Predictive Presentation Design Made Easy with Beautiful.aiPresent Beyond Measure Ep. 056
Create Stunning Slides Fast with Beautiful.ai’s Predictive Presentation Design
This marks the first episode where the special guest is the CEO of an online presentation tool!
Mitch Grasso is the Founder/CEO of Beautiful.AI — predictive presentation software that will revolutionize how people build beautiful visual communications.
His team has created an amazing tool designed to take the presentation design guesswork out so you can focus on your story.
Beautiful.AI has over half a million users in over 180 countries and is empowering innovative brands like Walmart.com, Wells Fargo, and Ebates to turn their information into visual stories.
This stellar online presentation tool offers hundreds of stunning, professionally designed slide templates and tons of case examples of pitch decks and corporate presentations used by big brands for inspiration.
I’ve used it personally and after being seriously impressed with its intuitive interface and adherence to presentation design best practices, I actually considered switching tools of choice!
In 2007, Mitch founded SlideRocket — the first cloud-based presentation tool which grew it to over 1.5M users, including enterprise customers like Discovery Networks, Disney, Sony, and Fox, before being acquired by VMware in April 2011.
In this episode, Mitch shares the journey and vision of the only presentation tool I’d use besides PowerPoint!
In This Episode, You’ll Learn…
- What makes Beautiful.ai easier than PowerPoint other online presentation tools
- What the “AI” part of the name means (hint: predictive design decisions!)
- How its slide design best practices helps you avoid the dreaded “slideument”
- How the company is working to help companies overcome obstacles to adoption
- Mitch’s favorite features and what’s on the product vision roadmap
- The incredible presentation design inspiration offered by the ai Blog curator
People, Blogs, and Resources Mentioned
- Beautiful.ai Online Presentation Tool
- My Beautiful.ai guest post on 6 Effective Presentation Techniques Inspired by Marie Kondo
- Nancy Duarte’s Data Story, Resonate, slide:ology
- Dangers of the “Slideument” by Garr Reynolds
- My LinkedIn article on job openings for data analytics, data science, and digital marketing
How to Keep Up with Mitch and Beautiful.ai:
Where I’m Speaking Next:
- May 19th, 2020: Digital Analytics Association Virtual Symposium 2020
- May 27th, 2020: ObservePoint Data Storytelling Expert Panel Discussion
- June 3rd, 2020: Interview with Jim Sterne for Marketing Analytics Summit (TBD)
Thanks for Listening!
Thanks so much for joining me. Have some feedback you’d like to share, or a question for Brent? Leave a note in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the left of the post.
If you liked what you heard, I would love if you could leave me a rating or review in iTunes. Ratings & reviews are extremely appreciated and very important in the rankings algorithm. The more ratings, the better chance of fellow practitioners getting to hear this helpful information!
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates and never miss a show.
A very, very special thank you to Mitch for joining me this week.
And as always, viz responsibly, my friends.
Lea: Hello, hello, Lea Pica. Here. Today’s guest created a presentation tool that will take all of your boring design guesswork out of your presentation equation. Stay tuned to find out who’s sprucing up the place on the present beyond measure show episode fifty six. Welcome to the present. Beyond Measure Show a podcast at the intersection of analytics, data visualization and presentation awesomeness. You’ll learn the best tips, tools and techniques for creating analytics visualizations and presentations that inspire data driven decisions and move you forward. If you’re ready to get your insights understood and acted upon, you’re in the right place. And now your host, Leah Peka. How low, how low? Data storyteller. And welcome to the fifty six episode of the present PR measure show, the only podcast at the intersection of presentation, data visualization and analytics. This is the place to be if you’re ready to make maximum impact with your insights and create credibility through thoughtfully created data presentations. And from now on, I’m addressing you, my dear listener, as a data storyteller, because just by listening to the show, you are taking one step closer to that role in that identity every time. So I’m hoping that you’re hanging in there, considering the continuing global climate and adjusting to certain elements that might become part of our new normal for the time being.
Lea: I realize this is a tremendously uncertain and challenging job climate for a lot of digital and data practitioners. So I actually created an article on LinkedIn that aggregates the search results from Glassdoor dot com of all of the roles in digital and data and marketing that I could think of. So you’ll find the link to that article on the show notes page for this episode at Lea Pica dot com slash zero five six, because there are people hiring out there. And when you’ve got those skills, the data storytelling skills to pay the bills, you have a really great shot at staying competitive in this market. So what’s new? Well, I’m hopping on the virtual speaking circuit, so here’s where you can catch me next life. This month, I’ll be participating in two virtual panels on data visualization. The first is the Digital Analytics Association Virtual Symposium 2020. That happens on Tuesday, May 19th, from 12 to 330 p.m. Eastern. So great to see the organization flexing with the times. So I’ll be moderating an afternoon panel on databases. And that day we’ll be joined by esteemed speakers like the Godfather of Analytics, Jim Stern, the Grumpy Cat of Analytics, Tim Wilson, the Top Gun of Analytics, Adam Grecco and my D.A.
