- Update Feb 2018: I’ve just launched a new website https://slideacademy.co.uk to help PowerPoint users make Prezi-style presentations (you can book an advanced PowerPoint training course or commission a PowerPoint design). This demo deck from the site is another good example of using the Morph Transition and Zoom features, check it out below, and read on to learn more about these features!
For 7 years I’ve run a Prezi Training and Design Company based in London, UK. On a near daily basis, businesses contact me to see if my team can help their presentations to stand out. They’re often drawn to Prezi as it’s still perceived to be the cool new kid on the block, even though it’s been around since 2009. They’re interested in the concept of Prezi, and generally know that you can organise all your slides within a single overview, a bit like a whiteboard, and then present them in an appealing way. They also like that you can click from your overview into any topic of your presentation, in any order, allowing for a more interactive flow to your story or pitch. Prezi users call this style of delivery ‘conversational presenting’. All-in-all, it sounds like a welcome change from your typical slide experience.
So, it’s recently been a surprise to my prospective new clients when I tell them that for the last 6 months we’ve actually made a significant amount of Prezi-style conversational presentations — not using Prezi, rather good old PowerPoint!
For example, here’s a prezi we built for one of our favourite clients, Bilco:
Now here’s the same presentation, this time built using PowerPoint:
Pretty similar playback, don’t you think?
Here’s why we’ve turned to PowerPoint to make Prezi-style presentations:
Prezi Inc., the company behind the Prezi software, released an entirely new version of the tool to all users back in May 2017. It’s called Prezi Next, and it’s marketed as a unique conversational presenting tool for Sales and Marketing professionals. It’s now the only version of the Prezi software available to newcomers. Unfortunately, there are some critical issues with the product that often conflict with the demands of our customers, resulting in many of our pitches leading to the question: can we do this better in PowerPoint?
The answer to that question is increasingly ‘yes’, and this is why my team and I have expanded our previously Prezi-only services and expertise to include the design of enhanced PowerPoints for our clients, and training others how to get the Prezi effect in PowerPoint to make modern, professional business presentations of their own.
Here’s how we use PowerPoint to make Prezi-style presentations:
PowerPoint has two very useful new features within the Office 365 subscription, these are the zoom and morph functions, and are the key to making Prezi-style presentations within the PowerPoint editor.
Zoom for PowerPoint:
With the zoom function, you firstly assign related slides into different sections of your presentation, then using the Summary Zoom option from the Insert menu, you create an additional interactive slide that enables you to navigate to any of these sections, in any order you choose, just like a conversational-style Prezi. You can reposition and resize your clickable section ‘buttons’ within your summary slide, and restyle them by uploading your own image or icon to change the look & feel of your overview. You can also change the duration of your transition and add other effects from the Zoom Format tab.
In addition, there’s a variant of the feature, called Slide Zoom, that allows you to set further Prezi-style transitions once you’ve zoomed into one of your sections, meaning you can create more complex sub-level structures and drill down into deeper levels of content within your deck.
We’ve found that the conversational style of presenting is easy for our clients to master when using PowerPoint, as they can just click the mouse to either advance to the next slide or to manually navigate to a specific point of interest.
Check out more on Zoom for PowerPoint here.
The Morph Transition:
Skip ahead to 2:00 in the video below for the Morph demo!
With the morph transition, you can also create Prezi-style movements like zooms and rotations on your slides. To do so, you firstly need two slides with at least one object in common (most people just make a duplicate slide). You can then reposition, resize, or rotate the common objects on your second slide and set the morph option from the transition menu. As you present, PowerPoint will automatically animate the movement of objects from their position on your original slide to their position on the altered version.
Here’s a version of the Bilco presentation from above, this time built in PowerPoint using a combination of the Summary Zoom feature and Morph transitions:
Just like in Prezi — utilising on screen movement, when meaningful, is an effective way to reinforce certain notions and concepts and bring your content to life. For example, you could zoom in on a slide to focus on an important inflection point on a graph, zoom out of a key stat to show its perspective within a bigger picture, rotate 180° to highlight an opposing viewpoint to your own, or shift the direction of travel through your slide content by 90° - to convey a change in your approach to a problem.
Check out more on the morph transition here:
So are we Prezi Experts fully converted PowerPoint fanboys now?
Not entirely. It has to be said that these two new PowerPoint features are not a complete panacea to the many issues business users have with Prezi Next. Here are some problems to consider:
- The zoom function is currently only available for PC versions of PowerPoint in Office 365, meaning we’ve had to face the indignity of ditching our Macs and dusting off some old Thinkpads we had lurking around the office.
- Whilst practically everyone has PowerPoint on their work computer, not all business users have an Office 365 subscription, so not everyone will be able to create a slide deck in the Prezi-style without upgrading to the latest version. For comparison, a single-user business licence of Office 365 costs £7.90 per month (and includes Word, Excel and Outlook); a Prezi ‘Plus’ licence (the minimum level we’d recommend for business use) costs £19 per month for a single user.
- If you’re utilising a combination of the morph function and the zoom transition (not the zoom feature) to navigate between slides in a Prezi-style, the zoom out motion is just not as elegant as it is in Prezi, as the ‘camera’ zooms out from the centre of the slide, not from the position of the object you’ve just zoomed into. This movement can sometimes feel a little disconnected, clunky, or distracting to the eye. You can see this in our second example above.
- If you’re building in a lot of action buttons or using the morph feature heavily to create Prezi-style movements within a linear presentation scenario, you’ll likely have to duplicate a lot of slides. For complex designs you’ll need to stay very focused to ensure that if you change an element on one of these slides, you may need to replace all of its duplicates. This can get pretty time consuming for larger decks.
- The zoom function would benefit from an option to make your clickable section summaries or slide zooms fully transparent, something we miss from Prezi that would make it easier to place zoomable, sub-levels of content directly onto specific areas over an image, chart or graph within your deck - a bit like creating clickable, invisible ‘hotspots’. At the moment our simple workaround is to create the zoom as normal, then right click on it and choose insert image, then to insert a fully transparent image you’ve prepared elsewhere to act as an invisible placeholder.
All that being said, PowerPoint has always done a great many things you’d expect from a presentation tool exceptionally well - with many of its features essential to the creation of structurally complex, branded business presentations. Now, with the addition of the zoom and morph features it also matches Prezi’s USP in the way you organise and present your information, meaning it’s more frequently the best option available to fulfil the presentation needs of our clients.
As a passionate preacher for Prezi over an exciting 7 years of my career, returning to PowerPoint felt a little peculiar at first; but it’s been great to work with the impressive new features and all the old ones I missed. Perhaps sentimentally, I have respect for the admirable way Prezi Inc. have disrupted the stale business presentation space on their 8 year journey to date, and how they’ve brought a more interactive form of presenting into the mainstream. I hope in the near future I can again answer ‘no’ to the question of can I do this better in PowerPoint, more often than not. Until that time, my team and I will continue to expand our enhanced PowerPoint design and training services to our existing and new clients, and further explore opportunities elsewhere for the creation of conversational, Prezi-style presentations that are truly fit for business use.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve found this post useful! If you’d like us to help you with a presentation, please get in touch.
Chris Connick. Official Prezi Expert & PowerPoint Specialist
Director & Head of Training, Prezi Training & Design Ltd, London UK. Owner at Slide Academy UK.