Trendy Tech Prizes

Not only did attendees come away from our 3-day national summit (CIO, CISO, Big Data and Cloud) with key takeaways, but also some amazing, trendy tech gadgets thanks to their feedback!

We love feedback. We want to know it all! Our team encourages event goers to bring on the comments about sessions, the app and the event flow in general. We soak it up since it helps drive our content in invaluable ways and keeps us on the pulse of what our attendees want. And what better way to snag this feedback than pepper them with prizes!

At the trifecta of events we hosted in Chicago this week (the CIO Summit US, CISO Summit US and Big Data Summit at the JW Marriott), sponsors wowed attendees with some savvy tech items and gift cards for those who gave the most feedback. What were the top trends from these cool technology companies? Wearable tech! Check out most sought-after prizes and the event sponsors who donated them:

1. iPad Mini – Adobe
ipad mini final
2. Garmin Smartwatch (2)- Rimini Street
garmin  smartwatch
3. Amazon Kindle Fire – Velostrata
amazon kindle fire
4. Apple Watch – Coho Data & Equinix
apple watch

Thanks to all the sponsors that donated amazing prizes!

Find out about our upcoming events here!

 

 

Favorite Event Venues

Finding the perfect venue for an event that will not only meet the expectations of your attendees but also look the part can be difficult but with 80 annual summits, CDM Media has this perfected. While we use venues from San Francisco to Paris to Cape Town and everywhere in between, we definitely have our favorites!

With the help of our event management and delegation teams, we have narrowed down the list to our top 5 favorite venues!

1. Ritz-Carlton Montreal: Fun fact – the Ritz-Carlton Montreal was the first Ritz-Carlton built! Our team all agreed this was their favorite venue! Not only does it have a historic presence but is also top-notch with their customer service.

ritz inside montreal

2. The Landmark London: This luxury hotel is one of the most popular 5 star hotels in London and among our events team. The combination of British elegance and amazing facilities has us swoon!

landmark london

3. The Westin Paris – Vendome: What’s not to love about Paris? Especially if you’re staying at the Westin Paris. It’s centrally-located and is walking distance from shopping and sightseeing. This hotel mixes Parisian chic with modern design and technology.

westin vendome terrace

4. The Phoenician: This award-winning luxury resort has our hearts! Not only is the weather superb but the view is amazing! Guests can enjoy the exquisite gold course, also!

phoenician balcany

5. JW Marriott Chicago: Located in one of the world’s most powerful financial districts and in the heart of one of the largest cities in the U.S., the JW Marriott Chicago is a downtown favorite. This landmark Chicago luxury hotel displays the renowned architecture of world-famous Daniel Burnham.

jw marriott chicago

Find out where else our CDM Media team travels for our global portfolio of events here!

Top 5 Travel Accessories

If you’re hyper-organized and a frequent-flyer like the gals from our Client Services Event Management team, you know all the tricks of the trade for efficient and stress-free traveling! In case you’re not, we have broken it down to the top five most valuable travel accessories, according to Event Manager Kelsey Freese.

girl at airport

1. Portable phone charger: “We always carry fully-charged portable phone chargers with us to the airport. A dead phone is not an option! Plus, they barely take up any space in my purse or carry-on.”

2. Something cozy: “A scarf that doubles as a blanket is the perfect item to keep you comfortable and warm in the airport and during the plane ride.”

3. Vitamin C: “I always make sure to not only drink Emergen-C before traveling but I pack a few packets, too! It’s inevitable one of us usually gets sick after travelling but this helps keep us healthy and moving.”

4. In-flight entertainment: “Before I head to the airport, I double check that I have my headphones and my iPad. The other girls bring their books, too. We make sure we have something to keep us entertained.”

5. Refillable water bottle: “If you’re an avid traveler, you’re probably spending quite a bit of money on water bottles and snacks. I always have an empty refillable water bottle in tote. After security, I fill it up and avoid purchasing a bottled water. I bring my own snacks, too!”

 

Curious about where our team is globe trotting to around the world? Check out our global portfolio of summits here!

