My Five Favorite FREE Presentation Design Tools

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Presentation ToolsI’m the worst with tools. My poor wife…I can’t build or fix anything. Toilet broken? Call a plumber. Leaky roof? Call a roofer. Spilled milk? Call the cat.

However, there’s one thing I can do – design effective PowerPoint presentations, and to do that I use far more than just some slide software. Over the years I’ve come across a number of tools that have become part of my presentation design tool belt. I won’t attack any project without them. I thought it would be nice to share with you my five favorite presentation design tools that you can use right now for free.

My Five Favorite Presentation Design Tools:

  1. Compfight – I’ve written about my love for Compfight before. I truly consider it the best presentation tool of all time. Seth Godin turned me onto it after he commented on one of my posts where I complimented him on all the amazing imagery he used in his Linchpin presentation. Compfight is a Flickr search engine that allows you to quickly and easily search Flickr for imagery, with filters to choose license types (Creative Commons or Commercial) which is essential when looking for free imagery (with proper accreditation). Flickr has a search engine, but it’s buggy and not as accurate as Compfight. It’s the best way to discover the images you actually want to find” says their website header, and they’re right.
  2. DaFont – I rarely create a presentation that doesn’t use an original font. It’s the easiest way to make your presentation both unique and memorable. Standard slide templates give you boring font selections. Instead, go to DaFont.com and browse thousands of low or n0 cost fonts and easily download them. They almost always have both Mac and PC versions, and allow you to preview your custom text right in the search results. Be careful though. If you’re transferring your presentation from one computer to another, the fonts won’t transfer. Also, if you’re using the presentation within certain webinar platforms or uploading it to a site like SlideShare, some of the fonts won’t carry through. Make sure you use your own machine, save out the presentation as a PDF (perfect for SlideShare), or as a last resort save your slides as .PNGs and paste them into a new presentation. Regardless, even all that hassle is worth it when you find that perfect font to express your story.
  3. KeepVid – I love using video in presentations. And as an audience member, I love watching time-appropriate videos in presentations. I’m sure you’ve all heard of a little tool called YouTube, and maybe you’ve found some cool videos that you’d love to show your audience during your talk. But what if there’s no internet? What if you want to embed the video right into your presentation? KeepVid to the rescue. KeepVid is an online video converter that downloads streaming videos. Simply copy and paste the URL of the video you’d like to download and let it do its magic. I’ve used KeepVid to embed (with permission) numerous videos in my presentations. That way I don’t have to depend on having a working Internet connection or having to leave PowerPoint at all during the presentation (which can only lead to headaches).
  4. Note and Point – I learn a lot by seeing other effectively designed presentations. I’m not talking about stealing their ideas or designs, but see how they approach the art of presentation design and how their techniques are both similar and different from mine. NoteandPoint.com is an online gallery of “killer slide decks.” They are truly the best of the best, and are often designed by non-designers, which helps us designers to think outside of the box. If you’re ever looking for inspiration, look no further than Note and Point. All of the decks can be downloaded either in their native form or PDF, or viewed on SlideShare.
  5. SlideShare – I’d be remissed if I didn’t talk about SlideShare.net. SlideShare has revolutionized the way we share and view our presentations online. Similar to Note and Point, SlideShare is less of a tool for design elements (like images or fonts) and more of a way to see the world of presentation design from another designer’s eyes. Unlike Note and Point, however, there’s no approval process on SlideShare. Anyone can upload a presentation, which results in a lot of noise and poorly designed presentations. Though their Top Presentations of the Day are usually very good and can provide some good inspiration. Not only all this, but getting your presentation onto SlideShare can help you gain more/new exposure and spread your message.

Of course, many of these tools could be used illegally. I certainly don’t condone that. If you do use them, please follow all copyright laws and always credit your sources.

What are your thoughts about these specific tools? What other tools do you like to use? The comments are yours…

Image courtesy of 96dpi on Flickr via CompFight

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  • Kevin peterson

    Good article in regards to Presentation Design Tools. In order to have online presentations, one can use various tools such as WebEx, gomeetnow, gotomeeting, RHUB appliances etc.