From my Prezi The Second Wave Publication. If you enjoy this post, download the full, free publication from the link below.
Prezi had no built-in visual structure – templates, slides, layouts, paths, fonts, font regulation and sizing. That came as a standard part of PowerPoint. There was almost no such structure provided in Prezi. You got the canvas, and that was that. Everything else you had to create; frame by frustrating frame; pathpoint by agonizing path-point. Prezi was also (in my view) less intuitive than PowerPoint and harder to learn to use well. But Prezi caught something in the imagination of students, academics, creative types, innovators and people who were looking for an alternative. It was an instant hit with a very small slice of the population.
I first blogged about it in 2009, and used it for my first pitch in the real world in October of that year. My thoughts then, can be summarised as follows:
“Obviously, Prezi is not as broad, flexible, integrated or widely used as Bill’s much derided package, so it’s nowhere near PowerPoint as the default option for corporates, but as an expert user of PowerPoint, I could do some things much more easily and powerfully with this little gem, and there are times that I’d choose to use it, without question, simply because Prezi’s starting position is so different.”
But I was not uncritical. I thought the tool was unsophisticated, glitchy and full of challenges for the would-be advocate. By 2010 I was saying this:
‘’…It is good and offers a new way of thinking about presenting ideas in work and life. It’s not Microsoft – and as we know that’s enough for some people to go crazy something that is not yet proven technology. But it does have promise. People confuse the medium with the message – i.e. most presentations at work are crap, most presenters use PowerPoint, therefore PowerPoint is crap and anything new must be better… Logic flawed all through. Will Prezi help you make a better presentation next time you get up to speak? No. Crap presenters will still present badly with Prezi, maybe even worse because there’s less structure to follow than in a PPT template. But if you’re good at building and telling stories; if you have a clear point to make; if you loathe bullet slides; then maybe it will help a little. For you creative types, thought leaders, designers, poets, CEOs who want to woo investors, show-offs, me, and people with a little bit of flair for the new and dangerous you will want to have a go anyway. So enjoy the experience…’’
Over the next three and a half years Prezi has worked incredibly hard to stay ahead of the chasing critics and behind the existing users and fans. They’ve listened to all kinds of people, even me, and they’ve created a much more rounded, usable and commercial presentation application. So well done to them and in trying to make a sustainable business from a brilliant idea.
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