How to create a prezi that will blow away your audience, part 1.


The folks at gtcreate know how to make a Prezi look awesome and blow audiences away because they do this day in, day out for their clients. In this two-part guest post, Duncan Dibble, Client Services and Digital Director at gtcreate, imparts some of his expert knowledge so you too can stand out from mere mortal slides and deliver a killer presentation. In this first post, learn how to think like a cinematographer to set the tone of your presentation.

If you are reading this, then it is more than likely that you've seen an awesome prezi lately, and you want to learn how to make your own.

Rather than a step-by-step how-to guide, this post is designed to help you understand the fundamental principles of Prezi that will allow you to make an effective presentation time and time again.

The first step is to move away from the linear, slide-based methodology. Prezi works as if you were viewing a scene through a camera lens, incorporating movements like zoom, rotation, oscillation and animations. This movement can be used to evoke emotions in your audience and to highlight key messages and topics within your presentation.

Thinking like a traditional presenter will actually prevent you from making an effective prezi. To make a great prezi, you need to follow one simple rule: Think like a cinematographer.

Cinematographers work with film directors to translate their vision onto film. Cinematographers tell stories using framing, photography, colors, and camera movements to evoke emotion. This is exactly what good presenters do—use Prezi’s many features to tell a story.

So now that we know we need to move our thinking away from the linearity of slides and adopt the mindset of a cinematographer, let’s explore some of the ways we can use elements of film to make effective prezis.

Set the scene.

Good cinematographers use ‘establishing shots’ which set up the context for a scene. You can use this technique to introduce your topic and the direction your prezi will take.

This Prezi example below illustrates how setting the scene on can highlight what your topic of discussion is about.

The above design establishes the theme of the presentation—the interconnected web of data that technology allows us to explore—from the very first frame.

Set the tone.

The tone of your prezi will establish audience expectations and reinforce assumptions about your topics or themes from the off.

Consistent tone often determines whether your audience consider your presentation a success or failure. If you don’t get your tone right, you can leave the audience feeling disorientated and lost without actually being able to pinpoint why—it will just feel wrong.

Here are some of the key elements to think about when setting the tone of your presentation:

Colors—use vibrant colors to create an energetic feel. You can use muted colours and neutrals to reinforce your message. Use a unified color palette—if you use too many colors, your prezi will feel lost.

Light vs. Dark—light can be used to express openness, and darkness can give your presentation a serious tone.

Typeface and Fonts—your typeface and font will also determine tone. As human beings, we are able to perceive personality in fonts—so make sure the personality of the font you choose matches your message.

Where Prezi knocks the socks off of slide-based presentations is in its ability to use movement and animations to assist in setting the tone. There are a number of elements to consider when using movement to establish tone;

Opening Visual Sequence—the example above zooms out and uses a visual metaphor to determine the topic—in this case, a key represents the ability to achieve success.

Speed of transitions—fast transitions create a different emotional tone from more smooth or gradual transitions between pieces of content.

Path of the animation—if your content moves in a consistent, orderly fashion, your presentation will evoke different emotions than if it contains an erratic or disorderly path.

Number of objects in view—messages delivered in isolation can add more focus and demand more attention than content presented in a large group.

The message you are trying to deliver will inevitably dictate how to develop the tone that is appropriate for your message and, more importantly, your audience.

Continue on to Part 2 of this two-part guest post here. To see the full post on gtcreate’s blog, click here. Follow gtcreate’s blog for more design tips & tricks.