Frequently Asked Questions About BOSS

Questions answered on this page

(tip: use “Find” (ctrl + F or command + F) to search words from the question stem, and you’ll be taken to the answer)

  1. I can't start on the designated start date or don't think I can keep up with the 8 week schedule: Should I still enroll?

  2. What is the time commitment? Can I do this if I'm really, really, realllyyyyyyyyy busy?

  3. Will BOSS help me present my research and data? What if it's complex, advanced, complicated, or really detailed? What if it's qual and I have really long quotes?

  4. Is the Praxis option worth the upgrade? Who is it for?

  5. How long do I have access to the course?

  6. Do you update the course?

  7. What if I am unhappy with the course? What's the refund policy?

  8. Do I really need training? Can't I just learn presentation skills by taking your free courses, reading your blog, or watching your YouTube channel? Or some other DIY approach?

  9. What makes this course unique?

  10. I am a [fill-in-the-blank] who presents to [fill-in-the-blank]. Is this course for me?

  11. I'm getting overwhelmed. This sounds like it will take me a lot of time and that once I learn BOSS I'll need to spend forever on my slides. How long will it take me to create a good presentation after taking BOSS?

  12. What presentation software do I need to use?

  13. I've already been using PowerPoint for years, can this course really make a difference in my presentations? How do I know your strategies will work for me?

  14. What if I have questions about my specific presentation?

  15. Do I already need to have advanced PowerPoint skills?

  16. Are you just a special graphic designer/artist/amazing person? How do I know you weren't just amazingly good at slides from day 1?

  17. Wait, I need to catch up: Can you remind me what Blast Off to Stellar Slides will teach me? Is this just a ppt skills course?



(1) I can't start on the designated start date or don't think I can keep up with the 8 week schedule: Should I still enroll?

Yes! I mention that the course is 8 weeks, but that's just the recommended schedule and how I "drip" the material. This is actually a self-paced online course. You can start whenever you want and take the course on your own schedule.

(2) What is the time commitment? Can I finish BOSS if I'm really, really, realllyyyyyyyyy busy?

Listen carefully: I made this course for busy people.

 
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1. If you're busy, then you need to take training because training saves you time. By default, this will be a time saver.

2. This is an online, self-paced course. You choose when you learn, and when you don't.

3. All of the videos are short! Most are about 8 minutes long. Some are just a couple minutes. None are more than 20 minutes. Anyone can fit these short videos into their schedule. 


(3) Will BOSS help me present my research and data? What if it's complex, advanced, complicated, or really detailed? What if it's qual and I have really long quotes?

Yes, yes, AND YES! BOSS will help you present your data.

In fact, it's the advanced, complicated data that benefits THE MOST from BOSS strategies—because that's the part where you're most likely to lose your audience.

 
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Most people do an ineffective, boring, confusing "data dump" and literally the entire BOSS curriculum is focused on avoiding just that.

I have used these strategies for things like my dissertation proposal/defense (which was a quantitative, longitudinal design where I used multi-level modeling for my analysis), and all my research/evaluation presentations since then.

I am a mixed methods researcher, so I have successfully used these strategies for quant, qual, and mixed method presentations.

And it's worked for students. Here is just one example: a BOSS Praxis student shared her transformation, which includes how she presents at research conferences. See Dr. Kathryn Klement's personal transformation here.

Speaking of Praxis, that's the one to sign up for if you're looking for help with presenting your specific research or data. If you want feedback on your slides and how you're presenting the information, then sign up for the Praxis package. In the community, you can share your methods or data slides and get feedback from others in the group. During the video calls, you can ask questions about your presentation or participate in the student slide makeover activity and have another student give your slide a try.


(4) Is the Praxis option worth the upgrade? Who is it for?

If you could possibly be available during 11am-7pm US Eastern Time, then you should enroll in the Praxis package. 

(Most events happen 11am-3pm US Eastern Time).

>>> The independent study option is for people who could LITERALLY NEVER attend ANY of the Praxis events: now or in the future.

YES. That means it’s a great value even if you can’t participate in the events for THIS cohort.

Because then you lock in the price of BOSS right now, and you can join the events hosted for FUTURE COHORTS at no cost! Several BOSS students sign up and don't participate in the Praxis events until the next cohort. It's a smart choice because they've locked in the price (remember, prices increase each cohort) and still get to attend events whenever they're ready.

