Which Presentation Software is the Best?
Choosing the right presentation software is a critical decision, which could mean the difference between a professional, polished slide deck and a lackluster presentation. Whether you plan to deliver your presentation live to your audience or you plan to publish and deliver your presentation online, the key features to look for are lots of high-quality templates to choose from, audio and animation features built in, and ease of use and collaboration.
PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides are three of the most popular presentation software solutions available, and each platform has its advantages and disadvantages—or features that are stronger or weaker. All three of these presentation software packages run equally well on Clear Touch Interactive® displays, and we know all three are popular with the Clear Touch family. If you’re trying to decide which software to choose, keep reading. We’ve broken down the pros and cons, as well as the best uses, for each application.
The Pros and Cons of Three Popular Presentation Software Packages
PowerPoint is a classic and one of the most popular presentation solutions for a reason. The software comes standard as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, has been around for decades, and includes many themes, animations, audio files, and effects. Plus, the program is widely supported, not only by Microsoft but also by third-party providers and its substantial user base.
Advantages and Disadvantages for Business Owners
Since PowerPoint is an established product with such a large user base, it has many advantages for businesses.
- Simple Customization. Of the three presentation programs, PowerPoint has the largest number of built in special effects and the largest number of standard templates. There are also lots of third party options available.
- Easy to Use. The Microsoft Office interface and navigation is already familiar to most people. Many of us grew up using this program in school, so it feels easy and natural. PowerPoint also includes a help system and some fundamental tutorials to help users get started.
- Third Party Support. Because of the sheer number of people and business that rely on Microsoft Office products, there is a lot of readily available support for business owners who use PowerPoint—from books and paid training to webinars, online articles, and YouTube tutorials. A lot of users even publish fresh, high-quality PowerPoint templates to make your presentations feel more current.
- File Type Options. PowerPoint can import and export to many different file types, including .pdf, .xps, .mp4, .wmv, .odp, .gif, .jpg, .png, .gif, .bmp, .tif, .wmf, .emf, and .rtf. The program is also compatible with other file types from Microsoft Office products and can import audio files.
In spite of all of these compelling advantages, the program does have some weak spots, most notably when it comes to easy sharing and overall design:
- More Difficult Collaboration. Compared to the other two programs, PowerPoint requires more steps in order for users to be able to collaborate on a presentation. Although Microsoft has made collaboration easier in recent years, it still lags behind Google in this area. To collaborate, users have to save the document to OneDrive and invite others to work on the project with them.
- Less Flexibility Between Devices. While PowerPoint is available for Mac, many users say that the Mac version has fewer features and feels less comprehensive than the PC version. Users also sometimes experience formatting issues between devices.
- Less Appealing to Younger Workers and Creatives. To put it frankly, PowerPoint has an image problem. We’ve all heard people complain about having to sit through another boring PowerPoint presentation. Even though the age of the program is primarily a Pro, it can also be considered a Con—since it’s been around forever it can lead to lazy presentations and can tend to feel stale or old. However, we believe this weakness is more about the users than the program. PowerPoint actually does include a lot of newer features that users can take advantage of to liven up their presentations if they’re feeling stuck in a rut.
Best For: A PC-only environment, more established offices with seasoned team members, businesses that will need easy, widely available technical support.
Keynote comes free as part of Apple’s iwork productivity suite with the purchase of a new Mac, or it’s available for separate purchase through Mac App Store. As with everything that Mac puts into the market, Keynote is known for being a sleek, stylish, easy-to-use interface with solid design. Keynote also has mobile capabilities with Keynote Remote on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod. However, the support options are not as comprehensive for Keynote as they are for PowerPoint.
Advantages and Disadvantages for Business Owners
If you are already a Mac user, Keynote is likely the best software option for you. Some of the distinct advantages of the program include:
- Cloud-based Options. One of the cool features of Keynote is the ability to connect the program to your iCloud account and store presentations there. This not only allows users to automatically sync their files on all connected devices (which can be really handy if you want to use your phone or tablet to advance slides remotely). It also enables easy collaboration with other users through the cloud.
- Easy to Use. In addition to design and style, Apple was built on its simple, user-friendly interface. Along with its other software programs, Keynote is intuitive and easy to learn for team members with basic computer knowledge.
- Easy to Export. Although Keynote is only available for Mac users, it exports easily to other file types, including PowerPoint, QuickTime, .pdf, and even HTML. The program integrates well with all of the other applications in the iWork Productivity Suite as well.
