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Collaborate with Google Slides, Deliver with Keynote

There are two days left before the big client presentation and you've been preparing for it for almost a month now. You're working through the last bit of feedback from your team and tweaking the content of your slides when you start questioning if you'll even be able to deliver the deck flawlessly. Will you be able to seamlessly transition between the deck and the high-resolution video you've prepared? Will you even have Internet access in the conference room from where you'll be presenting? It's these last-minute challenges that can turn you from a powerful persuader into an incoherent mess, relying on a variety of verbal fillers as you struggle through a cringe-inducing delivery.

At Viget, we use both Google Slides and Keynote to present to various audiences. Google Slides shines when asynchronous team collaboration is needed, but I find Keynote more reliable in those high-stakes meetings when everything needs to be perfect. This was really driven home to me a few days before a big client presentation — we rehearsed using Slides and had even planned out how we would seamlessly switch between applications to show the presentation, play a fullscreen video, and then return to where we left off. Even after multiple rehearsals the transitions were still more awkward than we desired, so we had to quickly export the entire presentation from Slides into Keynote. It sounds complicated, but with some simple steps and a custom Automator application (download it here), you can do it too. Here's how:

Photo Shoot Planning Tips

I recently project-managed my first full-service photo shoot. It was a two-day, two-location shoot, with 19 models and 10 unique sets, each with a variety of scene setups. The shoot was for Viget’s client, SmartThings, a start-up product company and pioneer in the exciting world of smart homes and home automation.

The goal of the shoot was to capture lifestyle “in the moment” photos that illustrate how the SmartThings product and app seamlessly integrate into people’s lives. The app allows i) customers to access what’s going on in their homes from near and afar and ii) enhances everyday life in general. As you can imagine, stock photos just wouldn’t "cut it".

In addition to being highly creative, energizing, fast-paced and fun, photo shoots can also be very stressful if you’re not properly prepared. As with any project, the more experience one has, the more smoothly run the next project will be.

So, I am excited to share with you the lessons that I learned on my photo shoot to hopefully give you a leg up on yours!

First, some background... 

Our team was responsible for planning and coordinating all aspects of the shoot, including photography (obviously), lighting, equipment rental, art direction, location, models, wardrobe, props, scene setup, and post-production.

A Different Way to Think About Digital Project Managers’ Work

As I reach my four-year Vigeversary, I want to surface something that's bothered me for a while about how digital project managers are perceived and how we perceive ourselves. There's a gaping hole in the understanding of much of what we do.

People typically think of digital project managers' responsibilities as encompassing two or three broad areas:

  • Managing logistics: Budgets, resourcing and scheduling, spreadsheets qua spreadsheets.
  • Managing process: Process meaning a framework for planning and doing work, and the framework's components (tools, rituals, communication protocols).
  • Managing relationships and people: Not I'm-your-boss people management, but literally dealing with and addressing personalities and interpersonal dynamics that arise when working with teams, stakeholders, clients, etc. This is either a third area or a subset of the first two, depending on your point of view.

PMs themselves think of project management responsibilities this way. Look at the agenda from last year's (awesome) Digital PM Summit conference — nearly every session was about logistics, process, or people. And certainly these subjects cover a large portion of many PMs' jobs.

However, there is another major area of PM work: the connective-tissue elements — stuff besides designing, wireframing, prototyping, coding, etc. — that are needed to turn ideas and feedback into a real product. I think of this stuff as the dark matter of web design and development. This work is pervasive and a huge part of many PMs' (and other non-devs') responsibilities, but nobody has formally articulated what it is. It's barely covered at conferences; there aren't books about it.

With this and future blog posts and presentations, I want to start illuminating the dark matter. By more clearly articulating this broad area of PM work, I hope we can bring more rigor to the learning, teaching, and execution of the work, and ultimately change the perception of what digital PMs do.

Rocky Mountain Digital Project Manager Presentation: Aten Design Group

On Thursday, January 22, Rocky Mountain Digital Project Managers will get together for another great presentation from local digital leaders.

With a new year comes a new format for RMDPM meetups. Going forward, we're hoping local agencies and companies will not only host our meetups, but also give a presentation on their agency and their processes.

To kick this off, we're excited for Aten Design Group (in Denver) to host the January meetup! Aten will have 3 people discussing 3 topics that are near and dear to the Aten heart:

Project Management Gone Global

Viget recently partnered with Lenovo to redesign the technology brand’s blog platform. This was an interesting project for many reasons, one of them being the global reach of the blog. Lenovo is a global company in the true essence of the word; products are sold across the world, and the company employs staff in many different countries. Consumers and employees speak a myriad of languages, so the blog needed to accommodate the many audience types. While this presented a number of fun design and technological challenges, our team also faced unique challenges and upsides of working with an international client; in this case, our main point of contact was based in Singapore.

My previous company had a design and development team based out of Budapest, Hungary, so I grew accustomed to working with an international team. Here at Viget, the majority of our clients are US-based, as is the entirety of our staff, and I was interested to see how the two experiences would compare. Working with Lenovo, I realized there are many similarities between projects with international clients and international team members. Here are some of the challenges and upsides I’ve run into when working on projects with a global team, and some strategies for making these projects go as smoothly as possible.