Articles of interest. We hope.

  • Lessons Learned from the 2022 Presentation Summit
    If you were to look up epiphany at, it should include the footnote “See Season No. 20 of the Presentation Summit.” In our 20-year history, no event has been more eye-opening than the four days in October over which we staged our hybrid conference. Let’s start with a few …  Read More »
  • Over a dozen Summit passes to be awarded in August
    What’s better than attending a free webinar? How about winning a $595 pass to a conference while attending a free webinar? If you are hooked into the Training Mag Network, that could be your bragging right in August. As part of the ongoing 20th anniversary celebration for the Presentation Summit, …  Read More »
  • Sunday is Fun Day
    How ironic that my favorite day at the Presentation Summit is the day before it officially begins. The buzz and the energy of Sunday at the Summit is almost magical, as our patrons start to arrive and bring with them an infectious enthusiasm. Everyone is so fresh and full of …  Read More »
  • Dierdre and her Free Soloing Son
    I recently watched Free Solo for the fourth time, so obsessed am I with the limits of human achievement and our capacity to face down pressure and risk. The parallels with public speaking are obvious, and that is why I am so looking forward to welcoming to the Presentation Summit Dierdre …  Read More »
  • Jeff Pearlman Joins the Summit Cast
    Award-winning sportswriter joins strongest keynote lineup in history. Credit goes to the host’s daughter. Jeff PearlmanWorld-renowned sportswriter Jasmine SadlerDancing rocket scientist Cliff AtkinsonMaster storyteller Dierdre WolownickMatriarch of First Rock Climbing Family He has been called brilliant, evil, gifted, paranoid, a “classless clown,” a “journalistic savant,” and a chipwich, whatever that …  Read More »
  • The Summit’s First Virtual Performance
    I compare that with what we do now and I laugh. That was the precursor to modern presentation, and it was Garr who helped us blaze that trail.  Read More »
  • Story, Ballet, Rock Climbing, and Sports, Oh My!
    In celebrating its 20th anniversary as the standard bearer for public communication, the 2022 Presentation Summit features the most varied and eclectic group of keynote speakers in its history. Each offers a unique story; together, they will showcase the magic of blending expertise and imagination.  Read More »
  • Challenge Accepted!
    Meet Faith-Christina Duncan, our Tuesday morning keynote speaker, who laughs in the face of challenges When Faith-Christina Duncan stands before the Presentation Summit audience on Tuesday morning, Sep 28, a number of firsts will take place: At 21 years and four months, she is the youngest person to ever speak …  Read More »
  • Are We Ready to Travel Yet?
    You know that saying about the weather? If you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes and it will change? That pretty much sums up how we all feel about business travel in the post-Covid age. Optimistic one week, pessimistic the next. The president says we’ll all be able to get …  Read More »
  • Nigel Holmes to Return to the Summit
    Internationally acclaimed designer, author, and theorist Nigel Holmes is set to make his fourth appearance at the Presentation Summit this fall, and there is every indication that his story will be as original as he is. Whether the Summit is able to be held in person or must go virtual …  Read More »
  • What will the 2021 Presentation Summit Look Like??
    If you were to Google search “conferences canceled in 2021,” you might be struck by a few things: 1) how many events have decided to go virtual; 2) how deep into the year decisions have already been made; and 3) how many folks report that they have no idea what …  Read More »
  • Lessons Learned Hosting a Virtual Conference
    It was mid-March and nobody was adept yet at sheltering in place, to say nothing of furthering careers or appreciating finer parts of life. My colleagues in event planning were like dominoes, with each topple casting new light upon our collective fate. I was undeterred, and just a few months …  Read More »
  • We are not post racial
    For the past 40+ years, I have been proud of the wrong thing. I attended a predominantly black high school in a predominantly black neighborhood. I once held a party at my house in which I was the only white kid. As sports editor for the Daily Californian at UC …  Read More »
  • Q & A about the Virtual Summit
    For the first time since its inception in 2003, the Presentation Summit will not take place in a particular city or at a specific hotel. Speaking with editor Geetesh Bajaj, conference host Rick Altman shares how he made the difficult decision and his vision for this first-ever virtual version …  Read More »
  • Introducing the Virtual Presentation Summit
    The news should come as no surprise to anyone in any part of the world with an internet connection: The 2020 Presentation Summit shall not be headed to Seattle this summer. As one of countless businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Summit team no longer believes that a sufficient …  Read More »
  • Presentation Summit Moves to Summer, Heads to Seattle
    Garr Reynolds to headline 2020 event, Aug 9-12 In a move sure to delight teachers across the country, the 18th rendition of the annual Presentation Summit moves up a full season to be held for the first time ever during the middle of summer, August 9-12 near Seattle WA. Headlining …  Read More »
  • Does My But Look Too Big Here?
