Presentations Evolved: 4 Alternatives To PowerPoint & Keynote Compared

Dann Albright 12-06-2014

Even though you can create effective PowerPoint presentations with ease 5 Powerpoint Tips to Improve Your Presentation Skills Overnight You step up to the podium. Your palms are sweaty, your heart is racing, and just as you're about to open your mouth and speak, your mind goes blank. Need help? Read More and do some cool things with Keynote Create Elegant & Cool Multimedia Presentations Using Apple's Popular Keynote [Mac] The best demos of Apple's multimedia program, Keynote, are the ones co-produced by the legendary Steve Jobs. Watch nearly any of his keynote presentations on YouTube, and you can quickly see how if used effectively,... Read More , 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, 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.

Haiku Deck

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 5 More Places to Help You Find Quality Creative Commons Images There are lots of reasons you might need to find Creative Commons images. Last year, we introduced you to five great places to find Creative Commons images, with the list including heavyweights like Flickr and... Read More .)

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.

Zoho Show [No Longer Available]

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!

Related topics: Microsoft PowerPoint, Presentations.

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  1. Lisa Ma
    June 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Dann-

    Thanks so much for including Haiku Deck on your list of PowerPoint/Keynote alternatives! If you're curious about our Creative Commons image search, we have more information on that here: I'd also like to personally invite you and your readers to check out our Web App beta at, we'd love to hear their feedback on how we could make it better!


    Lisa Ma
    Haiku Deck Customer Evangelist

  2. Paul P
    June 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Yeah it's very easy to use.

    If you wonder where those hand scribbling on a chalkboard making a presentation and similar videos come from, it is mostly this program. You can even use your own custom hands. For instance I made a scribe or scribbling hand out of two views of an elephant trunk and then made a videoscribe birthday card of an elephant painting out a birthday greeting for my niece.

    The program is extraordinarily expensive though. To buy a permanent license is around $600. However you can subscribe for one month at a much lower fee, if for instance you want it only for one project...kind of like the structure of Adobe Creative Suite now.

  3. Paul D Pruitt
    June 16, 2014 at 1:29 am

    What about Sparkol Videoscribe?

    • Dann A
      June 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Interesting! I had never heard of Videoscribe. Looks pretty cool, though—have you used it a lot? Do you find it easy to use?

  4. Miguel A
    June 15, 2014 at 4:51 am

    Bunkr is really awesome too!!

  5. Dave Faulkner
    June 14, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I love Haiku Deck. It helps you ensure you don't do the 'Death by PowerPoint' faux pas of too many words on a slide. The encouragement to use visuals steers you to Creative Commons-licensed pictures on sources such as Flickr, saving you a headache there. And available both as the original iPad app and an online tool.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      I was definitely most intrigued by Haiku Deck. I think next time I have to give a presentation I might have to give it a shot., which is being discussed in the comments above, also sounds like a great way to prevent spending too much time on creating an elaborate, over-the-top presentation.

      And getting access to CC-licensed pictures is great. That usually takes me forever. Thanks for reading!

    • Lisa Ma
      June 24, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks so much for the nice note about Haiku Deck, Dave! Can't wait to see what you create!


      Lisa Ma
      Haiku Deck Customer Evangelist

  6. Anandu B
    June 13, 2014 at 10:39 am is a good alternative based on open sourced Reveal.js

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:50 am

      I think I came across Slides while I was researching this article, but I haven't tried it out yet. I do like the fact that it's based on an open-source framework, though!

      Do you think it's better than the options discussed here? What sets it apart?

    • Anandu B
      June 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm is a GUI for making reveal.js presentations
      best explained through this presentation by its author

  7. Anish M
    June 13, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Google' Presentation not mention here. libreoffice Impress installed on most-of linux system also forgotten.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:47 am

      I thought about including both of these alternatives, but as I mentioned before, I was trying to stick with services that people weren't already aware of. This list is by no means comprehensive. The Google and OpenOffice apps are both great ways to make and deliver presentations, though.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. Chris M
    June 13, 2014 at 12:13 am

    I love Prezi. Doing a prezi for the class, I always make sure it flips over if I am going from a slide on one side of the prezi to the other. Haven't gotten anyone sick yet, but I'm still trying.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:45 am

      I first saw Prezi in a graduate-school course, and there was some bit of flipping involved.

      Keep trying—I'm sure you'll be able to trigger motion sickness in someone! I think the developers must have had that in mind when creating the transitions.

  9. Tanya-jayne
    June 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Sliderocket should be in this list

    • Anonymous
      June 14, 2014 at 5:05 am

      Too bad, sliderocket is no longer among us.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Yes, as Anonymous pointed out, SlideRocket isn't around anymore. ClearSlide, the company that it integrated its services with, calls itself a "sales engagement platform," which scared me away from looking too closely into it.

