Best Free Stuff To Ace Your Presentation

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Admittedly, I’m a bit of an app-geek, particularly when it comes to tools that help communicate messages in a more effective, engaging way. If you’re worried about a jammed set of slides and losing your message, here are some tools worth trying out next time you need to present.

1. Slide Decks 
I’m not going to trash-talk PowerPoint here, it’s still the mainstream go-to and when done well, it does the job, is easily accessible and can be great. Bad slides are on the creator. However there are some other presentation tools worth taking a look at…

Prezi got a lot of people excited when it came out in 2009 and for good reason; movement, nice templates, a community where sharing presentations could help you improve your own, all good. The free side is good although only if you’re happy to make your slides public – you have to pay for the privacy setting. To try it out you can work around this by keeping it in edit mode (and not publishing). Prezi doesn’t suit everybody’s presenting style though and again this comes down to content. If you like having, or need to have, a lot of information, particularly writing, don’t try and jam it on a prezi template. You’ll over-spill boxes and make people feel nauseous.

Haiku Deck is simple, easy to use and even if you just want it to pick out some pictures and title slides, it’s a winner. The free version has had some elements taken out as it’s grown, however it still provides a stylish interface and themes which can help to shortcut a presentation which looks polished and takes you minimal time to produce. It can be restrictive in terms of spacing and additional content added in. You can download and format into good old PowerPoint and then add in additional elements if you’re struggling.

2. Making things pretty…
I can’t really go on without admitting my affection for Canva. When I first used it a few years ago, I must admit we didn’t gel and the additional in-app purchases clogged the process. Now, it gives so much extra away and links it straight into social, so you can make everything from a Twitter banner through to whole presentations from your phone. You won’t be disappointed.

3. Beautiful Data
Firstly, you need a clear idea of what you want to show from your data set – sorry, I know this sounds obvious, but it has to be said. Market research and data insights can inform and underpin campaigns and stats are great to support a story BUT it’s a fine balance in terms of using it to support a point in a presentation to going absolutely overkill and data-blasting everyone.

Infogr.am has been around since 2012 and whilst it has a thriving paid-for side, there is still plenty of functionality on the free side worth checking out. What’s more you can make the data ‘live’ by linking it to a data source – which is a great way of presenting information that constantly changes. There are 20 free infographic templates to check out and you can view lots of examples from other people to get some inspiration – play around with it first to make sure you’ve got your data where you need it.

Piktochart has some similar functionality to Infogr.am but have linked in more design and presentation styles. It depends what you’re trying to show, I find Piktochart a bit more creative but it depends on what you want it to show. Lots of functionality in the free version too so it’s worth having a play around.

4. Pictures
I’d always advocate working with a number of photographers to build up your own image library as well as tapping into your existing social channels to create and curate images to help depict your brand. There will always be gaps though and you may not have big budgets for a pricey Getty account. There are some great rights free sites changing up the photography field to source images as well as a breadth of editing tools available for free.

Unsplash I’m late to the party with this one but I’m a bit of a fan girl of Unsplash now I’m there. If instagram is Bake Off, Unsplash is Masterchef the professionals. This is crowd-sourced photography at another level. What’s more, it’s absolutely rights free. For those of you who have communities, such as universities, national governing organisations or charities with memberships and wide stakeholder bases, you could tap into the growing passion for photography and set up your own board/group and get a ready made stream of stunning and uber competitive creative shots. It won’t work for every occasion, but I dare you to find many presentations where a shot from Unsplash can’t make it sing.

Editing pictures to give them the right impact you can’t go wrong with tools like PicMonkey or Pixlr.

5. Video and Audio
Sometimes you just need a settler or a means to get some information out with movement and sound. Embedding a short clip can really help but you may not have the time or editing skills to create something from scratch. Fear not, so much to choose from.

Animoto is probably one of the safest bets in terms of ease of use and practical applications. It has some great templates but its main bonus is how easy and quick it is. Simply choose the template, drop in some images and text and it cuts it to music for you. If you’re really particular about what you need, it might not give you that flex, but it will give you the ability for a quick professional-looking clip and they’ve also made it super easy to share on social.

If you have a little more time, doing something with Powtoon can have a good impact. Powtoon is an animated presentation platform and whilst most flexibility comes from a paid version, the free format has lots to offer. Start off by using an existing template and check out other examples so you can think about your message through a storyboard.

If you want more flexibility and have an interest in video editing, tools like Lightworks and Avidemux are good starting places.

Audio can be really useful if you have time to edit up a video or want to show a slide show of some images within your presentation. Most venues if they have a music license means you can play any track and it’s fine to share with the audience – just take it off if you’re then sharing it with delegates or posting it online. If you do want some free audio, there are places for that too. Free Music Archive is a good place to start; it has a nice way of searching for the style of music you’d like. Soundcloud has a rights free section too worth taking a look at.

So next time you’re want to make your message stick, experiment with how you get it across and take advantage of all of the freebies out there that could help. Always check the terms and conditions for what you want to use to ensure you’ve got rights free/truly free options!

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