14 online presentation tools to rock your socks.

November 21, 20104 Comments
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Everyone loves online presentations. They offer easily digestible snippets of content that break down communication problems and understanding. when done right, they can provide an extra level of excitement and interactivity to a talk, or clarity to a concept.

It’s no surprise then, that the popularity of offline tools such as Microsoft Powerpoint, or Apple Keynote have given rise to a number of online presentation tools that provide extra features such as embedding in webpages or collaboration over the web.

I’ve blogged before about how presentations can be used as content and this post summarises and reviews some of the leading players online in the space that you can use to your advantage, along with a sample of how the presentation looks when embedded.

AuthorStream

URL: http://www.authorstream.com/

Features: Conference call sharing, Social integration via Gigya, SEO transcript

Import: pptx pps ppt ppsx

Upload limit: 1GB

The free version of Authorstream offers increase storage than some of its rivals, and a fantastic conference call facility that allows you to upload a presentation, and easily share with others via a private link. Many of you will find this facility alone useful for presentations you have to perform with more than one presenter; particularly if those people are located somewhere else in the country or indeed the world, and need to review the content together. The Authorstream desktop tool is completely free of charge, and provides additional functionality in Microsoft Powerpoint, including direct upload to the web.

With the premium version Authorstream offer one distinct feature that others do not – video downloads of your presentation and a revenue sharing scheme through Adsense. If you are a subscriber you can quickly provide a presentation in a format that can be used on YouTube, or utilised on a smartphone with video playback capabilities. The video formats supported currently include FLV, MP4, AVI, and WMV. Integrating adsense publisher Id’s then in turn allows you to monetize your own content.

Click to view

Prezi

URL: http://prezi.com/

Features: Sexier Presentations, Flash motion vector, Full screen mode

Import: Images, Videos, PDF’s

Upload limit: 100MB (Public license)

I frickin’ love Prezi. They’ve taken the presentation concept, applied flash motion to it, and turned the world on its head. Yes. It really is that good. There’s no such thing as slides anymore, simply motion which flows between the points you want to make. Keyboard navigation is also a huge plus, allowing you to move back and forward between themes really smoothly. As with many of the other slideshow options listed here, full screen mode is available, and due to the use of flash vectors, much of the text and objects used with the presentation scales perfectly – resulting in little to no degradation when you zoom it up. It’s really worth trying it out for yourself. Prezi Meeting adds collaboration to the mix, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time.

Commercial offerings (Enjoy & Pro license) for Prezi exist providing privacy settings, Prezi Desktop, watermark removal and an increase of storage to 500MB all for the bargain pricing of $159 a year. Educational licenses provide further saving if you are a teacher or student.

The online editor loads directly in the browser, and doesn’t require you to download any software at all to use; an impressive feature in its own right, considering the final output. You can however do so if you wish with Prezi Desktop if your on the Pro license. There are a variety of background presets or ‘themes’ to choose from as far as the look and feel goes, but these are easily customisable to your own taste with the addition of a logo or two and a quick change of text colour. As for the actual flow of the presentation, each new point you make has to be linked to the previous one so the flash knows where you want to jump to next and applies the motion to it. Dizzying for some, but for the most part, Prezi results in enthralling presentations.

Click to view

Slideshare

URL: http://www.slideshare.net/

Features: Full screen mode, Social media integration, Text mode (SEO indexing), Embed

Import: pdf, ppt, pps, pptx, ppsx, pot, potx (Powerpoint); odp (OpenOffice); key, zip (Apple Keynote)

Upload limit: 100MB (free account)

Slideshare is arguably the leader in the market when it comes to embedded powerpoint shows. They have both a free and commercial version of the software, with traffic to the site growing month on month (over 2 million uniques a month according to compete). Their basic features provide pretty much everything you would need in a hosted platform, and they have paid close attention to social media, both from a sharing perspective to grow their own traffic, and from a user angle. Users can easily add presentations to groups or events within Facebook for example.

