Before Monday, Austin lawyer and computer forensics expert Craig Ball might have seemed the least likely speaker to wow an audience of Gen X and Yers gathered to learn about the latest technology and social media at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival. Today, he stands toe-to-toe with the Internet celebs who dominate the festival from year to year.
Ball was part of a panel, "Presenting Straight to the Brain," about techniques for persuading with PowerPoint beyond the usual bullet points and tired graphics that plague so many presentations.
Ball showed the crowd of more than 500 an animation he uses to explain the inner workings of a hard drive to a non-technical audience. This and other parts of his presentation drew applause, shouts of approval, and scores of positive "tweets" from audience members who were documenting the panel on Twitter.com.
"I figured the crowd was nice to me because it was like being nice to your granddad," joked the 51-year-old Ball, who began his SXSW remarks by telling attendees, "For those of you who are wondering, the red thing I'm wearing around my neck is called a tie."
"Really, I was leery of speaking to a younger group which was not at all like my typical audience of attorneys and judges," related Ball. "I was blown away by how receptive they were. I was happy to have the feeling of holding my own with the other panelists."
Ball's seemingly complex animations are done solely with PowerPoint. For tips and articles about how he does it, see www.craigball.com.