Edward Tufte writes in Wired that PowerPoint is Evil: Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely. (Thanks for the heads-up, Sam!)
In my job, I see a lot (and I mean a lot) of PowerPoint presentations. I've created a lot of PowerPoint presentations in my 13 years at Microsoft. So it may not be much of a surprise when I completely agree with Tufte.
As a tool, PowerPoint is great. Good features. Good, solid program. But there's no substitute for learning how to create and deliver a compelling presentation. And there's no excuse for abusing PowerPoint (or your audience for that matter) by being lazy, or for that matter showing off your chart-building skills.
Presentations largely stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. If your numbers are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won't make them relevant. Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure.
PowerPoint should allow you to, uh, powerfully make your point. That's it. If it doesn't support what you're saying, make it more memorable, illustrate it to make it easier to understand, then don't use it.
Great article! Now, for my own pet peeves (I wish I had my data projector handy... >click!<
JOHN PORCARO'S POWERPOINT PEEVES
1) Using your slides as your speaking notes
2) Using your slides as your handouts
3) Putting up your entire spreadsheet, rather than illustrating the point your trying to make with the data
4) Reading every word on your slides, all at once (the audience can read)
5) Not addressing every point on your slides ("we can skip over this stuff..." -- if it's on the slide, it should be there for a reason!)
6) Not using illustrations when they would make the point more, uh, powerfully
7) Using bullets instead of jumping to a demo or website or picture or movie. Don't tell me the features of your website or product, show it!
8) Using those innane included templates. Worst one, Dad's Tie.
9) Not posting your slides in a public place after the presentation
10) Using too few slides (I prefer a slide every minute or two).
I'm sure I have a hundred more... :)