PowerPoint vs. Keynote


PowerPoint is a powerful tool. But, then again, so’s a Smith & Wesson. And in the wrong hands both can kill. We’ve all heard the phrase “Death by PowerPoint” or as Dilbert would have it “PowerPoint Poisoning” and here’s betting you’ve been on the receiving end of many a poor presentation made worse by a speaker who reads out his or her “script.” A script projected before you (but behind them- so they have to turn their back to you to read it) word for word.

As a famous cliche would have it, “a picture tells a thousand words” but some speakers insist on putting a thousand words on each of their slides.

Apple's amazing Keynote

Apple's amazing Keynote

Research at the University of New South Wales has shown that projecting words at people is a complete waste of time and does nothing to help people recall what you’ve said (surely the point of giving a talk!) If you project the word “clock” most people don’t see a clock – they just hear the word said to them. So, why not project an image of a clock?

That’s because most speakers treat PowerPoint as an aid for them (rather than as an aid for their audience.) It’s their script!

A speaker should find other ways of remembering what they have to say. Rehearsal – for instance! A speaker who can actually be bothered to learn what they have to say always goes down well with an audience.

In recent months I’ve taken to using Apple’s Keynote as a Visual Aid. I find it better than PowerPoint. You can use high resolution images, embed video, use music all with incredible animations that blow PowerPoint out of the water. I recently had cause to use it for a charity auction (using a slide for each of the 85 lots.) At 350MB the slide show wasn’t small but ran perfectly without a hitch. Our auctioneer, none other than, Mr Jeremy Clarkson was suitably impressed with the quality of the slideshow. Several pin-sharp images were used on each slide using Smart Build to animate them professionally. Videos ran smoothly and music played at all the right times. It’s easy to insert graphs & charts and the “Smart Move” and “Anagram” transitions had the audience amazed.

Keynote impresses Jeremy Clarkson

Keynote impresses Jeremy Clarkson

PowerPoint has become old hat. People have seen the templates before, the animations are basic and the whole thing has a tendency to pack up on you at the most inconvenient of times. If you’re fed up of being let down by the software, interrupted by “updates” or just bored with it can I suggest you give Keynote a try. You won’t be disappointed.



3 Responses to “PowerPoint vs. Keynote”

  1. Ann Taylor Says:

    Interesting item Ken. Can you run keynote on a non-Apple laptop?

    I have to say I tend not to use PowerPoint at all if I can help it!

    • Ken Norman Says:

      You do need an Apple to start with to create the presentation.
      You CAN convert a Keynote Presentation to PowerPoint but many of the animations will not translate. It’ll still look great though!
      You can convert the presentation to other formats – a Quick Time movie for instance.
      PowerPoint CAN look great providing it is well designed (the templates have become old hat – but you can create your own (or have a designer create them for you.)
      The key is to think about how images can support your message and aid get it across to your audience.
      As you say you can always deliver a presentation without slides!! I love using a flip chart!

  2. Ann Taylor Says:

    Thanks Ken. We have a mini Mac, which we use solely for looking at websites on to check rendition in Mac format browsers! Perhaps I should have a look at it for this purpose, although I don’t do that many presentations.

    I like flip charts and blackboards, I’m a devil with a bit of chalk in my hands!

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