Updated on June 11, 2014.
Meaghan Hendricks is a presentation designer at Prezi. She has designed prezis for a wide variety of purposes, from TED talks to Prezi tutorials to reinterpretations of classic fairy tales. You can find some of the prezis she’s made on her public Prezi profile.
What is the secret to making amazing prezis that captivate your audience? Though there are many elements that come together to make an engaging prezi, one of the keys is a visual structure that organizes and connects to your message.
3D backgrounds offer an easy way to bring visual structure to your prezi. You can add up to three background images to a prezi; like a series of curtains, each background will fade to reveal the next one as you zoom into your canvas.
How can I add 3D backgrounds to my prezi?
Adding a 3D background to your prezi is simple—under the “Themes” menu, click “Customize Current Theme…”, then open the “Advanced” toolbar and click the 3D Background “Edit” button. Then, you can upload (or drag-and-drop) up to three images to create your backgrounds. For the best results, make sure you use images that are at least 3,000 pixels wide—images that are smaller than this might become pixelated when you zoom into them, which can be distracting and make your prezi look sloppy. At the same time, if your image is too large, it will cause your prezi to load slowly; try to stick with .jpg images that are between 1 and 2 MB.
One thing to remember is that your backgrounds are meant to remain in the background—that is to say, they shouldn’t overshadow your content. Avoid using overly busy or distracting backgrounds, and try using shapes or the highlighter to make your content more legible. You should also avoid placing content within the transition space between two background images—keep zooming until only one background image is visible before placing your content on the canvas.
When used correctly, this feature can make your presentations more rich, engaging, and attention-grabbing to your audience—so let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make 3D backgrounds work for you.
1. Add atmosphere.
A simple atmospheric background can add a subtle sense of environment, or even invoke a mood or atmosphere in your prezi. Take a look at this example to see how a background image can be used to set the tone and establish a theme:
2. Create subtle visual effects.
By subtly changing the color or texture of a background, you can add some movement or interest to your prezi without causing any distraction. The background in this prezi offers visual interest and reflects the theme of the content without distracting the viewer:
3. Highlight changes in your story.
You can use different backgrounds to indicate a change in your story, whether it be between locations, topics, or sections. Your 3D backgrounds can serve as a visual metaphor for these changes, or you can use them to illustrate more literal changes, as this prezi does:
4. Hide easter eggs & surprises.
You can get creative and use 3D backgrounds to hide special surprises and secrets within your prezi. This can be a fun way to get your audience involved in your presentation—just take a look at this example (hint: drag the table upwards to reveal a cute surprise).
Interested in learning more about using 3D backgrounds? Take a look at this prezi tutorial: