Is PowerPoint's Reign over

Is PowerPoint’s Reign Over? Meet 9 Heirs to the Throne

Last month, Microsoft Office tool PowerPoint celebrated its 24th birthday, continuing its dominant run as the unquestioned King of the Presentation World. Despite a quarter-century defined by minimal improvements and denunciation by critics, PowerPoint has surprisingly retained its seat on the Bullet Point Throne, a reality the next wave of presentation tools is gunning to alter.

PowerPoint’s main challengers are looking to fill the gaps left open by their lumbering predecessor. Below we’ll look at the best and worst qualities of nine upstarts, based on their performance in five categories: Engagement, Sharing/Collaboration, Design, Measurement, and Mobility (chart below). Then, we’ll look to make sense of it all in each challenger’s Bottom Line.

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Prezi: Perhaps the most aesthetically-pleasing presentation tool available, Prezi uses a zooming user interface to foster a truly interactive experience for its users. One feature, Prezi Collaborate, is particularly appealing to businesses, as it allows as many as ten users to present and edit concurrently.

 

Bottom Line: Prezi could be the future of the “big-room” presentation; if you have a big keynote, it’s definitely worth checking out. The challenge for Prezi will be overcoming the installed base and inertia around PowerPoint.

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Powtoon: Started in 2012, Powtoon is an animated presentation tool serving predominantly businesses and startups in service industries. Powtoon’s interface is cartoonish and entertaining, and thus is more effective as an advertising tool than it is as a business presentation tool.

 

Bottom Line: What Powtoon lacks in substance, it makes up for in entertainment value and is especially suited to e-learning. It could be just what the next (technologically-obsessed) generation is looking for in a presentation tool.

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ClearSlide_Large4ClearSlide: ClearSlide is a Sales Engagement Platform, whose primary goal is to help sales teams up their performance. Its two noteworthy features, Live Pitch and Email Pitch, are entirely web-based sales tools. Live Pitch allows for simultaneous online viewing of a pitch by a client and salesperson, while Email Pitch neatly summarizes a pitch and brings it to your inbox.

 

Bottom Line: ClearSlide’s features were designed with salespeople in mind, with pitch decks in the cloud and analytics that allow you to align your sales message and measure performance.  

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Speaker Deck: A public presentation forum similar to SlideShare, Speaker Deck allows users to upload their presentations (in PDF form) and share them with the Speaker Deck community and beyond. All features of Speaker Deck are free to use, separating it from some competitors that charge for access to advanced tools.

 

Bottom Line: Speaker Deck aims to capitalize on PowerPoint’s sharing deficiencies across platforms and is worth looking at as a sharing alternative.  

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Haiku Deck: Seattle-based Haiku Deck’s focus is simplicity, focusing more on appearance and fluidity than content. Useful for simple, flip-deck type presentations, Haiku Deck is available for use on the web and and as an app on iPads.

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Bottom Line
: Haiku Deck is building a reputation as the presentation tool for the common man. It’s easy to use and puts great-looking, billboard style presentations within easy reach.

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SlideShark: Catering to both individuals and businesses, SlideShark allows presentations to be uploaded and shown in their original form on iPads and iPhones. Also, following a presentation, slides can be shared seamlessly with audiences, and SlideShark allows the presenter to track who chooses to take a second look at their work.

 

Bottom Line: SlideShark has gone big on mobile, multi-platform and analytical capabilities. Whether that’s enough to dislodge PowerPoint remains to be seen.

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SlideKlowd-logo3SlideKlowd: Slideklowd is a (yes, you guessed it) cloud-based presentation platform that excels in the collaboration sphere. Presentations can be pushed to mobile devices, allowing presenters to connect with audiences using polling and comment forums. Meanwhile, the SlideKlowd app collects useful data during all of your presentations, providing feedback that you can actually use. .

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Bottom Line: SlideKlowd has mastered the collaborative presentation. They understand the importance of a stats-based interface that is mobile, easy-to-use, and audience-centric. If they can find their way into the mainstream, SlideKlowd will make a big splash.

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Story Desk: Story Desk was built for the sales/marketing sector, and its best features reflect this fact. Real-time collaboration capability, advanced analytics, and a simple user interface, make Story Desk an ideal tool for team’s looking to boost individualand group performance.

 

 

Bottom Line: Story Desk keeps everyone under one roof and continues to improve; with analytics tracking team members’ level of interaction with specific presentations, managers can see who is engaged and who is not. If Story Desk can diversify their offerings for non-sales industries, its popularity could skyrocket.  

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Zoho: Launched in 2005, Zoho Office Suite offers 23 web-based features, including the six-tiered Zoho Docs platform. One of these six tiers, presentation tool Zoho Show, is amongst PowerPoint’s biggest challengers. Advanced features, including built-in photo editing and collaborative editing capability, contribute to Zoho Show’s user-friendly interface.

 

Bottom Line: For presenters keen on using visuals, particularly shapes and animation, Zoho Show is an alternative to PowerPoint.