Increase Your Attendees’ Engagement

Being at an event isn’t enough. At CDM Media, we want participants and attendees to truly soak in information, their surroundings and absorb the forward-thinking ideas being presented to them. So what’s in our bag of tricks for helping keeping attendees engaged? We’re happy to share with you!

back of head full room

1. Keep presentations interactive: We love for our speakers, presenters and moderators to keep the attendees in the audience engaged by asking their opinions, ideas and current issues.

2. Brainstorm as a group: The presenter doesn’t have to be the only one sharing forward-thinking ideas at our sessions. We love for attendees from different companies to speak up and provide feedback, thoughts and brainstorm topics.

3. Keep things moving: Avoid downtime for attendees during sessions. Keep the sessions moving with conversation, debriefs and good transitional topics.

4. Break up the session-style: If you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation with one presenter, try mixing it up the next session so your attendees remain stimulated and help keep boredom at bay. Implementing 1-on-1 meetings helps change up the day, as well.

5. Know your audience: Keep the attendees in mind when creating your presentations and choose information that will be relevant and attention-catching for them.

6. Attention-grabbing graphics: We’ve learned from Dona Wong, author of Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts and Figures, whether it’s choosing the best chart form for data, using colors gracefully or limiting the number of graphics per slide, be selective to maximize a lasting impression.

CDM Media Releases 2016 Summit Calendar

With 2016 right around the corner and this year quickly coming to a close, CDM Media has released the 2016 Summit Calendar.

Are you interested in attending or securing a thought leadership speaking role? Email us or inquire now via our website.

Hope to see you in 2016!

