Tell any business executives to prepare a presentation, and they will immediately fire up Microsoft PowerPoint on the computer. As for as the business world is concerned, Microsoft PowerPoint is de facto presentation software, the one-and-only app worthy to be hailed “king” of presentation slideshows. But is there any contender out there that are worth its salt to challenge the “king”?
And no, I don’t mean some specialised software that is written by some obscure software house, for some highly unique applications. I mean presentation softwares that are readily available, and easy enough for the average Joe to whip up last quarter’s profit and loss report for the board of directors meeting later in the day.
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The answer to the question above is a definite “YES” on all accounts. There are alternatives to the commonly used PowerPoint, and there are alternatives that are similar enough to PowerPoint that the learning curve is almost a flat-line, for those of you’re too reluctant to move away from your comfort zone. But for those of you who are brave enough to venture outside the reservation, there even are those that will give you the creative freedom to make “better” presentations.
The Obvious Contender – The Often Overlooked Choice
The first worthy contender is Google Slides, one of the many apps from Google Apps for Work, the online productivity suite offered by internet giant Google. If familiarity is your name, then Google Slides is your game. It feels almost similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.
So why choose Google Slides over PowerPoint?… For one thing, it’s FREE… Well, free for you to use anyway. All you need to do is to sign up for a Google account, if you haven’t already. Most people I know already have one… or three… or five…
Other advantages include being able to access your slideshow anywhere, even if you don’t have your precious portable computer with you. As long as you have internet connection, you can access your slideshows. And it’s really good for sharing too. Anybody who has a Google account can view, and even co-edit your slideshow (and other Google Apps) online.
The only bad news is that you can’t do this unplugged. Since Google Slides (and all of the other Google Apps) reside entirely in cyberspace, you can’t access it if you have no access to internet.
The Less Known Contender – Breaking The Slideshow Norm Completely
The next contender is Prezi. Now if you haven’t already heard of Prezi, it’s about time to start looking into it. If their marketing tagline is to be believed, they can give PowerPoint a run for their money.
Prezi’s approach to any slideshow is what they call dynamic, as opposed to the traditional linear approach with PowerPoint. Instead of telling their story from the first page to the last in that order, Prezi allows you to jump forwards and backwards in your storyline. Think Pulp Fiction.
Besides travelling through time in your slideshow’s timeline, Prezi also allows you to present it right-side-up, up-side-down, inside-out, on its sides, and zooming into and out of your slides. In fact, calling the clips that you show your audience “slides” isn’t even accurate. The whole Prezi presentation is actually one-large-slide. The “clips” that you stop on to show your audience are actually small portions of the big-picture.
Wow!… This whole thing is all very exciting… And confusing at the same time… Yup, that’s right. You’ve got to see it for yourself to really understand what’s it all about. There are a lot of sample presentations done on Prezi on YouTube. Go check it out.
The bad news?… Well, like Google Slides, Prezi lives in the cyberspace. So no unplugged access to it. And while you can try it out to build your very own Prezi presentation for free, you need to purchase it if you want to use in the real world, like giving a presentation with it.
The Contender With The Wow Factor – Everything That PowerPoint Isn’t
The final contender for this article is none other than Apple’s Keynote. Bundled together with Pages and Numbers, they form the productivity suite iWork.
One of the earliest true competitor to PowerPoint in the early days, the overall layout of a Keynote presentation is very much similar to PowerPoint’s. It also tells the story in a linear fashion too. So what sets it apart from PowerPoint?…
“Oh my goodness!… Did you see how that image flew into the frame?”, “Wow!… The words appeared in a ball of fire, like magic!”, and “Ahhh!… Did you see how the images twisted into and out of of the frame?” are the normal phrases uttered by first-time audience of a Keynote presentation.
Keynote’s biggest advantage here is the Wow-factor. Apple has always maintained that Keynote can create slideshows in an hour, that audiences will actually believe was created by a team of creative visual designers, using sophisticated video editing softwares, in a week. And while the core time-line of the slideshow is still very much linear, you can actually make it look as though it’s dynamic. And with a really well designed Keynote slideshow, the audience can’t even tell the transition from one slide to the next. It all seems so seamless. Typical of all Apple products, hardware and software.
So are there any disadvantages with Keynote? Well, it may not truly be a “disadvantage”, but Keynote works best in OS X (that’s the Macintosh OS to the uninitiated). It’s also available in iOS for Apple’s iDevices too, but I personally consider them slideshow consumers rather than creators. As much as Apple brags about how you can do the same thing on your portable iDevices, there’s only so much you can do on a teeny-tiny screen.
So It Only Works On Macs?
Keynote (together with its companion apps in iWork – Pages and Numbers) is now available for the web too, so anybody on any platform that has access to internet can also use it. But like the ones available on iDevices, there’s only so much you can do with the limited resources over the internet connection. The best platform to use Keynote on is still none other than a full-fledged Macintosh computer.
So no, it’s not only available on Macs. It’s practically available to anybody who has access to the internet. Buuut… (yes, there’s always a “but” in there somewhere)… it works “best” on Macs
Is That All?… So PowerPoint Finally Doomed?…
This is by no means the end of the list. This is only what I consider readily available to be used by the regular Joe, without any special training or knowledge in programming of any sort. Something that’s along the line of what PowerPoint can do, and if possible, do it even better.
The King is dead!… Long live the Kings!…