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The monthly sales recap is due, or perhaps the bizdev team want an overview of the current market prospects, and you’ve been put in charge of the presentation – again. Struggling to get some inspiration?

Presentations have a bad rap, often for very good reasons. We’re not all TED talk pros (your ten-minute monologues in the shower don’t count, sorry!) and, by now, every PowerPoint template has been used to death. But you don’t have to conform to this humdrum presentation standard. There is a wealth of applications at your fingertips that are designed to shake-up tedious boardroom meetings.

However, we’ve guessed that you probably don’t have hours spare to test them all out, so we’ve gone ahead and picked out some of our favourite user-friendly tools for you. If you’re already an Office 365 user, this is going to be a piece of cake!

Microsoft Office Sway

Are you still using PowerPoint? How quaint. Perhaps you like the comforting familiarity of this ’90s application, but we think Sway will change your mind. Sway is Microsoft’s new presentation tool, and it’s designed for the company that wants real-time insights. The secret to its power is that the application’s canvas is web-based, which allows it to be interactive.

You can embed third-party web-based content into your presentation and watch it change in real time. Perhaps you want to include a tweet in your presentation? With an Embed Card, you can do just that, and it is clickable, so you can go straight to the tweet on Twitter if you wish. Want to include a YouTube video? Embed it and have it play right there in your presentation.

That’s the great thing about Sway; it is designed to cater for all different types of content – images, videos, audio, charts, maps and documents. Therefore, no matter the content type, it will look flush with your template design. Sway takes into consideration that your users may flit between different devices with various screen sizes, so it accommodates this by creating multiple versions of your presentation.

All this is possible because of Sway’s cloud-first design. Sway is a part of Microsoft Office 365 which, as we know, is cloud-based. That way, once you launch Sway, it links up with all of your other Microsoft applications. This means you can complete your projects from anywhere because your content is always at hand and available across all devices.

With simple drag and drop functionality, you don’t need to be a design whizz to create beautiful, eye-catching presentations on Sway. It has a number of popular content sources built-in which means you don’t need to have loads of windows open to get the job done. Dare we say, you might actually enjoy making your next presentation? Anything is possible!

Microsoft Visio Online

What do we hate to see in presentations? Text! What do we want to see instead? Images! It is probably the chief tip passed on from person to person whenever anyone is starting their first presentation project – keep your text to a minimum. That’s why we think Visio is a great little tool. It’s basically a diagramming application for people who have no clue how to make a diagram.

You can pick from pre-crafted diagrams or start from scratch. Choose from a menu of ready-to-use shapes and symbols available in any of colour and watch how in just a few clicks your diagram begins to come to life. There is no installation required, and your masterpiece is easily shared with a link because Visio, like Sway, is web-based.

Diagrams have a way of making those dull details impactful and complex data easily digestible. It is all about the magic of storytelling and images bring your story to life. According to 3M research, images are processed 60,000 times faster than text. When you have only a few minutes on the clock to get your point across, a simple diagram can go along way.

Microsoft Forms

Feedback isn’t just important for you; it makes people feel involved. The main issue with presentations is that if the audience is not personally invested, it is very easy for them to tune out. Microsoft Forms is a neat tool that can help keep people looking at you and not out the office window!

Forms includes quizzes, surveys and polls as well as analytics, so you can get some real insights into what your team are thinking. If you want to get properly nerdy about it, you can even export your collected data to Excel for some in-depth analysis.

Are you working on the presentation with others? Forms allow you to easily collaborate with other team members who are also using Office 365. Forms works on all screens and is a web-based application, so you can easily share your creation via a link, embed code, QR code or with an email. Simple!

Wondering what else Office 365 has to offer your business? We hold monthly Microsoft Value Discovery Workshops for companies wanting to test drive Office 365. Just register your interest, and we’ll save you a spot in our next workshop!