Present to Succeed 2024: My Perspective and Summary of the Largest Presentation Skills Conference in the World

On June 14, 2024, I took the stage at the largest conference dedicated to presentation skills, Present to Succeed. This conference has been held for four years in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. What did I talk about? The topic of my presentation was “What Can We Learn from Google When Creating Data Visualizations?”

The essence of my presentation was to highlight that, as presentation creators, we should emulate the philosophy of Google’s search engine. Google prioritizes minimizing the time users spend on its search engine. This is in stark contrast to all other websites, which aim to keep us scrolling, clicking, and viewing as many ads as possible.

But not Google. If we are on Google and constantly searching, it means Google is not helping us find that one needed thing. Thus, it fails.

The same applies to data visualizations: if we show them to the audience and they spend a lot of time trying to understand them, it means something is wrong with the visualizations.

Good data visualizations are quickly read. And that was precisely the point I wanted to emphasize during my presentation in Sofia: create slides and visualizations so that the audience spends the least amount of time analyzing them. They should understand them in a flash.

During the presentation, I showed a series of before and after examples. Examples and counterexamples. Simultaneously, I aimed to provide the audience not only with knowledge but also with a bit of entertainment.

Therefore, I deliberately caricatured some bad examples, shared a few anecdotes, and used my proven methods to evoke laughter from the audience. And the audience did not disappoint me – they were open to new perspectives, very engaged, and responded enthusiastically to my suggestions.

The feeling when several hundred people in the hall burst into laughter exactly when you planned or when you see a sea of hands with phones taking pictures of your slides – is truly uplifting.

There were 850 people in the audience, and besides me, 13 speakers and panelists shared their knowledge and experience on stage.

Becoming a Top-Rated Speaker – Paula Januszkiewicz

Paula Januszkiewicz from Poland talked about how to become a highly rated speaker at international conferences. Paula is a cybersecurity expert who has traveled half, if not the whole, world, attending various conferences and speaking about digital security issues. She has repeatedly won the award for the best speaker at conferences such as RSA, Microsoft Ignite, Black Hat (Asia), AISA, and many others.

Key insight from Paula’s presentation: preparing a good presentation requires preparation, preparation, preparation. In many aspects. Not only must you create good content and rehearse, but you also need to prepare for potential technical issues. Given the countless presentations Paula has given, mishaps are bound to happen. Sometimes the computer breaks down right before the talk, or the internet doesn’t allow you to display a demo. Not all situations can be predicted. Therefore, always have a backup. Have your presentation not only on your computer but also on a flash drive and in the cloud.

Confidence – Margareet Jacobs

Margareet Jacobs from the Netherlands talked about how to boost your self-confidence on stage. Maja, as everyone calls her, put on a great show that made the audience feel a surge of confidence. She uncovered key limitations that prevent us from reaching our full potential on stage and suggested a simple trick for better stage presence: instead of focusing on yourself (your thoughts, fears, and feelings), focus on your surroundings. Find something there that allows you to separate yourself from stress and racing thoughts. It could be a chair, a painting on the wall, or the smiling faces of the audience.

Key insight from Margareet’s presentation: if you’re worried about a stain on your shirt during your presentation, let it go. Your audience won’t even remember it the day after your presentation.

Mastering Cross-Cultural Presentations – Bri Williams

Bri Williams from Australia emphasized the importance of considering cultural nuances in presentations. Bri has vast experience in an international environment. She worked in Asia for years and currently lives and works in Europe. With grace, she showed how people from different cultures can react differently to our messages.

For example, the Chinese and Japanese – seemingly from similar cultural backgrounds, are not as similar as one might think.

Key insight from Bri’s presentation: in an international environment, pay attention not only to what you say but also to whether what you say could be interpreted by your audience as offensive, impolite, or unprofessional.

Storifying Data – Artur Ferreira

Artur Ferreira from Portugal explained how to turn numbers into compelling stories. Artur is an experienced strategist and presentation expert, managing partner at one of the world’s largest slide design agencies, SOAP Presentations. His presentation particularly interested me as our topics overlapped: Artur talked about data storytelling, and I talked about data visualization. A few days before the conference, I contacted Artur to ensure that we did not overlap in topics or inadvertently contradict each other. As it turned out, we had perfectly complementary subjects.

What I liked about Artur’s presentation was that he took three steps back. He reminded us that a good story starts with empathy. Without understanding the expectations, preferences, and current situation of the presentation’s audience, it is difficult to create engaging storytelling. At the same time, the way Artur talked about storytelling – at a really deep level, with calmness and ease – was very instructive.

Key insight from Artur’s presentation: Data storytelling consists of four elements: 1) context 2) rising moments 3) Eureka moment 4) resolution and next steps.

Debug Your Presentation – Damon Nofar

Damon Nofar from Spain showed his recipe for great presentations that engage and inspire. What a presentation it was! Fantastically balanced, with humor, beautiful slides, and a great story. Oh, and a big surprise at the end. For me, Damon is a presentation magician. An absolute talent who can engage the audience tremendously, delight them with the presented design, entertain them, and leave them with a few valuable lessons. I particularly liked the beautiful AI-generated images in his presentation. They were not only tasteful and of excellent quality, but all together, in the right sequences, they built an engaging story.