2016 Summit Map

FEBRUARY

CIO Canada Summit Montreal, Canada, 2/21/16 – 2/23/16

CISO Canada Summit Montreal, Canada, 2/21/16 – 2/23/16

CIO Summit EU London, UK, 2/28/16 – 3/1/16

CISO Summit EU London, UK 2/28/16 – 3/1/16

MARCH

CIO New York Summit, New York, NY, 2/25/16

CISO Summit New York, New York, NY, 2/25/16

CIO Chicago Summit Chicago, IL, 3/8/16

CISO Summit Chicago, Chicago, IL, 3/8/16

CIO Atlanta Summit, Atlanta, GA, 3/10/16

CISO Atlanta Summit, Atlanta, GA, 3/10/16

CMO Summit U.S., New York, NY, 3/15/16

Customer Experience Summit U.S., New York, NY, 3/15/16

CIO France Summit, Paris, France, 3/22/16

CIO Government Summit, Washington D.C., 3/22/16

CIO Public Sector Summit, Washington D.C., 3/22/16

CISO France Summit, Paris, France. 3/22/16

APRIL

CIO Finance Summit US, New York, NY, 4/5/16

CISO BFSI New York, NY, 4/5/16 – 4/6/16

CIO Insurance Summit US, New York, NY, 4/6/16

CIO Austin Summit, Austin, TX, 4/12/16

CIO Dallas Summit, Dallas, TX 4/14/16

CISO Dallas Summit, Dallas, TX 4/14/16

CIO San Francisco Summit San Francisco, CA 4/26/16

CISO San Francisco Summit, San Francisco, CA, 4/26/16

CMO Summit San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 4/26/16

CIO Houston Summit, Houston, TX, 4/28/16

CISO Houston Summit, Houston, TX, 4/28/16

MAY

CIO Summit U.S., Chicago, IL 5/1/16 – 5/1/16

CISO Summit Chicago, IL 5/1/16 – 5/1/16

Big Data Summit US Chicago, IL 5/3/16- 5/4/16

CIO Cloud Summit Chicago, IL 5/3/16 – 5/4/16

CIO Midmarket Summit Chicago, IL 5/5/16 – 5/6/16

Mobility Summit US Chicago, IL 5/5/16 – 5/6/16

CIO UK Summit London, UK 5/10/16

CISO UK Summit London, UK 5/10/16

Customer Experience Summit New York New York, NY 5/17/16

JUNE

CMO Summit EU London, UK 6/21/16

Digital Marketing Summit EU London, UK 6/21/16

JULY

CMO Summit Chicago Chicago, IL 7/12/16 CIO

AUGUST

New Jersey Summit Hoboken, NJ 8/23/16

CISO New Jersey Summit Hoboken, NJ 8/23/16

CIO Philadelphia Summit Philadelphia, PA 8/25/16

CMO Summit Toronto Toronto, Canada 8/29/16

CIO Toronto Summit Toronto, Canada 8/30/16

CISO Toronto Summit Toronto, Canada 8/30/16

SEPTEMBER

CIO Calgary Summit Calgary, Canada 9/1/16

CIO GAS Summit Frankfurt, Germany 9/13/16

CISO Summit GAS Frankfurt, Germany 9/13/16

CIO Manufacturing Summit NJ/New York, NY 9/13/16 – 9/14/16

CIO Retail Summit NJ/New York, NY 9/13/16 – 9/14/16

Digital Marketing Summit US New York, NY 9/15/16

CIO Retail Summit EU London, UK 9/20/16 – 9/21/16

OCTOBER

CIO Healthcare Summit Chicago, IL 10/4/16 -10/5/16

Healthcare Payer Summit Chicago, IL 10/4/16 – 10/5/16

CMO Summit Atlanta Atlanta, GA 10/11/16

CIO Boston Summit Boston, MA 10/13/16

CMO Summit Boston Boston, MA 10/13/16

CIO LATAM Summit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 10/20/16 – 10/21/16

CIO Africa Summit Cape Town, SA 10/24/16 – 10/25/16

NOVEMBER

CIO Summit US Scottsdale, AZ 11/6/16 – 11/8/16

CISO Summit Scottsdale, AZ 11/6/16 – 11/8/16

CIO Finance Summit US Scottsdale, AZ 11/8/16 – 11/9/16

CIO Insurance Summit US Scottsdale, AZ 11/8/16 – 11/9/16

CISO BFSI Scottsdale, AZ 11/8/16 – 11/9/16

CIO Charlotte Summit Charlotte, NC 11/15/16

CIO Finance Summit EU London, UK 11/15/16

CIO Insurance Summit EU London, UK 11/15/16

CISO BFSI EU London, UK 11/15/16

CISO Charlotte Summit Charlotte, NC 11/15/16

Customer Experience Summit EU London, UK 11/16/16

CIO Midmarket Summit Washington DC 11/17/16

CIO Washington DC Summit Washington DC 11/17/16

CISO Washington DC Summit Washington DC 11/17/16

CIO Nordics Summit Stockholm 11/29/16

DECEMBER

Big Data Summit US Hoboken, NJ 12/1/16

CIO Benelux Summit Brussels 12/1/16

CIO Cloud Summit Hoboken, NJ 12/1/16

CIO Denver Summit Denver, CO 12/6/16

CIO Southern California Summit Los Angeles, CA 12/8/16

CISO Southern California Summit Los Angeles, CA 12/8/16

CMO Summit Southern California Los Angeles, CA 12/8/16

To learn more about CDM Media summits, visit www.cdmmedia.com

Canada at an Innovation Crossroad?

Howdy from the Great White North where we’ve just wrapped up our annual CIO Canada Summit in beautiful Montreal. We make it a habit to start our year north of the border and this year was no different. The Ritz Carlton Montreal played host to us, and we played host to some of the best and brightest from our neighbors to the north. It is an absolutely fabulous hotel and if you ever have the opportunity to go, you really should make the effort. After all, when NHLers are in town, it’s where they stay too.

Some of the bigger names in attendance included Peter Bruce, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Shared Services from the Government of Canada; Gerry Boyer, CEO for One Million Acts of Innovation Canada; and Chantal Belzile, CIO from the Business Development Bank of Canada. All in all though we were joined by over 40 very passionate and very smart IT executives who came together to meet, and learn, and plan for their and the country’s future. And clearly the future of the country is just as important to the attendees as is the future of their companies.

