3 Free PowerPoint Tools for Better Presentations

PowerPoint is one of the most popular presentation platforms to date, being widely used for a variety of communication purposes, both in business and beyond. Although it offers a reliable host of features to produce visual support for group presentations, it may sometimes come short if you aim to go beyond its traditional bullet-heavy slides.

Fortunately, numerous PowerPoint plugins and free tools have been developed to help users to break the conventional mold and create more engaging slides in a faster and easier way. We’ve taken the time to research some of the most innovative options out there and put together a list of 3 exciting PowerPoint tools that are available for free.

So, if you want to shake things up and connect with your audience in new ways, consider using one of these solutions that will help you nail your presentation and interactively communicate key ideas:

  1. PowerPoint Designer
  2. Presenter Coach
  3. Office Timeline

Let’s have a closer look at each of them.


1. PowerPoint Designer (Design Ideas)


PowerPoint Designer slide example

Image source: Microsoft

General Overview

  • Perfect for those who want to save time searching for the right layout or visual elements to spice up their presentations, PowerPoint Designer is a subscriber-only Microsoft 365 feature that examines the content of their slide and automatically generates a series of design ideas to complement it.
  • To enable this feature (if never used before), PowerPoint will ask for the user’s permission.
  • Users can apply this feature only on certain slides by selecting the one they want to improve, and then clicking on the Design Ideas button found under the Design tab.

Availability & Compatibility

  • Available for both desktop and online PowerPoint versions
  • Compatible with both Windows and MacOS-running machines, Android and iOS devices (except smartphones) and on web (OneDrive and SharePoint Online files only)

Capabilities

  • Suggests professional and cohesive layouts, style themes and complementary color palettes based on the pictures, charts or tables that are detected on the slide.
  • Turns text (lists, timelines or processes) into clear SmartArt graphics.
  • Provides a varied library of icons to illustrate a range of key terms and concepts (with illustrations shown in different layouts).

Limitations

  • For PowerPoint Online version, it won’t provide design suggestions for the slide if more than one person is editing a single slide at the same time.

2. Presenter Coach


Presenter Coach Rehearsal Report Example

Image source: Microsoft

General Overview

  • Presenter Coach is an AI-powered, cloud-enhanced feature in Microsoft 365 that helps users rehearse their slide show and prepare in private to deliver a fluent, engaging and structured speech when presenting their slides to the audience.
  • An effective training tool for improving presentation and public speaking skills

Availability & Compatibility

  • Available on web, it’s compatible with Microsoft Edge version 15 or later, Chrome version 52 or later, and Firefox version 52 or later.

Capabilities

  • When users set their presentation into rehearsal mode, it evaluates their pacing, pitch, use of filler words, euphemisms or profanity, informal speech, and culturally sensitive terms, and provides on-screen feedback as they speak on how to improve these aspects.
  • It even detects and signals when users are being overly wordy or simply reading off their slide.
  • At the end of the rehearsal season, it compiles and delivers a detailed report with metrics and recommendations for additional practice.

Limitations

  • Currently, it detects only English (in terms of spoken and Office user interface language).
  • It works best with only one speaker rehearsing at a time.

3. Office Timeline


PowerPoint Slide Made with Office Timeline


General Overview

  • Available as a free desktop add-in and web application, it is a third-party tool that helps you create professional and presentation-ready timelines, Gantt charts and roadmaps for project planning and tracking purposes.
  • It’s a reliable tool for project managers, marketers, IT professionals and knowledge workers.

Availability & Compatibility

  • Available for all versions of PowerPoint and Office 365
  • The desktop add-in is seamlessly integrated into PowerPoint and is compatible with Windows-running machines.
  • The online app allows both Windows and Mac users to create graphics as PowerPoint slides directly in their browser.

Capabilities

  • Smart layout engine that automatically turns your input into beautiful, interactive PowerPoint slides that can be customized, updated and shared with a few clicks
  • Helps you build your visuals from scratch, by importing your data (from Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet, and Wrike) or by using one of the pre-built templates from the gallery. You can sync your visual to the data file to update the timeline in seconds as your project progresses. 
  • Features a drag & drop interface and powerful functionalities (colors and shapes, task duration, percentage complete, status indicators, swimlanes) that enables the easy yet rich customization of your graphics.
  • Allows you to save your work as a PowerPoint slide or an image file; the web-based app also helps you share your work as a view-only link or as an editable slide.

Limitations

  • The number of templates offered by the free version is limited in comparison to the paid editions of the tool.
  • The graphics generated using free version of the online application are watermarked; for the add-in, your timeline is limited to 10 rows of data.

Conclusion

PowerPoint has been a favorite go-to presentation maker for years since its breakthrough on the market, but its prevalence has made slides all too routine and difficult to hold the audience’s attention. The good news is that many complementary tools have been developed to harness its potential and we’ve selected three of the most useful and original ones to consider.

With this blog post, we hope that we’ve inspired a new perspective on how to enhance your PowerPoint experience and take your presentation to the next level.



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