Richard Michaels is an expert at applying critical thinking to address large-scale business challenges and has been responsible for the implementation of training initiatives for organizations including: Bristol-Myers Squibb, IBM, Novartis, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Schering-Plough, Sanofi-Aventis, FDA, U.S. Army Training Command, and the Singapore Institute of Management.
In addition to expertise in instructional design, writing and education, Richard is also an expert software developer and a Microsoft Office for the Mac MVP.
In this conversation, Richard discusses George, his add-in for PowerPoint.
Geetesh: Tell us more about George, and what motivated you to create this add-in.
Richard: My motivation for writing George came from attending seminars and either receiving no handout upon which to take notes or receiving one that was so poorly done that it detracted from an otherwise very good presentation. I came to conclude that time and skill are the two primary factors that prevent presenters from making worthwhile handouts based on their PowerPoint slides. I also concluded that something could be done to improve the situation.
All presenters labor over their presentations. They try to find the right design, content sequence and delivery method that will make their message heard and this of course takes time… so much so that often they run out of time to produce a "leave behind piece" that is on a par with the quality of their presentation overall.
Top presenters know well that details matter and in the end, in addition to the relevancy of the delivered content, their audience judges them based on how well they dressed, spoke, coordinated, emphasized and enriched their message by the media they used. I believe presenters consciously rationalize their decision of what to “handout” based on those factors and often conclude that since they are short on time and maybe even skill with Word, they will just concentrate on what they do best… the verbal delivery of their message and creating the supportive PowerPoint slides.
Admittedly making a really good handout document, especially one with a level of quality that compliments and does not detract from a great presentation, is a lot of work. However, I believe it is a worthwhile effort because a handout has the potential for being the tangible "reminder" component that facilitates future knowledge gain, understanding, and action.
PowerPoint does provide a mechanism to produce Word documents from the slides but unfortunately its output choices are limited and still requires a high level of skill with many advanced Word functions. To produce a "professional" looking final product including a cover page, acknowledgements page, table-of-contents, as well as properly formatted and aligned headers, footers, slide images, notes and capture area content, requires a solid understanding and competency with using Microsoft Word. Not many presenters or even people who produce great PowerPoint slides are also experts at creating proper Word documents.
And then finally for the time constrained presenter and PowerPoint presentation author, who also happens to be an expert level user of Word, there is the following dilemma when thinking about the work involved with making a "professional" looking handout that causes even them to take pause… What happens when the content of one slide has to change or a slide has to be sequenced in the slide deck? All that work on the handout document has to be redone!
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