Corporate sales presentations: CXOs love the iPad and put a spanner in the works

Corporate sales presentations: CXOs love the iPad and put a spanner in the works

When it comes to sales presentations this is the story so far: whether in media and publishing, professional services, or technology, our clients have been facing similar frustrations: long stacks of slides, uninspiring content, unclear messages and lack of impact. We have been responding to such frustrations by planning, writing, designing and building sales presentations in PowerPoint, or Flash that grab the audience by the lapel and give them something to think about.

In the past 6 months the iPad has entered the board room and is becoming the gadget of choice for CXOs. The knock-on effect is that our clients, partially responding to pressure from above, have been making noise about adding iPads to their sales presentation kit, which of course raises the question of how on earth do you get sales presentations to play on iPads. If you are a one man/woman outfit and want to switch your presentation hardware to iPads, you can get yourself the Keynote iPad app for £5.99 and you are sorted. At an enterprise level though the situation is complicated and unfortunately at the moment there is no simple solution.

It is worth reviewing afresh the main presentation creation tools, what they are best suited for, and their iPad compatibility.


Good old PowerPoint is the best solution for when:

  • Your sales deck has a long life span from 6 months to many years. PowerPoint is an established product which guarantees long term consistency and backward compatibility
  • You have a large number of sales people updating content and presenting
  • Frequent and last minute updates are essential
  • Presentations need to regularly be customised to different audiences
  • Sharing a presentation in editable format is critical, either within your organisation or with prospects

PowerPoint on iPad?

Forget it. There is no easy fix. You can convert your deck to different file formats, open in Keynote, or use other third party viewers, but these solutions make last minute editing backwards incompatible or simply impossible, compromise your presentation’s intended experience and require the sales guys to jump through technical hoops.


Like PowerPoint but a lot better. It runs only on Macs and iPads so it tends to be the presentation tool of choice for companies in creative industries. We never recommend it, as most of our clients use Windows. Unless your team uses Macs, Keynote is not an option.


Flash is the best tool for creating sales presentations when:

  • The life span of the presentation is short; from a day to a few months
  • The presentation will feature a momentous event like a new product launch, a merger, or the repositioning of a company’s proposition
  • The presentation will be used only at a single event, like a seminar, or trade conference
  • There is a need for a supercharged, jaw-dropping experience
  • Content updating and editing requirements are minimal, with the majority of the content locked down throughout the presentation’s life span

Flash on iPad?

Another dead end. Your Flash presentation will have to be converted to different formats to play on iPads, with consequences similar to the PowerPoint ones discussed above.


HTML 5 cannot replace PowerPoint as your regular and flexible presentation editor, but it is a worthy replacement for Flash, when something more punchy is needed. HTML 5 can deliver an experience comparable to what Flash can do, at a comparable cost. True, Flash content can look and feel smoother and slicker, but HTML 5 comes with an ace up its sleeve: iPad compatibility. A sales presentation created in HTML 5 can deliver the same experience on Windows, Mac or iPad environments.


Prezi is a web-based presentation creation tool that does work on iPads. It is good for home-made stuff, but for enterprise level presentations look elsewhere. It’s style over substance and that spinning thing will have you and the people you try to impress reaching for the sea sickness tablets.


SlideRocket is Flash based and your presentations will have to go through an HTML 5 converter to play on iPads. Not the best solution for a busy sales team trying to meet their quarterly targets.

There is a long tail of other presentation tools, but each comes with compromises around platform compatibility, ease of use, speed and downright suitability to the requirements of an enterprise.

The iPad has made presenting a lot sexier, but has made the corporate presentation creation process unnecessarily complicated and for the moment there is no single, satisfactory solution.


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