The theme of the Summit couldn’t have been more clear – from the opening Exclusive CIO Think Tank where two dozen of the attendees joined me in a private conversation about key trends, through two separate Executive Visions Panel discussions, to our closing Summit Chat Wrap, the only thing on everyone’s mind was innovation. It’s safe to say that Canada, once viewed as a world leader in terms of innovation in general, and technology innovation specifically, is feeling the pressure from other global innovators. The situation clearly isn’t all bad – Canada still has a great ecosystem as a innovation “nursery” – growing the seeds of ideas into the saplings of small “i” innovation. The downfall is clearly the ability to keep growing those saplings into giant redwood big “I” innovations that stand visible and proud for all to see. Indeed, too often it seems that the saplings (and the brilliant minds behind them) are snapped up by other innovators and spirited away to finish their growth elsewhere. No matter how many times we discussed the issue, we couldn’t find definitive resolution, but we did work through a number of options. As CDM’s lone Canadian employee, I’m personally interested to see how things play out in the coming years.

No Summit recap would be complete without a big thank you to the partners that help us put on the event. IBM, HP, Rogers, and Equinox (among many, many others) made sure that as our delegates looked for answers to the innovation conundrum, there were options presented to them to deal with the issue in their own shop at least.

So, 2015 is off and rolling. Coming up in March we have a full slate of events, most notably including our big national events – CIO US and CIO Europe – but with plenty of supporting events as well. If you’re interested in attending, take a look at the schedule and give us a call. We’d be happy to see you down on site and to get you involved in anyway that we can.

Three’s Company: Cardiff, NYC and Chicago Unite!

Some companies have checked out for the year and will start fresh in January, but CDM Media leaves everything on the floor.

The Cardiff and NYC teams have all arrived at our Chicago HQ to unite for a memorable and impactful trip. The goal is to bring our momentum together to carry out an enthusiastic and productive week to close out 2014, but the Chicago office is still finding time to showcase one of our many talents: eating good food, and plenty of it.

Giordano’s pizza, classic local sandwiches, quiche, cookies, brownies and more (hello, Portillo’s). We’re already enjoying this dynamic week together of good work, good food, and good times and look forward to closing out many more December’s to come.

CDM Media team at our building's holiday party

Members of the CDM Media team at our building’s holiday party. Don’t let them fool you, anyone not holding food was about to!

 

Two Weeks, Three Time Zones, Four Summits

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and there’s been a crazy amount going on so this will be a bumper post as I get you all caught up on the last few weeks.

The national CIO Summits are some of our biggest Summits of the year and this fall’s iteration was no exception. It kicked off two weeks ago Sunday (November 9th to be exact) at the fabulous Miami Marriott, Biscayne Bay. As is in keeping with all of our Summits, attendance was limited to less than 50 delegates, so it wasn’t the size of the crowd that made it the biggest, but instead the size of the organizations that crowd worked for. With companies like Carnival, Halliburton, Time Warner, and Bank of America in attendance, it’s safe to say that the roster was littered with CIOs and senior IT executives from across the Fortune 500.

The event got rolling with a Think Tank led by former Chevron CIO Denise Coyne on the ever-challenging topic of IT-Business Integration and Alignment. This served as the perfect icebreaker and warmed everyone up for the conversations to come. Throughout the next few days we listened to keynote presentations from Guru Vasudeva (CTO at Nationwide) and Ted Colbert III (CIO at Boeing), participated in panels that featured speakers from Wells Fargo and FedEx, and sat in on numerous Think Tanks and Roundtables delivered by execs from all industries. If I had to nail the theme for the event down to just one topic I’d have to say it was the new era of digital transformation in which we find ourselves, the collective efforts of IT to respond to the change, and the innovative and dynamic ways in which IT is driving the enterprise forward. For those that were there it was an incredible opportunity to learn and share, talk and understand. For those that weren’t, it was a real opportunity missed.

As CIO wrapped midday on Tuesday, the team eased straight into Mobility. I really have to hand it to the CDM staff as a whole, they never missed a beat as they said good-bye to one group and welcomed another. Rachel and Kristen and Allie and Alex handled the delegate interactions brilliantly, waving goodbye with one hand as they shook hello with the other. Nelson and the boss himself Glenn made sure all of the partners felt appreciated and acknowledged, and our newest team member Joran did an amazing job of going with the flow, following the team’s lead, and integrating beautifully, with just a handful of days at CDM under her belt before she arrived on site.

