Mike Parkinson is one of 34 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the world. He is an internationally recognized visual communication expert, professional speaker, and a #1 bestselling Amazon author. He regularly conducts workshops and creates graphics, presentations, proposals, and learning materials for companies like Microsoft, FedEx, Xerox, Dell, Pfizer, and Boeing as well as at learning institutions and organizations around the world.
In this conversation, Mike talks about Build-a-Graphic.
Geetesh: Mike, please tell us more about your Build-a-Graphic product, and what motivated you to create this one?
Mike: Build-a-Graphic is a PowerPoint add-in that does two things…
- It turns text into professional graphics quickly. You type your text into PowerPoint and Build-a-Graphic automatically searches for keywords and key-phrases on your current slide. It then gives you visual representations of that content. There are thousands of graphics in the library. More are being added all the time. You can also “teach” Build-a-Graphic by changing, adding, or deleting keywords and key-phrases.
- It is a visual learning system. The more you use Build-a-Graphic, the more you learn a visual vocabulary. You begin to intuitively know what visuals are best for your ideas, concepts, and content.
Build-a-Graphic was born from a single idea: what if PowerPoint users could easily make content that improved understanding, recollection and adoption? Unfortunately, most things made in PowerPoint are less than effective. Best practices are often absent from presentations, infographics, and other PowerPoint deliverables, because doing so is difficult. What if it was easy? This is why Build-a-Graphic exists. It empowers everyone to intuitively use best practices and make better content. With the help of other amazing PowerPoint thought leaders like Jamie Garroch, Shyam Pillai, Steve Rindsberg, Glenna Shaw, and Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs who have generously shared their expertise, the tool came to be.
My dream is that the millions of PowerPoint users improve the quality of their communication using Build-a-Graphic. The result is better learning materials, proposals, presentations, sales documents, and other PowerPoint-generated content. Effectively combining text and graphics has proven to be one of best ways to share information, engage participants, and motivate others to take action. I see the benefits every day when I use the tool for my clients. Only good things happen when our communication improves.
Geetesh: How is Build-a-Graphic different than other third-party offerings? Also, can you share some feedback from end-users?
Mike: Three things make Build-a-Graphic unique:
- The high-quality graphic content is exclusive and beyond compare. You can only find these professional graphics in this add-in. There is a combination of isometric graphics, infographics, icons, symbols, gear graphics, bridge metaphors, and much, much more. The graphics are modular and meant to work together. All elements are vector-based which means they are easy to edit and share due to small file sizes. They can be combined, animated, and changed in any way. You can also easily copy/paste your new graphics into Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator, and other software that accepts PowerPoint graphics.
- The library of graphics is growing. User requests combined with the work I do with companies, agencies, and organizations around the world give me insight into the best ways to graphically show a spectrum of content. I see what works and what doesn’t in practice versus theory. Even the most complex content can become a clear, compelling graphic with Build-a-Graphic. I continue to evolve and add to the library of assets. There are over 1,000 new graphics being developed right now.
- It is an intuitive visual learning system. You can get started immediately without a tutorial. (I include slides that walk you through the features, tips, and tricks for those that want it.) The more you use it, the better you get. The only limitation is your imagination.
The feedback has exceeded my expectations. Users say that they (literally) “love” the tool and call the graphics “stellar.” My favorite review is from Microsoft MVP Nolan Haims: “If SmartArt is a tricycle, Build-a-Graphic is a Ferrari.”
Build-a-Graphic helps every PowerPoint user—non-designers and designers alike—make better content and graphics while saving money and time. As a direct result, users are changing the world around them with better PowerPoint. That is what excites and motivates me.