Moving past PowerPoint: Prezi and KnowledgeVision

by Lee Hopkins on March 8, 2011 · 7 comments

in clippings,public speaking

A long discussion on Facebook started by Heidi Miller about the pros and cons of PowerPoint and Keynote introduced me to another presentation tool, Prezi.

On the same day, I received an email from Michael Kolowich, founder and CEO of KnowledgeVision.

The two tools — Prezi and KnowledgeVision — are not in competition with each other. One, Prezi, is primarily aimed at live presentations; KnowledgeVision is aimed at web-based presentations.

What makes them both similar is their ability to zoom in and out.

A 'desktop' around which you move Watch a Prezi demonstration and you get giddy and disoriented (well, I did) as you pan and zoom around a large area. But it definitely *is* an exciting new way of presenting information in a manner that will ‘wow’ the audience (assuming you pre-warn them about turbulence and the need to keep their seatbelts fastened [grin]).

Here’s a ‘live’ Prezi ‘presentation’, created by Adam Somlai-Fischer, the creator of Prezi. Click on the arrow at the bottom of the presentation once to load it, then again to move around. You can zoom in and out if you like, by first hovering your mouse over the right hand side of the player.

The KnowledgeVision viewer screen Watch the KnowledgeVision presentation and you see the usual deathly-dull PowerPoint presentation with uninspiring stock images that we usually see on a once-per-fortnight basis. Or at least I do. But what gives KnowledgeVision some of the same sort of ‘wow’ power as Prezi is its ability to have your audience  focus on the key element — the slides, the video, the handout material, etc., — when you wish them to. They see them all, but the ‘focus’ of control (pardon the pun, a play on ‘locus of control’) is in your hands.

Click on this image to view a presentation about the Gulf Oil Spill on the KnowledgeVision siteAlas, you cannot embed KnowledgeVision presentations onto other webpages (at least as how I could see from a quick glance), but click on the screen grab to view ‘In Deep Water’, a presentation from Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences about the BP/Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Check them both out, if you haven’t already, and see if they can help you deliver your message in a new and exciting way that cuts through the noise of traditional ‘death by PowerPoint/Keynote’ presentations. But judging from the feedback I’m getting from my Twitter peers, I can foresee a Prezi or two in my future…

  • Martijn van Steenis

    Prezi is really a nice tool to use. I give workshops about Prezi and a lot of people are very enthusiastic about the possibilities. One heads-up though; when you want to use Prezi, take it easy on the panning and zooming. To much of this will only get your audience nauseas and disoriented. Try to keep the zooming functional by mostly using images of the same size (this will keep Prezi ‘on the same level’) and you’ll be good to go.. Good luck!

  • Lee Hopkins

    Excellent advice, Martijn, thanks!

  • Stark

    Hmm, haven’t use Prezi but with this information you have here it is really interesting to use. Gotta change my PowerPoint to this tool for my future seminars.

  • Sarah Thomas

    Hey Lee, nice post, as always. I caught the tail end of the Prezi buzz on Twitter last week which prompted me to take another look at it.

    I’d dismissed it at first a few months ago as I couldn’t see the value over and above keynote and powerpoint – especially $159/year if you want to work offline and build presentations without the entire www watching, however, I’m definitely converted.

    The best thing so far is the way Prezi allows me to easily structure and organise your presentation in a way that my mind actually works, not the traditional ‘heading and 3 x bullet points’. Its pretty easy to drive too once you get hang of the basics. Having an iPad app helps too.

    Thanks for the tip Martijn, I’ll try keep the panning and zooming to a minimum – could be a disaster for a lunchtime preso (or should that be prezi?)…

  • Lee Hopkins

    Thanks, Sarah – from all of the buzz this has created I should definitely try out my next prezi {smile} on it

  • Catriona Byrne

    Nice alternative. Mr Hopkins I do love you!

  • Lee Hopkins

    I’m rather fond of you, too! {smile}

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