Ever heard of PowerPoint? I bet you have over and over again. I taught middle school students in a Texas school district for 10 years how to make presentations in PowerPoint. My favorite assignment for them was called “Around the World”, where they would choose eight places to travel, insert pictures about that place, develop an itinerary, find how much a hotel costs, and research how much it was to fly to these locations.
Basic, right? A lot has changed since then, and even with the bells and whistles that PowerPoint provides, there are many more options that exist. Ranging from a few options that basically do the same thing as PowerPoint to those that bring many different options to the table—that is what we are focusing on in this space. I think if I was back in the classroom today, I would have them make a presentation in PowerPoint on one topic and then develop another presentation with an alternative to PowerPoint.
Let’s start with the most similar options to PowerPoint before we start to branch out.
This is the Mac version of PowerPoint. I myself do prefer the operating system of Mac versus Windows, so I have found myself using Keynote a few times even though I have worked in districts that are Google districts for a few years. I find Keynote to have a cleaner toolbar and a sleeker look, and better looking themes than PowerPoint. This is keeping with Apple’s overall cleaner, slick-looking designs. It seems to me to be as easy as PowerPoint to use.
Much like Google Sheets and Docs, when you need the simple easy version of PowerPoint, Google Slides is the answer. Not as powerful as PowerPoint, the slight edge here is in the ability to collaborate with other users (although Microsoft in general has improved in that category). Working in my second Google district in a row, the convenience and ease of Google Slides right now can be a go to when time is of the essence.
And now the PowerPoint alternatives that live in a different ballpark…
I almost included this in the same neighborhood as PowerPoint, but Sway serves a different purpose. Sway is a Microsoft product. PowerPoint is very presenter-driven, much like a classroom that is teacher directed. Sway can be used to create interactive presentations that don’t necessarily need a presenter. PowerPoint has many layout options; Sway has three. Similarly, PowerPoint has thousands of templates; Sway is limited. The win for Sway here is the option that the viewer can run the show much more easily than in PowerPoint.
An article on the alternatives to PowerPoint cannot be written without Prezi. This is perhaps one of my favorites when compared to PowerPoint. Prezi’s non-linear progression gives your audience a different way to view the content. Prezi can work like a controlled bubble map where you start with the helicopter view or topic in the middle and then move around to all the other topics that relate to where you started.
Prezi’s cons include that the presentations are not fully customizable and can actually create motion sickness in some viewers. However, visually, this is a viable alternative to the linear PowerPoint. If you have a more creative audience, this may be a good route to go as opposed to an audience that is more straight laced.
Talk about something that will help with images and visuals…let’s talk about Visme. Visme offers HD backgrounds, millions of free images, graph tools, hundreds of fonts, data visualizations reports, and ready-to-use templates. The biggest drawback to Visme is that there are so many options it is easy to get lost and this makes it harder to master all their features. Two instructional technologists I talked to about this article highly recommended Visme, but both had an issue with all the options. In a world where time is short for marketers, educators, and more, sometimes less is more.
Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be as simple as possible but not simpler.” This is the idea behind Beautiful AI. The slides are controlled by Artificial Intelligence so that without much work from the user, the slides will look great. The drawback here is that the AI is largely in control of the customization possibilities. Similar to how Google is filling in emails and words now, the AI will help you in the design of your slides. There is a little trade off with Beautiful AI’s control for the developer and the control of the AI.
Want to put your words into motion? Moovly helps with that process. Moovly helps you create animated videos and video presentations. This also allows the producer or presenter to not only have to control the presentation, but the video can run for the viewer. There are over 750,000 templates available and includes a drag-and-drop animation feature. For educators, this creates another way for teachers to give students a way to show what they learned from a project or assignment.
I saved this one for last because I believe this is one of the keys to great presentation: audience interaction. Glisser has the ability to have a question and answer session with your audience, polling capabilities, social feeds, and private notes. There is also the ability to get analytics on your presentation which will give you valuable feedback to help with your content or other future presentations. This makes the tools for audience interaction a little easier for the presenter.
In closing, please note a couple of these are free and some cost money (Vizme $12/month). Some have free usage and paid usage for more features (Prezi $5). Everyone of these products mentioned the ability to collaborate and invite users so that your team can produce the end product.
It is just good to know that there are other viable presentation options out there that allow you to move beyond the basics and that could potentially set you apart from other presenters, job seekers, educators, marketers, and more. Have fun experimenting!