Key Differences Between Presentation Softwares You Need to Know

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My name is Amy, and I am a freelance presentation designer, working in PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote. My passion is creating branded presentations that represent you as a trusted professional in your industry, strengthen your brand in the marketplace, and engage your audience with an elevated experience that will convert and make them remember you for all the right reasons.

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Are you trying to decide which presentation software to host your new presentation on? I usually recommend PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides to my clients. Which one I recommend depends on how they plan to use the presentation and how they want to work on it. Let’s go over each one and hopefully help you decide which one is best for your company.

PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint is probably the most well-known presentation software out there – usually with a sigh of grief. But truly, PowerPoint is a fantastic and very powerful program when you know the ins and outs of it.

First, it has the most robust design features of any presentation software. If you want custom layouts, fonts, colors, animations, and overall design, PowerPoint is best for you and offers the most features in all categories.

I also recommend PowerPoint for companies that run Windows computers, utilize Microsoft 365, or for clients that require heavy customization and animation. I also recommend PowerPoint for presentations you need to present from an unfamiliar computer as it is the most commonly used software in corporate settings. Bonus – it also works for companies operating on Mac computers.

Finally, it includes a nice library of free stock photos and icons for users with Microsoft 365 accounts, and you can use Sharepoint to group-edit via the company intranet. Please note that this type of group-sharing is limited to users set up within your company and doesn’t include outside users – though your IT department can generally work around this by adding frequent guest users with a user seat within the company–or you can use OneDrive to set up collaboration permissions for anyone you share the presentation link with.

Pros: It’s very customizable and is constantly adding new features based on customer feedback. It is the industry standard. You can export to many different formats. You can save it as “Read Only” to protect your content from editing. It has the best compatibility and integration when sharing with other users.

Cons: The up-to-date version of PowerPoint requires a paid subscription to Microsoft 365 to use. If you’re using an older version or need to present from a computer using an older version, you may not be able to see all of your customizations or animations.

Keynote

Built by Apple, Keynote is included free on most Apple devices. Something unique about Keynote is that each person presenting can take control of their section of the deck. This makes presentations run smoother since presenters don’t need to say, “next slide please.”

Keynote also includes a lot of attractive presentation templates that tend to be more modern looking than those found on other platforms. It also includes some really nice animations not found in other software options. These features, and more, make Keynote best for teams that utilize Apple devices or have an advanced design sensibility, but don’t have an in-house design team.

Like PowerPoint, you can also set up group collaboration using iCloud.

Pros: Keynote presentations can be saved as PowerPoints, so if you’re working with someone who uses Microsoft, they can also view and edit the presentation. The software is free. The software includes sophisticated animation and design features.

Cons: You will need a Mac device to work with or view the Keynote file. You won’t be able to use Keynote on a Windows device, which means in many corporate or trade show situations, you could run into trouble if you can’t present from your own device. It also has fewer export options and not as many advanced design options. Importing a PowerPoint file to Keynote may result in the loss of some features of your presentation.

Google Slides

Google Slides is great for teams working on a slide deck together. You can edit with other collaborators in real-time, leave comments, and assign sections to people to work on. I recommend Google Slides for teams with multiple contributors, Gmail users, and teams who only need a simple platform for slide decks.

Pros:Google Slides is a tool that’s free with any Gmail account, and all changes are saved automatically! No more losing work from a computer crash with Google Slides.

Cons:The features available are fairly basic.

Similarities

I also wanted to point out a few things that you’ll get in all three of these presentation platforms.

Animations

All slides can host various media and animations. You can add various forms of media to your slides, such as gifs, images, or videos. My tip is to use lots of graphics but to be sparing with animations. Use animations, videos, and gifs to enhance the point of your slide information, rather than using them for the sake of using them. Animations that don’t highlight your key information will just be a distraction from your message. You can learn more about how to create engaging slides in this blog post

Transitions

Add slide transitions to spice up your presentation. All three platforms allow you to add transitions such as:

  • Slide
  • Push
  • Fade
  • Split
  • Reveal

Just remember to use transitions tastefully.

Work Together

While it is ideal to select your software before you begin building your deck, all three platforms do work together to some extent. You can generally upload a PowerPoint into Google Slides. A Keynote presentation or Google Slide presentation can be downloaded as a PowerPoint. Even if you start on a certain platform, and decide halfway through that you need the features that a different one has to offer, all will not be lost! You can import and export as needed until you have the perfect presentation. Just be sure to double-check that any important features have carried through in the conversion.

I hope this blog helped you decide which presentation platform to use! I create presentations for my clients on all three of these platforms. With a branded template to work from, you’re guaranteed a professional presentation that your audience will love, no matter which platform you choose.