by Adam Noar
Presentation tools can make designing your presentations so much easier … and so much more fun!
Let’s face it, creative presentations can sometimes be struggle. That’s why I’ve composed a list of 20 presentation tools that you need to add to your presentation arsenal right away.
The following gadgets and apps have become INDISPENSABLE to my slide creation & delivery.
(When your done going through the list, make sure to share your top presentation tools in the comments.)
Alright let’s get started.
20 Presentation Tools
When you want to brainstorm sketches and presentation ideas for your slides, a good notebook is essential.
While you can fine notebooks that cost about $1, Moleskine notebooks cost a bit more in price ($12 for a small one, and the larger ones are $20).
Why would you pay the extra cash for a Moleskine? In my opinion, there more durable, they feel better (the cover is soft and the paper takes ink really well), and their book bound (not spiral bound) which makes them easier to store in bookshelves etc. If none of that seems to matter to you, it’s important to note that apparently Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway all used one. That alone should enhance your creativity right?
Evernote is a powerful tool for dumping your presentation ideas.
For me, speed and accessibility is critical. Whenever a presentation idea pops into my head, I want to get it down immediately AND be able to find it later.
Evernote, which automatically syncs your documents across devices, accommodates both of these requirements and offers many additional layers of organization (e.g. tagging, voice memos, attached references, etc.). You can also use it to clip and store any inspirational images that you come across on the web. This will help get your creativity juices flowing when it’s time to work on your presentation design.
Office Remote is a mobile App that turns your smartphone into a smart remote that interacts with Microsoft Office on your PC.
The App lets you control your PowerPoint presentations from ANYWHERE in the room, so you can walk around freely during presentations. I’ve always been a fan of the expression “motion creates emotion.” The benefit of being able to move around during your presentations could impact your delivery and performance.
Note: The office remote application only works on Window’s smartphones at this time. Click here for my full review on this presentation tool.
I cannot overstate the utility of Bose noise-canceling headphones if you’re working on presentations in an open office environment. Even without playing any music, they block out about 75% of the background (the annoying distracting kind) that ruins creativity. They also sit lightly on the head so it’s not uncomfortable to wear them for long periods of time (or with glasses).
Note: These headphones are very expensive, but they are worth every penny … Especially when you’re working on a long flight with a screaming baby behind you.
Coffitivity is a sweet little website that plays recorded background noises of coffee shops and other “gentle” work environments. This way, you get the benefits of working in a coffee shop environment (a creativity boosting environment) without leaving your house. Using this website does wonders for generating fresh presentation ideas. For more presentation tips on boosting creativity click here.
I keep all the presentations files I need to access on a daily basis on Dropbox. If you never know when you’ll be working from the office, from home, or from the road, it’s a no-brainer. Yes, there are other cloud solutions (iCloud, Google Drive, etc), but for me Dropbox feels the most intuitive and seamless.
SlideShark is a free mobile app that enables you to show your PowerPoint presentations from your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch the way they were meant to be seen—accurately and professionally every time—with animations, fonts, graphics, hyperlinks and videos intact.
The presentation software also lets you add, delete or update presentations as needed, and distribute them via the cloud for fast, secure access. SlideShark also offers several extra features when live broadcasting your presentation including “annotations” (lets you draw on and highlight specific parts of your PowerPoint content in real time to capture your audience’s attention) and “presenter mode” (lets you see all of your slide notes are right in front of you, for only you to see).
For information about the features of SlideShark you can check out my review here.
If you need to present on-the-go why be limited to sharing your presentations only on your laptop? Lugging around your laptop can be a pain. With an iPad (or other tablet device) you have the option of traveling light.
The idea here is that you write down one idea per Post-it (a.k.a., sticky note) with a large Sharpie pen. By using a fat Sharpie pen, you’re forced to think about the BIG PICTURE since it’s pretty difficult to write down tiny details on a Post-it with a thick Sharpie. Once you have maxed out all of your ideas, stick the Post-its to the wall so you can move ideas around, group them, and create additional ideas.
It’s actually pretty fun when you get into it and makes for a nice break from working at the computer.
Wunderlist is the perfect to-do list manager for organizing EVERYTHING.
Whether you’re planning your presentation, sharing presentation design tasks with a co-worker or jotting down creative ideas for your slides, Wunderlist is the perfect sidekick for organizing your presentations AND YOUR LIFE. I use this application on my iPhone and computer habitually throughout the day. I can’t imagine life without it.
Using quality images is one of the best things you can do to enhance your presentations.
