The Summit FAQ
The Presentation Summit is a user conference, featuring live presentations, workshops, and a hands-on support center. People attend in order to learn how to become better content creators, better presentation designers, better storytellers, better presenters, and better users of PowerPoint and other software.
They leave with a much broader and deeper understanding of the principles and best practices for presentation design, creation, and delivery.
In 2021, the Summit debuts a hybrid format, in which our patrons can connect with us in person or virtually.
It might not be terribly helpful to simply answer that this conference is for everyone involved in business pursuits. It would be accurate, however, because if you are in business today, you need to present yourself and your organization in the best possible light. Let’s categorize:
FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES have obvious stakes in the game, whereby the first impression of a sales call in a conference room or a large-scale announcement could make all the difference in cultivating business relationships and winning hearts and minds. Large organizations have been slowly awakening to the realization that investing in presentation skills is essential, and with that comes the conclusion that neither “PowerPoint training” nor “public speaking classes” is sufficient on its own. They need a more comprehensive learning experience for their communication teams.
On the other side of the spectrum, ENTREPRENEURS and SMALL BUSINESSES are never not trying to distinguish themselves. Whether you are offering consulting services to law firms, graphic design services to the retail industry, or restaurant supplies to a downtown district, potential customers all want to know the same thing: how are you different than the next? If you know how to tell a compelling story and engage an audience, large or small, you immediately distinguish yourself from nearly all of the other people doing what you do. Good presentation skills make up a transferable commodity: audiences are more likely to trust you with your core message when they see the confidence with which you deliver it.
And in the middle are MEDIUM-TIER BUSINESSES, MARKETING TEAMS, and COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENTS across the country and around the world. People in these groups tend to go on auto-pilot, as it is all too easy to trot out the company template, freshen up the language, and head out the door with it. They rely on their slides to an unhealthy degree because they lack the perspective to question the conventional wisdom that likely has prevailed since before they took their current jobs. We don’t allow anyone to go on auto-pilot at the Presentation Summit — we question everything! And from this healthy scrutiny, you are certain to come away with a total reboot of how you approach the presentation process.
From all three of these broad categories, we attract active content creators, heavy users of PowerPoint, and those who are tasked with delivering presentations to audiences, both in person and virtually. We also garner the attention of the department heads who lead the afore-mentioned people. Advertising departments, market research, sales, educational, judicial, financial, medical, government, military…in short, anyone who wants to become more proficient, more productive, and more effective with presentation content is a likely candidate to apply for registration.
Every detail about this conference is designed for and dedicated to the presentation professional and the end users of presentation software. Your pursuit to become more capable, more creative, and more productive make up our Job One.
Our hybrid conference will thrive thanks to both technology and humanity. Those connecting virtually will be watching the keynotes and breakout seminars as livestreamed events. Each seminar will have a virtual meeting host assigned to it and that person will be monitoring the Chat from the front row of the ballroom with direct access to the presenter.
In this way, the virtual experience will be much more vital than watching talking heads in Zoom windows. You will hear and see the audience and feel more like part of the crowd.
And just as there will be after-hour events for those who join in person, there will be gatherings dedicated to our virtual audience.
Then we won’t hold it! With the wide-spread distribution of two, and soon to be three, vaccines, we are now cautiously optimistic that a significant percentage of our community will feel comfortable traveling to Clearwater Beach in late September. But if that is not the case, then we will stage a virtual-only event, as we did quite successfully in 2020.
It is likely that we will require proof of vaccination or a signed waiver in order to join us on-site. And while we will respect anyone’s wishes to maintain safety according to their comfort level, we do not want to host a conference in which everyone needs to be distant and apart from one another. Therefore, in addition to the vaccine, our primary criterion is that local and national health experts have proclaimed that it is safe to congregate without safety protocols.
If this criterion cannot be met, we will convert the conference to all virtual. We would do this reluctantly and sadly, but also confidently, given our 2020 successes.
Should this happen, all patrons will be given the choice to: a) cancel with a full refund; b) convert to virtual and receive a refund of the difference in funds; or c) roll their investment over to 2022.
It’s true, PowerPoint is not difficult to pick up and begin creating slides. Our host’s daughters began creating slides when they were each 8, and we all know people who installed it and immediately began creating slides in advance of an upcoming presentation they had to give. It is probably the easiest program in the Office suite to learn.
This is the bad news, not the good news.
This is why the risk is high with PowerPoint. This is why Death by PowerPoint is in everyone’s lexicon. With other creative apps, such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Access, potential users know that it is too difficult to develop proficiency without help. But inexperienced PowerPoint users can already be on their fifth not-so-attractive slide within 15 minutes of breaking the seal. And PowerPoint presentations are rarely created for private use — they are made to be shared with others. That means that an entire company’s reputation goes along for the ride when an inexperienced user begins creating and delivering presentations.
New PowerPoint users need something like the Presentation Summit precisely because the program is so accessible. They need to begin developing taste, sensibility, and restraint before they become a hazard to their own careers!