    Don't fall into a but trap. Think "yes and" instead.  Read More »
  • What the f— do we do with all this s—??
    Public profanity is a new phenomenon and I can't quite decide if it is a nadir or a zenith. Perhaps it is both, and as such, it has fascinating implications for anyone involved in public presentation.  Read More »
  • Leadership Workshop Offers Hope and Optimism
    Once a year, I participate in Leadership Santa Clara, a wonderful initiative that many cities (not just Santa Clara) conduct in order to seek out and cultivate local leaders in city government and community endeavors. This six-month program, led by SAE Communications, explores governance, volunteerism, environment, media, health, culture, and …  Read More »
  • Found in Translation
    I have colleagues who specialize in helping people communicate in languages other than their own. I know experts in this field, and I can say without equivocation that I am not one of them. I am pretty good at using words like equivocation in my native tongue, but when it …  Read More »
  • What Can We Learn from James Comey?
    You don’t have to be a political junkie to have been interested in former FBI Director James Comey’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. And if you are a member of the presentation community, you might have found it utterly fascinating. And illuminating. And educational. This was the …  Read More »
  • Are Protesters like Presenters?
    If so, they are failing I grew up near Stanford University in the 1960s and I remember my mother taking me on campus for protests and marches against our country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. She likes to tell the story of one late-October gathering in which the chant of …  Read More »
  • When Your Mariah Moment Happens
    Did you hear the one about how powerful Mariah Carey’s voice is? You can hear her sing even when her mouth is not open. As you can imagine, there is no shortage of jokes about the singer’s epic fail on New Year’s Eve. Several have no doubt graced your Facebook …  Read More »
  • What You Can Learn from the Jewish Holidays
    I start with a few provisos. First, I recognize that a high percentage of my readership subscribes to a faith other than Judaism or subscribes to no faith at all. Second, the Jewish High Holidays – marked by Rosh Hashanah (the new year) and then 10 days later Yom Kippur …  Read More »
  • Is it Unfair to Call Hillary Clinton Shrill?
    Of all of the lasting images and sound bites from the Democratic National Convention and from Secretary Clinton’s historic acceptance speech, it does seem a bit out of proportion to read and hear so much about her vocal pattern. But is it sexist? Is it unfair? No it is not. …  Read More »
  • The Warriors, Kevin Durant, and You
    The Curse of Expectation Having been a long-suffering follower of the Golden State Warriors when they were terrible for over 20 years, it is with unreserved glee that I revel in last year’s championship, this year’s record-breaking season, and the recent acquisition of superstar Kevin Durant. But you don’t have …  Read More »
  • Don’t Say That!
    Six Things Presenters Should Never Say The digital world is littered with articles with titles similar to this one. A Google search turns up 750,000 of them. And most of them offer good advice, albeit a bit redundant. Just about all of them warn against calling attention to your having …  Read More »
  • Happy Accidents with Triggers
    You never know what you might discover when you thought you were looking for something else. One of our more loyal Presentation Summit attendees, Mary Hampton, had a recent dilemma and she came to us in search of a solution. On a map of the United States, she prepared information …  Read More »
  • Guilty Pleasures
    We turn the tables on one of the oldest scams in history… Reprinted from 2009 on Throw-Back Thursday… ALL OF YOU HAVE RECEIVED ONE, WE’RE SURE. The email with the subject of “Very Urgent Investment Transaction,” the entire letter in upper case, and the gist being the wealthy person who …  Read More »
  • The Circle of Life at the 2015 Presentation Summit
    When you have held annual conferences as long as I have (first one in 1989), you encounter just about everything along the way. We have witnessed all of the following: Marriage proposals Various activities that lead to proposals Similar activities that lead to divorces Power outages plunging all of our …  Read More »
  • Busted in Boise
    How could a simple question during a routine workshop become such a game-changer? We were well into our day, about six hours into an all-day presentation skills workshop. My client was Micron, the well-known microchip manufacturer and largest employer in the state of Idaho, and we were in a beautiful …  Read More »
  • The Parallels between Tennis and Public Speaking
    When I took time off last summer to write a book about tennis, I had intended for it to be merely a diversion. Having played the sport for decades, I have long felt that there is little support for adult doubles players. The major networks feed us nothing but singles …  Read More »
  • What Does “Design” Mean, Anyway?
