With another Presentation Summit behind us – I’m finally able to sit down, gather my thoughts, and try to stave off jet-lag delirium to give you a quick recap. So here we go…
When convenor Rick Altman promises to keep you busy every hour of the Presentation Summit – he’s far from joking. Converging on San Antonio with my fellow presentation specialists from all different corners of the globe and industry – I felt at home. We may be a small subsector of a niche industry, but seeing all of us gathered in a single spot, I found this wonderful sense of belonging and camaraderie.
Our industry can feel so isolated and lonely at times, but events like the Presentation Summit remind us that we’re a tribe joined by a common love, shared skills, and varying experience in this weird and wonderful world of presentation design.
Powered by curiosity, creativity, and community – we had our ‘school-camp’ moments of reacquainting ourselves with old friends, meeting new ones, and preparing for the packed schedule that lay ahead of us.
When it comes to the Presentation Summit, there is no more definitive body of expertise in Presentation Design or PowerPoint technical skill than those on stage or in the room. This event is the largest source of presentation/PowerPoint training and development in the world and has held that title for 17-odd years to date.
The program of learning sessions alone totalled over 41 hours of content packed into three and a half days. That’s a lot of learning in a short amount of time and the quality of the sessions often has you making Sophie’s Choice decisions about which one you can most likely afford to miss. This is what makes Presentation Summit standout amongst other events – the quality and variety of sessions.
Each session offers a wealth of knowledge from international experts in PowerPoint, Presentation Design Theory, Presentation skills, and more. Furthermore – as far as I’m aware – it is also one of the few annual conferences attended by the Microsoft PowerPoint engineering and product team. They even host a session at the event, which allows them to share their insights while maintaining engagement directly with the industry.
External to the official learning sessions of the Summit, there are a wide variety of sessions that occur outside traditional learning time. These are excellent for those craving more information in a less formal setting as this year’s sessions included a sitdown with the AGM of the Presentation Guild – the largest presentation specialist representative body in the world. There’s the entrepreneurs roundtable where we trade drinks and war stories about the business side of presentation design. And all kinds of social events like dinner outings, a goosechase, PowerPoint trivia contests, and up-late sessions where we openly and candidly discuss PowerPoint.
I’ve seen more engagement and heated debate during the off-schedule gatherings that were co-ordinated ad-hoc – such as wine tastings, outdoor adventure activities, agency-owner lunches, ‘young professional’ groups, and heaps more. All of these after-hours sessions attract 20-70 enthusiastic attendees.
And then, of course, are the after-after-hours events that occur organically. Since you’ll be hard pressed trying to find a quiet spot at the local (or hotel) bars, you’ll undoubtedly end up sharing drinks with fellow presentation designer – finding common ground, shared pains, and mutual joys. This is the best chance to catch presenters and speakers unguarded so you can explore their sessions and experiences further.
I’ve been in our industry long enough to see how it’s changed and developed over time. The continuous state of change in presentation design brings its own challenges and opportunities to better ourselves and our industry. However, as the industry matures, so does our understanding of what it means to be a Presentation Designer, Presentation Specialist, Presentation Guru, PowerPoint Specialists, or Visual Communicator. This diversity of roles demonstrates the increasing complexity of our industry and how our skills lend themselves to other sectors.
The Presentation Summit is a must-attend event for anyone in our industry. There is no better opportunity to gain some technical skills, industry insights, and community connections in a fun-filled environment. I look forward to seeing you all at next year’s Presentation Summit, which will be held on 9-12th August in Seattle, Washington. For more information, please visit the website.