A comprehensive overview of the best software for you to make your own slide decks and presentations — with the built-in functionality of letting your audience interact with your content
Think of them generally like Powerpoint or conference display software, but your audience isn't just watching, they can answer and participate, too. Since the pandemic made working and socializing a remote activity, new apps and software have been springing up that make remote calls and presentations more interactive.
There are a ton of different kinds of tools, ranging from the straight-up "this is a slide deck presentation builder" that you'd present to your audience as an event, to the "this is a background tool" that just enables users to send back data to you to use as you like. Whatever you're looking for, there's a really wide range of ways you can get content back from your audience, and then display it to a larger group.
We've found some trends, especially lately, of use cases that are popular for these kinds of tools. Here's what many people are doing:
A big thing we've seen is creating question-based games. Think trivia, vote-on-answer and and quiz types games. Some of them work well as a bar trivia or pub quizzo night tool, and the ones built for this do scoring for you as well.
Interacting with colleagues is a big catalyst for some of these pieces of software. Many of them are geared toward meetings and work presentations. There are brainstorming, polling, and show & tell types of interactions, and people are making icebreakers games for their coworkers, as well.
Students and teachers are natural fits for this kind of tool — especially when adding more engagement possibilities into the remote classroom has become so important. These builders makes it possible to create socratic lessons for students — so teachers can ask lots of questions and get responses back real time.
Many of these tools are specifically geared toward polling — asking an unspecified number of respondents to select from a list of options, or enter their own responses. Then the tools have differing ways of displaying that content culled from the audience.
It depends on what specific functionality you're looking for. To help you sort out all the possibilities, we've taken a dive into the options available, and laid out an overview of each tool's functionality and strengths, as well as their shortcomings. We've taken specific care to touch on:
- how robust and versatile the functionality of the interactivity is
- the overall experience of creating within the builder
- the overall experience of participating in an event
- the pricing
We've taken a concerted look at how each piece of software works, what they're built to do specifically, and what they do best. We'll also point out where a tool is trying to do something that they don't quite hit, or where they are made clearly for a specific use case (so don't try to use them for something else).
So, without further ado, here are some of the best interactive tools you can use, no downloads or special installations required.
Mentimeter is fairly corporate-focused and definitely feels like mature software — it's been around since ~2015, there are a lot of enterprise-level functionalities (like presentation configurations, moderation, import/export, etc.), and it works reliably. When it comes to functionality there is a ton of breadth and capability here, but not a ton of flexibility. Mentimeter is best suited for making longer, feature-deep presentations for work or more formal settings.
There's an "Inspiration" decks section that you can copy into your files and edit to make your own. This is helpful given that this settings-heavy builder has a bit of a learning curve to start with. It's made for enterprise users who want a lot of specific meta functionality from their decks, and the settings menu editor is broad and full-featured.
The types of slides you can add are listed above.
They have all the standard types of interactions, including multiple choice questions, string comparison text-entry slides, ranking, and word clouds. There are 12 interactive slides, and 8 static content slide types.
There are often multiple options for how to display the results you get (eg. display the selections from your multiple choice question as a a graph, donut, or pie chart). This adds some really nice depth of functionality to each interaction type. You can style your decks with overall pre-created themes, which are all pretty basic in appearance. You can create your own slide looks with BG images and colors, but this is only in the Prop plan (so, not available for free users).
One big drawback in the builder experience is that the editor and the slide display are separate: you can't type right on the slide, only in a side menu that then displays your changes (think old school Mailchimp-esque wysiwyg). The interface does have a dated feel because of this.
There's a persistent banner up top that prompts the audience to join any time during the event, at a shortened url. It's two steps (rather than the 1 for some of these other tools) for your user to join ("go to url, type in code", rather than "type in url with built in code, go"), and there's no QR code to scan, which is a nice feature of many of these tools.
As an audience member, you're not really grouped during an event. In other words, there could be 2 other people looking at the question slide, or 200, there's no way for you to connect with any of the other players. Once folks answer you can see how many, and what, responses there are. Responses are displayed instantly and cleanly, and the animations are smooth.
The moderator has a little bottom left menu to manage the event. For the user, the general event experience is clean (a little antiseptic event) and straightforward, great for meetings.
If you're familiar with Mentimeter, Aha Slides will look very (very) similar; it's almost certain that they "borrowed" a lot of the UI. However, Aha Slides has made a concerted effort to be less corporate and more friendly feeling, and clearly has a different brand and target audience. Aha Slides works well for building middle to longer feedback/brainstorm work sessions, or game events to then present to a small to middle sized group.
There are similar drawbacks to Mentimeter — the builder functionality all lives in the right menu, which has a ton of settings and toggles and tooltips. This makes for easier coding of the slides, but worse UX for the user doing the building.
The slide interaction types map pretty equally to Mentimeter's, if a little more sparsely: There are 8 interaction types and 6 static content options.
If you want to change a slide's type but leave its existing content you can toggle between slide types. Then you can edit their settings in the "content" tab in the right builder menu.
As a rule, it seems like they have about 75% of Mentimeter's exact functionality, with a generally more friendly UI.
Aha Slides makes a concerted effort to be more playful — their standard decks have crazy gifs as background images (the color and background image additions aren't behind a paywall), they give you the option to pick your own avatars for an event.
The moderator has a left hover view to manage the event.
The event experience feels more inclusive and joined, since they at least tell you how many responses have been submitted.