Mobility didn’t have the luxury of being eased into the way CIO did with a relaxing all hands Think Tank conversation, instead hitting the ground running with an opening keynote delivered by the VP IS for UPS, Ken Finnerty. Ken’s opening talk on delivering enterprise innovation through the pairing of a couple of key so-called “disruptive” technologies – Mobility and Big Data – was bang on in it’s focus and messaging. It certainly set a high tone for the event as a whole.

As the most mature, or at least most widely adopted, of Gartner’s “Nexus of Forces”, Mobility is a discussion that leads not to theoretical guess work, but concrete, real-world case study evaluation. Among those delegates sharing their experiences (both good and bad – no fear of sharing among this group) were speakers from Coca-Cola, the American Cancer Society, and 1-800-Flowers. The applicability of mobile technologies it seems knows no bounds, and companies of all sizes and all walks of life are benefitting from deployments targeted both internally and externally.

We closed out Mobility on Wednesday with an invigorating panel discussion on the future of Mobility, and it’s potential conversion with another hot topic area, the Internet of Things. The conversation was passionate and involved, and our panelists each got there fifteen minutes of fame, wowing the audience with their vision.

With that we wrapped, shook hands, patted backs, and flew off to our various homes for a brief visit with loved ones before the road beckoned again. This time our travels took us to the desert and the FireSky Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona to host the second of our bi-annual Big Data Summits as well as the CME/Telecom Summit (CME being Communication, Media, & Entertainment).

The Big Data Summit is fast becoming one of our flagship events, rivaling the national CIO Summit as well as the market vertical focused Finance and Insurance Summits as events that draw the who’s who in their fields. It was a little awe-inspiring to see the names and faces in the room with representatives of The Weather Channel, Pfizer, Mapquest, and Capital One all in attendance.

One of the most interesting issues as a result of the Big Data and Analytics investments over the last few years is that of accountability and ownership – just who owns what, exactly? To explore this topic we pitted a Chief Analytics Officer (Pamela Peele from UPMC) against a Chief Data Officer (Donnie Yancey from Mapquest) and let them go at it. No voices were raised, no fingers were pointed, and no fur flew, but a more involved conversation I haven’t seen in a long, long time. After our Think Tank leaders established initial viewpoints, the entire crowd got in on the act, and I don’t think there was a single person that didn’t add something to the conversation. Ninety minutes expired before any of us realized it, and another fifteen passed before we had to be reminded that the networking reception had started, and would we all mind very much heading to it.

That seeding conversation laid the foundations for what would be one of the most interactive events I’ve attended in a long time. Our opening keynote presenter was Gus Hunt, the former CTO of the Central Intelligence Agency. Gus is a dynamic speaker with a great conversational style but more importantly with incredible insights, and tremendous experience. Gus didn’t so much make a presentation as he told a story, weaving together elements of Data & Analytics with others from Cloud, Mobility, and Security in a way that more than one attendee referred to as “the best speech I’ve heard on that topic in my life”. It seemed a shame to end the session, but what came after mitigated that because successive sessions were just as good.

As with the Mobility Summit, the Big Data Summit sessions avoided the theoretical and dove deeply into real-world case studies of what actual practitioners were actually doing. Whether it was Harvard Innovation Labs, NutriSavings, The Weather Channel, or AutoTrader, each speaker brought something meaningful and useful to the conversation, and provided insights that everyone could learn from. And when our close friend John O’Brien from Radiant Advisors presented his company’s vision on how to build the right governance framework, there wasn’t a person in the audience that wasn’t frantically taking notes. The Summit concluded on Tuesday with a panel on just that topic – Data Governance – and so we book-ended the event with active and impassioned debate.

Lunch was a brief affair for the CDM staff this time, with just a brief 15-minute turnaround between the close of the Big Data event and the launch of the CME/Telecom one. Once again the onsite team (Jen, Gina, Kelsey, Jason, and John) handled things with aplomb, transitioning audiences seamlessly and gracefully. As the only constant between teams and events, it always impresses me just how good and consistent a job the CDM staff do, regardless of who is actually doing it.

