7 tools to supplement (or supplant) PowerPoint

Looking for a PowerPoint alternative? When it comes to business presentations, it has become a lot easier to wander from the Microsoft Office suite.

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It can be a challenge to create presentations that are relevant and engaging and make your customer want to say, “Yes, yes, yes!”

For years, Microsoft PowerPoint has been the go-to presentation tool — even though PowerPoint presentations can be tedious, with text of all one size and bullet points listed smack in the center of the screen. The tool has evolved, in an attempt to ditch its dull reputation, but as it has become more feature-rich, with more design templates and collaborative features, it has been rendered less intuitive. While it’s fair to say you can wow your audience with a PowerPoint presentation today, for most people the learning curve is steep enough to make them reluctantly stick with the basics.

But a boring business presentation isn’t going to win you business, and a rigid, non-interactive structure often fails to provide the kind of detailed information conducive to decision-making.

There are alternatives. Here’s a quick rundown on seven tools that just might have what it takes to replace PowerPoint as your primary presentation tool. These snapshots should help you decide which ones are best worth a trial run in your organization. They all offer great design template options with collaborative features, some more comprehensive than others, at reasonable price points.


The guiding principle for Beautiful.AI (formerly Beautiful Slides) is that your ideas deserve better than bullet points and smart art. The browser-based app, now available as a no-charge beta (it’s worth noting that the website promises that there will always be a free version available), has numerous templates to juice up your presentations, which can include word clouds, full-screen videos and videos with text. The Data & Charts templates make it easy to create attractive data-based graphics. You just populate the template with data, and the proportions of your pie chart or bar graph are instantly calculated.

The app guides you toward thoughtful design choices for your slides without being overbearing. For instance, the team behind Beautiful.AI believes bullet-point slides are a cop-out, but you can still find bullet-point slides in the app’s Basics template directory, along with plenty of other options, including text, message boxes, numbered lists, and icons or photos with text.

bsimpact Alyson Behr/IDG

Starting a presentation using Beautiful Slides’ Impact template. Other templates are listed in the navigational bar below the text box for the slide’s title. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Beautiful.AI lets you share presentations with teammates via email links, or you can export slides as PDFs. You can designate whether teammates are allowed to edit or just view the presentation.

The beta is optimized for Google Chrome, but it would be nice to have support for other browsers and to import from/export to other presentation tools.


ClearSlide is a sales engagement, marketing and customer support management platform that now incorporates the previously separate SlideRocket presentation tool. (ClearSide itself is now part of Corel.) ClearSlide is cloud-based, so it can be accessed from any device, anywhere. Collaboration — between teams, between a team leader and members, and even between sales personnel and their potential customers in the form of conversations based on interactive data analysis — is key to ClearSlide.

sliderocket or clearslide Alyson Behr/IDG

Collaboration is a key element of the ClearSide tool. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Constructing presentations in ClearSlide begins by populating the tool’s content library. You tag the content for quick retrieval and organize it into collections such as case studies, charts, videos, emails, images, product lines, sales stages, even other presentations. Administrators can recommend content for team members, and it will then appear in their “For You” view. Admins can also control access to content and presentations, lock presentations against further changes, and measure performance and usage. Presentations can be viewed online or offline and in virtual meetings that ClearSlide sets up for you.

ClearSlide pricing is steeper than for the other products in this roundup, ranging from $35 per month per user, billed annually, to $125 per month per user, also billed annually. The company recommends the Enterprise plan at $95 per month per user. Some of the features include up to 100 viewers per month; integration with Gmail, Box, Salesforce and Outlook; engagement analytics; unlimited cloud storage for your content; and rich media editing tools. A free trial is available to help you make your choice.

Dropbox Showcase

Dropbox Showcase is not a traditional presentation application. It’s meant for assembling an online portfolio using image files and other types of files that you have stored in your Dropbox account. Showcase doesn’t include tools for you to create presentation slides themselves.

But for business use, you can take images or presentations you’ve made already and put them online alongside relevant documents (such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Word documents, or PDFs) as well as audio and video files, all wrapped up in a professional package for customers to view or download. Showcase tracks how many times your showcase is seen and downloaded, and by whom.

Dropbox Showcase Howard Wen/IDG

Dropbox Showcase allows you to use images, documents and other files stored in Dropbox to build an online presentation. (Click image to enlarge it.)

By default, anyone can view your showcase if they’re given the link to it, or you can restrict it to specific people whom you invite to view it. Either way, they don’t need a Dropbox account to view your showcase.

If they do have a Dropbox account, you can allow them to comment on your showcase and download the files associated with it, but only the owner of a showcase can edit its layout. However, if your showcase uses files from a shared Dropbox folder, such as for a team project, then anyone you’ve shared that folder with can alter your showcase by updating the files it uses in that shared folder.

Showcase is available only with Dropbox’s Professional plan (about $17 per month, billed annually) for individuals and Advanced plan ($20 per user per month, billed annually) for teams. You can try out Showcase by signing up for a free two-week trial to Dropbox Professional or Dropbox Advanced.


