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What is Presentation Software?

By Lucinda Watrous
Updated May 16, 2024
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Presentation software is a tool used to create visual presentations. These presentations are usually delivered in a slide show format, and can be created with a variety of programs. The programs make it possible to combine text and graphic elements to convey important information to a group of people all at once. Common uses for this type of software include teaching a new or complex concept to a group of students, announcing the launch a new product or service campaign to employees, training employees on key concepts or new policies, or presenting a proposal to a group.

Slide show presentation software is available for both the PC and Mac platforms. Options include Microsoft Office PowerPoint®, Apple KeyNote®, and Google Docs™ presentation. A popular open source option for those who need the ability to create slide shows without the high cost of a commercial presentation software is Open Office Impress. Google Docs™ presentation is also free as it is part of the Google Docs™ line of services.

Each presentation software allows users to develop a slide show presentation; however, the methods for viewing the presentation may vary from program to program. Both the PowerPoint® software and the Impress programs allow for the presentation to be viewed full screen on a computer monitor, where the presenter can either have slide changes timed, or click through them. The presentation can be moved to a larger screen by connecting the monitor to another screen.

Some programs allow for the presentation to be exported in Adobe® Flash® or portable document format (PDF) for distribution and individual viewing. Google Docs™ presentation allows for presentations to be saved in the PowerPoint® format so the program is not required to create the presentation, but is an option for those who wish to view it. Adobe® Flash®-based presentations may be best for slide show presentations that will be viewed online, because most people have the Adobe® Flash® player installed on their computer systems.

When presentation software is used to create a presentation for a web-based seminar, or webinar, users can sign up for a service which allows them to conference with others and share the screen. This means participants in the webinar can watch the presentation on their computer screen while listening to the audio with a telephone call. These webinars can be recorded to show both the presentation and the audio from the phone call for archived viewing purposes.

Presentation software makes the ability to communicate messages to a group of people much simpler than other delivery methods. The ability to combine text and graphics makes the presentation visually enticing. Seeing the presentation while hearing about it helps both visual and audio learners absorb the information.

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Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Oct 30, 2013

If you are putting on a presentation at school, it's a good idea to make sure that you've got the right kind of software first. I made this amazing art presentation using free online presentation software, only to find that the teacher didn't have anything compatible to see it with after I sent it to her.

By clintflint — On Oct 30, 2013

@Iluviaporos - On the other hand you should also make sure that you use business presentation software to its full advantage. I don't mind the people who put lots of tricks into their presentations so much as the people who think it is basically just an essay and write accordingly.

I'm not going to be able to concentrate on what they are saying if I'm having to read fifty paragraphs of statistics for every slide. You might as well just hand me a book and forget the presentation aspect.

By lluviaporos — On Oct 29, 2013

It's so important to not get carried away when you are using presentation software. It's nice that even free presentation software has all kinds of bells and whistles and I understand the temptation to try and make your presentation as interesting as possible.

But putting all kinds of special effects into it just makes it confusing and makes it look unprofessional as well. If you are going to use a special changeover for the slides, stick to just one of them, and make it simple, like a fade out.

I have to sit through some really ostentatious presentations in my work and it gets really annoying after a while, because it just distracts from whatever message the person is trying to put across.

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