Presentation Software Options for Small Businesses and Solopreneurs

Presentation options for businesses and solopreneurs are no longer restricted to Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Docs. And for Mac users wed to non-Microsoft tools, they also have expanded to choices beyond Apple Keynote. Alternatives like Prezi and Emaze provide users with new, innovative ways to tackle presentations.

PowerPoint—and the various alternatives—serve much broader functions than just sales and marketing presentations. As a result, there are myriad ways for which businesses can use presentation solutions. Possibilities include:

  • External Business Presentations. Common business scenarios such as sales, analyst briefings, webinars, seminars, briefings, and investor pitches.
  • Trade Show and Conference Presentations. Conference track and keynote presentations at events and conferences.
  • Internal Business Presentations. Training, reports on research, activity updates, and internal pitches.
  • Project management, status reporting, and spreadsheet reports.
  • Non-Presentations. There are many use cases here such as online photo and image albums, simple brochures or flyers, and even animations.

For the following study, we looked at the top three choices and provided an assessment of each below. Understanding the pros and cons of each one and what uses are most applicable gives small businesses and solopreneurs a framework they can tap when deciding which presentation software to use.

Microsoft PowerPoint

Because everyone in business has used PowerPoint in various fashions and mastered some of its more advanced features, it’s enabled us to up-level our presentations. Most of us also have used it for any number of use cases and found that it “got the job done.” Just a few of its many features include:

  • Ability to use the online version for free.
  • Wide range of transitions (or animations) available.
  • Numerous templates that can be tapped for different use cases, industry scenarios, etc.
  • Easy-to-use interface that most employees can master.
  • Print slides and issue them as handouts.
  • Broader support for different devices.
But PowerPoint does have its disadvantages:
  • Most users rely on pre-designed layouts, resulting in presentations that look very familiar to others.
  • Unless a user opts to use the online version of PowerPoint, they must pay for Microsoft Office (not only PowerPoint but the other software pieces such as Word, Excel, etc.)..
  • Unless a user opts to use the online version of PowerPoint, they must pay for Microsoft Office (not only PowerPoint but the other software pieces such as Word, Excel, etc.)..
  • The animations and graphics of PowerPoint are behind those in other solutions such as Prezi and Emaze.
  • Text cannot be added directly to images, it must be entered as bullet points (thus making the time to build slides longer).

Prezi

Founded in 2009, Prezi has gained wide adoption among users seeking an alternative to PowerPoint. It now touts over 75 million users who have created more than 260 million presentations. Its approach breaks the traditional slideshow model that moves from one slide to the next in sequence. Prezi uses a whiteboard where all slides are connected in a diagram, Prezi zooms from one area of the diagram to the next. The result is more visually stimulating presentations and tighter connections between each segment.

Some of the features of Prezi typically cited as a plus include:
  • Use of motion, zoom, and spatial tools bring presentations to life.
  • Conversational presentation style follows natural dialog more easily rather than forcing users into a linear, sequential flow.
  • Ability to add video, photos, audio, and PDF files to Prezi slides.
  • Search Google, Flickr, and Prezi images directly from the editing menu (including the ability to check a box to show only images licensed for commercial use).
  • The free version allows users to prepare a presentation without a subscription (albeit see below).
  • Ability to use in-browser with no need to download software (though Pro users can access a desktop version if they opt to do so).
  • Because users start with a blank canvas, presentations are likely to be more original.
Like PowerPoint, Prezi has its challenges. These include:
  • PowerPoint has a huge market share and brand recognition. This results in an uphill climb for any company seeking to gain user share.
  • For those using the free version, you must consent to your work being publicly viewable on the Prezi website.
  • The UI requires some level of technical savvy, thus making it difficult for some less tech-literate users to use.
  • Slides are not optimized for printing.
  • Pre-designed templates are difficult to customize and can’t be customized in the initial pricing tier.
  • An offline version is not available with the initial pricing tier (Enjoy).
  • There is no easy way to create graphs in Prezi. They must be drawn manually by adding shapes, and data cannot be entered to create a line graph or pie chart.

Emaze

Founded in 2009, Emaze enables users to create presentations in virtual 3D worlds or in slide format like PowerPoint. Emaze is employed to show each slide, enabling users to zoom in and out to move through the “newspaper” format as they proceed through each slide. Emaze includes voice commands that allow users to start, stop, and move through a presentation with only a microphone.

Some of the pros of Emaze include:
  • Includes 40 unique (and free) slide business focus areas versus slide templates. These include full pre-written slides that users can customize with their specific info and data. Additional focus areas are available for purchase from the Emaze store.
  • Includes 20 different graph ideas that allow users to set up each slide so that it displays on a different wall.
  • Includes a business focus called “Small Business” that walks a small business—or solopreneur—through the creation of a landing page for its website.
  • Rich-text editing that corrects copy for spelling errors in real time.
  • Ability to share presentations with others through a unique link.
  • Embed videos, Flash objects, photos, audio, Google Maps, and any other object with HTML code.
  • Ability to import PowerPoint slides (so that slides can be reused in Emaze).
  • Similarity with PowerPoint makes it easy for users to learn and use.
Some of the cons of Emaze include:
  • The free version is m publicly accessible. Anyone creating a presentation for internal or confidential purposes cannot use the solution.
  • Many features are only available when paid for.
  • Not everything is editable on pre-populated slides.
  • Lacks the ability to customize content to the level of other presentation software solutions.
  • Can’t change the font type of text.
  • Common presentation features are missing.
  • Does not save work automatically.
  • Can’t save presentations for offline use.

In addition to the above, as the guidelines of what qualifies as a presentation have expanded to include custom animations, whiteboards, and video infographics, readers may want to look at other options for those use cases. Cloud-based tools such as GoAnimate, VideoScribe, and PowToon are being used by companies of all sizes. Intuitive and easy to use, these solutions offer more flexibility than standard presentation software tools.

One thing about presentations is that you need to have the right environment and tools when delivering them. Whether you’re meeting with customers, partners, influencers, or employees, Davinci Meeting Rooms provides businesses and solopreneurs with a professional conference room with all of the right presentation and conferencing tools.

Patrick Spencer

Patrick Spencer (Ph.D.) is the President and Founder of TIRO Communications that helps companies develop, build, and manage content, customer, advocacy, and demand-gen programs. Included in its offerings is TIRO Cognition Insights, a data analytics tool that enables B2C and B2B businesses to pinpoint what their customers and competitors’ customers are saying and to identify corresponding actionable product, services, competitive, sales, and marketing intelligence.

LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn
Website: www.tirocommunications.com

Be Sociable, Share!
Patrick Spencer

Patrick Spencer

Patrick Spencer (Ph.D.) is the President and Founder of TIRO Communications that helps companies develop, build, and manage content, customer, advocacy, and demand-gen programs. Included in its offerings is TIRO Cognition Insights, a data analytics tool that enables B2C and B2B businesses to pinpoint what their customers and competitors’ customers are saying and to identify corresponding actionable product, services, competitive, sales, and marketing intelligence. LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn Website: www.tirocommunications.com