Here we provide you with a comprehensive rundown of the best free PowerPoint alternatives out there, weighing up their pros and cons, and asking the question: Is there one presentation tool to rule them all?
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, an audience engagement platform. All of this plus great design makes creating beautiful slides quick and easy. Likewise, Collaboration and the Mentimote make for a seamless experience for you and your team, whether you’re building or presenting your slide deck.
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. Interaction, engagement, and inclusion are no longer an occasional novelty but are becoming an expectation in increasingly varied aspects of our daily lives… and presentations and meetings are the latest addition to that list. 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.
The new OG in the presentation tool arena. 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 it’s capabilities and the layout of the interface.
The accessibility of a web-based tool (it is free) and Slides’ collaboration capabilities means that it is a very popular choice for a variety of users. Some drawbacks include that Slides is designed to work like traditional presentation slide decks, that give great support for speakers, but give little consideration to the audience and their voice. Slides also suffers 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.
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 labelled 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.
Prezi, like Google Slides, is a web-based presentation tool that 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.
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 design templates for seemingly every purpose and theme. This should definitely 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 the one you really want is the one that you have to pay for.
If, for you, 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 of the others, Beautiful.i only facilitates one-way communication and structured audience interaction is the responsibility of the presenter, rather than being built into the design of the platform. Additionally, 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.
So, is there one presentation tool in this cluttered field of contenders that will assume the PowerPoint mantle and become the dominant platform going forward? Well, the short answer is: No. The beauty of this explosion of productivity tools for teaching, public speaking, and everyday meetings is that there is great variety and the possibility to find the platform for you.
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.
Find out why Mentimeter is the presentation tool for time and design conscious leaders who also want to collaborate with ease and engage their audience, right here.