CIPS CONNECTIONSINTERVIEWS by STEPHEN IBARAKI, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP
A Pioneer of Digital Media on the PC and Respected Authority in Multimedia Presentations and PowerPoint
This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Tom Bunzel.
Tom Bunzel is a writer, instructor, lecturer, consultant, and respected authority in multimedia presentations and PowerPoint. He specializes in knowing what other presenters need and has worked with numerous speakers on their professional presentations. A pioneer in digital media on the PC, his CPR public service announcement received the Mickey Eisenberg Award at the Cardiac Care conference in Seattle.
Also known as “Professor PowerPoint”, Tom has appeared on Tech TV’s Call for Help and has spoken at the PowerPoint LIVE conference in Arizona. He has lectured at the Teamplayers Networking Group of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, in Communicate, a multimedia facility in West L.A. and at the San Diego Computer Expo.
A “technology coach” for the Neuroscience Education Institute, he provides one-on-one instruction to physicians. As an instructor for Learning Tree International, Tom has taught courses in “Integrating Microsoft Office” and “Creating Interactive Websites – Hands On”. He trained the principals of MTA Films in Los Angeles and Todd Yamada, D.D.S., in PowerPoint and multimedia production.
A prolific writer, Tom has written several books including those on multimedia tools, and on PowerPoint. He is currently the Office Guide and regular contributor to the InformIT website (on-line division of QUE publishing). He has been contributing editor for PC Graphics and Video, Laptop Buyers Guide, Computer Upgrade and Micro Publishing News. His articles appear in the Presentation Magazine and in the ASTD online magazine.
His recent book credits include, “Easy Digital Music”, “Teach Yourself PowerPoint 2003 in 24 hours”, “Easy Creating CDs and DVDs”, and “How to Use Ulead DVD Workshop”. He updated “PowerPoint 2002/2001 Mac Visual QuickStart Guide" and also wrote “Digital Video on the PC”. He co-authored “Make the most of your Digital Photos, Video, and Music” and “Get the Most Out of Your PCs and Add-Ons”.
He maintains an active website at: www.professorppt.com
Q: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us!
A: Thanks for the opportunity.
Q: What sparked your interest in computers and digital media and how did that lead to what you do today?
A: I had done some video work and noticed a column in the L.A. Times on having a video studio on your desktop – the Amiga Video Toaster. I was intrigued and although I found the Amiga and Apple too pricey, I decided to see what could be accomplished on the PC, and began by teaching myself a 2D animation program from Autodesk.
Q: As a pioneer in Digital Media on the PC, what is required to be successful in this area?
A: It’s quite a bit easier today because both Windows and Mac have forced companies that create hardware and software to conform to certain standards in terms of drivers and also the look and feel of software. But it still takes a sense of adventure, a willingness to experiment and try new things and the persistence to find answers and solutions to complex problems.
Q: Describe your current work as a writer, consultant, speaker, educator and coach. Can you share your most valuable lessons and greatest challenges?
A: My preference in terms of writing is material that is “task-oriented” and solves a specific problem or addresses an issue, rather than focuses merely on learning a program. Often this involves creative solutions among more than one program or peripheral so it’s fun and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Similarly in my consulting and training work I try to get a sense of what the ultimate goal of the client is – it’s never learning a program. It’s using the program or set of tools successfully in a business or similar environment to accomplish tasks. The challenge is knowing not just how to teach the tools, but to understand issues that may arise and prepare the client for them – this gives the client a sense of confidence and that’s why I also like to call it coaching. I would say the most valuable lesson is to ask that question – what’s the end product or goal you’re trying to achieve – before diving in and teaching or learning a set of tools. The greatest challenge is working with a group, and maintaining interest among a different set of expectations and levels of knowledge. In all cases it’s important to remember that everyone started from the same place – no knowledge – and to build from there in increments that are manageable in terms of being processed.
Q: You have written a number of books, many articles and are a regular contributor to several magazines. What prompted you to start writing?
A: I was a creative writer before I got into technology. I got into technology because I discovered word processing in my creative writing. Then when I became fascinated by computer graphics, and began solving problems, others asked me to let them know through my writing how I’d done it. My how-to writing became more successful than my creative efforts so I continued in that direction. I discovered that I derived quite a bit of satisfaction in making complex concepts understandable to new users.
Q: How did you come to be “Professor PowerPoint”?
A: I matriculated at PowerPoint University. Kidding. Before I was Professor PowerPoint I was “The Computer Chef” on a DVD project I created for a book. I went to a marketing seminar on branding and discussed it with a marketing maven Jack Barnett who asked me my main focus, and when I told him PowerPoint presentations, he suggested that from now on I be Professor PowerPoint. I went home, bought the dot-com URL and ordained myself a professor of PowerPoint.
Q: What are your top ten tips for creating a memorable presentation?
Q: Provide an overview of one of your recent books, “Teach Yourself PowerPoint 2003 in 24 hours”. What differentiates it from other books on the topic?
A: The book went significantly over page count and the publisher decided to let me keep the additional material because it was comprised not of how to use the program, but rather conceptual material of why and under what circumstances to use various features of PowerPoint. I am hoping that this puts it into a pragmatic framework so that the reader is not asked to learn tasks for the sake of mastering a tool, but rather thinking about how to apply the features of the tool for tasks that they find meaningful and valuable. For example, I don’t teach how to create a diagram – I also define the messages which the diagram might help deliver to determine what sort of diagram is worth creating.
Q: Pick 3 books from the books you have written and share five tips from each book.
A: Title 1: Easy Digital Music
Title 2: How to Use Ulead DVD Workshop
Title 3: Easy Creating CDs and DVDs
Q: Can you share your top three “amazing” experiences in your career?
Q: Can you share with us, two humorous stories?
Q: Based on your experience of working on presentations, both for yourself and for a variety of speakers, what do you think presentations will be like 25 years from now?
A: Telepathic? While I think some amazing visual tools will continue to be developed, I have to say that the essence of presenting will still be conveying a message effectively and that will involve human creativity, not technical prowess.
Q: List the 10 best resources for technology and business professionals.