19 free tools to make your presentations pop

These free tools go far beyond PowerPoint. Use them to add polls, video, analytics and more to your next presentation.

It’s been more than 25 years since the launch of PowerPoint. Can you believe it?

In that time, people have both loved and hated it. However you feel about it, most businesspeople need some way to deliver a presentation. The good news is you’re no longer limited to PowerPoint.

There are dozens of online tools that either work with PowerPoint files or let you start from scratch to create and deliver presentations that will wow your audience.

This roundup includes tools that are free or have a free version, and excludes tools whose primary purpose is to create video.

Here’s the roundup:

1. SlideShare

SlideShare has recently gained attention as one of the best business presentation sites around. To use it, import a source file from PowerPoint, Word, PDF or other formats. (You can also import video with the paid pro version.)

With SlideShare, you can gussy up your plain PowerPoint with an embedded YouTube video or audio file to make it a more media-rich experience for viewers. Once your presentation is done, you can embed or share it widely, or post it automatically to your LinkedIn account.

Analytics rounds out the reasons why SlideShare is worth including here. For more on how to use SlideShare, read our recent roundup of SlideShare resources.

2. Google Presentations

Part of Google Drive, Google Presentations is a tool that mimics PowerPoint, but has the advantage of being online.

You can import an existing PowerPoint presentation for editing, or start from scratch with Google’s templates. There are 450+ fonts you can use, too. You can embed images and YouTube videos, but unfortunately not sound, which may limit its utility for some users.

Once your presentation is done, you can embed it, share it or publish it to the Web. The killer feature: Multiple people can work on a presentation at once.

3. Prezi

Prezi is one of the most exciting presentation tools in this roundup. Although you can import a PowerPoint presentation, the best way to experience it is to create a Prezi from scratch.

Start with a canvas, some transformation tools and some whizzy templates with exciting transitions. Group ideas in frames, and add symbols, shapes and diagrams.

A screenshot doesn’t do justice to a finished presentation, so check out some of the examples on Prezi’s site. Though using the tools can be challenging, if you stick with it, the result will be like no presentation you have ever seen.

See “7 Outstanding Presentations Using Prezi” for inspiration.

4. SlideRocket

ClearSlide just acquired SlideRocket, so I’m not sure how long it will stick around.

One of SlideRocket’s killer features is the ability to embed interactive content, such as tweets. You can also add effects to almost any element of your presentation. One of the pro features lets you use interactive forms within a presentation.

Interesting transitions include flipping, rotating and reflecting images. The animations are stunning, too. Another killer feature is the ability to show your presentation to up to 50 people online.

5. Zoho Show

Zoho Show is easy to use for anyone who is familiar with PowerPoint. It includes master slides, templates, customization, the ability to insert video and images, transitions and animations.

Interesting features include image editing, shape effects and easy flowchart building. The app allows simultaneous presentation editing by more than one person, broadcasting over the Web and the usual sharing and embedding features. Zoho Show also has automatic version tracking.

Note: At first glance, formatting choices seem limited in comparison with some of the other tools in this roundup.

6. AuthorSTREAM

AuthorSTREAM has both a Web and desktop app, and allows you to upload PowerPoint slides so you can do more with them.

The tool includes public, private and social media sharing, and the ability to password-protect presentations. It includes live broadcast, analytics, the creation of multiple customized channels, multiple video formats and uploads to YouTube, Vimeo and others.

Other online presentation tools

Still not satisfied? In addition to the options listed above, the tools below may also be useful alternatives:

7. Empressr has the standard presentation features, and allows the use of video and audio. Collaboration and sharing are included, as are analytics. It’s hard to tell whether the tool is supported because no one has updated the blog since 2010, but it remains a popular choice for those who want to improve their PowerPoint presentations.

8. HelloSlide creates automatic audio from your typed text and can translate it with the click of a button, giving your content even greater reach.

9. Jux is an image-based storytelling tool that looks great on a tablet or large screen. It could be useful for companies with great visuals. Unfortunately, Jux announced it will close on Aug. 31, 2013.

10. myBrainShark enables you to add URLs, polls, surveys and more to an existing PowerPoint presentation. It also allows for some slide editing, transitions and effects. These are limited in the free edition.

11. Knovio allows users to upload static PowerPoint presentations, and add video and audio online. It’s the baby brother of the enterprise tool KV Studio.

12. myPlick has a three-step process for uploading slides/audio, syncing and publishing/sharing. It does not appear to have any additional customization options.

13. PresentMe lets users import a presentation file, and deliver and record the presentation with their webcams. The tool then combines them so you can share to social media or view on a mobile device. It provides analytics, too.

14. PreZentit is a browser-based tool that allows easy presentation creation, collaboration and sharing. Each presentation exists as HTML, so you can edit it manually if you need to. The current tool is unsupported—a new version is on the way—but it is still online and usable.

15. SlideBoom is available in two versions. The ad-supported free version includes audio, video, animations and the ability to make graphical annotations on your slides. Analytics, private group sharing and additional security are the pro features.

16. TimeGlider is not a presentation tool but a timeline creator, so it could be the right Web tool for time-based presentations. It works best for short timelines-those with a lot of content can end up looking crowded.

17. Vcasmo allows you to upload slides and audio or video narration and combine them in a single presentation. It does not appear to include collaboration features, though you can stream video from its content delivery network. Video exporting, embed protection and customized branding are paid features.

18. Vuvox allows you to create dynamic media-rich interactive presentations by collating images, audio and video via its collage tool.

19. Zentation syncs slides and video to provide a presentation video you can upload to YouTube.

Do you have any other favorite online presentation tools you’d like to add to this list?

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. A version of this article originally appeared on The Daily Egg.


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.