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The how to make a great Prezi, Prezi

A complete how-to guide for Prezi - from what it is and why you should use it, to advanced Prezi techniques.

Ned Potter

on 8 September 2013

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Transcript of The how to make a great Prezi, Prezi

What is Prezi?
Prezi is a piece of 'zooming presentation software' which allows you to present information in a visually arresting way. You create your presentation on a (to all intents and purposes) limitless canvas, and navigate around this canvas in any way you please - zooming in and out, leaping from place to place. You can either present the same kind of information as you would in a slide-based presentation, or throw the rule-book out of the window entirely.
The flexibility, non-linearity and freshness make it an increasingly popular alternative to PowerPoint.
You can sign up for a free account at http://prezi.com.
Why use Prezi?
It engages the audience in a way which PowerPoint presentations can rarely match. In the same way that even great content on slides can be lost amid the 'death by PowerPoint' despair of the viewer, even mediocre content on Prezi can wow and audience and make them far more interested in what you are actually saying!
Hal Kirkwood at Purdue University was asked about significant new technologies in the work place. He responded:
A game-changing 'techie' gadget I 'have' is the Prezi presentation tool (prezi.com). It has noticably and significantly changed how I present information within my information literacy classes. It allows for a much deeper opportunity to create more conceptually interesting presentations. Students pay attention more...they are more focused on the material...they want to try it. Information literacy becomes more engaging using Prezi.

And that is where my relationship with my clientele changes at an even greater level. Students are not trapped in yet another 'death by Powerpoint' course. They are excited about what is coming next. They are excited to try it in their own presentations. They talk about using it other classes. They come back to me and brag about how they have used it in other settings.
In my experience it has a huge effect on the audience for any presentation or training session. Comments on user-feedback forms for sessions I've talk about being 'blown away by the presentation' and the presentation materials being 'beautiful' - that's hard to get with PowerPoint!
The basic how-to:
Prezi is relatively easy to use. The biggest barrier between you and a great Prezi is your own ambition - you need to reign it in and not go mad with all the functionality it offers...

Prezis are made and edited using three main elements. We'll look at them one at a time.
The text box
The text box is the bread-and-butter of Prezi creation. Click anywhere on the canvas to bring it up, then type what you want to type.

The icons along the top allow you to left and right justify, use bullet points etc. The styles along the bottom allow you to choose between two Title fonts and Body fonts - these are set elsewhere, as we'll come onto later.

Each text box you create will be written in the Title or Body you select.
The bubble
The bubble is used to choose what you want to do next on your Prezi. You click different parts of the bubble to do different things.

The 'Write' setting is the default, and brings up the text box
The 'Insert' setting allows you to put in shapes (like the arrow above), and images, and youtube vids
The 'Frame' setting allows you put in visible frames (like the circle round this section) and invisible frames which allow you to control what the audience sees - in effect, how zoomed in you are. More on this later.
The 'Path' setting is where you determine the order in which you display the objects on your Prezi
The 'Colors & Fonts' section is where you set the style and look of your presentation
Finally the 'Show' setting takes you out of the default Edit mode, and allows you to see what your presentation will look like for real
The zebra
The zebra is what you use to manipulate existing objects on your Prezi. Clicking on anything in Edit mode will bring up the Zebra - so to achieve the screen-shot above, I used the Text Box to write 'this is the zebra' then clicked on it to bring the actual zebra up.

You use the zebra by clicking and holding on certain parts of it, then moving your mouse up and down depending on what you want to do. So:

The dashed circle round the very edge controls rotation - click on it and move the mouse up and down to rotate objects on the canvas
The little picture of a pencil takes you back into the text box
The main blue-coloured circle controls the size - click on it and move the mouse up and down to make things bigger and smaller. If you want, you can just click the plus and minus icons for less subtle shifts in size
The hand icon in the middle controls placement - click on it and move the mouse around to effectively pick up an object and put it down wherever you want.
In addition to the basics above, it's worth noting how you move around the canvas in edit mode in order to get to the objects you want to edit.

Clicking and holding anywhere there ISN'T an object will then allow you to move the canvas around under your mouse pointer
Zooming in and out is most easily done with the mouse wheel, although there are plus and minus icons ever present on the far right of the screen in Edit mode which do the same thing
by Ned Potter
you can

zoom right


and you can zoom right in...
Here are 8 tips to make a really good Prezi:
Slightly less good Prezis are often characterised by a 'made it up as they went along' vibe. It's difficult to create a good Prezi on the fly, as you just keep adding more and more things and it spirals (sometimes literally) out of control.

