In the first (proper) part of this series about Better Church Presentations, I’ll be taking a brief look at some of the many programs, apps and sites where you can make presentations. I’ll also look at costs, as that’s a big factor for many churches and ministries (and people in general!).
I guess a good place to start is the program that’s now so synonymous with presentations, that we often call them by its name – even if they’re not made using it – PowerPoint.
The orange icon of PP has been the big player in presentations for many a year and it still probably is the biggest player (and is certainly the one you have to make sure your presentations ‘work with’ if you’re showing them on someone else’s computer!).
It’s had many incarnations over the years but with Office 2007 a big change in the design came along; which many, including myself, REALLY didn’t (and still don’t) like! The computer in my church uses PP 2007 and it still take me ages to make any changes, if I need to!!!
PowerPoint comes with many built in templates, but to be honest, most of them are not great design wise!
You can also go online with PowerPoint with the Microsoft Office Web Apps and there’s a version of Microsoft Office as a mobile app for the Windows 7 Phone.
Platforms: PC, Mac (only available in Microsoft Office for Mac ‘Home and Student’ or ‘Home and Business’), Online, Windows Phone 7
Cost: PC $139.99 (single); $199.99 (in Office ‘Home and Business); Mac $199.99 (in Office ‘Home and Business); Online is free for ‘personal’ use.
‘Impress’ in OpenOffice and LibreOffice
Both OpenOffice & LibreOffice are free full ‘Office Suites’ which are compatible with Microsoft Office (mostly, there are some things that don’t fully translate properly but they’re pretty good!).
OpenOffice is now ‘looked after’ by Apache. LibreOffice (which is also open source) is run by a not-for-profit organsation, the document foundation. LibreOffice started as a branch of OpenOffice when the future of OpenOffice looked in doubt a couple of years ago.
The presentation part of both suites is called ‘Impress’. Design wise it’s very much PowerPoint before the Office 2007 redesign and anyone who’s used to using those versions of PP should feel at home with Impress.
It’s pretty full featured, although hasn’t got all the bells and whistles of some presentation software (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing!). However, it doesn’t come with any clipart (also not necessarily a bad thing!).
I use a Mac and use LibreOffice as my office software and it works great for me. Having said that, I make my presentations in something else, in fact the next program we’ll look at!
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Keynote is Apple’s own presentation software (and is Mac only). As I said above I use Keynote and I LOVE IT!
Design wise it’s very ‘Apple’ (i.e. rather lovely to use!) and has all the design features that you’re ever likely to need (including many useful things you don’t find in most other presentation software like ‘instant alpha’ and photo manipulation in the program itself).
Building animations/build ins/build outs is very simple yet powerful in Keynote.
The templates that come with Keynote are all very nice indeed, with nice touches like photo frames and some even have front ‘covers’.
I also use Keynote to do draft layouts for the websites I design as it’s so easy to lay things out. (There’s a great theme to help with this called Keynote Kungfu)
If you’re a Mac user, get Keynote (like as soon as you’ve finished reading this post – it’s that good)!
Although Keynote is Mac only – there are ways you can use it with a PC (as I do!). Keynote can export presentations as ppt files (although some design things like shadows, fades and opacity can be lost). If you’re happy without having any animations and slide transitions, then you can export the slides as individual images (you can also export the slides in ‘build parts’ as well as whole slides) and then either import the images into a very basic PP form or use a PC program like the FastStone Image Viewer to view the slides.
My church uses FastStone to show the ‘pre service’ slides, which I create in Keynote. (I also then use those slides in the slider on the home page of my church – Minehead Baptist Church)
To have a presentation with the ‘niceness’ on a PC, you can export the presentation as a QuickTime (.mov file) with ‘manual advance’ which works fine on a PC. (I’ve already covered how you can use Keynote to make motion graphics and export as a movie.)
You can also export presentations as a PDF, with or without ‘builds’ and slide notes, etc.
There’s also an iOS app for iPhones and iPads that comes with a few (nice) themes and allows easy creation of presentations on the move! You can export to a full Keynote file, PPT or PDF and also share/access existing presentations on iCloud.
Platforms: Mac, iOS (5.1 or later)
Cost: Mac $19.99 from the Apple App Store; iOS $9.99 from the iTunes Store
Those are the main players in making presentations in ‘programs’. However, there are now some good ways of making presentations on the web – now downloads needed!
Slides is part of Google Drive (formally Google Docs). It comes with a selection of basic themes (some nicer than other!) and can do basic animations and transitions.
You can also add image from your computer or your Google Drive.
Presentations can be viewed online or downloaded as pptx, pdf or as images. They can also be published to the web where you get a link like: http://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1kr6hv2a1ByPyUMUkL5jfT6sc9-F02MPMyd2C71lBZ1o/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000
sliderocket is a very nice online presentation maker. There are different levels from free to rather expensive(!) but even the free ‘Lite’ version comes with some very nice themes and features. The interface is very simple to use but does everything most churches/ministries would need – including recording audio in the browser to go with the presentation.
You can signup with Facebook, a Google ID or good old email & password!
The only limitation that the Lite option really has is that you can only view/publish presentations online – there’s no downloading. However, the presentations are nicely mobile optimised.
Here’s a simple presentation made with sliderocket: http://portal.sliderocket.com/CWQPK/9B697392-BE18-4F4E-8913-2C7EFA063733
Cost: ‘Lite’ Free (basic tools and no offline); ‘Pro’ $24 per user per month (more tools, offline and analytics)
Prezi is something a bit different in the world on presentations. Rather than having traditional ‘slides’, it’s more designed for telling stories and taking people on journeys. All elements are on one ‘canvas’ and each ‘frame’ (slide) is an element that you zoom around into!
For presenting projects and ideas it could be a very clever and different way of doing things. However, I’m not sure it could replace ‘traditional’ presentations for sermons and the like (but with some imagination it could be used to a good effect in sermons!).
Prezi comes with a range of funky templates, designed to help you start presenting your ideas.
Presentations can be viewed/shared online and downloaded to your computer (but even simple presentations are BIG) to download!
Here’s a demo: http://prezi.com/z61icdcyouir/demo-for-churchmag/
There are different levels, ‘Public’ – 100mb of storage and all presentations are public; ‘Enjoy’ – 500mb storage, private presentations, no prezi branding, and better support; ‘Pro’ – 2gb storage and work offline on presentations.
Cost: ‘Public’ Free; ‘Enjoy’ $4.92 a month; ‘Pro’ $13.25 a month
So those are some of the ways you can make a presentation! Next time I’ll be looking at the basics of good presentation design – what TO DO and what NOT TO DO!
What do you use to make presentations?
Have I missed any good ways of creating presentations?
Are there any presentation design features you’d like to see covered?