Rick Altman is a California-based presentation consultant who has been helping organizations communicate better in public since before Microsoft developed PowerPoint. He has been hosting end-user conferences since 1989, and is the host of the annual Presentation Summit, now in its 12th season. He has authored 17 books on presentations and graphics, including the now-notorious Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck.
In this conversation, Rick discusses the upcoming twelfth edition of his Presentation Summit conference, to be held in October 2014 in San Diego.
Geetesh: You’ve been holding the Presentation Summit for a long time now — tell us what can patrons expect to experience in the upcoming season of the conference? What’s changed? And what’s not?
Rick: What has changed: More and more, people are showing an interest in exploring other software applications. They’ve heard about Prezi, but how might it fit into their workflows? They need to present from their iPads, but what’s better the way to go, the new iPad version of Office or SlideShark? What about Haiku Deck or eMaze? There are lots of solutions today, not just PowerPoint, and knowing as much as you can about the industry’s offerings makes you more valuable in your role as presentation professional.
What hasn’t changed: As we have since 2003, we cover the whole of the presentation experience: message crafting, presentation design, software technique, and delivery. No one of those skills is sufficient by itself and we take a holistic approach to the process of presentation skills development.
Not to make it sound too mystical — the other thing we do is focus sharply on relationship building. Presentation professionals make up a tight community and in many cases, the most important resource you could hope to have are the peers who can support your efforts. We consider that to be one of the greatest contributions the conference makes: putting you in touch with like-minded, caring, and supportive individuals whom you would be proud to call your colleagues and your friends.
And we’re returning to San Diego, regarded by many to be a favorite destination. It has been four years since we’ve been back there and it will feel like returning home to many. And those joining us for the first time will get to experience one of the nicest cities during its nicest time of year.
Geetesh: Among the various experiences at the Presentation Summit, there’s something about the Help Center that evokes different emotions. Tell us what prompted you to create a Help Center at this conference?
Rick: The Help Center is a direct reflection of Microsoft’s MVP community and its culture of sharing and helping others. It’s no coincidence that the Help Center is staffed almost entirely by members of the MVP team and that the planning for the inaugural event took place at an MVP dinner. It’s like a match made in heaven: we bring in inspirational speakers and we develop provocative seminar topics, and then we fill in all the gaps with a completely free-form and 100% hands-on experience. Included in their admission, patrons can visit the Help Center at any time and for any reason.
No question is too menial, no challenge too small, and at the same time, no issue is too large. I don’t think it is hyperbole to proclaim that the Help Center offers the finest instruction on the technical aspects of presentation that you will find anywhere on the planet.
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