Company X’s] board members”), the corporate scenario (e.g., What do you think [Company X] should do?”), and their presentation format (e.g., “How likely are you to recommend the presentation tool or presentation format you used to others to make professional presentations?”).

Audience procedure.

Audience participants completed the entire experiment remotely and online. Their participation was scheduled for the end of the presenter sessions so that the in-lab presenters could present live to a remote audience via Skype. We recruited between three and six audience participants per session, although participants who failed to arrive or Skype connectivity issues resulted in some sessions with only one or two audience participants: Five sessions had one participant, twelve sessions had two participants, sixteen sessions had three participants, eleven sessions had four participants, four sessions had five participants, and two sessions had six participants.

Individuals who responded to the recruitment notice completed a consent form and three online surveys prior to their scheduled Skype session. The first survey was a slightly modified form of the presenter pre-survey (demographics, background on presentation formats, rank-ordering of example Prezis) in which they also scheduled their Skype session. In the second survey, audience participants were told that they were “going to play the role of a corporate executive listening to several short business presentations,” and that their task was “to evaluate the quality of these presentations, each made by another participant engaged in a similar role-playing scenario.” They were then shown a brief video and textual description of the fictionalized corporate scenario (an abridged version of what presenter participants studied), and told the following:

You are a board member for [Company X], an innovative clothing company. Another company, i-Mart, wants to sell [Company Y’s products] in its stores. You and your fellow board members must decide whether or not to accept i-Mart's offer.

And in the third survey they rank-ordered the three sets of recorded example PowerPoint and oral presentations.

At the time of the scheduled session, the audience participants logged into Skype using a generic account provided by the research team, and were instructed to turn on their webcams and put on headphones. Once the first presenter participant was ready to present, the experimenter initiated the group Skype call, confirmed that the software was functioning properly, invited the presenter into the room to begin, left the room before the start of the presentation, monitored the presentation remotely via a closed-circuit video feed, and re-entered the room at the presentation’s conclusion. For Prezi and PowerPoint presentations, Skype’s built-in screen-sharing function was used to share the visual component of the presentation; audience participants viewing these presentations were instructed to use the split-screen view, with windows of equal size showing the presenter and the accompanying visuals.

Immediately after viewing each presentation, participants evaluated it via an online survey. They rated each presentation on how organized, engaging, realistic, persuasive, and effective it was using a five-level scale with response options of not at all , slightly , somewhat , very , and extremely . They were also invited to offer feedback to the presenter on how the presentation could be improved. After the final presentation, participants rank-ordered the presentations on the same dimensions (e.g., effectiveness, persuasiveness). Halfway through the experiment we added a final question in which we asked participants to rank-order PowerPoint, Prezi, and oral presentation formats “in terms of their general effectiveness, ignoring how well individual presenters (including today's) use that format,” and to explain their rank-ordering.

Prior experience and pre-existing beliefs.

Participants’ prior experience with and pre-existing beliefs about each presentation format provide a baseline that informs the research findings. If presenter participants had more experience with and more positive beliefs about one format than the others—and those assigned to that format induced more positive assessments from the audience members than did those assigned to the other formats—then the results are less compelling than if there was no correlation between these baseline measures and the experimental outcomes. The same applies to audience participants: Are they merely judging presentations according to their initial biases? Conversely, the results are most compelling if there is a negative association between the baseline measures and the experimental findings. For this reason—and to check that presenters assigned to the different formats did not happen to differ in these baseline measures—we analyzed participants’ prior experience with and pre-existing beliefs about PowerPoint, Prezi, and oral presentation formats.

Both audience and presenter participants were least experienced with Prezi and most experienced with oral presentations. At the outset, they rated PowerPoint as the most effective and easiest to use to present material and Prezi as the least effective and most difficult to use to present. For watching presentations, audience participants rated PowerPoint most effective and oral presentations least effective, but rated Prezi as more enjoyable than other formats. For watching presentations, presenter participants did not find any format more effective than the others. Table 3 presents full descriptive and inferential statistics for all self-reported measures of prior experience with and preexisting beliefs about Prezi, PowerPoint, and oral presentations.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t003

Presenters assigned to different formats did not differ in their experience with or pre-existing beliefs about presentations formats. They also did not differ in how well they identified the purported advantages and disadvantages of each presentation format, how well they identified the software features of PowerPoint and Prezi, or how accurately they could identify effective presentations of each format.

Audience ratings.

In term of their prior experience with and pre-existing beliefs about presentation formats, both audience and presenter participants were biased in favor of oral and PowerPoint presentations and against Prezi. After presenters were randomly assigned to these different formats, how did the audience evaluate their presentations?

In examining how presentation format affected the audience’s ratings of the presentations, two complications arose. First, sessions with two presentations were missing one presentation format, and sessions with four presentations had two presentations of the same format. To address this complexity we only conducted pairwise comparisons of different formats (e.g., PPT versus oral) instead of omnibus tests, and—for those sessions with four presentations—we averaged ratings for the two same-format presentations. To be certain that the differing number of presentations per session did not somehow bias the results even after adopting these measures, we also conducted an analysis on the subset of sessions that had exactly three presentations.

Second, the number of audience participants per session ranged from one to six. In calculating descriptive statistics, some sessions would be weighted more heavily than others unless ratings were first averaged across participants within the same session, then averaged across sessions. In calculating inferential statistics, averaging across ratings from different participants within the same session who received presentations in the same format was necessary to ensure that the sampling units were independent of each other, an assumption of all parametric and most nonparametric tests. In other words, for both descriptive and inferential statistics, we treated session (instead of participant) as the sampling unit.

As an empirical matter, this multi-step averaging—within participants across identical presentation formats, then across participants within the same session—had little impact on the condition means (i.e., the average ratings of PowerPoint, Prezi, or oral presentations on each dimension). Compared to the simplest, raw averaging of all ratings in one step, the maximum absolute difference between these two sets of means was .07 (on a 1–5 scale) and the mean absolute difference was .04.

To test whether the presentations’ format affected their ratings, therefore, we conducted paired t -tests for each rating dimension, with presentation format as the repeated measure and mean session rating as the dependent variable. Because we conducted three tests for each dimension—pairing each format with every other—we controlled for multiple comparisons by dividing our significance threshold by the same factor (i.e., α = .05/3 = .017). Results revealed that presentation format influenced audience ratings. In particular, the audience rated Prezi presentations as significantly more organized, engaging, persuasive, and effective than both PowerPoint and oral presentations; on a five-level scale, the average participant rated Prezi presentations over half a level higher than other presentations. The audience did not rate PowerPoint presentations differently than oral presentations on any dimension. Table 4 and Fig 1 present these results.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t004

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Audience members rated presentations on each dimension on a 5-level scale (1 = “not at all,” 5 = “extremely”). The figure shows session-level means from all available data, including those from sessions with two or four presentations.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.g001

By limiting the analysis to the 34 sessions with exactly three presentations (one of each format), we could ensure that the sessions with two or four presentations did not somehow bias the results. Moreover, this procedure enabled us to conduct omnibus tests of presentation format for each rating dimension. These omnibus tests revealed significant effects for organization, F (2,66) = 12.9, p < .0001, engagement, F (2,66) = 4.6, p = .01, persuasion, F (2,66) = 3.9, p = .03, and effectiveness, F (2,66) = 7.2, p = .001. The results from post-hoc tests (Fisher’s LSD) aligned with the original pairwise comparisons: On all dimensions, the audience rated Prezi presentations higher than PowerPoint and oral presentations, p s < .05; PowerPoint and oral presentations were not rated differently on any dimension, p s>.05. (Note: All p -values for pairwise tests here and elsewhere are two-tailed.)