Their basic commercial version offers an ad free platform, leads (a form beside your hosted presentation) and analytics on social platforms so you can see where your presentation is being shared. I dare say that this would be easy enough to track yourself (see Backtweets) with a bit of creative thinking. (Hint they use slidesha.re as the sharing URL).  The most advanced commercial offering (at $249 dollars a month), provides complete creative control of the look and feel of your channel, and gives you community access, allowing you to moderate comments etc. Think of it a bit like YouTube for slideshows. Overall a very tidy, and mature product.

Click to view

Empressr

URL: http://www.empressr.com/

Features: Transitions, Recording (Audio + Video), Embed, Sound

Import: JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, MOV, FLV, AVI, SWF, MP3

Upload limit: 10MB

In a similar vein to Prezi, Empressr offers a web based browser editor for the creation of your presentation. A flash based interface allows you to bring in additional information from around the web including Flickr, Google,  Yahoo or  YouTube and options are available to start completely from fresh, or import an existing powerpoint presentation. The service is completely free, with Empressr Enterprise yet to launch a more commercial model.

There are also a number of neat little features within the flash which make Empressr stand out from the crowd including recording direct from a video source (e.g. a web cam). This cuts out the middleman in uploading to YouTube and may prove to be useful in creating a slideshow of video presentations. They have managed to implement a number of the features Powerpoint users will be accustomed to, including backgrounds which are used presentation wide, and added extras such as vector charts. You can also see an impressive array of transitions between slides in the presentation below which are available out of the box.

Click to view

Sliderocket

URLhttp://www.sliderocket.com

Features: Plugins (interactive Twitterfeed), Libraries / Assets / Fullscreen / Embedding / HD Video / Comments

Import: JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG

Upload limit: 100MB

Sliderocket is one of the most impressive web based interfaces for any of the applications listed here. It simply looks and feels like a proper desktop app running in the browser, and when you are working with it for any length of time, you just forget that its not. Every detail right down to the aspect ratio of your presentation has been accounted for, giving you a professional way to manage the entire look and feel. Pro users of the service gain access to a number of other features, including interactive forms to poll user opinion, and gain access to view analytics in a similar model to slideshare. Just recently they announced a whole host of new features in the software, and combined with the existing offering, I’ve no doubt they are onto a winner.

Of particular interest to me personally, was the ability to embed a live twitterfeed in a slide, giving your presentation a realtime feel. I can see this being used at conferences or for audience participation during a meeting, and it can be resized and positioned so as not to be abrasive should you wish to keep it live throughout the talk. HD video embed is also something I’m sure we’ll see much more in presentations as bandwidth becomes less of an issue, and broadband adoption across the globe increases.

Click to view

Notable Mentions

http://slidesix.com/ – SlideSix offers some handy autoplay options for your slideshow and supported upload options include: PowerPoint (PPT, PPS), Acrobat (PDF) or (ODP).

http://animoto.com/ – Animoto create video slideshows from a collection of photos. They also offer a handy API which means you can automate the process somewhat.

http://slides.diigo.com – Diigo the social bookmarking tool offer a handy way to showcase a collection of websites in a slideshow.

http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/s5/s5-intro.html – Eric Meyers Standards Based Slideshow System

http://www.prezentit.com/user/home – Online slideshow maker

http://oslide.sourceforge.net/ – Open Source library useful if you plan on implementing something similar

http://www.slideroll.com/index.php – a Free tool for turning flash slideshows into video

http://www.authorgen.com/authorpoint-lite-free/powerpoint-to-flash-converter.aspx – Free powerpoint to flash convertor.

http://www.formatpixel.com/go/en/index.php – Create your own online magazines, fanzines, brochures, catalogues, portfolios and more.

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About the Author ()

Paul is a regular 30 year old web bloke / programmer with a penchant for online marketing. This blog is a personal outlet, with an eclectic mix of articles.

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