Cliff Atkinson is an acclaimed writer, popular keynote speaker, and an independent consultant to leading attorneys and Fortune 500 companies. He designed the presentations that helped persuade a jury to award a $253 million verdict to the plaintiff in the nation’s first Vioxx trial in 2005, which Fortune magazine called “frighteningly powerful.”
Cliff’s bestselling book Beyond Bullet Points (Microsoft Press, 2007) was named a Best Book of 2007 by the editors of Amazon.com, and it expands on a communications approach he has taught at many of the country’s top law firms, government agencies, business schools and corporations, including Sony, Toyota, Nestlé, Nokia, Nationwide, Deloitte, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Intel, Microsoft and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal.
In this interview, Cliff discusses the Beyond Bullet Points Live Courses.
Geetesh: What exactly is the Beyond Bullet Points Live course – and who can benefit from this 1-day course?
Cliff: When Microsoft first published Beyond Bullet Points five years ago, the book opened up a new way of thinking about PowerPoint presentations. It shifted the focus away from bullet points and templates, and toward improving the underlying story and structure of a presentation. After all, if you have clear ideas, you will have clear slides.
I’ve had a great deal of interest to teach this approach in private workshops, where I go onsite and teach teams at organizations including top law firms as well as Sony, Intel, Microsoft, Del Monte, Deloitte, and even the United Nations. In the meantime, I’ve had many individuals, consultants, and small organizations ask for the training, but I haven’t had a way to offer it. So now I’m providing the opportunity for the same training publicly at two 1-day courses on Nov. 11 and 12 in Los Angeles. No matter what your profession – graphic designer, creative services director, executive assistant, management consultant, attorney or executive – you will walk away with vastly improved skills in storytelling, storyboarding and delivery.
Geetesh: There are 2 courses that span a day each – are they both complementary to each other?
Cliff: The “BBP 101” course on the first day teaches the fundamentals of Beyond Bullet Points in an accelerated format. There are some fun exercises at the start including Visual Improv, where we create a story as a group using only images as prompts. We also cover a bit of theory but then jump right into building a real presentation step-by-step from the materials that participants bring with them. We begin with story structure, then storyboarding, and then by the end of the day participants stand up and deliver what they built, so they can experience the impact of this effective approach for themselves.
Where the first 1-day course is focused on building a presentation quickly to completion, the second 1-day “BBP Advanced” course goes into more detail on advanced story structures, accelerated storyboarding graphic design techniques, and effective delivery.
Those who attend both days are welcome to attend a third certification training day at no cost so they can learn how to teach BBP to others. If any Indezine readers interested in improving your presentations well Beyond Bullet Points, I hope you can join me!