Like many of these tools, Emaze is primarily for marketers. Besides letting you create presentations, it can help you build a website, host a blog, and produce e-cards and photo albums — all useful tools to provide outreach to customers and partners. As for presentations, you can start from scratch in Emaze or import a PowerPoint presentation that Emaze will juice up.

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With Emaze, you can modify the look of an existing PowerPoint presentation. (Click image to enlarge it.)

The tool has several useful widgets that let you, for example, share presentations to social media or easily incorporate video, slideshows and other still images. A PayPal widget lets you add shopping/checkout capabilities to the presentation.

Emaze presentations can be shared either via email or various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Privacy settings (available in the Premium plan) allow you to designate whether others can download, print or duplicate your presentation.

With Emaze’s Business Plan ($39 per month for one user or $25 per user per month for five users, billed annually), you unlock collaborative and remote presenting features. (We tried to find out more about these features, but the company was not responsive.) Other plans include the Pro Plan at $12.50 per month, billed annually. You can start with the Free Plan, which gives you five presentations and five websites, to see whether it will suit your needs.

Google Slides

The most well-known app in this roundup, Google Slides is also the one most similar to PowerPoint. It’s part of the cloud-based G Suite package of business apps, which also includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Drive (email, word processor, spreadsheet application and cloud storage, respectively).

Slides doesn’t offer the same breadth of business templates as PowerPoint, nor does it include the kinds of analytics tools offered by some of the other products in this roundup. But its collaboration capabilities are first rate, making it a solid choice for team projects.

You can share your presentation with people who are listed in your Google user account’s contacts, or by sending an email from Slides that contains a link to your presentation online. If any of the people you share your presentation with are also Google account users, then you can set whether these people can add comments to your presentation, edit it, or only view it. (Otherwise, they can only view your presentation.) Two or more people can work on a presentation together online, seeing each other’s changes happen in real time, and chat with one another.

Google Slides collaboration Howard Wen/IDG

Collaboration is a strong point for Google Slides. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Your Slides presentations are saved in your Google Drive storage. When you download one of them to your computer or mobile device, you pick the file format that you want it to be exported as: PowerPoint (in PPTX format), PDF, or as image files (in JPG, PNG or SVG).

As with the other office applications in G Suite, add-ons can be installed to Slides. The most popular of these add features such as sound or interactive questions to your presentations.

Google Slides is free with a Google user account; you can access Slides and other G Suite apps if you use Gmail, or you can create a Google user account under another email account. G Suite business plans range from $5 per user per month for the Basic edition with 30GB of cloud storage to $25 per user per month for the Enterprise edition with unlimited storage as well as advanced search and administrative controls. Besides its website version, Slides is available as a mobile app for Android or iOS.


KinetiCast bills itself as “the online presentation tool for the B2B sales elite.” It builds online, interactive multimedia presentations that you can email to prospects. You then can track their exact level of interest in real time by using KinetiCast’s analytics technology.

kineticast mrv emails Alyson Behr/IDG

KinetiCast lets you track user interactions with your presentations. (Click image to enlarge it.)

You can embed video, PowerPoint presentations, images and other media by dragging and dropping. You can share files between users, import contacts and tag them along with files, and perform mail-merge tasks. KinetiCast also provides live web-based training if you need help getting up to speed.

There are three different pricing options and a 15-day free trial. The most popular option costs $39 per user per month and adds Salesforce integration, a video file converter and an email notification feature on top of what’s offered with the less pricey ($24) Plus plan. The Premium plan costs $59 per user per month and adds a presentation template and SSL to your functionality. We were unable to get the site to respond to our request for the free trial.

Prezi Business

Prezi Business has strong team collaboration features and viewer analytics. It uses drag-and-drop technology to let you arrange your content elements, and a Zoom Reveal function that lets you highlight critical details in your presentation. Another feature that sets Prezi apart are the navigational tools that make it easy to jump around within the presentation doc, so that you don’t have to go through all slides in a series; once you’ve gauged your prospect’s top interest, you can zero in on that area of the presentation.

Prezi Business is available for Windows PCs and Macs, and there’s a cloud-based version that’s platform-agnostic, letting anyone collaborate, in HD, from any connected device, whether or not that person has the Prezi software.

Collaboration features include team/user commenting in an IM-like window, the ability to track your team’s performance in real time, and the ability to retain ownership when the content creator leaves your team. Slack integration provides instant notification when someone edits or views your presentation.

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The Prezi Business comments window. (Click image to enlarge it.)

In addition, Prezi Business has an analytics tool so you can see what viewers are homing in on based on the amount of time they spend on each slide. It has a real-time meter that tracks a viewer’s progress and tells you exactly where he or she dropped off.

Because we were interested in the tool’s collaboration functions, we looked at its Teams pricing. There’s an Individual plan for $59 per month, but most of the collaboration functions aren’t unlocked unless you purchase the Teams plan at $50 per user per month.

This article was initially published in January 2018 and updated in July 2018.


Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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