This missive comes to you from a charming TexMex restaurant in San Antonio airport. The unpronounceable mound of tortillas, chicken and guacamole in front of me is helping me decompress after 3 solid days of presentation geekiness. You see, the last 72 hours have been a heady mix of in-depth discussions with peers about PowerPoint functionality (Visual Basic programming, anyone?), countless inspiring seminars from an impressive array of experts and, perhaps most importantly, catching up with old/making new friends.
I speak, of course, of the annual Presentation Summit.
After a hiatus of 5 years, I decided it was high time that I leap back into the fray. As you’d hope after a break, some things remain reassuringly familiar (the late night geek sessions, the slide makeovers, the peculiar tote bags) while others were refreshingly new - getting a glimpse into some of the day-to-day business challenges faced by your peers was invaluable, (note to self – California tax laws are scary and to be avoided at all cost). Seeing PowerPoint pushed to breaking point (and sometimes, beyond) was inspiring. Contributing to the Presentation Podcast was fun. Learning about how the Presentation Guild is working hard to raise the profile of presentation professionals across the globe was humbling.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway from the last 3 days was a sense of growing confidence in our sector. As a community, we’ve finally figured out the part we play in the communications landscape – we make stuff happen. No other medium has the immediate and measurable impact that a well-crafted presentation has. Each and every day, presentations play a vital part in getting sales over the line, deals done, new investments made, jobs created (or saved) and new ideas adopted. A print ad can’t do that. Neither will a clever social media, video or new tech campaign.
Presentations hold a unique position in the comms canon. The Presentation Summit not only highlights this fact – it celebrates it.
Yes of course, the vast majority of presentations remain woefully poor in terms of presentation story, design and delivery. A criminal number of opportunities continue to be wasted, jobs lost, and new strategies doomed to failure for the same reason – a lack of understanding and proper investment in the art and science of great presentations. While we’ve bemoaned this peculiar phenomenon for years, even giving it a name - the ‘Presentation Paradox’ - not a huge amount has changed.
(Nonetheless, thank you to the nice lady who introduced herself and explained that she had successfully used the ‘Presentation Paradox’ diagram from The Presentation Lab to convince her bosses to think differently about presentations. It was lovely to hear. 1 down, 30 million (per day) to go).
I’m immensely proud of how the Eyeful team are leading the charge in breaking the ‘good enough’ presentations mindset, addressing the Presentation Paradox on each and every new project. Events like the Presentation Summit and communities like The Presentation Guild are invaluable in galvanising the thousands of other people that work tirelessly to improve the quality, impact and profile of presentations every day.
Long may it continue. See you in Seattle.