Alternative Presentation Software

Posted on by Drew in advent speaker tips.

I’m going to look at some of those alternatives, and how you’d use them with your Notist profile.

If you present using a slide deck, then you’ll no doubt have spent more than your fair share of time using software such as Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple Keynote. Both are very capable and reliable tools, and are never a bad choice. They’re not the only options available, however.

Over recent years an increasing number of alternatives have gained traction, both in the form of traditional desktop software and some more non-traditional alternatives. I’m going to look at some of those alternatives, and how you’d use them with your Notist profile.

Desktop options

Much in the style of Powerpoint, Apache’s OpenOffice Impress is a free and open source tool for building slide decks. Like most Office-style productivity suites from anyone but Microsoft, it’s a little bit stuck in the mid-1990s in terms of user interface, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good software.

LibreOffice Impress is an alternative (with its open source roots in the same product) that looks to have a slightly better interface. Both have options for Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

For those on a Mac, Deckset is an interesting alternative that we’ve reviewed before. Rather than building slides visually yourself, Deckset automatically constructs your slides from a document in Markdown format. You can choose a theme and have control over some presentational aspects through hints in the document, but the majority of the work is done for you. It’s not the right solution for everyone, but it can be useful when putting something together quickly.

All of these desktop options export slide decks to PDF format. You can upload those PDFs directly to Notist and we’ll turn them into a set of images for displaying on the web.

Online options

There’s no denying the trend of software moving from the desktop to online services. This is as true for presentation software as much as any other. Not surprisingly, there are lots of online services that will help you design and deliver a slide presentation right from within your web browser.

Some things to look for when choosing a browser-based solution is whether the service has an offline presenting option. Conference wifi isn’t always the best, so you might want to have that offline option available as a backup. is a popular subscription service for putting together presentations in you web browser. It has lots of options for integrating online media such as YouTube videos, and functionality for collaborating in teams. Higher paid plans have an offline option.

The big unique feature offered by Prezi is a break from the traditional linear approach to slide decks. Instead, it has a very idiosyncratic zoom in/out/around approach that is as likely to leave you feeling motion sick as informed. Some people really love the style though, and they claim some interesting science behind it, so props to them for doing something completely different. Presenting offline is available through a desktop app with some higher paid plans.

Ludus is a relative newcomer that offers a very slick in-browser editing experience that makes it easy to achieve some creative visual results without needing to be a PhotoShop master. Ludus has export options to support offline presenting.

It’s easy to overlook Google Slides as a viable option for working in a browser. Part of Google’s productivity suite, Slides takes a less radical approach than some competitors, but has a robust editor and can produce some good results. As you’d expect from Google, it’s free to use. Slides can run offline if you use the Chrome browser and enable the offline sync option.

All of these browser-based services will give you a shareable web link for your deck. You can add them to a presentation on Notist by selecting the “Link to a slide deck” option and pasting in the sharing link. Notist will then embed the remote slide deck right in your page.

Options for techies

If you’re a developer or power user and aren’t afraid to roll your sleeves up and work with some HTML, CSS and JavaScript, there a few options you can use to create presentations that you might host as part of your own website.

The most popular option is Reveal.js, which is a JavaScript presentation framework contributed to heavily by the people behind mentioned above. It will turn a structured HTML document into a fully featured presentation, but you do need to be comfortable with some web development to get the most out of it. Because you can host the result anywhere, that can include on your laptop for offline presenting.

Shower is an option in a similar vein that is potentially less fully featured, but therefor less complex thean Reveal.js. Again, it needs web development skills but also gives you the ability to host the results yourself, including somewhere for offline access.

If you’re comfortable with React.js, then Spectacle Impress.js is a really impressive solution for building your own slides in a browser. It requires even more specialist web development skills to get up and running, but the results are impressive and it even has features like a presenter display.

With any of these self-hosted options, you can again add them to your presentation pages on Notist by URL. In order to do so, you’ll need to host your slides somewhere public such as on your own website. As long as there’s a public URL for the deck, you can add it to Notist.

As you can see, there are a wealth of options above and beyond PowerPoint and Keynote for creating presentations. Perhaps give some of them a go and see how they might fit your workflow.

Advent speaker tips: this is part of a series of tips for public speakers that we’re posting throughout advent. Check back daily during December for more.

Kill that radio star

We love video! If you have a recording of yourself in action, you can add it right to your presentation page on Notist. You can even just add it instead of slides. We’ll give you a page listing all your videos, like a weird narcissistic TV station.

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What’s this?

This is the blog post from Notist, a site for public speakers to share slides and build their speaking portfolio. Try it for free today.