The Prezi zoom is one of the platform’s most powerful features, and it’s the biggest thing that sets it above the competition. It’s so powerful that after coming from the generally boring, static PowerPoint, novice presentation designers often go crazy. So let’s have a look at Zooming and talk about how it’s misused. Sometimes it’s easier to learn what NOT to do!
Antibiotics are powerful too, but if you take half the bottle at once, it’s more bad than good. You’ll flush the probiotics out of your intestines and then your guts will be in knots, not to mention that the prescription won’t work for you the way you hoped it would. The Prezi zoom is the same way.
A quick Google search turned up this prezi which shows how easy it is to go overboard. There are a lot of bad design mistakes anyone can make, but you can’t zoom in and out on a PowerPoint, so when the tool is finally available, it’s easy to misapply it.
The main thing to avoid is overusing big zooms. You don’t use a circular saw to trim a fingernail. A big sweep can make a powerful statement, but it must be used sparingly. If you go deep or far, that power makes its own point, no matter what your story is saying at the time.
So How Do I Know How Much to Zoom?
All a zoom ever says to the audience is, ‘Now we’re moving!’
And yes, sometimes—often, even—that’s exactly what you want to say! It’s a great, intuitive way to signal a transition between points that are related but different. So when you’re moving between sections, feel free to use it.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: the larger the sections are that you’re transitioning between, the larger your zoom can be.
This means that about 75% (or more!) of your zooms should be small and subtle, if there is any at all.
In or Out?
Another important consideration is the direction of the zoom. Are you moving in, which will always imply going into more detail than the previous frame, or are you moving out, which will always imply a move away from the previous frame’s subject?
If you’re on the same subject between two frames, you want to be sure that any zooming is minimal, and is giving your audience the cues that you intend, rather than implying a change that is different than you actually want. If in doubt, don’t zoom at all, move within the same plane instead.
What About Spins?
Functionally, a spin serves a similar purpose, with similar issues to consider. It’s useful for making points, arguments, or displaying data which is directly relevant to the slides surrounding it while still giving the impression of motion, so it is a great tool for lists and things of that nature.
(Always consider a series of spins when you have bullet points. It won’t always be what you want, but it is far more effective than just a slide with a list.)
In general, though, you want to spin only to connect the ideas between the previous and following frame. It says less about movement than a zoom, but it can still be used wrongly, so subtler is better. Don’t ever use any motion tools just to have motion—all movement says something about the story you’re telling.
You don’t want it to say, “Hey audience! This presenter doesn’t know what they’re doing!” You want it to say, “Hey audience, you’re along for the ride, and this movement matters to the story!”
One thing’s for sure: if you want to make your audience sick to their stomachs, mix big zooms and a lot of spins. You’ll have the presentation floor covered in vomit before your 20 minutes are up!
But seriously, I know you don’t want to do that. You want your spins to be powerful and communicative, just like your zooms, but not overwhelming. Whenever you’re not sure if you zoomed too far or spun too much, just assume you did, and go for more subtle movements. You’ll be a more effective presenter that way. I mean, after all, good presentations do happen in PowerPoint with no real motion tools, although they just take more work than they should. If it can be done well with that ancient software, you can’t go wrong by toning it down a touch in a Prezi.
—At wOw Prezi, we rebel against PowerPoint’s status quo and are in a mission to save the world from deadly PPTs, helping sales teams to transform stiff, slide-based presentations into fruitful, revenue-generating conversations.
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