Powtoon: My experience
By Catherine Bodey
The creators of PowToon (https://www.powtoon.com/) took an incumbent presentation tool, namely PowerPoint, focused on a subset of its most widely used features and put them on steroids. They have created a powerful, free cloud-based application that assists in the creation of animated videos and presentations.
That said, my first mistake was to assume PowToon was another ‘PowerPoint’ type software. The task of developing a presentation and becoming ‘au fait’ with all its features is more time consuming and arduous than PowToon’s marketing literature would want you to believe. It is not an application that you can learn in twenty minutes so avoid the temptation to dive in until you have had time to familiarise yourself with FAQs, tutorials, blog and customer case studies.
Taking the template approach
PowToon have provided a gallery of scripted presentations to cover most Business/Education and Personal scenarios.
Provided your message is main stream it is possible to pick a template; modify the script and have a professional looking slideshow up and running in a relatively short space of time.
If your goal is to share the presentation but you don’t want to commit to a ‘paid’ plan then avoid objects in the assets library displaying a lock icon. It is easy to fall into the trap of choosing a very slick template only to discover when you agree to remove the ‘paid’ objects that your presentation ends up with more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. Pop-up messages warn users when they are using objects from the ‘paid’ plans, giving them the opportunity to upgrade to the subscription based model at any stage.
Taking the tailored approach
In my case I had a strong marketing campaign and design already in place. I set out with the intention of replicating the look and feel in PowToon, however, this was not as easy as it seemed. Having used Creative Cloud products, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, the method of how I could transfer assets from these applications and existing artwork was not obvious and the process was at times slow and frustrating.
I started by trying to customise a ready-made PowToon template to tie in with our message but it was in fact easier to start with a blank canvas, add the script and then the visual elements to support it.
Overall the experience was a positive one. PowToon is an application worth exploring. It will boost your ability to engage, explain and if necessary sell to your audience. A short and simple PowToon has proven to be more effective than any form of video or text communication.
Tip: If you import your own artwork, save .png and .jpg files with a transparent background so that they will seamlessly blend into any background
Graph feature: choose your style, plot and submit your data. The result is a powerful visual representation of your numerical data in an easy to read format.
Images: extensive library of objects, backgrounds and characters, coupled with the facility to import and edit your own images. Just be mindful that the better pieces of clipart are available when you sign up for one of the ‘paid’ plans, however, you have the option of importing your own.png, .jpeg, .gif and .jpg files into the library.
Sharing: multiple export options available. It is worth noting that slideshows can also be exported as PDF files.
Not being able to share a presentation because it contained graphics from the ‘paid’ plans.
PowToon is a cloud-based application so the speed of your internet connection matters.
I found the ability to switch between slideshow and movie mode confusing. In slideshow mode you can insert a ‘hold’ to pause the presentation at times when you would like to expand on a specific point. In ‘movie’ mode the presentation will play continuously without the need to auto advance between slides as would be the case in a ‘slide show’ situation. Movie mode gives users the ability to determine the point at which objects ‘enter’ and ‘exit’ the presentation.
*paid plan: Business or Pro