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emPower eLearning: The Presentation Summit 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Presentation Summit 2010

Quite a few months ago I became familiar with an annual conference held in San Diego in October, called The Presentation Summit. It seemed a little different than the usual conferences that eLearning folks attend, which piqued my interest.

It’s relevant to our field because many of the sessions focus on working with the visual, multimedia, and informational design aspects of presentation software, which many eLearning designers do every day.

I’ll be speaking there to present design guidelines that work with our cognitive architecture and I’m really looking forward to attending many of the sessions. As a way of introducing you to the conference, I interviewed the conference creator, who is also the author of Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck, Rick Altman.

Coach: Rick, can you tell us what the Presentation Summit is all about?
Rick: We are the annual gathering for those who owe their livelihood to creating or delivering presentation content. Our patrons run the gamut from presentation designers to public speakers to PowerPoint junkies. You’ll find some instructional designers there too!

Coach: So not all of them are PowerPoint junkies?
Rick: Well, just about everyone who attends uses PowerPoint in some fashion or another, but we don’t assume that everyone attends just to learn more about PowerPoint. In fact, that was one of the reasons for our rebrand (from PowerPoint Live to the Presentation Summit)—we are about so much more than just the software.

Coach: Can you give us a little background on how this all got started?
Rick: I have been hosting conferences for over 20 years and we are pretty good at small to mid-sized events. Our cap is 225 people. Up until 2003, our focus was on graphic software—the Corel products in particular. But as that universe was getting smaller and Death by PowerPoint was becoming rampant, it became evident to me that a change was in the wind. We saw a need and filled it.

Coach: How can eLearning designers and developers benefit from the conference?
Rick: Several members of our presenting team are deeply vested in the eLearning community and we often devote sessions to instructional design topics. But we don’t try to pass ourselves off as an eLearning conference and it would be an insult for us to presume to know more than those who live and breathe it daily.

But most eLearning content pivots around PowerPoint and nobody does PowerPoint better than we. Instructional designers need well-designed content and the designers on our presenting team, like Nancy Duarte, Nigel Holmes, and Julie Terberg, are without peer. And good instructors have to be comfortable in front of an audience, and we offer a pretty deep dive into presentation skills. So we cover many of the disciplines that orbit eLearning and it is no accident that we attract several dozen from that space each year.

Coach: For those interested in visual design, what topics will be featured this year?
Rick: We have Connie whatshername…I hear she’s pretty good. Let’s just say that you will be one of several prominent authors and noted visual designers on the team. That starts with our Monday keynote speaker, Nigel Holmes, the former art director for Time magazine. Nancy Duarte is like the rock star of our industry, with such clients as HP, Cisco, Apple, and of course Al Gore. Julie Terberg has become famous for her makeovers—she takes the work of our patrons and transforms it before their eyes. It’s amazing stuff.

Coach: What topics will appeal to the technical-minded participants?
Rick: Just as we devote a track to presentation design, we also have one for nuts-and-bolts instruction on PowerPoint. We will offer sessions on animation, layouts and themes, triggers and hyperlinks, and several how-did-they-do-that workshops. High on the list, we suspect, will be sessions devoted to version 2010, which is still a curiosity to many. And while it’s certainly not our job to shill for Microsoft— and we don’t!—we think that version 2007 users will be quite pleased with the 2010 version.

Coach: I get the sense that this conference is rather unique. What makes it so special?
Rick: First of all, my mother runs registration. But beyond that, the conference is known for its intimate feel and sense of community. You see, we are not meeting planners by trade; we don’t crank out 12 conferences a year. We do one, and we have learned how to do it really well.

Because we limit enrollment, we do not risk becoming a faceless trade show and we avoid cattle calls. Everyone gets face time with the presenters and with the reps from Microsoft, and we know how to create an environment in which meaningful relationships can be formed.

Coach: Is it true that there’s been a conference marriage?
Rick: Try three of them. When you bring 200 people together, all of whom share a common pursuit and passion, extraordinary things can happen and we are experts at making sure that they do. There’s a reason why we get so many repeat attendees and why there are a handful of people who have attended every single one. We show the presentation industry that there is a community for them to join that they likely never knew existed.

Coach: That could be as important as the learning.
Rick: That’s right. To some of our patrons, it is. The learning component is second to none, I really believe that. But indeed, it is the sense of community that we have created that makes me the most proud. There is just no better feeling than seeing people make meaningful connections and knowing that you had a hand in that.

The Presentation Summit 2010 will be held from October 17 to 20 in San Diego. Please let me know if you’ll be there! And check out Rick’s book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck.

Source: theelearningcoach.com

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