We love to hate PowerPoint, as Abhay Padgaonkar observes over at MarketingProfs. But is it PowerPoint, or just people using it badly? Does PowerPoint deserve more ire than, say, Word (used to create unreadable documents) or Excel (used to create meaningless spreadsheets)?
Remember, PowerPoint is simply a means to an end. It is only a visual aid. Don't hide behind it and don't let it overshadow the protagonist—the speaker.
Indeed. The article includes some good tips on using PowerPoint, but there's just one overarching point I'd make: the PowerPoint presentation should be the last thing you do. You should have thought things through, written your supporting documents, and crunched your numbers before you use PowerPoint to create visual aids that will help you tell the story.
PowerPoint won't tell the story itself, unless the story is so simplistic and dull that nobody should be wasting their time sitting in front of you to hear it. And this is why I think PowerPoint, the program, does deserve its bad reputation.
The idea of it is fine: a tool for creating slides and showing them to people. The problem is that Microsoft, in its usual fashion, then tarted it up with templates and formatting and tools that are supposed to help you create the content. And they are horrible, because they are designed to make you stupid about your content.
I once had a boss who did kick-ass presentations with PowerPoint. Of course, his slides usually consisted of a headline or a few words and images that illustrated his point. Without him speaking, they would be meaningless. With him speaking, they made you remember what he was saying and pick out the key points of his presentation.
To make PowerPoint a useful program, I recommend deleting every template that comes with it. When you are ready to work on your presentation, take out a piece of paper and pen and start sketching what you'd like it to be. Only when you have some ideas down should you fire up PowerPoint and get to work.
Otherwise, PowerPoint will be doing the thinking for you. And you know what? It's not nearly as smart as you are.