Joby Blume is Managing Consultant at BrightCarbon, a presentation agency operating from the UK and Singapore. Joby has been writing sales presentations for the last seven years, during which time he has helped clients to win billions of dollars of new business.
BrightCarbon specializes in creating compelling and persuasive sales presentations and Visual Conversations®, training sales people to present effectively, and supporting clients with large pitches. BrightCarbon also delivers paid-for and free advanced PowerPoint training.
In this interview, Joby discusses the need for PowerPoint training.
Geetesh: Most PowerPoint users are self-taught, and their justification is that PowerPoint is a very easy program to use – do you agree with them? Please share your thoughts.
Joby: Sure, PowerPoint is easy to use without training -- but people just use it in the worst ways imaginable. If all you want to do is use PowerPoint as a word processor, then it's straightforward to open it up and start typing -- just don't ever use your slides for a presentation. There's no point reading slides aloud to an audience -- if they can read your message, they don't need to listen too.
A lot of people have realized that really crowded, text-heavy slides don’t work that well, and are thinking more in terms of a Presentation Zen approach instead. Which makes perfect sense if you are designing slides for use on a huge stage, almost as a backdrop to a speech. Find a great photograph, insert it, and type a line of text over the top. But most presentations aren't like that. We look at Steve Jobs and think that we want to deliver presentations the same way he used to, but conveniently ignore the fact that most of our presentations are in a small meeting room to six other people, or a sales presentation to a skeptical audience. And we're not launching a mobile phone to a room full of fans, we're trying to explain business strategy, or medical diagnostics, or data, or something like that. So, even those people who try to do something better than typing six bullet points onto a slide are modeling the wrong behavior –- because they aren't giving a speech with a pretty backdrop to a friendly audience.
One of the things that's great about PowerPoint is that it can help presenters to explain complex ideas clearly. But to do that successfully, slides shouldn't make sense on their own –- they should support a presenter. All those beautiful decks on SlideShare look fantastic, but they aren't a presentation –- they are slides that make perfect sense without a presenter. So when a presenter comes to use them, what does the audience do? They just read the slides, and because they think that the most important information goes onto the slides, they feel that they can ignore the presenter. It doesn't matter how beautiful slides are if they aren't effective when used in a presentation.
A lot of people think they can use PowerPoint, but they never even thought about what makes an effective slide. PowerPoint might be easy to pick up and use, but it's actually pretty hard to use well -– and it does tempt people to use it badly, with things like "Insert Text Here" encouraging the use of bullet points.
So, we think that PowerPoint should be used to show things that help to support what a presenter says, with images, graphs, diagrams -– all that sort of stuff -– but not to replace a presenter. To make slides that are highly visual, most people need a bit of help. Partly in visualization -– actually working out how to show their ideas, and then also in PowerPoint doing things like working with images, animation, graphs, groups, manipulating video, and so on. Most people don't know how to do those things, and need training.
Geetesh: You do training sessions on PowerPoint for free – why do you do these sessions, and what have your training experiences been like?
Joby: There are sort of two answers to this. The official one is that we're on a mission to save the world from awful presentations, one master class at a time. By which I mean that we all actually care about helping people to deliver better presentations. So we run advanced PowerPoint training sessions online, but also presentation skills sessions, and even sessions for those writing presentations. Some of our team have been creating visual PowerPoint slides professionally for almost ten years –- so it's quite easy for us to create training presentations, and to show people how we do things. We want to help, and so we organise the sessions.
We run two master classes each week, most weeks of the year. And as you say, the sessions are free, and we're getting really good feedback. The classes are based on our advanced PowerPoint training and presentation skills training – which we deliver to companies in-house on a paid-for basis. But this way we can reach more people, and help save the world from awful presentations. All the thanks we receive makes us feel warm and fuzzy, and it works as great motivation.
The unofficial but honest answer is that we're also trying to get noticed. We've all been working on presentations for a long time, but BrightCarbon is a relatively new company. So we want to start conversations with people, and the best way to do that is to openly share things that people find useful. So we share our knowledge via our master class events online.
The sessions are actually pretty good. It's quite fast-paced, and of course we don't get time to answer every question we get asked, or give personal support in the way we would for face-to-face training. We get a lot of people though, and the sessions are growing through word-of-mouth, so we must be doing something right. The sessions are aimed at people who already use PowerPoint, but who want to see what more is possible, and so far it seems like we're pitching it right.
We use Brainshark to send out summaries to the people who miss the session, but the full content is only available to those who turn up. The numbers attending have been growing exponentially -– soon we'll need to increase our capacity with our webinar provider – but we're delighted people are finding the sessions useful.
See Also: BrightCarbon (iPad Presentations): Conversation with John Bevan
Categories: interviews, opinion, powerpoint, training
Those were some really interesting tips about PowerPoint presentations.
I've been trying to get better at them. After some research I ended up buying a presenter - a Logitech R400. I definitely think it has helped my presentation skills, since I can now focus more on the audience.
April 2003 | May 2003 | December 2003 | January 2004 | February 2004 | March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004 | June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004 | September 2004 | October 2004 | November 2004 | December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005 | April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | January 2011 | February 2011 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | April 2012 | May 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | November 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | May 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | November 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | April 2016 | May 2016 | June 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 | February 2017 | March 2017 |
Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.