Presentation Summit 2012: Conversation with Rick Altman

Created: Thursday, July 19, 2012, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am



Rick Altman is a presentation consultant based out of Pleasanton, CA. Rick has been hosting end-user conferences since 1989, and is well known as the host of the annual Presentation Summit conference. He has a strong sense of the needs of the presentation community. Rick has authored 15 books on presentations and graphics, including Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck.

In this conversation, Rick discusses the tenth edition of his Presentation Summit conference.

Geetesh: The Presentation Summit celebrates its 10th birthday in Scottsdale, AZ this October. Did you ever think that you would get there when you started out? Tell us about the audience, the speakers, and the organizers.

Rick: I hosted a conference for Corel users for 15 years, so I knew it was possible. There are more PowerPoint users than Corel users, and their needs are more acute. So hey, we should be setting our sights on 20 years.

About the tenth incarnation of the Presentation Summit scheduled for Scottsdale AZ this October, I’m pleased to report that there are things that I can tell you and things that I definitely cannot tell you. Let’s start with what I can talk about.

I’m excited for the conference this year for three specific reasons. First, we have several new presenters to complement our traditional team. Our opening keynote speaker, Chris Bliss, is a comedian who comments on the role and value of humor in communication. He also is one of the most watched You Tube celebrities in history, thanks to his incredible juggling performance of 2006. In addition to Chris’s debut with us, Ken Molay shares his vast knowledge of webinar delivery and Kristin Thompson discusses her amazing memory techniques and how they can help presenters perform better in the moment.

Second, we are ushering in a new era of conference tools, and I’m quite enthused about that. We will offer a full-featured mobile conference app, so all smartphone and tablet users can access complete information about the conference, its schedule of seminars and events, presenter bios, exhibitors, evaluations, and Twitter feed. Not only will the information be more accessible, we won’t have to kill a tree to print a fat conference guidebook. The printed guide will be half the size, while the amount of information we provide will be about twice as much.

Finally, I am in love with the venue, the FireSky Resort. It is completely luxurious, has very large ballrooms, but only 200 guest rooms. That means that our conference will practically take over. The hotel’s normal October rate is $350/night, but we worked out a $179 rate for the conference.

Geetesh: Okay, so what can’t you tell us.

Rick: I am not allowed to tell you about the sneak previews for the next version of Office. There will be two, delivered by Microsoft MVPs and PowerPoint experts Echo Swinford and Troy Chollar. I have been assured by our contacts within the PowerPoint development team that the software will be available for preview by then.

Geetesh: It seems like yesterday when this series of conferences started in another Arizona city, Tucson – do you want to share some thoughts about your PowerPoint conferences over the years?

Rick: I remember at the debut conference in 2003 when we were showing sneak previews of Office 2003. We’ve come full circle!

When we began, we were all about PowerPoint, and not much else. It soon became apparent to us that proficiency with the software is a guarantee of very little in the demanding space of presentation. Knowing PowerPoint well carries no promise that you can craft an engaging message, design an evocative set of visuals, and tell a compelling story.

At a minimum, we needed to make sure we didn’t allow people to believe that learning the software would turn them into excellent presenters. Today it is our mission to cover the whole of the presentation experience – from message, through design, software technique, and delivery in all its forms.

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, presentationsummit

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