No matter how much we grumble about them, PowerPoint presentations are a fact of life. Thankfully, plenty of companies roll out innovative software and gadgets to make them a little less tedious. Here are four offerings we like.


SAP recently introduced several updates to its suite of PowerPoint Twitter Tools, including Autotweet, an add-in that lets you automatically tweet tagged text from a presentation. A new feedback slide, which you download and insert in a PowerPoint file, lets you ask audience members questions and display their Twitter responses. COST: Free


The Papershow kit, which includes a Bluetooth digital pen, special paper, and a USB key loaded with software, lets you annotate presentations onscreen. To use it, import your presentation into Papershow, print it on the special paper, then scribble away. You can also advance slides with a press of the pen. COST: $199 for a starter kit


Poll your audience in real time by downloading a slide from the Poll Everywhere site and inserting it into your PowerPoint file. Audience members can respond to questions by text or Twitter from their phones. Results appear in a customizable graph or running list of tweets. COST: Free for audiences of up to 30, then 10 cents to 30 cents per person


Still using generic clip art on your slides? This plug-in gives you quick access to millions of stock images from Fotolia. Once you download and install the software, you can search for photos, double-click to preview them in slides, and buy them, all without leaving the PowerPoint program. Images cost from $1 to $20. COST: Free