Think PowerPoint is Your Only Option? Try These Design Alternatives

By Jon Thomas

While I am clearly a fanboy of Apple, as I write this on my MacBook Pro, my slideware of choice is actually Microsoft PowerPoint. I do have Apple’s Keynote on here, but I have never come across a compelling reason to use Keynote instead of PowerPoint. (Do you have one?)

However, using PowerPoint isn’t always an option. Even if it is, sometimes you don’t want the same old slides or you may need to collaborate with a dispersed team online and sending files back and forth doesn’t cut it. Here are a few alternatives to PowerPoint, both in the online and offline world. Neither the list nor the descriptions are exhaustive, but hopefully it gets you started in the right direction.

 Keynote. It has the same functionality as PowerPoint but was created by a company that actually wants to make things easier for its users. If you’ve got a Mac, Keynote may be a great choice. You can also save your Keynote out as a PowerPoint file, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.

• Prezi. Prezi takes the design off the rigid, standalone slide and creates a presentation in its own environment. This product considers itself the “zooming presentation editor.” It’s a pretty cool application and it has been used successfully during TED presentations, but I’ve rarely seen it used well anywhere else. It can be used as a collaborative online tool and viewed online or locally as well.

• SlideRocket. SlideRocket is an online presentation software that takes the basics of PowerPoint presentation design but puts them in an online environment that enables team collaboration and access anywhere, including mobile. They have a free version and also include an Inspiration Gallery (complete with a template designed by yours truly.)

• The Spoken Word. My presentation colleague Adam St. John Lawrence would kill me if I didn’t put this in here. But of course, you don’t always need slideware. If you have a compelling story and fear you can’t design an effective presentation, consider other routes. It can be a simple as pulling up a stool and talking with your audience, or as intricate as rehearsed skits, improv, props or live music!

These are some of the better-known alternatives, but there are other smaller players as well. If you run into the issue where you have designed slides but can’t use PowerPoint, consider saving them as a PDF and presenting them that way (albeit without animation or video) or posting them to SlideShare.

About the Author:

Jon Thomas is the founder of Presentation Advisors,  a presentation design and training firm in southern Connecticut.  The firm was founded to help companies of all shapes and sizes realize the true power of an effectively designed presentation. To learn more about the company’s services visit

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