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Presentations as Listeners Like Them

At this year’s DIA 2019 Global Annual Meeting, SlideSource’s Bob Befus, along with Frank Carillo, CEO of ECG Healthcare, gave a session entitled Presentations as Listeners Like Them: How to Tailor Messaging.

The presentation reviewed Richard E. Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and outlined, with useful examples, three techniques for reducing the audience’s cognitive load. These techniques, when applied to content during a presentation’s creation, can make it easier to process and more likely to stick in the audience’s memory. They are:

  • Designing to help your audience focus on a slide’s content
  • Not overloading the visual and auditory channels
  • Leveraging space and time contiguity (when words and corresponding pictures are near each other, the audience can better hold them in working memory at the same time, and when narration and images are presented at the same time the audience can make better connections between verbal and visual representations)

More details can be found in Mayer’s classic Multimedia Learning (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-521-78749-9).

A Photo Recap of the 2015 Presentation Summit

Last week, I was part of the team that traveled to New Orleans to participate in the premier annual gathering of presentation professionals: Rick Altman’s Presentation Summit.

Bob Befus and I learned from the diverse array of presenters, designers, vendors, and PowerPoint gurus that the Summit attracts each year. We greeted scores of attendees at our exhibition booth and shared freely the only cure for Presentitis. Bob gave a talk about the content management challenges that presentation files create for many organizations. I documented the week’s activities, in real time, in words and pictures on social media.

What follows is a photographic recap of most of the activities we participated in, some of which didn’t make it to our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feeds. Do you have any memories of the Summit that you would like to share? Please feel free to do so in the comments.


Welcome Sign

This must be the place. The meeting venue (Astor Crowne Plaza) is right at the very gateway to one of the most storied stretches of American real estate — Bourbon Street.

Bourbon Street in the Rain

My first glimpse of said real estate. No one should expect a place with Bourbon Street’s reputation to look particularly energetic or exciting so early on a rainy Sunday morning.

Conference central.

The registration desk at Conference Central – The calm before the storm.

Opening reception and Help Center.

That’s more like it. The welcome reception was well attended. In the foreground to the right you’ll see the world famous Help Center. The place to ask the experts any and all technical questions.

microsoft team

The Microsoft team being good sports during a little good-natured ribbing about some of PowerPoint’s less favored behaviors and features.

Mother's Restaurant

Mother’s Restaurant. A must see when in New Orleans. So much history, so much great food.


Nigel Holmes kicked things off with an opening keynote about using humor in presentations.

Nigel Holmes kicked things off with an opening keynote about using humor in presentations.

Mike Parkinson

Mike Parkinson held a terrific interactive session that hashed out, with the help of his audience, attributes of excellent speakers.

Alexander Hanauer

Carpe Minutam! (Seize the (first) minute). Alexander Hanauer talked about how crucial the first minute of a presentation can be. Speakers don’t need to fight for audience attention in the first minute, they already have it but but they often waste it.

Dr Carmen Simon

Dr. Carmen Simon’s keynote reminded us that “we stay in business to the extent that people remember us,” and suggested that we ask ourselves if our slides and the way we present “are making it possible for people to look away.” This is important because attention is crucial to memory.

Troy Chollar

Troy Chollar showed how being even a few tiny pixels out of place can make a huge difference when misaligned elements are projected on the big screen. You don’t want any careless or unintended design flaws to distract the audience from your message.

PPT Trivia

Rick MCing the Great PowerPoint Trivia Contest.

LiveSlides Demo

The LiveSlides team giving an impressive demonstration of one of the more practical applications of their product.


My favorite Trivia Challenge category: Shut Up, Already! In other words (see what I did there), a rousing, high-energy game of PowerPoint Charades.

Guru Session - Garr Reynolds

A little later, Ric Bretschneider MCed the late-night guru session. Garr Reynolds joined us from his office in Japan.

Guru Session - John Wilson

Then John Wilson demonstrated some software tools he developed that fix many of the things about PowerPoint that drive all of us crazy. Dubbed “Leah’s Fixes,” they were made available to Summit attendees for a donation to a fundraising effort John is supporting. His revision to PowerPoint’s align function is amazingly useful. The audience was eager to get their hands on the entire tool set. Contact John for more information about how to get the tools for yourself.

Guru Session - Microsoft Team

The guru session wrapped up with the Microsoft PowerPoint team demonstrating some of the new features of PPT 2016 and answering questions until everyone in the room was exhausted and ready to call it a day — just after midnight.


Exhibit Hall Setup

Tuesday morning started early with the exhibitors setting up their spaces for The Expo.

SlideSource Expo Booth

This was my favorite.

Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki’s much anticipated keynote kicked off Wednesday’s activities. With a title like that, you darn well better get a standing ovation at the end of your presentation. My favorite quote: “A pictures is worth a thousand words. A good demo is worth a thousand slides.”

