OS Compatibility: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS, Windows 7
Prezi.com is one of one of a new generation of cloud-based presentation apps that overturns almost every idea you have about presentations. Prezi uses Adobe’s Flash technology to create animated presentations with a few clicks and drags. Instead of creating a series of separate slides, you put all your content—text, graphics, captions—on a single canvas, and then you trace a path from one item to another.
As you create and edit your Prezi presentation, each item that you add to the canvas can be moved, resized, or rotated, and you can change the overall look of the presentation by clicking on a gallery of styles. When you or anyone else views your presentation in a browser, what they see is an animated tour of the canvas, instead of a series of slides. The browser first zooms in on the first item in the path you created, then it zooms out again, then in again on the second item, and so on for each remaining item, until it reaches the end of the path. The whole effect is far closer to high-end graphics on a TV commercial than a boring set of bullet point slides.
The site offers three different services. The free “Public” service lets you create and share cloud-based presentations. A $59-per-year “Enjoy” service lets you create private presentations that can only be viewed or edited by people you select. A $159 “Pro” service adds the ability to create a presentation on your desktop, instead of on the Prezi site. Students and teachers can get the “Enjoy” service free and the “Pro” service for $59 per year.
A Prezi.com presentation is called—you guessed it—a Prezi, and they’re easy and even fun to create after you get used to the Flash-based interface that has no traditional menus, only a set of blobby-looking buttons with labels like “Write” and “Show.”
I created my first Prezi a few seconds after signing up for a free account and logging into a portal page. I clicked on a New Prezi button and entered a name and brief description for my presentation. An editing canvas then opened in my browser, with a line of text in the center saying “Click anywhere & add an idea.” I clicked, and a box opened in which I could type some text. Controls above and below the box let me change paragraph layout and choose between three different font styles.
After clicking OK, I could move the text around the page by dragging it. By clicking on the text, I made a striped disk appear over it; this is what Prezi.com calls its “zebra”—a control that you use to rotate or resize any text or graphic item. A plus sign on the zebra leads to further controls such as Delete and Duplicate. It takes a few clicks to get used to this system, and a click on the Help button at the upper right of the screen provides detailed how-to information. More…
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