The Magic of the Makeover

Before-and-after sessions
a perennial conference favorite

Now in its ninth season, the Presentation Summit has offered seminars and workshops on such far-reaching topics as software automation, simultaneous projection on multiple screens, presenting in non-native languages, and dealing with unfriendly audiences. Since its inception in 2003, however, no seminar topic has been more popular than the traditional makeover — where a member of the conference design team reviews and redesigns slide decks.

This year, there are three distinct before-and-after sessions: a template makeover and two design makeovers, all from work submitted by conference attendees.

“People love makeovers of all kinds,” notes Julie Terberg, who has starred in enough makeover sessions as to earn the unofficial title of Makeover Maven. “Turn on the TV and you’ll see an endless variety: home makeovers, room makeovers, garden makeovers, personal style makeovers, fitness and lifestyle makeovers. You usually can relate to something in the ‘before’ situations and so you want to see what the experts do with their transformation.

“The same applies with presentation design. How would another designer treat this concept? How will he or she transform the graphics or images? What can I learn to make my own work that much better?”

Conference attendees have several reasons to enjoy these sessions. As Julie notes, everyone can relate to the struggles and issues that are typically represented in the “before” slides and they love being inspired by the metamorphosis. Further, if your slides are chosen for one of these makeover sessions, you will be able to return home with the “after” slides, compliments of the designer. That translates into a takeaway that would typically cost a client several thousand dollars.

This is not to say that there is no reward for the designer, who can measure the return in warm-and-fuzzies. “I love when patrons say how much they learned from the makeovers,” says Terberg. “It warms my heart to hear from them about how they applied the ideas to their own work.”

You can view a snippet of one of Terberg’s makeovers at the conference’s Video Vault.

Conference host Rick Altman also stages a makeover session, but he will be the first to tell you that he is not in Julie’s league. “I am not a professional designer,” he says, “and ironically, that is what makes it work. I focus on creating clean and consistent business design and I’m pretty good evaluating message and story. I’m not going to inspire anyone with my design brilliance as Julie does, but I can infuse confidence in people. My hope is that people come away from my sessions saying, ‘I see what he did, why he did it, and I could do it too.'”

Conference patrons pay nothing extra to have their work accepted for a makeover, and with three sessions on tap this year, late registrants can still get in on the action.

The Presentation Summit runs September 18-21 in Austin TX. You can read more about makeover sessions and  see the entire schedule, at Seating at the conference is limited to 200 patrons.

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