To explore whether the obtained results were somehow the result of demand characteristics, we analyzed ratings from only the first presentation in each session. This analysis yielded the same pattern of findings, with a to-be-expected reduction in statistical significance due to the loss of power. On all four dimensions, a one-way, independent-measures ANOVA yielded significant or marginally-significant results: organized, F (2,49) = 5.1, p = .01; engaging, F (2,49) = 2.5, p = .09; persuasive, F (2,49) = 2.6, p = .09; and effective, F (2,49) = 5.8, p = .006. In all cases, Prezi was rated higher than oral and PowerPoint presentations (post-hoc LSD p s ≀.08).

On average, the audience rated the presentations as realistic, with a modal rating of “very realistic.” Our intent in including this rating dimension was merely to verify that our experimental protocol resulted in realistic rather than contrived presentations; we therefore did not test for differences in these ratings as a function of group differences.

Audience rankings.

As just noted, participants randomly assigned to present using Prezi were rated as giving more organized, engaging, persuasive, and effective presentations compared to those randomly assigned to the PowerPoint or oral presentation conditions. In addition, at the end of each session audience participants rank-ordered each type of presentation on the same dimensions used for the ratings. Here we ask: Did the audiences’ rank-orderings align with the ratings?

The same complexities with the ratings data—the variable number of conditions and audience participants per session—applied as well to the ranking data. We therefore adopted a similar analytic strategy, with one exception: we conducted non-parametric rather than parametric pairwise tests, given the rank-ordered nature of the raw data and distributional assumptions that underlie parametric tests.

Using the session-level mean ranks, we tested the effect of presentation format with three sets of Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. The results had the identical pattern as those from the ratings data: the audience rated Prezi presentations as significantly more organized, engaging, persuasive, and effective than both PowerPoint and oral presentation (all p s ≀ .006); the audience did not rate PowerPoint presentations differently than oral presentations on any dimension. Table 5 and Fig 2 present these results.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t005

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Audience members ranked the presentations from best to worst, with lower ranks indicating better presentations. The figure shows session-level means from all available data, including those from sessions with two or four presentations.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.g002

As with the ratings data, we also conducted omnibus tests of only those sessions with exactly three presentations to validate that unbalanced sessions did not somehow bias the results. These tests (Friedman ANOVAs) revealed significant effects for organization, exact p = .0005, engagement, exact p = .04, and effectiveness, exact p = .003; we found only a marginally significant effect for persuasion, exact p = .08. Post-hoc tests (Fisher’s LSD) showed that the audience ranked Prezi presentations higher than PowerPoint and oral presentations on all dimensions, p s < .05; PowerPoint and oral presentations were not ranked differently on engagement, persuasion, or effectiveness, p s>.05, but the audience did rank PowerPoint presentations as more organized than oral presentations, p = .04.

Audience omnibus judgments of effectiveness.

Before and after the experimental session, audience participants judged the general effectiveness of the three presentation formats. In the pre-survey, they rated each format on its effectiveness for them as presenters and audience members. In the post-survey, they rank-ordered the formats on their “general effectiveness” and were instructed to ignore “how well individual presenters (including today's) use that format.” Although the pre- and post-questions differed in their phrasing and response formats, they nonetheless afford us an opportunity to investigate if and how their judgments changed over the course of the experiment.

As already described (see Table 3 ), the audience began the experiment judging PowerPoint presentations as most effective for presenters and audiences. They ended the experiment, however, with different judgments of efficacy: A majority (52%) ranked Prezi presentations as the most effective, a majority (57%) ranked oral presentations as least effective, and a plurality (49%) ranked PowerPoint presentations second in effectiveness. A Friedman’s ANOVA test (on the mean rankings) confirmed that participants rated presentation formats differently, exact p = .00007. Post hoc analysis with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests revealed that the audience ranked both Prezi and PowerPoint presentations as more effective than oral presentations, ps ≀.003). They did not rank Prezi and PowerPoint presentations significantly differently ( p = .15). Fig 3 presents these results.

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Note: Means shown from pre-survey items are calculated based on responses from all participants (as opposed to only those who had experience with all presentation formats).

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.g003

In the pre-survey, some audience participants reported prior experience viewing Prezi presentations but others did not (i.e., those who selected the “not applicable” response option). Compared to participants with no prior experience watching Prezi presentations ( n = 34), participants with prior Prezi experience ( n = 117) rated PowerPoint presentations (but not oral presentations) as less effective, t (149) = 2.7, p = .007, mean difference = .47, and less enjoyable for them, t (149) = 2.9, p = .004, mean difference = .53. Thus, prior experience with Prezi was associated with negative pre-existing judgments of PowerPoint.

Audience correlates of presentation ratings and rankings.

What, if any, individual-level variables—demographics and baseline survey responses—correlated with the audience’s judgments of the presentations? If, for example, the more experience the audience had with Prezi, the worse they evaluated those presentations, such a correlation would suggest that the current findings reflect a novelty effect.

We did not find any significant relationships between the audiences’ prior experience with a given presentation format (presenter experience rating, number of years, number of presentations watched last year or lifetime) and their ratings or rank-orderings of that presentation format on any dimensions, all | r| s < .16. The only pre-existing audience beliefs about the presentation formats (presenter effectiveness, presenter difficulty, audience effectiveness, audience enjoyableness) that correlated with their ratings or rankings were for oral presentations: the more effective participants rated oral presentations for them as audience members before the experiment, the more effective they rated and ranked oral presentations in the experiment as engaging, r = .22 and .26, respectively, p s < .01.

Among demographic variables, only age showed reliable correlations with the audiences’ evaluations of presentations: the older the participant, the more effective they rated PowerPoint presentations, r = .23, p = .007, the more persuasive they ranked PowerPoint presentations, r = .24, p = .006, and the less organized and persuasive they rated oral presentations, r = -.32, p = .001, and r = -.21, p = .01, respectively.

Audience participants’ success in distinguishing better from worse presentations of each format (i.e., their rank-ordering of short expert-created examples) did not correlate with their evaluations of the experimental presentations, nor did it correlate with the audiences’ self-reported experience with each format.

Audience free response.