Lea: mentee Amber Spacek. I decided that I want a cool analytics name, too, like the chocolate muffin of analytics. Yeah, I think that’ll stick. Then on May twenty seventh, I’m on a panel about data is again hosted by Observe Point. I’ll be joined by industry luminaries like Brant Dikes, Bryant Hoops, which is moderated by Peter Net. Shame of Observe Point. And I have to tell you, the prep call this week was super invigorating discussion around Dashboard’s versus data storytelling. The differences, the pitfalls. So if that’s your jam, you must join. I’ll also be doing an interview in June with Jim Stern in conjunction with a marketing analytics summit. So they’re going virtual as well, which is great. And you’ll find links to all of those events on the show notes page as they arrive. Not all of them are in yet. So check those out. There’s a good chance you’ll still be home. So why not dial in, level up your date of his game while the kids are throwing spaghetti in your hair and running naked behind you on your resume calls, eh? So, as usual, I’m really excited for today’s guest. That’s never different. But in particular, I’m excited because for the first time ever on the show, I’m showcasing a presentation tool.
Lea: I’ve stayed pretty agnostic of tools and platforms so that there’s no particular bias in what I’m teaching. But I have to say, this is a tool that I’ve used personally, and I can honestly say that I can stand behind it because of how the tool is built. Finally, on presently accepted slide and data design best practices, would you. So let’s get to it, shall we? How low? I can’t wait to introduce you to today’s cast. He is a serial entrepreneur and currently the founder and CEO of a startup called Beautiful Dot A.I.. Amazing presentation software that will revolutionize how people build beautiful visual documents for communication. Beautiful dot A.I. has over three hundred fifty thousand users in over 180 countries and is empowering big and innovative brands like Wells Fargo, eBay. It’s Wal-Mart. And he founded this after he actually founded Slide Rocket, which was the first cloud based presentation tool which grew to over one point five million users. And I have personally used this tool and I’m really excited to bring on the founder of it because I think it represents a huge step forward in how we present our information in a way that people can truly understand and remember. So I’d love to welcome you today to Mitch Grasso. Hello.
Mitch: Hi. Thanks.
Lea: I’m so excited to have you here. You represent someone from the very first tool that I’ve actually featured on the show. I’ve always tried to be a bit agnostic of tools because, you know, I, I try to deliver a foundation for any kind of tool. But when you guys approached me last year to write my guest post the presentation techniques inspired by Marie Kondo, I actually had a blast writing that post. That was one of my favorites. But I also got to use the tool to create a sort of companion deck to demonstrate and help people remember the techniques. And I was really blown away by how intuitive and even predictive the interface was. So I knew I was using a different kind of tool.
Mitch: Yeah. Great. That’s good to hear.
Lea: So first, I’d love to hear your origin story. How did your passion for bringing ideas to life through presentation come about?
Mitch: That said, we could spend 40 minutes on that. But the Sherwen so I started my career as a designer. I was doing video games and motion graphics and print design for a long time until I started doing startups. And this is actually my third startup. My last one, as you mentioned, was a company called Slide Rocket, which was also presentation software. But Slide Rocket was really a tool that I sort of designed for myself. I wanted a better PowerPoint. One of the best to keynote and PowerPoint and after effects in Photoshop all rolled into One.
Mitch: And, you know, moving fonts around or text around. And, you know, we yeah, we grew that to a few million users. We were ultimately, you know, had a successful exit. But I felt like our customers or users weren’t really taking advantage of the tool. They were still creating effectively crappy presentations. They were verbalizing their ideas as bullet points. They were, you know, taking the least, you know, the shortest path to get the design done. And he realized in that process that, you know, the people using the tool were not designers. They didn’t have the experience. They didn’t have the training. They didn’t have the knowledge and the best practices of how to design effective visualization
Mitch: Bins of information and how to how to present these things. So it was still this Hard, difficult process. And sort of the aha moment for me was that the problem isn’t the tools. I mean, everyone complains about PowerPoint and all these, and these tools are great. The problem Is the process. The problem is that you’re not a designer. And why are you being asked to do design? And so the aha moment for me was figuring that out. And sort of when I exited out of selling that company to VM where I didn’t know if I really wanted to do another startup, I was a little burned out. But but this idea kept percolating in my head and so I decided to try and build what became beautifully I, which was effectively flip the process and say, what would it be like if the tool was the expert instead of the user having the X? And if I took my best practices or other people’s best practices and design chops and sort of put them in the software. So it was as if you had a designer in a box and you know how to thread the needle between being flexible so you could tell what you say, what you wanted to say, but really easy to use. And so that’s what ultimately became beautiful. I guess that’s more beautifully I as origin story than mine.
Lea: No, that’s OK. And, you know, that’s really something you said is interesting about the tool becoming the expert. Obviously, what I teach is helping bridge that gap between the regular tools where it’s sort of like this unbound sandbox that people play in with no edges. And what I noticed was how many design constraints were built into the tool that were part of best practices. And I was like, oh, they can’t mess this up. I get it. Interesting.
