I’ve been looking at Presentation.io, an online cloud system that lets you run your presentations remotely.There are a fair amount of tools that allow you to do this, so what makes Presentation.io different?

Presentation sharing seems to be everywhere at the moment, from SlideShare to 9Slides, there seems to be a new tool to help people get their message across on the market every week. I for one am all for it. If we can get people thinking about presentations outside of the boring office meeting, that can only be a good thing.

So what’s this Presentation.io all about? The Presentation.io system lets you send your slides to any device in real-time. It’s essentially screen sharing for your slides and allows you to control what your audience sees as you present. Let’s take a look at how you interact with Presentation.io and its features first and then we can then hopefully see where this tool fits in.

Use

First thing you’ll notice is the design of the browser based tool is really clean and neat:

Presentation IO Dashboard

You simply hit upload and navigate to the presentation you wish to share and the system takes the presentation and converts the slides to allow you to sync the slides with a remote audience. Once the presentation is in the system, you’ll be able to see your slides on the left, with the current slide in the main window.

Presentation IO Slides

You can now share your presentation with your online audience through the unique URL created by presentation.io. Simply email this to your audience, either direct through the system, or by copy and pasting the link and using your own email client. There’s even an option to add a password, to make the presentation more secure (highlighted on the image below).

Presentation IO Sharing

Once you are ready to present, you can click the green start presenting button in the bottom right. Now your online audience will see the current slide you are on, and will be able to follow along with you, with their screen updating as you progress through your slide deck, with the option to interact with the slides on the right of the screen (which can minimised).

The  screen shot below is the audience’s view:

Presentation IO Audience View

What else?

So far, so so. Above and beyond simply slide sharing, there’s a neat feature that allows audience members to type questions onto the slides as you go (and after the presentation is complete, if you allow them). This feature allows for greater collaboration between the presenter and audience.

There are a few other additional features that the presentation.io system provides. You can rename your presentation, run the presentation full screen, create a custom URL for the shared link and even provide voice and video through the system (although not supported on mobile devices, at the moment).  Apart from the video and voice option, these additional features don’t really add that much. Having the ability to share audio and video through the one system is pretty useful, although this is only available during the trial period or if you plump for the paid version.

But…

There’s something to be said for the system, it’s really easy to use, it offers collaboration through comments along with voice and video communication. However, there’s one main issue with the tool – it doesn’t allow PowerPoint animations on your slides. This is a real problem when presenting online, as it becomes incredibly difficult to keep an online audience engaged with static slides – even more  than when presenting face to face.

When we are part of an audience at a face to face presentation – even if the slides are dull and boring, it would be pretty rude to just walk out of the meeting. However, in an online meeting, if you don’t think it’s worth your time, you can simply leave the meeting running and go off and complete a more important task (grab a coffee, update Facebook, play Angry Birds), and no one would know.

Having slides that are static, means the presenter has to work much harder to keep the audience engaged. Using visuals that change a fairly regular pace is the key to easy audience engagement. The only way round this on Presentation.io would be to use lots of slides, which are very impressive to look at – hanging the slides every few seconds. We ran a webinar on the  BrightTalk webinar platform which doesn’t support animation, and it was tricky to say the least!

Pay to play…

As I alluded to earlier, there’s a paid version ($14 a month) and a free version of the system. (I got my subscription for $9.99 a month, and I’m not entirely sure why…) The difference being in the free version the presentations once uploaded into the system have a 48 hour lifespan, this means they become disabled 48 hours after upload, and any comments placed on the slides during a presentation will be lost. The paid version simply means the presentations (and any comments) are available to view and re-use evermore. Also included in the premium version is voice and video. Presentation.io has recently added an organisation level of subscription which allows you to manage presentations and presenters, with pricing depending on the number of users needed.

Conclusion

The ability to allow comments to be added to slides during the presentation is a real plus point. Your audience can ask questions on specific slides and you can retain this information after the presentation is complete. Also having voice and video is a great addition. However, the omission of animations from your slides is such an issue, that I can’t see myself using the platform any time soon. Without support for PowerPoint animations, it makes it far too difficult to create engaging and compelling content – and isn’t that the point? If you’re presentation is dull and makes people switch off, why bother?

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Karl Parry

Operations manager

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