Wednesday, January 13, 2010

PowerPoint Templates? PowerPoint Alternatives? (Link List)

One of my students (Thanks, Jeff!) asked me this morning if I knew of any place to find high quality, free PowerPoint templates.

He had already looked at the MS Office template repository and had done the standard Google search and found the MS templates to be good but over-used by his classmates, the truly free offerings to be of fairly poor quality and the good quality templates to be out of his "poor college student's" price range.

I suggested that he use either Google's advanced search feature to look for .PPT files that were "free to use or share" or use one of the several PowerPoint specific search engines to help him find additional templates or backgrounds he could use.

Another alternative , of course, is simply not to use PowerPoint. There are a number of alternatives including, for example, Impress, which comes bundled with the OpenOffice Suite of software. OpenOffice is free and open source software which mimics (and in some cases improves) on MS Office's functionality. It works with most operating systems (including Windows and Mac).

Ever since I started using Ubuntu (a Linux distribution) on my laptop, I have been impressed with OpenOffice (which comes bundled automatically with Ubuntu). I have not had a chance to use Impress other than as a tool to view .PPT presentations but it has worked flawlessly. I also noticed that there were a number of free (and fairly attractive) template sites dedicated to Impress (an example of one is here).

If you look to online presentation applications, the alternatives seem even more robust. Rotorblog lists a number of options worth exploring. Two of these I have seen in action, Sliderocket and Prezi, and I think they could both be used to make a very interesting presentation.

Of course, the final option is to dramatically change your presentation style. We tend to focus on a "standard professional" style here at Mercyhurst that minimizes the flash and focuses more on substance.

There are a wide variety of other styles out there, however. Presentation Zen has captured some of them including the "Lessig Method", the "Godin Method", The "Kawasaki Method" and the "Takahashi Method". Not all of these methods are appropriate for intelligence briefings but there may well be some elements which can transfer effectively.

Have your own favorite tool, template source or presentation style? Leave a comment!

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