- Stylish. Perhaps the main reason that dedicated Mac users love this software is due to its beautiful look and modern feeling templates. Keynote is easy to customize with sophisticated, well-designed built in templates, themes, animations, and other effects. While it doesn’t have as many options as PowerPoint, the options it does have are top-notch.
Since Keynote is a more restricted software, it can also present some challenges for business owners. Some of the cons of using this program include:
- Mac Only. This may be the biggest drawback to the program—it’s only available to Mac users. However, since the program can export to other file types such as .pptx and .pdf, PC-users can open, and even modify, presentations built in Keynote, they just can’t create their own Keynote presentation.
- Less Robust Support. Again, because of the smaller community of users, the support available for Keynote is less extensive than the resources you’d find for PowerPoint.
Best For: A Mac-only environment, design teams that are more familiar with Apple Products, teams that enjoy 10 points of simultaneous touch for Mac on their Clear Touch Interactive panel.
Google Slides is the newest presentation software on our list, and in many ways the most innovative. While it’s not yet as established or as popular as PowerPoint or Keynote, it is gaining traction, particularly with younger workers. Google Slides is completely free as part of Google’s office suite included with Google Drive. It is also completely cloud-based: both the software and your work live online, making it perfect for sharing and collaboration.
Advantages and Disadvantages for Business Owners
There are a lot of advantages to using Google Slides in your office, mostly due to its cloud-based infrastructure, which enables simple online sharing and lots of flexibility within your teams.
- Completely Web-Based & Platform Agnostic. If you work with a remote team, a team that uses different devices, or if you allow your employees the flexibility to work off-site some days, Google Slides may be the presentation program for you. Since the program resides online, collaborators can access from anywhere and see other users’ edits in real-time. It’s also easy to build your presentation in Google Slides and link or embed into any web page or into the new Clear Touch Canvas program without ever leaving the online environment.
- Easy to Use. There aren’t as many support resources available for Google Slides yet, but there is a comprehensive help section and third party resources continue to grow as the user base grows. The program itself is simple, intuitive, and easy to learn.
- Cost Savings. Did we mention Google Slides is free? Because it is completely and totally free forever, for everyone, with no licenses or subscription fees.
- Easy to Collaborate. So, we sort of already mentioned this when we discussed the advantages of the web-based platform, but we felt it bore repeating. Users of this program can collaborate in real-time, from anywhere, on any device—all without exporting or switching file types. This feature makes it easier to see changes and to have version control.
- More Interactive. As you know, Clear Touch highly values interactivity, especially for in-person presentations. Google Slides has been playing around with several innovative, interactive features. For example users can link to any other slide regardless of order to create a non-linear presentation. Or, they can create quizzes or polls with the new Q&A feature, allowing the audience to interact with the presentation remotely through their own link.
Despite all of these great features, there are a few downsides to using Google Slides:
- More Basic Choices. Right now, Google Slides does not have as many effects as the other two programs. About 15 effects to PowerPoint and Keynote’s 50+. Google Slides also has fewer themes available, though the third party options are growing.
- Version Control. We know we talked about version control above as an advantage—and it is! Since users don’t have to save and send the presentation back and forth, it’s easier to ensure that you are looking at the most current version. However, there are a few subtle things to look out for. If you are the originator of the document, you have to determine which kind of access you want collaborators to have: View Only, Commenting, or Editing. The easiest way to do this is to set the default to Commenting. This way, you make sure that no one ever accidentally gets granted editing access. If you want users to have editing capabilities and you forget to change it, they can always request access. Many users have also reported a glitch that can cause users to delete or remove files when they try to move them or download them to their computer with no way to restore. The best practice is to advise all team members to work online only.
- Need Google Account. This doesn’t feel like a true weakness since everyone and their grandmother seems to have a Gmail account these days. A Google account is completely free—but there are some holdouts.
When it comes to choosing PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Slides as your presentation software there is no right or wrong answer. Of course, the presentation software that you choose is only as good as your hardware. Even the most sophisticated, interactive presentation will fail to pack a punch if your conference room presentation system makes it difficult for participants to connect remotely, has poor screen or audio quality, or if the interactive touch screen needs constant calibration or has significant lag time.
Clear Touch Interactive® displays not only run all of these popular presentation programs seamlessly, they also feature Ultra HD resolution, clear audio, and no lag time. The displays are ready-to-use at set-up and never require recalibration or multiple cables to connect—all users can connect wirelessly or through multiple HDMI inputs. Clear Touch™ panels also include Canvas, Collage, and Snowflake, our own innovative, intuitive presentation and collaboration applications that integrate easily with other programs.