Mitch: Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s hard to find those those those edges, though, And that’s a lot about what the tool is and sort of pushing back on you and saying you’ve typed too much text, You should go back. It’s just hard because, you know, everyone’s used to sort of I can fit one more word in there and, you know, I can
Mitch: You know, I can take that whitespace if I want. And so finding that balance between when we push back and and when we allow you to kind of exceed maybe what is best practice is in order to get your message across as part of the challenge of tool.
Lea: Right. Right. So do you feel that there’s still what once the tool becomes the expert? Do you think there’s still value for designers, presenters to learn best practices? Do you think the tool maybe facilitates some of that learning for them just by example?
Mitch: Yeah, I mean I mean, there’s best practices of storytelling and presentation design, Then there’s best practices of like what fonts look good and what colors are. How much space should go between this and that?
Mitch: I’m more trying to observe absolve you of the latter of saying you don’t have to make these design decisions. And a lot of this came from like, you know, when you build a presentation, you build a slide. I think the example I always give when I’m when I’m pitching the product is the team SLI or the people On my in my group. And maybe there’s three pictures in their name and their titles blow each one. And you’re like, this is great. You download a template and you’re like, great. And it’s got three team members on it. I fill it in, but I have four team members. And now what do I do? So now I take Reeboks, just break them
Mitch: Down and attractive over and
Mitch: I duplicate another one and I line them all up. And this is where chaos sort of plays out. I was like, why isn’t there just a Team member button?
Mitch: It know what to do if there’s three, four or five, even eight team members and lay them out for me intentionally? And that’s what I’m trying to, to keep the user from having worry about the my ideas. Your focus should be on the story and what you’re saying. And, you know, presentations are they’re a tool to support you. They’re not the medium unto itself. I think, you know, it it blurs the line a little bit these days because you’ve got presentations that you’re distributing that people are viewing unattended and you got presentations that you’re sticking up on the screen and in a boardroom and presenting in front of. And so those are sort of different different views. I mean, Nancy Duarte coined the slide. You meant, you know,
Mitch: Which is the the blend between them. And so, you know, but trying to get you on the path of of only having to focus on what you’re presumably really educated about or knowledgeable about is what your pitch in your story, what idea you’re trying to promote, what you’re trying to sell, what you’re trying to convince people of, how that looks and how that, you know, represents on the sly is maybe less important to you. And you want it to look good and you wanted to to to to communicate articulately. But you don’t want to be worrying about all the minutia of what goes into design.
Lea: That is a really interesting point, you know, because it is a bear for a lot of the the my audience is comprised of a lot of data analysts, data scientists, digital marketing practitioners who don’t have a design background and are probably, frankly, not really interested in becoming designers and hurt her to execute something beautiful and understandable. That does focus on the story aspect. And I’m wondering, is the A.I. part of that name, sort of this predictive element? Because when I was developing the deck for that guest post, I noticed I needed to add another member of a list of some kind that I was working with. And when I added that name, that extra member, the entire layout of the slides shifted to something that accommodated that number beautifully. And I was like, whoa. Oh.
Mitch: Yeah. So that’s the automated design aspect Of the tool, the intel. You know, I should call it intelligent design. The design for essays is, is that it’s it’s evaluating your content that you’re entering in. And every time you type a character, it’s sort of saying, what’s the optimum layout for this And how am I going to fit all this stuff then? But obviously, there’s constraints, too. You can’t put ninety nine bullet points on a slide because they just won’t fit.
Lea: Yes, of course. Well, I was. That was the moment where I realized this was definitely a different tool kind of tool and that this was trying to be a sort of ally to the actual designer in a way that other tools are sort of like, come with what you got. And we’ll let You want at your own peril.
Mitch: Yeah, and I think there will always be people who want to use a blank canvas to elect PowerPoint And they want absolute control over every pixel and maybe they want pink unicorns flying across their sides. You know, that’s not something you can do. And beautiful, you’re Here. You get to make choices about your colors and your fonts and your theme. And, you know, do you like circles over squares
Mitch: Nuances of design. So even even when you use the tool, when you go to add another slide, we ask, you know, what are you trying to communicate? I want to show growth. I want to show team. I want to show time. I want to show people. And then we give you a bunch of these smart templates that you can pick from which are all designed to sort of take your data and presented in different ways.
Mitch: But we’re not yet at this point yet telling you what your story should be or
Mitch: How. Slide you should out next. That’s sort of down the road. And that will be more sort of a I of learning how people create presentations. So we can help other people create similar presentations.
Lea: Mm hmm. Makes perfect sense. So what are some of the design, no notes that it helps to, you know, presentation designers avoid that, you see, are our most common.
