Articles Prezi vs. PowerPoint

Prezi vs. PowerPoint: Establishing Objectives

Evaluating a new technology can be a difficult undertaking. Even if you are a technical person well-seasoned in the technology in question, it can still be challenging to weigh and compare all the variables involved in a big purchase decision. There isn’t always an “apples to apples” comparison to make. Often times competing technologies will address a similar problem, yet handle the approach in a completely different way. Depending on the approach, one product may wind up fitting your initiatives better than the other.

Prezi vs. PowerPoint is a great example that has come up recently that illustrates this scenario perfectly. Clients have been asking about Prezi and whether or not it is a viable alternative to PowerPoint. I’m sure most are familiar with PowerPoint by now but if you are new to Prezi, you can read more here.

Perhaps the most notorious benefit of Prezi is its animated presentation, which zooms in and out of each slide, breaking the standards of linear flowing slide presentations. Clients feel that aspect may hold the attention of their audience better and engage them on a deeper level. Another attractive aspect to Prezi is its cloud-based approach, which means you can access your files anywhere you can access the internet without installing software. This is also said to make remote collaboration a breeze and also making it easier than ever to integrate full presentations on your website or through social media initiatives.

On the other side of the discussion, PowerPoint has been the industry standard since its inception in 1987, and does not show signs of slowing down at all. Sure, the current release has a few less bells and whistles than Prezi’s brand new offering includes, but PowerPoint is the industry standard and will continue to roll out competitive improvements as this heated competition builds steam.

It’s all but public opinion that many PowerPoint presentations lack that “wow” factor needed to captivate audience attention. However, more times than not, those lackluster presentations could be greatly improved by implementing some of PowerPoint’s more advanced features, such as embedding video or making good use of timely animations. If you are considering a switch from PowerPoint to Prezi simply to improve slide animation, perhaps you could find a similar solution by delving deeper into the advanced features of PowerPoint?

While one side of the debate sees a great benefit to be gained with the zooming animations of Prezi, the other side sees potential for distraction and disconnect between audience and presenter. Rich content is always at the heart of a good presentation, if the information is valuable, the audience will pay close attention. It is nice to have a pleasing and even entertaining graphical element to help emphasize the value, however, if the content is there, a flashy animation becomes secondary. So how important is that aspect to you and your project objectives? As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while the animations of Prezi are fresh and attract the eye, they are surely not the only thing to focus on in this analysis.

To play the role of devil’s advocate, I wonder how Prezi handles importing and manipulation of legacy slides? According to documentation, it is easy to import existing slides, but I wonder how that translates to importing massive back catalogs of slide decks? Can they easily integrate and be brought current if they have a dated look and feel or do they need to be created again in a Prezi format? What about the fact that Prezi is built on Flash technology, a technology that for years has been regarded as legacy and end of life? Will that be an issue down the line for anyone committing to Prezi over PowerPoint? What if Flash support completely goes away? What if all of the files you embedded with links to Prezi start to break or render differently on different browsers as Flash continues to fade? Imagine the fallout that would be created?

Since there is enough of a difference between these two products at this stage in time, one could reach the conclusion that both have a place in the market and depending on what your goals are, both may in fact fit your objectives so there is no way to rule that one product is superior all across the board. The question is, which technology is superior for your unique applications.

When clients bring up the PowerPoint vs. Prezi discussion, I like to take a step back and consider all business objectives first before looking at the specific features of each product. I think many times the mind-set is to acquire the most affordable technology that includes the most features, even if you don't plan on using all of the included features. But I'd like to propose that when shopping for technology, which is not always the best approach to finding the product that suits you best.

It’s always attractive to hear about a new technology that is designed to solve the problem that you have been experiencing, but sometimes it helps to gain perspective by zooming out of the scene and defining what your parameters are for the product in question. Never mind what their marketing suggests as a benefit, what do you see as a benefit for your process? Why are you really considering making such a big change? What are your goals?

Take that step back and get away from the attractive benefits of the new technology that always seems to be the most appealing at first glance. Perhaps after you have made your evaluations and considered the products in question as compared to your objectives list, rather than comparing a spreadsheet to see who tally's highest in the features column, you may conclude that it makes more sense to leave PowerPoint behind?

Perhaps you will conclude that going with such a new technology is a risk at this time and you will re-evaluate things again in a year? Perhaps you will uncover that by making a switch, you will also inadvertently improve other aspects of our business? Or perhaps you will find that a blend of the two technologies is really what makes your presentations sing? One thing is for sure, you can’t reach the answer you seek until you settle on the right questions to ask.

Here are just a few targeted questions that may help to bring hidden objectives to the forefront so that all variables can be factored into the decision:

  1. What are you looking to achieve by switching technologies?
  2. Is purchasing new technology the most efficient and cost effective way to go about solving this issue?
  3. In what other ways, if any, can this problem be solved?
  4. What costs are involved if I decide to make a change?
  5. What will happen if I don’t make a move, are there repercussions?
  6. What will change in my day to day process if I decide to implement a new technology? Will other processes be effected? If so what is involved?
  7. If I switch technologies, will I lose any functionality I have now?
  8. What are my concerns about making a change, what are the risks?
  9. Is there a feasible way to try out the new technology with no or minimal commitment?
  10. Are there any other departments in my company that may be impacted by me making a change in technology?