** Updated March 2017
Comparing the pros and cons of PowerPoint vs. Prezi vs. Keynote
There are more presentation software packages available than ever before, and it gets more challenging to stay knowledgeable on all of them. As a presenter it is also no longer a question of which ecosystem you prefer (Windows, Apple or Google) but which platform is right for the audience. We don’t cover every single presentation software package in this article, but we try to at least mention the majority of them and then compare the 3 big cheeses – PowerPoint, Prezi, and Keynote.
The complete list is huge and growing and we will revise this article as new ones come into play:
ClearSlide, Emaze, GoAnimate, Google Presentation, Haiku Deck, Keynote, PowerPoint, Powtoon, Present.me, Prezi, Reel, SlideBean, SlideDog, Sliderocket, SlideShare, SlideSnack, SpeakerDeck, Sway, Zoho, Show
Let’s start and talk about the elephant in the room: Microsoft PowerPoint. It is loved and hated, often by the same people, but you don’t become the world’s biggest software enterprise without making a few enemies along the way. PowerPoint tries to be all things to all people, and it has largely succeeded. And this is ultimately PowerPoint’s strong suit – versatility. Some might call the software a bit bloated because of the many features available in PowerPoint, but this body of tools means that you are able to do anything you want and in whatever way works better for you.
With PowerPoint, you can do pretty much create anything you can imagine, heck you can even imitate Prezi’s zoom, rotate, and pan. One gets the feeling that PowerPoint has matured a lot in recent history with features like morph, zoom and a host of other improvements. Powerpoint has reclaimed its position as leader – some would say ‘in the nick-of-time’. It now also supports real-time collaboration that is a lot less buggy than Prezi’s version control fiasco. Everything else out on the market might be more niche and more hip, but PowerPoint is still the one that you need to have in your arsenal if you are a serious presenter albeit it is no longer the only presentation software you will have and use.
I have to be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with Prezi. Back in 2012, we were pitching on the Google advertising account and we were under strict instructions that the presentation could not be more than 10 slides long. It was inconceivable to us that we could make our case in 10 slides so we cheated a little, we used Prezi. Our Prezi was still short but there is no way to tell where one slide begins and the next one ends because Prezi doesn’t work like that, it just doesn’t. Prezi is essentially a large canvas and you pan and zoom around on it. Anyway, long story short – we won the account and I think Prezi might have played a small part in our victory.
Sometimes, however, I want to close my Prezi account and never return and if someone asks of me to design a Prezi for them I kindly decline and introduce them to one of the many Prezi “gurus” I know.
But then the next day I have calmed down and I realize Prezi is not just a new philosophy in presentation it also requires a slight personality change, the way you think needs to change. Prezi is not the problem, I am. Then I create another knockout Prezi Prezo and all is good with the world.
Then, it’s the next day and there is a version control conflict between my offline version and the client’s version and something goes wrong and I stab a pen into Prezi’s vital organs. This happens every time I work in Prezi, not having numerical values, or a grid or crappy snapping to version conflicts and a very buggy offline version does that to people. Beyond the complexities of actually working with Prezi, there are the clients who have heard about the amazing Prezi but has no idea what Prezi is capable of and then require some wild and insane animations or engagements. It drives me insane. But then I look at the end result and it calms me down and sometimes even produces a wry smile. This relationship with Prezi has been carrying on in much the same fashion since 2012.
Read the full article on getting to terms with Prezi
Keynote is Apple’s answer to Microsoft PowerPoint even though PowerPoint used to belong to Apple many years ago and back then it was called Presenter. As you would expect, Keynote does much of what PowerPoint does, just with its own set of very annoying quirks. It sometimes feels like Keynote is conspiring to end your career and potentially take your life. We have all had near heart attacks when you open the Keynote presentation and nothing in it is editable in any way shape or form, or you save a duplicate Keynote make changes and cant find the original Keynote because you forgot to save and close the original doc. Or you open your presentation, get to present, receive the rainbow of death, and BOOM when you force quit your Keynote, the presentation no longer works. And it’s not like this time you can blame Adobe or Microsoft either, so you end up just saying something stupid like “Technology…”
But Keynote like PowerPoint has also matured quite a lot and certainly appears to be a lot less buggy. I used to avoid importing PowerPoint docs, fairly confident that the process would leave the document an unworkable mess. However, Keynote does a pretty good job of importing PowerPoint with its latest version and only a few minor tweaks are required, usually related to master template setup differences between Keynote and PowerPoint. Changing fonts can be a real pain when you import from PowerPoint and in the end it is best to just hide the errors and move on with your life.
There are a few animations, transitions, and other minor features that you might prefer in either PowerPoint or Keynote, but for the most part; Keynote is pretty much exactly the same as PowerPoint. The biggest shortcomings on Keynote’s part are lack of vector functionality such as importing and editing SVG graphics (you can import Illustrator AI files only and you cant really edit it),
that it has very little online collaboration (You can now collaborate in Keynote since around 2016) and it only works on a Mac.
Ultimately I still feel like Keynote is still sitting there judging me. Trying to make me feel stupid and forcing me to do things Apple’s way which is not always to best (despite what many people believe).
The one feature that Keynote has that is missing from PowerPoint is the ability to create master styles for paragraphs, headers, bullets or just about anything you can imagine (Similar to what you will find in Word). However in my personal experience this feature tends to make things more complicated than it needs to be and you end up with 100+ styles or end up modifying them along the way and then creating duplicates and it ends up losing its benefit very quickly into a 20+ slide presentation. It would be nice for PowerPoint to simply bring the Word version of this feature over to Powerpoint.
Comparing basic features:
Last Updated 23 March 2017 –
- Office 365 for Mac means the difference between PC and Mac version is now marginal.
- Keynote now allows real-time collaboration
- PowerPoint now allows you to import SVG graphics directly (albeit with some minor editing restriction such as editing nodes – compared to using EMF files)
- I cant confirm this but apparently Prezi now has a telephone hotline, unreal!
- You can now present remotely in Keynote
|Platforms||Windows, Mac , Web||Windows, Mac, Web||Mac|
|Master Template Support|
|Import Vector Graphics||SVG, EPS, EMF (Full editing features for EMF)||SWF Only (no editing)||Adobe Illustrator Only|
|Present on Mobile / Tablet||All||iOS / Android||iOS only|
|Editable vector graphics||Limited to colors||Minimal|
|Present Offline||Paid version only|
|Transitions||Pan, Rotate, Zoom Only|
|Custom slide advance timings||Limited|
|Cost for full version||$ 9 /m||$14 / m||$19 / once off|
|Free version available||Viewing Only|
Technically it does, but it almost never works
|Fade items on screen out|
|Lasso Selection Tool|
|Biggest Pro||Versatile for any type of Presentation||Canvas is great for simple story telling||Competitive with PowerPoint|
|Biggest Con||Some people just hate PowerPoint||Cumbersome and lacks a lots of standard features||Cant really edit vector graphics|