Although we cannot assume that participants understood the reasons behind their rank-orderings (cf. [ 86 ]), their explanations may nonetheless offer some insight into how they perceived different presentation formats. In explaining their rank-ordering of the presentation formats in terms of their general effectiveness, 8% of participants who preferred Prezi mentioned that it was new or different or that PowerPoint presentations were old or outdated . More commonly, they described Prezi as more engaging or interactive (49%), organized (18%), visually interesting , visually compelling , visually pleasing , sleek , or vivid (15%), or creative (13%). Of participants who preferred PowerPoint, 38% described it as more concise , clear , easy to follow , familiar , professional , or organized than the other presentation formats. An equal percentage explained their choice in terms of negative judgments of Prezi, including comments that Prezi was disorienting , busy , crowded , amateurish , or overwhelming . Participants who rank-ordered oral presentations as most effective remarked that they felt more engaged or connected with the presenter, could better give their undivided attention to the presentation (29%), valued the eye contact or face-to-face interaction with the presenter (14%), or found presentation software distracting (14%).

Presenter outcomes and correlates of success.

A series of one-way ANOVAs revealed that presentation format did not affect the presenters’ judgments about the business scenario (e.g., “What do you think [Company X] should do?”), self-reported comprehension of the business scenario (“How much do you think you understand the situation with [Company X] and i-Mart?”), or ratings of their own motivation (e.g., “This activity was fun to do”), self-efficacy (e.g., “I think I am pretty good at this activity”), effort (e.g., “I tried very hard on this activity), and effectiveness as presenters (“How convincing do you think your presentation will be to [Company X]’s board members?”); participants using different presentation formats also did not differ in their performance on the multiple-choice test about the business scenario, all p s >.05.

The presenter groups did differ in how inclined they were to recommend their presentation format to others (“How likely are you to recommend the presentation tool or presentation format you used to others to make professional presentations?”), F (2,144) = 4.2, p = .02, with presenters who used Prezi or PowerPoint being more likely to recommend their format than those who made oral presentations, LSD p = .03 and p = .007, respectively.

Presenter variables—including demographic characteristics and experience with their assigned format—generally did not predict their presentation success, either in terms of audience ratings or rankings. The one exception was that Prezi presenters who were better able to identify effective Prezi presentations were rated and ranked as giving more effective and engaging presentations, .008 < p s < .04.

Participants who were randomly assigned to present using Prezi were judged as giving more effective, organized, engaging, and persuasive presentations than those who were randomly assigned to present orally or with PowerPoint. This was true despite the fact that both audience and presenter participants were initially predisposed against Prezi. What might explain these findings?

One explanation is a novelty effect: Perhaps the audience preferred Prezi simply because it is relatively new to them. It appears that this was not the case, however: Only 8% of participants claimed that they preferred Prezi because it was new or different, and there was no significant relationship between the audiences’ experience with Prezi and their ratings or rank-orderings.

Another explanation for these results is that the presenters or audience members were somehow biased towards the Prezi presentations. Again, however, this appears not to be the case. The presenters were least experienced in Prezi, judged themselves least effective presenting with Prezi, and found Prezi presentations hardest to create. We recruited only a small minority (8%) of presenters based on their prior association with Prezi, and used the most conservative exclusion criteria feasible: only individuals without any experience with Prezi or PowerPoint were excluded from participating. All presenters were randomly assigned to their presentation format and were blind to the experimental manipulation. In recruiting audience participants, we did not mention Prezi or PowerPoint, and selected participants only based on their access to Skype and a sufficiently large computer screen. In addition, we minimized contact between the investigator and research participants, and presentations were never identified based on their format; at the end of the experiment, in fact, some participants did not even realize that they had seen a Prezi presentation (as evidenced by their free responses). Data were collected through standardized, online surveys, the investigator was not in the room with the presenter during his or her presentation, and the investigator interacted with the audience only briefly to set up their Skype session. Finally, an analysis of ratings from only the first presentations yielded the same results as the full analysis, making implausible an interpretation based on audience demand characteristics.

Thus, the most likely explanation is that individuals do, in fact, perceive Prezi presentations more favorably than PowerPoint or oral presentation. Experiment 1 has several limitations, however. First, because each audience participant in Experiment 1 was exposed to multiple presentations, we were unable to evaluate presentations on their ultimate goal: to convince the audience (role-playing Company X board members) to accept i-Mart’s business offer. In other words, Experiment 1 demonstrated that Prezi presentations are more effective than other formats in terms of audience perceptions but not decision-making outcomes. Second, we asked the audience about their pre-existing beliefs and prior experiences with PowerPoint, Prezi, and oral presentations at the beginning of the Experiment 1; although it is difficult to imagine how this questioning could have produced the obtained results—particularly given the nature of their pre-existing beliefs and prior experiments—it is a remote possibility. Third, just like the results from any single experiment, the findings of Experiment 1 should be treated cautiously until replicated. We designed a second experiment to address these limitations and extend the findings from the first experiment.

Experiment 2

In Experiment 2 we showed online participants a single presentation from Experiment 1, and varied randomly which type of presentation (Prezi, PowerPoint, or oral) they viewed. We also randomly assigned some participants to view a presentation on material that was not related to the case material; this control condition served as a baseline that allowed us to estimate the impact of each presentation format. To minimize demand characteristics, we asked participants about their experiences with different presentation formats at the conclusion of the experiment (instead of the beginning), and did not expose participants to multiple presentation formats. Finally, to investigate better the nature of participants’ perceptions about presentation effectiveness, we distinguished between perceptions about the presentation, the presenter, and the audiovisual component of the presentation.

We recruited native-English speaking participants via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk using the following language: “In this study, you will read a business case, watch presentations, assume a role, and make a decision.” They were compensated $4 for approximately one hour of their time. Excluding pilot participants who offered us initial feedback on the survey and protocol, 1398 individuals consented to and began the experiment. Of these, 16 participants were excluded because of evidence that they didn’t complete the task properly (e.g., answering a long series of questions identically, incorrectly answering a “trap” question), and 305 were excluded because they dropped out before completing all of the outcome measures, leaving 1069 participants in the final dataset: 272 in the Prezi group, 261 in the PowerPoint group, 275 in the oral presentation group, and 261 in the control group. The number of excluded participants did not covary with group assignment or demographic variables. Table 6 presents demographic information on the included participants.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t006

The main stimuli for this experiment consisted of recorded presentations from Experiment 1. For Prezi and PowerPoint presentations, these were split-screen videos showing the presenter on one side of the screen and the visuals on the other side. For the oral presentations, these were simply audiovisual recordings of the presenter.

Of the 146 presenter participants from Experiment 1, 33 either did not consent to being video-recorded or were not recorded due to technical difficulties. We therefore had a pool of 113 presentation videos to use for Experiment 2: 41 from the Prezi condition (out of a possible 50), 40 from the PowerPoint condition (out of possible 49), and 32 from the oral presentation condition (out of a possible 47). The proportion of presentations that were video-recorded did not vary with their format, exact p = .61.

Some of the recorded presentations from Experiment 1 were unusable because of intractable quality issues (e.g., inaudible speech, incomplete video, partially occluded presenter), leaving a total of 89 usable videos (34 Prezi, 28 PowerPoint, 27 oral). The proportion of videos removed because of quality issues did not vary with presentation format, exact p = .57.

