Penny Black on Comparing Prezi and PowerPoint

My name is Penny Black and I am a Public Health Program Evaluator at the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.  As an evaluator, I am often called upon to present or facilitate discussions of evaluation results.

Rad Resource – Prezi: For years, the presentation tool standard has been Microsoft PowerPoint. I have recently begun to use, however, Prezi, a presentation software product that uses “zooming” technology to create visually stimulating presentations (

For those who haven’t used Prezi (or even heard of it), I thought it might be helpful to have a comparison of industry-standard PowerPoint and newcomer Prezi. Please note that this review is based on my personal experience, others may have different experiences and opinions.

PowerPoint Prezi
Splash factor Small Huge (it’s new, it can’t help but make a cannon-ball sized splash)
Design elements Pretty basic; templates provide design elements such as columns for text and boxes for images Pretty cool; frames, arrows, zooming, free-style drawing tools
User interface Friendly; familiar to MS product users Somewhat friendly; website provides helpful tutorial and examples
Templates Available and modifiable Available in the form of searching the prezi public database and using others’ prezis as templates; also modifiable
Progression Linear Non-linear
Easy to develop Check! Once you know what you’re doing, it’s smooth sailing
Last-minute editing Easy and quick A little cumbersome
Video capability No; PowerPoint must be minimized to access videos in another application Yes; videos can be embedded in the presentation
“Operating system” Hard drive Online (but can be downloaded)
Presenter notes Includes dedicated space for notes and printing options Does not have this capability (but I predict this is coming)
Printer friendliness Great Not great (but again, I anticipate this getting better as more users request improvements)
Motion sickness Not an issue Can be an issue if you’re not careful with transition frequency and depth effects
Cost Usually sold as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, can cost several hundred dollars Free! (see Rad Resource below for license information)

Hot Tip: Use a dark background for better visibility in large rooms. Light backgrounds look great on your computer monitor but wash out on a projection screen or whiteboard.

Rad Resource: Student/Teacher Licenses: Prezi offers three licenses: Public (free), Enjoy ($59/yr), and Pro ($159/yr), each license offering progressively more features. There is also a free 30-day trial for the Enjoy and Pro licenses. Students and Teachers can sign up for a free Enjoy license (called EduEnjoy) or a reduced price Pro license (EduPro: $59/yr).

Rad Resource: AEA Coffee Break webinar – Easy as Prezi: A Powerpoint Alternative. Free to AEA members, this webinar presents a great demonstration of creating and using Prezi. Watch it now!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

11 thoughts on “Penny Black on Comparing Prezi and PowerPoint”

  1. I totally agree that both PowerPoint and newcomer Prezi have their pros and cons. We should try them both and decide for ourselves which is more relevant. Anyways thanks for your point of views!

  2. I’m surprised that you describe PowerPoint’s drawing tools as “pretty basic.” I’ve been using them for 15 years, and watched as Microsoft has added powerful features. PPT has (from the Prezi column) frames, arrows, zooming [this PPT function is pretty basic and unfriendly], free-style drawing tools. The drawing tools have bezier curve and node editing, and a ton of “fill” options that provide a variety of effects.
    Let’s not forget bevels, reflections, shadows and 3D options. Of course, interactivity (PowerPoint can be incredibly interactive) and embedding video have already been mentioned. The only way I see Prezi holds the advantage is with the very tools people overuse, and end up making their audience dizzy. Great for low-cost Flash-type demos, but for a speaker, it’s a great example of the colossal error of style over substance. Prezi has a place, but it’s misunderstood as tool to inform. I’ve seen many Prezi presentation, and I can’t remember anything about the content. I was so busy just watching the motion.
    [I don’t work for Microsoft; I’m just a PowerPoint professional, still waiting for the ability to select/align/delete/define MULTIPLE nodes when in the node-editing mode.]

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Most people i’ve come across have no idea how to really use PowerPoint. It can do all the things Prezi can do and more,albeit with a little more work in terms of zooming…

  3. Hi, I agree with Sammy that we are also able to embed videos without any problem, you can see a demo in our free PowerPoint templates. Also we have been using videso for PowerPoint on Mac without issues. As said by @molly, you need to make sure that the videos are embedded as a whole.

  4. You can definitely embed movies in powerpoint (it’s one of the media icons). The only slightly tricky thing is if you are using a different computer to present on, you need to make sure to save your presentation as a package so the movie gets bundled along with the presentation.

  5. Sammy and Simon–glad you already beat me to the two points I wanted to make. I’d also like to emphasize that PPT and Prezi are just tools. Like any tool, they can be used appropriately or inappropriately. Before deciding on PPT, Prezi, or any other presentation tool, consider which medium will best support my purpose? Join up with the Data Visualization and Reporting TIG for more topics like this!

  6. Really helpful breakdown of the differences between the two tools, Penny…thank you.

    One thing to note is that PowerPoint CAN be interactive with a little bit of tweaking.

    Great to see mention of motion sickness! A word to the wise – don’t use Prezi at conferences…the results can get messy!

  7. Excuse me, but I believe you are incorrect when you say that “PowerPoint must be minimized to access videos in another application.” I embed videos in both PowerPoint and Keynote (Apple’s version) regularly with no problem. It’s just a matter of inserting each video in a slide and when the slide comes up, the video runs. Couldn’t be simpler. No reason to leave either program, and most video formats work (.mov, etc…).

  8. Pingback: Penny Black on Comparing Prezi and PowerPoint – AEA365 | All about PowerPoint

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