Perhaps more important, proficiency with the software does not imply expertise with crafting and delivering an engaging and successful presentation. In fact, all too often, the software actually gets in the way. The Summit goes far beyond mere PowerPoint training, covering the whole of the presentation process in a uniquely organic way.
Intermediate users stand to gain even more; they are ready to begin mastery of the techniques that could separate them from the pack. They know how to create slides; now they need to understand how to craft a message that will have maximum impact. They know how to animate bullets; now it is time to learn how to create animation schemes that complement the message. They understand how to import photos to a slide; they will learn how to integrate evocative visuals with simple text messages to ensure that audiences feel the weight of their messages. They will learn these and dozens of other similar skills at the Summit.
Advanced users up the ante even further and this conference delivers with fully-conceived workshops on advanced automation, interactive UI development, eLearning, deployment across thousands of seats at an organization, and a host of secrets revealed for working at maximum speed and efficiency.
When we debuted this conference in 2003, presentation skills were barely on anyone’s radar. Companies were content to invest in traditional advertising and branding initiatives, secure in a belief that PowerPoint was an easy skill to pick up.
Everything has changed.
From Fortune 100 firms to the sole proprietor, everyone now realizes the importance of creating professional-grade presentation content and delivering it with maximum impact. With the result of bad PowerPoint everywhere you look, the danger of being ill-equipped in this medium is crystal clear.
If you are the head of a communications department who wants to improve presentation skills, your choice is to hire new people with those skills or to train the people you have. Even in an improving economy, Door No. 2 is the most viable option, and the last thing you need is just to send your team to another PowerPoint training class or to a vaguely-defined learning event that promises to turn them into presentation gods or rock stars. They need a more complete exposure to the principles, philosophies, and finer points of presentation design and creation. They also need to widen their network of peers and support avenues. No event on the planet delivers these resources as well as the Summit.
If you are the independent contractor, small business owner, or employee of a budget-strapped firm, you make yourself instantly more valuable to your clients or your bosses when you give your presentation skills this kind of shot in the arm. We choose our cities carefully and manage our cost structures diligently so that we can remain affordable to small businesses and independent professionals.
If you need help convincing your boss of the value of the Presentation Summit, here you go…
The end users who join us at the Presentation Summit will not have to sit through keynote addresses about sales forecasts, industry trends, or document object models. Instead, if you are one of the 200 to secure an in-person seat at this conference or the several hundred who will connect virtually, you will be watching the true experts in the presentation community. You will be watching the most talented presentation experts showcase their talents and speak on dozens of salient topics:
- How to choose the most effective way to communicate your message.
- How to deliver that message with maximum impact.
- How to connect with your audience on an emotional level, not just an intellectual one.
- How to tell an engaging story, not just recite facts and figures.
- How to create content for e-learning and instructional design projects.
- How to increase your understanding of the software many times over.
- How professional templates are created.
- How transitions are tuned.
- How animations are perfected.
- How slide layouts are made to look inviting and not obnoxious.
- How to scrutinize your own work and be your own best critic.
- How to ensure that your presentation looks as good on a notebook PC 3,000 miles away as it does on your own computer.
- How to work seamlessly on tablets, mobile devices, and in the cloud.
- How advanced users can write powerful scripts to automate workflow.
- And how to become dramatically more efficient and productive.
Our conferences spawn lasting relationships. We bring people together who share a common bond and spirit and we turn them into colleagues, business partners, best friends, soulmates…even bride and groom (it’s happened three times).
The Presentation Summit is independently owned and operated. The host, Rick Altman, is a computer journalist of over 30 years with a noted lack of shyness for offering opinion and commentary. So while many trade show events have as their primary purpose the selling of goods, services, and technology, our primary purpose is the teaching of them.
Trade shows offer carefully-staged demos in which the software always looks terrific; our presenters are there to show you what to do when the software doesn’t look so terrific. If a feature is awesome, we take delight in showing you. And if a feature doesn’t work properly, we take seriously our responsibility to tell you so, and more importantly, to show you the way around it.
Our sole interest is in expanding your understanding. We expect that by attending this conference, it means that you are already a user of PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or another software tool, or that you have already chosen to immerse yourself in the presentation medium. The last thing you need is a sales pitch.
Jamie Garroch on the open and direct dialogue that the conference promotes.
Definitely not. We design the Summit for those who use the software regularly, or expect to do so, but we make no assumptions about your level of expertise. We offer three concurrent seminars and workshops, and there will always be a seminar taking place designed for beginning and/or intermediate users, or else there will be instructors in the Help Center dedicated to working with new users on fundamentals and basics.
So we are by no means a conference just for experts, although you’ll surely meet your share of them there and your career is likely to be enhanced by the relationships you’ll be able to cultivate with them. We think of ourselves as a conference for earnest users, for those who have made a significant commitment to the presentation industry.
