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May 25, 2010 / marden928

Keynote or PowerPoint? That seems to be a hot question

So, I’ve recently become one of those fancy people who has a PC and a Mac – and now 2 versions of PowerPoint and 2 versions of Keynote.  It’s been very handy to have all of this gear because now I can basically work anywhere that wants a presentation specialist.  It’s also afforded me the opportunity to get exposure to a wider range of presentation givers, and more importantly: deeper understanding of the never-ending debate around macs or pcs.

Honestly, the real issue for me is around visual communications knowledge – do you have it or not?  Do you know what a flow chart is and how to use it?  How about when to use a stacked column versus a pie chart?  Whichever software program you choose isn’t going to help you understand proper chart choice for your message and audience comprehension.

However, I recognize that people are quite picky about their computer experiences, especially the ever-loyal Mac folks who are quick to assume that the Mac product is obviously better.   Well, on a Mac, Keynote versus PowerPoint 2003 is drastically better – for a Mac user.  The menus work the same as an Adobe product, they’re super simple, and there’s lot of fun pre-loaded templates that were clearly designed by someone who knew what they were doing.

PowerPoint 2003 on a Mac is confusing and clunky and the language is different than it is on a PC.  For  a long time PC user, it’s a bit difficult to use the Mac version of the software because it’s all right-side menu based instead of a handy right-click or static menu, that you’ve placed yourself.  It’s also harder to figure out how to place macros for deeper specialization – or plug-ins for that matter (all PowerPoint is better with Thinkcell!)  If you’re coming from a Mac Adobe background, it will seem even clunkier since the menus really aren’t all that well organized.

PowerPoint 2008 on a Mac – honestly, not bad.  Yes it’s more complicated than Keynote.  But as someone who actually knows what all those little buttons and nuances do, it’s fine.  I like that the ribbons are optional.  I still don’t like the lack of uniformity in language, but hey, it works.    I don’t like how you have to clean your files up again on a PC to get them to stay uniform, though.  Massive pain in the butt.

Keynote does have more interesting animations.  And yes, it’s fun to be able to choose colors in so many ways.  And yes, it really does work with the overall logic of a Mac.  It’s kinda stupid how hard it is to save files as earlier versions of the software.  And frankly the conversion to PowerPoint is misleading – you will have to clean the file up on the other machine.

And the one that is frankly the best in my book:  PowerPoint 2007 on a PC.  It does the most, has the most to work with (like data-driven charts and conceptual charts), the ribbons are awesome, the plug-in situation is easy (hello ThinkCell).  But alas, the conversion to other versions/keynote bites.  I’m quite certain that PPT 2010 will be my fav as soon as it’s done (hello, early plug-in flash!), but it’s not here yet.

The real problem:  these programs don’t talk to each other properly.  So the real answer to the “what is better?”  issue is:  which one is your audience going to use?  Work in that one!

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