Sunday, May 5, 2013

So Long, Powerpoint.

I gave a presentation at Common Ground 2013 entitled So Long, PowerPoint. It was well-received. In it, I reviewed popular dynamic presentation tools as alternates to the frequent presentation go-to. What's more, I framed the presentation as a funeral for PowerPoint in which, as could be expected, guests offered eulogies to the once-embraced tool. Only in this case, the guests were the six alternative presentation tools. A bit meta, sure. But the overall effect was a lot of fun. While the alt tools "spoke for themselves", I explained the how-to's of each and gave insight as to why I've come to appreciate each so much over it's Microsoft predecessor. 

And now I invite all of you to attend the mass. Silence any music from your computer or device speakers. Bow your heads in a moment of reflection. And let's pay our dues to the dearly departed.

Caption: Aaron Smith (@theArtGuy) opens our ceremony.

Dearly beloved friends, relatives, and faithful servants of the cosmic slide sorter,

We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of one of our dearest and most beloved presentation tools. I'm speaking, of course, of our friend, PowerPoint, whose lively slide transitions and memorable .ppt file extensions will not soon be forgotten. 

It is my understanding that a number of your have taken time to craft a eulogy which you would like to share with us today. Who would like to go first? Ah, yes. SlideRocket.

1. SlideRocket

SlideRocket (now ClearSlide) is an easy first step away from the traditional slide show presentation. It's free to use, it's interface is clean, and the presentations can be accessed from anywhere online. While cloud hosting may be a quality each of the guests today share, SlideRocket has a few very useful qualities which make it unique. Users can add images to slides from home files or by accessing Flickr. Keeping in line with acceptable use, SlideRocket only allows users to access those Flickr images located under Creative Commons. Images are also cited within the slide. This becomes a great teachable moment when using the tool with students. A second feature which comes in handy is the ability to save entire slides to a slide library. This allows users to reuse slides in other/future presentations. But what's nice about this is that all iterations of the slide are connected. Make a change to a slide from the slide library in presentation #1 and it automatically updates the slide in any other presentation it occurs. Excellent for keeping contact information or links up-to-date.

And now I believe Prezi has something to say.

2. Prezi
Prezi is the dynamic presentation tool. Like directing a camera over a giant poster of your entire presentation, Prezi's ability to imitate scale and movement is unmatched. New features such as the 3-D background, a huge variety of templates, and the ability to collaborate demonstrate just how hard the people behind Prezi are working to ensure the tool is constantly innovative and keeping up with the needs of its users. I often tell colleagues that though Prezi is by far the most time-consuming of my recommended presentation tools, it's also unparalleled in it's ability to capture an artistic vision.

Would anyone else like to share? Yes, PowToon. You can go next. No need to wave your hands so enthusiastically. 

3. PowToon

PowToon is difficult to describe until you see it. Because the tool is fully animated, it's hard not to see it as just a movie of sorts. PowToon does animations very, very well, and their ready-to-use templates for almost any presentation style make creating a piece of cake. Every is drag-and-drop and there are a wide variety of animations and font styles to differentiate from one presentation to the next. But here the real success lies in directing the film. PowToon works on default 10-second scenes that can be lengthened as needed. But inside the scene you time when items appear and disappear from on screen. Placing stoppers also allows users to halt the flow of the video altogether (picture this as the moment before hitting forward on a slide show). A free account allows users to create up to 5 minutes of video, but I haven't come anywhere near this any of the times I've worked with the tool. Remember, you time the film and indicate when to stop on a scene for effect or for your audience to read. This does not count against your 5 minutes. It's the tool I've spent the least time with, but it's certainly one I know I'll use a lot in the future.

Thank you for being so patient, PhotoPeach. I understand you'd like to go next?

4. PhotoPeach

So Long, Powerpoint (4 of 6) on PhotoPeach

PhotoPeach can work like Animoto in that you can use it to create beautiful, engaging photo slideshows to share with friends and family. But the feature that sets PhotoPeach aside is that it also gives users the ability to create an in-show quiz. By setting up multiple choice questions within the presentation, users can engage their audience in a unique way that can be used to test comprehension or, simply, to entertain. PhotoPeach also connects with a library of free-to-use music that adds a hint of personalization to the final product.

