Training Workshop helps employees from FedEx, Whirlpool, Dart Container, American Express and Aramark create world-class presentation visuals.
Like her employer FedEx, Valarie Thomas helps companies improve efficiencies and save time and money. But back in April, 2014, Valarie looked inward and discovered inefficiencies in her own process of creating presentations.
"They were taking too long to create and they looked cheap," the senior strategic sales analyst explained. "Management was satisfied with things, but I wasn't."
So Valarie invested $500 of her own money for a four-hour, two-part web-based PowerPoint Training Workshop, focused on advanced PowerPoint techniques and skills. The return on her investment were immediate and measurable.
"My productivity improved, and my manager even commented on how much better my slides looked," she boasted.
A passion for helping people present
For Presentation Team trainer and founder Kevin Lerner, sharing his knowledge and 20 years of experience is personally and professionally gratifying. "I'm blessed to have a job where Im able to help people," he shares, adding that, "I've had clients hug me after our workshops."
Lerner founded The Presentation Team in 1995, built upon a lifelong passion for presentation design and communications. Over the years, the firm has worked with some of the world's largest companies, including Oracle, Motorola, Tyco, and Verizon. More recently, the firm has augmented its presentation design services with PowerPoint Training and Presentation Skills Coaching services, which in 2013 accounted for nearly half of their revenue.
A Popular Program...Poorly Practiced
With over 300 million users and a market-share of 95%, PowerPoint is the presentation standard.1 And yet, most people have a general working knowledge of it. Most people are left to learn it themselves, or take a basic class. Simply knowing how to use the program doesn't make a person a presentation guru.
That's exactly what compelled General Electric Executive Vice President Michael Dahlweid to seek the coaching of a PowerPoint Presentation expert. In January 2014, he and a colleague traveled to DC for a two-day coaching program designed to sharpen their skill and expertise in presentation design. By the end of the second day, Dahlweid was creating top-quality graphics with the ease and efficiency of an expert.
To some companies PowerPoint is embedded within their culture; a meeting without PowerPoint is tantamount to a student not doing his homework. And although some companies have dedicated departments or individuals focused on presentation graphics, most employees are on their own for presentation production. Employees who have mastered PowerPoint to support their communications are often recognized as stronger leaders or managers.
A measurable and valuable ROI
And there's often a great disconnect between a company's brand image, and a company's typical internal PowerPoint presentation. Some companies are recognizing the importance of improved presentations, and investing time and money to train their employees.
Katie Farmer, an senior executive assistant at Whirlpool traveled from Benton Harbor, Michigan to work with The Presentation Team, spending two intense days learning the intricacies of PPT, practicing keyboard commands and sharpening her skills. She returned home with a cadre of skills and resources to help her create better presentations in shorter timeframes.
The payoff on presentation training can be immediate and significant.
"If our training can help a client create a presentation that helps win a multi-million-dollar contract, we've accomplished our mission," explains Lerner, who adds that many clients have shared stories of presentation success.
Best presentation practices with hands-on learning
The Presentation Team's training is more than just a PowerPoint 101 class. The interactive workshop emphasizes effective design strategies and creative techniques to help make presentations more impactful and memorable. Some benefits include:
- More focused headlines with reduced body text
- Greater emphasis on clean design with respect to white-space
- Telling story through bold iconic imagery
- Increased Use of Title & Section Slides for improved flow
- Spanning key messages across multiple pages for greater memory retention
Under the hood of PowerPoint
The PowerPoint Training workshop also gets "under the hood" of PowerPoint, demonstrating technical strategies, and lesser-known features of the program including:
- Use of Keyboard shortcuts control keys
- Development of Themes, Masters, and Layouts
- Customization of PowerPoint ribbon and shortcuts
- Resources for finding graphics and digital content
- Improved development efficiency and better time management
Training that sticks
Most students will they forget the majority of training material. But for students at The Presentation Team's Advanced Training Workshops, their training is long-lasting. Beyond a program that's fun and memorable, the classes apply easy-to-recall techniques. Additionally, students have the full 500-page training program to review long after the course. And every engagement comes with a several coaching calls. Clients can check-in to sharpen their skills or gain feedback on a presentation up to one-year after their training.
Kevin Lerner is burning the midnight oil, working at 12am to customize a training curriculum for an upcoming class. He says the preparation has gotten easier, but he still spends time preparing each training workshop for his clients. He says he's proud of his accomplishments, and has great visions for the future of The Presentation Team. But his happiness for now, he says, is in the joy he brings to his clients helping them do their job better through great presentation skills and design.