Tired Presentations? Alternatives to PowerPoint

We recently discussed some top tips for creating great presentations. However, in this post we’d like to discuss some great alternatives to just defaulting to Microsoft PowerPoint. There are a growing number of people now relying on cloud based Internet hosted applications for presentations, without the need for desktop software. Not only does this make presentations easily accessible, it also provides some fresh alternatives to the look and feel of your presentations.

We’re not here to bag PowerPoint at all, it’s a great piece of software that many of us rely on daily. However, since it was launched in 1990 there have been a range of other presentation tools that have come onto the scene. We’d like to share some of the other alternatives out there that might be better suited to you, make your job easier and help your next presentation stand out from the norm.

Prezi

Prezi was launched in 2009 and is a web based presentation application that brings a new perspective to the traditional whiteboard and slide formats for sharing of ideas.

We all know just how important visuals are in your presentation. That’s one of the reasons why the zoom functionality of Prezi is so popular, it allows you to zoom and rotate around your page or ‘virtual canvas’ to help the audience visualise your ideas. These may be in text, images or even video.

Many presentations are also not linear, often there are many concepts that are inter-related. Instead of jumping back and forth in your presentation deck, with Prezi you just zoom up, down, left or right as you please. If your presentation is more linear, you can even create a storyline to take your audience on a journey.

Prezi also has a cool Prezi Viewer iPad App so you can present from your iPad.

Google Docs Presentation

Google Docs is actually a suite of tools on the web that allows you to create and edit documents online so you can collaborate with others in real time.

The Google Docs Presentation component has come a long way since it was launched in 2007. Not only can you create your presentation online, you can store it there so you can access it almost anywhere. There is also a great selection of interesting themes, custom drawings and animations to make your presentation more exciting.

Another great feature of Google Docs is you can collaborate in real time with others whether they’re in the same room as your or on the other side of the world.

Google Docs is also easy to access on any device so with many of us now having tablets and smartphones, this functionality is really handy.

Keynote

Keynote is developed by Apple and was first launched in 2003.

Keynote is a favourite with the Apple crowd and for good reason. It’s a very advanced presentation tool. One of the main benefits of Keynote is that it’s compatible with all your Apple devices and by using iCloud you can create presentations and access the latest version from any device. There is also a great collection of themes and we all know one thing Apple does well is design.

The software has a similar feel to PowerPoint but has it’s own unique features and functionality such as great graphic tools and drag and drop for images, video and music. You can even add on the Keynote Remote which lets you use your iPhone as a wireless controller.

SlideRocket

http://youtu.be/nija_9mLTPE

SlideRocket was founded in 2007 and is a web based presentation platform with a slick set of professional design tools with eye catching themes, charts, tables, images, audio and Flash. What is particularly cool about SlideRocket is the ability to measure how effective your presentation with the great analytics feature.

As with other web based presentation solutions, you can access SlideRocket from anywhere and make your presentations available via computer or mobile devices. SlideRocket also integrates with Google Docs and Flickr so you can pull in live data and content easily.

So there are just a few of the great alternatives to PowerPoint. Go forth and challenge yourself to try one for your next presentation. Just remember to give yourself some training time so you can learn the full functionality first before you get in front of your audience. Better yet, have a few practice runs with your friends or colleagues.

If you want some more great ways to reinvigorate and deliver your presentations, check out these handy tips for creating great presentations. If we’ve missed anything you’re using that’s not listed, please let us know in the comments.

Creating Great Presentations

We’ve all fallen into that ‘ground hog day’ trap of preparing a 100 slide presentation full of facts, data and charts that we’ve spent days preparing. Because we’ve sat there and mulled over it for so long, we’ve had time to absorb it. If we’re really honest though, do we really expect our audience to remember it all?

You’ve been there, admit it, when the first data filled slide pops up on screen and the presenters mono tone voice begins to read out the facts, you find yourself slip into an almost catatonic stare. How many wasted presentation hours do you think there are in Australia every day?