Mitch: Well, again, there’s two levels, right? There’s no presentation, design, practice, and everyone knows the story. Keep your points simple. Don’t put a lot of text on the slide. You know, one sort of focus. Don’t fill in all the whitespace, et cetera. Tell a story with your data. Don’t just sort of present a big table or a chart. So the, you know, gives
Mitch: You ways to pull out highlights
Mitch: And emphasize different aspects of data or tables. And, you know,
Mitch: These things that you can do in a tool like PowerPoint
Mitch: But are difficult that require
Mitch: A lot
Mitch: Of effort or just a click
Lea: The way
Mitch: Away and beautiful eye.
Mitch: Are kind
Mitch: Of like the presentation best practices. And then,
Mitch: Of course, there’s design. Best practices of like what? The letting and the kerning should be on your fonts. And you don’t put bright
Mitch: Colors on top
Mitch: Of other bright colors
Mitch: Unless you really know what you’re doing. You know how to maintain good spacing between things and keep them aligned. And you have the right weights of lines and strokes and variances of color, variance of color. So it’s all doing this stuff underneath you. For you. And you’re just kind of filling it in.
Lea: Right. So am I hearing some of the things that it sets this tool apart from online tools like Google Slides Prezzie Haiku Jack? You know, there’s obviously I’m I’m sure it’s compared. And even the offline tools like PowerPoint and Keynote, you know, why would someone decide definitively to use Beautiful for this purpose versus those?
Mitch: I mean, it’s clearly whether you feel like you’re spending a lot of time designing and twiddling with with hot Tatian looks that those tools and you don’t want to be.
Mitch: Our goal is to get you a presentation that looks better and takes a lot less time for you to build. So, again, you can either choose to focus the extra time you have on a better story or you can go do something else.
Mitch: You know, I mean, everybody’s got the story of 11 o’clock on a Sunday night,
Mitch: You know, for the presentation on Monday when they’re fighting with PowerPoint
Lea: And you’re
Mitch: Trying to get.
Lea: An object?
Mitch: Yeah. Moving things around. I mean, you spend an inordinate amount of time,
Mitch: You know, worrying about the design aspects. And at the end of the day, you’re you’re communicating something that’s fairly standard, right.
Lea: It be
Mitch: It be
Mitch: Bullet points or timelines or a pyramid funnel. I mean, these are all fairly standard visualizations that you don’t really need to reinvent the
Mitch: Wheel every time you create them. And, you know, so, again, the tool is trying to let you focused on just getting your information out there and not worry about the design.
Mitch: And again, I don’t know that it’s everyone. There are certainly people who who like that aspect. I mean, one of the things I always say is that presentations are not really an opportunity for self-expression. They’re not getting your idea to push your creative juices on the world. Generally, you have a brand and a corporate style
Mitch: That you’re supposed to follow. And the tool, it really helps you, you know, set that up and then adhere to it. In fact, it becomes almost impossible to not adhere to it.
Lea: Right. Right. That was what I thought was so great. Some of the features like the color scheme, which was so easy to create. And then assigning specific fonts for headings and body content. You know, a lot more straightforward than the more open ended tools for sure. So what does it do? You make it easy for people to work off-line as well in case, you know, they have to work on something.
Mitch: We allow you to present off line. We don’t allow you to author. And it is
Mitch: The cloud.
Mitch: It’s cool.
Mitch: Off all your data being in the cloud, which means that now you can share these presentations or collaborate with other people in real time.
Mitch: I could both be working on a presentation at the same time. And then I can say, you know, you can send a link to that and view analytics about the presentation. So is all this great stuff that you get by putting presentations in the cloud
Mitch: That you don’t
Mitch: File based system from PowerPoint? But we do acknowledge that sometimes you’re going into a meeting or you’re going to a conference and you can’t be guaranteed that there’s going to be Wi-Fi.
Mitch: You can download the presentation. You can present it Off-line. You can also export it to PowerPoint or PDAF if
Mitch: You wish to move into another authoring tool. There’s more work that you want to do. We’d rather you didn’t.
Mitch: But you can.
Lea: Oh, that’s that’s great to know, because there might be people that have to send in a certain format. What are some of your favorite features, the ones that you’re super proud of?
Mitch: Wow. You know, it’s interesting. Every temple it is is like almost a little app unto itself. And, you know, if I’m building an org chart template and or arrow bars or comparing bubbles or a chart or a table,
Mitch: And like
Mitch: About like,
Mitch: What are those
Mitch: Things that,
Mitch: You know, you
Mitch: Wish you could do the you know, the 90 percent. It’s like, gosh, I wish I could highlight this column in a table and split it across
Lea: The other.
Mitch: From the other ones. And so it stand it out by its own.
Lea: You know
Mitch: You know,
Mitch: I want
Mitch: Animate smoothly, you know,
Lea: I don’t
Mitch: I don’t
Lea: It here.
Mitch: To do fly
Lea: Why is
Mitch: Ins and have to do all
Mitch: Animation stuff or
Mitch: In the
Mitch: You know,
Mitch: I wanted
Lea: It all
Mitch: Cleanly, but sometimes I don’t want a node to
Mitch: Another node in the org chart. So
Mitch: Every one of those is like
Mitch: Finding those,
Mitch: Like really cool little
Mitch: Things that like
Lea: Were going
Mitch: Are gonna
Lea: To make
Lea: Look like
Mitch: Life a lot easier. Like
Lea: To have
Mitch: One click away.
