DigiThings Thing 3: Collaborative Presentation with Prezi


There was a time, maybe not that long ago, when it seemed that the default choice for all our presentations was the ubiquitous Powerpoint. Some people would make a real effort to get the best out of it, but others didn’t and the presentations could either end up terribly bland, or used a standard template that was full of grotesque graphic ‘frills’ that could make the presentations somewhat garish and off-putting.

When Prezi turned up on the scene,  it finally freed us from the tight cloak of powerpoint conformity and gave us the ability to easily create materials that are brilliant for the visual learner; using a completely different paradigm for delivery. It was non-linear and used a ‘zooming user interface’ that would allow vast amounts of information to be included, but not necessarily delivered. It allowed you to build a story and choose which bits to tell. You could pick and choose from the material, with the opportunity to digress from your topic if required, but always allowing you to come back to the core thread through the materials.

Prezi suddenly became the flavour of the month, followed by somewhat of a backlash as it became apparent that Prezi was a ‘marmite’ technology. People either love it or hate it. Whilst some find prezis both visually stimulating to watch and liberating in delivery terms, others claim that as a viewer, the visual effects can make them feel nauseous and as a presenter they can loose their way in a jungle of information.

There are also issues for those presenters who like their presentation slides to ‘double up’ as lecture notes, as although Prezi now offers the ability to download each screen of Prezi, the effect may not be considered as professional as is possible using a slide based tool such as Powerpoint.

In the end, the best choice will depend; both on how you as a presenter want to deliver your material and also on the learning styles of your audience. The truth is that you can still make very simple and linear presentations with Prezi if you so choose, and avoid the temptation to over complicate them or use too much zooming and spinning.  So the best advice is normally to keep them on the ‘simple’ side.

When Prezi first came out, users found that it had a steep learning curve and its functionality was quite limited, but it has been aggressively developed to the current version, where it is both easy to use and offers a wide range of functions including the ability to collaborate, present online, and edit via a desktop client.

Standing out from the rest:

So, we can see that whether we like it or not Prezi is a very different type of presentation tool that is likely to be popular with your ‘Visual Learners’.  However, it isn’t only the visual aspects of Prezi that make the program so different and versatile, there are also a host of other functions that are not so well understood or frequently used.

Collaborating with Prezi

For instance, Prezi will allow you to collaborate on a presentation with up to 30 colleagues or students , either in realtime or their own time. Once finished, you can deliver the prezi online, to anyone who has the link – they do not need a Prezi account.

This is a killer functionality and the only fly in the ointment is that the service does not provide a ‘live’ audio connection between the collaborators, so although you can pre-record your audio as a voice-over and load that into your Prezi, you can not have a conversation, without using another online audio service such as Skype or Google Hangouts or even a simple chat service such as Neatchat

Getting started with Prezi

For some, the first steps with Prezi can be a little confusing, so you will be glad to hear that they have extremely good training materials on their own site:

But, first, if you are not already familiar with Prezi, you might wish to view some of the available examples, either by looking through their training prezis at: https://prezi.com/support/ or by reviewing other users presentations in their ‘explore’ area at: http://prezi.com/explore/popular/ both of which are available from the home page:

The Prezi Home Page

Now, to get going;  follow these basic instructions:

  • To get an account, go to http://www.prezi.com/ and click on the blue ‘sign-up’  button and choose the license you want: I would recommend the ‘Enjoy Edu’ license available from: http://prezi.com/pricing/edu/ although you will need a ‘.ac.uk’ email address to register for this license.
  • When you are ready, click the ‘Create’ and you will go to a screen that holds ‘All your prezis’, from where you can click the blue ‘New Prezi’ button: The New Prezi button. You can then choose to use a template or simply open a blank prezi, so that the editing interface opens in the browser.
  • The editing window is very simple, and you will be on top of it after just a little experimenting to see how it all works: the top menu bar, gives you access to tools for adding frames, media and other elements. The left hand bar, allows you to create and edit the path that your presentation will take through the materials you are creating and text can be entered and elements moved within the central window.
  • You can add a range of audio, video and images by clicking the insert button and uploading the media. Specific audio can be attached to a frame on the path, by first selecting the frame and then uploading a voice-over in mp3 format.
  • You can enter text, simply by clicking in the editing area and writing, with some basic editing being self-explanatory.

