The 12 Best Presentation Apps

Matthew Guay
Matthew Guay / Published June 18, 2018

From classrooms to product launches, slideshow presentations are the standard accompaniment to lectures and speeches. You can't give a talk without one.

You'll want to drive your key points home—and while a picture's worth a thousand words, event attendees are more likely to be able to write down your ideas if they're written on a slide. A good slideshow can make your speech more impactful. What's not fun is spending hours in PowerPoint or Keynote, time that would be better spent preparing for your actual presentation instead.

You need a simpler presentation app. That's the aim of a wave of new presentation software, including simpler online versions of PowerPoint and Keynote themselves. These new tools are easier to use, give you the ability to collaborate with others—sometimes in real-time—and allow you to edit your presentation on any internet-connected computer.

The Best Presentation Software

  • Google Slides for collaborating on presentations
  • Zoho Show for built-in broadcasting tools to stream presentations
  • Slides for sharing team presentation assets
  • Prezi for animated, non-linear presentations
  • Microsoft Sway for quickly changing your presentation style
  • Canva for creative presentations
  • Adobe Spark for turning presentations into video
  • Swipe for interactive presentations
  • Slidebean for automatically making slides from an outline
  • Deckset for easy Markdown-powered presentations
  • Keynote for beautiful templates
  • PowerPoint Online for a simplified PowerPoint in your browser

What Makes a Great Presentation App?

10/20/30: Ten slides, twenty minutes, and 30 point font. That's what early Apple employee Guy Kawasaki recommends for great presentations.

You might need a few more—or fewer—slides, but the basic idea stands. The best presentations make the best out of a handful of large graphics and text. You want everyone in the crowd to easily read your slides and to focus mainly on your talk itself. A handful of slides, each with a clear, concise statement, is your best bet.

And you need software to turn that into reality. Something simple focused on making it easy to put some quotes and images together into slides that are easy to present. Something that won't take more than a few minutes to build your slideshow. Something to keep your audience's attention.

The latest versions of PowerPoint and Keynote are better than before, while a number of new, smaller presentation tools let you make more unique presentations in less time. Here are the best to try.


Best presentation app for collaborating on presentations

Google Slides

Google Slides

Google Slides—part of the G Suite family of apps—is a traditional presentation app designed around collaboration. It works much like PowerPoint and other presentation apps you've used in the past, only Google Slides runs in your browser, for free. Select a theme for the slideshow, then add standard slide layouts and insert text, graphics, and slide transitions from the menus. The new Explore sidebar can suggest layouts that fit the content of your slide, for an easy way to polish your presentation. You can then present from any browser or Google Slides' mobile apps.

Google Slides really shines when it comes to collaboration. Share a link to your presentation, and anyone you want can add details to your slides, write presentation notes, and anything else you want in your presentation. Add comments as in Google Docs to share feedback, then check back to see what was changed with Google Slides' detailed revision log. It's one of the best ways to collaborate on a presentation.

Google Slides Price: Free; from $6/month/user for the G Suite basic plan with custom domain and business branding

Automate Google Slides with Google Slide's Zapier integrations.

Best presentation app with built-in broadcasting tools to stream presentations

Zoho Show

Zoho Show

The newly redesigned Zoho Show is a clean take on traditional presentation apps. Slides on the left, tools on the right, and the slide you're working on in the center. You can add new slides with standard layouts, move text and images around on slides, and keep your style consistent with themes. You can collaborate with your team, with comments added to a sidebar for each slide.

When you're ready to show your presentation, you can flip through your slides in any browser as normal. You can also share a link to your slides so any attendees can download a copy for themselves. Or, you can broadcast the slideshow, streaming your slides online with live chat to talk with participants. It's an easy way to present your ideas online or in person with the same presentation.

