Admittedly, I’m new to this industry since I worked in journalism for years before moving into agency work. After starting with Synapsis community, I’ve seen how small presentation design is compared to other sectors of the industry – but with less local cohesion and communication.
Since we’re a small community, shouldn’t be more tightly knit? Division is the enemy of progress, especially when considering the size and scale of our sector.
We’ve seen animosity within our niche industry, which is just plain nasty and immature. As a small community, we should be working together to create innovation and share knowledge.
Every other industry has numerous conferences, learning spaces, and communication channels that encourage collaboration. Why there hasn’t been any real attempt at creating a presentation design conference/summit within Australia is far beyond my understanding.
Within the Australian design community, there are heaps of different conferences catering to broad and niche interests. Everything from user experience to light space design, the wide category of design in Australia has something for everyone except those of us in presentation design.
We at Synapsis do our part to help create and support a sense of community within our industry, but there’s always more that can be done to encourage further collaboration. Beyond regular networking events and sharing information (like these blogs), the presentation design community needs to unify.
Conferences aren’t just opportunities for experts to flex their skills and knowledge to like-minded audiences; it’s a chance to meet those common-interest individuals and create opportunities for further learning and potential collaboration. If the presentation design community hopes to develop its abilities, we must break down the silos that keep us competing against one another.
Overseas there’s a number of annual presentation design conferences that cater towards our niche industry. The US has several great summits/conferences, and while the community there is significantly larger than here, there’s no reason our homegrown industry can’t organise and create our own events.
Author and presentation design guru, Rick Altman has been hosting boutique conferences since the late 1980s before recognising a space in the market for users of Corel products prior to the proliferation of Adobe.
“I was encouraged to take a look at PowerPoint, which I did reluctantly and after much cajoling by others,” Rick explained. “In 2003, we ushered in ‘PowerPoint Live’ and 180 people showed up. We rebranded to the Presentation Summit in 2010.”
According to Rick, since launching the annual event, he’s seen the presentation design community flourish, working together more cohesively inside and outside the industry. “This community of users is gentle, supportive, spirited, and passionate,” he said. “We have seen incredible relationships forged at the Summit – business partnerships, permanent friendships, and three romances that have resulted in marriage.”
While Rick admits he doesn’t have the solution to creating the same sense of unity in Australia, he stands by the conviction of his own experiences. “If you give people an opportunity to meet in public, if you provide a nurturing and supportive environment for them, if you give them the strong impression that you are focused solely on their needs and welfare, you will see their best sides during the days of an event like the Summit. I stake my livelihood on that belief.”