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6 useful things Prezi can do (which even experienced users miss)

21 May

I keep discovering new things about the presentation software Prezi. Asking around, it seems lots of other users didn’t know about some or all of these either, so with that in mind I thought I’d draw your attention to 6 useful things. Got any more? Leave them in a comment…

1. Upgrade to the educational licence for free if you are a student or work for a University

All you need to do is go to Upgrade on the Prezi site, and stick in your university email address (.edu or .ac.uk etc). As a result of the upgrade you get more storage space (quite useful), the ability to substitute the Prezi logo for one of your own (could be useful for institutional branding of Prezis) and the ability to keep Prezis private (very useful, particularly from a teaching point of view – you don’t want students to see the presentation until it’s ready!). Well worth doing, I think.

The upgrade box is at the bottom of the screen

Free, useful, but many don’t find it

2. Hold down shift when drawing frames and hidden frames to maintain a perfect 4:3 aspect ratio (trust me, this one is REALLY useful!)

This is completely brilliant. I use LOADS of hidden frames in my Prezis, to ensure the viewer is shown exactly what I want them to see in the order I want them to see it. However, when you draw a frame or hidden frame which isn’t the (usually 4:3) aspect ratio you’re using to present – in other words, when the frame isn’t the same shape & proportions as a monitor or projector screen – then other stuff can creep into the frame and slightly ruin all the careful planning.

By pressing shift before drawing a frame, it keeps a perfect 4:3 aspect ratio as you draw it – moving the mouse simply increases or decreases the size, but the shape stays the same. You can in effect create several screens, and populate the screens with content knowing that everything will fit perfectly when you’re presenting or when people are viewing the presentation online. I used this technique loads in the new technologies Prezi and the branding Prezi I recently created. The result is: better looking, more cohesive prezis.

An example of hidden frames using 4:3 aspect ratio

All of the frames you see here are drawn using this technique – click the pic to go to the actual Prezi and see how it works for the viewer

3. Save your Prezi to a USB stick

I realise most of you will know this one, but I wrongly assumed it was an ‘upgraded licence only’ option for ages, so thought I’d flag it up here. It’s very much worth doing because a: you aren’t relying on an internet connection, b: if you’ve got embedded YouTube videos (and there is an internet connection) they’ll still play and c: it enables you to use a clicker to move the presentation along without having to stand by the PC and use a mouse or the keyboard – you can’t use a clicker with a web-based Prezi, for some reason.

When you click ‘download’ you get a ZIP file – you can extract the ZIP to a USB stick but make sure you take all the files and folders with you, as you need all of them to play the Prezi back. You can’t edit it on the stick, so make sure it’s your final version before you download it.

Screengrab showing the download button

It’s not ‘Save a copy’ as you might expect; it’s ‘Download’

4. Print your Prezi in an actually quite useful way

Pressing ‘print’ in edit mode saves the Prezi to a PDF – each page of the PDF is a ‘screen’ on Prezi (i.e each number on your path becomes a printed screenshot). Again, I’d not previously realised this worked so neatly. It means that, for example, for teaching, you could set a simplified path on your presentation, press print to produce a handout of a reasonable length, then put the path back to the full route again. Also, it’s the ultimate back-up – if you can’t present your Prezi for some disastrous reason, you can present with the PDF instead.

Screengrab showing the print-preview

Every destination point for your path is also a page of your printable-PDF

5. Import a PowerPoint presentation directly into Prezi

The easiest way to get started with Prezi is probably to import a PPT and mess around with that. If you have slides you wish to convert, just click Insert > PowerPoint and import them onto the canvas – you can choose all or some of the slides, and have Prezi automatically add a path between them if you like. You can edit the text within Prezi – it’s not like importing a PDF where you’re stuck with what you have.

I’m not sure there’s much point in just pulling in some slides and leaving it at that, but it’s a nice jumping-off point to creating something more interesting – and it’s a lot quicker than typing all the info from your slides in by hand. Quick tip: the more straightforward the slide, the better this works – it struggles with more complicated stuff.

Screengrab showing import slides

Choose some or all of the slides, and Prezi automatically puts little frames round them

6. Choose from more than just 3 colours for your fonts

It used to be the case that you chose your theme, then stuck with the three colours you were given. Now you can change any passage of text to one of a huge number of colour choices – type it first, then the options appear above it on the right.

Picture showing colour highlighting

Lots of colours to play with

I hope some or all of these are useful.

A newly updated Ultimate Prezi Guide is here (refreshed in May 2013), and all sorts of related materials are available here.

- thewikiman

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Comments
  • Ned Potter May 21, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Hello @Prezi users: here are 6 useful things #Prezi can do (which even experienced users miss) http://t.co/yr3bMvZV

  • Katie Birkwood May 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Yes, hugely useful. Thanks Ned!