Slido is a very different tool than Mentimeter and AhaSlides.
Think of it like hosting a conference — your users show up at an appointed time, then they can partake in all of the little events that you've set up for them. These include poll questions, quizzes, and audience-submitted questions.
The idea is that Slido is not the main focus or event; it's a tool to add interactivity to other things that are already happening. So it's less about you building a linear event for an audience, and more about your audience participating in your grouped activities, and submitting their own content and questions to share with the larger group while or before your other events (like meetings, video calls, conferences, etc) are happening.
The main-focus "builder" for Slido is less a builder and more a real-time editor. A lot of heavy lifting is done by the little menu bar at the bottom left of the screen when your event is already "live."
You can enter the admin/moderator view to make more fine-tuned changes, see all of your running activities/events, and get a birds eye view of your event.
The types of interactions you can add are below. They're quite minimal compared to others we've seen, but powerful.
It's not a linear experience, it's more "choose your adventure", with some things happening real time (audience submitting responses to questions) and some things happening in advance (poll questions created, audience submitting questions).
The whole thing isn't meant to be the actual focus of any event, but rather an interactive supplement to a live event, video call, or some other joined activity that's happening live or in the future.
Kahoot is a fully fleshed out, simple but powerful tool that's built for games. It's fun, friendly and overall a great user experience. This is built for people to make fun games with small groups.
You have a main landing page, that has a nice big graphic that walks you through a demo and making & presenting your first deck. The builder itself is simple and easy to use, and pretty intuitive from the start. Its functionality is a little more limited than some of the other tools, but the express goal here is fun, rather than work or lessons (think more, learning with fun!).
The types of interactions you can add are here:
You'll recognize the functionalities by now, and Kahoot doesn't do anything particularly box-breaking here. And it's clear this is not for building corporate presentations (there's only one static type of slide). The big thing is that the building itself feels like a game, and is a clear, simple, edit-on-the-page experience.
If you've ever played a Jackbox game, this is basically a build-your-own Jackbox trivia game maker. There's music, auto advancing questions, easy-to-parse phone interfaces, and overall this is just a slick, fun feel.
There's not much group feeling built into this interface. You don't see everyone else in the group on screen, so if you're playing remotely it can feel distanced.
Kahoot pricing is based on what user segment you select in the beginning. The options are teacher, personal, professional, etc.
This is the pricing for "Professional" selection (for which there is no free tier, though for personal and teachers there is.)
If you're looking for a simple way to ask a few questions to a group, this is a perfect fit. If you want a larger / longer experience, look elsewhere.
Poll Everywhere is a pared down tool, compared to some of the others we've explored here. Its goal is to create multiple individual "activities" (eg, poll questions) that you can share ad hoc. So instead of one larger event that you'd build then display to a group that's joined together all at the same time, this works more like a series of one-offs that you send individually.
To respond, your audience follows a dedicated link to your individual question, and inputs their answer through a browser. You can present in full screen mode (but this isn't required for your audience to send in answers).
The first time you use Poll Everywhere, it drops you straight into a tutorial. (And as a result the page looks a little broken.) While Slido could do with this, for Poll Everywhere's UI it feels a little like overkill. Once you're past the tutorial, you're dropped into you "add activities" homepage.
The Builder shows your individual activities, lets you toggle them in/active, and manage them overall, on this screen. When you create a new activity or click into one, you can mange that individual question. The types of polls / activities you can send out are here:
They include Multiple Choice, Word Clouds, Q&A, Mappable Images where your users can click, Surveys, Open-Ended answers, etc. Many of these are simple text submission fields that have subsequent functionality eg. submit a text response and then you can upvote or downvotes others' answers.
While they're not groundbreaking in their functionality, each one feels nicely thought out, and they're easy to parse as discreet interaction types. Overall it's a well-laid out building experience that doesn't take much effort to learn, but doesn't do too many fancy bells & whistles, either.
Since there's not much of an "event" with Poll Everywhere, the experience of "playing" or "participating" here is short and feels very one-off. There's not much joining together or group feeling here. That's not the intended goal really, and technically the participant experience is smooth and easy to figure out.
(from the creators of Medialoot)
Ok, we're biased — but we're also experts. We built this product to fill a void in the market, and to be better than what was out there already.
Slides with Friends is built for you to make longer, more engaging presentations to bring your audience together. It's more reminiscent of Google Slides or Powerpoint than any of the other builders — you make a series of slides and customize them on-slide.
If you're familiar with Prezi / Powerpoint / Google Slides, you will instantly recognize this UI. You add slide types to your deck from a menu of options (similar to the way you do in Mentimeter or Aha Slides).
But the editing and interactivity of the slides lives on the slide rather than in a side menu — they're steps you can walk through that mirror the event experience steps. So if you're using a multiple choice question, the first "step" of the slide shows the question, in the second step you input the answer options, in the third you display the correct one, and so on. This helps give an idea of what the event play will be like on that slide, without having to play it.
There are 9 slide types, with more coming. You can see each one here:
There's a list of all the slide types and how they work here.
The goal here is to make larger presentations that take the place of your previous static slide decks. And there's a lot of work done into making people feel connected — you enter a name and pick a personal emoji, then you're displayed on the event screen with everyone on each slide, as part of a group. Then you can see who has submitted answers (and who hasn't) as play progresses.
The event play is smooth and simple. You can use your keyboard or click to advance a slide. Moderator tools in events are missing — you can't throw on a timer or change an event during play — but this is coming soon.