It’s quite ironic that PowerPoint can sometimes be ‘PowerLess’ if not used effectively. Some say to abandon it all together. However, for most of us it is a necessary evil and it would be nearly impossible to do our job without it. That doesn’t mean we should just settle for doing our presentations the way we always have just because it’s easy, safe and comfortable. Don’t you want to make an impact? Make a change? Win a client? Motivate your team for that next big project? Not waste yours and others time?

In an effort to change how the team at Marketing.com.au go about presenting, we’ve reviewed some very cool articles, including blog posts from Clay Johnson and Seth Godin. We also came across one particularly interesting book you may have heard of by Nancy Duarte called ‘Resonate‘. There is a hard copy version but we’re loving the interactive version for the iPad with touch animation, videos etc. a very entertaining read!

If you don’t have time to do a little reading yourself, we’ve summarised below some of the top tips we came across for a GREAT presentation:

PREPARE

  • Find out about your audience and how you can connect with them (how are you alike, create a common ground, mutual goals).
  • Diverge and converge. Begin with exploring as many ideas or facts as possible (diverge) and then narrow them down (converge) to one big idea that will have an impact on your audience.
  • Have a solid structure to your presentation (e.g problem and solution, compare and contrast, cause and effect, advantage and disadvantage).
  • Blend analytical content or facts (e.g diagrams, data, facts etc.) with emotional content (e.g stories, humour, images etc.).
  • Embrace your creative side.
  • Stories are an extremely powerful delivery tool. Remember they have a clear beginning, middle and end.
  • Avoid the inbuilt animation and sound effect options.
  • Use unique music or sound effects to your advantage to create emotion.
  • Create a moment in your presentation when you drive home your big idea. Make it dramatic and something they will remember.
  • Brevity is your friend. Seth Godin recommends no more than 6 words per slide (this is a tough one, but good food for thought).
  • Don’t waste your audiences time.
  • Create a call to action. What is the benefit or reward that will persuade your audience to change?

PRACTICE

  • Practice, Practice and Practice some more! If you know your slides well, they will move with you rather than you following them.
  • Ask friends or colleagues to watch you practice your presentation and give you feedback. You may not always have the time, but try to make it as this can help your confidence and fine tune your presentation to have the right impact.
  • Video record yourself practice so you can see what your audience will see. If you lose interest at any point watching yourself present, you know you need to change something.
  • Make cue cards or use the presentation notes on your laptop to have the detail you want to remember to talk to rather than putting it on the slide.
  • Create a written leave behind document (not a printout of your slides) that you can leave at the end of your presentation with any data you think they might be interested in.

PRESENT

  • Be early. This will give you time to prepare and relax to make sure you’re not flustered.
  • Be transparent.
  • Leave arrogance and ego at the door, it’s all about your audience.
  • Think of yourself as the mentor.
  • Don’t sit down, move around and use gestures as you present, to entertain your audience.
  • Use your voice to convey emotion and evoke interest.
  • Don’t mumble, project your voice right to the back of the room.
  • Look your audience in their eyes, create a personal connection.
  • Show your humanness when you present, it’s a great way to stand out.
  • Empathise with your audience and their situation, what they may have to sacrifice or risk.

Before you go, we thought we’d share this great quote by Henri René Albert Guy De Maupassant that is referenced in Nancy Duarte’s book ‘Resonate’:

“The public is composed of numerous groups that cry out to us: ‘Comfort me.’ ‘Amuse me.’ ‘Touch my sympathies.’ ‘Make me sad.’ ‘Make me dream.’ ‘Make me laugh.’ ‘Make me shiver.’ ‘Make me weep.’ ‘Make me think.'”

Here’s a quick clip where Nancy Duarte introduces her book ‘Resonate’:

Do you have any other tips you can share? We’d love to hear from you below.