If you’ve ever spent hours trying out different background templates in your PowerPoint for a middle school presentation on some spirited topic (Shakespearean literature, say), you’re not alone. PowerPoint has been a force in the slide show world since 1990, when Microsoft put the program in its Office Suite.
But if you’ve experienced the unique sensation of “PowerPoint hell,” a phrase created to describe the exquisite misery of a dull PowerPoint, you’re also not alone. Whether your audience is middle school students or investors interested in funding your startup, having an engaging and creative presentation can be paramount in getting a point across and making a good impression.
Luckily the advent of the digital age means an increase in innovative alternatives to PowerPoint, from mobile apps to cloud-based software—and, as an added bonus, many of them are free.
Prezi is well-known for its zooming user interface, and it’s easy to see why: A presentation that can be infinitely zoomed in and out packs quite the visual punch. The software is cloud-based, which makes for easy transferability and editing, and offers a free trial account to let potential users test it out; a basic account runs for $60 annually. There’s a learning curve for using all the features Prezi has to offer, but the software comes with a number of professional templates and can make for a lively presentation once the basic skills are mastered.
PowToon is unique on this list because it walks the fine line between “fun cartoon animation” and “let’s talk business,” and it does a good job of it. According to the website, their cartoon videos can be used anywhere from websites to product demos. This cloud-based presentation software has a user-friendly interface, even for users who haven’t trucked much with animation before. Free accounts are limited in features, but if you like what you see, a yearly subscription to a pro account adds up to $19/month.
3. Haiku Deck
If you prefer to put together presentations on your iPad, Haiku Deck is a top choice. Haiku Deck is a free mobile app laden with striking charts and graphs, as well as a number of photos, fonts and layouts. This is an app for a user who possesses a number of Apple products; many of its fun features tie-in with the iPhone or iPod touch, such as the ability to use an iPhone as a remote during a presentation.
Emaze is another free, cloud-based software that comes with a number of pre-made templates for easy and professional presentation development. It’s a little less well-known than some of the other names on this list, but Emaze delivers the goods when it comes to accessibility: It was developed in HTML5, which means it can run on any browser, laptop or mobile device. This multi-device access, along with some nifty tools like automated translation, makes Emaze a solid competitor in the post-PowerPoint battleground of presentation software.
5. Google Docs
Google is the monarch of the internet, and Google Docs is yet another example of its rulership. Google Docs is a web-based office suite that is known for its real time editing powers and document-sharing; it can also create documents and spreadsheets in addition to presentations. Individual use is free and business plans start at $5/month. As of April, Google Docs also has mobile apps available for Android and iOS. For an example of how powerful Google Docs can be in the hands of professionals, check out this video.
There’s nothing wrong with a good PowerPoint, especially from a nostalgic standpoint, but savvier and more engaging options exist in the age of technology. Try some of this innovative software for your next presentation and walk into it knowing that no one can accuse you of perpetuating “PowerPoint hell.”
Image credit: Adam Noar via Presentation Panda