by Kris Turner
Ah, PowerPoint. The old standby, always there when you are in dire need of a professional and (relatively) simple-to-create presentation.
Everyone knows it, everyone feel comfortable with it. Well, almost everyone.
If you’re like me, you may like to break out of your comfort zone from time to time and try something new. I did a Cool Tools presentation last year on a few PowerPoint alternatives that may help you try something new and impress a few faculty members, attorneys, or staff along the way. None of these tools is completely new, but they are a nice alternative to the same old presentation style. All the tools here are free, but you may have to sign up for an account to use them.
Note that I am not including Prezi on my list. I do like Prezi and think that it is especially useful for presentations that you need to spice up, but I think enough librarians are aware of it that I can move on to other lesser-known tools.
Google Slides: The Google Mothership continues to slowly assimilate all things, including presentation tools. Slides is a very easy way to create presentations, with an intuitive interface, some nice fresh templates and designs, and most handily, a way to access your slides anywhere via the Cloud. The final look is very similar to PowerPoint, so you aren’t going to shock many people with the look of a final Slides presentation, but it is still different enough to provide a breathe of fresh air.
Powtoon: The polar opposite of Google Slides is Powtoon. With Powtoon, you can create an animated video that is very dynamic and eye-catching. Instead of a true presentation tool, this video could be played for a group to showcase an idea or embedded in a website to promote your library or services. The learning curve here is somewhat steep and the look is a little cartoony, so be aware of what tone you want to establish. But if you really want catch someone’s attention, check out Powtoon.
Zoho Docs: Zoho Docs is part of a larger suite of office tools that lives entirely in the cloud. Zoho looks and acts like an offspring of Google Slides and PowerPoint, and produces a nice, clean presentation that is very easy to use. Like Google Slides, Zoho’s final product resembles PowerPoint, so this is another good tool if you’re interested in a new production setting while producing a result that will be similar to what you’re used to seeing.
Adobe Voice: Adobe Voice is unique in this list in that you can download the App and create the entire video presentation right on your iPad. You sign up for a free account (with email, Facebook or Adobe ID) and are ready to go. You can create a video using music, photos, and animation very quickly. I saw this tool at another presentation at AALL (25 Free Technologies for Law Libraries…great session!) and had to try it. I was able to create a raw but usable video in 45 minutes (that included learning how to use the app) that night. This is good for highlighting your library or service in a quick video that looks professional.
EMaze: This one is my personal favorite. With EMaze, you can create a presentation that follows an order much like PowerPoint, but the environment is completely different. Your template can be a 3D model of a city or outer space, a museum gallery or a wide range of other backgrounds (some free, some ‘premium,’ though there are enough free choices to keep me happy). While this one isn’t as easy to learn as Zoho Docs or Google Slides, it is still relatively painless to understand, and the end result is unique yet familiar enough that I think the learning curve is worth it.
There you have it—five new (and free!) tools to explore and use. There are many other tools out there, so please share any that you enjoy (Slideshark? Visme? Keynote? Haiku Deck?) Remember, be daring, be brave…move beyond PowerPoint. Happy presenting!