SlideFest: Conversation with Paul Cannon and Gary Kamikawa

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 1:35 AM IST



Paul CannonPaul Cannon is a Senior Product Manager with the Office team at Microsoft. For the past year he has been dedicated to PowerPoint and helping customers discover the important features of the latest release – PowerPoint 2010.

Gary KamikawaGary Kamikawa is a Sr. Marketing Manager with the Office team at Microsoft. Mr. Kamikawa joined Microsoft over 2 years ago to manage the Office Ad network and drive advertising initiatives promoting usage and engagement of the various Office Applications. Prior to Microsoft, he worked as VP of Interactive Marketing for Mpire/AdXpose.

In this conversation, Paul and Gary discusses the ongoing SlideFest contest.

Geetesh: What is the objective of the SlideFest contest, and why does it look like so much fun?

Paul and Gary: SlideFest started out of a simple desire – to demonstrate many of the great presentations the people create each day. While everyone may not be skilled in all the capabilities of PowerPoint, we wanted to provide some common things people can do to improve their use of PowerPoint.

We had choices on how to communicate that information. We could have lectured people about good versus bad PowerPoint habits. Or we could choose to have some fun and a laugh (sometimes at our own expense). Ultimately we chose a path of leveraging both a humorous look at some of the misuses of PowerPoint that we encounter on a daily basis as well as wanting to involve the community to demonstrate some truly impressive PowerPoint presentations.

SlideFest

Geetesh: How has the response been so far?

Paul and Gary: One word: Gratifying. Using our various channels, we’ve been able to drive a conversation with millions of users of Office and get them to watch our “Do & Don’t” videos, Remodel a sample presentation and ultimately share with us their great presentations. If you look at the number of submissions – we have had over 1500. We currently taking votes for the people’s choice award for the top 24 presentations across the 5 categories.

Geetesh: Why is this contest limited to US participants only?

Paul and Gary: This was a tough choice for us. I personally know there are many talented PowerPoint users around the world. But not many people realize the legalities of running a contest that spans multiple countries. We must obey the laws of each and every country. For instance – some countries prohibit contests that are skills-based. Others have specific timing and dates. Our little contest would have been crushed by all of these different demands.

Geetesh: All those cool video promos about the contest – why did you choose all these historic themes?

Paul and Gary: The idea that started us was around talking about the do’s and don’ts of PowerPoint. How could we have fun and still communicate a useful message? Eventually with the input of a great creative agency (Jones Advertising) – we locked on the historic theme. It gave us a chance to be silly – “Really? Cowboys using PowerPoint???” but the messages are so spot on.

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