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 quantity of people will be approved to, will choose to, or will feel comfortable enough to travel by August.

So instead, for the first time in 18 seasons, the Summit will take the form of a virtual conference. The Virtual Presentation Summit will be held over the same dates, Aug 10-13, across four consecutive mornings for western U.S. attendees, afternoons for the east coast, and evening for Europe. Apologies in advance to Asian attendees who will have to set their alarm clocks.

The irony of these times is not lost on conference host Rick Altman. “Hey, I’m the guy who was just quoted a few months ago as saying ‘The day that I host an online conference is the day I retire.’ Let it be known that it took a global pandemic to push me off of that position.”

Altman is also quick to point out his commitment to a virtual event that holds true to the core principles and values of the in-person conference. “This will not just be a collection of Zoom webinars, strung together by a bunch of invites to your calendar. We take seriously our charter to uphold and showcase best practices for presentation professionals. We will bring as much interactivity, humanity, and warmth as is technologically possible. We intend to show you that, when done right, a virtual conference truly can provide the feeling that you have been taken there.”

Of equal note, remaining intact is the presenting team that has earned its distinction as the best team of teachers in the industry. “We have provided the most authoritative advice, the most insightful instruction, and the most inspiring design lessons to be found anywhere in the presentation community,” says Altman, who has been the conference’s host and chief organizer since its inception in 2003. “That will not change — the only thing that will change is that more people will be able to benefit from it.”

Indeed, the Summit has historically capped attendance at 200 people in order to maintain the intimacy that has characterized the event. With a much lower price point and no travel barriers, conference organizers are preparing for a larger audience. “If you have always wondered about the Summit,” notes Altman, “if you have always wanted to attend but couldn’t find the time, the funding, or just couldn’t make the travel work, this is the time to make it happen. We’re not sure if we’ll ever do this again, so this is your year.”

The Virtual Summit will cost $395, with group discounts available for organizations. Included in registration is the following:

  • The keynote addresses, roundtables, and general sessions
  • All breakout seminars, with no need to sign up for them in advance
  • Access to the Help Center, where drop-in and by-appointment technical support is available across all of the hours of the Summit. You will be able to chat via keyboard, connect via video, upload files, and share screens — all of the things you would do if in person.
  • The virtual Exhibit Hall, chat with Summit technology partners, see demos, talk with company reps, download info sheets, and even receive swag
  • Ability to watch and re-watch all of the proceedings for the rest of 2020

Altman admits his former disdain for the very idea of a virtual conference — “anathema to my core!” he says. But what has buoyed his spirits is the advancement in virtual conferencing technology. Just about everyone on the planet has become familiar with Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, Hangouts, and the like. But sitting above these video-sharing services are fully formed platforms for creating what Altman refers to as “thereness.” Conference attendees will be given their own access to the platform, in which they can build out their own profiles, be introduced to like-minded colleagues, establish relationships with others, and interact on levels more sophisticated than a Q&A panel. Attendees can also share files, share screens, meet in groups, and converse over video.

Registration is now open. And to the burning question asked by regular conference patrons, Altman offers these answers: “Yes, we will hold the Guru Session and yes, we will stage the Trivia Contest.”







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