Curmudgeon’s Corner

Posted on May 30, 2014

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Curmudgeon's Corner

This is a new ELGL column called “Curmudgeon’s Corner” where we pick apart some commonly held misconceptions about technology, management principles, or anything else where ELGL members seek progress and innovation.

In this installment, we look at Prezi.  Our resident curmudgeon is Kent Wyatt, Senior Management Analyst at the City of Tigard, and co-founder of ELGL.  Refuting his grumpy claims are Bridget Doyle, Communications Director at the Village of Lombard, IL; Patrick Rollens, Communications Director at Village of Oak Park, IL; and Ben Kittelson, Project Manager for ELGL and Oregon Metro Newsroom Intern.

Wyatt offered up three critiques of Prezi, and Doyle, Rollens, and Kittelson provided responses.  Here we go:


Kent Wyatt Claims:

It’s the latest fad – what happens when the next best thing comes along.

Patrick Rollens Responds:

You’re right – pardon me while I load up a Powerpoint presentation from a 3.5-inch floppy disk while watching a VHS tape of “Speed” play on my old-school cathode ray tube television. The point is, technology is always in flux, and it takes less and less effort to stay abreast of the latest developments these days. Back in the 1980s, if you wanted to use a computer to help write a report, you had to literally learn coding language. That was quite a technological leap for the average worker.

Nowadays, the time and investment required to learn a new program or app is measured in minutes, not days or weeks. Don’t sell yourself short, Kent! You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, you can spend 15 minutes learning to be a whiz on Prezi!

Then, in a few months or years, when the next big thing supplants Prezi, you’ll be confident in your ability to sit down, furrow your brow, and master this new thing in mere minutes.


Kent Wyatt Claims:

It’s just a more complicated version of PowerPoint that is cloud-based.

Ben Kittelson Responds:

The ability to see the big picture and organize your thoughts in different ways than a simple stack of slides is Prezi’s most powerful feature, but that ability can make it seem more complicated than it is. Prezi is actually less complicated than PowerPoint, considering what it can do. As you work with it and get used to its features Prezi becomes an easier way to create more visually appealing presentations. PowerPoint does offer ways to create graphics and animations, but less skill and time is needed to do the same (or better) visual effects in Prezi. Prezi offers more creative options than PowerPoint, and that may seem more complicated, but it is worth it.

Being cloud-based is another benefit of using Prezi. No longer do you have to ensure you have the right version of the presentation, that it saved onto a USB, or emailed to yourself. No longer is there a worry that the presentation you created on a Mac or in an old version of PowerPoint will show up the same on a different computer. Prezi offers a way to access your presentation from any computer with only an internet connection, and for the faint of heart you can download your Prezi to your computer and save it just in case there is no wifi. Because Prezi is cloud-based, multiple people can edit the presentation at the same time. This is a great feature for group projects and it’s an awesome way to creep on your co-presenters.


Kent Wyatt Claims:

Too many visual effects which distracts from a message.

Bridget Doyle Responds:

Yes, I could see the untrained Prezi user getting a little overzealous with effects, which could be distracting. But Prezi’s strong point is exactly that – it’s visual and interactive presentation of information. It’s fluid, engaging and interesting. The movement from space to space or slide to slide keeps the audience awake. What’s interesting about Prezi is you can see the whole visual presentation in front of you at the very beginning – but you can’t read the individual slides until they’re featured. It almost gives the audience a preview while keeping them guessing about where you’re going next.

I also really enjoy the way you can create slides within slides. If there’s a complementary piece to a portion of your presentation, you can present it as almost a sidebar. It gives your work depth but helps the audience organize the information in their mind. The way you can easily embed YouTube and other media is key – as more and more presentations are featuring visual elements. Prezi also has a modern feel, with themes that can be customized to fit your presentation. Are you presenting slides that are parts of a whole? Prezi has a format for that. Are you presenting slides that lead up to a big announcement? Prezi has a format for that. Are you presenting a blueprint of a plan? Prezi has a format for that.

I think at the core, Prezi takes a lot from PowerPoint. But I like to think of Prezi as the PowerPoint for the millennial – it’s the same thing, but more engaging, modern and fluid.

So there you have it – the perspectives of a technology curmudgeon and some valuable feedback from more progressive presenters.  What’s your take?  Do you think Prezi is a useful tool, or are you still a Power Point aficionado?

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