After a bit of playing you will get the hang of it. Of course it helps if you have a good handle on the materials you are going to use before you start. You can’t use Prezi to hide a lack of materials and in fact arguably, you may well need a little more materials than you would on a similar Powerpoint presentation. Remember you can include materials into the prezi which you don’t have on your ‘path’. They can be there…just in case you want to use them or as further research materials for your students after your presentation.

And then sharing your Prezi:

Once you have got the hang of making your Prezis and ordering your materials together onto a path, the next thing to try is sharing it with your colleagues or students.

Sharing your Prezi for others to view or co-edit is easy, you just have to return to the home page and put your mouse over the Prezi you wish to share and click on the share button. You will then be able to choose a privacy level for the document (from private through to re-usable).  To let others view the Prezi in their own time, you can share the provided URL.  To allow them to edit the Prezi, you will have to add them (they will need an account) into the ‘add people’ box.  Anyone with the link will be able to view the prezi in their own browser, whenever they like, but to edit it, they will need to have an account, then be added to the list and sent an invite email.


Presenting online:

Presenting online to up to 30 people can also be done from the edit window; you just have to click on the share button and then pick: Present Remotely. This will give you a link to share. Copy this and email it to your participants and they will be able to see you present the Prezi – They won’t need a Prezi account.
As I mentioned earlier, you must remember that there is no live audio feed, so you will have to either rely on pre-recorded audio embedded in the Prezi or provide another channel for communications such as Skype, Google Hangouts or even a simple chatroom.

Small Task for Week 3:

Learning the basics of Prezi won’t take you you too long, but becoming an expert may keep you busy for a few late nights and although it is pretty simple, I realise that it can be a bit confusing for the newcomer.  So, using the instructions above and the Prezi support pages, try and work your way through these tasks:

  • Create an EnjoyEdu Prezi account at: http://prezi.com/pricing/edu/
  • Find and watch some online Prezis by clicking on ‘Explore’ on the menu tab or go direct to: http://prezi.com/explore/popular/
  • Review some of the Learning materials by clicking on ‘Learn & Support’ on the menu tab or go direct to https://prezi.com/support/
  • Have a go at making your own Prezi – pick a subject you are familiar with and already have plenty of material to use.
  • Publish it and share it with your colleagues.  It is also possible to embed it in your wordpress blog, but if you get stuck leave a comment below and I will explain how.
  • Try inviting a colleague (and/or me) to help edit it.
  • Consider setting up a back channel to support your collaboration with Neatchat.

Some Points to think about in your blog post:

  • First and foremost:  Does Prezi work for you?  Prezi is a bit of a ‘marmite’ technology, you either love it….or hate it.  So, what is it for you:  ’yipee’ or ‘yuckie’?
  • Think about your presentation style:
    • How does your presentation work for your ‘visual learners’
    • Do your slides double up as lecture notes?
    • Do you just want slides to work as an ‘aide memoir’ for your talk?
    • Does Prezi work for your teaching style?
  • How would you be able to use the collaborative aspect of Prezi?  With Students? With Colleagues?
  • Can you think of opportunities for you to use Prezi in your practice?

Further Research:

There is lots of material and opinion on Prezi out there to be found on Google….

…but the best way to understand how Prezis work is simply to look at public examples of how they have been used.  Prezi encourages an open approach to sharing their presentations, so just search the Prezi archives.


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10 Responses to DigiThings Thing 3: Collaborative Presentation with Prezi

  1. eibremner says:

    Welcome everyone to Week 3.

    Sorry to make you wait until lunchtime before we got going today, but lets get going!

    I look forwards to seeing what you come up with. Some people find the initial learning curve pretty steep and if you are one of those, don’t worry, just post your questions when you get stuck and I will get back to you soonest.



