If you’re in the business of creating slides – and who isn’t, in the business world? the education world? Government? – then you might want to consider joining a newly formed organization, the Presentation Guild. Its purpose is to provide a forum for professional slide creators in the public speaking world, to raise the standards of presentation production everywhere, and in the long run to become a source for education, standards, and information about employment in the industry.

These are lofty goals, and who better to strive for them than Echo Swinford, the organization’s first President, and a twenty-year veteran of the slide world as a freelancer, author and speaker, as well as Vice President Sandra Johnson, Treasurer Steve Reindsberg, Secretary Charles Cranford, and advisory board members Nancy Duarte, Cliff Atkinson, Gerry Weissman, and Garr Reynolds. Directors Rick Altman, Geetesh Bajaj, Ric Bretschneider, Stephy Lewis, Marsh Makstein, Tony Ramos, Glenna Shaw and Julie Terberg round out the leadership team.

The organization is already offering once-per-month webinars on how to do better slides. A benchmark salary survey is in the works. Says Swinford, “We’re planning on becoming a source for job listings, as well as presentation standards, design and coaching. Our hope is to elevate the industry.”

Much of the presentation creation world is handled by professional freelancers these days, especially since so many were downsized after the 2008 downturn, but in addition there are communications specialists working for companies and organizations around the world.

“It’s a niche industry,” says Johnson, “and many people are doing the work without a title. They might be called an admin or assistant and doing all the work of creative design, graphics, and slide creation.”

Their plan for now is to focus on people who – whatever their titles – support speakers. The Guild might expand to partner with other organizations and have more offerings for speakers, with seminars on such topics as storytelling, but that’s all in the future for now.

Swinford notes, “We’d love to work with companies that cover the speaking world, such as software companies that do instant polls, and so on. We’d love to have them as sponsors!”

For now, the Presentation Guild will hold its annual meeting during the Presentation Summit, a user conference where presentation software enthusiasts gather, along with the specialists who do the A/V and site-specific preparation for conferences around the world.

Officially, the organization asserts, “The roles and capabilities of presentation professionals are not well understood by the general public. We want to establish an appropriate category—recognized as a legitimate and influential industry—with the hope that it comes into common use. We formed the Presentation Guild to promote the presentation design and production industry as a profession.” Anyone who is involved in the presentation industry can join, and all are welcome.

As it grows, the organization hopes to become the official source for all things presentation-oriented, to offer certification, to raise the standards of the industry, and to provide support for those who work in it globally.

I’ll give Echo Swinford the last word. “The Presentation Guild looks to become the best source of standards for slide software and jobs and certification for those who create presentations.”

I’ve joined already.

Join us at our mini presentation summit, Powerful Public Speaking, for one day only, in Boston on October 28th.  More information here!









  1. I’m an independent graphic designer with a core competency in executive PowerPoint presentations. I found out about this through a professional friend. I wish I could attend your event on the 28th, but unfortunately it costs more than my budget will allow. However, I am very interested in the group and contributing whatever expertise I might have that those among you might be looking for.

    (P.S., my website is the mechanic’s car, the last one to be repaired — it honestly doesn’t do more than establish a web presence, and while it could use some serious spiffing up, the bulk of my client roster comes from networking rather than online promotion.)

    1. Thanks, Carol — pre-emptive comment on your website duly noted:-) Sorry you can’t attend the event on the 28th — that’s put on by Public Words — but do join the Presentation Guild (a separate organization — I have no financial interest in it) — the annual dues are quite modest.

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