PowerPoint is a dinosaur. What other program are you using, that you’ve been using since 1987? Yes, you can still pull together a swoon-worthy presentation in PowerPoint—if you’re an expert, and if you’re very patient. But even if you’re both, we’re long past the days of “default” software. So let’s talk options.

1) Canva is quick and dirty, and it doesn’t show. When you’re under deadline, that’s an amazing quality. If you need a presentation, pronto—or a graphic, poster, custom Pinterest button, doggy wedding invitation, etc.—there’s a template for that!

Canva is a cloud-based, drag-and-drop marvel with graphs, limited free stock photos and limitless $1-per-use photos. You can upload your own images and edit in-app, and other Canva users can have editing privileges to your project, all for the low, low price of…nothing! That’s right, at it’s most basic (yet very serviceable) level, Canva is free. (If you want to say, save your logo and branded colors, it’ll run you $12.95 per user per month.)

2) Google Slides is quick and dirty, and it kind of shows. But it doesn’t have to. What we mean is, customization is lacking and after awhile templates seem limited. But when you want to spice things up, you can buy fresh templates from third party sites—and you can afford to, since the app is free.

As a cloud-based platform, Google Slides is wi-fi accessible, and it plays well with PowerPoint. But where it really shines—where all G Suite options shine—is when you’re working collaboratively. So you’re in Los Angeles on a Mac, co-creating an investors’ pitch with a buddy on a PC in Singapore, and it has to be vetted by your boss, hiking Peru with a smartphone? No problem, G Sweeeet!

3) Bells and whistles alert! Visme is easy-to-use but fabulously customizable. And you’ll save time, because what takes 3-5 steps in PowerPoint take 1-2 steps in Visme. (Hello, off-screen partying!) There are templates for presentations, infographics, reports and even wireframes. You can add animation, sound and interactive features and share your projects via a web link. Plus, the image/icon library is insane!

But all that fancy stuff will cost you. Visme has tiered pricing, from free (and basically useless) to $57/month (and fantastic). So if you’re not making tons of presentations (like, if you’re calling Ethos3 and letting us deal with the stressful stuff, because yay, offscreen partying, and also, we’re patient PowerPoint experts, plus we use Visme, too), then it’s probably not worth your while.

The Takeaway: These options pretty much stick to the slideshow model, which is, in hearts and minds, interchangeable with PowerPoint. (Who hasn’t called a presentation a “powerpoint,” little p’s?) But remember that von Restorff effect we’ve mentioned? The element of surprise? If you’re interested in software that veers away from slideshows, stay tuned. That’s a post for another day!

We also have thoughts on the presentation apps Slidebean, Microsoft Sway and Flowvella, if you want to catch up.


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