The Summit FAQ

What type of an event is this?

The Presentation Summit is a user conference, featuring live presentations, keynote addresses, workshops, and community building. 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.

Since 2021, the Summit has been a hybrid event, but in order to properly service each audience, the conference will offer separate events this year: In-person Oct 15-18 and virtual Nov 6-8.

What type of people come to the Summit?
If you are in business today, you must communicate effectively with others and that are involved in 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.
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Will you have a hybrid conference this year?

Strictly speaking, no, we will not. Our hybrid conference thrived in 2021 and 2022, thanks to both technology and humanity, and we are proud to have been the standard bearers for so many who needed a model for the experience.

Hybrid introduces modest compromises to each aspect and we no longer care to accept those compromises. For instance, our presenters are constrained to where they stand and where they look, our Zoomies must accept ambient ballroom noise, roomies have to work harder to join the chats, and both audiences get a bit of FOMO.

By splitting the two events, we can eliminate all compromises and allow anyone to tailor their experience. Those who attend in person can also sign up for the virtual and then catch up with the seminars they missed, or watch again the ones they really liked. Each event can be designed and staged with the sole focus being on the experience.

What happens if it is not yet safe to attend in person?

Then we won’t hold an in-person event. If we experience a Covid setback that makes it unsafe and unwise to gather in public, we will stage a virtual-only event, as we did quite successfully in 2020.

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 2024.

It is possible that, come next fall, we will still require proof of vaccination to join us on-site, but we will address that later. If we have learned anything during Covid, it is unwise to try to prognosticate too far into the future.

PowerPoint is easy, why would I pay to go to a conference?

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.

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This might be a tight budget year. How do I justify attending?

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, now doubly so with the need for proficiency with in-person as well as virtual communication.

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.

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If you need help convincing your boss of the value of the Presentation Summit, here you go…

How do I know it won't be boring and tedious like so many business conferences?

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 150 patrons (maximum, attendance capped) 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).

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How do I know it won't be a bunch of hype?

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.

Jamie Garroch on the open and direct dialogue that the conference promotes.

Do I need to be an advanced user to attend?

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 two concurrent seminar tracks and workshops, and there will always be a seminar taking place designed for beginning and/or intermediate users.

Furthermore, our team of presenters hardly spend their time in an ivory tower — they are out and about for the entirety of the conference and are most willing to meet with patrons privately. In fact, “Office Hours” are literally built into the schedule.

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.

Why should I choose this conference over a hands-on training course?

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. If they were conducted like a training class, all in attendance would be forced to go at the pace of the slowest person, and you would not be satisfied.

Instead, you will be watching the program in action or illustrations of ideas on a large screen, with a state-of-the-art projection system, professionally prepared and paced by one of our accomplished presenters. You are most welcome to bring your notebook computer to follow along (about 25% do), but it is neither required nor expected.

This year we debut “Office Hours,” in which our presenters are available for one-on-one or one-on-few hands-on support. This will be offered to both roomies and Zoomies.

You write often about your "team of experts"--who are they?

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.
Can I bring my spouse, partner, or friend to the in-person conference?

Spouses, domestic partners, or companions of any sort are welcome, and for as long as we have space available, we offer three options for accommodating them:

1. Single-day attendance at $250 per day. This includes full access to all daytime sessions and our after-hours reception that day.

2. After-hours social activities at $125 for the duration of the conference. This provides access to our hosted after-hours receptions, which we hold every evening, Sunday through Wednesday.

3. Regular meals are part of your lodging at Asilomar; if you and/or your companion are not staying at the resort, you can buy meal access independently.

For more information, please call or email us.

So meals are provided?

Yes, you will be very well fed! Your room reservation at Asilomar includes full meals for each conference day, dinner on your check-in day and breakfast and lunch on your check-out day.

In addition, the conference will be hosting social events each evening and holding a private dinner Tuesday evening.

How should I dress?

Our normal mantra is that you should be comfortable, however you define it. But as this is billed as a retreat, and we are at a retreat center, let us quote from the venue:

“At Asilomar, ‘formal’ means that you wear socks and a clean pair of khakis.”

Indeed, we think that those who wear business suits or pants suits will feel a bit of out of place. We expect that conference t-shirts and jeans or shorts will become standard issue.

Monterey County enjoys glorious weather in October, with daytime temps in the low- to mid-70s. But it does cool down once the sun sets, so we recommend sweaters or light jackets in the evening.

In general, you will be able to walk outdoors to your heart’s content, so we recommend you wear clothing comfortable for that.

How do I get there?

Monterey actually does have its own airport with jet service. Alaska, American, United combine to offer non-stop service from Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. That means that you can get to Monterey (MRY) in just one stop from pretty much anywhere in the country and most parts of the world.

You will likely find more choices and better prices if you fly into San Francisco (SFO) or San Jose (SJC). It is a two-hour drive from SFO to Asilomar and about 90 minutes from SJC. You can book a shuttle with Monterey Airbus which will charge you reasonable rates (under $100) for service directly to Asilomar.

Also, the resort provides free parking right outside your room and we think that renting a car would prove to be a smart choice for anyone who has not yet experienced the incredible beauty and charm of Monterey and Carmel.