As with any program, Microsoft PowerPoint has its strong points and its challenges. There’s a reason so many people choose it when they’re putting together a presentation deck—mainly because it provides a relatively straightforward way to create and customize slides. The tool is also familiar to many of us because we learned how to use it in school.
What you might not know is that PowerPoint offers many great add-ins to build on its core functions; many of them free or very inexpensive. Taking advantage of these add-ins will help you enhance your presentations. Here are just five to consider next time you’re putting together a slideshow.
We all know text-heavy PowerPoint presentations lack the visual interest to keep audiences engrossed. This is why many experts recommend using plenty of attention-grabbing, relevant imagery throughout. But finding images to use that are both high-quality and legal for usage can be tricky; the internet is full of copyrighted and weirdly formatted pictures, after all.
Pickit is an add-in offering a large library of images, illustrations and icons—all royalty-free. Chances are you’ll find something that works for your slideshow, and you’ll never have to sweat that you’re accidentally inserting a licensed or restricted image into your important presentation.
#2: Poll Everywhere
The best presentations tend to be the most interactive. Audiences do better at staying alert and retaining information when they’re part of the conversation rather than passive recipients of the information. But don’t worry, you don’t need to hand out clickers to survey your audience in real time.
Poll Everywhere is an add-in that allows presenters to embed polls and PowerPoint games—trivia competition, anyone?— Directly into their slideshows. Audience members can respond to different types of questions, answer icebreakers, create word clouds and play along for points using their mobile devices.
#3: Flevy Tools
Honestly, who has time to fuss with creating charts by hand these days amongst all your other job duties? The problem here may just be that you haven’t tried using a tool that makes it easy to create business charts. Flevy Tools supports twelve types of diagrams, from waterfall charts to Gantt diagrams to show project timelines, making it useful in workplace contexts.
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Formerly known as ActivePresentation Designer, this add-in will free your slideshow from the confines of linear presentation. As we know, audiences often disengage when they feel presentations have become too predictable, with one slide following another in a seemingly endless parade of similar content.
So, ActivePrez enables presenters to create more of a “choose your own journey” feel with their deck in which they can skip around as needed. Non-linear presentations may sound a little outside the box, but they can go a long way toward making any slideshow less expectable and more dynamic.
We’ve all seen enough presentations by now to understand what a generic PowerPoint slideshow looks like. You can usually tell when the speaker opted to use default charts and graphics, too. While this doesn’t detract from what someone is saying, it certainly represents a missed opportunity to intrigue viewers with visuals.
ShapeChef is an add-in capable of generating some pizzazz in the form of icons, charts, illustrations, and graphics. This tool can help you illustrate your points better than you’d be able to verbally, or using a generic clip-art version of the best graphics for the job.
If you’ve encountered any pain points while using PowerPoint or found yourself thinking “I wish I could…” then there’s probably an add-in for you out there that could make your life a lot easier. Consider these five add-ins and more next time you want to enhance a presentation you’re creating.