If you've ever had to present a product, host a webinar, or do any kind of public speaking, chances are you made a slideshow to go along with your presentation. Before you inwardly groan, thinking about the hours you spent in PowerPoint fiddling with a chart, the slideshow presentation has come a long way since the rainbow WordArt of the '90s.
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 PowerPoint alternatives like Keynote 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. The newest crop of online presentation tools also go beyond the classic slideshow experience, with new features to keep your audience's attention.
We tested over 20 presentation apps, looking for software that met these requirements while also adding a little something extra to take your presentation to the next level. Here's the best presentation software to try.
The best presentation software
Google Slides for collaborating on presentations
Visme for built-in assets to create presentations
Ludus for creative presentations
FlowVella for exhibits and displays
Slidebean for AI-powered presentations
Keynote for beautiful templates
What makes a great presentation app?
When looking for the best presentation apps, we wanted utility players since 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 we were looking for:
Pre-built-templates: The best apps should have attractive, professional-looking templates to build presentations in a hurry.
Sharing and collaboration options: More people are working remotely. 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.
Media support: Do you need to record a narration for your presentation, or insert a YouTube clip? The best presentation apps should support a wide variety of media types, like audio, video, images, and yes, animated GIFs. (C'mon, it's time.)
Graphical assets: If you need to build a presentation quickly, you don't have time to scour the internet for images or make custom animations to make your presentation interesting. You need an app baked with graphical assets, like stock images, graphics, charts, and animations.
Presentation options: Some kind of presenter mode should be standard on a great presentation app. If we were awarding points, we'd also give bonus points for other presentation options, like live polling or analytics.
→ Already have slides and want a great way to share them instead? Here are the best apps to share presentations.
The best presentation app for collaborating on presentations
Google Slides (Web, iOS, Android)
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.
Within its presenter view, Google Slides has a great Q&A tool to make your presentation more interactive. Turn it on, and it'll add a banner with a link to the top of your presentation. People can visit that link to ask questions in a separate window and upvote other people's questions. Hosts will see incoming questions through a separate tab within the presenter view.
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, similar to Google Docs, to share feedback. You can track changes with Google Slides' detailed revision log, so you don't have to worry about a coworker messing with that chart you painstakingly created. It's one of the best ways to collaborate on a presentation.
An added bonus: Google Slides integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like update charts based on form responses or new spreadsheet rows, or even customize a template when you win a new deal in your CMS.
See more ways to automate Google Slides with Google Slides' Zapier integrations.
Google Slides Price: Free
The best presentation app with built-in assets to create presentations
Visme is a great presentation app if you're building a slideshow from scratch. It has a variety of clean, sleek templates for different kinds of presentations. You can pick from color palettes for each theme as well, or create your own color palette. There are also different slide types within each template. For example, if you choose to add a testimonial slide template to your slideshow, you can choose from several different styles depending on your theme.
Visme features a large selection of icons, graphics, and royalty-free images to spruce up your presentation. If text or chart formatting annoys you, Visme's pre-built text boxes and graphs have a wide variety of formatting styles to suit your taste.
Under a paid plan, you can share your slideshow via a private link, collaborate with team members, download your presentation to a number of different file formats, and even get pageview analytics when you make your presentation public.
Visme Price: Free, with limited access to features; from $14/month/user (billed annually) for the Standard plan with a variety of plans for teams, businesses, and educators. You can also create infographics, reports, and other graphics with a Visme account.
The best presentation app for creators
On the other end of the spectrum, Ludus is for creative folks who find presentation apps to be limiting and want their slideshow to be a work of art.
Ludus really shines with its third-party integrations. You name it, they've got it: from YouTube and GIPHY to Google Fonts and Figma, so you can pull content from other sources to create a stunning presentation.
Graphic designers will especially love Ludus. You can edit and break apart SVG files, upload your own font files, or even copy and paste files from Sketch and Adobe Illustrator. There are also some pretty advanced features that any web designer or illustrator would be familiar with, like gradients and code blocks, making this a good choice for graphic designers, art directors, UX designers, and the like. But you don't have to be a Photoshop pro to use these features; Ludus starts new users off with a guided tutorial, which gently introduces some of its more complex features.
Paid plans allow you to password-protect your presentations, use a remote control, share and collaborate as a team, and even embed on Medium and Notion.
Ludus Price: Free 30-day trial; from $14.99/month (billed annually) for the Solo plan with access to all features, unlimited presentations, and unlimited storage.
The best presentation app for exhibits and trade shows
FlowVella (Web, macOS, iOS)
If your presentation is going to be at a booth for a conference or other exhibit, you have a whole new set of potential issues: bad WiFi, a device sleeping after a few minutes of inactivity, you name it.
FlowVella solves that problem with its Kiosk Mode: it turns your slideshow into a portable version of a digital billboard. Your presentation is protected with a PIN, so you don't have to worry about a stalled slideshow or, worse, an attendee accidentally closing it.
Like the other presentation apps in this roundup, it has a large selection of templates to choose from, but unlike other apps, it also notes when a template is optimized for mobile devices or widescreens. That's because FlowVella was made to be portable, so you don't have to worry about a photo gallery showcasing your product getting cut off by your iPad.
FlowVella Price: Free to download; Plans start at $10/month or $60/year, with education discounts for teachers. Paid plans get access to Kiosk Mode, as well as presentation analytics, real-time collaboration, and more.
Best presentation app for AI-powered presentations
If you want a beautiful presentation but don't have an eye for design, or you just want to skip the tedium of formatting slides, Slidebean is for you.
You have two options to build your presentation: either pick a template to start building, or start by writing an outline of your presentation. If you start with an outline, you'll select your theme after the fact, and Slidebean will create a presentation for you, complete with formatting. In our testing, the slideshow they created for us was pretty on-point to what we would have wanted to make. Use any of the pre-existing color palettes, or if color isn't your thing, Slidebean will generate a color palette from a URL.
The best part about Slidebean is how it uses artificial intelligence throughout the product. You can choose to have it rearrange your slide order, or individual elements within a slide, to bring the most compelling parts front and center. It's an effective way to make professional presentations quicker than you could 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 beautiful animations
Apple Keynote (Web, macOS, iOS)
Sometimes we may not like the standard software that's baked into computers, but Keynote is an exception. Apple's presentation app comes free with every new Apple device and is similar to a simplified PowerPoint packed with beautiful templates and typography.
You can use it online at iCloud.com to make presentations in Keynote even on a PC. Or, move your Keynote to iCloud to share with others to view or edit. You can also save presentations to a PowerPoint file if needed.
Keynote's best known for its smooth animations, with enough customization options that you could mock up 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 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; or download from the App Store.
We're device-agnostic here, but if you prefer a presentation app for focusing on your content over design, Microsoft Sway is a good choice. The only reason it didn't make our list is that it won't play animated GIFs. But we get it—some folks have a severe allergy to anything made by Apple. Sway is free with an Office 365 account.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and most recently updated in May 2020. Danny Schreiber, Matthew Guay, and Andrew Kunesh contributed to previous versions of this article. Header photo by Teemu Paananen via Unsplash.