The latest presentation apps have made it easier than ever to format slides and create professional-looking slideshows without giving off a "this is a template" vibe. Even standard PowerPoint alternatives have updated key features to make it easier than ever to collaborate and create presentations quickly, so you can spend more time prepping for your actual presentation.
If, like me, you've been using Google Slides unquestioningly for years, it's a whole new world out there. The newest crop of online presentation tools go way beyond the classic slideshow experience, with new features to keep your audience's attention, streamline the creation process with AI, and turn slide decks into videos and interactive conversations.
I've been testing these apps for the past few years, and this time, I spent several days tinkering with the top presentation software solutions out there to bring you the best of the best.
The best presentation software
Canva for a free presentation app
Beautiful.ai for AI-powered design
Prezi for non-linear, conversational presentations
Powtoon for video presentations
Genially for interactive, presenter-less presentations
Pitch for collaborating with your team on presentations
Zoho Show for a simple presentation app
Gamma for generative AI features
What makes the best presentation app?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
When looking for the best presentation apps, I wanted utility players. After all, slideshows are used for just about everything, from pitch decks and product launches to class lectures and church sermons. With that in mind, here's what I was looking for:
Pre-built templates. The best presentation tools should have attractive, professional-looking templates to build presentations in a hurry.
Sharing and collaboration options. Whether you plan to share your webinar slides later, or you just want to collaborate with a coworker on a presentation, it should be easy to share files and collaborate in real-time.
Flexibility and customization options. Templates are great, but top presentation apps should enable you to customize just about everything—giving you the flexibility to build exactly what you need.
Affordability. Creating compelling presentations is important, but you shouldn't have to bust your budget to make it happen. With capable free tools on the market, affordability is a top consideration.
Standalone functionality. There's no reason to use multiple tools when one can do it all, so I didn't test any apps that require and work on top of another presentation app like PowerPoint or Google Slides.
Familiar, deck-based UI. For our purposes here, I only tested software that uses slides, with the familiar deck-based editor you expect from a "presentation" tool (versus, for example, a video creation app).
While many apps now offer AI features in one way or another, I found many of these features to be lacking still—they're often slow, struggle to pull in relevant imagery, and yield wildly inconsistent designs. For that reason, I opted not to make AI features a strict requirement (for now!), and I've still included apps that don't offer AI. (Of course, if you opt for one of those, you can still easily get AI-generated images from a separate tool and copy them into your presentation app of choice.)
Beyond that, I also looked for presentation apps that brought something unique to the table—features above and beyond what you can get for free from a legacy solution like PowerPoint or Google Slides. (And I opted not to test any brand new apps that are still in beta, since there are so many established options out there.)
Here's what my testing workflow looked like:
I went through any onboarding or guided tutorials.
I created a new deck, scanning through all available templates, noting how well-designed they were (and which were free versus paid).
I added new slides, deleted slides, edited text and images, and played around with other content types.
I changed presentation design settings, like color schemes and background images.
I reviewed and tested the sharing and collaboration options.
I tested out presenter view (when available).
After my first round of testing, I went back into the top performers to test any unique or niche features like AI, brand settings, interactive content, and more. With that, these are the best presentation apps I found—each one really brings something different or radically easy to the table.
The best presentation software: at a glance
A free option
Free plan available; paid plans from $119.99/year
Free plan available; paid plans from $5/month
Limited free plan available; paid plans from $20/month
Interactive, presenter-less presentations
Free plan available; free plan from $7.49/month
Free plan available; from $8/user/month
Generative AI features
Free plan available; paid plans from $10/user/month
The best free presentation software
Canva (Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS)
Excellent free plan
Tons of amazing templates for all use cases
The Magic Design AI tool is still inconsistent and not super impressive
Canva offers one of the most robust free plans of all the presentation apps I tested. The app delays account creation until after you've created your first design, so you can get started building your presentation in seconds. Choose from an almost overwhelming number of beautiful templates (nearly all available for free), including those designed specifically for education or business use cases.
