Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prezi: An Innovative Presentation Application

When one thinks of presentation software generally, the thought tends to drift immediately to PowerPoint, within the MS Office Application Suite. While one agrees that PowerPoint has its merits, it is not the beginning and end of all presentations: there are various other applications available which can do an similar or an even better job of presenting your work. gives a whole list of alternatives that can be used and these include Google Docs, Ajax, Thinkfree and Zoho. (The full list can be accessed online at One such free, web based presentation application is Prezi.

Prezi is a web-based presentation application and story-telling tool. Instead of using the traditional slides which come one after the other, Prezi gives the user a single canvas which can be filled with words, pictures and videos. The user can fill up the canvas as he or she desires; then, one has to create links from one "item" to the next, to create a free-flowing presentation. The result is a non-linear presentation, where users can zoom in or out of a visual map. The end result can be quite stunning visually. Prezi also allows multiple users to work on the same presentation (by email invitation), making it an excellent collaboration tool.

The video below explains in brief what Prezi is all about:

Getting Started

To start using Prezi, you need to first create an account. Prezi offers three types of accounts: Public, Enjoy and Pro. Public is the only free service available, and apart from allowing limited online space, all presentations created will be visible and searchable by other Prezi users. On the other hand, Prezi offers special student/teacher licenses, which give an immediate upgrade in storage of 500MB. This is possible by registering to Prezi with an email account which can be traced back to an educational institution, such as teacher's .educ and .gov accounts. After you register for the first time, you will be asked to log into the email account you have used when registering and click on the confirmation email which is automatically sent by Prezi.

Your First Prezi

To start your first Prezi, go to to, log in using the email you have registered with and your newly created password, and click on New Prezi on the top right hand side of the screen. You will be presented with a new window where you can input the title of your Prezi together with a short description. After this is done, you will be able to start working. Your screen should look something like this:

  1. A huge white canvas, with the words Click anywhere to add an idea in the middle of the screen;
  2. The transformation menu on the top left hand side of the screen;
  3. Save/Print/Exit menu on the top of the screen;
  4. Zoom in/out menu on the right hand side.

To start writing, click anywhere (litteraly) and start typing away. A text box will automatically open and your will be able to write your message. The text within each text box can be changed in an autonomous way. After you have entered your text and clicked on Ok to save it, you will be able to access it again either by double clicking and re-opening the text box, or else by clicking once and opening the Transformation Zebra.

The Transformation Zebra - Move-Scale-Rotate

The transformation Zebra is a dynamic menu system used by Prezi. By clicking once on the word or item of choice, it will open up and allow you to zoom in, out, delete, duplicate, bring an object to the front or relegate it to the back of the canvas. By moving the scroll button on the mouse, you will be able to zoom in or out of the text box; by clicking on the "X" you will be able to access all the other options. The Transformation Zebra is pivotal to the correct usage of Prezi.

Adding onto your Prezi

Of course, adding textboxes to Prezi is only the beginning of the journey. Click on the transformation menu on the top left hand side of the screen, and choose Insert. From here, you will be able to insert pictures, videos (from your disk or from an URL) or draw shapes with the freehand drawing tool.

To insert a picture or video from your disk, click on Insert > Load File. A standard file browsing window will open, from which you will be able to select the desired file. Alternatively, to add video content which is already online to your Prezi, click anywhere on the canvas to open a text box, and copy and paste the URL of the desired video from YouTube or any similar video repository.

You can also change the fonts and colours of your presentation. Click on the transformation menu and then on Colours and Fonts. You will be able to change the way your presentation looks; however for the moment this is limited only to about 10 templates.


Of course the most important feature of Prezi, which puts it ahead of its game, is the ability to create paths between your words, pictures and videos. The path will determine the order of the information being presented. One can also zoom in or out of specific words and pictures by using Frames.

To create paths, simply click on the transformation menu, and then on Paths. By clicking on each individual item - text, picture, video - you will be able to generate the order in which the items will appear on your screen one after the other. Numbers will appear on each newly created path so that you can tell at a glance which item will come after which. If you wish to delete a path, simply drag the path (where the number is written) out of the text box, video or picture.

If you wish to zoom onto a specific parts of the text, you may also create frames by clicking on the transformation menu and then on Frames. You will be able to select specific parts of a picture and zoom in directly onto it by creating a new path for the frame.

Saving and Downloading your Prezi

As soon as you have finished editing your Prezi, you can preview it by clicking on Show from the transformation menu. When you are happy with the results, click on Save on the top menu, and then on Exit. You will be taken to the Prezi dashboard.

From here, you have several options at your disposal, which are accessible from the menu on the left hand side of the screen:
  • Edit Prezi: to edit your existing presentation;
  • Save a copy: to create a backup of your prezi;
  • Download: to download a copy of your prezi for offline viewing - however, bear in mind that if your prezi contains online material, such as videos from YouTube, they will not work without an Internet connection;
  • Delete: to delete a prezi from the online repository (make sure that you have downloaded it for future use first).

Collaboration with others

Like other Web 2.0 tools, Prezi allows great collaboration between groups of people who will be able to work together on the same presentation. You will be able to get a link and share the Prezi by email, or embed it onto your website or blog. But best of all, Prezi allows you to invite editors to work together with you on your presentation. Click on Get Link to get your presentation's link, on Embed to grab the code and or on Invite Editors to invite your collaborators to work with you. You will be able to work hand-in hand with your colleagues or friends on this innovative presentation software.

Sites to remember:


Examples of other free, online presentation software:

NB I would like to thank Franco for teaching me how to use Prezi, and Jeffrey for having the patience to repeat :)

1 comment: