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Official Buying Guide To Presentation Software


It’s one thing to purchase presentation software for your personal or business needs.  There are well over 100 presentation software programs that cater to over 100 different industries, including church presentation software and medical presentation software.  Navigating through the multitude of options can be daunting if you’re not focused on the specific problems you’re trying to solve with your presentation software or the particular features you’re looking for.
At CustomShow, we see that there are usually three core problems people are trying to solve with presentation software:
  • Design: The “Better-Looking PowerPoint” Problem
  • Management: The “Where’s the Latest Deck” Problem
  • Delivery: The “How Do I Email or Share This” Problem

A fourth one may be centered around analytics, but that would typically fall under the Management problem.  Let’s discuss these three in more detail.

Design Problem

At the core of every presentation are the brand and design elements that tell your company’s story and brings your message to life.  Without specific design functions included in your presentation software, the “Better-Looking PowerPoint” problem will not be solved.  Here are some of the design functions many people search for in presentation software:

  • PowerPoint Import Capability
  • Video Import Capabilities
  • Multiple Animation Functions
  • Customizable Typography & Color Options
  • Multiple Shapes & Image Options

Management Problem

Being able to manage your presentations can be just as important as their design.  Without proper management functionality, sales managers cannot see the work their sales reps have done or update slides in decks that were already created.  Team collaboration and multiple people being able to work on the same deck is also critical to being able to ensure that the right information makes it into each and every deck.  Management of your presentations is a core function that is often overlooked by many companies.

Delivery Problem

What is the best way to deliver my presentation and share it with my audience or sales prospects?  Is my presentation in such a format where I can email it and they can view it seamlessly?  Often the solution is to PDF the presentation and send it in that format, eliminating the ability to include animation, video or tracking functionality within the presentation.

Content delivery really does matter and there are many features each presentation software can offer.  Some of the primary delivery problems we see companies face include:

  • Mobile/iPad Delivery
  • Sharing & Formatting
  • Importing & Exporting to other formats (i.e. PowerPoint, KeyNote)

Despite these three being the high level buckets that companies will typically need addressed, we’ve identified roughly 20 different features that you should consider as you are navigating various presentation software tools.