Before and after the conference, I exchanged many observations with Damon, and I am glad that our views on presentation issues align. Simplicity, diversity, and design – are of great importance.

Key insight from Damon’s presentation: simplify what is complex, pay attention to design, tell better stories, be clear, engage the audience.

AI Innovations – Robin Dohmen

Robin Dohmen from the Netherlands presented several interesting AI tools that can be useful for creating presentations. Robin’s favorite app for creating slides is However, it’s also worth testing less known Beautiful.AI and (reviews of both apps are on my YouTube channel HERE> and Beautiful.AI HERE>).

Robin provided several suggestions on how to prompt effectively. For example, it is worth specifying in the prompts: who the audience is (explain it to me as if I were a 12-year-old), the purpose (for the needs of a conference), length (a short summary), format (present in bullet points), detail (provide a detailed explanation).

Key insight from Robin’s presentation: start testing and experimenting with AI now, as these tools will become even more effective in the future.

PowerPoint Copilot – Alex Selig

Alex Selig from the USA, Product Lead for PowerPoint Copilot at Microsoft, revealed some secrets and showed where PowerPoint Copilot is headed. Alex mentioned that Copilot is constantly being refined and will soon be even more helpful in creating presentations. The audience had numerous questions for Alex about the future of AI-created presentations. I was particularly interested in the aspect of Copilot creating presentations following the branding guidelines of a given brand. Currently, Copilot cannot generate presentations according to specified guidelines (e.g., a specific set of colors). Alex explained that this will be possible in the future.

Key insight from Alex’s presentation: buckle up; soon, Copilot might speed things up significantly.

Effective Body Language – Ida Holten Worsoe

Ida Holten Worsoe from Norway demonstrated how to elevate your body language to the highest level. Ida is an experienced actress. She showed that our body has a whole repertoire of possible options to use, but we most often use only the default ones. It’s worth breaking the default patterns to engage the audience more strongly. Is it an easy art? Certainly not. But Ida’s tips were inspiring enough that many people in the audience will likely start experimenting with more advanced body language after her presentation.

Key insight from Ida’s presentation: claim your space around you. This will give you comfort, confidence, and calmness while performing.

Demo like a PRO – Brent Ozar

Brent Ozar from the USA showed how to present a professional demo that has the potential to go viral. Brent is an experienced speaker who has traveled half the world and currently lives in Las Vegas, running his online business. He specializes in IT topics, specifically SQL servers (his YouTube channel: BrentOzarUnlimited). Brent frequently demonstrates live how the programs he uses work during conferences. His talk was about how to create a professional demo.

Key insight from Brent’s presentation: don’t start a demo in the typical way – as soon as you look at your computer and start clicking, it signals the audience that they too can start scrolling on their screens. Instead, learn how to create engaging demos from game streamers on YouTube.

Top 10 Things for Presenters – Luca Bruschi

Luca Bruschi from Italy summarized the event and gathered the top 10 principles that every presenter should follow. Luca didn’t have an easy task. By the end of the day, the audience was tired and might not have been interested in the last presentation. However, Luca delivered a fantastic presentation with several valuable suggestions and video clips that raised the energy levels among the audience.

The key insight from Luca’s presentation: creating a great presentation is like a recipe requiring many ingredients. Each one needs to be refined to become an outstanding presenter.


During the panel discussion with Mario Pankov, Maryan Rizinski and Baycho Georgiev, we explored how some companies go beyond merely understanding the importance of effective presentations—they actively pursue improvement every day. These forward-thinking organizations invest in courses, implement internal training programs, and even establish dedicated academies. We delved into the reasons behind their commitment and discussed practical insights on enhancing presentation skills within the tech role. Attendees gained valuable lessons to apply in their work and team environments upon returning to the office following the conference.

Dan Le Man – a comedian, performer, and professional MC – expertly hosted the entire event. A true professional, he was able not only to introduce each speaker well but also to create a relaxed and great atmosphere in the room.


For the audience, such conferences are a great opportunity to refresh their knowledge and improve their presentation skills.

For me, it was an opportunity to share experiences and ideas with other presentation enthusiasts. During long conversations with people who run businesses similar to mine, I confirmed that my perspective on the world of presentations is not unique.

  • Less is more
  • Design is crucial
  • But the greatest power of a presentation lies in the narrative.

These are universal principles. It’s worth following them when you create your presentation.

The Present to Succeed conference is already a brand in itself. It’s all thanks to two enthusiasts from Sofia – the founders of the slide design agency, 356 Labs, Boris Hristov, and Iva Nachkova. A few years ago, they dreamed of creating the largest conference in the world dedicated solely to presentation skills. Today, their organizational talent has resulted in one of the best conferences on the map of Europe. It’s worth attending next year!