Presentation Design

Stacey Mathis Talks to Dan Newmark of Newmark Digital Presentations

Determination. Focus. Commitment. These are the driving forces of the New York-based presentation designer Dan Newmark – an entrepreneur par excellence, with over two decades of experience fulfilling requests both nationally and internationally.

In an interview with Dan, he reveals some highlights and challenges that come with managing a business in this digital market space. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, with a BFA in film and video, Dan aspired to become a video editor. However, by the end of those few years he spent getting his education, technology had surged ahead. Video editing had switched from linear to non-linear editing the year of his graduation. Finding a job that aligned with his field of study was a huge challenge. But Dan refused to be defeated. His thirst for success drove him to take graphic design classes thinking he would specialize in print design. Not long after this effort, Dan was, yet again, facing another hurdle – the industry went digital!

Fortunately, however, he later found work doing web banner ads and digital presentations, namely Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint, and eventually parlayed this experience into his own business. I asked Dan to tell me a little bit about running a presentation design company and about some of the challenges he faces as a business owner in this field, particularly working with customers. Here are his responses:

Stacey: What are some of the biggest day-to-day challenges you experience as a design business owner?

Dan: One example of a challenge is when a customer gives me a presentation cobbled together from many disparate sources. But thankfully I am able to bring order to chaos without too much difficulty, because I have a deep understanding about masters, re-applying master formats, and deleting rogue masters that can cause great confusion when I hand back a completed product to a client to make their custom eleventh-hour edits.

“I turn a lot of boring words and graphs and tables into fun, easy to digest, stories, told in animated, engaging imagery.”
                                                                                          Dan Newmark

Stacey: Are you able to synthesize concepts easily, or is it a process of reduction from a more complex composition?

Dan: When clients come to me with complex concepts that they hope to convey in a more visual way, I am able to help them through targeted image searching, repurposing such images in Photoshop and Illustrator where needed, and then applying complex animation techniques to get the message across. Paired with
a passionate presenter explaining such concepts in spoken word rather than text, coupled with such imagery behind, the audience is much more engaged and committed to learning and understanding.

Stacey: How would you describe your style to someone who hasn’t seen your work before?

Dan: The most effective presentations, the ones that excite, intrigue, and engage viewers, are those that are more visual than text-driven. This is the Steve Jobs model of storytelling, and one that I endeavor to match when creating my stories for the screen. Key concepts can be much more readily learned and digested by an audience with colorful imagery and animation; they don’t want to be read to. They quickly become disengaged when a ton of verbiage is presented to them on screen. I always recommend to my clients to pare down text as much as possible (perhaps placing some of the larger tracts of text in the presenter notes or in a leave behind print deck) and instead allow their passion for their subject to come alive when they present, supported by imagery and tasteful animation.

Regarding animation, presentation softwares like Keynote and PowerPoint are far more robust than clients often are aware. And, given my background in animated web banners, I have also developed the ability to add such assets to presentations and then apply native software animations to these animated assets, creating levels of animation that look more like motion graphics. All while still maintaining a text-customizable presentation that is easier for clients to edit at will, unlike Flash or After Effects.

Stacey: What do you do to keep up with the graphic trends?

Dan: The advantage of being self-employed and working for a wide variety of clients, rather than dedication to just one, is that I am able to observe and learn from many different creative minds from many different industries and disciplines. Having worked for virtually every industry from marketing and advertising to pharmaceutical and financial, I have had the opportunity to stretch presentation software to its limits and beyond. Into Keynote and PowerPoint presentations I have integrated multimedia assets, Photoshop animation, motion paths, and hyperlink interactivity for kiosks and virtual website presentation experiences.
Stacey: Who or what has influenced your work the most?
Dan: I would say that my initial forays into print/page layout and animated web banners informs my presentation design and animation aesthetic. In the early days of presentation, the flat, one-dimensional look, created by admins rather than by artists, was the norm. The bar has certainly been raised quite high since those days, and my desire to integrate my page layout and animated web banner design into presentations has served me very well in this regard.
Stacey: What have been your most significant and satisfying projects to date?
Dan: My favorite projects have been interactive hyperlink kiosk presentations; presentations converted to web video format, complete with all original animation and audio & video; and presentations featuring animated gif/Photoshop animation, which together with native software animation, emulate motion graphics effects.

Stacey: What service do you provide that clients should be asking for more often?

Dan: Among the numerous services I offer, one that I feel clients could greatly benefit from, but ask for not nearly often enough, is the conversion of presentations to web video format. A lot of clients believe that only static frames can be converted to video viewable on the web (youtube or a homepage of a website.). Keynote and PowerPoint both provide poor support in exporting to effective multimedia presentations to web-based video, complete with all original animation, audio and video. But I have developed a technique to effectively and completely capture such presentations as video for the web. Presentations delivered this way can be viewed at any time and on any system without worrying about being on a Mac or Windows platform, possessing the correct version of the software, the right fonts, or the system resources required to properly render graphics. I have created very effective videos of presentations for those few clients that have availed themselves of this service.

Stacey: What do you do to attract clients to your company?

Dan: I am very active on Linkedin, and I also encourage satisfied clients to offer referrals to colleagues.

Presentation Design

For more on Dan Newmark, visit his Linkedin page.

Stacey Mathis is a NY-based copywriting agency owner specializing in crafting customer-focused copy and content for businesses and nonprofit organizations. She has more than 10 years’ experience in this marketing space. Find her on Twitter.

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