Anyone who's accidentally scrolled too far and been bumped to the next slide will appreciate Canva's editor interface, which eliminates that problem altogether with a smooth scroll that doesn't jump around. Choose from a handful of preset animations to add life to your presentations, or browse the library of audio and video files available to add. And Canva also has a number of options for sharing your presentation, including adding collaborators to your team, sharing directly to social media, and even via QR code.
Present directly from Canva, and let audience members submit their questions via Canva Live. Once you share a link to invite audience members to your presentation, they can send questions for you to answer. As the presenter, you'll see them pop up in your presenter view window, so you can keep the audience engaged and your presentation clear. Alternatively, record a presentation with a talking head bubble—you can even use an AI presenter here—to share remotely.
Canvas has added a number of AI-powered tools, but I wasn't super impressed by them yet. When I asked the Magic Design tool to generate a presentation from scratch, for example, the result was a bunch of unrelated images, inconsistent design, and surface-level copy. These features will likely improve in time, but for now, you're better off starting from one of Canva's many great templates.
Canva pricing: Free plan available; paid plans start at $119.99/year for 1 user and include additional features like Brand Kit, premium templates and stock assets, and additional AI-powered design tools.
The best presentation app for AI-powered design
Beautiful.ai (Web, Mac, Windows)
True AI design
No fussing around with alignment
Still allows for customization
No free plan
Generative AI features aren't great yet
If you're like me, editing granular spacing issues is the absolute worst part of building a presentation. Beautiful.ai uses artificial intelligence to take a lot of the hassle and granular design requirements out of the presentation process, so you can focus on the content of a presentation without sacrificing professional design. If I needed to make presentations on a regular basis, this is the app I'd use.
Many apps have recently added AI design features, but Beautiful.ai has been doing it for years—and they've perfected the UX of AI design, ensuring the tool's reign as the most streamlined and user-friendly option for AI design.
The editor is a little different from most presentation apps, but it's still intuitive—and you'll start off with a quick two-minute tutorial. When creating a new slide, scroll through "inspiration slides" to find a layout you like; once you choose, the app will pull the layout and automatically adapt it to match the design of the rest of your presentation.
With 10 themes, several templated slides, over 40 fully-designed templates, and 23 different color palettes to choose from, Beautiful.ai strikes a perfect balance between automation and customization.
While Beautiful.ai doesn't offer a free plan, paid plans are reasonably priced and offer sharing and collaboration options that rival collab-focused apps like Google Slides. And speaking of Google, you can connect Beautiful.ai with Google Drive to save all your presentations there.
Note: I did test the newly released generative AI feature (called DesignerBot) and felt it wasn't much to write home about. It's great for adding individual slides to an existing presentation—automatically choosing the best layout and matching the design to the rest of the deck—but as with most other apps, it struggled to generate a quality presentation from scratch.
Beautiful.ai pricing: Plans start at $12/month for unlimited slides, AI content generation, viewer analytics, and more. Upgrade to a Team plan for $40/user/month to get extra collaboration and workspace features and custom brand controls.
If you're a founder looking for an AI presentation tool for your pitch deck, Slidebean is a great Beautiful.ai alternative for startups. The app offers a number of templates; a unique, content-first outline editor; and AI design help that you can toggle on or off for each slide. I didn't include it on the list mainly because of the price: the free plan is quite limited, and the paid all-access plan starts at $228/year.
The best presentation app for conversational presentations
Prezi (Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Doesn't restrict you to standard presentation structure
Lots of customization options
Prezi Video lets you display a presentation right over your webcam video
Steep learning curve
Struggling to squeeze information into a basic, linear presentation? Give Prezi a try. Unlike nearly all other presentation apps on the market, Prezi Present doesn't restrict the structure of your presentation to a straight line. The editor focuses on topics and subtopics and allows you to arrange them any way you want, so you can create a more conversational flow of information.