  2. joanie says:

    Hi Ed,
    Thanks for your post and for setting such an interesting task. Can I ask a stupid question? Where do you want us to post our presentations and comments for the task? I did the powerpoint one but posted it on my own blog which can be accessed via the side bar. I didn’t get any comments, so my presentation is either so awful no-one could think of anything positive to say about it, or people couldn’t find it. As peer feedback is going to be such an integral part of our learning experience whilst doing Digithings, I would like my tasks to be accessible to others on the course.
    Hope you can clarify things for me.
    Cheers. : )

    • Rebeccah Freeman says:

      Hi Joanie, & anyone else who may be awaiting some feedback on their PowerPoint presentations. Apologies, but I’ve been ill this week with a very nasty sickness virus & have only just returned to the land of the living! As a result I haven’t been able to view & feedback on any presentations this week so far, but will look at them as soon as I can & am looking forward to seeing them.
      Best wishes, Becky

  3. Joan Gavin says:

    I have completed this week’s task and put it on my blog, but for peoples’ convenience I have added a shortlink to the post from here.

  4. Ed Bremner says:

    Thanks Joanie,

    I will take a look as soon as I can. It would be great if everyone could put their Prezis or anything else they produce on their own blog, and then (as you have) to put a link to it on this blog here.

    But if you have any thoughts or comments, then please feel free to put them up here or on your own blog, whichever you want.

    I look forwards to hearing from you all.

    cheers, eib

  5. Jill Schwarz says:

    Is it just me (working on Linux) or is Prezi prone to crashing? I’m finding that editing is OK, but running the show to see what effects my edit had causes a Flash Player crash. It’s a bit of a disappointment because I had (cynically!) assumed that Prezi is another Windows-only invention, and was quite excited to find it’s web-based.

    On another point: Music. I don’t expect most of us use music for our Powerpoint (or other) presentations when teaching, but …. should we?? It seems that, working on Prezi, many of us want to!

    • eibremner says:

      I havn’t had ‘many’ problems with Prezi crashing, but certainly not ‘none’ and I don’t as a rule work on Linux, although I used to on my netbook. On the whole I have found it pretty stable. There are two things which can give problems. The first, like any learning or presentation object, is that you have to keep an eye on the size of the file. Try not to upload images at a size much larger than you need; take care with embedding audio or video files as they can quickly expand the file-size dramatically, which can give problems. The second, which is I guess, really much the same, is available bandwidth, especially if the prezi gets big with lots of embedded media. Prezi is an online tool, and as such, if there is any issue with your connectivity, then you run the risk of loosing decent connection and the program crashing. Both of these will be worse when playing the Prezi rather than creating it.

      So the advice is: take care with the size of your uploaded media and make sure you have a good internet connection.

      One of the good things about Prezi is that it is web-based (although there is a desktop client – if you buy the premium version), so it should work on most platforms that can run a browser with Flash.

      With music….I don’t know. I don’t tend to use music, even on Prezi….and as you say….maybe I should, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Prezi allows you to use it, but you don’t have to :-)

      Looking forwards to seeing the fruits of your labour.

      Best wishes


  6. joanie says:

    I found Prezi to be stable and didn’t have any problems with crashing but I did mine at work, so if I was working off campus and didn’t have a decent broadband connection, I may have experienced problems.
    re: music, I wouldn’t put music over an educational or business presentation. the only reason I added an audio track was because it suited the presentation and I wanted to add audio to see how it worked, and as I have mentioned before, I utterly detest the sound of my own voice so opted for the cowardly option of adding music.

  7. eibremner says:

    Any more for anymore?

    So who were the ‘Prezi-lover’s and who were the ‘Prezi-haters’?

    I hope a few of you have managed to find the time to experiment with Prezi, and if so, it would be really great if you could spend a few mins recording your thoughts onto your blogs or even a few comments here on this blog.

    At lunchtime, I will launch this week’s new Research Topic: Using Mindmaps for Presentation. Again it should be fun, so I hope you will be able to find the time to play with those too.

    later, eib

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