It appears our own social media maven, Projeqt, is ready to share a couple choice words.

5. Projeqt

I am most excited to use Projeqt to its full potential. Projeqt does a couple of really unique things that are both creative and unique, make it seem like the ultra cool big sister of the presentation tools. Using a stack of slides, users can organize content into stacks and stacks within stacks, creating a presentation experience that feels much more like exploring than lecture. The tool also connects with a wide array of social media tools, allowing users to display live Twitter feeds, run Spotify playlists, reference Flickr images, key into Google maps, and a wealth of other tools that instantly become as meaningful and relevant to your presentation as needed. What's more, these links are all live-fed, so they update in real time. A Projeqt presentation returned to in a week (or even an hour) may not be exactly the same as the one shared at a conference. To me, this feels as if Projeqt is inviting me to tell a story using my social media tools. And this is challenging because I've never before been asked (or been able) to do so. Seeing what the Projeqt community has created is a constant source of inspiration.

And, lastly, we will turn over the podium to Google Drive for some closing remarks.

6. Google Drive

Google Drive offers up some powerful opportunities to collaborate. It's presentation interface is identical, though simplified, to PowerPoint and through sharing customization, it's possible for a group of students to develop an entire presentation in tandem. One of the handiest features is the real-time archive of changes to the document, making it possible to recover deleted material through restoring a previous revision. I've left this particular Drive presentation as a public share, allowing anyone with the link to edit. I'd like to invite you to open the doc and add some closing words, too. Consider what thoughts you have for our late friend and add yours to the growing list of others on the final presentation slides.

And with that, we say our final goodbyes to PowerPoint, who served us all well for a good number of years and who now my rest easy knowing we've got friends to support us and take care of our every presentation need.

You are invited to light refreshments and punch in the lobby immediately following the service.


The Busy Librarian Funeral Home Staff


  1. Interesting list! I've been in the process of collecting presentation tools for a guide I've been working on ( If you're still looking for more options, you might want to take a look at Haiku Deck (for creating presentations on an iPad) or Scrollshow (for an interesting sideways animation).

    1. Nice suggestions, Carli! thanks for sharing!

  2. My Eulogy: (and I also placed this lavishly on your amazing Google Preso - of course!)
    Good day dear friends & mourners, my name is Gwyneth Jones - The Daring Librarian, and I must say in his defense and as a reaction to all your hating & shady boots dissin of our dearly departed.
    ...It wasn't PPT who sucked. It was you who sucked using him! Oh dear, [blushes beetroot] that came out quite wrong. But truly, it's not the tool that is terrible, it's the technique!

    And, [grins wryly] not to *ever* miss an opportunity for shameless self-promotion with a captive audience, but I think we could all heal and improve our lives if we took a few minutes & experienced this Slideshare on How to be a Presentation Ninja.
    [bows head and sniffs loudly and then says in sotto voice to Matthew] Dude, what a brilliant concept for a preso!!! - might just have to steal it! Thank goddess for Creative Commons!

    1. Love it. Thanks for joining the ceremony, Gwyneth! In the end, it won't be PowerPoint to blame for his (its?) untimely death. It will, as you said, be those who used him so thoughtlessly that put him there.

  3. Yes...dare we say that these tools are PPT's cousins in the hands of uninformed educators? The "Bulimic Barbies" using the tools just scoop 'n spit.
    To scoop or not to scoop, that is the question... Tis better not to scoop, if all we do is spit. - Shakespeare

  4. Nice post. If you are looking for free powerpoint templates and backgrounds, you can find them here:

  5. Great article as for me Power Point is more simple to use.
    But everyone can choose their own better by interface or some other option.
    Want to tell you that Power Point has one big plus because has a related website with the great numbers of templates for it.
    Try it and don't spend a lot of time for creating beautiful and unique templates.


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