Whether you are preparing a presentation for a class assignment, getting ready to teach a course, presenting at a conference or creating a video presentation for the web, this guide will give you options for moving beyond PowerPoint and for integrating mobile technology into your presentations.
If you are interested in other training information on this or other technology topics, I would recommend taking a look at the videos on Lynda.com. The Law School Library has a subscription to Lynda.com; students interested in trying it out can stop by the reference desk for access.
PowerPoint, one piece of the Microsoft Office Suite, is perhaps the best known tool for creating presentations. While everyone has seen dry presentations consisting primarily of text on slides, PowerPoint can do much more than this, including offering embedded content such as images, videos, audio files and even dynamic content from the internet.
Microsoft provides a detailed tutorial to help you get started with PowerPoint, but if you would prefer to see the editing process in action, check out the video tutorial below.
These tools will help you to do more with your PowerPoint slides.
Keynote is often thought of as the Mac equivalent of PowerPoint and offers many of the same features. While it is primarily used by Mac users, presentations can be output as PDFs or converted to PowerPoint formats, so you can deliver your presentation virtually anywhere. Note, however, that the formatting may change some when you convert your presentation to the PowerPoint format, so it is always a best practice to review it after conversion to ensure that all of your layouts remain the same and to make any necessary tweaks.
Keynote is available for Macs and for iOS devices.
If you want to take a look at Keynote before you decide whether to use it or if you want a tutorial on how to use it, Apple offers several short videos that introduce various Keynote functions. The video below also gives an overview of the basics of Keynote that is good for someone who is just getting started.
Impress, a part of the OpenOffice suite of tools, is a great open source alternative for creating presentations. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems and also has ports for other operating systems. Documents created using Impress can be saved in several formats, including the OpenDocument Format and as a PowerPoint file. Versions of Impress are available from both Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
If you think Impress might meet your needs, watch this video from Lynda.com to see how it works. (Note: Because there are two different versions of Impress, one from OpenOffice and one from LibreOffice, some details may differ from the tutorial below.)
Google Slides is part of the free Google Drive suite. It is great for creating simple presentations, especially if you are collaborating with other people on your slides. The tool can be used in virtually any browser and also on most mobile devices. While not as fully-featured as PowerPoint or Keynote, it is a good alternative for those who want to collaborate or work in the cloud.
Google Slides is to PowerPoint as Google Docs is to Word. It allows users with a free Google Drive account to create quick and easy presentations. While it doesn't have quite as many features as PowerPoint or some of the other alternatives in this guide, it makes collaboration simple and works well for basic presentations. Google has a great tutorial to walk you through its features or you can watch the video below.
If you want to view your Google Slides on the go, you can do that via your browser or via one of these apps.
Zoho Show is a great option for those who want to be able to access their presentation online on any device or who are creating a presentation as part of a group collaboration. Much like the Google Drive suite of apps, Zoho offers a variety of productivity tools that can be used via the cloud, including Zoho Show, Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheets. Slides created in Zoho Show can be exported in either the OpenDocument Presentation format or any of several PowerPoint format, which makes it compatible with several types of software. Best of all, it is available as part of the free Zoho subscription.
Prezi allows users to create dynamic "zooming" presentations. If you have already created a PowerPoint presentation, it also offers an option to import your existing slides to Prezi. Presentations are created, stored and delivered online, but premium subscribers also have the option for an offline version of the tool. The tool offers both free and pay versions and students and professors are eligible for a free educational account with some additional features. Please also note that Prezi is not currently accessible to those using screenreaders.
Prezi also offers mobile apps for those who want to use view or display their Prezis on the go.
This add-on for Prezi will allow you to embed a realtime Twitter search in your Prezi. Use it to take feedback or questions from your audience or to see recent tweets on any topic.
Haiku Deck makes it easy to create and deliver presentations from your iPad. The free app helps you to create image- and idea-focused presentations rather than text heavy ones by including a Creative Commons image search option in the app as well as the ability to quickly import your own images or insert graphs. Finished presentations can be shared publicly, kept private so that only you can view them or restricted so that only people with the presentation URL can view them. Slide decks can also be exported as PowerPoint or Keynote files. A great option for iPad users.
Scrollshow is a new option for creating and delivering presentations from your iPad. The app offers a unique horizontal scrolling animation for each presentation rather than slides. Users can vary scrolling speed, animation direction and other elements to give the presentation an elaborate design that makes for a very different type of presentation than is offered by most other similar tools. Currently, the app is only available for iPads.
Beamer is a great presentation option for those with a background using LaTeX for document production. Beamer is a LaTeX class specifically for creating slides and presentations. The typical output is a PDF file and Beamer makes it easy to change the layout of your slides if you also want to generate a handout with the same content. This probably isn't the best option for those who aren't familiar with LaTeX, but if you are comfortable with LaTeX, and particularly if your slides are based on content that is already in a document made using LaTeX, it is a great option.
