Across the Internet, an endless debate rages on. Prezi or PowerPoint? Which is the best tool for designing presentations? A Google search on the subject yields over 400,000 results. Among them, fiery posts fiercely argue for or against each option.
Each camp has a cult of loyal followers. But I believe they’re all wrong: neither Prezi nor PowerPoint is the best choice in all cases. (And both of them, in the wrong hands, can ruin a presentation.)
It’s all About the Story
The presentation medium is secondary to the story. Here’s how I approach presentation design: First, I figure out how to craft a compelling story. Then, I select the best medium to support that story. It’s very case by case, but there are six situations where Prezi tends to have an edge over PowerPoint. Before we get into those six cases, here’s a quick overview of Prezi’s strengths and weaknesses.
PowerPoint, as you know, takes the audience through a story linearly, one slide at a time. By contrast, Prezi pans and zooms over a large image to emphasize ideas as you discuss them. This fully two-dimensional movement can be dramatic and mesmerizing. And a well-produced Prezi often elicits a strong emotional response.
If you aren’t careful, Prezi’s greatest strength can become its greatest weakness. Overdo the panning and zooming and you can cause motion-sickness.
Prezi has other shortcomings, as well:
- A steeper learning curve than Powerpoint’s.
- Weak charting capabilities.
- Limited design options, which only experienced Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) users can overcome.
And Prezi lets you trigger movements with a click. But if you want to sprinkle your presentation with timed animation, Prezi’s not for you. Some of us have been asking for that since 2012. Sadly, Prezi’s shown no willingness to yield to popular opinion.