Digital Signage with PowerPoint – The proper Tool?

PowerPoint or similar programs like Impress from the free LibreOffice suite allow you to create presentations in a snap. So, does it make sense to use these types of applications for digital signage? In this article, you will learn about the advantages, disadvantages, how to use and which similar software to PowerPoint exist.

To be or Not to be.

What are the advantages of Digital Signage with PowerPoint?

Using PowerPoint for digital signage screens has advantages. It includes many templates, is simple to learn and comes with reasonably low costs. Furthermore, it is very flexible and customizable. You can also play PowerPoint or Impress presentations without the main program on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android using suitable viewers.

10 Tips for making good Digital Signage with PowerPoint

Digital signage is an effective tool for sharing information. As a rule, you probably use an advertising display with audio and video functions.

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to create a great digital signage playlist using PowerPoint. Some of the tips apply to creating content for screens in general, of course.

1. Enable automatic Slide Change

In digital signage, we're not talking about presentations and slides, but playlists and media. More about that later. Foremost, it is important for you to activate the switch for automatic slide changes in PowerPoint.

2. Other Kind of "Audience"

Keep in mind that there is no audience to work with directly. Ideally, the playlist should encourage someone to stop and look at it.

I suggest that you design your slides so that they are not entirely dependent on each other. Creating an arc of suspense that spans several slides is only useful in a waiting area, if at all. It is more likely that someone will start looking at the presentation in the middle rather than at the beginning.

3. What kind of Information do you want to show?

Think about what kind of information you want to display on your digital advertising space. Should it be static information, like the company name and logo? Or do you want to include moving images or video clips? Once you decide on a content type, think about how best to present it.

4. Animation vs. static Slides

Animated presentations tend to be complex, and you may need professional help to create them. However, they look very impressive and keep viewers entertained. Static slides are usually easier to create, but they quickly become boring if not done well.

5. Keep your Presentation short and concise

Limit your presentation to the most important points. Too much information distracts the viewer's attention and makes the presentation confusing. Keep your slides short and concise by including only relevant information.

6. Use Vivid Graphics and Images

Vivid graphics and images are a great way to catch attention and highlight key points. Use different colors and design elements to make your slides interesting and appealing.

7. Design your Slides clearly

With digital signage, there is no chance of responding to a possible audience reaction and explaining a diagram in more detail. Use clear slides to allow viewers to easily understand and retain the information presented. Don't overload your slides with text or details.

8. Use Video Features Effectively and avoid Audio

Videos add more depth to your presentation and help emphasize certain points. Use these features wisely, however, as too much video or audio can distract attention. In particular, use audio sparingly, or it's best to do without. Make sure that both video and audio are relevant to the content being presented and, more importantly, to the environment. You can make many mistakes with digital signage, especially when it comes to sound.

9. Use readable Fonts

Another crucial aspect of screens is the choice of font. Choose a font that is easy to read. The size and color of the font should also be well-thought-out so that the message comes across correctly.

10. Test your Presentation before actually using it

Before you show your presentation to the public, test it first – ideally with friends or family. This will allow you to work out any bugs and make sure everything is working properly.

How to execute the Presentation?

There are two ways to execute the created presentations. Either by pressing the F5 key directly on the same PC or viewers, which are available for Android, Windows and macOS. In the case of the online version of PowerPoint, there is the option to use the web browser. We will also learn below a number of alternatives that work mainly online.

From my point of view, I recommend the online variants. The creating process is so separate from the player. This enables you to edit the presentation from any location. In addition, this way, multiple devices can be efficiently played with even different content.

Which other Presentation software is available?

PowerPoint is a synonym for presentation software. There are several alternative solutions that may or may not be suitable for digital signage, as we will see later. Applications can be split up into online and offline ones.

Offline

  • Impress is a component of the open-source-software LibreOffice as successor of OpenOffice, and visually reminds of earlier PowerPoint versions. It is intuitive to use and can read, edit, and save PowerPoint files.
  • Keynote is an alternative for Apple users with an appealing design. The free program can be operated from the iPhone, iPad or MacBook and also allows content to be edited and assigned in a team environment.

Online

  • Google Slides offers a free, cloud-based alternative to PowerPoint. The usage is similar: you have access to various design templates and slides, with which you design texts and achieve further effects. An attractive addition is the teamwork option.
  • Prezi is becoming increasingly well-known and is also frequently used in business. Users get the chance to make presentations that are animated, structured, and dynamic using simple shapes, means, and slides.
  • Haiku Deck uses artificial intelligence and creates photos and designs that match the topic at hand. Haiku Deck is a tool that focuses on aesthetics. It uses Instagram-like filters to enhance presentations and make them more attractive to viewers.

Let's now turn to the promised drawbacks.

What are the Disadvantages of using PowerPoint for Digital Signage?

A presentation program lacks convenient options for automatically integrating external data for news tickers or weather reports. The effort required to monitor playback devices, maintain them remotely or update content increases drastically with the number of screens. Not to mention creating playback statistics or receiving log files automatically for diagnostic purposes. Implementing an API-interface with API also turns out to be difficult to impossible.

Experts might now argue that it is possible to query external data with Visual Basic for Application. But this is cumbersome and not manageable for dozens of different autonomously functioning contents. Especially not if these are exchanged on a daily or real-time schedule. Even using a simple widget becomes impossible.

PowerPoint does not replace specialized digital signage software with separate player and CMS, even with team environment.

Wording Differences

The disadvantages of PowerPoint are in the details. The subtle differences can already be seen in the wording.

As mentioned above, we use the term playlist and playlist content or media rather than presentations and slides in digital signage. The difference:

  • Presentations are usually delivered by people in real time to an audience. A presenter manually switches between slides.
  • Slides are units and the content for them must be created and fitted into them.
  • Playlists run automatically and are less suitable for real-time audiences.
  • Playlist content is media such as videos and images, templates, widgets, websites, other playlists, or channels. A playlist content automatically adjusts to the given size of the screen in case of doubt.
Falsches Werkzeug

Conclusion

Digital signage specializes in autonomously running playlists, while PowerPoint and the like focus largely on real-time presentations. There are crossovers, but each tool masters only its specific task best.

If it's a single screen used by one person or a team for simple auto-running demos, you can choose to use PowerPoint or one of the alternative presentation programs listed as a digital signage replacement.

As soon as you have several screens at different locations, you want to automate data exchange via special interfaces or even create reports, I strongly advise you to consult a digital signage specialist. With pleasure also me. :-)


Gravatar Nikolaos Sagiadinos
Author: Niko Sagiadinos
Developer & Co-Founder SmilControl – Digital Signage
Visit me on: LinkedIn or GitHub

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