Guy looking for slide

Guy had a little trouble tracking down a slide he wanted to share with us. Hmmm. I bet SlideSource could have helped him with that.

SlideSource giveaway

Our extremely popular expo booth giveaway. Candy-coated chocolate in pill bottles symbolizing SlideSource as the only cure for presentitis (a chronic state of frustration resulting from disorganized  presentations).


Geetesh Bajaj modeling the really cool official Summit t-shirt his company sponsored.

Keith Harmeyer

Keith Harmeyer’s afternoon keynote examined the importance of innovation. Key takeaway: In today’s world, irrelevance = extinction.

Bob Befus

Our own Bob Befus gave a presentation later that afternoon that outlined some of the reasons organizations have difficulties managing their presentation content. He also talked about how SlideSource can help with these difficulties as it was designed from the ground up to manage content that, in some ways, is never completed. His full deck is available here.


Alan Hoffler

Alan Hoffler’s keynote presentation, “What Not to Say: The 10 Dumbest Things Speakers Say,” reminded us that words can hurt. Mainly by taking the attention away from your message. Alan was also kind enough to give away the Kindle version of his provocatively titled book, Presentation Sin, free for the day. I also attended Alan’s breakout session focused on what to do when it all goes wrong during your presentation. Key take away: You have three available responses when something goes wrong. You can fix it, feature it, or forget it. You should work the problem in that order and you only feature the problem if everyone in the room is impacted.

Jonathan Schwabish

Jonathan Schwabish’s breakout session was about improving data visualizations in presentations and he showed many examples of how this can be done. My favorite idea (not counting the quote in the slide above): You don’t need to show all the data to everyone all the time.

Wow. After the last breakout session, there were still two more events – the Encore Performances and the Five Minutes Tips. We didn’t take any photos of these. The encore sessions (“Presentation Tips from the Masters” by Mike Parkinson and “Click Here, Go There” by Sandra Johnson) were, by definition, excellent. The quick tips session was a welcome respite for our severely diminished attention spans that also provided a lot of really useful information.

And so with that, we say farewell to New Orleans and 2015 Presentation Summit. We look forward to seeing you all next year.

Cafe Du Monde

Au lait et beignets at the Café du Monde.

We’re headed for The Big Easy

presumIt’s hard to believe the Summer’s over and it’s time for the team to pack our bags and head down to New Orleans for this year’s sold out Presentation Summit.

As we mentioned back in July, Rick Altman’s annual professional gathering is the one place to be if your job involves creating presentations at any level, in any industry. No other conference comes close to the Summit in providing high-impact learning experiences.

Bob Befus, a major force behind the development of, will be giving a a talk on Tuesday the 29th at 4:00 entitled “Lost in Space! Why Presentations Fall Through the Digital Cracks.” In other words, why is it so hard to manage presentation content in the enterprise? Highlights of the talk will be live tweeted (@SlideSource) while it happens, and we plan on making a recording available after the conference. We will also be sharing other choice tidbits from the Summit via our blog and the usual social media channels.

If you are joining us at the summit and would like to schedule a personal demonstration of, email us at

SlideSource turns 6 (months that is)

It’s hard to believe, but went live and became available to the public six months ago. After more than 20,000 slides have been added to SlideSource, we can say the response has been amazing. It’s been really exciting to be able to bring the industry’s most innovative and easy-to-use slide and presentation library solution to PowerPoint users everywhere.

We’ve spent the last six months fine tuning the tool, improving performance and, most importantly, talking to customers. Last week, we updated the site with a number of improvements. Many of these were on the back-end, but users will also notice a number of  other important changes. Chat is now available at any time, so help is just a few keystrokes away. The upload function has been improved. If you are a Mac user, you can now open your slides directly from PowerPoint on the Mac (Safari and Chrome browsers) rather than downloading first.

We’re also excited to announce a number changes to the SlideSource subscription plans. These changes add flexibility and make it easier to start a subscription if you have just a few users. Each plan is now based primarily on the number of users who will need access to your library. You can then fine tune your subscription plan (and its monthly cost) to meet your needs by specifying the maximum number of slides your library will contain.


All plans include…

  • Unlimited slide collections within your library
  • Advanced permissions control
  • Live phone support
  • Our unique system for securely sharing your presentations with colleagues, collaborators, and audiences who don’t have their own subscriptions
  • The ability to raise and lower subscription level and limits at any time

… as well as all of the other great system features that make the most innovative and efficient tool for managing your PowerPoint slides and presentations.

If you aren’t already a user, now is a great time to sign up for a free account and give it a try. The free subscription has all of the features and capabilities of the paid subscription levels so you will be able to see exactly what makes the most innovative and useful presentation management system available.