Is there a quick and easy way to make these slides impressive? Why won’t my slides format correctly? Should I use this size font and this color combination? So many questions. Well, lucky for you, we have tips and tricks to help you run better presentations.
Here we provide a comprehensive rundown of the best free PowerPoint alternatives out there, weighing up their pros and cons, and asking the questions: Is there one presentation tool to rule them all? Is there a free online version of PowerPoint?
Slide presentations are widely used by academics, team leads, CEOs, and everyone in between to instruct, educate, and inform others. We have all probably sat and listened to someone read through their slides - and often we may have been bored enough to browse social media or reply to a few messages.
But when looking at good alternatives to Microsoft PowerPoint, the software most widely associated with presentations, we are looking for things that do things PowerPoint simply can’t. Perhaps designing themes is easier. Maybe your audience can vote on your slides or submit questions in real-time. All of these unique elements can make one software better than all others.
Mentimeter is the alternative to PowerPoint that does all the usual presentation/slide deck work you might expect from a presentation tool and more. A presentation tool, a survey application, and an audience engagement platform. All of this, plus a great design makes creating beautiful slides quick and easy.
The main benefit of using Mentimeter is connecting with any group or audience and receiving immediate feedback; no more waiting for someone to raise their hand or for someone to volunteer an opinion. Everyone can use their phones to take part and every presenter, team lead, or educator can quickly gather insights from everyone in the room.
If Google Slides has inherited the Web 1.0 legacy of PowerPoint, it is Mentimeter that is doing something new and pioneering the presentation tool of Web 2.0, where the speaker is no longer the sole focus and emphasis is instead placed on audience participation. To help you get started we even have a series of free professionally designed presentation templates.
Combining easy-to-use and attractive design, a familiar and user-friendly interface, and the added “wow” factor of audience engagement; Mentimeter is the choice for presenters who want to go the extra mile and create the presentations of tomorrow, today. Additionally, Mentimeter is entirely cloud-based so no need to download any apps or software.
Mentimeter features a variety of plans including a free tier that lets all new users get started in a matter of minutes. Even better, Menti offers a PowerPoint integration so you can spruce up all those old and trustworthy PowerPoint presentations of yours! Check out how in this video by our own Mentimeter expert Oscar:
Google Slides is the one-size-fits-all inheritor of the PowerPoint mantle. If you have used PowerPoint, you’ll already be pretty familiar with Google Slides. There’s nothing fancy, nothing unexpected. It’s just a reliable web-based presentation platform that’s greatest strength lies in the familiarity of its capabilities and the layout of the interface.
The accessibility of a web-based tool (it is free) and Slides’ collaboration capabilities mean that it is a very popular choice for a variety of users. Some drawbacks include that Google Slides is designed to work like traditional presentation slide decks, which give great support for speakers, but give little consideration to the audience and their voice.
Slides also suffer from the old PowerPoint problem of a daunting blank canvas and a huge array of design options that can be overwhelming for those of us that don’t have a graphic design degree.
As with Google Docs, Drive, and Sheets, Google Slides is of course free for everyone that signs up for a Google account.
Keynote is the presentation tool that comes preloaded on Apple products such as iMacs and Macbooks. Similar to Google Slides, Keynote provides a pretty familiar interface and set of capabilities that are accessible to anyone familiar with PowerPoint. The aesthetically pleasing, more minimalist user interface is nice to look at, but the stripped-back design makes for a slightly less user-friendly experience. Functions are not as clearly labeled as some of Keynote’s competitors.
The most obvious downside to Keynote is that it is not accessible to everyone, only Apple users, and not being web-based means that using it across devices and in collaboration with others is a challenge. As with Slides, Keynote is built for one-directional communication that allows little room for structured audience interaction.
Apple users pay enough for their tech, so the silicon valley giants have been good enough to kick in their presentation builder for free.
Prezi, like Google Slides, is a web-based presentation tool which means it retains an element of accessibility that is lost with Keynote. Prezi’s great strength is animation. It is not a platform for the creatively faint-hearted. But, if you have the vision and the skills, it is possible to produce visually stunning presentations that will “wow” your audience much more than a standard PowerPoint presentation.
In the world of presentations delivered through video conferencing platforms, Prezi is an interesting option for creating visually engaging presentations. It also has a function for presenting content laid over the presenter’s video feed, which is pretty innovative.
The downside with Prezi is the need for a high degree of technical skill to create a very good set of slides. Being web-based allows for collaboration, but attempting to do this with less technically capable colleagues can be tricky due to the complexity of creating visuals from scratch. Prezi also does not allow for audience contributions or engagement.
Prezi has three payment tiers and their free version offers a portion of its complete list of features.
If it’s pre-designed templates you’re looking for, Canva is the presentation tool for you. Most presentation tools, including PowerPoint, now offer templates and design shortcuts to get you started with a good-looking set of slides. Canva takes this feature to the next level thanks to designed templates for seemingly every purpose and theme. This should be a contender for presenters who have the expertise or the time to design their ideal slide deck.
Sometimes the problem with the variety and range provided by Canva is that you can scroll endlessly in search of the perfect template, which sometimes limits how much this convenience can be considered a time-saver. Also, some of the templates are not freely available . . and of course, you can guarantee that they want the ones that you have to pay for.
Canva, like some of the other tools listed here, offers a free tier for users. This allows anyone to get a taste of what Canva has to offer without the full bells and whistles experience.
If a good presentation is all about how it looks, Beautiful.ai is a lesser-known presentation platform that may be worth exploring. With sleek and modern-looking templates and automatic formatting, this is the tool for creating slides that convey a sense of professionalism while not being boring. Again, having an eye for these things and some sense of what you want it to look like is helpful, but it is Beautiful.ai that makes the process as smooth and easy as possible.
Again, like many others, Beautiful a.i only facilitates one-way communication and structured audience interaction, which is the presenter's responsibility, rather than being built into the platform's design.
Beautiful.ai works on a “freemium” model, where you can access limited functionality for free, but to get the most out of the tool, you need to pay a subscription.
The vast majority of users will have used and experimented with both of these tools and will be debating which best meets their needs. The thing is, they are one and the same. Those who love Google’s suite of tools will naturally drift towards GS, while those loyal to Microsoft will stick with PowerPoint.
When it comes to which one is better, we think we should look at one of the alternatives listed above. In this cluttered field of contenders, there is one tool that offers a unique experience. Mentimeter provides a litany of benefits to both the presenter and the audience. Presenters can get instant feedback and establish a connection from the very first slide.
Audience members and voters can quickly and easily take part in a meeting or class without the need to raise a hand or speak over everyone else. Likewise, gathering actionable insights or improving efficiency and effectiveness has never been easier.
The familiarity of the user interface, ease of collaboration, level of design skill required, whether you want to engage your audience, and of course cost are all factors worth considering when making your choice. But finding the option that strikes a pleasing balance between all these qualities is probably the ultimate aim.