Anyone who's ever sat through a "death-by-PowerPoint" presentation will know that no amount of money spent on presentation software will turn a bad presenter into a good one. The writing and delivery of a good presentation are skills that do not necessarily come easily to people, and businesses are wise to invest in presentation training for their staff.
Choosing the right presentation software, however, can make your job as a presenter easier and give your slides an extra gloss of professionalism.
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Virtually everyone will be familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint. It has historically been the runaway leader in the presentation software market - and, indeed, still is. The ubiquity of Microsoft's Windows operating system along with its Office productivity suite has given the package a dominant position in the market.
Microsoft's years of experience has allowed it to create a presentation platform that is as good as any and is perfectly adequate for producing great presentations.
Many people, however, will be unaware of some of the other excellent presentation software packages that are available. There are a whole host of options that offer different functionality and benefits. This article takes a look and some of the most popular and well regarded alternatives to PowerPoint available, providing an overview of each one.
Price: From US$4.92 per month (£2.87 / AU$5.23)
Prezi is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, presentation tool available and it has a number of features that make it an attractive option. Unlike other traditional presentation packages, Prezi doesn't use a slide-based approach in which the presenter moves through a slide-deck in a linear approach. Instead, presentations are built on one large whiteboard-like workspace (or, if you like, one large slide).
This allows the presenter to give a visual representation of how the ideas in a presentation relate to each other. The presenter can set an order in which sections of the presentation are shown, using pathways between different sections, or can simply pan around and zoom in and out as required.
Prezi is a cloud-based platform and is available as a downloadable application for Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad, as well as being accessible on the Web via a browser. This means that a user saves their presentations to the cloud and can continue work on them from anywhere on a different device. Users need not be online to deliver presentations and Pro users can even create and edit presentations while offline.
It is also possible to share presentations and collaborate with other people to create them. Users can work on presentations at the same time and can even present with multiple people. It is possible to switch between presenters regardless of where they are located.
Price: £13.99 (US$23.95 / AU$25.48)
Keynote is Apple's answer to PowerPoint. It is only compatible with Apple devices, but offers some good functionality if you're an Apple user. Keynote uses Applie's iCloud platform to allow users to sync work across devices. Users can begin work on one device and then continue on another. Naturally, the Keynote apps are tailored for optimum use on the different Apple devices.
Apple has added PowerPoint compatibility to Keynote meaning that users need no longer worry if they are working on a presentation with PowerPoint users.
Presentations can be saved out of Keynote in PowerPoint format and, likewise, PowerPoint files can be imported into Keynote. Users can easily share presentations from the menu bar in Keynote and its also possible to share presentations over WiFi via Airdrop with other nearby Apple users.
In addition to its useful, Apple-focused functionality, Keynote offers a good range of editing and presentation tools that you would expect from a presentation software package. As well as being able to add images, video and charts easily, users can benefit from "cinema‑quality" transition effects and the intuitive user interface that you would expect from an Apple product.