PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Prezi: Which One Should You Choose?

02 November 2018

It wasn’t very long ago that the go-to presentation software was always PowerPoint. But there have been a few other options for a while now, with Prezi entering the stage almost a decade ago, and many people (especially students) now using Google Slides to collaborate on presentations. So which one should you choose the next time your company asks you to do up a presentation or slide show? As each of these platforms have competed for users over the years, in some ways they have become more alike rather than trying to appeal to a separate niche market. Google Slides has features similar to PowerPoint but with updated templates that are visually like a blend between Prezi and PowerPoint; Microsoft has developed more collaborative features for PowerPoint (and most of its Office programs); and Prezi has developed more sophisticated, traditional-style templates, and has also evolved quite a community around its platform. So, which one should you choose?


Entire books have been written about the relentless repetition built into most PowerPoint templates (e.g. Edward Tufte’s 2006 The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within). However, like most tools, PowerPoint can be used to create something mundane and repetitive, or its features can be used more skillfully to create an engaging presentation. Even if we go back to its original function as “slideware” to replace the old analog slide projectors and overhead projectors, someone can create an engaging presentation simply by using images and leaving out all the bullet points that have given PowerPoint its negative reputation of being repetitive and boring or creating passive audiences. It is this customizability that makes PowerPoint still the number one choice for many experienced presenters who are comfortable using all of the tools available within the software rather than just filling in bullet point after bullet point in one of its ready-made templates. Most people don’t use any of the following tools, even though they can make your presentation look professional and run smoothly: transitions to set up how slides change from one to the next; slide show customizations, such as the ability to present online so others can see the slide show in a web browser; different views to see the presentation’s points in outline view, notes pages to see how it will look when printed out, and so forth; and the ability to share a copy of the presentation through OneDrive. With a bit of basic design skills, the shapes, icons, and tools in the design and draw tabs can also be used to add custom animations to diagrams and images. While these tools are built in to PowerPoint, it takes some getting used to them to use them quickly and skillfully, which is why you will often see people stick to the basic built-in templates (with bullet point after bullet point and minimal visual content), or they will move to some of the other options mentioned below that have more WYSIWYG design features.

Google Slides

Google Slides has been a hit with students and even some company teams working on group presentations due to how easy it is to collaborate. Similar to Google Docs, you can all work on the presentation at the same time and even see the changes each person is making while they are typing. Although Microsoft Office 365 has developed tools to make collaboration easier when writing documents or working on presentation slides, Google still often wins the race as the go-to tool when collaborating on a presentation project. It’s also free, and since many people already have a Gmail account, it’s easily accessible: just have someone give you permission to edit the presentation in Google Slides, and you’re ready to go (or start one yourself and then give your team members permission). It doesn’t have quite the sophisticated tools that PowerPoint does, but it’s getting closer, and it has enough for what the average user would want to do with presentation software. Another perk of Google Slides is that it allows users to upload a PowerPoint, edit it within Google Slides, and then convert it back to a PowerPoint presentation.


Emerging in 2009, many presenters and audiences saw Prezi’s movement zooming in and out between slides as offering a more dynamic alternative to PowerPoint. Although it still follows much of the same pattern (moving from slide to slide, although with a less linear appearance, and still using bullet points within a template consisting of a background design or image), the product’s tagline, “Designed for people who aren’t designers,” provides a good summary of what separates this presentation software from others. For those who aren’t advanced PowerPoint users or used to including more images, diagrams, and interactive content such as videos and 3D models, Prezi can be a good tool to remind the average presenter NOT to just throw a bunch of bullet points on a slide and then sit back and watch each of them pop up with the next point in the presentation. It definitely shows the shift to more visual-based presentations, and it gives average users the tools to make that shift. However, like PowerPoint and Google Slides, it is still a tool, and users are sometimes limited by what is provided to them (and sometimes, even when software such as PowerPoint offers an abundance of features to customize presentations, most presenters will not use them unless they are easy to find and use). It also stores the presentation online, so it is easy to access just by signing in to your Prezi account, but this can also leave the presenter standing awkwardly at the front of the room if the Internet is down or it turns out there isn’t an Internet connection (you can download a Prezi with a paid account, but it can’t be converted to PowerPoint like Google Slides, just a PDF for printing out).

Other Presentation Software Tools

The above presentation software tools are the “main three” that tend to be used by presenters, but there are a number of other tools, whether free or available by subscription, that some people will use. They are often catered to a niche market or particular set of users, such as those who are also wanting to use the software to create marketing materials such as images for social media (e.g. Canva). Check out some of the ones listed in this Forbes article if you’re interested in exploring some of the other options. In our next blog post, we’ll be reviewing some of the presentation tools that aren’t as well known, so stay tuned for that: you might find one that’s exactly what you’re looking for!