Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lessons on Better Presenting from San Diego

I had the good fortune to represent Harbinger at the Presentation Summit 2010 (formerly known as PPT Live) in San Diego from Oct 17-20. In its eighth year, the Summit brings together some of the world's best presentation designers and presenters in an exchange of ideas and best practices for four days of intense activity.

Image Credits http://www.betterppt.com/summit

Some of the presenters and speakers included Nancy Duarte, Rick Altman, Geetesh Bajaj, Ric Bretschneider, Nigel Holmes, Sandra Johnson, Glen Millar, Echo Swinford and Julie Terberg. They have several distinctions to their credit - from being a Microsoft MVP to being involved in designing presentations for Al Gore to directing graphics for Time magazine.

Here are some hidden gems that came from the interactions.

  1. Top 3 peeves of audience: (1) Presenter reads the slides (2) Slides contain full sentences (3) Some fonts are too small to read (This survey was repeated year after year with more-or-less same conclusions)
  2. Universal axiom #1 : If it moves, they have to look. At the same time, improper animation  is a leading cause of death by PowerPoint.
  3. Sometimes the best way to get your point across is to put up a blank slide and perform in front of your audience.
  4. Three rules for better visuals: (1) use primitive features (color, size, orientation, movement, shape, depth) to get attention (2) use grouping to show relationships (3) reduce the realism of your graphics
  5. Don't memorize - just know the transitions
  6. Your audience cares about how much you share - not how much you know
  7. Enough already! The biggest problem of slides is too much text
  8. Slides cannot double as handouts. Printing out slides to make a handout is a bad idea. Slides and handouts serve two completely different purposes. Slides should be visual. Handouts should be textual.


  1. As usual one more interesting article to add value to our skills.
    I would appreciate a little more detail on #2, did not understand.
    I definitely feel #6 is a gem of input.

  2. I suppose #2 refers to the penchant for animation some presenters have. They would use excessive animation to a point of distraction. The speaker discouraged this. Animation should only be used selectively.