A Microsoft PowerPoint MVP since 2000, Echo Swinford began her PowerPoint career in 1997. She holds a Master’s degree in New Media from the Indiana University School of Informatics and is the owner of Echosvoice, a PowerPoint consulting firm specializing in custom template development, presentation creation, makeovers and cleanup, and training for large and small corporate clients. Echo has written and co-written five PowerPoint books, developed a number of video publications, and has a string of tech editing credits to her name. She is the President of the Presentation Guild, a not-for-profit trade association for the presentation industry.
In this conversation, Echo discusses the Presentation Guild.
Geetesh: What is The Presentation Guild, who can become a member, what does it entail, and what are the benefits that members receive?
Echo: The Presentation Guild is a brand spankin’ new association for those of us working in the presentations industry. The main purpose of the Guild to support people who support presentations in all the many and varied ways we do: designing slides, developing stories, coding software, operating graphics systems during meetings, the list goes on and on. We also want to bring awareness of our industry to the larger community in order to increase our opportunities to improve presentations everywhere.
A lot of us work on our own, and one big benefit the Presentation Guild brings is a built-in network with a variety of networking opportunities: periodic town halls and online social gatherings, member discussion forums, and a chat app so anyone who’s online can chat real-time.
We are also focusing on areas that help members expand their knowledge and skill sets: Microsoft demonstrated PowerPoint’s new Zoom tools in a webinar for us, Julie Terberg’s Inspired by Design webinar is on monthly, and we have upcoming members-only webinars about creating infographics in PowerPoint, making sense of legalese, and a Q&A session with Nancy Duarte. We have a number of other educational pieces with much more in the works.
We’ve also just completed our first salary survey, which will be published later this year and which members will receive free. Future planned benefits include portfolio pages and a job board on the Guild website, and one of our primary goals is to establish a certification program for presentation specialists.
As you can see, a LOT is happening, and we can’t wait for you to join us!
Currently, the annual membership fee is $99. Use discount code INDEZINE for $10 off when you join.
Geetesh: Echo, you’ve spearheaded this whole idea to create the Presentation Guild from concept to fruition. Tell us about this journey, and also about the official launch later this month.
Echo: Well, I can’t really take credit for it. The PowerPoint MVPs have actually been talking about the need for an association for presentation professionals for many years. But for me personally, the catalyst was when I was reinstalling some Adobe products, and the “I am a: ____” question appeared during the signup process. I think that dropdown listed every kind of design I could imagine… except for presentation design. And I finally decided I’d had it, that I was tired of never having an option to select that actually represents what I do.
So I called the various people I’d been discussing this with for the past gazillion years and said, “It’s time. We need to do this.” And amazingly enough, they were all on board.
It began with me, Sandy Johnson, Steve Rindsberg, Charles Cranford, Marsh Makstein, and Glenna Shaw. We hammered out the mission and vision statement and started working on our business plan and bylaws, both of which were necessary because we felt it was important that we be officially recognized as a not-for-profit organization. And maybe a little bit because it made things feel that much more real to us. We rounded out our Board of Directors to include Tony Ramos, Stephy Lewis, Ric Bretschneider, Rick Altman, Julie Terberg, and you (Geetesh Bajaj) and added Advisory Board members Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, Cliff Atkinson, and Jerry Weissman.
We started telling people what we were up to during the 2015 Presentation Summit. We held a meeting with about fifteen trusted colleagues at the Hard Rock Cafe next to our hotel, where we laid out our ideas and spent the rest of the time brainstorming the types of benefits we’d like to see happen eventually. This is the group we’ve leaned on for help as we’ve gotten the Guild up and running. We call them, appropriately enough, the Hardrockers, and they have been a huge help as we’ve gotten things going.
Over the next two years the board met every other week and worked a lot in between, and now, at last, we’re ready to launch! We’ll all be in Las Vegas for the Presentation Summit conference this year, so we decided we’d hold our first annual meeting and officially launch the Presentation Guild while we – and you! – are there. The annual meeting will be on October 23 at 6:30 pm and our official kickoff is October 24 at lunch. We’ll be broadcasting the launch via live feed; watch it here. See you there!