Microsoft is represented by its MVP (Most Valued Professionals) team — a robust group of experts whose job it is to help the community better understand the software. They lead many of our seminars, they staff our Help Center, and in most cases, they are life-long friends of the user community.
The Presentation Summit is not a trade show, but it features one. The Summit qualifies up to a dozen third-party vendors to exhibit their goods and services. The in-person Expo is held on the Tuesday of the conference, and we integrate it into the program, so you can visit the vendors and not miss out on any seminars you want to attend. The virtual Expo Hall, available to all patrons, is open 24 x 7 from the moment the conference opens on Sep 26 until the following March.
Sunday is our Registration day and also our so-called Crash Course Day. On this day, we offer optional seminars for those who are new to the software, who want to brush up on their fundamentals, or who want to explore a topic more deeply before the main part of the conference begins. Our Sunday Crash Courses are the only part of the curriculum not covered in the base conference fee. They carry an extra charge of $169 per two-hour course.
Sunday evening, we officially kick off the conference with our Welcome Reception, beginning at 5:00p, open to all patrons and partners.
This is the question we are asked the most. We think that the Presentation Summit offers the best of all worlds, as we provide both hands-on and hands-off components. The formal seminars are presentation style, with sessions typically attended by several dozen people.
The hands-on component features our renowned Help Center, at your beck and call from morning to night every day. At the Help Center, a staff of experts flanks a small armada of networked computers, and their job is to say “Yes Ma’am” or “Yes Sir” when you approach them with any question or problem. You can bring files with you on media or bring them on your notebook. You can watch over their shoulders, have them watch over yours, or have them clear out so you can just experiment. However you decide to utilize it, the Help Center is about as hands-on as you can get. We have patrons who come just for the Help Center, and others who describe to us about the 15 minutes spent there on Sunday afternoon (before the conference officially began) that made the entire event worthwhile.
Got an hour? The list reads like a who’s who of presentation professionals and PowerPoint experts. We combine the following groups of people to form our team:
- The true luminary and transcendent figures in the presentation industry, such as Garr Reynolds and designers from Duarte.
- Members of Microsoft’s Most Valued Professional (MVP) team of volunteers who assist users from around the world.
- Technical specialists who have developed international acclaim for their books, tutorials, training expertise, and perspective on presentation.
- Leaders of firms who create presentations for some of the largest organizations in the world.
See our comments above about our incredible Help Center. There, you can ask any question under the sun.
Yes and no, respectively. Spouses, domestic partners, and companions in general are welcome, and for as long as we have space available, we offer three options for accommodating them:
1. Single-day attendance at $500 per day. This includes full access to sessions, breakfast, lunch, breaks, and an after-hours reception for the day.
2. After-hours social activities at $150 for the duration of the conference. This provides access to our hosted after-hours receptions, which we hold every evening, Sunday through Wednesday.
3. If your spouse/partner would like to join you for all conference meals in addition to after-hours receptions, $375 includes access to all food and beverages hosted by the conference over the entirety of the event.
If you would like to provide for a companion through any of these options, he/she must register in advance and show a conference badge to enter the ballroom or reception area. Should the conference sell out, we will be unable to accommodate anyone not registered.
For more information, please call or email us.
Yes, you will be well fed. Buffet breakfasts each morning, full sit-down lunches on Monday and Tuesday, morning and afternoon snacks, and evening hors d’oeuvres on multiple days. Wednesday’s lunch is on your own, as many in attendance choose to take some time for themselves or head out in small groups to local restaurants.
BREAKFAST: The conference provides a buffet-style continental breakfast which includes sliced fruit, breakfast breads, and a protein enhancement.
LUNCH: There is a plated lunch on Monday and Tuesday. We can accommodate certain dietary restrictions at lunch. Should you require it, please indicate during the registration process whether you’d prefer a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free option. Special lunch selections must be ordered in advance.
Luncheon selections are published several days in advance via the conference app. If your individual dietary needs are not met by the above, there are many other dining options available within walking distance of our host hotel.
Yes, we are already exploring the areas around the hotel, including the beach itself.
Meanwhile, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched or participated in our famous PowerPoint Trivia Contest, which will take place on Monday, right after the seminars conclude. Imagine a cross between Jeopardy and Family Feud, set to questions about PowerPoint.
You should be comfortable, however you define it. Some people wear business suits and pants suits to our conferences, but most don’t. Most wear pants and slacks, many wear jeans and conference t-shirts. The greater Tampa area will enjoy low humidity in September, with temps in the 80s by day and 70s by night.
The Tampa International Airport (TPA) is serviced by all the major airlines, including Southwest, and offers robust international service. Hundreds of U.S. cities offer non-stop service, as well as dozens of international cities and there are almost no parts of the world that cannot get to Tampa in one stop.
The Orlando airport, about 90 minutes from Clearwater Beach, is an option if it offers better connections or prices from your particular city.
It is about a 35-minute drive to our host hotel, the Wyndham Grand, and taxis and Uber drivers are in abundance.