With CME/Telecom we were working with a much more intimate group, just two dozen individuals, but all highly placed in the industry and their organizations, so the event didn’t suffer at all for the smaller group of voices. Frank Palase, SVP of Strategy and Innovation with DirecTV shared his experiences of 20 years with the organization via a great talk on how to move beyond theoretical strategizing and get to actionable execution. It sounds simplistic I know, but given where IT leaders are at these days in terms of role reinvention, a direct hard-hitting talk like the one Frank gave was great for cutting through the chatter and fretting.

From there our agenda ran wild; we had deep-dive technical sessions on SDN and NFV implementations, people-focused management sessions looking at the workforce of the future, and pretty much everything in between. We looked at the cloud and mobility, understood data and analytics, and evaluated the impact of M&A activities (a particular hotspot in these industries right now). Our analyst partner, the great Ray Mota from ACG Research, also shared his company’s insights into the future impact of virtual managed services, insights that included some very practical and tactical approaches to establishing and measuring value.

And before we knew it, another event was done.

Dinner and drinks by the pool lasted well into the night as fledgling business relationships turned into fledgling friendships, and everyone’s network grew just that much larger, and just that much more tightly knit. As Wednesday turned into Thursday, we wended our way to the airport all tired but fulfilled after yet another round of successful CDM Media events. Next up CIO San Francisco on December 4th, and then back the FireSky the 7th through 10th for CISO and Cloud. I hope to see you there.

Passion is Contagious

Dictionary.com defines passion as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.” So, if that’s passion then what comes with it? In my opinion: focus, learning, interest and continuous improvement. Passionate individuals and organizations never stop learning, and in terms of customers, your passionate ones are often those that are most loyal, vocal, and importantly, most valuable.

I’ve got a long list of things that I’m passionate about, I don’t want to bore you, but on there would be: UK chocolate, Wagamama (delicious noodle house in the UK… unfortunately not available in Chicago. Sad face), Scotland, NFL Football (Bear Down!) and of course marketing. On marketing, and specifically event management, I’ve always been passionate about it and I like to think I always will be. I did it for 4 years many moons ago at university, have worked in this field since graduation, and everyday know that this is the job for me. I’m not saying there aren’t days when marketing and event management isn’t the top of my fav list – ask some of my colleagues in the CDM Media Chicago office, the stories they could tell! But to this day, I’ve never got home and started looking into how I change careers to become a dentist, carpenter or Shetland Pony Breeder. In fact, with my passion comes an interest in advancing my knowledge and performance, and in turn improving myself, my team, and the products and services that we as CDM Media can provide to our customers.

In my opinion, for organizations that want to make waves in their industry, and stand out as the best, one of the secrets is to get passionate about your customers, and make them get passionate about you.  Care about how they get treated, learn about what they want, and then go out of your way to deliver it! Don’t just find out why they like you, find out why they love you. And when you know why they love you, make sure you’re delivering these products/services/traits to them, and others like them, in spades. Go beyond what is expected or required, show off your passion and theirs will follow.

At CDM Media being passionate about our customers, our attending delegates, and our products is a way of life. Nothing gets me more excited than connecting with our clients and being able to ‘go beyond the call of duty’ by delivering a superior level of service and understanding. Within the Client Services and Event Management team we don’t rest on our laurels, but we certainly don’t do just enough to get by. I’m surrounded by a highly talented team that everyday comes into the office determined to go out of their way to over deliver and ‘wow’ on all levels. We want to be the best and provide the best to our customers, so in turn they become as passionate about our products and services as we are. Beyond anything, passion is infectious – creating a product and service level which elevates CDM Media to where customers are feeling that passion enables us as a company to stand out against the many competitors who just don’t get the importance of going that extra mile.

Every company needs to find the passionate voices out there, and let them know you’re not only listening to them, but taking on their comments and feedback. At CDM Media we listen to our customers. Our feedback plan is wide reaching, but includes surveys, checkpoints with our CEO, bi-weekly calls with our clients to cover outstanding actions or to just say ‘hi’. These all work together to form a strategy that culminates in action. Most of all, that is the key; to do something. Passion isn’t something you can just say you are and that’s that. Action speaks louder than words, and not just one-off action, but continuous action. Anything less is just lip service.