We randomly selected 25 videos in each format, resulting in a total pool of 75 videos. Because of a URL typo that was not detected until after testing, one PowerPoint video was not presented and participants assigned that video were not able to complete the experiment. Video length varied by format, F (2, 71) = 4.2, p = .02, with PowerPoint and Prezi presentations lasted longer than oral presentations ( M = 5.9, 6.0, and 4.6 minutes, respectively).

We were concerned that we could have, perhaps unconsciously, selected better stimuli in the Prezi condition, which would have biased the results. To ensure that our judgments of major audiovisual problems and subsequent exclusion of some videos were not biased, we recruited a separate group of participants to rate the audiovisual quality of the 113 presentation videos. Using the following language, we recruited 455 individuals from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to serve as judges:

In this study you will judge the technical quality of three short videos. To participate you must have a high-speed Internet connection. We will compensate you $2 for 15–20 minutes of your time.

These participants were totally blind to the experimental hypotheses and manipulation. They completed the audiovisual rating task completely online via the Qualtrics survey platform, and were given the following instructions:

We need your help in determining the audiovisual quality of some Skype presentations we recorded. We want to know which presentations we can use for additional research, and which need to be eliminated due to major technical problems with the recordings. The sorts of technical problems that might exist in some of the videos are: incomplete recordings (the recording starts late or stops early), cropped recordings (the camera isn’t positioned properly), choppy or blurry video, and absent or inaudible audio.
You will watch a single presentation video. Please ignore any aspect of the recording other than its audiovisual quality. In particular, do not base your judgments on the presentation itself, including the presenter’s argument, appearance, or the nature of the accompanying slides. The only thing we care about is whether the audio and video were recorded properly.
Finally, please keep in mind that because these videos were recorded through Skype, even the best recordings are not very high quality.

These judge participants then watched a presentation video (selected at random), rated the quality of its audio and video (on a five-level scale from “very bad” to “very good”), and indicated whether or not there were “any major technical problems with the presentations audio or video”; those who reported major technical problems were asked to identify them.

To address any possibility of experimenter bias—which seemed unlikely, given that we designed the procedure from the outset to guard against such effects—we conducted a series of Presentation Format (Prezi, PowerPoint, oral) x Quality Judgment (inclusion, exclusion) ANOVAs to test 1) whether audiovisual quality was for any reason confounded with presentation format (i.e., the main effect of Presentation Format), 2) whether the excluded videos were indeed lower quality than the included videos (i.e., the main effect of Quality Judgment), and 3) whether our exclusion of videos was biased based on their format (i.e., the interaction between Presentation Format and Audiovisual Quality). We conducted the ANOVAs on the three measures of audiovisual quality collected from the independent judges: ratings of audio quality, ratings of video quality, and judgments of major audiovisual problems.

The results were straightforward: For all three dependent variables, there were no main effects of Presentation Format, p s > .13, but we did find a significant main effect of Quality Judgment (with included videos being judged better quality than excluded videos), all p s < .002, and did not find any interaction effects, all p s > .31. In other words, presentation format was not confounded with audiovisual quality, our judgments of quality corresponded to those of blind judges, and our exclusion of videos was unrelated to presentation format.

Participants completed the experiment entirely online through Qualtrics. After providing informed consent, and answering preliminary demographic and background questions (e.g., about their familiarity with business concepts and practices) they were told the following:

In this part of the study, you are going to play the role of a corporate executive for [Company X], an innovative clothing company. Another company, i-Mart, wants to sell [Company X’s] t-shirts in its many retail stores. You must decide whether or not to accept i-Mart's offer.
To help you make your decision, we will first provide you with some background on [Company X] and the i-Mart offer. You will see a series of short videos and text that describe relevant aspects of [Company X’s] origins, business model, practices, culture, and community. Please review this background material carefully.

Participants were then shown a series of brief video and textual descriptions of the fictionalized corporate scenario, including information on Company X’s business model, business processes, community, and culture. This material was an abridged version of what Experiment 1 presenter participants studied, but an expanded version of what Experiment 1 audience participants studied.

After viewing the multimedia case material, the participants were asked to identify what product Company X sells (a “trap” question to exclude non-serious participants) and to rate the background material on how engaging it was, how much they enjoyed it, how much they paid attention to it, and how difficult it was to understand.

Participants randomly assigned to the Prezi, PowerPoint, and Oral Presentation conditions were then told the following:

Now that you know a little bit about the company, you will watch a video presentation from another research participant. Just as you are playing the role of a [Company X] executive, the other participant is playing the role of i-Mart's Chief Marketing Office (CMO). In this presentation, he or she will try to convince you and your fellow [Company X] executives to accept i-Mart's offer.
Because this presentation is from another research participant playing the role of an i-Mart executive--and not an actual i-Mart executive--please disregard the presenter's appearance (clothing, age, etc). And because we did not professionally videorecord the presentation, please also try to disregard the relatively poor quality of the video compared to the videos you just viewed.
The purpose of this research is to understand what makes presentations effective. So please listen carefully and do your best to imagine that this is "real".

Identically to Experiment 1, participants rated the presentation on how organized, engaging, realistic, persuasive, and effective it was on a five-level scale from “not at all” to “extremely.” Using the same scale, these participants also rated the presenter on how organized, engaging, persuasive, effective, confident, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, professional, nervous, and boring he or she was.

Participants in the Prezi and PowerPoint groups were asked three additional questions. First, they were asked to rate the visual component of the presentation (i.e., the Prezi or the PowerPoint slides) on how organized, engaging, persuasive, effective, dynamic, visually compelling, distracting, informative, distinctive, and boring it was. Second, they were asked to rate whether the presentation had “not enough”, “too much” or an “about right” amount of text, graphs, images, and animations. And finally, there were asked to comment on the visual component of the presentations, including ways in which it could be improved.

All participants then summarized the presentation in their own words, with a minimum acceptable length of 50 characters. Participants were asked to rate how well they understood the “situation with [Company X] and I-Mart,” and to decide whether [Company X] should accept or reject i-Mart’s offer (on a 6-level scale, with the modifiers “definitely,” “probably,” and “possibly”).

In addition, we asked participants a series of recall and comprehension questions about the case. An example recall question is “According to the background materials and the presentation, approximately how many members does [Company X] have?”, with four possible answers ranging from 500,000 to 1.5 million. An example comprehension question is “According to the background materials, what is the biggest challenge [Company X] is facing?”, with possible answers ranging from “marketing” to “logistics.” These comprehension questions were based on the instructor’s guide to the business case material, and included open-ended questions (“Why do you think [Company X] should accept or reject i-Mart's offer?”). At this point we also asked another trap question (“What is 84 plus 27?”).

Finally, and after answering all questions about the business case and presentation, participants answered background questions about their experience with, knowledge of, and general preference for different presentation formats. They also rank-ordered the mini examples of Prezi, PowerPoint, and oral presentations in terms of their effectiveness. These background questions and tasks were the same as those used in Experiment 1.

