It was back in 1987 when the world first heard of PowerPoint (actually, it was launched as “Presenter”). Initially available just for Macs (or Macintosh computers as they were known then), Microsoft acquired it only 3 months after it launched, and it’s now available in as many as 102 languages.
Prezi on the other hand is much younger: launched in 2009, and actually meaning “presentation” in Hungarian (it was founded in Budapest), Prezi now has over 100 million users.
But let’s leave recent history behind and concentrate on today: should you choose PowerPoint or Prezi?
Age is not the only difference
When it comes to comparing PowerPoint and Prezi, age is not the only difference.
Since Prezi launched, there have been two camps of opinion, and one phrase that sends shivers down your spine whether you’re pro PowerPoint or against: “death by PowerPoint”. You either live by it or you consider it unfair on a piece of software that is perhaps vilified without reason.
Maybe a PowerPoint presentation is “dull” because its features haven’t been maximised to their full potential, or perhaps the (lack of) presenting skills are to blame? Maybe the design of the presentation is not as strong, or effective, as it could be. Or is Prezi more “interesting” because it’s newer and at first sight more dynamic?
PowerPoint – built with a solid structure
Reducing both PowerPoint and Prezi to their bare bones, we could say that PowerPoint is like a book: it’s a predominantly linear journey for users (presenter and audience).
Strictly speaking PowerPoint has a clear beginning, a middle and an end – it offers a clear and solid structure.
Of course if you’re familiar with PowerPoint you’ll know that, amongst other new features that have brought it up to date, you can play with hyperlinks and animation, adding movement and energy to the traditional linear sequence of slides, and getting a little closer to the way audiences are used to consuming media in the digital age.
Prezi – the new(ish) kid on the block
So if PowerPoint is a book, think of a Prezi presentation as a dynamic painting, a never-ending canvas. It’s a highly visual and captivating experience where your vision is directed up and down, left and right, and up and down again, it oozes energy and relies on fluidity, playfulness and an eagerness to explore to get your message across.
But is Prezi too distracting for audiences? That will always depend on who you’re presenting to, the content of your presentation, and your objectives.
PowerPoint or Prezi: regardless of which one you go for, always remember that for your presentation to be a success, you need to have engaging content, great design, and the presentation and interaction with your audience will just flow.