Even though you can create effective PowerPoint presentations with ease and do some cool things with Keynote, these apps are passé (not to mention relatively expensive), and it’s time to try something new. Fortunately, you have a number of great options!
Here’s a roundup of 4 of the best PowerPoint and Keynote alternatives. Which one will come out on top?
Although it has been around for several years now (we first reviewed it back in 2010), Prezi is still one of the relatively unknown competitors to PowerPoint and Keynote. But what it lacks in popularity, it makes up for in creative potential.
Instead of traditional “slide 1, slide 2, slide 3” format, Prezi zooms in, out, and around what is essentially a single giant slide. The effect is very different from the one that most people are used to, making Prezi presentations a lot more interesting than traditional ones. Unfortunately, the effect can also be a bit nauseating if you use it too much, so try to stick with designs that don’t require a lot of back-to-back jumps.
By getting creative with the designs of your presentations, you can create some really impressive designs (see the one embedded below, for example, which was one of the 6 Best Prezis of 2013). Even if you’re not an artistic genius you can take advantage of the fact that people have posted hundreds of Prezi templates for you to download, customize, and use.
The free version of Prezi will be adequate for most people. Though, if you want to use your own logo or save a large number of presentations, upgrading to the Enjoy level ($4.92 per month) is probably worth it. For offline editing, you’ll need the Pro level ($13.25 per month). It’s also worth noting that users with a .edu e-mail address can get Prezi’s edu pricing, which includes free Enjoy-level access.
The idea behind Haiku Deck is to let you share your ideas easily, simply, and with presentation best practices in mind. In many other pieces of presentation software, it’s easy to get caught up with animations, text styles, clipart, and myriad other things that (arguably) don’t add any significant benefit to your presentation. Haiku Deck does away with all this.
Haiku Deck provides four different types of slides. When you choose a theme, the text styles are set throughout the entire presentation for you. There’s no changing of the text size or color — it’s all pre-determined. It might seem like this would detract from your presentation, but it can actually be a bit of a relief — there’s not nearly as much to worry about as when you’re creating a slide deck with PowerPoint or Keynote.
One really useful feature is the ability insert charts, including a cool numbered one (as seen below) that can be used in a lot of different ways, to show your message more clearly.
One of the interesting things about Haiku Deck is that it encourages you to add images as slide backgrounds, and provides a search box for you to type in the words that fit your presentation — it’ll return a number of photos that you can immediately add to the background of your slide. (I’m not sure where this search goes, but it’s safe to assume it goes out to find Creative Commons images.)
To save you even more time, Haiku Deck has a Pinterest page that contains thousands of example presentations that you can use for inspiration in creating yours.
Billing itself as “the new online presentation tool for people who want more than PowerPoint,” emaze sets its aim high. It does well, however, by providing a lot of the same things that PowerPoint provides, but in a fresh, new way. For example, your presentations can have slide transitions, but they’re not the familiar ones. Some of the available templates use pan-and-zoom transitions slightly reminiscent of Prezi, while the ones labelled “3D” on the template screen have 3D turning animations.
Editing the slides is a lot like PowerPoint — just click a text box to edit the text, drag things to move them around, and click icons in the menu bar to add new items. The ability to create no less than eleven different kinds of charts might appeal to you if you’re doing business presentations, and there are a lot of icons that you can add directly from the app without uploading them from your own computer, giving you good design flexibility.
As of now, there’s no option to create your own templates, but the Emazing subscription level will be able to do this soon. Some templates have multiple options, as well — for example, there’s a Space light and a space dark, as well as Hi-Tech green, red, black, and orange.
While all account levels have access to all of the templates, pro accounts ($4.90 monthly) and Emazing accounts ($14.90 monthly) can download presentations, use their own logo in on their slides, password-protect presentations, collaborate with others, and get a lot more cloud space to store presentations.
Like emaze, Zoho Show is a full-featured, powerful online alternative to PowerPoint and Keynote. If you’ve used either of these apps before, you’ll be able to jump right into Zoho Show and get started. It’s highly customizable, offering a lot of fonts and colors to play around with, and even some inline photo editing, including recoloring and cropping to specific shapes.
One of the more useful features included in Zoho Show is document versioning; you can save multiple versions of your slideshow, and jot a few notes for each, so you can scrap any changes that you made without starting over.
Where Zoho really shines is in its portability: by downloading the Zoho Docs app to your computer or mobile device, you can take your presentations with you wherever you go. You can also use your mobile phone to advance slides, which is quite convenient. Zoho is actually a huge suite of applications that can be integrated into your company as an alternative to more common software suites.
Fortunately, if you just want an alternative to PowerPoint or Keynote, you can sign up for a free plan and not miss out on much. If your company uses Zoho, however, you can get more benefits, like collaboration, more online storage space, and custom branding.
It’s hard to say that any of these are better than the others, as they all have great strengths and few weaknesses, but I was most impressed by Haiku Deck. The simplicity that they’ve built into the app is very refreshing. Instead of being overwhelmed with features at every step, you’re guided through the process of creating a presentation in the most efficient manner possible. And who wouldn’t benefit from that?
Have you used any of these presentation tools? Are there others that you like better? Share your thoughts below!