To Sway or To Point?

Part of my job is to keep up with the latest trends in office productivity software. I have become very proficient in PowerPoint, but am not as competent yet with Microsoft’s Sway product. The function and purpose of the two products is different. PowerPoint is a product that allows complete control over each slide; Sway requires that you give control to the embedded design engine. When you have a story you want to tell in a casual way, Sway is a good tool. I enjoyed creating the Sway presentation I have attached here because Sway’s design engine helps create a cohesive look and feel. It is not meant, however, for a situation in which you want to control the story line and accompanying visuals tightly. I think Sway is a great tool to use for presenting personal stories and narratives. It provides a ‘friendly’ feeling effortlessly. Also, a Sway presentation can be shared selectively or widely. You can also update a Sway presentation because it lives ‘in the cloud’. If you continue to make improvements to your Sway, you don’t need to send viewers a new link.

For business use, I think Sway would be excellent for internal communications where formality is not necessary. Sway is also a great tool to use if you want to develop a presentation collaboratively. Because it is entirely web-based, you can provide the link to anyone who you wish to co-author the presentation. PowerPoint is not as easy to use this way–the most effective way to collaborate in PowerPoint is to send the document to others and ask them to comment. One more thing about Sway is that you don’t need to worry about versions or add-ins. Whatever ‘version’ Sway is on is invisible to the user, so you and any co-author will have the same features and functionality available.

Although Sway has built in “design algorithms” you only have limited choices and limited control. You can decide if your Sway will scroll left to right, or up and down. You can pick out some fundamental features of your design; e.g. the typography and the backgrounds of the slides. You can also pick a basic color palette. Beyond that, “ya pays ya money, ya takes ya chances”, as the old circus barkers used to say. I will add that having the “Remix” feature, which will reformat your entire Sway adds some fun and suspense to the design process. However, if you find a design that works well for one part of your Sway presentation, and not another, you can’t pick and choose. The format is applied to the entire Sway deck.

I think Sway is worth your time to learn if you have information and stories you want to share with others in an approachable, conversational style. It does not replace PowerPoint but supplements it. A technology that is similar is Prezi, so if you are not a Microsoft Office user, you may want to investigate Prezi.

My Trip to Beijing in 1984