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Presentations without PowerPoint

January 22, 2011

There are times when PowerPoint slides on a screen are not only unnecessary, they’re the wrong answer entirely.

Whiteboard pens

Be brave, present ‘naked’.

One of the best presentations I’ve done in the last year was just me, a whiteboard and some pens. It worked because I’m comfortable that way, the audience was small and I wanted a less formal feeling, more interactive feel for the session. It also worked because I had prepared copies of two items on paper handouts: one was a key system diagram we would need and one was a leave-behind summary page.

Slide shows need another tool

Another case where PowerPoint isn’t my tool of choice is for a presentation of material that is heavy on images and light on commentary. Essentially this is the equivalent in the digital-era of a slide-show. While, for me, this more common at home (vacations, holidays, birthdays, kids and grandkids, all the usual) than work, there are many cases where this can happen in business. Especially for any circumstance where the presentation runs continuously (a display in the lobby, at a kiosk, a feature video at a gathering) PowerPoint is not the tool I reach for.

While there are lots of applications that will build a slide-show, the one I like best is ProShow™ by PhotoDex. I’m in no way financially connected with the makers of the software–just a very satisfied user. If you’ve been around PCs for long enough, you might remember the company’s first product, CompuPic™. That was an early product from this small company, but these days it’s ProShow that’s their bread-and-butter. You can get all the information you’d want at their website and download the software as well, but I thought it might be useful to call attention to it here as an example of a better tool for some kinds of presentations.

psg left

ProShow comes in two versions: Gold at $70 and Producer at $250. Most people will be better off at least starting with Gold-the difference between them is comparable to PhotoShop Elements™ vs. the full PhotoShop Creative Suite™. If you’re a professional, or insist on the best out there, then you want the high-end version and don’t mind the higher cost and learning curve that comes with it. Either way, the software is excellent: powerful, straight-forward to learn, and stable in use. Output from the program can take over a dozen forms and formats, the ones I mostly use are an EXE for a PC and a DVD (Blu-Ray or standard def) for playing on a TV. The company does a good job of supporting the software and there’s an excellent online users forum (Proshowenthusiasts) for even more support. There are also lots of tutorials and examples on YouTube. With a little creativity the results can be a sophisticated, fun multimedia presentation using still images, video, voice-overs and text.

The bottom line

When it comes to presentations, if PowerPoint is always your answer, I think you need a new question!

Sometimes a presentation doesn’t need slides, it needs to be a structured conversation. And if what you need is really a slide show, there’s much better software than PowerPoint for that. ProShow isn’t the only alternative, but it’s a good one and my choice.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Suraj Shakya permalink
    February 23, 2011 12:24

    is it possible to use remote to control proshow as we can do to powerpoint?

  2. February 23, 2011 20:11

    You can control a ProShow slideshow but not to the same degree that you could control something in PowerPoint. Exactly what the controls are and how they work depends on what kind of output you created.

    For instance, if it’s a DVD then you use the remote for the DVD player.

    If you have an EXE on a computer then you can start/stop the video flow from the keyboard but you don’t have the precise control of PPT. The trick is to remember that what you make in ProShow is video in some format, a continuous stream. Sorta like what you’d get with PPT and recorded timings with auto-advance.

    I use them both a lot but , they’re quite different applications–both good at what they’re intended for and not-so-good for other things. Hope that helps.


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