Maybe you're thinking: I can enroll in the independent study package now and upgrade to the Praxis package later. And, that's true, I would let you do that. BUT once the doors close to this cohort ALL of the prices go away. That means you'll have to upgrade based on the price for the NEXT cohort (and it means you'll have to wait until doors open next time, too).

For just a little bit of additional investment, you get ALL THIS:

1. LIFETIME access to a private online community.

2. FOUR group video calls which are a combo of bonus training, Q&As, peer learning, mentoring, and practice opportunities.

3. EIGHT weekly co-working sessions (in the community) PER COHORT / FYI these double as office hours where you can ask me questions and get feedback!

4. A REPLAY ARCHIVE of the mentoring calls (right now, that's about 8 hours of bonus content!)

5. BONUS weekly challenges & other practice activities to help you learn the material.

6. A COHORT KICKOFF virtual meetup where everyone sets their goals for the next 8-weeks & meets/greets each other.

7. ACCESS to future group mentoring calls (after you do the four calls) for a super small fee.

I recommend the Praxis package because I know…

You will have questions about how to implement the tech or how a strategy applies to your unique slides. 👏🏽

You will want feedback on how well you’ve applied BOSS strategies. 👏🏽

You will want a community so you don’t feel so isolated being the only one who cares so much about slide design. 👏🏽

Still not convinced?

I’ll let Praxis students share their experiences with this package option. You can also read case studies by Praxis students: Dr. Jennifer de BeyerDr. Kathryn KlementBecky Miller-McGrath, and Dr. Rebecca Stone.

Plus, two students wrote up a reflection on one of the Praxis activities: Get out of your slide design comfort zone.

 
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(5) How long do I have access to the course?

You will have access to this course (and future updates) for as long as this course is online. Whoo hoo! I LOVE running this course and it's been around since May 2017. I fully expect that I'll be doing this for at least another year, so plan on having access for at LEAST 12 months.

And, get this: there are no monthly fees to continue accessing the material. Once your tuition is paid in full, that's it! If I decide to convert BOSS to a monthly subscription model, I will NOT make existing students switch to that. They’ll be locked in.

(That’s another reason to enroll now even if you can’t start with this cohort).


(6) Do you update the course?

Yup! You don't even just get access to the current course ... you also get free updatesto the core material. That means your initial cost is actually a long-term investment into your professional development. Since the first BOSS cohort began, the following material has been added to the course, at no cost to existing students!

1. 60-minutes of bonus lessons from Ann K. Emery on data visualization. 📊

2. Access to a curated collection of visuals (that I think work particularly well for academics, scientists, evaluators, and researchers) that I made on a popular stock photo website (all free). 🤩

3. More than 60-minutes of lessons on how to create your own visuals using professional software, with an icon-creating project. 👩🏽‍🔬

4. New/beta lessons throughout the core curriculum (I didn't count how many minutes this adds up to, but there are quite a few!) 🧠

5. A follow-along workshop on how to make custom handouts (with a mini lesson on one-pager infographics). 🤯

The core curriculum, create your visual database masterclass, and the handouts workshop are all covered under this "free updates" guarantee. If I make new courses/sections that aren't part of the core material, you will either get them for free (Ann K. Emery's videos are an example of me doing this already!) OR they will be available for purchase like an optional add-on or "extended edition" type of thing.


(7) What if I am unhappy with the course? What's the refund policy?

I certainly hope that is never the case! But, if you are unsatisfied with your purchase, email me within the first 14 days of your purchase for a full refund, no questions asked! You have instant access to the first set of materials so you can quickly test out the material right away.


(8) Do I really need training? Can't I just learn presentation skills by taking your free courses, reading your blog, or watching your YouTube channel? Or some other DIY approach?

Do you consider your time valuable?

Does the idea of wasting HOURS and HOURS of your time, just to make bad slides bother you at all?

If so, then a DIY approach -- gobbling up free resources and reading a few books -- is a bad choiceHere's a blog post I wrote about it. And here's another blog post hinting at why a DIY approach is a problem. Plus, a DIY approach means you're choosing your own content, and probably missing important stuff you need to know (thanks, confirmation bias!) things like...how the facts aren't enough.

 
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And in terms of the free content I provide? The content I create for the public will always be limited to the very basics, and mostly includes attitude and readiness building. You will hit a wall with those free resources really fast.