Zoho Show Price: Free; from $35/month/user for Zoho One with access to a variety of Zoho apps for your business

Best presentation app for sharing team presentation assets

Slides

Slides

You know your boss gave a presentation about your blog stats last year, and the same presentation would work this year if you could just drop in your company's new logo and this year's stats. Slides is designed to let everyone in your team build from each others' presentations. You can save a shared library of designs, graphics, logos, and more to include in presentations, and can search through everyone's completed slide decks to find the details you want to reuse.

Then, when you go to design new slides, Slides editor makes it easier to keep things aligned with its built-in grid. Drag images, text, and more, and the editor will make sure your presentation doesn't come out messy. It's a bit more like a website editor than your standard presentation too—you can even customize your slide template with CSS, and present your slides online.

Slides Price: Free for public presentations that may include ads; from $5/month for the Lite plan with unlimited private presentations, offline presentations, and PDF export

Best presentation app for animated, non-linear presentations

Prezi

Prezi

Tired of standard slideshows? Prezi is anything but that. It's more like a mindmap, with a large canvas that contains your entire presentation. You can have large graphics that connect everything—perhaps a galaxy, city map, ocean ecosystem, or detailed graph—with your points and graphics nested inside. The presentation starts zoomed out to give the big picture, then Prezi will zoom in to focus on the details as you go through your presentation, zooming out and back into a different point as you move on (which you can see in Prezi's presentation templates.

Editing slideshows in Prezi takes a bit more work than in a traditional slide-based presentation app. You'll first add new sections to your main slide, then edit the details inside a zoomed in part of that section—complete with text, video, and more subsections to zoom in further if you want. It's a fractal turned into a presentation.

Prezi Price: Free for public presentations; from $7/month for the Standard plan with unlimited presentations and privacy controls

Best presentation app for quickly changing your presentation style

Microsoft Sway

Microsoft Sway

PowerPoint's detailed tools make it powerful—and distracting. You can build almost anything in PowerPoint, from a data-filled slide to a brochure for your business. But that flexibility also means it can be hard to get a basic presentation text and images lined up nicely. Microsoft Sway helps by focusing on your content instead.

Start out by adding details to a Storyline or outline that can include text, images, links, and more with simple formatting options. Then, choose if you want your presentation to use standard slides or a more magazine-like right-to-left scrolling layout, and pick one of the built-in themes to format your content. It's an easy way to turn a handful of notes and images into a unique presentation where everything isn't forced into individual slides.

Microsoft Sway Price: Free with a Office 365 account

Best presentation app for design-focused presentations

Canva

Canva

Want more customized slides, without having to create graphics on your own in Photoshop? Canva is designed to make all types of design-focused documents: book covers, menus, magazine covers, posters, resumes, and more. Tucked among those options is a Presentation format complete with a tool to present your finished presentation right from the design app.

Canva is built around its included stock images, backgrounds, and specially formatted text boxes and page layouts that help you make polished, image-focused slides. Graphs are easy to customize, too, with premade layouts where you can add labels and numbers in a table to tweak the graph for your data. Search for any item you need then drag it into your slide or document, then click on that item to tweak its options from the menu in the top of the page. You can then share the presentation publically or present it right from Canva.

Canva Price: Free for individuals with a selection of free templates and design types; from $12.95/month/user for the Pro plan with custom templates and brand management.

Best presentation app for turning presentations into video

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark

Presentations don't have to be individual slides you click through one at a time. They could be animated video—and Adobe Spark makes that as simple as building a PowerPoint. Designed to build graphics, web pages, and video stories, it's the latter tool that's a handy way to make a presentation, especially if you want one that runs itself.

Each slide is built around a graphic, which you can upload or find online via Spark's integration with Unsplash and other popular free stock photo sites. You can tweak the image's design with filters, then add text over the images and set how long that slide should be displayed in your presentation. Add each of your other slides, then in a few clicks you'll have a presentation video ready to auto-play during your talk.

