In Ce Rosenow’s Writing 227 class, five other students and I researched to find whether PowerPoint or Prezi was a better presentation software for student use, and constructed an analytical report displaying our findings. For this research, we created three main categories to consider: Ease of Use, Visuals, and Development & Support. We split these main topics into sub-topics. For Ease of Use we examined the accessibility, user friendliness, best features, and public opinion. For the Visuals sections we researched the customization, tools and templates provided. Lastely, for Development & Support we looked at the development history and technical support offered for each software. We examined all of these topics in the hopes of coming to a complete and thorough answer to our inquiry question: is PowerPoint or Prezi the best presentation software for student use?
For the research process, I was responsible for examining the customization options, tools and templates provided by Microsoft PowerPoint. I wanted to explore a wide variety of resources because at the end of the research stage, our group would need to come to a conclusion about which software to recommend to other students. In order to do this we needed more than just scholarly articles. We needed to use the software ourselves and conduct personal research, look at different reputable blogs, view the companies websites, and gather an idea of what the general public said about the different softwares. Because I looked at such a vast variety of sources, I found that I had to develop different criteria for different types of sources. When comparing two products and reading different reviews and articles, it is very easy to run into biased information, so the major thing that I looked at when reviewing a source was deciding if it seemed biased, or if it gave an honest review of the product and incorporated both positives and negatives. Within our report, we had categories such as User Friendliness that relied heavily on the public's opinion of the product, rather than just fact. This being said, when reviewing blogs and other less formal sources I made sure it didn’t seem overly biased, and that there were facts to back up the opinions. Articles such as Genevieve Liang’s “Powerpoint is evil,” weren’t helpful for our research because she didn’t just hate PowerPoint, but presentation software in general, so all of the cons she provided could be applied to all types of slide presentations. When looking for complete facts about PowerPoint, such as the amount of templates provided, or how to use master slides, I went straight to the Microsoft Office Support website because they have the most accurate information regarding how to properly use their products, and the tools offered. However, if I wanted a list of pros and cons about customizing a PowerPoint presentation, I went to online articles such as “PowerPoint vs Prezi: Which one is better,” by Presentation Geeks, because it gave me an honest, and unbiased opinion.
During this research process I learned a lot about presentation software, and about myself as a researcher. After weeks of researching, our group finally came to some conclusions. Through the surveys we conducted, different blogs, and our own use of the softwares, we found that PowerPoint was a far easier program to use. Many of the surveys we collected explained that Prezi was too new, and people felt more comfortable using PowerPoint because they grew up making presentations with it. That being said, as Carl Heaton explains in his article “Prezi vs. PowerPoint, Which is Better for Wowing an Audience,” PowerPoint looks very outdated in comparison to Prezi. PowerPoint also only allows for a linear story, meaning that you can only go from point A to point B, or one slide to the next, with no jumping around. Although this method of presenting is simple, it limits the users options and can be less engaging to the audience, which makes Prezi the superior software in the Visuals category. We also found that Prezi was more easily accessible, and offers more in its free version than PowerPoint, making it better in terms of Development & Support.
When initially starting our research, articles similar to the Presentation Geeks one I talked about above were better for answering our inquiry question because it gave a side by side list of the pros and cons of each presentation software. From those lists, I could then take a certain positive or negative fact and research it further to develop a better understanding of PowerPoint on its own, apart from Prezi. One resource I found surprisingly helpful was the Microsoft Office Support website. From there I could get a complete idea of the tools offered by PowerPoint, and how to accurately use them. Using PowerPoint itself was also a helpful resource, and I enjoyed using the product as a researcher, rather than a student simply making a presentation as I had in the past.
I really enjoyed the process of collecting information, and coming to a conclusion based on that information. I began researching with the idea that PowerPoint would reign supreme because it’s the most popular presentation software, so I found it very interesting learning that many people despise PowerPoint. Overall, I found the research very rewarding, and I think our report worked so well because we became dedicated to the process, and wanted to showcase all of the hard work we did in an effective and flattering way. The main thing that I will revise about my inquiry process in the future is taking diligent notes. I did not do this as well as I could have, and had to revisit sources constantly when writing my portion of the analytical report to fact check, or simply make the correct in text citation. If I were to give three tips to a fellow researcher they would be: to take good notes, dedicate yourself to the process, and find ways to interest yourself in what you’re researching. This way your research process will go fairly smoothly, feel rewarding, and you’ll be left with something to feel proud of.