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Presentation Platform Showdown: PowerPoint vs. Keynote vs. Google Slides

I’ve always said that great stories don’t happen in PowerPoint - but when it comes to building out your slide visuals, there are three main contenders to top deck builder: PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides.


Presentation platforms bring your narratives to life. These programs equip us with the proper design tools so we can properly communicate critical information to our audiences.

PowerPoint is one of the biggest players in the presentation world, with over 500 million users worldwide. In 2003, however, Apple launched Keynote which became a noteworthy rival. Many iterations later, Keynote has become widely available for Apple users all around the world.




As the two programs battled for presentation supremacy, Google launched Google Slides three years after Keynote’s launch. Google Slides changed the game with online collaboration tools which opened up doors for teams to work better together.

Many fancy presentation programs have popped up here and there over the last 10 years, PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides still remain as the top-of-mind programs for presentations.


However, many still ask the unending question: which one is best?


The answer, unfortunately, wholly depends on how you plan on using them.




While there are many things that make a presentation design program great, we’ve managed to condense it into three criteria: design, collaboration, and accessibility.

Let’s breakdown each criterion to find out which one is the best for each.



Design

Design is the most crucial aspect of any presentation platform. While most offer customizable templates, others empower their users with comprehensive design tools and animations.





Design-wise, Google Slides is massively lagging behind as the platform doesn’t offer nearly as many features as PowerPoint or Keynote. It’s barebones and basic to say the least.. But, don’t let these limitations turn you off, though! Google Slides allows you to import themes and slides based on your pre-existing presentations in PowerPoint, which, oddly, allows you to achieve certain looks that just aren’t possible if you tried to do it directly in Google Slides.


Keynote, on the other hand, has a full suite of design tools, animations, and transition effects. Many find Keynote to be superior to PowerPoint in terms of its capabilities, however, this isn’t the case. PowerPoint can do almost everything that Keynote can, but Keynote makes it a tiny bit easier to access those features.


PowerPoint easily punches at the same weight as Keynote in terms of design capabilities. But, they just do it in sort of a Microsoft kind of way. Which means it’s not that intuitive.


For this bout, Keynote and PowerPoint are tied and Google Slides got slapped in Round One.




Collaboration

As a standard practice in the professional world, most presentations are the result of team collaboration. This is what makes file-sharing and online file access crucial when it comes to crafting your presentation.


However, version control can be a nightmare.





Recently, cloud-based document sharing ushered in by Google has allowed for easier file-sharing and collaboration for teams all over the world. PowerPoint, the oldest player in the presentation world, has kind of caught up with its newer rivals. Through Microsoft’s OneDrive and PowerPoint, it’s now easier to exchange PowerPoint files and edit them collaboratively online. However, full disclosure, these features are still kind of in their infancy and pale in comparison to online-first tools like Slides.


Keynote also benefits from iCloud integration which allows you to switch devices seamlessly, but there is absolutely no online access for Keynote. Slapped.


When it comes to collaboration, however, Google Slides takes the cake as it’s an online-first tool. Much like all the other programs under Google Docs, multiple users can work on a single presentation simultaneously. Fantastic for collaboration


In this bout, Google Slides is the clear winner without question.



Prevalence & Accessibility

How easy is it for the average user to get access?


Easy access is another crucial criterion as presentation files are often emailed all over the place. While file conversion is a quick fix, none of them work well. They’re all garbage when switching between formats.





Keynote may be the least accessible in all three programs due to its exclusivity to MacOS and iOS. While files can be easily accessed across Mac devices, its exclusivity limits file-sharing across teams—especially if you have a mixed Windows and Mac team. Nightmare.


Unlike Keynote, PowerPoint is available to both Mac and Windows making file sharing less complicated. The only downside, however, is the program’s limitation to desktop usage. There is an online version, but its features are so stripped down, it’s almost not even worth considering.


Finally, Google Slides dominates this category again as it is compatible with both Mac and Windows devices and you don’t need to download anything. It’s also FREE! Google Drive is also available on mobile making file access a breeze. You may also make individual files available offline so changes made without internet access can be automatically uploaded to the cloud once you’re back online.


To end this battle, Google Slides is most definitely the most easily accessed presentation platform, with PowerPoint usage being far more prevalent than Slides.


Putting It In Action


Design - PowerPoint


Collaboration - Google Slides


Prevalence & Accessibility - PowerPoint tied with Google Slides


Like many things, choosing the best presentation platform boils down to personal preference. After we’ve laid down all the pros and cons of each platform, it’s up to you to choose the platform that best accommodates your preferences. After all, presentation platforms are just the medium and you are the artist.


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