Participants in the control condition completed the same protocol, with a few exceptions: First, instead of being shown presentations from Experiment 1, they viewed one of three instructional videos (matched for length with the Experiment 1 presentations). Before they viewed these videos they were told “Before you decide what to do about i-Mart's offer to [Company X], we would like you to watch an unrelated presentation and briefly answer some questions about it.” Second, they did not rate how realistic the presentation was, nor did they rate the visual component on how organized, engaging, persuasive, effective, dynamic, visually compelling, distracting, informative, distinctive, and boring it was. And finally, they did not complete the final set of background questions on the different presentation formats or rank-order the example presentations.

At the outset, participants rated oral and PowerPoint presentations as equally effective in general, and Prezi presentations as less effective than the other two formats. Just as we found in Experiment 1, participants rated themselves as more experienced and effective in making and oral and PowerPoint presentations compared to Prezi presentations. They also rated oral and PowerPoint presentations as more enjoyable and effective for them than viewing Prezi presentations. When asked how difficult it was to make the different types of presentations, they rated Prezi as more difficult than oral and PowerPoint presentations, and oral presentations as more difficult than PowerPoint ones. In terms of the number of presentations watched in the last year and in their lifetime—as well as the number of years of experience—they reported more experience watching oral compared to PowerPoint presentations, and more experience watching PowerPoint than watching Prezi presentations. The same pattern was true for their reported experience in making presentations, with one exception: They reported making more PowerPoint than oral presentations in their lifetime. Table 7 presents full descriptive and inference statistics for all self-reported measures of prior experience with and preexisting beliefs about Prezi, PowerPoint, and oral presentations. The experimental groups did not differ significantly on any of these variables.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t007

Most participants (78%) were either “not at all familiar” or “slightly familiar” with Company X, and the modal participant reported being “somewhat experienced” with “concepts and practices from the business world, such as strategy, innovation, product development, sales, and marketing.” The groups did not differ significantly on these variables, nor did they differ on demographic variables such as age, gender, or education.

For overall judgments of the presentations, participants rated Prezi as more organized, effective, engaging, and persuasive than PowerPoint and oral presentations, and rated PowerPoint no differently than oral presentations. They also rated Prezi presenters as more organized, knowledgeable, effective, and professional than PowerPoint presenters and oral presenters; Prezi presenters were not rated differently from other presentations on how nervous, boring, enthusiastic, confident, persuasive, or engaging they were, and PowerPoint presenters were rated no differently than oral presenters on all dimensions. In judging the visual components of the Prezi and PowerPoint presentations, the audience rated Prezi presentations as more dynamic, visually compelling, and distinctive than PowerPoint slides, and marginally more effective and persuasive.

Examining the magnitude of mean differences, some effects are clearly larger than others. Most notably, Prezi presentations are rated as most organized and visually dynamic, and Prezi presenters are rated as most organized. Fig 4 and Table 8 present the descriptive and inferential statistics, respectively, for these audience ratings.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t008

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Note: rating dimensions are ordered by the magnitude of the difference between Prezi and the other presentation formats; for dimensions with no significant differences between presentation formats, only the overall mean is displayed.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.g004

The modal participant rated the background case material on Company X as “very engaging” and “completely enjoyable,” reported “mostly” understanding the situation with i-Mart and Company X, and rated the presentations as “very realistic.” Seventy percent of participants expected to do “somewhat well” or “very well” when quizzed about the case. There were no significant group differences on any of these variables.

Audience decision-making.

Did the presentations actually influence participants’ core judgment of the business scenario and, if so, was one presentation format more effective than others?

Participants who received a Prezi presentation accepted i-Mart’s offer 53.7% of the time, participants who received a PowerPoint presentation accepted the offer 49.8% of the time, participants exposed to an oral presentation accepted it 45.5% of the time, and participants exposed to the control presentation accepted it 37.5% of the time (see Fig 5 ). In an omnibus test, these differences were significant, exact p = .002. Specific comparisons revealed that Prezi presentations were significantly more influential than control presentations, exact p = 0003, marginally more influential than oral presentations, exact p = .06, and no more influential than PowerPoint presentations, exact p = .39; PowerPoint presentations were significantly more influential than control presentations, exact p = .006, but not oral presentations, exact p = .34; oral presentations were marginally more influential than control presentations, exact p = .07. In order to investigate the impact of presentation software on decision-making, we contrasted the Prezi and PowerPoint groups with the oral presentation groups. We found a marginally significant effect, exact p = .06.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.g005

On the whole, therefore, the participants’ decision-making results were concordant descriptively (if not always inferentially) with the rating results.

If participants’ perceptions of the presentations and decisions about the case were both influenced by presentation format, then we would expect them to be associated with each other. And this is indeed what we found. Excluding participants in the control group (who did not make judgments about comparable presentations), those who rejected the i-Mart offer rated presentations as worse than those who accepted the i-Mart offer. This was true for 23 of the 24 rating dimensions (“visually boring” was the exception), with the largest effects for ratings of effectiveness and persuasiveness. Those who rejected the offer rated the overall presentation, visual aids, and presenter as less effective than those who accepted the offer, with effect sizes (Cohen’s d ) of .93, .83, and .78, respectively. These effects were consistent across formats, all interaction p s > .05.

We conducted an analogous set of analyses that preserved the original 6-level scale of the decision variable (“possibly accept,” “probably accept,” “definitely accept,” “possibly reject,” “probably reject,” “definitely reject”). These analyses produced qualitatively identical results, both in terms of decision-making as a function of group assignment and the correlation between decision-making and presentation ratings.

Memory and comprehension.

Participants’ performance on the four rote memory questions did not vary across conditions, nor did their correct identification (according to the case designers) of reasons to accept or reject the offer, with one exception: Compared to those in the treatment groups, control participants were more likely to identify Company X’s ability to meet production demand as a reason to reject the i-Mart, omnibus exact p = .00004.

Correlates of presentation outcomes.

There were no notable correlations between demographic variables and participants’ ratings or decisions. In particular, participants’ experience with or preexisting beliefs about each presentation format did not correlate with their ratings of the experimental presentations, mirroring the results from Experiment 1 (but with much greater statistical power). Presentation length or recording quality (as assessed by the independent judges) did not correlate with presentation outcomes.

Participants’ success in distinguishing better from worse presentations of each format—that is, their rank-ordering of short expert-created examples—correlated slightly with their evaluations of the presentations. Most notably, the better participants did on the rank-ordering PowerPoint task, the worse they rated PowerPoint (but not Prezi) presentations on visual dimensions; the same was true for the Prezi task and presentations. For example, participants’ performance in the PowerPoint task correlated negatively with their judgments of how “visually dynamic” PowerPoint presentations were, r = -.22, p = .0005, and participants’ performance on the Prezi task correlated negatively with their judgments of how “visually dynamic” Prezi presentations were, r = -.16, p = .009. Thus, individuals with more expertise in PowerPoint and Prezi were more critical of PowerPoint and Prezi presentations, respectively.

Audiovisual attributes of Prezi and PowerPoint presentations.