Mitch: They used to take 15 minutes or an hour or, you know, some
Mitch: Period of time
Mitch: To do their
Mitch: Now so close to doing so. I love. I mean, I love
Lea: I don’t
Mitch: I built a lot of
Mitch: The templates and, you know,
Lea: Oh, OK.
Mitch: Print code and I love every little aspect of each one. It’s hard to pick a favorite. You know, we try and do things like, you know, intelligently put gutters between images
Lea: Mm hmm.
Mitch: So they look good
Mitch: And be just drop shadow if it’s appropriate
Lea: And when
Mitch: Or when
Mitch: You when you
Mitch: Put text
Lea: On top
Mitch: On top
Mitch: Of them, image immediately
Mitch: Gives you
Mitch: An opportunity to say,
Lea: At all.
Mitch: Well, you should put
Lea: For hard
Mitch: This or I should put
Mitch: A dropshot
Mitch: Behind it, or I should
Lea: Of the
Mitch: A block transparent
Mitch: Box. And
Mitch: It’s just
Mitch: Different places with this stuff. So, yeah.
Lea: Oh, that’s that’s fantastic. Are there any exciting features that you’re looking to add or is it always like little
Mitch: Oh, yeah.
Mitch: It’s tons. In fact, we just filled out a bunch of stuff to help people work within other ecosystems. So we built a Google Drive integration. So
Mitch: Now you
Mitch: Can live in Google Drive, a Dropbox integration so you can pull in assets from Dropbox a slack integration so that when people make changes to your presentation, you
Mitch: Can get notifications
Mitch: In slack. We just released a common
Mitch: A calendar template, Gantt chart, a flow chart tool, which is great. I mean, everything lays out and you drag your flow charting things
Mitch: You’ve got all these options for what a node looks like. We also released this in concert
Mitch: With that this elements feature,
Mitch: Which, you know, again, one
Lea: One of the.
Mitch: Of the criticisms, the tool which is valid is that you can’t do anything you want. And sometimes
Mitch: You get to the point where, you know, I wish I had a little more flexibility. And so we added this ability to
Mitch: Now drag and position elements wherever you want on a slide, sort of as call outs or annotations. So if you’ve got a a bunch a list with a bunch of items that have been sort of automatically laid out, but you need a little
Mitch: Arrow box
Lea: I see.
Mitch: With the box around it, you can do that this summer, Will. We’re going to move
Mitch: Into team features. So collaboration
Mitch: And advance
Mitch: Collaboration for teams. And the the
Lea: The main
Mitch: The big
Mitch: Is brand
Mitch: Control within an organization. So if you’re a company who’s
Lea: I got
Mitch: A marketing
Mitch: Team that’s trying
Mitch: To maintain
Mitch: A corporate
Lea: Ran across
Mitch: Brand across your sales
Lea: The front
Mitch: Or the rest of your company, it’s
Mitch: Really difficult
Mitch: To do in PowerPoint. We’ve
Mitch: All seen the PowerPoint theme with the slide in it that the designer created that’s got literally the appeal. Please use these colors
Mitch: And please just talk methodically. And that’s state of the art of sort of brand control within a PowerPoint
Mitch: World. So beautiful. I, because of the way the system
Mitch: Works, will
Mitch: Allow you
Mitch: To, you know,
Mitch: A company theme.
Lea: Are, black
Mitch: Across your
Mitch: Company and
Mitch: That people
Mitch: Use it or,
Mitch: Know, have a
Mitch: Of shared
Mitch: And so we’re
Lea: Ah. Excited
Mitch: About the team features that we’re working on right now.
Lea: I was actually gonna ask how this is being adopted by corporations and brands and such.
Mitch: Yeah, you know, so I mean, yeah, there’s there’s over. I think he’s said 350. I think we’re actually double that now. About six or seven aren’t a thousand
Mitch: People. Well, and, you know, there are personal use people who use it for personal reasons. And we see them working on the weekends and building presentations. There’s certainly a lot of education
Mitch: Students and teachers who are using the tool. And then, of course, there’s business users and you know, those range from individuals who are sort of like that’s their secret weapon. And they’re starting to use the tool. And then we start to see this sort of land and expand as they start to grow within their teams. So some companies and we have companies where hundreds of people are using the tool. We have companies where one or two people are using the tool. So certainly, you know, we’ve been more focused on that individual experience right now. And, you know, and to to grow the market, we want to sort of focus on sort of the team experience as well on top of that.
Lea: Ok, excellent. What are the kinds of presentations that users are creating? Are there any interesting trends there?
Mitch: Well, you know, we don’t really ask. It’s I mean, the interesting thing about presentations is they’re very private and
Mitch: People, they want to spending a lot of time looking at their desks. I mean, it’s deep stuff and they run the gamut. I mean, we see internal presentations. We see external presentations. You can take presentations that are created
Lea: Are you.
