This week we continue our comparison series between the two main presentation tools we use – Prezi and PowerPoint. After looking at their ease of use in Part 1, let’s focus on some of the standout features for each programme.
The old timer that is PowerPoint has hundreds of different features and, as a team of presentation designers, we have tinkered with nearly all of them. We do find that there are several key features that seem to get used more than others, and they help us to create impactful, beautiful, yet simple presentations.
1. The Morph transition
You may have read about the Morph transition on our blog a few times now. This is without a doubt our favourite PowerPoint feature and it’s also the simplest to use. You can find it in the list of transitions and it allows you to create a super slick ‘transition’ between slides that feels almost like animated video rather than PowerPoint.
A great example can be seen here – play the video at the top of the page. You’ll notice the feature is at play in the very beginning of this PowerPoint presentation when the planets slowly move around.
We mentioned Add-ins briefly in Part 1, and now we’d like to go into a bit more detail. As this feature is often neglected, we urge you to go look at it now. You’ll find it under the Insert menu.
Add-ins are a little bit like apps on your mobile phone. Once you find something useful, make sure you install it to your copy of PowerPoint. We’d recommend the Poll Everywhere Add-in for live polling directly on your slides, the Pexels Add-in for a huge library of professional photos, and the Noun Project Add-in for a huge library of amazing icons. If you have any other requirements for your presentation, just search through the headings listed inside the Add-ins feature.
There are so many basic tools inside PowerPoint that just don’t get any use at all simply because Microsoft isn’t great at telling users about them
3. 3D objects
Users of the latest versions of PowerPoint will have access to an online library of 3D objects which can be dragged and dropped, then manipulated into any position, directly on the slide. You can then also use the Morph feature mentioned above to get the 3D object to rotate as you transition to other slides.
It may sound a little complex but actually this is very easy to do. The results are incredible and, if you work in architecture or product design, there’s an added bonus in that you can also import your own 3D models and work with those in the same way.
We’ve used this feature a lot for client presentations and the feedback is always ‘How on earth did you do that?’ This, of course, is a nice thing to hear when you’re trying to grab people’s attention with your slides.
Another feature we really take advantage of is inserting video. Yes, it’s a simple one, but PowerPoint can handle video so well that it completely transforms your presentation design.
We use video a lot in the background of our clients’ slides. It’s a great alternative to flat imagery and, when used subtly, it can really lift a presentation design to the next level.
One of the things we like the most about Prezi is that there aren’t hundreds of features to choose from. When speaking to Prezi about new features we have always been told ‘Prezi will only add what we think presenters really need’. That is a refreshing standpoint and very different to the Microsoft ‘Let’s add stuff just because we can’ approach that has been in the past decade or so.
Next, let’s focus on some features that are specific to Prezi:
- Story blocks
A very simple yet very effective feature of Prezi is called Story Blocks. This is a giant menu of different layouts that you can drag and drop onto your canvas. If you need a well designed timeline, or a sales funnel diagram, just search for a few different designs and then drag them into position.
2. Images and Icons
Prezi has a huge library of around 500,000 images and icons. These pull from libraries such as Pexels and can all be used without having to pay for copyright.
There is definitely no excuse to use pixelated imagery you’ve grabbed from Google inside a Prezi. Indeed, we often notice whilst delivering our training sessions, just how much this feature helps beginners create great presentations.
One big benefit of using and understanding Prezi is that it forces you to think more about the visual metaphor of your presentation and story
3. Inserting audio narration
Prezis can easily be shared online, and even embedded into websites. Viewing a Prezi online can be an even more engaging experience if there is audio narration to help us understand the journey through the content.
This is extremely simple to do inside a Prezi and we’ve seen many of our clients create mini training presentations, health and safety briefings, and much more using Prezi with the audio feature.
Before you PowerPoint lovers say it, yes, we know PowerPoint has a million animations. But do you use them all? Probably not!
Once again Prezi has kept it very simple, and the most powerful animation type (that PowerPoint doesn’t have) is the ability to zoom in on something. This simple feature can really take your presentation to the next level as it helps your audience focus their attention on a specific point. Then you can zoom back out to your overview and allow the audience to understand how the detail they just saw relates to everything else. This is a powerful way to present and you’ll see it used in many of our presentations.
5. Topic cover customisation
Prezi uses an overview page that contains the different sections of your presentation. On this overview each section is represented by a topic cover. That is how you and the audience know there are areas of content to be explored.
It’s now possible to heavily customise these topic covers, which means you can create some truly stunning overview pages. You can also make certain areas of content invisible to the audience should you wish to have some backup content at hand if you need it.
We could go on for ages, but we’ll stop here for now. If you found this useful, check out Part 1 of the series. Next, in Part 3 we’ll highlight some attention grabbing features for each tool.
In the meantime, check out our advanced PowerPoint skills training session on the 10th July. Tickets are nearly sold out.
We also run Prezi training delivered by none other than Prezi Expert and Founder of The Prezenter, Russell Anderson-Williams. For general presentation tips with a focus on visual storytelling, don’t miss the upcoming webinar.
We’d love to hear from you with questions about PowerPoint or Prezi. Just email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.