Adobe Spark Price: Free for core features; from $9.99/month Individual plan for custom branding, personalized themes, and no watermark

Best presentation app for interactive presentations

Swipe

swipe

Already have things you want to put into your presentation—a PDF report, YouTube or Vimeo video, image, GIF, or a text outline? Swipe can turn those into a presentation in seconds. Drag your files into the editor and Swipe will add each to their own slide. Add a Markdown-formatted text file—or add a new Markdown slide manually and type in your text—for a quick way to turn your lecture notes into slides. It's not as customizable as other presentation apps, but Swipe makes it so fast to turn existing files into a presentation, it's worth the simplicity.

Then, you can add a Poll slide with multiple choice questions for a quick way to get audience feedback. Share a link to your presentation at the beginning of your talk, and attendees can scroll through PDF files, watch videos, and look at everything else in your presentation as you talk. They can also tap their response in your poll slides, with the answers showing up in real-time on the big screen.

Swipe Price: Free for 5 presentations; from $20/mo Pro plan for unlimited presentations, analytics, password protection, and secret links

Best presentation app for automatically making slides from an outline

Slidebean

SlideBean

If you want to skip the tedious process of formatting slides, but want to build detailed presentations that combine multiple items on each slide, Slidebean is right up your alley. All you have to do is write an outline of sorts, typing in headings, uploading images, and entering details for graphs. Then, select a theme and Slidebean will create a presentation for you, complete with formatting.

Slidebeam's automated slides will try to arrange everything on slides for you, or you can rearrange the elements, dragging them around on the grid. Click an item to edit it if you need—or go back to the Outline mode to add more details. It's an effective way both to make presentations more quickly and include more data on each slide than you could easily in most other presentation apps.

Slidebean Price: Free for access to free and pre-built templates; from $8/month (billed annually) for the Starter plan with collaboration and privacy settings

Best presentation app for quick Markdown-powered presentations

Deckset

Deckset

Most presentation apps help you design your slides. Deckset is built to help you write them. Write your ideas in any writing app with Markdown formatting, and add a line break (three dashes or asterisks) between each slide. You can include images, links, video embeds, and more—with text commands to arrange items as you like.

Then, open that text file in Deckset and it'll turn it into a presentation automatically. You can pick from its built-in themes, or customize your own custom code-powered themes in the latest version. It's one of the quickest ways to turn your ideas into a presentation.

Deckset Price: $35 one-time purchase for a personal license; $140 for a team license

Best presentation app for beautiful animations

Apple Keynote

Keynote for iCloud

Ever wanted to make a presentation that looks exactly like one Steve Jobs gave? Keynote's the answer. Apple's presentation app comes free with every new Apple device and is much like a simplified PowerPoint packed with beautiful templates and typography. You can even use it online at iCloud.com to make presentations in Keynote even on a PC then share them with anyone else for feedback.

Keynote's best known for its smooth animations, with enough options that you can mockup a new app in Keynote and make it almost feel like you're actually using the app instead of looking at a demo in a presentation. When you're ready to present, you can use an iPhone to remote control your presentation from your Mac, or can present online for free with Keynote Live's presentation streaming.

Keynote for iCloud Price: Free with an iCloud account, available with any new Mac, iPad, or iPhone

Best presentation app for simplified PowerPoint in your browser

PowerPoint Online

PowerPoint Online

The free PowerPoint Online can open any PowerPoint file in your browser, and includes tools to make new presentations with core text, formatting, image, and chart tools. It's everything you need to make a presentation in a more streamlined app.

PowerPoint runs everywhere today, with iOS and Android apps along with the traditional Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows. And they all work together. Build a presentation in PowerPoint Online, then edit it on your work PC, share it with your team so they can add feedback or edits in any PowerPoint app, then look over it on your phone on the way to the meeting, and share a link to it with everyone in the audience. The original presentation app might still be the one you need.

PowerPoint Online Price: Free online and with limited features in mobile apps



Editor's Note: This post was originally published October 28, 2014, and most recently updated on March 26, 2020 to include the latest pricing. Zapier's Danny Schreiber and freelance writer Andrew Kunesh contributed to this post.

Header photo by Teemu Paananen via Unsplash.

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