Mitch: You can embed amount of on
Mitch: A Web site.
Mitch: So we
Mitch: See that happen
Lea: A lot
Mitch: A lot. We’ve got
Mitch: Who actually
Mitch: Want to drive their entire
Mitch: Page off of just a presentation that’s
Lea: Oh, interesting.
Mitch: Better on a
Mitch: Web page.
Mitch: We get
Mitch: Out their presentations or wanting to create ebooks with them. And then, of course,
Mitch: Everything in
Mitch: Between of, you know, the
Mitch: Doing a company update, the H.R. team doing a benefits package for their team, product managers talking about the roadmap. Of course, marketing and sales tax pitch decks, they’re sure a lot of those.
Lea: Yeah, oh, awesome. I actually read a piece that you had wrote, written on pitch decks, and it seemed to be more about the storytelling aspect.
Lea: Do you plan on incorporating storytelling for especially that kind? Because I think that’s the kind of deck that the story is crucial because the stakes are high.
Mitch: Yeah, I look at I look at the presentation lifecycle is three sorts of three sort of steps. What’s the story I’m trying to say. Tell. How do I visualize each piece of that story into
Mitch: A slide and then. Then the act of disseminating
Mitch: That story, whether it be in person or online or through a link. And, you know, we’ve firmly been sort of in that middle part of like helping you visualize each piece of your story. But we do want to move into more helping you. What is that story? And the first step to that is presentation template. So allowing you to start from an existing sort of pitch dark or sales dark or marketing blue ocean strategy deck, whatever it might be. So we’re currently working right now to build up this library of sort of templates of templates or presentation templates that we can sort of integrate into the tools so that you can have a starting point. You know, nobody likes to start from a blank canvas, whether
Mitch: It be a single slide or a set of slides. And so we want to help, you know, sort of bootstrap that process. And then we’ll also allow companies to create their own internal presentation templates. So you as a company might have, you know, what’s our sales desk look like? Well, we always want to have the title slide and about the company. And we’ve got a bunch of case study slides and we want those to show up. And so you’ll be able to build those templates to get
Mitch: Within your organization started quickly as well.
Lea: Ok, nice. So one of the interesting we’re in an interesting time right now at the time of recording, we’re still in the midst of a fairly global lockdown due to coronavirus. And I’ve been trying to pay attention to different kinds of themes being conducted on search engines just to see what some of the trends are and how people are thinking. And interestingly, I noticed there’s been a huge surge in searches around remote presentations, online presentation and beautiful dot eyes specifically in the last three months or so.
Lea: So I’m just curious if you have a perspective on that.
Mitch: I mean, I mean, you know, we’ve definitely seen we definitely saw it when when the first about a month ago, you know, I think I think traffic dropped a little bit.
Mitch: It’s all actually come back. And now we’re we’re doing better than we were doing before the.
Lea: Mm hmm.
Mitch: When are we going to say that cold stuff started?
Mitch: Know, I, I mean, I think working from remote, working remotely or working off line is is a trend that’s just been growing and growing.
Lea: Mm hmm.
Mitch: I mean, even before we all started working from home
Mitch: Day in my home now,
Mitch: You know,
Mitch: We would we
Mitch: Would do
Lea: A week.
Mitch: A week
Mitch: You know, many
Mitch: Of the
Lea: The Internet?
Mitch: Startups in
Mitch: The Bay Area. You know, everybody’s
Lea: Is no
Mitch: To work from home day. And so I think this idea of working remotely and connecting over, you know, tools like Slack and Zoom and etc. and beautifully, I ultimately has been growing and growing over the last, you know, even year.
Mitch: And, you know, I mean, productivity as collaboration is something you’ve seen growing and growing across many different products. I mean, you know, whether it be working with spreadsheets and using a tool like our table or code or design tools that have become collaboration focused or document tools like drive, Google and notion and etc., this space is just becoming more and more prevalent, I think. I think what’s happened is that the experience that you can get in the browser and experience you can get with the tool now rivals what you would see from a desktop app or that didn’t
Mitch: Used to be, you know, a few years ago.
Lea: Oh, no, that’s that’s definitely for sure, because my whole presentation transformation started as a result of choosing to use Prezzie about 10 years ago for a presentation, and I realized I had no idea how to approach this infinitely scrolling canvas as opposed to something more linear, which I was used to. And luckily, that prompted a whole dove into presentation breast best practices. But the tools back then I ised did not facilitate, you know, an easy translation of those practices. The way that the tools do now, I think.
Mitch: Yeah, I mean, it’s wild, wild west. You know, I get the plane Cavite, you know. I mean, they give you a little bit and, you know,
Mitch: It’s interesting, like PowerPoint, a smarter it’s something that hasn’t evolved very much
Mitch: In ten years.
Mitch: And they’ve done charts and the charts are great. Right.
Lea: Mm hmm.
