Ultimate Guide to Choosing Presentation Software



Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 21, 2021

Slide presentations can be one of the employees’ least favorite things to do, yet they remain relevant. According to research, 70 percent of American workers think that presentation skills are critical to their work success. At the same time, 46 percent of people included in the same survey said they lose interest during presentations.

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A critical component of keeping presentations interesting, relevant and engaging requires having the right software but also knowing how to best put it to use. The following are software tips to improve your slide presentations, and also considerations to keep in mind if you’re in the process of selecting new presentation software.

Types of Presentation 

It’s important to know that there are different types of presentations, namely linear and non-linear. 

Depending on the type, you will also find different categories of presentation software. Presentation software is categorized into two forms – slideware and canvas-based. 

Slideware software uses linear flow to create presentations. It usually performs three primary functions: multimedia inserting, text editing, and display formatting. Its popularity is on the rise as it has been able to capture the audience’s attention. 

Some of the examples of slideware-based software are Keynote, Canva, Zoho Show, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and more. 

The next type is the canvas-based presentation. It represents linear as well as non-linear forms. In this form, the materials or information to be presented are laid out on a large canvas. There are no slides, as in the case of slideware. 

Besides, canvas-based presentation increases the analytical quality of the information. Prezi is a well-known canvas-based software. 

However, the good news is that nowadays, the software can support both the style. This software can switch from slide to canvas, and vice versa — for example, SlideDog and Prezi.

Basic Features of Presentation Software

The following are some of the essential features you should look for if you’re in the market for a new presentation application. These features will help improve your presentations and make the design process easier.

  • Help Features

Help features can make the process of designing a presentation easier and you’re likely to run into fewer hurdles which will give you a better final product. Help features can include features that let you ask a question as you go along the design process and quickly find the answers you need. Also, as another example, maybe you want to add a certain kind of image to your presentation—look for software that will pull up your options as a drop-down.

  • Search Tools

When it comes to presentation software, search tools let you do a keyword search from within your presentation and find the information you’re looking for. For example, you could pull up an information site to use as research without having to leave your design dashboard.

  • Real-Time Co-Authoring

Real-time co-authoring will allow you to share your presentation with other key stakeholders and ask questions or get feedback. You can also set different levels of access for presentations so some people will have the option to edit for example, while others may just be able to make notes.

  • Transition Features

The transitions that you include within your presentation are an important part of ensuring that you keep the attention of your audience. They’re more relevant than you might initially think, so look for a presentation platform that affords you interesting and engaging transition options.

Other general considerations to keep in mind when selecting presentation software, regardless of your industry include:

  • What’s the price like? Is it in line with your budget?
  • How user-friendly is it?
  • Can you embed content or add videos?
  • Can you add audio to a presentation?
  • Is there a built-in library of assets that offers you numerous options and easy accessibility? Having high-quality graphics and images is one of the single most important factors to keep in mind when it comes to improving engagement for presentations.
  • Can you add animated elements?
  • Is it cloud-based?

 Will It Work on Multiple Devices?

When you’re choosing new presentation software, a big consideration to keep in mind is what devices it will work on, and how well it will work on those devices. You want to be able to create across multiple devices, and ensure people can access your presentations across multiple devices as well.

It’s not just about compatibility—think about how well you can access all of the features you need from any device you might be on.

How it works on multiple devices is relevant not only in the design phase but also in the delivery and actual presentation phase. For example, do plan to show your presentation on a screen or have people following along on their tablets/laptops?

The need for a software option to work across platforms is why PowerPoint is often the go-to. It’s fairly common for people to have PowerPoint installed on their computers and other devices, so it makes it easy to deliver and share presentations. However, you still have to consider whether or not their version of PowerPoint will support your presentation, or how they could see it differently based on their version.

Templates and Fonts

Sometimes the most critical elements of a good presentation are the simplest but the most overlooked. Think about the templates and fonts when you’re choosing software. Templates can be distracting if they’re too cluttered or if they feel dated. You can completely transform what your audience takes away from your presentation with clean, modern, updated templates. At the same time, will the templates fit a wide variety of needs?

Fonts and typography have big subconscious effects on how we feel about things, so keep the font options in mind as well when you select your software.

Analytics and Tracking

Analytics and tracking are more advanced features that come with presentation software, and they’re something you may benefit from.

Sometimes businesses may opt to do analytics and tracking separately from the software platform they use to design presentations, although others may look for an integrated platform.

If a business goes with an option that’s for separate delivery, it can bring a lot of benefits. Some of the features of popular presentation delivery platforms include the ability to track views, cloud storage, and easy integration with other devices.

Ease of Use

Finally, when choosing new software, there can be a tendency to get carried away with the bells and whistles to the point that you don’t necessarily think about how user-friendly it’s going to be. You want advanced features that make for good presentations, but you don’t want them to be so advanced that users can’t figure them out.

If you’re going to be putting a new software solution in place, think about the needs of the people who will be using it. Think about how tech-savvy the end-users are and how comfortable they will be with the introduction of new technology in the workplace. You’ll have to take these things into consideration when it comes to the delivery-side of presentations as well.

If your audience has a hard time figuring your presentation out for any reason, it’s going to cause them to lose interest.

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