Beyond PowerPoint–Freshen up your presentations with these trendy alternatives

Jacob2It’s a formula that office workers everywhere know by heart: when it’s time for a presentation, connect the laptop to the projector, dim the lights, and fire up PowerPoint.

For more than two decades now, Microsoft PowerPoint has served as the indispensable tool for business speakers—and for good reason. PowerPoint is a reliable, full-featured program that’s available on practically every corporate network. No matter where you are presenting, there’s no need to ask whether they have a copy of PowerPoint to run your slide show. They just do.

But with mass popularity comes familiarity. And with familiarity comes monotony; the term “PowerPoint hell” has become prevalent in recent years.

Thankfully, we are entering a new golden age of presentation software. With the modern internet and smart devices, there are options galore. Some of these slick new tools are even transforming the business presentation model.

Perhaps these tools will help inspire new creativity in your next presentation.

emazeEmaze

Emaze is an online slide-show tool that stands out for its use of 3D animation. Imagine that instead of flipping through one slide after another, your slides are hanging on the walls of a virtual art gallery that you guide the audience through during your presentation. There are also templates where your information is presented on billboards and on the sides of buildings as you soar through a virtual metropolis.

While this may sound complex, the website is actually simple to use. Presentations are saved online, making them available anywhere there’s an internet connection. There’s a free version for starters with paid tiers for users who want more options.

haikudeckHaiku Deck

Most business professionals aren’t also graphics wizards. In the wrong hands, PowerPoint’s huge selection of fonts, colors, and graphics can quickly become a toxic stew of terrible design. This is where Haiku Deck steps in. Haiku Deck presents users a limited number of visual options—and they all look great. It is one of the easiest and best-looking slide-show creation tools out there.

Haiku Deck also allows you to import images from Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr. If you prefer to work on your iPhone, there are iOS apps available. While the software saves your presentation online, you can also download it in PowerPoint or Keynote format. Haiku Deck is free, but it charges for some premium imagery and other features.

keynotKeynote

The late Apple founder Steve Jobs was famous for his engaging presentations. Why not use the same software that he used? Apple developed Keynote for Jobs to use during his big product unveilings. Later, the company released it to Mac users as a PowerPoint competitor. Today, Keynote is also available on Apple’s iOS devices.

Keynote includes many features found in PowerPoint. It’s also compatible—for the most part—with PowerPoint files. That means Keynote users can open PowerPoint presentations and even save their slide shows as PowerPoint files. You can also create, edit, and present your slide shows from the web using Apple’s iCloud service. Apple now gives Keynote away for free with new Mac and iOS devices. But that’s also the downside; if you are a PC or Android user, Keynote is a no-go.

powtoonPowToon

Are their eyes starting to glaze? Humor is one of the best ways keep an audience engaged. But comedy isn’t easy. That’s where PowToon comes in; it has wacky text options and funny animations that make humor almost effortless.

PowToon’s visual style is inspired by comic books. The end product actually more closely resembles a cartoon than a slideshow. PowToon has a wide selection of silly, irreverent clip art characters to choose from as you create your info-cartoon. The animations are especially impressive. Imagine hands that reach out and place your graphics onto the screen.

One of the cool things that PowToon allows users to do is easily export their creations as downloadable movies or YouTube videos. This is a powerful option. Simple television ads have been created this way. PowToon has a limited free option, but many users will likely prefer the paid tiers, which allow you to get rid of the PowToon watermark and make longer presentations.

Prezi

Presentations made with Prezi are easy to recognize for their nonlinear format. Instead of going sequentially from slide A to slide Z, Prezi gives presenters the freedom to call up information in whatever order they’d like.

Visually, the information is presented sort of like a huge bulletin board, where everything is visible, if very small. The presenter then zooms in on different areas to highlight information relevant to the discussion at the moment. The ability to easily zoom in on any part of the presentation, in any order, gives the Prezi presenter much more freedom than a traditional slide show format.

It’s possible you’ve already seen this style of presentation, as Prezi claims that more than 40 million people and 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using its service.

Like the other options, Prezi is a web system that stores the presentations online and allows for presentations to be viewed on any browser. The first month is free, but there are fees to  unlock some features.

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