PowerPoint. Everyone’s used it, everyone’s heard of it, and a lot of people are pretty tired of it. Have you found yourself seeking an exciting new angle to approach your presentations from? If so, try these five fresh PowerPoint alternatives on for size.
Before you decide which method to present with, though, ask yourself what purposes your presentation materials have. Critically thinking about how your materials are going to support you will help your presentation be more interesting and memorable. For each PowerPoint alternative we’ve listed below, we’ve included a few of its best scenarios and benefits, so that you can pick the best presentation method for your purposes.
PowerPoint Alternative #1: Printed Handouts
An often-overlooked option for presenters is to provide a simple handout, instead of putting together a full-blown presentation.
- Kicking off new projects
- Meetings with a light tone
- Content that your team might want to reference later
- Meetings outside of the office
- Being prepared ahead of time so you won’t have to fuss with technology
Handouts allow your audience members to interact with the materials, and take your presentation home with them. Your attendees:
- Can read while you speak, benefitting from both auditory and visual learning aids
- Won’t have to divert attention to taking notes
- Will be able to focus more energy into thinking about what you’re presenting on
- Can share your work with others
Handouts in action:
One person who strongly advocates the use of handouts is Edward Tufte, a pioneer in the presenting world. In his words:
Overhead projectors and PowerPoint tend to leave no traces; instead give people paper, which they can read, take away, show others, make copies, and come back to you in a month and say “Didn’t you say this last month? It’s right here in your handout.”
A paper record tells your audience that you are serious, responsible, exact, credible.
How to pull it off:
Once you’ve decided to make a handout, how are you going to make sure it’s memorable and fun? We recommend Canva as a free, easy, impressive way to put together handouts. Canva allows you to generate all kinds of different content, and it makes you look like a design god with very little effort on your part. Here’s an example made by our Chief Inspiration Officer, Catherine:
PowerPoint Alternative #2: Flip-Boards / Whiteboards
If you have a dynamic presentation style, and like to sketch or scribble, you might try a using a flip board or whiteboard to present with, in lieu of slides.
- Topics you can draw diagrams to represent
- If you like drawing or sketching
- Involving your audience in brainstorming exercises
- The audience will be captivated by your physical interaction with the board
- You can shift gears easily and use different colors, lines, and shapes to make sure everyone understands
- You can invite team members to be involved at the board
- Doodling can facilitate funny situations easily, which keeps audiences entertained and engaged
- You have the opportunity to really shine as a presenter, because all eyes are on you
Flip boards in action:
Simon Sinek, author and well-known TED talker, often uses flip boards to sketch and demonstrate concepts during his talks, like his highly-popular Start with Why:
How to pull it off:
There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when presenting with a flip chart, whiteboard, paper tablet, etc:
- Use bold colors. Yellow, orange, light blue, etc. markers can be very hard to see, especially from the back of the room. Test your markers beforehand and make sure you are well-stocked with easily-seen colors (that aren’t dried out!).
- Practice beforehand. Find the balance between large enough to be read from the back, and small enough to fit on your board, beforehand. Practice writing at a whiteboard angle, which is very different from writing on paper. If you’re nervous about drawing on the fly, you can even lightly draw diagrams you know you’ll be making in pencil if you’re using a flip board, and trace over them with markers when you’re presenting.
- Check for glare. If you’re using a whiteboard, scope out the room with the lighting you’re intending on using, and make sure there’s not too much of a glare for anyone in the audience.
- Speak toward the audience. It’s easy to get caught up drawing or writing on a whiteboard, and to keep speaking when your back is to your team. Just remember, if your mouth is pointed at the audience, they’re going to have an easier time hearing you!
- Write legibly. Don’t get caught up trying to write so quickly that no one can read what you’ve written.
- Include visuals. If you’re using a whiteboard or a flipboard, don’t just use it to write words – even lines and shapes can make an otherwise boring whiteboard much more fun and interesting.