It's easy to avoid this by just jotting down on a piece of paper what you want to put on it, and then arranging it into some kind of structure before you get as far as opening Prezi. Here is mine for this Prezi (and you can see why I like to use online tools rather than my drawing skills...)
(Photo of my plan, turned into a blackboard rendition via Photofunia.com)
Choose your
theme early
Prezi allows you to chose from set themes (which dictate your colour scheme, fonts and style) or to customise any theme to create your own. What you can't do is mix and match throughout your presentation - so for example all my titles in this Prezi are the same burgundy colour, because that's what I've set my 'Title' colour to in the theme wizard.

Your theme also has an influence on the size of everything, so it's important to pick your theme early and stick with it, designing your Prezi around its strengths and characteristics. If you decide to change your theme later, it may mean your carefully aligned elements no longer fit together so well.

As an example let's look at this Prezi, re-themed in several different ways:
People often complain that Prezis make them 'feel sea-sick'. This is avoidable if the designer positions the materials on his or her Prezi sympathetically, and plots a sensible path between them.

In this section on tips to make a great Prezi, for example, I'm moving the presentation on in structured rather than haphazard fashion. We're moving vertically until we've read each tip, and then horizontally to move onto the next one. Hopefully this should ensure that people don't get any motion sickness.
make random changes in perspective
move really quickly between elements
and oscillate wildly around the canvas
There's often no need to do any of this. Try to move around the canvas in a coherent fashion. Only include a couple of changes of angle. And most of all:
Just because Prezi can do lots of amazing things, doesn't mean you have to use all of the features, all of the time... If in doubt, try to construct and pace your presentation much like you would with slides, making the occasional feature out of Prezi's increased flexibility.
...do NOT go upside down without good reason!
It's best to think about the look of the overall canvas right from the start because it's harder to tidy it up and order it once you've filled it up with stuff. It is by no means obligatory to show the whole canvas at once during your presentation, but it is a nice effect to let people see the whole thing, and then zoom them into different parts of it to tell a story. Particularly as, unlike Slides, you can be completely non-linear. You can either plot a path through the entire presentation, or you can leave it open and ask the audience where they'd like to go next.

Building a Prezi is like building a house: you design it first, then you put in the foundations, and then you build the rest of it block by block.
A sure-fire way to make your audience feel ill, is to...
Many of the creative opportunities with Prezi come from use of scale. The canvas is all-but-unlimited in size, so you can have huge discrepancies between your biggest object and your smallest - whatever you navigate to, or click on, will fill the screen when it zooms in anyway.

It's great to have at least one extreme change of scale, but that shouldn't become a gimmick your presentation relies on.

My advice is to make everything bigger than you think you need to start off with, allowing you to cram in lots of smaller stuff later on.
Something it's really important to remember is, images will fill the screen when you zoom in on them - so if they're originally smaller than full-screen size, they WILL look grainy. Let's take our picture of a scale on the left as an example - it looks fine now because it's not full-screen, but if we zoom in on just the scale...
...it looks bad because the original pic was much smaller than full-screen. Any problems in this area will be magnified (literally) when you're presenting using a big screen.
Utilise frames
(and invisible frames)
Frames are the way you control what the viewer sees, and how close up they see it.
You can use visible frames to give your presentation structure and visual identity
There are three types of visible frame, which'll look different according to the theme you've selected
square brackets
filled oblong
(A lot of people use the square brackets - I don't think they always look good, and would advise against just using them for the sake of it.)
Invisible Frames, on the other hand, don't get used as much but are actually much more useful.

The first, and main, use, is to control how far you zoom in on an object. It can be used to focus the audience's attention on certain things, or group objects together. For example, just this chunk of text - or the whole section on frames.
The other way in which hidden frames are useful is for creating clickable 'hot spots' - this is great for interactive or audience-led presentations. Anything with a hidden frame will flash when you hover over it, and can be clicked on (by you if you're presenting live; by the viewer if they're viewing online).
There are lots of potential applications for this. For example you could use a
map of your town as a backdrop, and use hidden frames to create hot-spots for your audience to click on, zooming them in for more information.

