PowerPoint? Been there–done that. Prezi? Tried it–liked it. I was ready for something new, and more dynamic, if possible. I also wanted to impress my students with my ability to show them “new” tools they could also use to be just as cool as me. Ultimately, the tool should rely on my existing PowerPoint content, allow me to add audio narration, and then up my cool factor by including video game like animations and transitions. Emaze seemed to be a good option, as it looked like PowerPoint and Prezi had a baby and called it Emaze. (There have been worse baby names by celebrities!) I took my PowerPoint slides and uploaded them, then had to significantly edit them to get them to fit the templates. I spent a few hours getting the look, transitions, and audio just right. I reviewed the final version and noticed a few glitches, but thought it was okay. Nope. EPIC FAIL. One of my students very politely told me that the presentation was “not working,” which was a nice way of saying: “Professor, the presentation is really screwy. The audio for different slides starts playing at the same time, and the content moves too quickly to understand. Going back to review previous slides sends you on a Dr. Who like journey where you won’t land where expected.”
Goal: Dynamic and engaging presentation that allows for transitions, audio, and embedded links
- Accepts PowerPoint files to base the presentation on
- Several free templates with interesting graphics and backgrounds
- A sort of 3D feel as the view swings around to the next slide, which my audience liked
- Supports embedded links
- Audio would not consistently sync with the slides. There were no audio controls during playback; in other words, I could not pause the audio for a slide once it started. The audio would overlap and play at the same time if the audience decided to go back one slide.
- Firefox was quirky with this tool. For example, at one point it would only represent text in upper-case even though I didn’t have the Caps Lock set. I had to exit the browser and log in again.
- No further dynamic features beyond transitions, such as animations that reveal or highlight information on the slide.
- Some color themes are nice looking, but may be difficult to read for those with visual impairments
Insider View: Although you can upload a PowerPoint file, I found it easier to draft in PowerPoint, and the copy/paste the text into the template. Don’t apply a theme to the PowerPoint, as this is imported also and conflicts with the Emaze theme. Having a PowerPoint version will help with accessibility issues, since I don’t know if screen readers will pick up Emaze content. Emaze certainly doesn’t provide a transcript.
Final Thoughts: For short presentations that relate to the provided template themes, it’s a good tool as long as you don’t want audio narration and your audience doesn’t get vertigo (with the cityscape type of themes).