It's easy to make a PowerPoint presentation available for downloading: Just move the .ppt file into your web space (or upload it to your Blackboard) and make a link that points to the file. PPT downloads typically offer the truest re-creation of your original presentation, but they also have serious drawbacks.
- Downloading can be inconvenient for your audience. Downloading takes time, requires the involvement of specialized software for playback, and some visitors will be wary of downloading.
- Downloads cannot easily be previewed and some browsers may pass them by rather than investing time to see if they are interested in your content.
- Downloads leave personal copies of your work floating around on other people's machines. The temptation for casual misuse is high, and even honest users might innocently be passing around outdated versions of your work.
- Downloads can take up a lot of space on your own website.
- There are sometimes non-trivial discrepancies between Mac and PC PowerPoint files.
You can find a more detailed enumeration of the disadvantages of downloads at http://www.masternewmedia.org/2004/04/14/powerpoint_to_flash_conversion_tools.htm
To get a feel for the .ppt download, click here to download a small (and silly) .ppt file I have created for demonstration purposes. The presentation intentionally contains a number of slide animations and themes in order to test conversion engines.
Unless you are specifically making a file available to co-authors, you might at least consider offering broswers a .pps version of your presentation rather than a .ppt. Read on for details.