With the structural flexibility, you still get all the same customization features you expect from top presentation software, including fully-editable templates. There's a learning curve if you're unfamiliar with non-linear presentations, but templates offer a great jumping-off point, and Prezi's editor does a good job of making the process more approachable.
Plus, Prezi comes with two other apps: Prezi Design and Prezi Video. Prezi Video helps you take remote presentations to a new level. You can record a video where the presentation elements are displayed right over your webcam feed. Record and save the video to share later, or connect with your video conferencing tool of choice (including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet) to present live.
Prezi pricing: Free 14-day trial and a free plan that includes up to 5 visual projects; paid plans start at $5/month and include additional features like private presentations and Prezi Present.
The best presentation app for video presentations
Powtoon (Web, iOS, Android)
Timing automatically changes based on the content on the slide
Can toggle between slideshow and video
Can orient presentation as horizontal, vertical, or square
Limited free plan
Powtoon makes it easy to create engaging videos by orienting the editor around a slide deck. Editing a Powtoon feels just like editing a presentation, but by the time you finish, you have a professional video.
You can edit your slides at any time, and when you hit play, a video plays through your deck—the feel is almost like an animated explainer video. Each slide includes the animations you choose and takes up as much time as is needed based on the content on the slide. Powtoon figures the timing automatically, and you can see in the bottom-right of the editor how much time is used on your current slide versus the total presentation. If you ever want to present as a slide deck, just toggle between Slideshow and Movie.
You'll likely need to subscribe to a paid plan to get the most out of Powtoon—like creating videos longer than three minutes, downloading them as MP4 files, and white-labeling your presentations—but doing so won't break the bank. Plus, you'll unlock tons of templates complete with animations and soundtracks.
One of my favorite Powtoon features is the ability to orient your video: you can choose horizontal orientation (like a normal presentation) or opt for vertical (for mobile) or square (for social media). When your presentation is ready, you can publish straight to YouTube, Wistia, Facebook Ads, and any number of other locations.
Powtoon pricing: Limited free plan available; paid plans start at $20/month and include white-labeling, priority support, additional storage, and more.
The best presentation app for interactive presentations
Don't need a presenter (it's interactive)
You can set universal branding guidelines
Unlimited creations on the free plan
Free plan has some limitations worth looking into (e.g., can only make public presentations)
While many presentation apps are built for presenter-led decks, Genially's interactive features and animated templates make it easy to build a self-led presentation. A variety of interactive buttons allow you to show viewers additional context on hover, have them skip to any page of your deck, and let them navigate to external links.
This presentation program offers a bunch of searchable templates, including some for business proposals, reports, social media presentations, and more (though most of those are available on premium plans only). Genially also includes Smart blocks—templated blocks of content for elements like data visualizations and image galleries.
My favorite feature is the brand settings. Premium users can set universal branding guidelines that include your logo, color scheme, fonts, images, and backgrounds, among other options. Think of them like a custom template, created and customized by you, that the whole team can use. Once set, your team can easily create on-brand presentations that automatically apply your brand settings, without even thinking about it.
Plus, Genially supports additional content like training materials, infographics, and interactive images—all subject to your brand presets.
Genially pricing: Free plan available with unlimited creations and views and access to templates; paid plans start at $7.49/month and include additional download options, privacy controls, offline viewing, premium templates, and more.
The best presentation app for collaborating with your team
Pitch (Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Google levels of collaboration
Assign slides to specific team members
Start live video calls straight from decks
User interface is a little different than you're used to
Need to collaborate on presentations with your team? Pitch is a Google Slides alternative that gets the job done. As far as decks go, Pitch includes all the beautifully-designed templates, customizability, and ease of use you expect from a top-notch presentation tool. But the app really shines when you add your team.
The right-hand sidebar is all about project management and collaboration: you can set and update the status of your deck, assign entire presentations or individual slides to team members, plus comment, react, or add notes. Save custom templates to make future presentations even easier and faster.
You can also invite collaborators from outside your company to work with you on individual decks. And if you opt for a paid plan, Pitch introduces workspace roles, shared private folders, and version history.
