Your PowerPoint could bomb, or you could feature one on your title slide. Just sayin'. (Gotta love Slim Pickens!)

Your PowerPoint could bomb, or you could feature one on your title slide. Just sayin’. (Gotta love Slim Pickens!)

Recent online conversation has resurrected one of the more important debates of the modern age. In a nutshell: Why does PowerPoint suck, and what can be done about it?

Here’s my philosophy on PowerPoints:

  1. They may, indeed, be a sign of the downfall of civilized society.
  2. Most often, they are a force for evil rather than good.
  3. And, yes, many people sleep through them.

But I have come to be something of a convert to their hidden power—when wielded properly. That may be why this post’s opening image showing one of my own PowerPoint title slides comes not from a law book (booo) but is adapted from one of my favorite movies (yaaay). More on all that later in another post.

My PP dander was raised again recently when colleagues at the National Association of Bar Executives (no, not the good kind of bar) shared a few articles on presentations and PowerPoint. Read one of them here.

(So versatile are those social media mavens that the sharing was done via Facebook and Linkedin. Linkedin! Time to take another look.)

They also shared an article about presentations from the view of Guy Kawasaki. (I reviewed a Kawasaki book here. It included one of just two appearances of my shoes via social media. Ask, and I may unearth the second.)

Smart fellow, that Guy. Enjoy his article, but do not skip the reader comments beneath; they are worth the price of admission.

The best part about that article, though, was that it took me back to a PowerPoint expert whose work I very much appreciate—Eugene Cheng. Eugene is one of those folks who are my favorite people I don’t know yet. Look at what he does with PP, and you may agree he’s worth meeting.

Niche Media Digital Conference logoThe talented Eugene got me thinking about other digital thinkers and doers who do it right, PP-wise. That group includes the folks at Niche Media.

I have admired Niche’s tone and substance before, so let me do it again.

I get no benefit except happiness to tell you: If you or anyone in need of a creative jump-start are anywhere near a Niche conference this year, you really should drop in. True, they’re not free, but maybe you can sneak in, through the hotel kitchen or something. Try not to look lawyerly, and you may pass as part of the creative class.

The first will be in Minneapolis from September 30 to October 1. That is where you can learn an amazing amount about online revenue (you know, how to get more).

Niche Media Event Fest logoThe second nichey opportunity will be in the Big Easy November 3-5. The Niche Event Fest in New Orleans will offer learning raising your in-person events to be top-drawer.

Here is one thing I know about both events: If a PowerPoint is on the premises at all, it will not suck.

Later this week, I’ll offer some of my own thoughts about PowerPoint and what is missing in the worst of the lot.

What can event organizers learn from a man with cool glasses eating a Goo Goo Cluster?

Quite a bit, I’d wager.

Niche Digital Conference trailer

Carl Landau, Niche Digital, eats a Nashville specialty.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. That off-kilter thought occurred when a conference notification arrived in my email. I will read most all copy (words) that come my way, but typically I am loath to click through to time-sucking video content. And yet there he was, this guy, about to eat a Nashville confectionary delicacy. Click.

What I got was a charming and idiosyncratic view into the Niche Media Conference. Its annual event was in Tempe this past year, and it’s good stuff. (Yes, Arizona Attorney Magazine is niche media, and proudly so. That makes all you legal eagles “niche readers.” Congratulations!)

How do you get people to use their scarce resources—time, money, attention—to travel across country to attend an educational conference? If you’re like most organizations, you inundate prospects with emails and printed materials, flooding their minds and short patience with all of the content content content that will be available, but only if you REGISTER NOW.

Niche Media logoWe’ve all been on the receiving end of those pitches.

Well, if you’re Carl Landau with Niche Media, you try something else. You recognize that people attend events for all kinds of reasons, not all easily categorized and put in a formal box. You decide to try to connect to viewers on a deeper level. You realize that people do want content (yes, indeed), but what they yearn for is a genuine transformative experience. They want to arrive in a place whose guides (some organizations call them “presenters” or “PowerPoint drones”) will challenge them in fun and innovative ways. It’s at places like that, people think, that they will learn the most cutting-edge industry strategies.

And they may even want some local color. That’s where the Goo Goo Clusters come in.

I was at a great Nashville conference a few years ago, and I cannot say enough about that wondrous creation. I even waxed poetic about it (and its Moon Pie partner) on my Tumblr stream.

Two great tastes taste good together: Nashville specialties Goo Goo Cluster and Mini Moon Pie.

Two great tastes taste good together: Nashville specialties Goo Goo Cluster and Mini Moon Pie.

So enjoy Carl’s video introduction to the conference; it is embedded down below. The conference may be one you’ll never attend. But the video may provide you ideas about how to make your own events and content come alive, and how to get your viewers or other audience members firing on all cylinders.

For myself, I plan to steal shamelessly from the approaches Carl uses so well. (And I love that long closing tracking shot! Am I crazy, or did I see that used in Alfred Hitchcock’s TV show, when he sat in a high-backed chair far away from us in a looooong room, as the camera crept closer and closer, all while Al told us what we were about to see? Hitchcock fans, let me know!)

And I’d suggest the State Bar of Arizona might want to try an evocative video like his. But until they do, be sure to view what’s coming up at the Bar’s own June convention.

Here’s Carl. Have a great—and Cluster-filled—weekend.