Hi all. Tony writing here, with a personal piece.
I am unable to join you in San Antonio this month for the Presentation Summit. It would have been my tenth. A bit sad, but the reason is “compelling,” which I am using as a synonym for “lucrative.” I suppose a goofy smile emoji is in order.
Anyway, here’s some stuff I have learned. Take it with a megabyte of salt.
- Plan your day out in advance. Pore over the conference schedule and read descriptions carefully. The last place I want to be making choices about sessions is in the hallway just before they start. Of course, be flexible in your outcomes, but have a plan in place. Among other things, it helps you to accomplish the next item.
- Arrive early to the session. Get a good seat. Sit up front if you’re not too bashful. You’ll see and read the projection screen better, you’ll see and hear the speaker better, you’ll hear other attendees’ questions and comments better. If you’re late and it’s crowded, you may end up standing for the whole session, too far from the screen and the action. Really, some of these sessions are so good, they’re like rock concerts. Dude! Front row center! High five!
- Take notes. Take handwritten notes. Much attention has been given lately to the pros and cons of handwriting notes rather than keyboarding them in. Either way, you’ll get more out of the session (and for a longer period of time) if you take notes. I look back at prior conference programs and the notes I took so that I can better remember what I’ve forgotten. (Does that make sense? The older I get, the more it does!)
- Take people’s business cards. Take swag. Take handouts. Find and friend and follow others in social media after you’ve met face to face. Eat next to someone you don’t know. Chat with those to your left and right after the session or in line for coffee. The quality and quantity of networking at Summit is nothing short of amazing. It has changed the course of my life immeasurably. Seriously. Outside of family ties, and alma mater, and maybe sports teams, the social glue of this particular assembly of people is stronger than I don’t know what. It wouldn’t surprise me if marriages have resulted from this conference. This is our tribe.
- Take the energy and wisdom you gain and spread it around. Give a brain-dump lunch-and-learn at your office when you get back home. Post your Summit activities on social media, using the hashtag #PreSum19 (or #presum19 or in all caps or whatever – capitalization does not matter). Post photos of people and screens and objects you like. Tag friends and companies. (Within the past year, Microsoft and specifically the PowerPoint team have really ramped up their social engagement. In fact, PowerPoint just replied to a tweet of mine this week.) Sharing is caring.
- Elevate each other. We have a shared responsibility to our professional field. I might be wrong, but I feel we are at a peculiar, precipitous, and pointed place in business and education at this moment in time. We who do “this stuff” are being asked to achieve more than ever. (“Say, are you good at color combinations / storytelling / fonts / data visualization / motivating people / graphic design / animation / marketing / photography / public speaking / VBA / writing and editing / installing drivers for printers? Excellent!”) At the same time, we are being blamed more than ever. I swear, if I can have just one month without another PowerPoint is Evil! Ban it from the Boardroom! Ban it from the Classroom! article, I’d be a happy camper. Be an advocate. Shows others the light. Testify! Certify!
- On the other hand, have fun. My heavens, this is one fun conference. Around this time of year, my own Facebook timeline will remind me that years ago this date I was, oh, soaking wet or engorged with food or covered in sand or surrounded by people I love and admire. Yes, much fun was had. And will be had, by you.
- I know I am missing some pearls of wisdom. I know you have some. Share yours in the comments, please!
Director, Presentation Guild