Advanced topics that will NEVER be covered in my free resources include… 

how many slides to use in a given presentation (Module 1); how to speed up the presentation design process and save time (Module 1); how to choose the right amount of information for any presentation (Module 2); how to choose the right content/information for any presentation (Module 2/3); all types of clutter and how to identify subtle types of clutter (Module 3); how--exactly--to use Gestalt psychology and information/graphic design to layout each slide (Module 4); how to use photos correctly so they make an impact and aren't just clutter (Module 5); how to find awesome photos or icons that will resonate with your audience (CYVD Masterclass); how to use animations effectively (multiple modules); how to find the perfect visual--even if you've struggled to find them before (CYVD Masterclass); how to create your own visuals and gifs (Module 5); how to take and use your own photos (Module 5); a universal approach to help you present any data (Module 6); qualitative dataviz ideas (Module 6); and how to create a custom handout (Handouts Workshop).

 
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Whoa. See how much is waiting for you in the course? ...and those are just the highlights ;)


(9) What makes this course unique?

This is not a bunch of random powerpoint tech training videos, in no particular. This is a course that teaches you a new FRAMEWORK (i.e., approach) to effective presenting. There's a logical order and progression through the course as you develop new design, technical, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.

 
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This is a course made by a researcher/evaluator (with a PhD in Psychology) for academics, scientists, evaluators, and researchers.

The people who take BOSS are from a variety of fields, like microbiology or program evaluation or gender studies (and lots in between).

People who share information and data to educate or train others. I have a PhD in Community Psychology, which means I've had to present to uni students and my peers at conferences. I've been doing evaluation for over 4 years now, which means I've presented to policy makers, federal/state staff, stakeholders, service providers, and other broad audiences.

 
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Why does that make this course unique?

Did you know that a lot of presentation design resources are created by corporate, marketing, or tech folks. And (generally speaking) corporate folks loooooooove love love templates and (tend to) prioritize branding and emotion over all else. I've had to do a lot of translation to take their tips and apply it to research, evaluation, and teaching.

 
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It's also helpful to take a course instead of using books.

Even with great books -- that's written, static information. You'll still have to translate that into visual, dynamic presentations...if you can figure out the technical part on your own. My course includes the tech training videos. This course is comprehensive video-based training. This course is for people who want to SEE the lessons in action.

Plus, other programs often focus on one or a few components of presenting (e.g., just dataviz). This course is comprehensive, and shows you the entire presentation process. You will learn how to storyboard, declutter, design text and graphics, find the perfect visual or create your own, present quant and qual data, and make custom handouts.


(10) I am a [fill-in-the-blank] who presents to [fill-in-the-blank] audiences. Is this course for me?

This course is for academics, scientists, evaluators, researchers, and other titles that I might not be thinking of. If you present educational or research/data-based information then this is for you. If you work for corporate or tech, then it might not be: email me and we can chat further.

If your audience is adults, and your purpose is to educate them then BOSS is definitely for you.

How is that possible? Does that sound too good to be true?

It’s because BOSS teaches you a framework so you can adjust your presentation style based on the needs of your audience.

 
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Blast Off to Stellar Slides has already worked for a broad group of folks. BOSS students include grad students, postdocs, early career or tenure track faculty, mid career faculty, university research staff, and independent consultants/evaluators. We have the full range of career stages represented in this course!

We also have a wide range of fields represented including psychology, women & gender studies, biomedical engineering, non-profit evaluation, government administration, criminal justice, biochemistry, and microbiology.

These are professors and evaluators and researchers, just like you, who were able to transform their text-heavy, overwhelming-amounts-of-data, ineffective presentations into effective, visual ones. These are people who present to the same audiences you do -- students, peers, clients, advocates, and colleagues. These are also folks who all wish they had more time to get things done.

Also, FYI the course content is tailored to marginalized genders and sexes. What does that mean, exactly? It doesn't mean that men aren't allowed. It really just means that my default audience isn't men. It means I have marginalized genders in mind when I create visuals and lesson content. It means that I am constantly striving to create materials that are empowering, non-shaming, and free of microaggressions. No need to worry about a casual "joke" at the expense of someone from a marginalized group with my materials. It also means I have an enforced code of conduct policy for the community (No sexual harassment, Tr*mp support, denial of gender/racial bias, mansplaining, TERFism, whitesplaining, racism, sexism, nazi support, etc). If you are cool with that, I'm cool with you :D


(11) I'm getting overwhelmed. This sounds like it will take me a lot of time and that once I learn BOSS I'll need to spend forever on my slides. How long will it take me to create a good presentation after taking BOSS?

That’s the BEST PART about BOSS.

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Several students have mentioned that the key advantage of taking BOSS is that they can create BETTER PRESENTATIONS IN LESS TIME THAN BEFORE!

