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Are there any tools available that can make better presentations ? I am looking for

  • Cleaner and richer animation effects
  • Better look and feel to the presentation slides
  • Ease of use
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if you post it on superuser.com you'll get more answers :) –  Evgeny Jul 30 '09 at 2:11
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I have seen some absolutally stunning PowerPoint presentations before. Remember, lots of fancy animation doesn't make a presentation good, and as for the look and feel of slides, well, this is completely up to you as a designer to get this right. This is not a fault of any tool. –  Mark Henderson Jul 30 '09 at 2:31
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9 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I wouldn't spend too much time on the bells and whistles. What makes a presentation great is great content as well as great visuals (not visual effects).

For example, if you look at Steve Jobs' presentations, which are one of the most viewed presentations out there, he doesn't use any fancy effects.

Some keys are:

  • Minimal, interesting text. It is boring to be repeating what is on the screen.
  • Impactful visuals. Find a great photo to reinforce your point, or have a graphic designer make a pretty graph in Illustrator.
  • Interactive elements. If it is possible to do a "live" demo, or do an audience poll, or anything outside of the presentation, that helps a lot.

The worst presentations I've seen are the ones that focused too much on flash and not enough on substance.

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Indeed - more often than not its not the tools, its the presenter. If you know what you are doing, and how to give a presentation (Jobs is certainly a good example of that) then you can make any tool look good. –  AnonJr Jul 30 '09 at 12:52
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If you've got a Mac, try Apple's Keynote. It's the only real competitor, as OpenOffice.org is just...not there yet.

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This question sounds to me like "how do I make a slick presentation", to which my answer is based on giving plenty of talks and presentations, and teaching speech techniques for several years...

Put PowerPoint down, and don't pick any of its competitors up. Give your talk with a minimum of visual aids.

You will make a much more effective presentation if you can effectively communicate your meaning without resorting to bullet points on slides. The strange desire for animations in presentations makes you think your presentation is effective, but in fact draws your audience's attention away from your words.

If I do need to have visual aids (like diagrams, but not like cartoons, boring definitions, or long quotations), I generally employ the S5 slideshow system, which allows me to write my presentations as a single webpage and run them on virtually any computer that has a web browser.

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+1 for S5, really nifty –  sleske May 31 '10 at 23:50
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i'd definitely suggest using LaTeX Beamer -- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beamer_(LaTeX)

If you've worked with LaTeX before, i cannot think of a better or more convenient tool for this kind of task. If you haven't used LaTeX before, there's a steep learning curve but it's worth it.

You won't find any "special effects", and the slides are usually rendered into a PDF file when compiling the presentation. But like other users have pointed out, a brilliant presentation should be focused on delivering valuable contents.

I could add another example to the one given by Adam. Take a look at Tom Peters' presentations, one of the most famous lecturers in the management field. They are (or at least used to be) based on a single font, with just a plain color as background.

On the other hand, please don't get me wrong, but i think that this isn't a question that belongs to Server Fault. Like Evgeny said, you could probably get more relevant answers through Superuser.com or similar web sites.

Best regards, Marcelo

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Keynote for Mac is the only other big player.

Most often the downfall of PowerPoint is the design. PowerPoint will actually do some amazing things and can offer an amazing presentation, but "which wipe do I use for this slide" doesn't make a presentation great, it's about the whole design of it. Make sure you look through the Office Online Templates for really nice templates other people have submitted.

If you already have great design and you need to go further, then you're looking at video editing. :)

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What about pen and paper?

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Sliderocket is great.

It works well and is an online service. Especially good if you want to use different computers to build the presentation.

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This is a great service, not because it works better than PowerPoint (which is true), but because I can access my presentations from any computer that has internet access and Flash Player. My only complain is that it's slow as piss on older computers. –  Sasha Chedygov Aug 4 '09 at 22:27
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Get OneNote and do the slides live while presenting - draw stick figures and simple diagrams illustrating/enforcing the concepts you're talking about, while you're talking about them. Then do live demos if possible/suitable.

Or perhaps, use a whiteboard instead? If drawing skills aren't up to stuff, try the whiteboard approach a few times and record or document the resulting content - and touch it up Powerpoint or whatever - without adding anything else besides what you wrote or drew on the whiteboard?

All things aside, I must agree with the question in that Powerpoint and most modern presentation software really sucks on one thing: smoothness.

I've seen some great custom digital signage stuff using accelerated graphics to do very simple effects like a slide or a cross fade, or play back a video without any stuttering or slide change delays - and they look awesome. Powerpoint and most "modern" software doesn't seem to even be focusing on this aspect anymore!

Digital signage in big stores these days lag, stutter and flicker and no one even seems to care or see this anymore! Argh! I want my quarter-pixel scrolling from the Amiga Info Channel days back! ;)

So there you have it, get Scala or Info Channel and an original Amiga... but then you're limited to completely different resolutions and screen technologies ^^

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Thumbs up for mentioning Scala and Amiga :] –  cc0 Jan 5 '11 at 7:11
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This is a very good tool, but more importantly it's really all about content. It's just nice to get away from ppt.

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