    Every year during and after the Presentation Summit, a fascinating exchange of ideas takes shape. This happens without fail – in the hallways and ballrooms during the days of the conference, in the lounge after hours, and in the post-conference evaluations that we read. This year’s discussion took its most …  Read More »
  • Surviving Handout Hell
    The height of my client-visiting season is May through August when I visit or connect remotely with dozens of client sites and meet with many hundreds of people. Almost to a person, the following two statements hold true: The biggest issue that presentation designers and content creators face is placing …  Read More »
  • The Folly of “Ditching PowerPoint”
    Every few weeks, someone speaks out on a public forum somewhere about how bad PowerPoint is. About how it should be eliminated from corporate culture. About how it is the root of all evil. Over on the Presentation Gurus LinkedIn group, one of the regular contributors, Eric Bergman, shared a …  Read More »
  • What’s On Your QAT…?
    Longtime PowerPoint users, including this writer, remember fondly the days of version 2003. As old-fashioned as that version was – with its awkward slide layouts, unrefined visual aids, and often-bizarre object naming schemes – it had one quality that all subsequent versions lack: you could completely customize the interface. You …  Read More »
  • What’s the Problem with “Creating a PowerPoint”?
    Most presentation consultants in business today have become a bit oblivious  to the common practice of referring to a presentation by the tool used to create its visuals. No other product in the Office suite shares this distinction – I know nobody who composes a Word, crunches an Excel, or …  Read More »
  • When Did Competition Become a Dirty Word?
    It was 9:15a and the outdoor thermometer registered it 37 degrees, 98 degrees in Fahrenheit. A group of over a dozen of us, including several teens and one 70-year-old woman, had already committed to hiking the fabled Snake Path to the summit of Israel’s Masada, and we were not going …  Read More »
  • On Software and Trust
    “I don’t see how a software tool can create trust.” “I am fascinated by your analysis of trust and how animation contributes to it.” My last post, The Phenomenon of Attention, generated no small bit of commentary, including the two above. This doesn’t surprise me: the Animation engine within PowerPoint …  Read More »
  • The Phenomenon of Attention
    We no longer have four-year-olds in the house, so the most profound and egregious examples of limited attention span no longer occur on an hourly basis here. That said, I have spent the past three months examining and being fascinated by the impact that attention span has on our society …  Read More »
  • The Most Valuable PowerPoint Feature that You’re Not Using
    The best-kept secret of modern versions of PowerPoint? That’s a no-brainer, as I experience it almost every time I interact with users. When I am brought into an organization to consult on presentation skills, most in the room don’t know about it. When I give webinars, I can practically hear …  Read More »
  • An Unforgettable Week
    The drama that unfolded Around CorelWORLD ’01 Reprinted from Oct 2001 The events that overtook our country on Tuesday, September 11, had a profound effect on the conference that I host. It became far less important in the larger matters of life, and at the same time, it became far …  Read More »
  • I mean…um…what do I mean??
    One of the most common of all traits among those who speak in public is the verbal tick. Most of my clients have them, our former rabbi had them, President Obama has them, you probably have them. And because I have them as well, I have made somewhat of a …  Read More »
  • Can PowerPoint Make You Stupid?
    This is an excerpt from the third edition of Rick Altman’s provocatively-titled book on presentation best practices. Available now in paperback, PDF, ePub, and Kindle. You can learn more about it at the BetterPresenting website. ONE OF THE MOST INFLAMMATORY ideas circulating among PowerPoint skeptics has received quite a bit …  Read More »
  • It’s Not About Being Perfect
    It takes a rock star to show us presenters what is truly important in communication Did you watch the Grammy Awards last week? Winners for Best Rock Performance, the Foo Fighters provided the most memorable moment of any award show in years when lead singer Dave Grohl accepted the award …  Read More »
  • The Power of the Apology
    As one year turns into another, I seek topics with larger reach, in the hopes that they could function as resolutions. This one certainly qualifies: the fine art of showing contrition and remorse. I fancy myself somewhat of an authority on the subject, given that my wife has been telling …  Read More »

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