Happy Birthday, Presentation Zen

Out of PPT hell

Thirteen years ago next month, I launched my own business.

The first three years were rough going at times. But not for the reasons you might expect.

It could be rough because I had the training of a photographer’s eye and had worked long enough with architects and designers that their esthetic obsessions had worn off on me.

In corporate France, I was in dense text PowerPoint hell, and at a time when intercultural communications and management were perceived as soft skills aimed at integrating foreigners when such strategic issues already had dedicated departments in corporate America.

Those “guaranteed to cure an insomniac in one go”  PPT presentations and reports were all the rage. Clients expected them from me and demanded them from their staff.

If one had the gumption to suggest or try something different, to bring white space to that precious real estate, to substitute an image for a slab of text, or even — gasp — up the font size so the damn slides could at least be legible, one could be perceived in an unfavorable light.

Oddball, too creative, maybe even…. unprofessional.

And then came Garr Reynolds and Presentation Zen in 2005 — and THE (first) book a couple of years later.

[Tongue-in-cheek cultural note: In France, no matter how brilliant you may be, you do not really exist until you’ve published a book. Look at the political scene: most candidates to election to high office publish first; in the US, politicos publish *after* they’ve held high office.)

Great for Garr! And good for me. It was like a new and improved Get Out of Jail Card from Monopoly combined with a mind-broadening opportunity.

I missed the first Presentation Zen European Seminar, but attended the others and wouldn’t miss a Presentation Zen Studio. Design and delivery go together. And in this era where (transmedia) storytelling is all the rage, there are the dabblers and the passionates.

I’ve learned, grown, met a terrific group of like-minded people, get a “creativity fix” each time we get together. And when I realized early on that Garr and I had already crossed intercultural paths in Hawai’i in the 90s, it added a nice wallop of serendipity to it all.

Garr — thanks.

What you do makes a difference. Isn’t that the greatest measure of accomplishment?

And Happy Birthday :)





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