The "Go live" feature is a personal favorite—with just a click on the camera icon in the top-right, you can start a live video call. Any team members who open the presentation can hop in and collaborate in real-time.
Pitch pricing: Free plan offers unlimited presentations, custom templates, and live video collaboration; paid plans start at $8/user/month for additional workspace features, presentation analytics, and more.
The best simple presentation app
Zoho Show (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome)
Zoho Show pros:
Simple and easy to use
Version history and ability to lock slides
Zoho Show cons:
Templates are pretty basic
If you're looking for a simple, yet capable presentation app that's a step up from Google Slides, Zoho Show is a great option. It's completely free to use, offers a clean, intuitive editor, and includes a number of great templates.
While the handful of "Themes" offered are on the basic side, Zoho templates boast a more modern and professional design than much of what Google Slides or PowerPoint offer. And I love that you can set the font and color scheme for the whole template, right from the start.
The app doesn't skimp on collaboration or shareability either. You can invite collaborators via email or shareable link, and comments and version history make it easy to work together on presentations. Once you're ready to share, you can even broadcast your presentation to a remote audience right from within Zoho. Plus, you can one-click lock slides to prevent any more editing or hide individual slides to customize your presentation for different audiences.
You can even connect Zoho Show to Zapier, so you can do things like automatically create a presentation when something happens in one of the other apps you use most.
Zapier is the leader in no-code automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.
Zoho Show pricing: Free
The best presentation app for generative AI
Creates fully fleshed-out presentations from a prompt
Can still manually edit the presentation
Not as much granular customization
I tested a lot of apps claiming to use AI to up your presentation game, and Gamma's generative features were head and shoulders above the crowd.
Simply give the app a topic—or upload an outline, notes, or any other document or article—approve the outline, and pick a theme. The app will take it from there and create a fully fleshed-out presentation. It's far from perfect, but Gamma produced the most useful jumping-off point of all the AI presentation apps I tested.
Here's the key: Gamma is much more geared toward the iterative, chatbot experience familiar to ChatGPT users. Click on the Edit with AI button at the top of the right-hand menu to open the chat, and you'll see suggested prompts—or you can type in your own requests for how Gamma should alter the presentation.
Once you've done all you can with prompts, simply close the chat box to manually add the finishing touches. While you do sacrifice some granular customizability in exchange for the AI features, you can still choose your visual theme, change slide layouts, format text, and add any images, videos, or even app and web content.
Gamma pricing: Free plan includes unlimited users, 1 custom theme, 400 AI deck credits, and basic view analytics; upgrade to the Pro plan ("coming soon," as of this writing) for $10/user/month to get additional AI credits, advanced view analytics, custom fonts, and more.
What about the old standbys?
You might notice a few major presentation players aren't on this list, including OGs Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, and Google Slides. These apps are perfectly adequate for creating basic presentations, and they're free if you have a Windows or Mac device or a Google account.
I didn't include them on the list because the presentation space has really developed in the last several years, and after testing them out, I found these behemoths haven't kept pace. If they weren't made by Microsoft/Apple/Google, I might not even be mentioning them. They're pretty basic tools, they're behind the curve when it comes to templates (both quantity and design), and they don't offer any uniquely valuable features like robust team collaboration, branding controls, video, and so on.
Some of these companies (think: Microsoft and Google) are openly working on some pretty impressive-sounding AI features, but they haven't been widely released to the public yet. Rest assured, I'm watching this space, and the next time we update this article, I'll retest tools like PowerPoint and Google Slides to see what new features are available.
In any case, if you're reading this, you're probably looking for an alternative that allows you to move away from one of the big 3, and as the presentation platforms featured above show, there's a ton to gain—in terms of features, usability, and more—when you do.
This post was originally published in October 2014 and has since been updated with contributions from Danny Schreiber, Matthew Guay, Andrew Kunesh, and Krystina Martinez. The most recent update was in May 2023.