To understand the media attributes and psychological mechanisms that underlie the observed effects of format, we examined how participants’ judgments about amount of text, graphs, animations, and images in the presentations correlated with their judgments of the presentations, the visual component of the presentations, and the presenters themselves. To examine these relationships, we conducted one-way ANOVAs with the various ratings as the dependent variables, and participants’ judgments (“not enough,” “about right,” “too much”) about the amount of text, graphs, animations, and images in the PowerPoint and Prezi presentations as the independent variable. For nearly all (80 of 96) of these ANOVAs, the results were highly significant, p s < .001. In judging the amount of text, participants typically rated “too much” or “not enough” text as worse than an “about right” amount; in judging graphs, images, and animations, participants typically rated “too much” and “just right” both as equally better than “not enough.” Averaging across all rating dimensions, the text and graph effects were over twice as large as the animation and image effects; averaging across all attributes, the effects for visual ratings was over twice as large as the effects for presenter and overall ratings. Participants’ judgments about the media attributes of presentations did, therefore, relate to their overall assessments of the presenters and presentations.

Summing across PowerPoint and Prezi presentations, the modal participant indicated that there was the “about right” amount of text, graphs, animations, and images. Only 21% of participants thought there was not enough or too much text; for the other dimensions, this percentage ranged from 42–51%. More participants indicated that there was not enough text, graphs, and animations in PowerPoint presentations than Prezi presentations, with animation as the most distinguishing attribute. Table 9 presents the descriptive and inferential statistics for these variables.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t009

As shown in Table 10 , participants’ judgments about the audiovisual attributes of the Prezi and PowerPoint presentations were associated with the decision about the business scenario. Individuals who reported that there was not enough text, graph, animation, or images tended to reject the offer for i-Mart, whereas those who reported that there was the “about right” amount of those attributes tended to accept the offer. This effect was particularly pronounced for judgments of graphs and text. Participants who reported too much text also tended to reject the offer.

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https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.t010

In sum, participants’ perceptions of presenters and the presentations correlated with their evaluations of the amount of text, graphs, images, and animations that were included in the presentations. Presenters and presentations were rated worse if they had too much or not enough text, and not enough graphs, images, and animations; in terms of audience decision-making, presentations were less effective if they contained too much or not enough text, or not enough graphs, animations, and images. PowerPoint presentations were judged to have too little of all attributes, particularly animation.

Replicating results from Experiment 1, participants rated presentations made with Prezi as more organized, engaging, persuasive, and effective than both PowerPoint and oral presentations. This remained true despite participants’ preexisting bias against Prezi and the different context of Experiment 2: the audience did not view multiple presentations of different formats and presentations were prerecorded instead of live. Extending the Experiment 1 results, participants also judged Prezi presentations as better in various ways (e.g., more visually compelling, more dynamic) than PowerPoint presentations; participants even rated Prezi presenters more highly (e.g., more knowledgeable, more professional) than PowerPoint presenters.

In making decisions as corporate executives, participants were persuaded by the presentations. Compared to the baseline decisions of the control group, those in the treatment group shifted their decisions by 16.2%, 12.3%, and 8.0% depending on whether they viewed Prezi, PowerPoint, or oral presentations, respectively. The non- or marginal significance of some between-format comparisons (e.g., PowerPoint versus Prezi) is difficult to interpret. We hesitate to dismiss these differences as statistical noise given their general alignment with rating results, as well as the correlation between business decisions and presentation ratings (which do vary significantly with format). For the more objective outcome of decision-making, we can, at the very least, provisionally conclude that Prezi presentations are more effective than oral presentations, and that software-aided presentations are more effective than oral presentations.

We did not find any evidence that the presentations affected participants’ memory or understanding of the case, nor did we find evidence that certain presentation formats impacted learning more than others. Given the goals of the presentations and design of the experiment, however, we hesitate to draw any conclusions from these null results.

General discussion

The most important finding across the two experiments is easy to summarize: Participants evaluated Prezi presentations as more organized, engaging, persuasive, and effective than both PowerPoint and oral presentations. This finding was true for both live and prerecorded presentations, when participants rated or ranked presentations, and when participants judged multiple presentations of different formats or only one presentation in isolation. Results from Experiment 2 demonstrate that these presentations influenced participants’ core judgments about a business decision, and suggest that Prezi may benefit both behavioral and experiential outcomes. We have no evidence, however, that Prezi (or PowerPoint or oral presentations) facilitate learning in either presenters or their audience.

Several uninteresting explanations exist for the observed Prezi effects, none of which posit any specific efficacy of Prezi or ZUIs in general: namely, novelty, bias, and experimenter effects. We consider each in turn.

Novelty heavily influences both attention and memory [ 87 , 88 ], and the benefits of new media have sometimes dissipated over time—just as one would expect with novelty effects [ 3 ]. However, we found no evidence that novelty explains the observed benefits of Prezi: Participants who were less familiar with Prezi did not evaluate Prezi presentations more favorably, and only a small fraction of participants who favored Prezi explained their preference in terms of novelty. We therefore are skeptical that mere novelty can explain the observed effects.

We also considered the possibility that participants had a pre-existing bias for Prezi. This seems unlikely because presenter participants were selected based only on minimal experience with both PowerPoint and Prezi and were assigned randomly to the experimental groups; audience participants from both experiments were selected based merely on high-speed internet access, and the words “Prezi” and “PowerPoint” were not used in any audience recruitment material. In fact, both sets of participants entered the research with biases against Prezi, not for Prezi: They reported more experience with PowerPoint and oral presentations than Prezi, and perceived PowerPoint and oral presentations as more (not less) efficacious than Prezi. Thus, we reject the idea that the results simply reflect pre-existing media biases.

For many reasons, we also find it unlikely that experimenter effects—including demand characteristics (i.e., when participants conform to the experimenters’ expectations)—can explain the observed effects. First, at the outset we did not have strong hypotheses about the benefits of one format over the others. Second, the results are subtle in ways that neither we nor a demand characteristics hypothesis would predict: the effects on subjective experience diverged somewhat from the effects on decision-making, and there were no memory or comprehension effects. Third, the between-participants design of Experiment 2 (and between-participants analysis of Experiment 1 ) limited participants’ exposure to a single presentation format, thereby minimizing their ability to discern the experimental manipulation or research hypotheses. Fourth, we ensured that the presentations were equally high-quality; we did not unconsciously select Prezi presentations that happened to be higher quality than presentations in the other formats. Fifth, the random assignment of presenters to format limits the possible confounding of presenter variables with presentation formats or qualities; and no confounding with format was observed in presenters’ preexisting beliefs, prior experience, or demographics. And finally, in Experiment 2 we only explicitly mentioned or asked participants questions about Prezi, PowerPoint, and oral presentations at the conclusion of the experiment, after collecting all key outcome data.

We therefore conclude that the observed effects are not confounds or biases, but instead reflect a true and specific benefit of Prezi over PowerPoint or, more generally, ZUIs over slideware. If, however, these experimental effects merely reveal that Prezi is more user-friendly than PowerPoint—or that PowerPoint’s default templates encourage shallow processing by “[fetishizing] the outline at the expense of the content” [ 89 ] (pB26)—then we have learned little about the practice or psychology of communication. But if these effects instead reflect intrinsic properties of ZUIs or slideware, then they reveal more interesting and general insights about effective communication.