 

Looking at these heirs to the throne, they’re all exploiting a couple of PowerPoint’s five categorical weaknesses: Engagement — how do you get the audience to interact and engage more than with some dry, stuffy PowerPoint? Sharing and Collaboration — not only while building of the deck, but while distributing it. Design — can non-designers create an aesthetically pleasing deck? Measurement — it’s one thing to craft your message and deliver it, but can you measure whether it actually got across? Mobility — it seems like everyone has a smart-phone or tablet. Are you taking advantage?

 

Check out the chart below to find out how each alternative measures up. How did your favorite upstart score?

What's After Power Point Chart V3-02-02

 

Gavin_Animated-GifGavin is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at makeapowerfulpoint.com. You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.

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Brendan is a Journalist & Research Intern at fassforward Consulting Group. He is a student at Georgetown University and blogs about PowerPoint at makeapowerfulpoint.com.
You can follow him at @bcrowls. More at LinkedIn.

 

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More at Google+Facebook and Pinterest. Comments are welcome, links are appreciated. If you’re interested in writing guest posts for this blog, please contact me.

 

11 Comments

  1. Jordan | June 26, 2014 at 3:12 am

    I love the end quote for SlideKlowd: Bottom Line: SlideKlowd has mastered the collaborative presentation. They understand the importance of a stats-based interface that is mobile, easy-to-use, and audience-centric. If they can find their way into the mainstream, SlideKlowd will make a big splash.

    Though, I didn’t like how SK wasn’t supported on the chart for “mobility”. SK prides itself on the fact that it is mobile. I’m sure that incorporating the Klowd aspect was strategic for accessibility.

    • Gavin | June 29, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      You are right – mobility is an oversight on our part. We will correct.

  2. Shane | June 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    While I don’t think any of these will unseat PPT, it’s s nice to see competition in the marketplace. Great post.

  3. Michele Cresmen-Block | July 2, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Gavin, since the whole post is about ‘unseating’ PowerPoint, I’d love to see it listed on the last table to compare features with the possible ‘usurper’s.’

    • Gavin | July 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Michele,

      Good point. We didn’t do that. Our qualification for getting a check in one of the boxes was – does it do something fundamentally or distinctly different from what PowerPoint does today? If the answer to that question was yes, it got a check. The only one that’s a little fuzzy on that is the mobile category. (See Jordan’s question above) for that, we thought about a) is it mobile across all platforms, and b) is it using mobility in an interesting way… In other words, you can imagine PowerPoint (which is still our tool of choice by the way) as getting no checks, or at best half in some boxes. PowerPoint’s overwhelming advantage is that is an incumbent, like the qwerty keyboard. We’ve had speech to text for years, and Dvorak keyboards for even longer, but the Qwerty keyboard isn’t going away. Unless something dramatically shifts with all these challengers, neither (I think) is PowerPoint.

  4. Jordan Stolper (@stolper) | July 2, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Great post, Gavin & Brendan!

    I would respectfully suggest that as a native iPad app (100% mobile first) that StoryDesk deserves a check for mobility.

    I would also suggest that StoryDesk templates – created by our designer (whose last job was at Apple) – let non-designer users create amazing looking presentations.

    • Gavin | July 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Jordan,

      You’re right about iPad being mobile, but since Storydesk is iPad exclusive, it ignores better than 50% of the mobile market. I don’t think Storydesk is a mobile play, I think it’s an iPad play. Re Design, yes they are beautifully designed templates, but you can get beautifully designed templates for PowerPoint. HaikuDeck, Prezi, and Powtoon, which got mentions for design, got them because they either make you design differently, or give you options for design (like Prezi) which are very un-PowerPoint like.

      Thanks

  5. Haiku Deck (@HaikuDeck) | July 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Gavin-
    Thanks so much for including Haiku Deck on your list of PowerPoint’s main challengers. Both engagement and measurement are two features we’re still working to address and we hope to make improvements on this available as soon as possible. I’d also like to personally invite your readers to try out our new Web App beta at http://www.haikudeck.com; our team would love to receive feedback on how we could make it better!

    Cheers,
    Lisa Ma, Customer Evangelist

  6. Haiku Deck (@HaikuDeck) | July 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Gavin, Hai-5 for including us in this excellent list! Yes, of course, we’re a bit biased — but we do hear frequently from our creative community that high-impact visuals are a GREAT way to truly engage an audience. In the words of one of our favorite fans, “Haiku Deck turns presentations into conversations.” Thanks again for getting the word out about worthy alternatives to the same-old same-old. Cheers, Catherine, VP Marketing/Chief Inspiration Officer

  7. Daniel Glickman | August 24, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Great article and quite a thorough coverage.
    check out emaze: it really stands out of this crowd: http://www.emaze.com

  8. pptVivo! (@pptVivo) | September 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Gavin
    Great post and great work with the comparison chart!
    I’m working in a tool for PowerPoint that will solve its weaknesses in engagement, sharing, measurement and mobility.
    Our solution is called pptVivo! (www.pptvivo.com). pptVivo! provides a 2nd screen for PowerPoint and creates a communication channel between speaker and audience. Beneficiaries of this increased engagement are the events’ organizers since they get the metrics to measure the success of the event.
    We fully integrates with PowerPoint, because it still the preferred tool by professional speakers, creating less friction in its adoption.
    pptVivo! it’s in Beta by now, but we hope to launch it in a couple of months.
    We would really love to receive feedback from you and your readers.
    Thanks!

    Luis

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