episode 38: Alternatives to PowerPoint

To “PowerPoint” is a verb in both corporate and education circles, which speaks to the dominance of Microsoft PowerPoint in the presentation industry – and that is not a bad thing as Microsoft continues to evolve the software. But there are other options in use, all with high points and advantages. Troy, Sandy and Nolan spend this episode reviewing the ones they know are out there and use for projects.



  • Nolan: Keynote remains an excellent and slick program, but obviously only for Mac users. I used to do all my own presentations in Keynote, but after becoming a PowerPoint MVP and doing so much training for people who were not working in Keynote, I completely switched to PowerPoint. These days, we do only a handful of Keynote presentations a year.
  • Troy: Keynote I believe is the second highest use presentation software. As a long time user of Keynote, since it was released, I can say that Keynote was superior to PowerPoint in nearly all aspects back then. But over the past few years, PowerPoint has continuously evolved and gotten better, where Keynote is virtually the same as when it was released.


Google Slides

  • Troy: I am going to have to take a pass on this one. I have not even opened a file in Google Slides in years.
  • Nolan: We recently did our first Google Slide presentation. The presentation was nice, but obviously it’s a little challenging and very slim-featured. I see a lot of young companies and startups wanting to use it; it is free, online, easily shareable, simple.
  • Sandy: I’ve only had to make edits to a collaborative project a client. It was more of an exercise than a presentation need.



  • Troy: Prezi should be stronger contender in the presentation space. Its core is aligned with so many great presentation concepts – non-linear feel, no templatization of content, ability to use many advanced file formats like importing PDFs. It has an online version, and a standalone install version. But I have not explored the new, completely refreshed Prezi app, hoping all these attributes are still there – and more.
  • Sandy: I have not used Prezi for several years and my clients are not requesting it. But, I’m curious to learn more. They really strive for a better storytelling tool. The Guild is hosting a webinar with Prezi Co-founder and CEO, Peter Arvai in October and we will get a peek at Prezi Next, plus a look at how Prezi will support next-generation presentations with augmented reality.
  • Nolan: I have stopped doing Prezi, mostly because clients stopped asking for it.


Haiku Deck

  • Nolan: Haiku deck did a Presentation Guild webinar recently and I learned some things. It’s simple and bare, though that I can’t see using it professionally.
  • Sandy: I’ve only had one presenter use Haiku Deck in a professional environment and the show producers required that it be converted to PowerPoint.
  • Troy: Right or wrong, I do not put Haiku Deck in the professional corporate communication arena. Its design and storytelling methodology are really great, and refreshing. But things like its imagery search are more cliché overall.



  • Troy: Love/hate feelings about this one. Both are great applications, but generally designers using them know little about presentation design. I often admire the layout and visual ideas, then cringe at the practical use of those layouts and visuals. Things do not align from page to page so the audience is distracted with content jumping around. The content is set for print, not viewing 60′ away, and I see a lot of  contrast issues. On the PDF side, when done right, a PDF can be a perfect solution for presentation delivery – as long as there are different expectations over true presentation software.
  • Nolan: We always recommend people deliver PDFs to clients rather than PPT files, so in a way, it doesn’t matter what the source program is, but just like there is a psychological block to using PPT for print docs, there’s the same using IND for screen presentations.
  • Sandy: Don’t use either for presentation design.


Microsoft Sway

  • Troy: Okay, can any of us honestly say we have used Sway for a real project? I have not, only played with it to experience it and be familiar, but it has not even been project request or question.
  • Nolan: Pass.
  • Sandy: I tried, but gave up.


Web and mobile versions of PowerPoint should be recognized as options beyond the traditional install 

  • Sandy: I like them. These tools make it easy to check presentations that arrive via email.
  • Troy: The web version and mobile versions are pretty amazing – now. I do not see a lot of creation on the mobile version, but I know a lot of education is using the web version. I also think there is a mental disconnect as the desktop and these two versions are the same thing.



  • Troy: I feel legacy options like Flash and Director are all dead at this point. There are several specialty software options that are far to niche for this conversation.
  • Nolan: In my agency days, we were constantly looking for new ways to present: iPads, Prezi, Keynote, multiple screens in a small room, sometimes we went old school with no on screen help or using whiteboards, blackboards or pinboards.
  • Sandy: The Presentation Guild has a list of other software options. Many are web-based, others just have small user groups.



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