It is difficult to understand Prezi’s benefits in terms of user-friendliness because the odds were so clearly stacked in PowerPoint’s favor. Presenters were much more experienced in using PowerPoint than Prezi and rated PowerPoint as easier to use than Prezi. Especially given the task constraints—participants only had 45 minutes to prepare for a 5-minute presentation on a relatively new, unfamiliar topic—Prezi’s user interface would have to be improbably superior to PowerPoint’s interface to overcome these handicaps. Moreover, participants’ prior experience with PowerPoint or Prezi did not correlate with their success as presenters, as one would expect under an ease-of-use explanation. Finally, audience participants did not simply favor the Prezi presentations in an even, omnibus sense—they evaluated Prezi as better in particular ways that align with the purported advantages of ZUIs over slideware. This pattern of finding makes most sense if the mechanism were at the level of media, not software.

Participants’ evaluations of Prezi were particularly telling in three ways. First, in participants’ own words (from Experiment 1 ), they frequently described Prezi as engaging , interactive , visually compelling , visually pleasing , or vivid , and PowerPoint as concise , clear , easy to follow , familiar , professional , or organized . Second, in participants’ ratings (from Experiment 2 ), the visuals from Prezi presentations were evaluated as significantly more dynamic, visually compelling, and distinctive than those from PowerPoint presentations. And third, in judging the audiovisual attributes of presentations, participants’ identified animations as both the attribute most lacking in presentations and the attribute that most distinguished Prezi from PowerPoint; furthermore, the more a presentation was judged as lacking animation, the worse it was rated. Taken together, this evidence suggests that Prezi presentations were not just better overall, but were better at engaging visually with their audience through the use of animation. Because ZUIs are defined by their panning and zooming animations—and animation is an ancillary (and frequently misused) feature of slideware—the most parsimonious explanation for the present results is in terms of ZUIs and slideware in general, not Prezi and PowerPoint in particular. The medium is not the message, but it may be the mechanism.

The animated nature of ZUIs makes more sense as possible mechanism for the observed effects when one considers relevant literature on animation. Past research has shown that animation can induce physiological and subjective arousal (e.g., [ 90 , 91 ]) and facilitate attention, learning, and task performance (e.g., [ 92 – 94 ]; but see also [ 95 , 96 ]). Most pertinently, people appear to prefer animated media over static media. Participants rate animated online advertisements as more enjoyable, persuasive, effective, and exciting than static online advertisements [ 97 , 98 ], animated websites as more likeable, engaging, and favorable than static websites [ 99 ], and animated architectural displays as clearer than static displays [ 100 ]. In an experiment of online academic lectures, participants preferred whiteboard-style animations over a slideware-style version matched for both visual and audio content [ 101 ]. Moreover, ZUI’s use of animation aligns with recommended principles for using animation effectively in presentations, which include the creation of a large virtual canvas and the use of zooming to view detail [ 102 ]. Slideware, on the other hand, encourages the use of superfluous animation in slide transitions and object entrances/exits, despite evidence that adding such “seductive details” to multimedia presentations can be counterproductive [ 72 ].

Therefore, we not only conclude that audiences prefer Prezi over PowerPoint presentations, but also conclude that their preference is rooted in an intrinsic attribute of ZUIs: panning and zooming animations. Compared to slideware’s sequential, linear transitions (and oral presentations’ total lack of visual aids), zooming and panning over a virtual canvas is a more engaging and enjoyable experience for an audience.

From this perspective, the reason that participants rated Prezi presentations as more persuasive, effective, and organized than other presentations—and Prezi presenters as more knowledgeable, professional, effective, and organized than other presenters—was because they confuse media with messages and messengers. Dual-process models of persuasion contend that opinion change occurs through not just slow deliberations grounded in logic and reason but also through fast shortcuts rooted in associations and cues [ 103 – 106 ]. If better presenters with better arguments tend to give better presentations, then an audience’s experience while viewing a presentation may shade their judgments about its presenter or argument. This is the same basic logic of research that demonstrates PowerPoint’s persuasion advantage over oral presentations [ 53 , 54 ]. Just as audiences appear more persuaded by slideware than by oral presentations, they also appear more persuaded by ZUI than by slideware presentations. But unlike past research, we do not argue that audience members use technological sophistication as a cue for argument quality [ 53 ] or presenter preparedness [ 54 ]; instead, we suggest that they use their subjective viewing experience as a heuristic for judging both presentations and presenters. Because ZUI presentations are more engaging than slideshows, ZUI presentations and presenters are judged more positively than slideshows.

Concluding remarks

Media research, including research into presentation software, is plagued methodologically by a lack of experimental control, the unjustifiable assumption that media effects are constant across individuals and content, and a failure to account for the biases of all involved: the presenters, the audiences, and the researchers. In the research reported here we strived to overcome these challenges by randomly assigning presenters and audience members to competing presentation formats, blinding them to the experimental manipulations, and sampling a sufficient array of presentations within each format.

Our conclusions about the advantages of ZUIs (such as Prezi) over slideware (such as PowerPoint) and oral presentations are, of course, tentative. Further research will need to replicate the findings across different presentation contexts, clarify whether the subjective benefits of ZUIs over slideware result in decision-making or behavioral advantages, and better investigate the precise media attributes responsible for these advantages. Like others [ 107 ], we caution against technological determinism: Presentation medium is but one of many factors that determine presentation success, and presentations that rely on any given medium can succeed or fail. Because slideware can be used to zoom and pan over a virtual canvas just as ZUIs can be used to create slideshows, the benefits of ZUIs over slideware are ultimately based on affordances: How much do certain formats encourage or enable psychologically advantageous media attributes, such as zooming and panning animations?

In many ways, it is surprising that we found any effects of presentation medium. The presentations differed in many ways aside from their format, ways that surely influenced their effectiveness: Each presentation was made by a different person (sampled from a diverse pool of participants), presenters chose what content to include in their presentation, and presenters decided how to convey that content within their assigned format. Under real-world circumstances in which presentations of different formats are actually contrasted with each other, we expect this background “noise” to be greatly reduced and impact of format correspondingly greater.

Supporting information

S1 file. experiment 1 audience pre-survey..

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.s001

S2 File. Experiment 1 audience post-survey.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.s002

S3 File. Experiment 1 presenter pre-survey.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.s003

S4 File. Experiment 1 presenter post-survey.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.s004

S5 File. Experiment 2 audience post-survey.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178774.s005

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Erin-Driver Linn, Brooke Pulitzer, and Sarah Shaughnessy of the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching for their institutional guidance and support, Nina Cohodes, Gabe Mansur, and the staff of the Harvard Decision Sciences Laboratory for their assistance with participant testing, Michael Friedman for his feedback on pilot versions of the study protocol, and Tom Ryder for his support in adapting the multimedia case for research purposes.