For an example of this kind of more interactive Prezi, have a look at
Finally, to give you a better idea of how hidden frames work, here's a screen-grab of this section in Edit view - all the blue squares and oblongs are hidden frames.
A vital tip is to not let your imagination run away with you when creating a Prezi... You can do all sorts of amazing things, but the best Prezis are often the ones which are 80% attractive but sensible, and 20% dazzling, and amazing. If it's 80% crazy and wild, then there's a danger people can become immune to the wow factor.

Good luck! Carry on working through this presentation to get to the examples and Frequently Asked Questions.
1) When I type a URL it doesn't always become a hyperlink - how can I fix this?

2) Can I embed a Youtube video?

3) I'm using invisibleframes but it isn't zooming in as far as I think it should be - how come?

4) How do I move lots of things at once - do I have to do objects one at a time?

5) Prezi seems to be going a bit weird - I can't edit an object / when I try and move the whole canvas I just move random objects (or vice versa), help!

6) Can I embed my Prezi on a website or in a blog?

7) I've not used Prezi in a while - what's changed since it first came out?

8) How is Prezi from an accessibility point of view?

9) Does Prezi have useful templates I can use?

10) I followed step 6 but I still can't seem to embed my Prezi on a wordpress.com blog - what am I doing wrong?

11) Where did you get the images from which you used in this particular Prezi?

12) I want some more top tips that even experienced users miss...
This was a problem when I first made this Prezi guide, but it has been fixed now. The only time it's an issue is if you have more than one hyperlink in a given chunk of text - sometimes only one becomes linked. If this is the case, splitting the text up into two seperate text boxes will solve the problem.
Yep, just go to Insert > Youtube and then type the URL of the video.
Hidden frames are limited by the shape of your monitor - PRezi can only zoom in until it reaches the top / bottom or the sides of the frame (which ever comes first).
If you create hidden frames that mirror the shape of your monitor (in almost all cases, a rectangle in the 'landscape' position, this will help. Hold down 'Shift' when drawing an invisible frame and it will maintain a 4:3 ratio, which is what most presenting screens are.
When in Edit view, press the shift key and then click on the canvas - this will bring up a box tool, allowing you to draw a box of any size or oblong / square shape you want. When you've done that you can move the box around, and anything inside the area of the box will move as a group. Similarly, when you move Frames around the stuff inside should move with them. You can also re-size things (or rotate them) en masse using the shift key method.
This happens on occasion - just save and exit then re-open the Prezi and it's usually fine thereafter.
Yes - when you exit your Prezi there is a Share button; click this and you'll get the URL of the presentation to distribute to people, and also the 'Embed' button. You just decide how big you want it to be (the default is fine - you should encourage people to view it full-screen anyway) and copy and paste the code onto your site.
It's not brilliant but it's getting better - as with Powerpoint presentations, it's best to provide a text version of the presentation in addition to the Prezi. prezi has recently introduced transcripts with each presentation, which is a step in the right direction.
Aim for
a uniform
Because the size and location of objects and text is controlled by sliding the mouse in Prezi, it can be trickier to achieve uniformity of style than with a set of slides, say, where you can decide that the title font size will be 24 and the body font size will be 12. For this reason, Prezi highlights when two things are similar, to help you make them the same.

By this I mean, when you've selected some text and you're moving the mouse up and down to increase and reduce the size of the text, whenever you hit the point at which your text size matches the size of some other text on the canvas, that other text will highlight a darker colour. This alerts you to the fact they now match - and if you want them to be the same size, you let go of the mouse button and there you go.
Here's a couple of screen grabs to illustrate what I mean:
Here's this section with the selected text slightly smaller than the other two paragraphs
Here's the same section at the exact point the text sizes match - as you can see the other two paragraphs have become highlighted to a darker colour to alert me to the match
All the images in this Prezi are from Stock.xchng - a website for high quality CC images. Go to http://www.sxc.hu/ for more info.
Yes! There didn't used to be, but there are now... When you create a new Prezi you'll see the template options - some of them are really useful. Keep in mind you can expand upon them by copying and pasting elelments from them, to make a longer Prezi. For example this: http://prezi.com/qldkgumnncap/enhancing-your-online-reputation/ is based on one of the templates Prezi provides, but is significantly expanded,
I'm also on twitter as @theREALwikiman if you have any Prezi questions. Thanks!