PowerPoint Alternative #3: No Slides
If you are really comfortable with your material, try delivering a talk without any slides at all. Think about some of the greatest storytellers you’ve known — how many of them used slides?
- You don’t need to show data to prove a point
- Your meeting topic can involve a lot of discussion
- You’re confident about presenting and keeping people entertained
- The content for your meeting can be covered without visual aids, screenshots, examples, etc.
- There’s nothing to distract your audience or teammates from giving you their full attention
- Attendees will learn more about your personality through watching you present
- The situation lends itself nicely to personal interaction
- You’re more capable of moving around the presentation space
- You can pack a very powerful punch by moving your audience with your delivery alone
See it in action:
Some of history’s greatest speakers didn’t use any visuals — just think about some of the most famous speeches you know of. For example, would President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address have been so famous if it’d been made in PowerPoint?
Sir Ken Robinson does an excellent job of addressing creativity in the standard educational system in this TED talk, without using a single presentation aid:
How to pull it off:
- Bring physical objects or other props, especially interactive ones
- Incorporate other senses — play music or audio, for example
- Rehearse enough that you can deliver without a script — you can do this in the car, while working out, etc.
- Watch the audience for visual cues you can interact with or respond to, so it feels fresh and unscripted
PowerPoint Alternative #4: Mind Maps
Mind-mapping apps are great tools for capturing and connecting ideas. They help you understand how you got to where you are, the motivations behind ideas, cause and effect, etc. Creating a mind map during a meeting can be a stimulating experience for your whole team and will definitely keep your audience engaged.
- Demonstrates connected concepts better than many other methods of presenting
- Helps keep non-linear ideas organized in an easier-to-understand manner
- Provides an interesting visual for gathering input, rather than presenting findings
Mind-Mapping apps to try:
- iMindMap – Featuring one of the most elegant presentation modes available for mind-mapping apps, iMindMap is available for Windows and Mac OS. There’s a free trial, as well as Home & Student / Ultimate editions of the software available.
- NovaMind – Available for Windows Desktop and Mac OS X, NovaMind is in beta for a number of other platforms as well. The app breaks your maps up into slides you can present, and makes moving through your branches and nodes intuitive and effortless. Both the Windows and OS X versions have free trials.
- MindManager 8 – If you want to have a lot of control over how much information is shown or hidden within your mind maps, and especially during presentation, MindManager 8 is for you. It’s available for Mac and PC, and you can get a free trial to see if you like it before buying.
- iThoughts – Creating Mind Maps on the go, or while passing a device around the meeting, can be easy with iThoughts. You can get it for your iPhone, your iPad, and your Mac in the App Store.
PowerPoint Alternative #5: Haiku Deck
Of course we have to mention Haiku Deck! It’s very near and dear to our hearts, as you may imagine — but not just because it’s our job. Haiku Deck embraces our favorite aspects of presentations and storytelling: simplicity, beauty, and fun.
- Being inspiring and evocative
- Presentations that benefit from strong visuals and bold text
- Large groups that wouldn’t be able to see smaller text from the back of the room
- Makes it quick and easy to create gorgeous presentations
- Supports you as a storyteller with stunning visuals to pull your audience in
- iPhone remote allows you to present without having to bring your iPad or computer to the meeting
- It’s available on multiple platforms (iPhone, iPad, PC / Mac / Chromebook via the web)
- Your slides will look clean, attractive, and professional — without the ‘template’ feel of a PowerPoint or Keynote slideshow
- You can print handouts from your deck
- Your materials will be available online (as long as you save them as public or restricted) so you can share with your team
Someone who uses Haiku Deck:
Lots of people use Haiku Deck, for a wide range of purposes! Here are a few good examples to check out:
The MindMapping Road – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
So, what PowerPoint alternatives do you use?
Have another PowerPoint alternative not listed here? Any other apps you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!