 
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Everyone is different and comes into BOSS with a different expectation of "how long" someone should spend on a presentation. That's why in the first module I provide guidance on how much time and effort you should send on your presentation based on YOUR goals and YOUR available resources. Then, by completing BOSS, you'll know how to adjust what design strategies you follow to have a great presentation given that choice.

That's the power of BOSS and what makes it unique: it's not a bunch of random tech training videos. It's a way to think about and approach your presentations so YOU can design it effectively given your resources.

That’s why professional develop is worth it. Wouldn’t you like to be able to make MORE ENGAGING presentations in LESS TIME than you’re spending to create ineffective ones?

 
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(12) What presentation software do I need to use?

I recommend PowerPoint (Office 365) or Keynote (Apple), but you can use LibreOffice, and Google Slides. I do not train on Prezi (because I recommend that you do not use Prezi).


(13) I've already been using PowerPoint for years, can this course really make a difference in my presentations? How do I know your strategies will work for me?

YES! Effective presentation is much more than just technical tricks or slide design skills. This course helps you storyboard your content and teaches you how to deliver material in ways that will help your audience learn. Knowing how to set up animations or change font sizes is not a substitute for effective presentation skills.

 
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Blast Off to Stellar Slides' Praxis student Becky Miller-McGrath said that her student evaluations were kinda good even before taking BOSS, but that BOSS took her academic teaching to the next level.

 
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(14) What if I have questions about my specific presentation?

This is a key reason to choose the Praxis package!

 
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If you enroll in the Praxis Package, then you'll have the chance to get feedback from other students (who continue to impress me with how well they've been able to apply BOSS lessons!) and have your questions answered in a group setting.

You also get a private community where you can post your work and ask for feedback from other students. I also facilitate co-working sessions which double as "student hours" where I'm available to answer your questions.

 
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If you want 1:1 help -- or your question is so specific that it wouldn't be helpful in a group setting -- then enroll in the Mentoring Package.


(15) Do I already need to have advanced PowerPoint skills?

Nope! You will get tech training videos to show you how to do the advanced strategies.

 
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This professional development course was specifically made for people who have never taken communication/presentation training before.

It will help if you've made at least one presentation before...but honestly...If you're an academic (including grad students!), scientist, evaluator, and researcher then you already have plenty of experience to be successful in this program.

Just to re-assure you, you will also receive 101 training videos for PowerPoint and Keynote in the course.


(16) Are you just a special graphic designer/artist/amazing person? How do I know you weren't just amazingly good at slides from day 1?

That would have been nice, but it's definitely not true! I made slides just like yours (maybe even worse) when I first started. I didn't have training, so I was all on my own. That's why it took me so long before I finally figured out how to create effective slides.

Here's proof: Look at my old slides and how long it took me to create effective ones.


(17) Wait, I need to catch up: Can you remind me what Blast Off to Stellar Slides will teach me? Is this just a ppt skills course?

Blast Off to Stellar Slides goes waaaay beyond PowerPoint skills, and way beyond just slide design strategies.

You can see the full curriculum (lesson titles and video lengths) over on the course portal website. Click on where it says "Courses Included with Purchase" (e.g., "Core Curriculum") and scroll down to see all the lessons included in that section.

Here's a general snapshot of what BOSS includes. In just 8 weeks, you’re going to learn exactly how to apply the entire visual communication framework, step-by-step:

  • Storyboarding and storytelling (yes, important especially when you have lots of data!)

  • Decluttering

  • Modern design

  • Graphic and information design

  • Using visuals effectively

  • Data visualization

  • Animations

  • *** Bonus Advanced Workshop: Finding visuals that resonate (and why you can never seem to find the perfect visual)

  • *** Bonus Advanced Workshop: Creating custom handouts

  • *** Bonus Advanced Workshop: Dataviz with Ann Emery

Specifically, everyone who enrolls in BOSS gets:

  • The entire self-paced, online BOSS curriculum: 12+ hours of lessons + 3+ hours of tech training -- spaced out across 6 weeks

  • The Create Your Visual Database Masterclass (Advanced Workshop)

  • The Create Custom Handouts That Rock Advanced Workshop

  • PowerPoint and Keynote 101 basic training videos

  • Resource Library

  • PowerPoint and Keynote 101 basic training videos


I hope that answered all of your questions. But, if not then don’t hesitate to email me at echo@echorivera, or DM me on Twitter or Insta.