Slide Sharing Websites: Review
With more and more presentations being conducted over the internet, and more and more professional relationships happening remotely from different time zones, slide sharing websites are becoming increasingly popular. But with many competing sites out there, which one is the best? We’ve reviewed the four leading slide sharing websites – SlideShare, authorSTREAM, SlideBoom and Brainshark – to enable you to make an informed decision. Marks were awarded out of five for the following categories: Animation; audio; ease of use; control; and suitability. Each site was then given an overall mark out of five to determine which was most useful on the whole.
Animation – SlideShare was the weakest site in terms of enabling animation. In fact – it doesn’t. Each slide is presented as a static image – presumably it is meant to display the final build of each slide, but it couldn’t even host certain graphics on our test presentation.
Audio – PowerPoint has the easy option of recording narration as you present, saving directly as your PowerPoint file. Unfortunately, SlideShare does not enable this, and thus does not recognise narration, or slide timings. To add audio, the user has to record the narration as a separate sound, save it to an mp3 file (which could involve having to convert the original file), upload it to SlideShare, and then go through the whole presentation and adjust the timing for each slide change, so that the narration corresponds to the visual. The whole process is long, slow and tedious.
Ease of Use – The site is cluttered, with many advertisements dotted around the page. That said, the site is fairly straightforward to use – except for the hassle in uploading audio. For this reason, for ease of use SlideShare scores two stars.
Control – There are several different privacy settings to choose from: public; private (enabling those the user follows to see); and private (only the user can see). There is also the option to allow viewers to download, or to send the presentation via email to a recipient of the user’s choosing.
Suitability – There are some random presentations placed next to our animation test, such as ‘PowerPoint Animals’ and ‘Animal Testing’. Mostly, however, the selection is relevant, with PowerPoint tests displayed in the ‘related presentations’ box.
Overall – SlideShare’s strong points are in the control over privacy options. Unfortunately, its lack of technical capabilities let it down when actually viewing slides. Adding audio is difficult and time consuming, and the lack of animation, combined with substandard graphics, give the effect that the viewer is looking at a series of badly-designed posters.
Animation – authorSTREAM supports more animations than SlideShare, but still misses most – and those that it does enable are largely incorrect. For the basic animations it permits, authorSTREAM is awarded two stars.
Audio – Audio is uploaded automatically with the PowerPoint file, saving a lot of time and effort. Lack of control over audio once uploaded, (and no volume control) means that authorSTREAM scores three stars.
Ease of Use – AuthorSTREAM is a little complicated to use, and seems to lack some of the basic functions; I am still unable to find a ‘replay’ button after a presentation has been watched. With the fact that it is not immediately clear how to edit your presentation either, for ease of use authorSTREAM scores one and a half stars.
Control – authorSTREAM had perhaps the best options for privacy control. The user is given the option to keep the presentation private or public, and to enable download if wished. An email can be sent with a link to those you wish to share it with, and the premium version of the site allows the user to create a pass code for access to the slides. The fact that this pass code is not available for free means that authorSTREAM scores four and a half stars.
Suitability – There were a couple of files in ‘Related Presentations’ that were actually related, but most were random.
Overall – authorSTREAM has potential, but it is let down by its lack of simplicity, and the inadequate nature of its animations.
Animation – SlideBoom allows more complicated animation than the two sites reviewed above. The site managed to animate everything except the headlines and the live graphs, and graphics were of a good standard.
Audio – If a narration of the slides has been made in PowerPoint, this is uploaded with the slides in the file, and automatically plays. Once uploaded however, there is nothing that can be done with the audio. Still, the ease of uploading and the fact that SlideBoom allows volume control score SlideBoom four stars.
Ease of use – SlideBoom is straightforward to use, and features a handy toolbar on the viewing screen enabling the remote audience to do things such as view as full screen, or jump to a particular slide. The options are easily accessible and the page layout is clear and uncluttered.
Control – SlideBoom allows the user to control whether everyone can see the presentation, or whether just the user has access. Sharing via email is allowed. Control over embedding in other websites is also given, as is control over downloads. More detailed control over who has access directly on the site (rather than just everyone or no one) would score SlideBoom higher.
Suitability – SlideBoom doesn’t place the presentation next to a completely unrelated one – but it doesn’t give many relevant options. Even with the tags removed, our ‘PowerPoint Animation Test’ only had one set of slides in ‘Related Presentations’. It was definitely related, but lack of choice means that for suitability SlideBoom scores two stars.
Overall – SlideBoom has all the makings of a quality slide sharing site, with good animation and a pleasant, uncluttered screen layout. Having more control over viewing would score higher, as would enabling more options once the presentation is uploaded, such as the ability to add or edit audio. SlideBoom is a good site for most basic needs, for which it scores four stars.
Animation – myBrainshark has the potential to be very good at animation, and is better than most. It was the only site reviewed that managed to correctly animate the headlines, although it failed to enable the motion path and live graph, and the colour change was there, but not correct. With these adjustments made myBrainshark would score higher, but for the present animation capabilities the site is awarded three and a half stars.
Audio – myBrainshark was the strongest site in the audio category. As with the other sites that score highly in this section, myBrainshark allowed slide narration to be uploaded easily in the PowerPoint file. However, myBrainshark surpassed this in enabling many options in terms of audio once the file was uploaded. A narration can be recorded directly onto the site via a telephone call; a background audio (such as music, or recorded narrative) can be uploaded from an mp3 file; and audio can be downloaded by viewers as a podcast. If volume control was included in the viewing window, myBrainshark would score five stars; as it is, the site is awarded four and a half stars.
Ease of use – myBrainshark is simple, ad-free, and straightforward to use. Drop down options on the ‘Edit Presentation’ page enable the user to clearly choose from available functions, and ‘helpful hints’ and ‘stages to follow’ throughout cumulate to award myBrainshark five stars.
Control – All slides are publicly available when active. Content can be made inactive, which means that it cannot be found on the site, but users to whom the slides are sent by the user will still be able to view them. More options to users as to who can interact with the file on the website would score myBrainshark higher, but the present control capabilites award the site three stars.
Suitability – The ‘Related Presentations’ box offers the viewer a large number of slides to view, and the majority are directly related. Those that are not directly related are not far off the mark, and there are no random presentations recommended.
Overall – While improvements could be made on myBrainshark’s animation capabilities, the range of functions offered for uploaded content (particularly audio) and its simple interface score the site well. On top of this, myBrainshark hosts a wide range of extra functions, from detailed viewing reports (including location and percentage watched) to the ability to ask viewers questions.
Disclosure: m62 has used Brainshark’s enterprise-level platform in the past. m62 also makes use of iSpring software, which is the PowerPoint to Flash conversion tool used by SlideBoom.
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Gary Boyes, Sales Director, NorthgateArinso
m62 has been able to quickly interpret our proposition, understand, and articulate our values in a way we had not considered previously. The end result is not just a presentation: it’s a new approach, a new methodology and a new belief. We can now truly demonstrate the benefits of our service and our key differentiators.