I know it’s not as simple as ‘getting it done’, and many ducks need to be in a row for this to happen – including Executive support, people, budgets etc. However, without a vision, and a commitment to achieving that vision, the norm will remain just that – normal, beige, ‘just ok’. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of many examples of cutting edge companies that are ‘just ok’…. and for Rachel Tait, the Client Services and Event Management Team, and CDM Media, just ok isn’t an option.

Presentation Design, the Definitive Guide

Okay, so “Definitive Guide” is more than a little presumptuous, but hopefully it got your attention. Which is kinda the point; your presentation materials should be designed to get attention, to create a sense of interest, and not to bore the living bejeezus out of the audience. How to do that? Well, there’s a few guiding principles that you need to follow. I’m not going to take all the credit here; a lot of what I’m going to present is derived from the work of Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte. Their books, Presentation Zen and Slide:ology, are akin to bibles for a lot of people and if you are going to deliver even one serious presentation in your life you should read them. But if you just want the Cliffs Notes version, I’ll try and summarize here.

Point One – this is the most important (and I mean THE. MOST. IMPORTANT.), the slides support the speaker, not the other way around. People don’t come to your presentation to read what is written on your slides, they come to your presentation to hear what you have to say, to hear your message. Time and time again I sit through presentations where the speaker narrates the slide, either by reading it verbatim, or by describing what the slide is showing. Newsflash – the audience can read the words or follow the diagram themselves. I’ve mentioned this before in this blog, but it bears repeating. Now I’m not saying abandon all slides, just remember why you are using them; as the visual aid to support your message, to help ensure greater “stickiness” so that what you say becomes more memorable.

Point Two – design your slides for the back of the room, meaning build slides that can be seen and interpreted by the guy sitting in the very last row, rather than just by the people sitting in the front row. If you are going to take the time to build slides, don’t you want to make sure that they can be seen/read/understood by everyone in the audience? Building slides that have incredibly dense amounts of tiny-font text or small diagrams achieves the exact opposite of the goal of the slide (supporting the message, see Point One). Either you force the audience to strain to make out the details of the slide (and forcing that much effort into visual comprehension takes that much effort away from auditory comprehension) or you provide incomprehensible support materials because the details can’t be made out no matter how hard the audience tries. Bigger fonts, bigger diagrams. If that means less information on each slide, that’s ok because…

Point Three – include only one idea per slide. Remember: the slides are there to support your speaking and so each point you make needs individual support. This probably means building more slides than you intended, but that’s ok because each slide will be simpler and easier to build. And because they’re simpler, they’re probably going to be easier to read from the back of the room (see how that works?). Sometimes ideas are not simple though and so they need to be supported by complex slides. That’s ok, but if you are going to create complex slides make sure that you are using animation to literally build the slide out as you build the point with your speech. A nice tasteful fade effect is best and it’s really the only time you need animation. Whizzing and swirling and bouncing slides and slide elements just create visual noise that detract from the two most important things – your message, and the slide’s job of support.

Point Four – use fewer words and more pictures. This, believe it or not, is the trickiest thing for amateur presenters to master, but the thing that has the most profound impact on the, well, impact of the slides. Human beings are extremely visually oriented and consume via watching far more readily than by reading. It’s part of why the publishing industry is a $30B industry and in decline while Film & Television is $522B industry and growing. Making the shift from slides that have long lists of bullet points to ones that have diagrams, models, and photographs will (when done well) create a visually compelling tapestry that allows people to understand complex ideas, concepts, and relationships quickly and easily, without distracting from the actual presentation you are presenting. And those long lists of bullets points can still be kept as the speaker notes if they really do summarize the essence of your message.

That’s not it by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly enough to get you started on the path. Keeping these principles in mind as you prepare for your next presentation will hopefully help you make slides that do a better job of supporting your message, and therefore help you do a better job of delivering that message.