Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Presentation software reviews

Here at Bearfoot Graphics we are always keeping our eye on the latest presentation software. As presentation designers and live event operators we are always curious to see what has been released and how we can use it for our next projects.
We’ve got 3 new applications to review this time, Air Sketch, SlideKloud and an update to The Haiku Deck.

Air Sketch
Air sketch is an iPad app which transforms your iPad into a live whiteboard. Simply open a PDF document on your iPad through the Air Sketch app, the document on your iPad is now yours to annotate or draw on, appearing instantly on the screen allowing you to walk around the room making points as you go. You can even hand the iPad to an audience member to make a note or highlight a point too.
The app comes with a range of tools to use when annotating the page including a pen, brush, marker, pencil and a highlighter. You can also password protect the URL in case of sensitive information.
There are limitations to this app, you will need a Wi-Fi connection (it doesn’t work on 3G), and you must be running a browser that supports HTML 5 on the device being used to project, and the annotations speed of appearance depends on the internet connection speed too. The only documents you can use are PDF’s so if you had a PowerPoint or keynote presentation you would need to output as a PDF is order to use Air Sketch.
It’s a great tool for teaching, explaining complex work is easier, getting the audience to focus on a particular diagram, much better than a laser pointer.  The audience interaction is the key selling feature of this app, and I think, used with a small audience cold be a real asset.

SlideKloud is an audience engagement app aimed at making presentations into conversations. There are a number of features to track the audience’s participation with your presentation including polling data on slide specific questions and the ability to comment and ask questions.
The app can be used on a smartphone, tablet or laptop through the cloud; there are both Android and Apple versions of the app. The presenter uploads their presentation to their device then pushes it to the audiences own devices via the cloud. Audience members logon to the app and are able to view the presentation as well as any interaction set up by the presenter. The audience are also able to save personal notes on individual slides, share comments and ask questions to the presenter all in real time.
To take full advantage of this app, the presenter will need to add into their presentation relevant questions to gauge opinions, knowledge and ideas.
Once the presentation is finished the analytics are in depth and provide the presenter with a wealth of data. There are some restrictions though, you must have Wi-Fi to use it as it’s entirely cloud based, and there is a monthly fee depending on how many presentation you may give.
I’m not sure if this app is a little over complicated for a standard conference or talk. Audience engagement and interaction is vital when giving presentations but I’m not sure getting an audience of 250 to logon using their smartphones is practical. I think this app has the potential to be really beneficial on a much smaller scale, where you can get a true reflection of the audience’s opinion and it’s a lot easier to co-ordinate.
To really see the benefits of this app, the presenter needs to think clearly about audience engagement as a first thought not an afterthought. Just adding in a question at the end won’t utilize this app effectively.

Haiku Deck 2.0
We reviewed the Haiku Deck a while ago and found it to be a nice(what kind of word is this?) app it certainly created nicer looking presentations but in our opinion more thought is needed to go into crafting presentations than just nice images.
Now they’ve released v2.0, the new update with new features. There have been big improvements to image adjustments, you can now crop, zoom and reposition images a lot easier. The image picker has also been improved giving better results for your content.
Unfortunately they have added in additional features including charts and bullet points. Although they have tried to keep them as simple as possible, this for us feels like they are heading down a road that follows the traditional presentation style and not the free thinking style that we really liked about the Haiku deck initially.
The charts are simple enough to compile, double tapping allows you to input figures and you can drag and pull to increase bars or pie pieces too. The chart styles are limited to Bar, Pie or Stat to keep it simple. One feature that is quite nice is in show mode if you tab on a piece of the chart, the rest will be greyed out highlighting that section. 
The bullet point addition again has some limitations, a maximum of five bullets on a slide and they can only be bulleted or numbered.
This update gives an improved social media interaction with Facebook, twitter and blogs; it is still a free app and can be exported to Keynote and PowerPoint for use at a meeting or conference.
The Haiku Deck update has definitely provided some great new improvements, but the introduction of charts and bullet points doesn’t sit well with us, their motto is “set your story free” not with bullet points I’m afraid.

If you like to talk to us about how new software can help your next event please feel free to call 01420 520 865