- Ned Potter, July 2011
updated May 2013
For guides to other platforms go to http://thewikiman.org/tech.htm.
For more ideas about information, go to the homepage at http://www.thewikiman.org
This is how it should look...
This is how it looks in the default colour scheme which everyone uses...
This is pretty bad, using the
Manifesto theme...
Wow, that looks terrible.
Similarly Prezi will help you align things. The 'graph paper' effect on the canvas in Edit mode should be useful in this area, but Prezi will also show you when objects are locked into line with other objects nearby, by way of a blue dotted line.
It looks like this.
The horizontal blue lines are showing me that 'It looks like this' is aligned with the paragraph above, and with the neighbouring section of text on the left.
Ultimately, the easiest way to ensure a cohesive style is to literally copy and paste stuff then edit it. So if you want chunk of text A to match chunk of text B, just copy chunk of text A and paste it into the new position, then edit to say whatever you want chunk of text B to say... Same goes with postioning frames and so on.
Yep, here we go:
The lines and numbers are the path. Keep in mind that this is more advanced than most Prezis, so they're not normally this complicated!
Ned Potter
a good
Prezi changes often as it is still fairly new. An updated list of new features can be found at http://prezi.com/learn/new-features/ Quite a lot has changed since it first came out - here are some key things:
Prezi no longer struggles with JPEGs. You used to have to use PDFs to get a clear image, but that's not the case anymore (subject to understanding scale, as discussed in tip 4, above.)
The 'Zebra and wheel' control system has been replaced with a more traditional interface. You can still see the old version on some of the screen-shots in this guide.
You can customise your themes, rather than being entirely reliant on the default ones available.
You can create frames and then edit them in all directions (to extend them, reduce them, change their shape etc)
You can go to Insert > image > and then type in a keyword in and Prezi will search Google images for items licenced to use with Prezi! Nice.
Embedding on wordpress.org (self-hosted) blogs is as simple as pasting in the code, but wordpress.com has some issues with embedding code generally, which makes it tricky. See http://bit.ly/qxHW66 for a workaround.
The 'path' of your prezi (the order in which you go from object
to object on the canvas) is very important to the user experience. You can of course have a totally free-form Prezi where users just click on frames or hidden frames, but most Prezis require a path to guide the viewer (or, if you're presenting live, to guide you) through the presentation.

You create the path by clicking 'Edit Path' from the left-hand side of the edit screen, and then just clicking on the objects you want to navigate to, in the order in which you wish to get to them. As discussed in previous sections, making the path a logical, sensible sequence is probably a better bet than making giant leaps across the canvas in random directions.

Here's what this section of the Prezi looks like in Edit view, with the Path shown:
As you can see, the current section isn't linked in with the rest of the presentation at the time that screen-grab was taken. It's easy enough to change the path (by dragging the relevant number from one object to another) and you can add to it too, by using the little dot in between two numbers - just drag the relevant dot onto whatever object you want to add. The picture below shows me adding this section to the path:
The section of text I'm hovering over is highlighted, to show me that if I let go of the mouse button, the text will be added to the path.

Finally, you can get rid of a stage in the path entirely by grabbing the relevant number, and dragging it somewhere on the canvas where there aren't any objects at all - let go, and it'll dissapear.
Something else to keep in mind is that, whereas lots of text on a traditional slide is generally a bad idea, the 'otherness' of Prezi somehow seems to make longer blocks of text acceptable to the audience.
Finally - to get an idea of how Prezis are made, can you show us this whole thing in edit view?
Step this way, for a post on my blog about exactly that! http://thewikiman.org/blog/?p=1884
Here are some different types of Prezi I've made:
A prezi based on a free Prezi template:
An interactive map type Prezi
A stylish little retro number, made with arrows and blocks...
A 'using a nice image as the entire canvas' type Prezi
This is how Prezi used to work - it's only here for reference, feel free to ignore it...
The basic how to...
There's an initial learning curve to Prezi (because it works so differently to the Office suite we're all so used to) - once you understand the basics, it soon becomes quicker to make a nice Prezi than a nice PowerPoint. Here's how the interface works.
The most important thing is to
! Your Prezi should be about communication rather than showing off - don't let the medium become the message...
The path section, where you can reorder the sequence your Prezi follows:
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