  • Prezi Master May 21, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Hi Ned,

    Did you allready met the ‘Golden Zebra’?…

    http://prezi.com/fwymkox8xmjt/the-golden-zebra/

    Cheers,
    @FrogjumpMarcel

  • Jayne Kelly May 21, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Brilliant, the first tip alone is worth knowing and I was discussing it with a colleague only this morning, thanks very much.

  • thewikiman May 21, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Cheers Katie, glad to hear it Jayne!

  • thewikiman May 21, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Marcel – wow, thanks for commenting! I certainly did NOT know about the golden Zebra…

    So just to summarise, hold down Alt before pressing on a frame and you’ll be able to edit just the frame, rather than the contents within it. The Zebra will go golden to indicate that you’re doing this. So that’d be useful, for example, when you want to make the frame bigger or smaller without also increasing and decreasing the size of the contents of the frame. Nice!

  • Dace Udre May 21, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Thanks for the ‘shift”! ;)

  • thewikiman May 21, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    It’s good, isn’t it? I now draw frames and fill them with stuff, rather than writing / inserting stuff and drawing a frame round it, as I used to. It helps give structure to the presentation, I think.

  • Annie Johnson May 21, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Didn’t know about shift or alt, and I hadn’t picked up on the fact that you can now have more than three colours! Very useful, thank you Ned!

  • thewikiman May 21, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Cheers Annie! It’s a relief – there was always the chance everyone would say ‘no it’s okay, we all knew about all six of these…’ :)

  • Ned Potter May 21, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I almost *guarantee* you'll find at least 1 of these handy, #Prezi users | 6 useful which even experienced users miss http://t.co/yr3bMvZV”

  • Chris May 21, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    I knew a couple of these, but the “shift” trick is a good one that I either didn’t know or had forgotten (I’m sure it had to be in one of the guides, but there’s a lot of info in those haha). Also, you can use a clicker with web based Prezi, here are the steps:

    1. load your prezi and click Edit Prezi.
    2. Press space bar to bring up show mode.
    3. Press m to remove the toolbar.
    4. click on your browser menu bar and click view >> fullscreen.

    Now you prezi is in full screen but you can also use your clicker to navigate.

  • Mel May 22, 2012 at 5:31 AM

    I can’t get the golden zebra to work? And, I’m able to make the frame larger without also enlarging the content just by clicking on the frame. Maybe they changed it?

  • CILIP May 22, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    6 useful things Prezi can do (which even experienced users miss) via @theREALwikiman http://t.co/DGVUWErL #Prezi

  • Ned Potter May 22, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Yesterday's post: 6 useful things Prezi can do (which even experienced users miss) http://t.co/yr37eVQL

  • Lyn Bailey May 22, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    very useful – I did not know about the free upgrade. The shift I had learnt when doing a presentation but I wish I had known about the print option when there was a projector malfunction in a room I was presenting. I spent ages printing screen. Now I know about this I will always have a backup.

  • thewikiman May 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Hi Mel – not sure why it isn’t working for you, but if you can do what it does anyway then there’s no need to worry!

  • thewikiman May 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Chris, thanks so much for that! Really useful to know, appreciate you taking the time to comment…

  • thewikiman May 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Hi Lyn, really glad it was useful. :)

  • Catherine Voutier May 23, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    Excellent tips! Just in time for a teaching session I am giving today to some hospital executives. Thanks Ned!

  • Charlie Rapple May 23, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Number 2 is GOLD, thanks, Ned!

  • thewikiman May 23, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Hi Catherine, no problem!

  • thewikiman May 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Hi Charlie – yeah it’s great innit! :)

  • Mylee Joseph May 27, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: 6 useful things Prezi can do (which even experienced users miss) http://t.co/J1ywfxSH

  • [...] See also: 6 useful things Prezi can which even experienced users miss [...]

  • [...] 6 useful things Prezi can do  [...]

  • Hubert Lalande June 14, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    6 conseils pour Prezi, http://t.co/oFrCT2y9 (via @wterral @olivier_alfieri @stephanemlavoie)

  • Julie Bush June 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Presenting a workshop at the AGCAS CIEL conference next week on managing and developing career websites, will definitely recommend your blog for the brilliant advice and tips on using prezi and new technologies

  • thewikiman June 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Thank you Julie! Very kind of you to say.

  • Ned Potter November 15, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    @AgentK23 See (1) http://t.co/rVxQiT5z – and quite a long time. Each of those is a bespoke version for different audiences.

  • [...] Also, in case you’ve not seen it, here’s 6 useful things which even experienced Prezi users miss. [...]

  • Victor Flores October 15, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Hello wikiman,,, thank you for the information. I have found that you can use a clicker. To do this, you must be in EDIT form in your prezi, then right click the mouse and select START PRESENTATION, once the prezi is in presentation mode your clicker will work. Atleast it has for me.

  • Christina March 24, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    Is there a way to easily return to the correct point in presentation once you click out to go to a website (from a link in the prezi)?

  • thewikiman March 28, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Hi Christina, basically use a downloaded version (on a USB stick) – this picks up where it left off, when you exit and come back in, far better than the online version.

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