This video will give you a good sense of how Beamer works. This is the first video in a series that also explain other more detailed aspects of Beamer.
For those with some experience with computer programming or HTML/CSS, another option is to create a browser-based presentation using one of these tools. If you are comfortable with tinkering with code a bit, these presentations can look professional, incorporate nice animations and only require an internet connection and a modern browser.
Slid.es (previously known as Rvl.io) makes it easy to create presentations using Reveal.js. The tool create presentations that are automatically mobile friendly and work in all browsers. It also offers the ability to make presentations public or private and an option to export your final presentation. And, for those who are more comfortable with HTML, you can also edit the code directly if you prefer.
If you would rather create your own browser-based presentation, these resources will help you with the process, even if you don't have a lot of experience with web design.
Whether you are creating a presentation to be displayed on the internet or you just want to have a more dynamic presentation, animated presentations can be a nice option. Depending on the tool you use, these can range from professional presentations that incorporate limited animations to cute cartoons and can have voiceover or can simply play while you speak. The tools suggested on this page are just a few of the available options for creating animated videos.
PowToon allows users to create animated presentations that can be used as a standalone video with voiceover or as slides for an in-person presentation. It offers drag-and-drop animations and enough options to fit many different needs. With a free account, you can create videos up to 5 minutes in length and various paid accounts offer additional functionality. There is also separate pricing for students and teachers. PowToon offers a number of tutorials to help users get started with the tool and the video below gives you a sense of how it works.
Go!Animate is another nice option for creating online video presentations. Available in free, education, and business editions, this tool creates cartoons to which you can add your own voiceover. If you would prefer, you can also use their text-to-speech tool to use one of the provided voices. While not intended for slideshow-style presentations, this is a good tool for creating videos, whether they are for training purpese, part of a class project, a marketing tool or just for fun. In addition to the video below, Go!Animate offers a few other training videos on their website.
Wideo is a nice tool for creating animated videos. It offers free and premium plans that will give you the flexibility to create whatever you need. Regardless of the plan you choose, you will also have access to icons and images that come pre-loaded into Wideo as well as the ability to upload your own images and icons for animation. Wideo is easy to use and makes it simple to create professional looking animations in no time. If you want to learn more about it, watch the video below or check out their tutorials.
Regardless of which tool you use to create your slides, you will likely want to be able to share them once they are completed. These tools are some of the best for posting your slides online, sharing them with your audience in real time or after your presentation. They can also be useful for including your slides on a website or blog.
Slideshare is a great option for sharing your presentations online. You can upload your slides to Slideshare and from there it is easy for anyone to find your slides, share them via social media or embed them on a website or blog. A great option if you want to embed your slides online. Some people even use it to display resumes. (Note: Some fonts and other formatting details may display differently on Slideshare, so it is always best to review your slides after uploading them.)
Speaker Deck is another option for sharing your presentations online. It is similar to the style of Slideshare, but is ad free. Also, when you embed slideshows, they will automatically resize to the size of the space in which they are being embedded.
SnackTools offers two other nice options for sharing your slides online. The first, SlideSnack, is similar to Slideshare or SpeakerDeck in that it can just display your slides online, but it also offers the additional option to add a voiceover to your slides to create an online presentation that can be posted on YouTube. You must first save your slides as a PDF document before uploading them, but this means that SlideSnack can accomodate any types of slides that can be saved as PDFs. The video below offers a sense of how it works.
The second tool, FlipSnack, also works for any PDF document and it creates an animated flipbook of the document that can be embedded on any website. The video below shows FlipSnack in action.
Presefy allows you to store your presentations online so that you are always ready to present them anywhere and from virtually any device. Once you upload your presentation to Presefy, you can also share it in real time with your audience in any browser. This lets audience members follow along with your slides as you speak. It is available in both free and paid versions.
SlideShark is an app for mobile devices that will allow you to present your slides from your mobile device. It also allows you to upload your presentations to store them in the cloud.
Screencast-O-Matic makes it easy to create screencasts without downloading software. It works on both Macs and PCs and can be used to create demonstration videos or to create video versions of your presentation. The free version supports videos up to 15 minutes in length and a pro version is available with additional features as well. The video below shows Screencast-O-Matic in action.
Another great option for quick screencasts is Screenr. This tool works on both Macs and PCs and doesn't require any download or installation. Just click record and you are ready to start creating your screencast. Finished videos can be embedded on any website or uploaded to YouTube.
Jing is another free and easy way to create screencasts. Created by TechSmith, the makers of SnagIt and Camtasia, Jing is focused on making short videos of 5 minutes or less, but it makes creating and sharing screencasts very quick, particularly for those who are familiar with TechSmith products.
This fun slideshow shares some important tips about creating engaging and entertaining presentations. For more tips, try Lynda.com's training on Effective Public Speaking (login information available to Harvard Law School students at the Reference Desk).
Check out these articles for more advices on crafting an engaging and effective presentation: