Nuts & Bolts Speed Training: Conversation with Taylor Croonquist and Camille Holden

Created: Wednesday, February 5, 2020, posted by at 9:30 am


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Taylor Croonquist
    
Taylor Croonquist is a co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, a website delivering actionable PowerPoint training and speed strategies, helping busy professionals make it to Happy Hour.

Prior to Nuts & Bolts, Taylor lived and worked in China for 10 years in finance and consulting.

When he’s not busy crafting PowerPoint training, you can find him traveling and scuba diving.

See Also: PowerPoint on Cruise Control: Conversation with Taylor Croonquist

Camille Holden
    
Camille Holden is template tamer, design diva, picture pro…she wears many hats at Nuts & Bolts as co-founder and CEO.

Besides helping her former PR compatriots use PowerPoint to build fantastic client pitches, she has entertained dreams about becoming a jazz singer.



In this conversation, Taylor and Camille talk about their involvement with PowerPoint and presenting.

Geetesh: Taylor and Camille, welcome to this conversation. We are going to start with asking you how did you both get started with presenting and PowerPoint?

Taylor: I mean, I started just like anybody with their job. So, I started with PricewaterhouseCoopers and we built most of our client pitches and deliverables in PowerPoint, which then carried over when I started working with other companies in China. Just everything that we did was in PowerPoint–so building PowerPoint decks, presenting them on stage, on webinars, as printed documents–you name it. PowerPoint did it!

Camille: Similar for me. I was working in event planning, PR and marketing–and it was the same thing. Everything was requested in PowerPoint, whether it was the pitch proposal for a new client, which would be printed or emailed and also delivered live; whether it was a report for how well we had done after the campaign was over; whether it was so many things, just everything was created in PowerPoint. And so, both of us in our own separate jobs became quite good and quite curious about how to become good at PowerPoint, because it was an integral part of our jobs, using it every single day.

Geetesh: Awesome. So, how did both your jobs become one job–how did you become a team?

Taylor: It’s a longer story, but the short version of that is we were living in China for many years, and we decided that we wanted to leave China and we didn’t want to go back to the States. So, when we were going to quit our jobs, we basically pulled our heads together and came up with an idea that we could teach other people kind of advanced PowerPoint speed-training tricks as a means to work online, and then start traveling the world to find the next best place to live.

Camille: I remember I had an ‘aha’ moment when I told my boss; I gave her many months’ advance notice that I was going to be leaving, and she said. “Oh okay, well you know, I don’t really care about any of the handovers, but teach the rest of the team PowerPoint.”

I thought, okay, this is really something. I knew people already were coming to me for help and I was doing lunch-and-learn in the company, but when she said, “I don’t even care about any of the client stuff. Just do PowerPoint,” it was like, okay this is definitely something that you know we can share with more people.

Geetesh: Where all in in the world have you been based?

Camille: We’ve been in so many places, and in, complete disorder: we started our travels actually in Fiji. We spent two months in Fiji and that was just an incredible way to start–to start the whole adventure, but over the last six years, we’ve been all over. We’ve been in Europe; we spent some time in Spain, in Ukraine and France. We’ve also been to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Puerto Rico. We’ve spent a fair amount of time in the States, as well as exploring new parts of the US. We’ve been in Bali and Australia. So yeah, we’ve traveled around the world.

Geetesh: That’s awesome. So, presently, you are based out of Bali?

Camille: Yeah.

Geetesh: How is Bali? How do you find it?

Taylor: I mean, Bali’s just like a tropical island. It’s amazing though. Bali’s been really great for us because we did turn our professions to like an online business; so, teaching courses online and you know, trying to figure out how to get PowerPoint traffic and connect to people. There’s actually a lot of digital nomads, people who also work online that are based here in Bali. So, it’s been actually a great resource to learn from other people about how to more properly set up your website or to do traffic or how to connect with people better through email marketing and stuff like that. Besides being an amazing place to live, it’s been a great thing for our business so we can get better at helping people learn PowerPoint and reach more people online.

Geetesh: So that’s great, and so now, let’s move on to what you do–your product and stuff like that. So, can you tell us more about what type of products you provide, what type of training you have, and how does that help people become better presenters, and better at PowerPoint?

Taylor: Yes. So, the course that we have our flagship–most famous course, of course, is a PowerPoint direct speed training course and it’s interesting. There are different ways to cut becoming a better presenter, there’s obviously “how do I script out my presentation”, “how do I select better visuals,” and you know “body language.” There’s like all these different things that go into it, and our course is really down and dirty hardcore inside of PowerPoint so it’s like hacks, tips, tricks, shortcuts, for doing everything you do inside of PowerPoint better.

Save 40 Hours in PowerPoint

So we’ve had for example, in my favorite bad reviews about our course was someone you know gave it two stars out of five and said, “It’s too focused on speed and being efficient and doing all these different things, but I want to learn how to speak better in front of people.”

I was like well that’s great, and that’s important but that’s not what our course is about. It’s absolutely just about all the hacks, tips, tricks, and shortcuts in PowerPoint.

Camille: I think also one thing to keep in mind is, we designed that course because it was something that we wish we had when we were working in the corporate world. We weren’t doing that many TED talk-like presentations. A lot of the advice that was out there, about how to copy Steve Jobs was really not helpful when you’re creating a pitchbook when you’re creating a report for somebody, and you’re like instructed, “it needs to be you know small font, it needs to have a lot of content on it,” and there’s still a lot of ways to do it better. But, it was very frustrating to not have resources and help for how to make those types of documents better. And, so our course is really about (these issues). You know, in the beginning, we joked about it like, “We don’t care if you make an ugly slide. At least, you’ll make the slide faster.” You know so, if you have more time, then maybe you could go back and make the slide more attractive. Speed and efficiency is kind of our niche.

Geetesh: Yes, I have seen your course and it’s amazing. What I find is it actually makes people do a lot of things so much faster than what they would have done it otherwise. When you actually do your content faster, you have time to do it better. So, I think it also has a good side effect–and a good result is that you will end up creating better slides. So, what other products do you have other than the speed-training?

Camille: We branched out a little bit. So, we work with a partner whose name is PowerPoint Spice or Spicy Presentations, and she’s heavily focused on animations and really cool effects. She does a lot of 3D stuff as well–and VR and AR.

Image of Techniques

So, if you’re interested in the sort of, like the future of presentations, she has a course all about animations and how to you know build animations the right way, so, that it doesn’t become this crazy mess at the end of it. So, she has a course on that, which is amazing, and she also sells a lot of her animation slides–so the actual effects that she creates, you can buy, so, you can actually take it apart, and see how she made it, and use it, in your own presentation. So, that’s something completely different from what we traditionally, normally do. She is amazing, she’s a star at that, so, yes we provide that on our website as well for anyone who really wants to dig into animations.

Geetesh: So all this stuff is available on your website for people to go and buy and try it out. So tell us more about your website, and the name of your website and how to get there?

Taylor: The name of our website is NutsandBoltsSpeedTraining.com. It’s basically a large knowledge base of PowerPoint hacks, tips, and tricks, and this is how most people find us online these days. So, we write detailed articles about how to manage stuff in PowerPoint, how to fix your slide numbers when they’re broken, like all these little pesky things that kind of pop up. We also have a newsletter that you can join from our website or look at our courses and stuff like that. So, that’s kind of our website as a nutshell–just kind of a knowledge base of PowerPoint hacks and tricks for the reader. We always say in our videos that we get you to happy hour!

Camille: Who’s not ready for a course? Our courses are typically for either advanced users or people who are going to need to use a program very frequently. And so, our courses are great for anyone who wants to take their skills to the next level. But sometimes, someone just needs a solution to a quick problem that they’re facing in PowerPoint, and so we write a ton of articles. We have a lot of free YouTube videos as well on our YouTube channel that provides answers for anyone who’s just looking to solve something you know that they’re fighting their computer with.

Geetesh: True, that’s definitely there. So, for anyone who uses a lot of PowerPoint and both of you have probably, I don’t know, a million hours of PowerPoint? So, what’s your advice to people who are using PowerPoint and presentations. What’s the one thing they could do to make their presentations better. What should they do?

Taylor: I mean, from the speed perspective what I always tell people to do is to learn shortcuts. If you look up shortcuts online, and you know you can easily find lists of 200 plus shortcuts in PowerPoint, which is overwhelming! So when people say “I want to get faster at PowerPoint what’s the first thing I can do?” I always tell them like, think of the one thing that you do the most inside of PowerPoint right now–no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best thing, the worst thing, like figure out the shortcut for that task, or figure out how to set that up on your QAT as a shortcut. Like you know, you can focus on all these things like what whispers I talked about in our training. Like what whispers like all of these things you could do, should, you maybe do, maybe one day, you’ll touch and there are the things that scream like the thing that you’re doing every single day right now in the program. That’s the very first thing if you want to speed yourself up. You need to figure out some way to shortcut or hack that.

Geetesh: Absolutely. And, is there any favorite shortcut that you use all the time–more than any other shortcut?

Taylor: I think the best PowerPoint tool ever you can set up is putting the alignment tool in the first position on your Quick Access Toolbar because that’ll get in your slides. But that requires a little bit, you know ten seconds of setup. Other than that, I think Ctrl + Shift + D is the other one I use the most, which is just duplicating a slide. So, now you are in the Slide Master, you can hit Ctrl + Shift + D, it’ll duplicate your layout. You can tweak it. You hit Ctrl + Shift + D so that you can make another iteration and that way you can quickly start to give your bosses, clients, colleagues, different looks of the same slide. They can pick the one they like best, they’re involved in the process and they’re like oh this looks amazing, thank you.

Camille: It’s a nice shortcut, Ctrl + D, basically the sister shortcut of what Taylor mentioned. So one could well duplicate anything instead of going back up and inserting another rectangle and then formatting it all over again. You can just select an object, Ctrl + D and it’ll create a duplicate a copy of it immediately. It’s super fast.

Geetesh: That’s really awesome. Thank you so much, Camille and Taylor. This was really fun and I enjoyed doing this conversation with you. Have a great day–both of you, and hope to have you back again.

Camille and Taylor: Sounds good, thank you.



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