You probably made your very first presentation in PowerPoint. And you probably made the last one there too. Why? Because it comes automatically on your computer. When your parents bought you Windows 95, it was there. When your school updated to Windows 98 it was there. When your work thought it was cool being on Windows 2000 it was there. And it’s still there, on the Microsoft Office Cloud. The only way you’re not making your presentation in PowerPoint? You’re making it in Keynote, Apple’s iWork substitute instead. Or you’re smarter than this post and you’ve explored the other three options below at this point and you’re just reading this as a refresher.
There’s nothing morally wrong with using PowerPoint. There are people who will use the other three methods below and still read off their slides, use ugly, un-readable fonts and mumble their words. You’re reading this blog and maybe taking one of my courses so that won’t be you. Still, there are other options and this is one.
Pros: Don’t need to be connected to the internet to write and design it, present it, export it to another format. Also, you can print handouts of your presentation easily, just select the option to print three to a page and you get the little note sections for people to feel in their notes and comments. You can customize your colors, fonts, and pictures. You can even change the size of your slides. Yes, you can make square PowerPoint slides.
Cons: It’s a Microsoft product. If it’s Keynote, it’s harder to customize or be compatible with computers that aren’t Macs. It doesn’t dance. If you don’t save it to your Dropbox or email it to yourself, you can’t dig your presentation out of the cloud.
I love to dance. It takes nothing for me to pull up my 90’s Jamz playlist on Spotify and start doing a two-step. In fact, I’ve pulled it up right now as I’m writing this post.
I say this to tell you that presenting in Prezi feels like dancing. You start with a blank canvas and you can make your slides bounce in and out. You can set up a video. You can zoom in and out of diagrams.
In fact, if your presentation is really just one long illustration and description of a complicated diagram, go with this. You can zoom in and out and help people really understand the flow of your information.
Pros: Great for making complicated diagrams come alive. Also, it lives on the cloud, so no losing it or losing corrections between devices.
Cons: Only connected to the internet, so if where you’re going is not connected to the internet you can’t run the presentation. Or if your internet is slow or your computer’s a little older (like mine), then it could take forever to make the presentation move as fast you need it. Also, no customization of fonts outside of what’s already loaded in the system. Oh and speaking of the system, if you want to keep that presentation private, you have to pay at least $4.99 a month.
Speaking of Canva, it does more than make your Pinterest graphics. It has properly sized presentation and handout (if you are going for an 8.5×11 sheet of paper for the handout). If you’re new to Canva, it’s a website that has pre-loaded templates for pretty much any document or digital image you want to create, for pretty much any media, social or offline.
You can also add any kind of picture, shape or font you want. Mostly for free, but you can keep your presentations private, unlike Prezi. Also, it seems hipper, cooler and it’s cloud-based, so again, no losing your slides.
Pros: Everything I just listed above.
Cons: Still no custom fonts, so if you, your organization or your company have brand guidelines, outside of the logo and your colors, you won’t be getting any of those guidelines into your presentation. Also, everyone has probably used one of the Canva fonts already. Just like the PowerPoint standard fonts, that gets old fast. But at least in PowerPoint, you can use all your custom system fonts.
So there you go. All the tools you need to get started making your presentation and handout!
I’m Kristen. I do a lot of public speeches, especially about urban planning and development. I also dabble in designing print patterns and there’s an urban planning blog and a communications consultancy in there somewhere. Learn more about me. Follow my PlantoSpeak board on Pinterest and send me public speaking questions on Twitter via the hashtag #PlantoSpeakQ&A. If you’re in the DC area, join the Meetup group! Let me know how these tips are working for you, by dropping me a line or commenting below.