Which Presentation Tool is Right for You?

17 May

A Building Product Marketers’ Guide to PowerPoint, Keynote, and Prezi

[This is the first in a series of posts by guest-blogger Matt Hillman, ER Marketing’s creative director.]

In the nonstop effort to organize our thoughts and get noticed during sales calls or pitch meetings, we have all turned to at least one of them: presentation programs. Not long ago, PowerPoint was the only show in town, and remains synonymous with the entire category. But now there are newer options, some that can truly dazzle—if not nauseate—your audience.

In the simplest of terms, they’re all pretty much the same—easy ways to present customized content through simple layouts using audio-visual technology. But that’s where the similarities end.

Each offers a laundry list of features and uses that can overwhelm the part-time presenter.

So how to you figure out what works best for you?

Consider two elements of your presentation:

  • How linear is the structure?
  • How dynamic is the material (and presenter)?

Then compare that to the following diagram.

©ER Marketing 2012 – please do not reuse without permission

Microsoft Powerpoint
office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint
The gold standard of presentation tools, PowerPoint is the go-to option for many businesses, well-suited to a variety of styles and situations.
Pros: Readily available; familiarity makes it easy to use; dependable option.
Cons: The all-too-common temptation to overload with info, turning a visual presentation into a printable document; tired graphics.

Apple Keynote
www.apple.com/iwork/keynote
Much more than “PowerPoint for Macs”, Keynote features a richer selection of templates and transitions, as well as dynamic animations, with a simple interface.
Pros: Simple interface; fresh graphics and animations; version available for iPad; opens and saves PowerPoint files; relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Mac platform; can feel counter-intuitive to a PowerPoint whiz.

Prezi
www.prezi.com
Gaining popularity dramatically since 2011, web-based Prezi is the hot option right now, offering a fresh format and fun zoom-and-pan navigation.
Pros: Web-based accessibility; great way to show high-level connections in complicated information; increases presenter “cool factor” significantly.
Cons: While simple, the interface takes time to learn; shift in thinking about content structure; transitions known to sicken some; no printouts; more difficult to edit which can cause a problem when multiple people are involved in creating a presentation.

Whiteboard
Call it whiteboard, dry-erase, presentation board or something else, the low-tech wall-mounted option still has its place in the presentation continuum.
Pros: 100% customizable; one of the easiest ways to lead and capture dialogue, discussions, and brainstorming.
Cons: Complete freedom puts more onus on presenter to stay on-topic; bad handwriting is a deal-breaker; no printouts.

So which is the “right choice”? That’s not a simple question to answer. Ultimately that depends on the presenter, the content, and the audience.

Watch for a series of posts where I’ll touch on the best ways to utilize each of these tools—simple DOs and DON’Ts to make the most of the new & hot as well as the tried & true.

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