iA Presenter connects your slides to the web
a new approach to making presentations

Screenshot showing multiple iA Presenter windows - the text is too small to see what they say but you can see the vivid colours of the slide templates

I’ve had my hands on iA Presenter for a few weeks now, and as often happens with new software, it took me a while to get my head round it.

But now I’ve done that, and I’ve made a discovery that I think puts iA Presenter in the “game changer” category - at least for me.

That’s because iA Presenter:

That last point is the big one, I’d say.

For years, I’ve been yearning for a way to insert a slide into a presentation that behaves like a web browser. A slide you could call up web pages with, then carry on with your presentation. I wanted this because almost every presentation I give is a mixture of slides and web pages; so I either end up taking screenshots to insert, or switching between Keynote and a browser as I go along. I can do it, but it’s clunky.

iA Presenter makes it possible to flip that around: instead of bringing the web to the presentation, it helps you put your presentation on the web.

With clever use of tabs, you can guide your audience through a series of slides and take diversions into the web, without interrupting your flow.

That’s what makes iA Presenter a game changer.

“Don’t stuff your slides with text”

One of the most striking first impressions on using iA Presenter was the amount of thought that’s gone into encouraging users to write good presentations.

Every new file you create comes pre-populated with text that guides you through the basics of editing.

But that text isn’t just lorem ipsum. Rather, the iA team have gone to great lengths to make it a helpful presentation in its own right.

Seriously, stop bothering people with walls of text,” it urges. “Focus on the story,” it adds.

This is genuinely brilliant advice. Imagine opening PowerPoint or Keynote, and seeing pre-designed slides exhorting you with similar suggestions. iA Presenter takes lots of the great tips my friends and I wrote in Doing Presentations and puts them right in front of someone about to write a presentation.

Just write what’s on your mind

Editing in iA Presenter

Every iA Presenter presentation is made of text. Just text. You’re encouraged to pour your heart out into a simple text document - and then to turn just the best bits of what you’ve written into slides.

The rest remains in situ, invisible on the slides, but visible as speaker notes.

This is terrific. So many people struggle to write good presentations because they struggle to find a narrative. iA Presenter puts the narrative first, and makes it easy to write both narrative and slides at the same time, and in the same document.

At first glance iA Presenter looks text heavy, and it’s true that you don’t have anything like the same sort of control over images as you’d normally get in PowerPoint or Keynote. But you can insert images very easily, drag-and-drop, and you can adjust how they’re displayed simply by typing more commands.

All of these features are great, but they’re not the best bit. This is the best bit.

Export to responsive HTML

iA slides on the web

With a couple of clicks, you can export your presentation to HTML. iA Presenter spits out a folder that you can use locally on the machine you’re using, or you can use by uploading to a web server.

Either way, the presentation is now changed in a very important respect: it lives in your browser. It’s just another tab. Alongside all your other tabs.

And because iA Presenter makes it easy to puts links into slides, you now have a way to connect your slides, in your browser, to the rest of the internet.

Another innovation: it’s possible to set a specific aspect ratio for each presentation, but you’re encouraged to use the default responsive setting, and let iA Presenter do the layout for you. This works very well if you plan to show your presentation from inside your browser, alongside your other tabs.

This is precisely the sort of functionality I’ve been seeking for years. I’m really excited about the possibilities - perhaps you can tell.

Hold on Giles, what about Google Slides?

Yes: Google Slides also puts a presentation in your browser. But it re-uses old concepts of what a presentation should be, and how a presentation should behave. It presents slides full-screen, and makes flipping between slides and browser tabs just as hard as PowerPoint and Keynote do. Google Slides takes the old ways of thinking about presentation software, and just puts them in a browser.

By contrast, iA Presenter takes a radically new approach, and produces HTML output that’s of the web, not just on it.

Filed under: notes
(12 November 2022)