PowerPoint alternatives: what you need to know about presentation software
Presentations often make even the best of us feel afraid, anxious, and more than a little jittery. Terrible color choices and slides full of bullet points don’t make the experience too pleasant for the audience, either. While we can’t necessarily help you get over your stage fright, we can provide some recommendations for the second problem.
If “Death by PowerPoint” accurately describes your presentations, take a look at any of the alternatives below.
Haiku Deck is relatively new on the presentation software scene, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful or useful than the veteran alternatives. Available in your browser and on your iPad, Haiku Deck utilizes the ideas in Presentation Zen to give you simple, eye catching slides. By design, Haiku Deck slides only have limited space for text, but slide options for lists and graphs are available.
Totally web-based…unless you’re willing to pay
Almost everyone loves cloud storage. Who doesn’t want to worry about having their presentation stored in a thumb drive? Images are pulled from stock websites and creative commons licensed resources, meaning you don’t have to worry about where you’re getting your photos.
Haiku Deck recently changed its pricing structure, putting the ability to download decks in the premium tier. Downloaded decks save each slide as an image (text and all), and then place each new image in a traditional PowerPoint slide or into a PDF. A new feature, Haiku Deck Zuru Beta, allows you to upload your existing PowerPoint files to Haiku Deck.
Haiku Deck makes it easy to share your finished presentation with others, but the workarounds for collaborating on a presentation in progress are a bit much. Haiku Deck suggests creating collaborative accounts to work on group projects. If that isn’t feasible, your alternative is to share and copy decks amongst your group members.
Limited style choices
Haiku Deck makes great presentations through its simplicity, but sometimes you need just a little more. Your font choices are limited to those available in Haiku Deck’s 20-some themes. You can upload your own images as well, but your results may vary with size and quality. In some ways, the limited style choices do force you to really think about what you put into your presentation, and that can be a good thing.
Bullet points? We’ve got those
Haiku Deck recently added new slide templates that allow you to add graphs, tables, and bullet points to your decks. Of course, if you’re trying to avoid PowerPoint’s death by bullet point, then you might want to use some of these new options sparingly.
Prezi hit the scene in 2009, and is currently the darling of the presentation world. Another cloud-based tool, Prezi allows users to create, store, and share presentations online. Prezi is a great tool for non-linear storytelling and digital presentations.
It’s like PowerPoint – but with motion sickness!
Prezi is all about paths, and how you use them. Zooming and panning let you add a new, dynamic dimension to your presentations, but if you’re not careful, your audience may hate you for forcing them to read a bunch of bullet points while motion sick. If you find that your Prezi frames tend to look exactly like your PowerPoint slides (but with zooming), you may want to step back and rethink your approach.
Prezi does allow for live collaboration between users, which is good news for group projects. Check out the video below for more information on how you can collaborate with your friends and colleagues:
You can also download your Prezis for offline viewing.
Like Haiku Deck, Prezi doesn’t have everything you need for creating your presentation. For instance, you can’t hyperlink text (which you should be doing to provide proper attribution for those Creative Commons licensed images) and you’re stuck with limited color and font choices.
Prezi does let you directly insert YouTube videos into your presentation (and it works a whole heck of a lot better than it does in PowerPoint).
Heavy Time Investment
While Prezi offers tons of ready-made templates for your use, it can still be time consuming to get something that looks just right. The Flash interface is not always the most easy to use or navigate (as simply clicking on the background is enough to create a text box) and while there are plenty of pre-made templates available, creating something like this on your own may require more effort than you’re willing to expend.
Extra features aren’t free
In addition to the free, public tier, Prezi offers three premium tiers: Enjoy, Pro, and Teams. The Pro tier (targeted at individual use) offers unlimited storage, privacy settings, image editing tools, and offline working.
One of Google’s Microsoft alternatives, Google Slides is a cloud-based application that allows users to upload, create, store, and share presentations online.
You already have an account
Florida Tech students, faculty, and staff already have access to Google Slides through their my.fit and go.fit accounts. Take a look at the Google applications overview on the tech support website for more information. Like Slides below, Google Slides is available just about anywhere – on your computer and all of your mobile devices.
The best kind of collaboration
If collaboration is your need, then Google Slides is your solution. Unlike some of the other options reviewed here, Google Slides offers the ability to collaborate in real time straight out of the box, without subscriptions and with only a simple change in a document’s privacy settings. This makes Google Slides hands-down the best choice for collaborative work or team projects.
PowerPoint – but online
Google Slides replicates PowerPoint almost entirely – change your font, add textboxes, images, tables, captions, videos, word art, and everything else you’d expect in a presentation software. You even have the option to download your slides as .PPT or .PDF files for offline viewing or editing. In addition, Google Slides offers numerous customization options, including templates and themes.
Slides (not to be confused with Google Slides) feels like a motionless version of Prezi – or, in other words, a cloud-based PowerPoint.
Slides uses HTML to create decks, meaning that those with the inclination have the ability to customize their slides into exactly what they want. Pro users have access to the custom CSS editor, allowing them to edit their slides to an even greater degree.
The traditional PowerPoint features are present in Slides. Animations (called fragments), tables, text boxes, frames, and images are easy to find and use. Slides also has features for displaying code and mathematical equations, making it a great option for technical presentations.
Decks can be viewed on your phone, tablet, or desktop, embedded on other sites, or presented live to virtual (and non-virtual) audiences.
Extras will cost you
Just like Haiku Deck and Prezi, Slides charges for special features. The basic, free version offers access to the HTML editor, public decks, and 250MB of storage. Pro and Team plans offer private decks, more storage, Dropbox synchronization, offline presentations, and custom CSS.
While we only reviewed four options here, there are numerous presentation apps available, both free and not free. We encourage you to do your own research, and find something that works for you. Here’s a list of things you might want to keep in mind when performing your own evaluation:
- Does this application have offline capabilities (and is that important to me)?
- What plugin (HTML5, Flash, etc.) does this application use?
- Which features are free, and which are premium?
- How much online storage do I get?
- If I’m working with a group, how easy is it to collaborate?