Some of us have been using PowerPoint for so long that had we been earning achievements for every bullet point we created, many of us would be at the Revered PowerPoint Guru level by now. And while PowerPoint is a great tool for quickly putting together slides, you might have started wondering if there's anything else.
Fortunately there are several alternatives for creating presentations. Some are programs that, like PowerPoint, must be downloaded to your computer while others require no download and are instead accessed and operated through your browser. Below is a short list of just a few you might want to check out for creating your next presentation.
Zoho is a presentation tool accessed through a browser. After navigating to the Zoho site athttp://show.zoho.com/login.do, you're prompted to sign in by either creating a new account or using your Google, Yahoo, or Facebook login information. Once signed in, you'll find yourself at the Zoho dashboard. Here you can create a new slideshow, import an existing one, or browse for public presentations. You can also set viewing permissions for your own presentations as either public or private and either read-only or edit. You can also choose the remote capability and invite others to join you for a live webinar. And if you need help at any time, there's a Zoho tour and demo offered on the dashboard page.
Google has hosted a free, online presentation tool since September 2007. Anyone with a Google account can access this tool by signing into their account andclicking this URL: http://docs.google.com. If you visit the site and have never before created a Google document, you'll see a screen similar to the one in the image at right.
As the floating tooltip suggests, you can either create a new document or upload an existing one. To start a new presentation, just click “Create new” in the left sidebar. This brings up a drop down menu where you can choose to create a new presentation or even text documents, spreadsheets, forms, or drawings. Google also has templates available for each document type.
If you choose presentation from the menu, a blank presentation interface is created that looks like the image below. From here, you can edit the presentation in much the same manner as you would a PowerPoint presentation. Like all Google Docs, you can choose to share your presentation with others and set their permissions to be edit or read-only. You can also use Google chat to communicate with others while both of you are viewing your document.
By using 280 Slides, you can quickly and easily put together slides for a presentation. The tool, found athttp://280slides.com/, offers the ability to save and download your presentation, although you'll be prompted to register once you choose this option. All files are downloaded in PowerPoint format so you can use them to present offline, but you can also choose to present directly from the site. While this tool is great for a quick and simple presentation, it might lack some features, such as animations, that you might be accustomed to using with PowerPoint.
While Zoho, Google Docs, and 280 Slides offer an experience very similar to that of PowerPoint, Prezi (http://prezi.com) offers a whole new way of setting up presentations. Instead of creating a collection of slides, Prezi is one slide with many embedded within. At first this might sound impossible, but by viewing Prezis set up by others on the site, you can quickly see how well this can work. Here's a link to one created by a consulting firm about stormwater management: http://prezi.com/-79j4ouveyun/design-manual-for-green-stormwater-infrastructure.
Because it does take a little practice to figure out how to set up and maneuver between “slides,” Prezi offers several resources to help you on your way. But the best way to learn is to just start making a presentation.
While anyone can register and create a Prezi for free, there are also some paid options. By paying an annual fee, you can make your content private, replace the Prezi logo with your own, have more storage space for your Prezis, or set up a Prezi offline.
After you've finished your Prezi, you can show it by accessing it online, download it and launch it offline, or you can grab the code for it and embed it on a Web site.
OpenOffice is a free, open-source program available for download at http://www.openoffice.org. This program has many features similar to those provided in Microsoft Office. According to the site, "OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, and more." Once you install and launch the program, you can choose the presentation tool, known as Impress, from the first screen. A window will pop up asking if you want to begin with a blank presentation, use a template, or open an existing presentation. A presentation wizard is available to walk you through choosing a slide design, output medium, and default animations. Once you get into the program, you'll see it's very similar to PowerPoint in its menus, features, and functionality. You can even use this program to open PowerPoint presentations, although some graphics might not display correctly.
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