When Prezi hit the market in 2009, it took the presentation world by storm.
Instead of just clicking through a PowerPoint presentation, with a fancy graphic here or annoying flying text box there, Prezi helps presenters take the audience on a step-by-step journey through their content. When done well, the presentations have that authentic Prezi snaz factor you can’t really get anywhere else.
So why aren’t more presenters using Prezi? Many don’t know where to start.
I learned some Prezi wizardry when revamping my professional portfolio. It was a good way to test it out and learn on my own agenda (instead of a pressing client’s). In total, this Prezi project took upwards of six to eight hours, but that’s mostly because of my newbie status (and frequent coffee breaks to regain motivation). The more Prezis you prepare, the quicker you’ll get.
If you’re still in the Prezi newbie category, or just want to learn more about this great presentation resource, here are seven simple steps to get you started.
1. Map out your idea.
Before you log in to Prezi, put your presentation ideas and flow down on paper. Ask yourself:
- What’s your goal for the presentation?
- What topics do you want to cover?
- What subtopics do you want to cover within those topics?
- What visuals or videos can you use?
- What’s your call to action?
- What are the start and end points?
It’s crucial that you have this well in place before starting, because Prezi without a plan is a rabbit hole.
2. Select a template.
Depending on your level of expertise, you can choose between using a template or developing one from scratch. Unless you’re really confident in your skills, I’d use a template. This makes the navigation process much simpler, and gives you a place to start.
Fortunately, the templates aren’t just cookie cutter. You can customize colors, fonts, layout and so forth once you get started.
3. Fill in the content.
Before even thinking about the navigation, go through and fill in all of the content you mapped out from step one. To start writing, click the slide you want to start in (it’s typically marked “2” on the left side – “1” is for the Prezi title).
Think of these circles as the different slides on a PowerPoint. You’ll want the main circle to host the central theme for a section (let’s say “social media”), and you can add smaller circles within that main circle to get more specific (for subjects to fit in the main theme like “Twitter” or “Facebook”).
To add a new circle, click “circle frame” on the top left (it has a little plus sign on the circle). Drag that new circle over to your main circle, shrink it to fit and fill in the content. Do the same for additional subtopics, although you’ll want to limit it to four or five sub-circles circles for readability (and your sanity).
Once you’ve filled in that first slide, click to the next slide on the left and repeat.
4. Throw in some visuals.
One of my absolute favorite things about Prezi is the emphasis on visuals. You can insert your own images (I used screenshots to show my PR work), symbols and shapes from the Prezi database, YouTube videos, arrows, music, and even a voiceover, which is particularly helpful if you’re sending the Prezi for people to watch on their own.
To add a visual, just drag it from the right side onto the circle where it should be featured.
5. Customize away.
Now that you have all of the content in place, it’s time to make the Prezi your own. Click the “customize” option on the top of the page, and choose the background image you want (you can even upload from your desktop) and select a new color theme if you’re not thrilled with the one you initially selected.
To change the font throughout, click on the “advanced” option on the bottom right. This is similar to the “slide master” option in PowerPoint. You can get pretty detailed in this advanced section, so I’d recommend keeping it simple and sticking with their options unless you absolutely cannot stand their selection. If that’s the case, switch, because no one wants an unhappy presenter.
6. Build your navigation.
When you start with a theme, Prezi will set a suggested path. That’s what shows up on the slides on left side of the screen. However, if you’ve added any new circles or content, you’ll need to re-navigate.
Click “edit path” on the bottom-left side of the page, and brace yourself for what will look like a scary blue spider web all over your Prezi. Fear not: There are no hidden spiders, and you didn’t mess anything up.
This web is the navigation path. To change it, move the number blocks to the circles or pieces of content in the order you envisioned. You’ll want number one to be on the main title, because that’s where you’ll start. Place number two on the circle that kicks off the presentation.
Have a circle within that kickoff circle? Put number three there. Have a graph within that circle you want the audience to focus on? Put number four on that graph.
Do this for the entire presentation, and, while not required, I’d suggest putting the final number either back on the title or on a slide with that call to action (which you conveniently mapped out in step one) to ensure the Prezi has a cohesive, well-planned end point.
7. Test and test again.
Your Prezi is complete. It’s time for a huge sigh of relief and a celebratory coffee or beer break. Seriously, take a step away so you can come back with fresh eyes, unless one beer turned into five. Then it may be best to wait until morning.
Once you’re finished with your break, test your Prezi and check for flow, typos, missing content, etc. Use the “present” feature on the top of the screen and run through your Prezi again and again until it’s perfect. (And even then, it’s wise to ask someone else to review, too.)
When you’re 100 percent sure it’s ready to go, you can share the Prezi with colleagues or friends, post it on Facebook, embed it or use the remote presenting options. These features are under the arrow icon on the top-right of the page.
So, friends, that’s the nut-shell version of how you create a Prezi. You can make your Prezi as simple or robust as you’d like, but keep in mind that the more detailed you get, the more time it will take, and the more likely you are to frustrated eat your way through an entire bag of salt & pepper Kettle Chips without realizing it. If you have any specific Prezi questions, please leave a comment below or check out the Prezi support page for help.
Stephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion). A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.