Microsoft PowerPoint is fantastic. There’s a reason why it’s the standard presentation tool used in schools and businesses all across the country: it’s good, it’s easy, it works, and it has a bunch of nifty features that make presentations simple.
But there are also reasons why you might not want to use it, the main reason being that you probably shouldn’t buy Microsoft Office these days. It’d be smarter to get an Office 365 subscription instead, but that will still cost you.
Why shell out cash when free alternatives exist? Mind you, none of these are as good as PowerPoint, but many of them are more than good enough. And if you’re in any kind of non-business setting, “good enough” should certainly be good enough.
LibreOffice is the highest quality alternative to Microsoft Office that you’ll currently find. It has improved a lot over the years, putting it on par with Microsoft Office in many ways — and the best part is that it’s 100% free, open source, and cross platform, which also makes it a prime candidate for Linux presentations.
Impress is the LibreOffice analog to Microsoft’s PowerPoint. With it, you can create all kinds of slide-based multimedia presentations that can be viewed in several ways: regular editing, outline mode, annotated slides, and even a handout mode for printing presentations to paper.
And yes, Impress supports all PowerPoint formats — PPS, PPT, PPTX — and it also supports a handful of other open formats and standards.
You can also look into OpenOffice Impress, which is the original codebase that was used to create LibreOffice Impress. OpenOffice is currently under Apache management, and while development is slower than LibreOffice, it’s still a valid alternative.
2. Zoho Show
Zoho is another office suite in the line of Microsoft and LibreOffice, but it is more of an in-between for the two. It’s not 100% free and open source, like LibreOffice is, but it does come with a free option. If you want to unlock advanced features, you’ll have to subscribe, like with Office 365.
Zoho Show is the presentation tool in this suite and it’s a web app, so it’s most similar to what you’d find with PowerPoint Online. The beauty of it is that you can create, edit, and manage your presentations from anywhere with internet access, and you can collaborate in real-time too.
Not only can Zoho Show import half a dozen file formats — PPS, PPT, PPTX, PPSX, ODP, and SXI –, you can also rest assured that every bit of presentation formatting will remain true-to-view, no matter which format you use. No distorted layouts or misaligned images.
For people who need to give presentations from anywhere at any time, Google Slides has been a solid answer for several years now. (Prior to 2012, it was known as Google Presentations.) Just as with Google Docs and Google Sheets, Google Slides is an online web app.
Slides is 100% free, supports templates, allows you to create/edit/manage from anywhere with internet access, comes with mobile apps for Android and for iOS, supports real-time collaboration and annotations, and converts flawlessly back and forth with PowerPoint.
Although it might seem like Slides has less development priority compared to Docs and Sheets, it’s far from being abandoned. In fact, some of the best updates made by Google in 2016 were for Slides, like saving and sharing presentations in JPG, PNG, and SVG formats.
Highly recommended for anyone who’s already embedded into the Google cloud environment. In other words, if you’re already a big user of Google Drive, you may as well use Slides, too. Why not?
Maybe options like PowerPoint and Google Slides are too complex for what you need. Or maybe they’re too traditional and stuffy. SlideDog is the presentation tool for anyone who wants an alternative that’s modern, yet easy.
With SlideDog, you can take all kinds of media formats — images, videos, PDFs, websites, and even PowerPoint or Prezi files — and stitch them together in a seamless way. It’s perfect for simple and straightforward image-to-image presentations.
What’s even cooler is that you can liveshare your SlideDog presentation and anyone can watch over the internet in real-time. In fact, they can ask questions, comment on slides, and even vote in polls. It’s an awesome way to get immediate feedback on what you’ve presented.
The lite version of SlideDog is free indefinitely. Advanced features (e.g. custom backgrounds, dual screen mode, liveshare, and audience interaction) cost $99 per year or a one-time $249 lifetime account.
Visme isn’t a dedicated presentation tool, but you can certainly create presentations with it if you desire. The goal of Visme is to make it easy for you to translate ideas into engaging content — presentations, infographics, reports, and more.
Visme comes with its own online editor and hundreds of templates to get you started in just minutes. You can change everything — fonts, backgrounds, colors, images — and you can publish your results on the web, offline, or even save as a PDF.
The downside is that you can’t import from PowerPoint or export to PowerPoint. Also, while anyone can publish online, free accounts can only download projects as JPG — PNG, PDF, and HTML5 are for paying customers ($7 per month for Standard, $16 per month for Complete).
Sozi is a unique free tool that doesn’t use the slideshow concept that seems so fundamental to presentations. Rather, you’re given a large canvas that you can design however you want — whether by drawing or embedding content — and then you transition from area to area.
It’s actually really cool once you give it a try. Is it professional grade? No, not yet. You’d be better off using something like Adobe After Effects, if you wanted to do something like this on a professional scale, but for simple presentations, where dynamism is important, Sozi rocks.
7. Haiku Deck / Prezi / Slid.es
These three web tools are actually independent and unaffiliated with each other, but I’m grouping them together because they’re all alike in one way: their free versions only allow for public presentations that are published online and searchable.
Whether you choose Haiku Deck, Prezi, or Slid.es, all you have to do is use the respective online editor to build your presentation. In the case of Haiku Deck, audience members can even view your presentation through a mobile app.
Obviously these aren’t the best choices for business or otherwise private projects, but if you don’t care whether or not strangers can access your presentation — or if you want strangers to see it — then these services can be quite useful.
You can always unlock private presentations by upgrading to a paid account, starting at $5 per month for Haiku Deck, $5 per month for Prezi, and $6 per month for Slid.es.
Which Presentation Tool Do You Like?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Microsoft PowerPoint alternatives. LibreOffice is probably the closest real clone that you’ll find, but Zoho Show and Google Slides are both great if you prefer a cloud-based tool over a desktop tool.
On the other hand, SlideDog, Visme, and Sozi are all intentionally designed to be different from traditional presentation software — and if you’ve always felt limited by options like PowerPoint, or if you’ve been looking for something more hip or modern, you’ll probably love these.
So you tell us: Which one do you like the best and why? Which features do you consider most important for presentation software? Would you rather just shell out the cash for PowerPoint? Share with us in the comments!
Image Credit: making a presentation by wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock