SlideRabbit at the Presentation Summit

5 Things We Learned at the Presentation Summit

Sometimes you need a little shake up to remember why you love your job so much. Last week we attended the Annual Presentation Summit, a coming-together of presentation software providers, designers, speakers, coaches and just about anyone else working in a presentation-related field. What an excellent revitalization! We learned so much and met so many excellent new friends. Below, we’ll share some of the tips we found most resonant.* You’ll have to attend next year to get the full effect.

1. Simplifying with Nolan Haims

Nolan Haims, our friend and occasional colleague, officially kicked off the summit on Monday morning with a powerful reminder to simplify. Too often we bog down our messages in unnecessary detail and overwrought imagery. Get back to basics. Communicate directly. We couldn’t agree more.
Check out Nolan’s blog for more great presenting and designing tips.

2. Finding Inspiration with Julie Terberg

Julie Terberg Design InspirationDesigner Julie Terberg inspired us to get out of our own boxes more often. Julie offered her tips on using other design to grow our own repertoire. Find an inspiring piece, and move beyond copying by combining one design element with one from another piece. Inspiration is everywhere, she says, so don’t look at slide design. Look at other areas of design, natural, packaging, manufacturing, etc.,  to grow your presentation design skills.
Here are some of our favorite of Julie’s inspiration references: Dribbble, Behance, Commarts

3. Hacking Templates with Echo Swinford

Echo Swinford offered her tips on creating customer friendly template files. She reminds us to always consider who will be using the template, how they will use it and where they will use it. Echo likes to keep things as simple as possible for her clients, starting with PowerPoint presets and minimizing the editing steps to achieve the desired design look.
Check out Echo & Julie’s book for more technical hacks to creating easy to use, beautiful templates.

4. Being Humble with Microsoft 

Microsoft at the Presentation SummitGenerally, “humble” is not the word that comes to mind when we think of the tech giants. That’s why we were floored when Microsoft not only sent a four person PowerPoint team to the Presentation Summit, but actually took the hotseat to answer questions about product functionality (and non-functionality), Mac v PC hiccups, and upcoming improvements. The team was open to criticism, reminding us that their number one goal is to build the best PowerPoint tool they can. It was an excellent reminder that no matter how much we know, we can always learn more from those around us.

5. Learning Never to Advise with Mike Parkinson

Mike Parkinson delivered a powerful message in his general session on communicating for success: rather than offering advice, offer experience. Instead of killing your prospective clients with a barrage of “you should” statements, listen to the pain point, ask questions until you understand it, and then offer a similar experience of yours and how you dealt with the situation. By allowing people to draw their own conclusions, you’re showing that you understand and validate their experience. Validations create a more meaningful connection and, thus, successful communication.

Bonus: Being Playful with Garr Reynolds 

Garr Reynolds Presentation SummitOne of the most exciting moments of the Presentation Summit came at an evening session when Garr Reynolds joined us. For many of us (and for me, personally) Garr was our first inspiration on thinking more critically about how we communicate via presentations. Garr stayed for quite a while and sharing thoughts on software, communication strategy and what’s coming next for him. His Yoda backpack even made an appearance.
If you never have, definitely check out Garr’s book Presentation Zen

It is so easy to get so wrapped up in daily work and forget to look up, blink, and remember why we went into our industry in the first place. The Summit was like a sun glare to the soul. We learned, we laughed, we were inspired.

If you are in the industry, consider joining us for the 2015 Conference in New Orleans!
Keep your eye on the Summit site for details.

Why wait until next year to get acquainted? Follow us on Twitter

* Just for the record, we are not getting paid to promote these people or their work. We just love them and their resources!