I know, I know, the cool kids think PowerPoint sucks. I have actually seen well-meaning trainers trash on PowerPoint and then preach alternatives, only to commit the same sins on Prezi, or KeyNote, or OpenOffice.
The problem here isn’t the tools, it is the person using the tools. If you commit the sins of PowerPoint, PowerPoint didn’t compel you to do it, you set up those problems yourself.
That said, I think there is a number of excellent ways you can use PowerPoint that make it a more elegant tool.
I do a lot of presentations and trainings that involve extensive demonstration or display of web-based objects. That makes a PowerPoint make less sense because it is a little ham-handed to go to the full screen PowerPoint, where I might have images, important text (like a URL or contact information) or other important bits that just don’t work as well on a document, webpage, email, or programmed webpage.
I discovered a feature that has made PowerPoint even more useful: browsing the presentation in a window. I am doing this in Office 2011 for Mac, but it exists in the last 4 or so versions on both Mac and PC:
1. Slide show –> Set up show
2. Choose “browsed by an individual” in a window
3. This makes your PowerPoint present in a window that you can resize, move around, and easily switch back and forth during your presentation. Here is a screen shot of what that looks like: