"It's not you I hate <Powerpoint>, it's what you made me become." - Miles O'Brien (more or less)
I do feel that concept maps are better for organizing your presentation and even delivering it. However, I will say that you could even use a concept map to organize your presentation - THEN make Powerpoints if you so choose.
Why are concept maps more powerful?
It has to do with the structure of the tool and patterns of human communication.
Starting with Powerpoint provides the presenter with little structure. What ends up happening is we create Powerpoint presentations in a compartmentalized way - dealing specifically with topics. Topics are not narratives.
Narratives have inherent sequencing and flow that draws the audience along in an elegant and enjoyable fashion. We've all seen good Powerpoints that have excellent narrative flow, so I'm not saying they don't exist. I am, however, saying they are very rare.
In the hands of a skilled story teller, Powerpoint can be an amazing tool. For most people, however, it becomes an endless whiteboard of hastily gathered and over-supported notes. Powerpoint rewards this behavior, Concept maps reward narrative flow and sequencing.
When creating a presentation, writers tend to focus more on the detail than the flow. This is understandable - they are excited about the detail!
However, the detail quickly becomes the focus of the presentation. Detail over story. Detail over flow. Detail over narrative.
They tend to over-bullet, meaning they include all their detail in the slides. This encourages them to read bullets. But, the bullets aren't a story, they are detail. The detail lacks the context of a good narrative. Therefore, in order for their detail to have context, they construct narratives on the fly, which forces the presenter to meander and jump ahead.
What does that mean? When you reach slide 22 in the 60 slide presentation, the presenter says "well, I've already covered this," and skips the slide.
It also means that the timeline of the presentation inevitably gets derailed because meandering and jumping ahead lengthened the time at each slide in the earlier parts of the presentation.
No narrative = no presentation structure = no sequencing of messages = reduced coherence.
What does this mean for the viewer in the audience?
"May you live <through> interesting <powerpoints>."
- Chinese curse (more or less)
The audience gets an exciting presentation, and I don't mean that in a good way. The presenter is jumping ahead, meandering, and reading her over-bulleted slides. Therefore, the audience is forced to construct context on their own.
This causes the audience to be distracted by reading the whole slide the moment it is presented - completely ignoring the presenter. (Come on, tell me you haven't done this). They are often shocked when seemingly random slides follow one another. They search for flow. The longer they don't receive it, the more they tune out.
Over-detailed slides also tend to put so much focus on the detail, that the audience believes the detail is the true source of value for the presentation. They do what is logical - they try to capture that value by transcribing everything on the Powerpoint slide.
Short Case for Concept Maps
Concept maps, on the other hand provide flow and keywords to trigger anecdotes and supporting information from the presenter at appropriate times. This puts audience focus on the presenter and not the slides. It puts the presenter's focus on the message and not the detail.
For me, concept maps are the most powerful tool I've found for quickly capturing, analyzing and organizing thoughts. For presentations, concept maps have proven to be an excellent way to sync audience and speaker into a common rhythm and flow.
I urge you again to go download the Cmap software from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Florida.