Prezi or PowerPoint? Students see advantages to both

Posted on: April 29, 2013 | By: Casey Brown | Filed under: Instructional Technologies

Today, classroom presentations can take on diverse forms due to the influx of presentation programs available7410458576_8c4c8d0c42_b for students. With so many options, how do you know which one is right for you? Elon students share which presentation program they prefer out of the two major options: Prezi and Microsoft PowerPoint.

PowerPoint: Simple and structured

PowerPoint is a Microsoft Office program through which people can make presentation slide shows. Various templates options are available and users can create slides full of information with photos and videos. First year student Ashleigh McGrath thinks the simplicity of PowerPoint is what makes it most appealing as a presentation program.

“PowerPoint is much easier to use,” McGrath said. “It is much easier to organize yourself with PowerPoint, a trait which I prefer when presenting. When I used Prezi, it was hard to organize my notes when I was presenting.”

A benefit to using PowerPoint for many users, including McGrath, is its familiarity. Because computer users start using Microsoft Office programs when they first get computers, PowerPoint is the first presentation program they learn.

McGrath acknowledges that after learning a few tricks, PowerPoint can be an effective presentation program.

“If you know how to use PowerPoint then I believe that it makes an effective presentation, because then you know how to work the transitions, and how to embed videos within the PowerPoint,” McGrath said. “Learning how to embed videos into my PowerPoint presentations has helped save a lot of time for me.”

One feature McGrath is particularly fond of is the notes section. Beneath each slide, there is a place where students can take notes. McGrath can have her presentation notes right there as she presents. That, along with the program’s intuitiveness, makes McGrath a supporter of the program.

MORE: Read about ways to improve your PowerPoint slides

Prezi: Presentations with originality

Michelle Leibel, a junior cinema major, is one of many Elon students who have converted over to Prezi. Via the Prezi website, students can create presentations in a nonlinear fashion by creating different paths through which the presentation can travel.

The originality and nonlinear format that Prezi provides are the features that makes it Leibel’s preference over PowerPoint.

“Prezi allows for slight animations that seem sleeker and subtler transitions from point to point in a presentation,” Leibel said. “It also has features where you can search for an image straight from the Internet to use on your presentation and Prezi tells you whether it’s Fair Use or not. Video integration is also extremely easy.  PowerPoint, while effective, doesn’t provide the creativity that Prezi does, and it just seems old fashioned to me at this point.”

More: Read Prezi’s Tips and Tricks to making a good Prezi presentation

With the paths on Prezi, one can follow his or her presentation from one point to another, making a web of information that travels in an understandable fashion. For Leibel, this is the best way for her to shape her ideas.

“I’m not sure if Prezi necessarily makes me a better presenter, but it definitely helps me organize my thoughts,” Leibel said. “It’s nice to be able to see your whole presentation laid out as a map.”

Leibel is a supporter for Prezi because of its creativity. PowerPoint may be simple to use, but as Leibel emphasizes, its strict linear fashion leaves little room for imagination.

“I would recommend Prezi for presentations if nothing else to spice up an otherwise dull lesson,” Leibel said. “No matter how many times you dress up a PowerPoint, they somehow all look the same every time. Prezi is as creative or not creative as you want, and can be a different adventure every time.”


In the end, it is up to personal presentation styles. Some people want the creativity and originality that Prezi offers, while others prefer the simplicity and structure PowerPoint provides. The better program for you is something that only you can decide.

If you’re interested in learning more about using PowerPoint or Prezi for effective presentations, contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or

Image by Flickr user p_a_h/CC BY 2.0

Casey Brown

Casey Brown

Casey Brown is the Writing Intern for Technology with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Department.

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