PowerPoint can be an incredibly powerful tool, if used correctly. But as all modern presentation-drowned veterinary graduates can attest, using PowerPoint effectively is an increasingly rare skill set.
Introducing Prezi as a presentation software alternative. It was developed in 2009 and marketed as a storytelling tool that allows users to zoom in and out of slides to gather new information. It’s innovative, free (sort of), and works like a conceptual map rather than a being linear-focused like PowerPoint.
If your next lecture to staff, students, or your community would benefit from a little spicing up, Prezi might just be the tool you need.
When to Use
Prezi is best used when you are explaining concepts that are related to one another in a non-linear manner. When the bigger picture is as important or more important than the details, using Prezi can give your audience an opportunity to see the forest, not just the trees.
For example, you are delivering a lecture on positional terminology: distal, proximal, medial, lateral. Rather than having a slide describing each position and relationship, you could create a Prezi with a picture of a dog. As you progressed through the lecture, your slides would zoom in to the area of the dog describing the term, which you could then discuss in detail and zoom back out to the whole dog.
One of the beautiful things about Prezi is that it lends itself to both verbal presentations from a single speaker and also to self-guided learning (think new staff training or instructions for pet owners).
How to Use
The learning curve with Prezi is admittedly quite steep, so if you’re thinking about creating one, give yourself some time to get familiar with the program and pilot test both how your slides look and how a user moves from one to the next.
For anyone familiar with the Microsoft suite, Prezi can be frustratingly incompatible in strange ways. Copying and pasting text isn’t simple, and manipulating individual words within a text paragraph (think bold, underline, italics, or even a different font) is impossible.
Start with some of their tutorial videos.
Protip: for templates, don’t discount ones that use beautiful, appealing photographs (either your own or those free to use under the creative commons license). Giving a talk on foods that are commonly toxic to dogs and cats? You could make or find an excellent graphic cornucopia for your main slide and zoom in to each food as you discuss it.
Within the template, your slides are known as “frames”. Much like PowerPoint, Prezi has a few frame templates: picture/text, header/subheader/text, two column text, etc. Depending on the level of detail that the presentation addresses, consider adding frames within frames to focus in on key points.
One note about slide movement: some users may feel nauseous or disoriented when zooming quickly in and out of slides. My advice would be to move slowly through slides and keep your zooms short instead of zooming from one side of the diagram to the other.
Other than the points discussed above, Prezi has some ingenious little tools that makes creating interactive presentations very easy. Think that embedding a YouTube video would improve your presentation? Good thing Prezi has that “embed YouTube video” button.
Want to insert a picture? Prezi leverages Google’s image search from within the program to easily find and embed the perfect picture. As long as you have internet access while you are creating the presentation, you’ll be able to use that function.
Happily, Prezi is a “freemium” program. So with a free “public” account, you can create Prezis online that are stored in the cloud and can be used as needed. The downside? Free accounts have their Prezi’s listed for the public to see.
An upgraded “Enjoy” account ($59/year) allows more storage space and other perks such as privacy for your presentations, and with a “Pro” account ($159/year) you can download Prezi desktop, which allows you to work offline. Prezi also offers pricier team plans and discounts for students and teachers.
Ready to try it? Go to www.prezi.com to sign up for your free account, and let your imagination run wild.
About the Author
Dr. Caleb Frankel is an ER veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He currently divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at VSEC, a 70-doctor referral hospital in Greater Philadelphia, PA (USA) and the founder of Instinct Science, a new animal health company helping the world’s state-of-the-art veterinary practices streamline their care through medically-driven invoicing and thoughtful automation.
He served as Director of New Product Development at Brief Media for 4 years where he lead the development and launch of products such as Plumb's Veterinary Drugs and New York Vet. Follow Dr. Frankel on Twitter @VMDtechnology.