PowerPoint alternatives

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 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. 

Zoho Presentation Screenshot 

Google Docs

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 andNew Google Document Screenshotclicking 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.

 Google New Presentation Screenshot

280 Slides

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.

 280 Slides Presentation Screenshot


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.

Open Office Screenshot

Post Comments (3 Total) Comment on this article

April 07, 2011

I don't see what advantages the PP alternatives have except some allow restrictions on who can use or view them. None of my work in public works is that private.

Posted By: Karl Sieg | Time: 2:51:29.393 AM

April 13, 2011

@Karl - you are right about none of our work being private - in the public sector, just about everything we do is open to the public. As for the advantages, one is that these alternatives are free so if you either don't have PP or don't want to spend the money to buy it, there are other products available at a low costs. Another is that many are available and can be used over the Internet in a browser. So if for some reason you would need to put together a presentation, but don't have access to your computer with PP, you still have another option. There is also the opportunity to collaborate with others on the same presentation without having to email files back and forth. Particularly with Google Docs - that alternative allows more than one person to work on a presentation at the same time. So you could talk/chat while adding or editing information on slides. Finally, Prezi offers a whole new way of delivering presentations. I realize not everyone is unhappy with the way PP operates, but if someone was looking for another method of delivery, Prezi offers that choice. Thanks for your comment!

Posted By: Pam Broviak | Time: 7:23:46.987 AM

July 05, 2011

Nice One

Posted By: mm01234 | Time: 10:10:35.347 AM



Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: Jerryy | Time: 5:04 AM Monday, February 02, 2015

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About the Blogger

Pam Broviak

thumbnail image A former senior editor of PUBLIC WORKS, Pam Broviak publishes the Public Works Group Blog at http://www.publicworksgroup.com/blog. (All views expressed in this blog are her own and not those of PUBLIC WORKS.)