Overview or just another slide transition effect

Prezi wants to know why I haven’t visited their service for a long time, and I will respond here.

I liked their idea very much. It had the potential to overcome the suffocating linearity of traditional presentations by zooming out to the overview and allowing to arrange the outline by a meaningful spatial configuration.

This would have been particularly useful for presentations in education, where there is typically no single point to get across (as the presenter gurus teach us) but numerous items need to be highlighted because, in a seminar or a conference, a certain agenda pensum of subject matter or a certain reporting period must be covered.

The zoomed-out overview could be like a large topicmap with radial and cross-reference connections, or like a info mural, or like a large old-fashioned green chalkboard where connections were made by walking back and forth and pointing to previously discussed writings or drawings.

But, in all the prezi presentations I have seen, this great potential has been abused for merely a new, gimmick, slide transition effect. So unfortunately, the audience is put off by the prejudice that this is just another form of distracting, annoying flurry. (Perhaps this trend would be mitigated if the movement were a bit slower?) But I think twice if I invest the effort in a carefully done prezi, just to raise discomfort. Of course, this is not Prezi’s fault but, as often, the problem is how the tool is used.

By the way, there are use cases of meaningful slide transitions. For example, if the narrator says that we have so far examined the topic from the front aspect, and we are turning now to an opposite, back view. Here, a transition called “flip” in Windows Movie Maker helps visualizing just this context. So when I learned that Powerpoint 2010 has many new transitions I eagerly looked for flip — but did not find it. So, transitions remain almost always useless distractions.

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One Response to Overview or just another slide transition effect

  1. They also don’t archive well. Certainly I’ve never seen the equivalent of a ‘Slideshare’ for Prezi. How would you archive a presentation? Unknown (to me, at least).

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