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Solving the wrong problem?

Solving the wrong problem?

Recently, I was introduced to a Powerpoint alternative called Prezi. Having suffered through many 'death by powerpoint' presentations over the years (perhaps even inflicting some suffering on others), I was excited to try Prezi. But after spending a few hours with the software, I decided to cancel my subscription.

The experience got me thinking about business applications, and whether they solve real business challenges or introduce their own unique problems.

Prezi brings a fresh and different approach to presentations. Rather than having a sequence of slides (as in Powerpoint), Prezi 'flies around' a spatial background image, zooming in and out on content. It's quite hard to explain, so have a look at this example.

At first, the animated transitions look great. But quickly, it starts to feel the same as someone overdoing slide transition animations in Powerpoint. Beautiful transitions can't hide poor content or content delivery, and I suspect many Prezi's are so focussed on animation that content suffers.

I am sure that a good presenter with carefully created content could use Prezi well. But these same people will do well with Powerpoint. For most presentations, I suspect the animation will overwhelm the presentation, leaving the audience talking about the visual effects rather than the content.

On the surface, Prezi appears to solve the problem of boring presentations. In practice, it does nothing to address the real challenge of poor content and delivery. Are there other examples? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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