PowerPoint Presentation Alternatives

Question - PowerPoint or another format?

To PowerPoint or Not To PowerPoint – What are the Options?

Presentation Alternatives or Full Power(Point) Ahead?

When you have to make a presentation, is your first thought to turn on PowerPoint? It’s what everyone does, what everyone expects from a presentation, isn’t it?

But could there be a better way?

But before we go on …

There are many slide based variations on PowerPoint. If you want something that allows you to make ‘on stage’ decisions on the content you show, then Prezi is worth checking out.

However, this post isn’t about slide based PowerPoint alternatives. We’re taking a look at a different sort of visual aids.

But before you start creating visual aids of any sort, have you planned and structured your presentation?

Only when you have the content sorted can you decide which elements need more than words to help the audience’s understanding.

PowerPoint slide with nothing but words

Thinking Visuals

In most presentations it may be helpful to use visual aids to help communicate your message more effectively. But first ask yourself what you are trying to convey to your audience.

Can it be done effectively without any visual aids? If you can craft your words to influence the audience, you can stand out from the crowd.

But if you have to provide information that can’t be easily achieved with words alone, the next question is how best to transmit the information to your listeners.

The saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ may not be precisely accurate but gives a fair indication of the benefits of visual aids. Let’s analyse those two words.

Visual: Something you can see. A picture. An image. An object.

Aids: Things that help.

PowerPoint Presentation Positives (and not so positives)

Can you provide something visual that aids the understanding and subsequent recall of your key message? Is it possible to achieve your objective with PowerPoint (or similar) slides?

For example, charts and graphs are useful for helping understand fact and figures. They are well suited to PowerPoint if done well.

Why not read our blog post on Powerful Presentations and find out how to give a stellar performance?

Hmm, how best to achieve your objectives. Food for thought? Whatever its merits, the problem with PowerPoint, other than it is often used badly, is that it’s commonplace. It may not necessarily help you to make a real impact.

What if you could stand out from the crowd? Wouldn’t that make it easier to get your message across?

Stand out

Are you prepared to stand out? Perhaps you might need to be a little brave.

Are you up for it? Good. Then let’s take a look at how you might make a real impact.

Same rules apply. Only use visual aids that really help you to communicate the key elements of your presentation.

Nevertheless, we must recognise that it is an increasingly visual world. Look at websites. More and more images are being used.

A New Visual World (with some old-school techniques)


Alternatives to PowerPoint include Chalk and Talk

OK, time for some visual aid alternatives to PowerPoint slides. (In no particular order.)

No.1 Chalk and Talk

The expression, ‘chalk and talk’, relates to the way school teachers would talk to their class while writing on the blackboard.

This can be carried over into modern day presentations by the use of whiteboards or flipcharts.

A quick sketch or diagram, possibly with one or two words, can have impact.

Try not to turn your back on the audience while writing/drawing. If you can do it from the side, the audience will be able to follow what you are doing.

Unlike with PowerPoint, the audience will be looking at you as well as the image you are creating. It will help to keep their attention.

No.2 Video

Yes, it’s back to using technology, but could a short video clip demonstrate or illustrate a point?

Think about Googling ‘How to do xyz‘. Given the choice between reading instructions and watching a short video, most of us would opt for the latter.

Well presented ‘How to’ videos on YouTube are so helpful, aren’t they? So why shouldn’t a short video work equally well as part of your presentation?

No.3 Physical Objects

Could you use physical objects instead of slides? Sometimes they don’t necessarily even have to relate directly to what you’re saying; they could be a metaphor.

It’s about making the message stand out and be memorable.

The objects need to be close by so you can pick them up without disrupting your presentation flow. But you don’t want them to be visible until you need to use them, otherwise they could be a distraction.

No.4 Demonstration

Perhaps you could demonstrate a piece of equipment or a process rather than just talk about it.

And don’t forget the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ approach. This can be useful if demonstrating a process and you need to ‘fast forward’ some of the elements.

The bonus is that if you actually say, “Here’s one I made earlier”, you will probably get a laugh from the audience.

Adding humour is always a good way to keep the audience engaged.

No.5 Audience Participation

Another way to engage with the audience is to invite one or two of them to assist you with certain tasks.

In the right context, audience participation can be powerful. But do make sure your assistants are willing and not embarrassed by their roles.

Perhaps a pre-meeting conversation might be advisable.

Once you involve others in your presentation there is a degree of risk, depending on their role.

Equally, again there might be an opportunity to generate some humour.

Mix ‘em up

There’s no reason why you need to stick to one type of visual aid if different aspects of your presentation can best be illustrated with different visuals.

Be bold and be different and make a real impact. And remember, there are alternatives to PowerPoint slides when you are giving a presentation.

You may also be interested in our post on How To Make Powerful Presentations.


Last updated 13th July 2023

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