Prezi Rethinks the PowerPoint with Engaging Presentations for Better Storytelling

Posted by Elliot Chan

The recruitment team at UBC understands that boring slideshows and unmemorable PowerPoints just aren’t doing it anymore. For their presenters whose goal is to engage the next generation of innovators, they need to be innovative themselves. That is why they have turned to Prezi, a cloud-based presentation platform.

Prezi captures landmarks, directing the audience from one checkpoint of knowledge to the next and then back to the central idea. In another word, instead of telling the story from a linear perspective, Prezi performs more like a tour guide leading the spectators through the presentation from one key point to the next. More like a blueprint, less like a timeline.

“What we are learning now is understanding how our brain works,” said Peter Arvai, CEO and cofounder of Prezi. “Let me illustrate this with a question to you: If I was to ask you what kitchen appliances you have in your home right now.”

Microwave, kettle, a toaster oven...

“Right,” Arvai continued, “and I guess what you just did was first imagined your kitchen, and then you imagined the counter in your kitchen. You zoomed in to your microwave. And then to remember the other things, you took a step back, you zoomed out and you looked at another part of the kitchen. And you remember the other things there.”

“Now, it’s equally important to observe what you didn’t do,” he added. “What you didn’t do is what you often see in PowerPoint slides. You didn’t have a list of words organized alphabetically or in another way.”

Prezi has figured out that people rely on landmarks to remember important information, whether it is navigation or trivial facts. Landmarks helped cavemen leave the caves to hunt and gather during the dawn of time, and now landmarks are helping presenters reach out to a wider audience. UBC have seen the value in Prezi’s ability to create landmarks and have been relying on it since to recruit new students from all around the world.

Two years ago, UBC made a conscious decision to switch from their customized Flash-based presentations to Prezi. Whether they are showcasing at high schools, community events, etc. the presentation is the main tool for the recruiters when appealing to perspective high school students.

“Depending on the group of student watching the presentation,” said Steve Taylor, prospective student marketing communications and social media specialist at UBC, “it’s really important that they have the ability to customize the presentation and tailor it a little bit for the group.”

The ability to modify on the fly is a big advantage for presenters since their audience are different every time. The cloud-base solution enables users to change aspects of the presentation on the way to the event and present it on any operational platforms. This allows for a more collaborate workflow that gives every member on the team a chance to chip in in real time. Flexibility, reliable support and visual appeal were the three aspects that made swapping over to Prezi worthwhile for the UBC recruitment team.

“The biggest thing for us is that the recruiters need to feel comfortable with the tools that they have when they are out on the road, because it is the most important thing they are bringing with them,” said Taylor. “And we feel Prezi fits that bill.”

At this moment, Prezi is currently working on features that help companies collaborate more effectively as a team, in addition to developing more seamless functionality between platforms, since users are creating presentations on tablets, smartphones, laptops, PC, etc.

“We’re deepening the user experience,” said Arvai. “We are adding important things that enable people to focus on the ideas and avoid having to spend energy on the technology.”

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Elliot Chan

Elliot Chan

Elliot is an editorial intern at Techvibes. After graduating from the Art Institute of Vancouver in 2008, Elliot worked in various areas of media and theatre production including acting, writing, directing, post-production and even stand-up comedy. Now he is a staff writer for New Westminster publication The Other Press and a content writer for Asian art and culture magazine Ricepaper... more




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