We’ve all zoned out during long, boring presentations of slide decks that should have stayed in Excel. Here are three free tools to liven your next preso with six tips to help create more effective, motivating and memorable communications for the future.

google_slides-740x405 It’s no surprise that Google Slides is free. It’s one of the tools on Google Drive and at first glance looks like a simpler version of PowerPoint. But it has two major advantages: it allows seamless embedding of YouTube videos and your Google Slides are immediately shareable. You no longer have to jump out of PowerPoint, or do an elaborate workaround, to show a video in your presentation. And you can share your show by sharing a link – very handy for collaboration and distribution.

presentain-740x405 Presentain lets your audience interact with your presentation in real time. Before you start, you give the viewers a pin to log into the presentation on their device. Your slides show on their screens as you present, and they’re shareable in social media. Viewers can submit a question (you’ll see a notification on your smartphone) for you. They can even participate in multiple choice questions and polling. You can chart their response as part of your presentation. It’ll let you capture leads, profile your audience, and save session data. Presentain has limitations: it won’t display animations or transitions, only still copies of slides you have prepared. But you can use Presentain for up to five presentations a month for free.

emaze-740x405 Wish you could create 3D, zooming and panning? Now it’s easy with Emaze. You can import your Keynote or PowerPoint slides, then adding slick and memorable visual effects is a snap. You choose from dozens of effects templates, ready for your content. Everything’s HTLM5, cloud-based and accessible from anywhere there’s Internet. The designs are slick, the interface is streamlined – you can embed pictures and video links and there are lots of data and graphing options. Like Presentain, there’s a free version with most of the basic bells and whistles.

So now that your production skills are enhanced, take a fresh look at your content. Here are six tips to drive your message.

  • Know your audience and speak to their need
  • Create a sense of urgency or conflict resolution that adds immediacy and relevance
  • End with a call to action that tells your viewer what they should do
  • Be concise. TED talks are 18 minutes long because that is the limit of an adult’s attention span
  • Slides and scripts are not interchangeable: slides should be visual analogies that support, explain or summarize key ideas
  • Build interactivity into your presentation. Watch skilled presenters and see how they engage their audience

Your next presentation is your chance to connect, convince and convert. Use these tips and tools to make the most of it.