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Beyond PowerPoint: what are your presentation options?

There is more to an impressive presentation than PowerPoint transitions, writes senior graphic designer Adam Elovalis.

PowerPoint still seems to be the go-to platform for many businesses when creating presentations, pitch decks, even desktop publishing materials.

The software was fantastic in its heyday. It was successful because its interface was simple to use, and it was relatively easy to create simple boardroom presentations. There also wasn’t much competition.

But after almost 30 years as market leader, demand for more complex presentations has opened the door to other players:

Keynote

Advantages: Keynote is PowerPoint’s slick, younger brother. It has dynamic templates and themes and its interface is simpler and better designed. This makes common tasks (like simply aligning items) quick and easy to do. It is also a more stable program – meaning that when you’ve spent 2 hours working on your presentation, it’s less likely to crash. Apple’s iOS versions also mean you can create (and present) high-quality presentations from your iPhone or iPad.

Disadvantages: Unfortunately, Keynote is only available on the MacOS platform – so if you use Windows, you can’t use it. You can export keynote presentations as PowerPoint files – but you do lose some of the interactive content.

Microsoft Sway

Advantages: Microsoft Sway is an online tool that is a cross between a drag-and-drop responsive website creator and PowerPoint. It has beautiful, simple layouts and templates. It is simple to use, and fully responsive. It can be used to create a presentation which can be shared as a link so others can view online and peruse at their own leisure. If you have beautiful imagery, then a Sway presentation will work well. It’s also completely free with a Microsoft account.

Disadvantages: Sway will decide the colours fonts and positioning of a lot of elements, and so you have limited control over branding, making it difficult to maintain branding guidelines. You also cannot print your presentations, the use of charts is somewhat simplistic, and diagrams must be imported as images. Also, as the documents are stored on Microsoft servers, IT policies may not allow the storage of sensitive documents onto external servers.

Prezi

Advantages: Prezi is another online tool that makes presentations visually dynamic and keeps viewers engaged in your content. Zooming and panning controls allow you to have layers in your presentation. There are a lot of transitions between each slide – great if you want to capture the attention of your audience. Add to that, the ability to embed in a website, and Prezi is a very useful tool.

Disadvantages: The inability to print is a big drawback, and the premade templates can’t be edited. You must also have an internet connection, unless you want to pay for the monthly subscription fee (Which costs you more than an Office 365 subscription which would include full use of PowerPoint). Some of the templates also feel less professional and more suitable for school projects and they aren’t as flexible as PowerPoint. Charts and graphs must be saved as static pictures.

Let’s face it, PowerPoint will probably continue to be the corporate presentation software of choice for years to come. Keynote is its closest rival, but for many the hassle of learning a new platform will cancel out the benefits of reliability and innovation. But there are situations where Sway and Prezi can be used to great effect, and if you’re wanting your next presentation to really stand out from the crowd then choosing another option is a great way to go.

Adam Elovalis is Cannings Purple’s Senior Graphic Designer and an expert in design for both digital and print. Contact Adam.