Mitch: The charts, all this designed for you. And you put your data and you work it out. But, you know, they really didn’t lean into that. And that’s sort of what we are is smarter on steroids.
Mitch: And like,
Mitch: What if the whole slide was smarter? And, you know, again, it takes a little bit of getting used to. I mean, I’m hopefully some of your your listeners will we’ll visit the tool and you kind of got to let go a little bit. You kind of got to say let the tool to design for me, type my information and browse through all these templates and find some interesting
Mitch: Way to represent
Mitch: That I’m trying to communicate. And
Mitch: It go like like
Lea: Of the bottle?
Mitch: The design will look good and it’s
Mitch: Going to you can sort of set the themes and set sort of global properties around how your presentation should look. But you just don’t need to be sweating the details. And again, I’m just trying to make everybody’s a little more productive, a little more efficient in the presentations. Look a little bit better actually offer.
Lea: Yes. And what I just, again, remember being struck by the idea that as I was watching myself enter content and witnessing the layout’s shift and being prompted to enter certain design decisions, and I thought there are going to be exposed to a completely different look and feel to what they’re used to versus
Lea: The Wild West option.
Mitch: And part of it’s about being able to experiment and
Mitch: Not break things like do I want the head or a pop go getter on the left? You know,
Mitch: It’s going to rearrange everything for you and make that look good. So you don’t have to. It doesn’t take you 15 minutes. It takes a third of a second.
Lea: Right. I was I was amazed how quickly I was able to create my own deck and have it have a consistent format for sure. So can you share any exciting developments or you know, what your product vision is for the future?
Mitch: Well, I mean, we talked about the team stuff that’s obviously important whenever I’m talking to people, I talk about the meatball and the spaghetti sauce. The meatball is sort of this core, you know, process of improving, authoring and spaghetti sauce. Is it everything else? You know, the collaboration and the team stuff. And so, you know, I’m excited. We’re going to have more focused on the meatball now and, you know, getting increased, improving the seaming and and and the templating and
Mitch: What the slides look like. We
Lea: We have
Mitch: Have a designer who works for us
Mitch: Who creates, you know, the slides that go on our blog. And so she uses the tool in her. Her slides look amazing.
Lea: They are beautiful. Yes.
Mitch: And there’s no reason why everyone is using the tool. Can’t achieve exactly the same results. And so we’re we’re trying to, you know, create a gallery of we call them the woman’s name is care. And so the care
Mitch: Slides will end up in the gallery and you’ll be able to pull those down and start directly from that. Again, it’s all about just trying to get you spend less. You know, honestly spend less time in the tool
Mitch: And more time, you know, again, focusing your story.
Lea: And your story? I love that so much. So what’s gets you excited in general about the future of presentation and storytelling? What do you what do you think it is for you that drives you and your passion for this?
Mitch: I mean, what drives me is making people more efficient. I love like
Mitch: You when something that used to take you along mount or some period
Mitch: Of time,
Mitch: Make quicker and
Mitch: Easier for you.
Mitch: I like doing that in my life.
Mitch: I like
Mitch: Doing that
Mitch: In the products that I build. I mean, that’s what gets me excited when, you know, when I hear that people are using the tool and they say it like it used. I can do in 15 minutes what it used to take me, you know, eight hours to do that. That seems like a big win to me.
Mitch: So that’s what kind of drives me forward. And, you know, I’m lucky that I started my career as a designer. I love design. I love things that look good. I love, you know, crafting good design, but being able to sort of merge that with making people more efficient with it and sort of automating it. It’s it’s it’s great for me. I love it.
Lea: I love that, too. That is. Time is money, right? Is there like a really powerful presentation of some kind that you’ve seen recently that you were really inspired by? I always like to ask this question just to gain
Lea: Ideas. Yeah. Either way, if it was a TED talk or even internal.
Mitch: Nothing. To be honest, comes to mind. I’m embarrassed to say, oh,
Mitch: Yeah, I’m trying to. I’m trying to think I see so many presentations and so many are terrible. And we spend and tend to look at the bad ones more often than the
Mitch: Good ones. Again, I’m always excited by the stuff that care the designer is building with with our tool. And, you know, when I see what can be done so quickly using the product and, you know, meets what I’d hope what I would see is the output that always gets me jazzed.
Lea: Well, that’s that’s good enough. We’ll definitely point to her work. So the next segment is actually called the Upgrade. And it is a tool or a book or a resource or some kind of hack or trick that you used to, you know, make your presentations awesome. Obviously, we know there’s one toy you’ll recommend. But
Lea: Just in case there’s
Mitch: Our in our tool. You know, I like Nancy Duarte’s books on, you know, she’s been more focused
Mitch: Recently on the
Mitch: Storytelling aspect of
Mitch: Your message
Mitch: That stuff
Mitch: Is just so applicable. And it’s it’s the stuff
Mitch: That is so really the personal side of a presentation.
Mitch: The design side doesn’t need to be. But what
Lea: What’s the
Mitch: The message
Mitch: Is and what the story and
Mitch: On the cross
Mitch: I think, you know, those books
Mitch: Do an amazing job of sort of outlining, like how you how you should think about those things. So, yeah.
