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Anything but PowerPoint: five fresh presentation alternatives

Rick Broida | July 10, 2013
What application springs to mind when you think of creating visual aids to accompany your business presentation? For most people, it's Microsoft's PowerPoint. But that's certainly not the only game in town. Plenty of other tools and services are cooler, faster, easier to use, and--in almost all cases--less expensive.

What application springs to mind when you think of creating visual aids to accompany your business presentation? For most people, it's Microsoft's PowerPoint. But that's certainly not the only game in town. Plenty of other tools and services are cooler, faster, easier to use, and--in almost all cases--less expensive.

We've rounded up five compelling alternatives to PowerPoint, including Web apps that let you dispense with installing software, and mobile apps that allow for presentation-building (and presenting) on the go. Not included are well-known options such as Google Docs, OpenOffice, and Zoho Show, all of which offer basic slide-builders that can easily pinch-hit for PowerPoint and don't cost a dime. Those tools, however, haven't changed much in recent years.

Our goal is to showcase presentation options that will help you get your point across a little differently, so your audience's eyes don't glaze over in the middle of your pitch. And if your business saves a bit of cash in the process, all the better!

Haiku Deck (iPad)
Haiku Deck for iPad is designed to turn your ideas into beautiful presentations in about the time it takes to ride the train to work. The secret? It gives you built-in access to a wealth of free art.

Indeed, half the battle in crafting attractive slides is finding appropriate artwork to go with the text. Haiku Deck lets you add your own (from your iOS device's camera roll or from any other image library), but it can also search millions of free, Creative Commons-licensed images based on the words you've chosen for that slide.

Let's say your slide contains the word profits and the phrase 3D printing: You'll quickly get a list of thumbnails matching those terms. Tap one you like, and presto! You have the perfect background for your slide. Alternatively, you can choose a solid background color or insert your choice of a bar, pie, or numeric chart (with manually added labels and numbers).

Ultimately, Haiku Deck is all about whipping together attractive slides, and it's great for that task. When you're done, you can share your deck via Facebook, Twitter, or email. You can also grab embed code for your blog or website. On top of that, Haiku Deck lets you export your presentation for further tweaking in, say, PowerPoint or Apple's Keynote.

The app doesn't support sound, transitions, or animations, though, and you can't manually place your text or change the background color for charts. In fact, trying to make any major slide changes often causes you to lose the work you've already done. A save option is desperately needed here.

 

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