The Many Sides of Prezi

Prezi is a really versatile tool that I’ve come to appreciate not just for the opportunities it offers for presentations but also for brainstorming and organization. One of the aspects I like best is the ability to evolve my presentation alongside my research. I’ve also found Prezi to enhance the preparatory stages of my work, even when my the project itself concerns a different medium. For example, I used it to map out and keep track of the images I gathered in the course of creating a documentary video essay for a course entitled The Material Culture of Twentieth-Century New York. With its infinite canvas in expanse and depth, and a responsiveness that makes it augmentative rather than disruptive to my thought process, I find that Prezi acts like a giant digital whiteboard. It allows me to think spatially and visually, and I can lay out ideas and images—ease of integrating other media like youtube videos and PowerPoints is another huge asset—to make connections and comparisons that would be difficult to ascertain without the ability to see “the big picture” in this way. For this reason, it was particularly suited to a specific project in my Scenic Design course, a “visual expression” exercise in which we assembled material that would serve as our inspiration if we were to design sets and costumes for a play of our choosing.

In terms of sharing, it also truly facilitates discussion. The possibilities of non-linear navigation permit easy access to any element of a presentation and, particularly with the ability to zoom into high-resolution images, allow for detailed side-by-side comparisons not possible with other software. The Scenic Design course offers another paradigmatic example in the Visual Syllabus our instructor initiated. We could all edit it—even simultaneously—adding our own supplementary material and grouping images and/or video before or during class meetings to substantiate the points we wanted to make.

Intuitive, easy to learn, and adaptable to a wide variety of purposes, Prezi gives users extraordinary flexibility and creative freedom in devising their final products. Presentations are portable and accessible, even offline, and easily embedded into websites. Advantageous as both a mode of presentation and an integral part of the working process, it’s also fun to use! For those who are interested, we have an extensive how-to section detailing its format and tools. Please feel free to reach out to the DML for links to examples of students’ Prezis, or to contact me regarding the work I’ve done.

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