Introduction by Guild president, Sandy Johnson

There is something different about the businesses and people in the presentation industry. I first discovered this 20 years ago when I launched Presentation Wiz, Inc. Other business owners appeared to be compelled to help me get my business off the ground, whether it was titan, Nancy Duarte inviting me to spend the day at her office or any one of the 12 or 13 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs at the time (there are nearly 40 MVPs now.) helping advance my technical skills.

 

BrightCarbon embodies that spirit. A niche presentation and eLearning agency they are, very importantly, a Guild sponsor. Understanding that when the presentation industry pie gets bigger, so do the slices of the pie, BrightCarbon is actively working with the Guild to elevate our industry. In this article, BrightCarbon Director Joby Blume tells us why that is so important and how their new product, BrightSlide, contributes to that effort.

 

Let’s Talk about BrightSlide

A lot of Presentation Guild members will have seen BrightSlide, the free PowerPoint productivity add-in, currently for PC, but coming this summer for Mac, too. The best way to see what BrightSlide can do is to read our help page that explains each function, or to download it and play around. Some of the features our users really enjoy include, improved alignment tools, combo-animation libraries, easy grid set-up, live character and paragraph spacing, and a bunch of design features that are instantly familiar to anyone who also works with Creative Cloud.

Brightslide tool bar

BrightCarbon is proud of BrightSlide. It has pushed the boundary of what’s possible for PowerPoint add-ins, both in terms of functionality but also UX. But I don’t want to write about what you can do with it; we’ve done that elsewhere. What I want to do here – on the Presentation Guild blog – is to talk about collaboration and sharing within the presentation community, with BrightSlide as an example.

 

Collaborating and Sharing in the Presentation Community

I got a great email last week while helping a BrightSlide user:

Thank you very much Joby. I really fear the moment all your magic stuff will become an expensive subscription tool (but I also think you should be paid for this life saver add on).

I shared that with the team, and we had a good laugh, and joked about our future plans for the tool.

But the truth is we’ve decided to give BrightSlide away for free.

Not just right now.

Not just to get people hooked.

Free, forever.

Not just to clients or prospective clients either – but even to those working for other presentation agencies.

We had some fairly long discussions, while development team Jamie and Taavi built BrightSlide, about what we should do with it. One option – and it got decent consideration – was to keep it for ourselves. We built BrightSlide primarily to address some of our own designers’ frustrations with PowerPoint. We’ve built it – why not leave it at that? Besides, the market for professional productivity tools in PowerPoint isn’t huge, and it’s not easy to address for a company like ours, and so it wasn’t clear that attempting to sell BrightSlide would be particularly lucrative.

 

So, why do we give BrightSlide away?

It makes BrightCarbon presentation designers more effective with PowerPoint – we can do some things much faster, and we can hack other things that weren’t possible without it. Do we really want that for other presentation designers?

Every day we watch who registers a copy. There are students, and consultants, and freelancers, and in-house designers, but then there are also plenty of users from other presentation agencies. I’ve watched ten or fifteen registrations come in one-after-another from the same agency. Plenty of other presentation design agencies are using BrightSlide en masse, presumably so that they too can create slides faster, be more productive, and have time to do better work.

Sometimes I wonder if we’re daft. Honestly, I do. It’s all too easy to think of other presentation agencies as competitors, and of course in a sense they are. But how often do we pitch for work against each other? How saturated is this market, really? What percentage of important presentations do we believe are being put together with professional input? And where there is professional input, how often is it from a designer who doesn’t resent having to work in PowerPoint?

Is our share of this market what matters, or should we work on growing the entire presentation market? Will we do better by refusing to help other presentation agencies get a little more efficient, or by helping? Who knows, perhaps at some point down-the-line they might ask us to collaborate on a project that needs some technical VBA skills that they themselves don’t have, or they might just say thank you in a way that brightens our day.

It’s often easier to think about competing for work, because that’s the work that we see. But it’s not where the opportunity is. You’re on the Presentation Guild website. You probably already know this.

 

Elevating the Industry

So, at BrightCarbon we’re doing what we can to try to build up and support the presentation community, and to raise standards – and expectations – for slide design. We run popular online classes most weeks – and share our knowledge with whoever is interested. We were the first agency to sponsor the Presentation Guild. We supported the creation of the Certified Presentation Professional certifications by helping to create materials. And if you have any other ideas, we might well put ourselves forward for those too.

So yes, we give away one of the best PowerPoint productivity add-ins, for free. To any presentation agency that wants it. To anyone who wants it. Because we truly believe that right now the size of the market matters more than our share of it, and so whatever we can to do develop this field is going to help us all in the long run.

We aren’t the biggest presentation agency out there. We aren’t the oldest. We aren’t the most well-known. And we don’t want to be doing this alone. We love seeing others build the market too, and we look forward to continued collaboration. Right now, the biggest question is not about how we can get a bigger market share, but how can we all grow this market together.