Lea: I agree 100 percent. I one of the formative presentation transformation experiences I had was coming across something around audience needs assessment. And I think it was slight allergy. And I was like, wait a minute, there are people in my audience and they have brains and emotions and they want things. That’s so
Mitch: Yeah, I
Mitch: Mean, so many of those those chips ultimately drive into what the design should look like and
Mitch: Those best practices are. And,
Mitch: You know, you know, so this stuff that Nancy kind of pioneered around all of that, you know, is the the core of how some of the intelligence within Beautifully Iwerks.
Lea: Mm hmm. Oh, I absolutely saw the influence of Nancy and Gary Reynolds and Guy Kawasaki. I mean, all the greats were all their spirits are definitely in this tool for sure. All right, so we have arrived to the final question. Think very hard about this very plausible scenario. You are schooling your kids in a Minecraft tournament online when you’re suddenly sucked into a vortex through the screen that pulls you back to the moment you’re about to deliver your first presentation. Do you remember what you were presenting about? And what would today you say to yesterday? You.
Mitch: Wow. My first presentation was a long time ago. You know, I would guarantee you that the first presentation I did had way too much information on it. Way too much tax. And I probably read it. And I probably you know, I’ve
Mitch: Learned now that presentations are
Mitch: Really just supposed to support you and they help me. And I
Mitch: They probably did in the past. But stay focused on. I tend to babble. I tend to talk and talk and talk and talk. And I can fill in any space, whether it’s dead or not. And I think, you know, I probably spent a lot too much time sort of explaining the things about that presentation. And, you know, I’ve learned now that, you know, it’s a little bit more about being concise and sort of staying on point just like it isn’t the line.
Lea: Mm hmm. Well, I think that’s probably what all of us would love to tell ourselves back then,
Mitch: I’m still thinking about the vortex.
Lea: Huh? Well, we’ve let you out of the word text now. You’re now safe, but no. It’s a really good point. You know, I’m actually in the process of writing my first book and I’m shooting to publish this year. Even considering the circumstances and what I’m learning, even as a writer, I’ve been logging for close to ten years now. But what I’ve even learned as a writer is that you say less and more comes across somehow because you’re really taking away the fluff. And for me, really powerful, memorable presentations make it so clear because it’s not drowning in noise. Right.
Mitch: And that’s the key to visuals, I visualizing data. Right.
Mitch: The reason I don’t want to just put, you know, nine bullet points on a slide. You want to visualize your data in some way that again, gets that message across
Mitch: Quickly and concisely.
Lea: You’re right. It’s not about being pretty or snazzy or exciting, and these are all words that I’ve gotten requests for. It’s about
Lea: Clarity and intention. So
Lea: Love that so much. And that’s definitely those three things are definitely what beautiful Dad and I are all about. So
Mitch: It still looks beautiful.
Lea: It still does. So, Mitch, unfortunately, our time has run out. But I really enjoyed our conversation and I’d love for the listeners to hear where they can keep up with you.
Mitch: You know, the best is to go to beautiful dot. I w w w dot, beautiful dot A.I. and you can sign up for free and play with the tool and, you know, we’d love to hear what you think.
Lea: Awesome, and that link is going to be on the show notes page for this episode. So much. I want to thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show today. I can’t wait to see where beautiful goes. And, you know, the just the general future of online presentation tools. It’s really exciting.
Lea: It’s so fun to see how technology can be used to make life easier. What an innovative concept. No, but seriously, I was super impressed and surprised with the intuitive and predictive nature of this online tool. I really haven’t found that and many other tools. That’s why I’ve been so skeptical of them until now. So go check them out. You can sign up for their basic plan completely free at Lea Pica dot com slash. Beautiful, eh? I know dot to catch all of the other links here. Register. Find out about where I’m speaking. Resources. Everything. Visit the show notes page at Lea Pica dot com slash zero five six. I would love for you to leave me a comment or suggestions because I want to hear about the challenges you are facing when presenting information. And of course, if you like what you’ve heard, I ask please from the bottom of my heart to hop on over to I tunes to subscribe, leave a rating and review ratings and reviews are so appreciated because they help the rankings of the show. And I’ll be reading out my future reviews on future episodes. And I’ll leave you with today’s bit of data presentation inspiration, which is from comic artist Brian Reed. And that is everything is designed. Few things are designed well. My take. Yep, that applies to many data presentations. And the thing that I want you to think about is what designed well means for me. It means design with simplicity, intentionality, consistency. And I believe still that learning basic presentation design skills, such as what you can get through my data storytelling and presentation bootcamp online course is still really valuable as a foundation. However, with the advent of thoughtfully designed tools like Beautiful Dot A.I., your presentation can’t be one of those things that are well-designed without the time consuming guesswork. So once again, hop on over to Lea Pica dot com slash beautiful A.I. to start your free account today. That’s it for today. Stay well. Stay safe. And.