Using stock photography sites like Deposit Photos (one I have a personal account with) you can find TONS of beautiful, hi-resolution images for an affordable price. What’s nice about Deposit Photos is that they do a free trial subscription so you can test them out for free. Deposit photos has a wide selection of photography and vectors (that you can modify in Adobe Illustrator if needed).
When you need interesting looking graphics for your presentations you have a few options. You can find free ones online (if you’re lucky and don’t require customization). You can purchase them online from stock photography websites which have lots of different vector illustrations to choose from. Alternatively, you can create them yourself using PowerPoint (click here to see how), or Adobe Illustrator, which is the most advanced graphic creation tool on the market. While there is a learning curve, once you get the fundamentals down developing creative images is not that difficult.
PowerPoint is the “go to” presentation software for the most people when putting together presentations. In fact, there are more than 500 million users of PowerPoint, and it holds an estimated 95% of the presentation software market. Although much maligned for the numerous boring slideshows created with it and inflicted upon legions of workers, PowerPoint is PACKED with useful features. Remember, PowerPoint is really what YOU make of it.
If you’re a fan of Apple then you might already be a fan of their own presentation software; Keynote. Keynote is actually very similar to PowerPoint with its simple to create presentations and high quality animations and transitions. Keynote is also tightly integrated with iOS, so you can turn your iPhone or iPad into a wireless presentation tool.
Prezi is a zooming presentation tool that lets you create and present your ideas on a large and zoomable virtual canvas. This allows the presenter to choose their own path (as opposed to navigating through slides sequentially). In other words, users can jump in and out ideas and are given more flexibility when presenting. It also simply looks cool. There is quite a bit of debate on how this presentation software compares to the industry leading giant PowerPoint. Click here to check out my full review on Prezi vs. PowerPoint.
While PowerPoint has made some improvements to its image editing capabilities over the years, there can be times where you find yourself in need of a more robust image editor for your creative images. Most people would agree that Adobe Photoshop is the best image editing tool out on the market.
But, the problem with Photoshop is that it’s also EXPENSIVE ($49.99 for a Creative Cloud membership which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat). If you’re not inclined to spend that kind of money on an image editor, Gimp is powerful FREE alternative. Both image editing tools have a learning curve, but there are many online video tutorials on YouTube that can walk you through pretty much every kind of task you are looking to complete.
While I often recommend building your presentation templates from scratch (and avoid presentation templates) there might be an occasion where you want to find a pre-designed template. Although there are a variety of template companies available, one that I highly recommend and often use is Slideshop.
Slideshop offers a large selection of professionally designed PowerPoint templates and slide bundles at various prices. The presentation templates are, for the most part, stylish and high quality. Some of them are bit “plain Jane” but there are more than 15,000 slides to choose from, so it’s worth taking a look.
Similar to Slideshop, if you are short on time for creating your presentation, Slidevana offers a bundle of good looking presentation templates for both PowerPoint and Keynote. It contains over 150 professional rendered slides which allows you to quickly create presentations that captivate your audience. Slidevana is available for a one-time download fee of $139 for PowerPoint or Keynote or $199 for both PowerPoint and Keynote.
Believe it or not, fonts can impact your audience’s mood as they go through your presentation. PowerPoint does not come standard with a good selection of fonts. Instead you have to go out and FIND GOOD ONES YOURSELF. Font Squirrel is a great place to download hundreds of attractive free fonts to spice up your presentation and give it a more customized look. If you need some good fonts to get started with click here.
Getting started with the construction of your presentation can be a daunting affair. If using Sharpies and Post-its does not sound like an appealing way to organize your story and ideas MindMeister might be a tool that can help. MindMeister can help you organize your thoughts by quickly and easily creating “mind maps” while adding notes to them using your arrow and insert keys.
Presentation tools like the ones described above can make your presentation design process go much smoother.
Here’s my question for you …
What are the gadgets, tools, and apps that enhance your presentations? Please share your essentials in the comments below!
Please try to be as specific as possible.
Also, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation tools? If so, send them a link to this article by using the sharing buttons below.
Finally, if you found these presentation tips helpful, please hit the like and share using the sharing buttons to the left!
Background cover photo: Bartosz Mikołajczyk, Brainstorm icon: Bastien Ho from The Noun Project, Image icon: Rémy Médard from The Noun Project, Coffee icon: Christopher smith from The Noun Project, Tablet icon: Luis Prado from The Noun Project, Dropbox icon: Agus Purwanto from The Noun Project, Headphones icon: Molly Bramlet from The Noun Project, Notebook icon: Branis Panos from The Noun Project, Paint Brush icon: Björn Andersson from The Noun Project (Wow, that was a lot of contribution for one slide! I feel like a group hug is needed)
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