  10. Abbas
    June 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Did anyone see

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:39 am

      Interesting! I had never heard of before. I just skimmed through their website, and it looks like a really interesting way to go. I'm a bit wary of it, as I am with most automated tools, but I'd like to give it a shot. I'll report back on it soon!

      Have you used it before? What did you think?

    • Abbas
      June 14, 2014 at 8:12 am

      I did use it for a few presentations I needed. Once I completely forgot that I had a presentation that day until someone reminded me an hour before. I jotted down points in 15 min., entered them on and used a free template. It turned out to be the best presentation I've ever given till then (it was my first presentation).

      I agree no automated tool can be great. But, I personally liked It's my savior when I need to prepare either a quick presentation or something not very complicated.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Well, I have to say that any tool that helps you crank out a presentation in fifteen minutes sounds pretty impressive! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

  11. Michael Rhodes
    June 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    You do know that Keynote is free with a new Mac or iPad Purchase? It's been that way since last year. Otherwise it's just $20 ? And that makes it the cheapest alternative to every single pay-per-month "alternatives" listed here (equals to about 3-4 months of the leech-per-month plans). Have to admit that I'm automatically wary of any Pay-Per-Month plan, it may seem cheaper; but over a course of a year or two it seems to be just as expensive as PowerPoint (or in some cases more). And that wariness gets doubled with the sense that all of these alternatives seem to be totally web-based.

    And there's some other quite good apps that can do presentations, thinking about Hype and MotionArtist offhand. While they are both not marketed as presentation apps, they can be used, quite nicely, as such. And both these apps can create HTML and CSS-based files that can be run locally on a laptop, tablet or from a website. Either of these apps can be had for less than $80 each -- one time purchase not a per-month leeching. Both of these are updated frequently and, like most single purchase apps, upgrades are at a discount for current users.

    And because every single "alternative" is web-based -- so if I lose my connection, and on my iPad, which is WiFi only (can't afford the 4G prices) -- I can't do any work on these "services" (and if I can't do work offline, then they are services and not apps!). And the sites I visited from the links here, seem to be comprised of info saying how neat their service is and precious little actual information on how to use them. I got more useable info from this article than from the websites of the services themselves. So thanks for that.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:37 am

      I definitely understand your feeling about pay-per-month systems. In general, I try to only use a premium account as long as I need it, and then downgrade to the free plan until I need it again. They can add up over time, but I often find that the convenience is worth it.

      Re: these being online options, I did think about that. Wi-fi is becoming ever more ubiquitous, though; I even had free wi-fi on a flight recently. While I'm not saying that being connectionless isn't a concern, I'd say it is becoming LESS of a concern, so I decided not to use that as a criterion.

      Thanks for commenting!

  12. Ioannis Emmanouilidis
    June 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I do not believe that Prezi is a "killer" competitor of Powerpoint. I believe (this is my opinion at least) is more like a child's play. PowToon is way better if you know how to use it but either way is not a complete alternative to powerpoint. Prezi puts a lot of unnecessary transition animation which makes people think that is way cooler. It's not for some of them. Animation just makes people get bored more easily if have a lot of slides. I still make serious presentations here in College and Prezi is not one of them. Professors just hate it. Professors and Managers want "more straight to the point" presentations.

    I don't say that Prezi is bad but it "fits" a specific audience by my prospective and probably is one reason which is not popular.

    But where are additional free alternatives like Open Office and Kingston Office (Now it's called WPS Office) in your article? They are good alternatives. And if you are worry about cloud sync just use your desired cloud company (Dropbox, Google Drive etc.). All of them are free of cost.

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:32 am

      I agree that Prezi has a different sort of audience and environment in mind than PowerPoint. I had a few professors in college that seemed to really like Prezi, but it seems like a better fit for things like conferences or demos.

      I mentioned this in the comment above, but I was trying to stick to alternatives that I thought fewer people would have heard of. And because I was just choosing a few, I decided not to include the alternatives that you mentioned.

      Thanks for the comment!

  13. James
    June 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Where on earth is impress?

    • Dann A
      June 14, 2014 at 5:27 am

      Impress is definitely a great alternative to PowerPoint and Keynote! When I was choosing which apps to review, I was trying to focus on ones that I thought fewer people had probably heard of. There are a lot of alternatives, and I was trying to stick to just a few, so that meant that a lot of software wasn't going to be mentioned.

      We've covered OpenOffice a number of times before, so based on that, I decided not to include it. It is a nice piece of software, though, and I hope people try it out.

      Thanks for reading!