Author Contributions

  • Conceptualization: SMK ST STM.
  • Data curation: ST STM.
  • Formal analysis: ST STM.
  • Funding acquisition: SMK ST STM.
  • Investigation: ST.
  • Methodology: SMK ST STM.
  • Project administration: ST STM.
  • Resources: ST STM.
  • Software: ST STM.
  • Supervision: SMK ST STM.
  • Validation: SMK ST STM.
  • Visualization: STM.
  • Writing – original draft: STM.
  • Writing – review & editing: SMK ST STM.
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  1. How To Use Prezi, Prezi Tips, Facts

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  5. LIVE : How to create Prezi Style powerpoint presentation? Best Prezi

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  6. A Day With Prezi Presentation

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COMMENTS

  1. Prezi: What is Prezi?

    Prezi is a web-based tool for creating presentations (called prezis for short). It's similar to other presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint, but it offers some unique features that make it a good alternative. In recent years, it has become popular in schools and businesses.

  2. Prezi

    Prezi is an American video and visual communications software company founded in 2009 in Hungary, with offices in San Francisco, Budapest and Riga as of 2020. [1] According to Prezi, in 2021, the software company has more than 100 million users worldwide [2] who have created approximately 400 million presentations.

  3. What is Prezi and How Can it Be Used to Teach? Tips & Tricks

    Prezi is a presentation tool that uses different media types to help make whatever is being shown as engaging as possible. This is specifically targeted at education, as well as business users. The free version offers lots of functionality, but there are more features on the education-specific tiered payment options.

  4. How to use Prezi: Learn Prezi with how-tos, videos, and examples

    Inspiration. Recommended videos See how other users use Prezi Video to engage their audiences. Reusable presentations Browse some of our favorite presentations and copy them to use as templates. Reusable infographics Customize the content in these infographics to create your own works of art. Presentation templates Get a big head start when creating your own videos, presentations, or infographics.

  5. How To Use Prezi, Prezi Tips, Facts

    Prezi is a cloud-based presentation application that lets you use different motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to create visual representations of your ideas. Interestingly, it's based on an infinite canvas.

  6. How to make a presentation: Tips + resources

    You can make a stunning presentation using Prezi Present, a software that helps you create interactive presentations that pull your audience in and get them invested in what you have to say. Use Prezi's unique zooming feature to add movement to your presentation.

  7. Everything you need to know about multimedia presentations

    A multimedia presentation is a computer-based presentation that uses various forms of media to effectively communicate and engage an audience. In today's fast-paced world, multimedia presentations have emerged as one of the most powerful and impactful means of communication.

  8. Mastering the basics of Prezi Present

    Prezi Present is the perfect tool to create unique, creative presentations that keep your audience engaged. Here's everything you need to know about using the editor and creating your first presentation. Get started quickly with designer templates

  9. Presentation Styles: Engage, Inform & Inspire

    Classic presentation style. The classic style of presentation serves as the foundation for many public speeches and business presentations. It follows a structured and logical approach, with a clear introduction, main points, and conclusion. This style often utilizes bullet points, accompanied by concise explanations.

  10. What is Prezi and Is it Right for Your Business?

    This integration fosters improved business productivity and communication. Seamless Remote Presenting. In the era of remote work, Prezi enables seamless remote presentations, offering high-definition viewing without the need for screen sharing software. It supports effective communication with remote teams and clients.

  11. Prezi examples: The best videos, presentations, and designs

    Prezi examples: The best videos, presentations, and designs | Prezi Learn > Prezi examples Prezi examples View examples of videos, presentations, and graphics that were built on Prezi. See the best work from people in the Prezi community and learn how they did it. Examples, stories, and tips The best videos of 2020 Blog The "Big Ideas" of 2021 Blog

  12. The 11 Best Features of Prezi to Create Meaningful Presentations

    Read More. Prezi is an all-in-one communication and collaboration suite that takes care of slideshows, graphic designing, and even social media posts. It has features like Prezi Design, Prezi Video, and Prezi Present to make notable presentations. In this article, we outline the features of Prezi that make you a master of presentations.

  13. Discover Prezi

    Literally. Say goodnight to the slide software of yesteryear and wake up your audience with Prezi. Meet just a few of our 100 million customers. The science of effective presentations In a study of Prezi vs. PowerPoint, Prezi was: +12.5% More organized 16.4% More engaging +21.9% More persuasive +25.3% More Effective

  14. Presentations and videos with engaging visuals for hybrid teams

    A presentation that works for you Present in-person Have the confidence to deliver a memorable presentation with presenter notes and downloadable presentations. Present over video conference Keep your audience engaged by putting yourself in the center of your presentation. Get started Prezi AI Your own ideas, ready to present faster

  15. Create an interactive presentation: Prezi software for interactive

    Prezi provides hundreds of templates to help you create interactive presentations. Get started with one of our professionally designed presentation templates, then customize it with your own content, plus your branding if you're a Teams customer. Social media strategy Presentation template Budget planning Presentation template My presentation

  16. What is Prezi Video?

    Welcome to Prezi Video, a brand new video creator that puts you right alongside your content as you live stream or record, for a seamless and personalized experience that keeps viewers hooked. With Prezi Video, you are being featured next to your content, explaining and interacting with it to engage your viewers.

  17. Does a presentation's medium affect its message? PowerPoint, Prezi, and

    Participants (playing the role of the presenter) were randomly assigned to create PowerPoint, Prezi, or oral presentations, and then actually delivered the presentation live to other participants (playing the role of corporate executives). Across two experiments and on a variety of dimensions, participants evaluated PowerPoint presentations ...

  18. Prezi and PowerPoint

    Advantages. The advantage of Prezi is that it is a new fresh way of presenting information. If your presentation is created properly, you will be sure to captivate your audience attention. You can be more creative and free when telling stories and you can be more responsive to your audience by zooming in on the items that are of interest to them.

  19. Adding and editing content in Prezi Present

    Here are all the types of content you can add and edit in your presentation with Prezi Present. When creating a new presentation in Prezi Present, you have a variety of options to make it your own. All the pre-added elements of our templates are customizable and if necessary, you can also remove any element and add your own content instead. 🚧.

  20. Prezi

    Create a presentation that will "wow" your audience "See ya later PowerPoint." Present the way the human brain works. Try Prezi for free Get engaged from the very start Using visuals and movement instead of static text, Prezi catches and keeps your audience's interest. Jump freely from topic to topic, focusing on the material you want to cover.

  21. What is Prezi Design?

    Meet Prezi Design, a cloud-based graphic design tool that lets anyone create and share dynamic designs and data visualizations with ease! Create eye-catching social media posts, share results with interactive infographics or dashboards, and produce engaging animated visualizations.

  22. What is Prezi Present?

    What is Prezi Present? We're excited to show you Prezi Present, our new presentation editor that lets you edit your Classic presentations without Adobe Flash. As Adobe has decided to stop supporting Flash, products that were built on it, like Prezi Classic, will no longer function after 2020. In anticipation of these and the millions of ...

  23. Prezi Features

    HD. Quality matters, so present remotely with the best resolution possible. With Live Prezi, you'll be able to deliver your next presentation directly from your computer in high definition. Present remotely in crisp HD Upgrade now