Unfortunately for many of us plying our trade in large enterprises, the presentation is something we often deride for being lackluster, all too familiar, and downright boring. That's a shame for two reasons: First, because effective communication is vital to a successful enterprise, and second, because it doesn't have to be that way.
Further complicating matters, enterprise structure is increasingly marked by a mobile and distant workforce, which can't always be expected to physically attend a meeting where a presentation is on the agenda. The tools used to create and display a presentation must be able to cope with and adapt to this mobile environment.
Here is a list of five presentation apps that give you more and better tools to create an effective presentation for a mobile and distributed workforce. In fact, with some practice, you may find yourself creating something that is actually interesting.
Note: This article is also available as a photo gallery.
If your enterprise uses Microsoft Office as its preferred productivity suite, you are probably familiar with the standard presentation tool PowerPoint. But if you operate under an Office 365 subscription, you also have access to an alternative presentation tool from Microsoft called Sway (Figure A).
Microsoft designed Sway to be used as a collaboration tool where a team, not necessarily located in the same building, can develop a presentation together. The app allows content beyond the mere slideshow, with support for video, animation, and links to other websites, including social media.
Sway offers hundreds of templates to help you get started. There is also a YouTube channel full of tutorials for Sway. The app is available when you purchase an Office 365 subscription.
2: Google Slides
Of all the apps listed in this article, Google Slides (Figure B) would appear to be the most limited and most likely to be confused with PowerPoint. But this app can be your saving grace when you are tasked with creating a presentation on the fly and all you have is your smartphone.
So while Slides may be limited to the slideshow format, you can still use content from reports, websites, emails, and social media to create your presentation. That may be all you need, especially if you are doing it all on your mobile device.
There are dozens of templates available on Slides, but the tutorial section is not as helpful as the other apps. Google Slides is included with Google Apps.
Visme (Figure C) is a web-based app that allows you to create presentations, reports, infographics, and even web pages. You drag and drop elements from the toolbar to a slide and then add content specific to your presentation. It is relatively easy and straightforward to create sophisticated slides that include video, audio, and animation.
Visme is available in trial form for free, but the number of templates and tools will be limited. For $16/month you can upgrade to the Premium version and get access to hundreds of professionally developed templates.
There is an extensive set of helpful tutorials available that should answer just about any question you have about how to use Visme.
Perhaps you are looking to communicate in a more graphical way. If so, you might want to consider Venngage (Figure D). This web-based app specializes in infographics, reports, posters, and other forms of graphic-rich content. Similar to Visme, you use a toolbar to drag and drop elements to your canvas and then add your specific content. The interaction is similar to a paint application.
You can use the trial version of Venngage for free, but the number of templates available will be limited. However, with the Premium version, available for $19/month or $190/year, there are dozens upon dozens of pre-made templates to choose from.
There are also numerous tutorial and help articles available on the Venngage website.
Arguably the most innovative and unusual app on this list is Prezi (Figure E). This app creates a graphic presentation that is best used for communicating information that drills down from the big picture to the specifics. Initially the image shows the audience the big picture, but when a certain part of the image is touched, or a gesture is used on a touchscreen, an animation appears and drills down on the details.
While a Prezi presentation can be shown using any computing device, it is particularly effective on a tablet or touchscreen. Again, this is one possible solution for a mobile enterprise workforce on the go.
A 14-day free trial is available, with the most basic package costing $4.92/month. The Pro package costs $13.25/month. Prezi also has a large tutorial collection available.
- With Microsoft Sway, your next presentation doesn't have to suck
- Two ways to consolidate PowerPoint slides and save time
- 10 easy ways to punch up your presentations
Do you have a go-to presentation tool that didn't make this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.