Top 20 Features You Need To Solve Your Presentation Problem

  • Powerpoint Import/Export – Ability to take your presentation and “seamlessly” import it from or export it to a Powerpoint file.  Companies like Prezi and Apple Keynote provide this functionality and knowing you can export into Powerpoint is critical because many companies will not have the same presentation software as you do.
  • Team Collaboration – The ability to collaborate with teammates on the design and delivery of presentations under development matters to sales and marketing teams in particular.  CustomShow is one of the few products that offers real-time Cloud collaboration so teammates can work from home and on a presentation together at the same time and see each other’s changes as they’re made.
  • Video/Multi-Media Import – Video matters and incorporating video in presentations is a standard in today’s world.  If your presentation software does not provide this, you’re seriously behind the curve.
  • Cloud Storage – Most companies should have cloud capabilities, but if the software requires direct download to your desktop or laptop, it may not.  Cloud storage ensures you’re not using up your own space, but more importantly you can multiple computers and leverage team collaborations when working on the same presentation. Watch out for limits on storage or surcharges if you go over a certain amount – storage of video and image files can quickly add up.
  • True Customization – Some presentation tools claim you can solve the “better than PowerPoint” problem by using their templates and automatic slide design functions, but the truth is many do not offer REAL customization where you’re creating eye-popping presentations that wow your audience.  The best way to understand this is to ask the support team to share 3 – 4 different presentation developed by the software and see if they’re all the same.
  • Analytics & Tracking – Companies that strongly utilize their presentation software for sales and marketing are incorporating more analytics and tracking tools to get a better sense of how their sales forces are doing in utilizing the presentation, which presentations are being accessed, and who is viewing them.
  • Web Meetings/Live Stream – Unlike screen-sharing tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx and Join.Me, live Web Meetings driven by presentation software let presenters deliver rich-media presentation with animation and video to remote viewers, providing them with the best viewing experience and the greatest impact. It’s important for presenters to understand the use and limitations of different platforms and make sure they’re using the right tool for the job.
  • Mobile & iPad Delivery – Having a presentation tool that can delivery your presentations and video on multiple devices, including mobile and iPad, is important.  We see this for real estate agents, for example, who do a number of tours of properties and want to use an iPad to delivery their content and presentation.
  • Stock Photography – Does the software come with stock photography that can be used for the presentations?Is the platform limited to only using one source of stock photography? Are the images available through the software business-quality (paid) or consumer-quality (free)? These are important questions to ask before investing in a platform.
  • Stock Templates – Does the software company with 10 – 20 pre-made templates?  Are you limited to only using their templates? Can you create your own templates that match your company’s brand? Does the software company offer professional services to help create custom templates to differentiate your presentations from their other users? Depending on the answers, these can help your company get started in learning the software and developing eye-popping presentations, or can limit you to having presentations that look like everyone else’s.
  • Content Management – The ability to manage content is a MUST.  Think about the videos, images, icons, and fonts you want to upload and store.  Most importantly, make sure there’s a way to centrally update this content once it’s uploaded. One of the benefits of Cloud platforms is the ability to replace an element or media file and know that it’ll replace everywhere it’s used.
  • PDF Support – Most software packages allow for PDF support but you can to confirm this one with your presentation software company. Even though most presentations are delivered digitally, you’ll need to make sure that you can save as PDF or print if necessary.
  • Active Company Support – Company support matters and you need to investigate this area to ensure you either have a support number you can call when you have issues, a true tech support team that’s responsive, a knowledge base you can access online, or even a dedicated rep you can connect with directly as needed.
  • Interactive Elements (Polls/Feedback/Audience Chat) – Some companies offer a feedback loop not just within teams working on the presentation, but also among audience members who are viewing the presentation.  Definitely a neat feature if you want to increase audience collaboration and interactivity.
  • Demo/Free Trial Available – As simple as this may sound, you need to be able to try out software before you purchase it.  If a company is not offering a free trial, this can definitely be a deterrent. While a demo or free trial shouldn’t prevent you from considering tools, especially specialized ones that serve a niche market or audience, proceed with caution and make sure you understand their cancellation policy.
  • Animation Capabilities – Heard of Powtoon?  There are a software package that sticks strictly to animation capabilities.  If your software package offers this as another solution, it can be a benefit, but don’t expect the majority of tools out there to offer this.
  • Online/Offline Capabilities – Online and offline really does matter, although usually the main concern is the ability to present offline since that’s when any slowdown or glitch can be the difference between success and failure.  If you’re on an airplane and want to be able to work on a presentation, the days of not having internet access are gone. You can now access the internet from almost anywhere, so online-only editing isn’t nearly as scary as it used to be.
  • Multiple App Integrations (Word/Numbers) – Being able to incorporate files from Excel, Numbers, Word, or other apps or document types can be a bonus for software packages, but it’s important to focus on what you need to the use for your presentations. Not every platform supports every file type or format, so make sure you know what you need for your particular presentations and then make sure the software supports those types.
  • Video Editing Capabilities – It’s one thing to import video and another to be able to edit videos inside of the software tool.  Probably not the core needs of a presentation designer, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one-suite, this can potentially tip the scales for those designers that are key influencers to deciding on which presentation software package to go with. Conversely, if you’re already using a separate video editor to create or edit videos, you don’t need to duplicate that functionality in your presentation software – especially since it probably can’t compete with a purpose-specific app like Adobe Premiere or iMovie.
  • Privacy & Security – Many companies don’t discuss this, but privacy and security really does matter given how many companies that are investing more into data security.  Even if this is an added benefit and not the core of the presentation software, it matters. Especially at larger companies, any Cloud software you intend to purchase usually has to be approved by a corporate Information Security (InfoSec) team.
  • Custom URL’s – Creating custom URL’s that can be shared with clients and people you’ll be presenting too makes the share-ability component very easy for people.
  • App Integration – People love their apps and being able to integrate them into presentation software can increase your team’s productivity and communications.  Great examples are Slack, a new communications software that integrations with ClearSlide’s platform.  Keep an eye out for any presentation programs that create opportunities for your favorite apps like SalesForce, Zoomifier, etc…

How To Sell Within Your Company

There are 4 components to consider when working to sell the software you choose internally within your company.  Below are the four criteria to consider:

Demo & Training Day

People will not release their grips on PowerPoint unless they actually see what else is out there and what’s possible. Sales and marketing managers may be convinced that their new presentation tool will help them generate more leads and win more business, but their subordinates cannot get onboard until someone does a demo for them.  It can be either a webinar or a video you send them that will showcase the ease and functionality of the software.  Get them immersed into the experience of the software and they will let go of PowerPoint slides.

“You’ll Make More Money”

Telling your staff that they’ll make more money with this software may not be enough, but it can be a compelling reason as you share with them the statistics as to how many more companies close deals with the existing presentation software (PowerPoint) versus the new presentation software you employ.  As you know, case studies are powerful.  If they know something is going to help them make more money, then show them examples of other companies that closed more deals when they switched away from PowerPoint.  Most presentation software companies can provide this data for you to share with your employees.

Your own staff will save more time

They may not be fully convinced the new software will save them time because there is a learning process.  But when you explain that they no longer have to search for new collateral, they can store everything in the cloud, and share the content with their peers better than powerpoint, then it becomes an easier sell.  Show them the times saved on the backend and they’ll become more open and likely to test out the software.

Because You said so

You can always strong arm your staff and just tell them they have no choice.  That doesn’t always do over well but that is an absolute option.  We think if you utilize the initial three recommendations, this won’t be necessary.  You will always get pushback from those diehard PowerPoint fans, but those who are open to seeing the value will work to take advantage of it and get others on board to do the same.

Consider The Current Problems You’re Facing

Remember to go back to the three core problems most sales and marketing professionals experience including delivery, management, and design.  Here is our standard step by step process for identifying and offering up solutions to those presentation software problems:

  1. Identify one or more of the three presentation issues your team/company is experiencing
  2. Write down the challenges your specific team is facing as a result of the gap
  3. Jot down the benefits of that problem being resolved with better performing presentation software
  4. Consult with the said presentation software company on their standard process for implementation and transition to the new software program.