Tim Sanders ran into an all-too common problem at a speaking engagement. The sequence of speakers at a conference was running behind schedule and he found himself facing a hungry, tired crowd just before lunch.
Faced with these circumstances, he made the snap decision to ditch the PowerPoint deck he'd prepared and interacted with the audience – from the audience.
What could have been a disaster turned out very well. And Sanders says he's going to limit his slides or go without more often. Based on my experience this is a sound strategy, not only when presenting at a conference but also when conducting a meeting. Use mind-mapping, affinity brainstorming, and other approaches that engage everyone. You'll get better results and more cooperation.
There are times when a slide deck is just the right thing and there are certainly people who can use them effectively (think Steve Jobs and Tom Peters). Cliff Atkinson literally wrote the book – Beyond Bullet Points – on how to approach presentation building from a storyteller's perspective. So I'm not saying don't use the tool. I am saying use it with discrimination and mix up your bag of tricks.