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Presentation Wiz: Conversation with Sandra Johnson

Monday, July 16, 2007
posted by Geetesh on 12:11 PM IST





Sandra JohnsonSandra Johnson has devoted the past 6 years of her career to PowerPoint presentation design and delivery. Sandra helps clients leverage this powerful Microsoft tool as a sophisticated and dynamic component of their marketing mix. Visit Sandra's site...

Geetesh: Tell us more about yourself and your work.

Sandra: I have an education in nursing and 20-plus years experience working in the advertising business (that's an odd career path, I know). In advertising, I was involved in new business efforts. As a result, I frequently used PowerPoint. When I left advertising in 2001, I happened upon a PowerPoint project with American Express -- and, as they say -- the rest is history. My work has grown from doing PowerPoint on the side, to it being a full-time (plus) commitment for me. I work with clients that include United Healthcare, Medica, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and HP. I'm also a PowerPoint trainer, a contributor to the PowerPoint newsgroup and a PowerPoint Live team member.

If I were to describe my sweet spot (a sports analogy borrowed from colleague Rick Altman and for whose book "Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck" I was an editor), I'd say I have an eye for design, and I'm passionate about leveraging animation to help presenters tell a story.

The majority of my work is done for corporations whose sale people need to present to customers or prospects. I also do a lot of work in the legal field, working with attorneys to build their cases graphically with PowerPoint. I like to brag that "I've never lost a case."

I have the dream job. I truly never thought that I'd be able to have a career where I would love what I do so much.

Geetesh: What are the latest PowerPoint trends? What are presenters asking for? And what's passé?

Sandra: My clients get it. Corporate marketers in particular, are beginning to view PowerPoint and presentations as a part of their strategic marketing communications mix. With that perspective, they no longer are throwing templates to their sales people and relying on them to create presentations.

Indeed, my clients look to me to help them hone in on a key message and create a story that is relevant to their audience -- all while maintaining a design intergrity that is in keeping with their print collateral and advertising work.

And because they see PowerPoint presentations as a part of their marketing communications mix, it's become easier for me to encourage them to cut the bullets and use graphics and headlines instead. These clients understand that they can rely on their collateral materials as a "leave behind" (how many times have your clients said, "but we need the details on the slide so people can have a handout to read later"), and use PowerPoint to begin to establish a relationship between presenter and customer.

Additionally, my clients are asking for sophisticated animation in the form of info-graphics in their presentations. I know animation often gets a bad rap -- but I love using it (instead of text) to help the presenter tell his/her story.

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