02 June 2011

7 ideas for designing your own Prezi template

Powerpoint going stale in the cupboard? Boss banging on your door for a Prezi template?  I hear ya.  But how can you create a consistent look and feel to represent your organisation that isn't too restrictive, and in a program that breaks all the rules?!

Prezi has a growing bank of reusable prezis but these are pretty content specific.  So how to make a compelling and generic corporate Prezi template? There are no right answers yet, but here are some starting points.

Here are 7 approaches to the design of your own Prezi template to get the juices flowing...

(1)  Simple - Direct from powerpoint, this quickest and dirtiest approach is just about using an organizational background image, fonts and logo.  In powerpoint, it's the background imagery and font styles that defined the look. In prezi, you could pretty much do the same for a very bare minimum style continuity.

(2) Pre-defined layout - For a step up, take everything included in 'simple' and add a predefined layout of empty content chunks. The prezi Why you should move beyond slides is a great example of this style.  Another example is this information wheel.  Will you end up having slides that are just old school slides, but strewn across the page at odd angles?  Possibly, but using the Prezi template in creative ways with this template will be up to the prezenter.

(3) Brand-generated layout - Have the predefined layout (as above) emerge from your logo or be based on the imagery used in your brand.  For example, The University of Sydney uses a concept that places boxes cascading out of larger boxes like thought bubbles (See brand image).  Their prezi could have these same boxes emerging around a central logo to hold sections of hierarchical content. Let your brand be your guide.

(4) Work-based layout - What does your organisation do?  Could you represent that in an image or map?  Where I work, we do research. Every presentation we do is somehow about research, so I based our layout on the "road to discovery" (aka. the research process) to which I added brand elements and a standard intro that can be used to preface each of our seminars.  See our research-based template.

(5) The mind map - Just as you can organize just about anything into a concept map in which related concepts break out into other related concepts, you could create a prezi in which the centre of your concept map is your organization or logo, and sections are linked shapes, with potentially any number of further links (subsections) emerging from each of these.

(6) Time-based organisation - If the calendar generally plays an important role in your company's presentations, you can use a timeline upon which to attach information. You could even try creating a star wars effect using size to make items look farther or closer in three dimensional space-time (sorry, no one's done that one yet, maybe I got carried away).

(7) Fun with metaphors - Using a metaphor (eg. a refrigerator, a desk, etc.) and working content chunks into the image (eg. items in the refrigerator or on the desk) is a popular and fun way of making a template.  This Classroom metaphor is a great example.  This film reel metaphor is another.  Leaves on a tree? Apps in a phone? The possibilities are endless.

Tip: Avoid motion sickness
The excessive spinning and zooming is going to look very "early prezi" about 3 seconds ago. I think you'll agree we're past the zoom happy novelty stage (and the repeated bouts of nausea).  The real advantages of this tool are in showing relationships, being able to instantly cut from the details to the big picture and back, and yes, occasionally making a surprising or dramatic point.

Prezi is fresh out of the packaging. It still has that new app smell.  This makes designing for it twice as exciting because most of the ways we'll be using it are yet to be innovated.  Enjoy.