Clients often tell me the thought of putting together a presentation fills them with dread. Even when they block out a chunk of time to get it done, procrastination sets in, focus goes out the window, pressure builds up, and they find themselves racing against the clock to get it ready on time.
When a client asks for help with a presentation, I jump for joy. My background in corporate communications means compiling presentations is a particular strength and I just love to get stuck into PowerPoint or Prezi; it’s always of my favourite jobs.
I know how to structure a presentation so it flows beautifully, engages the audience and supports the presenter to get a point across. I’ve got strong visualisation, grasp concepts quickly and usually, as soon a I get the brief, I can picture how I will bring it all together and how it will look.
No time to lose
Recently, a client asked for my help to interpret research findings into a customer presentation. Pushed for time and having travelled all week, she simply didn’t have the time to get it prepared. Because we’d worked together many times , she felt confident to hand over the project and let me work my presentation magic.
“I wondered if you might have time to spend 2-3 hours working up a presentation for me today and Monday? It’s a word document of recommendations following some fact finding for a client, and I want to put it into a nice visual format for a presentation to them on Tuesday mid-afternoon…”
Who, why and when?
I may not have prior knowledge of your sector or industry but I’ll always research the topic area. What I first need to know who the presentation is for, the outcome you want and when you need it by.
Then, I ask about the format. For example, will you show the presentation on a wide-screen 16:9? How large is the screen? The size of the room, auditorium, audience and if the presentation is to be printed?
Unless there’s a preferred template, my clients tend to leave the design up to me; trusting my judgement that comes with many years’ experience creating presentations. I definitely prefer to design something unique for my clients rather than the built-in Microsoft templates.
Let’s get this presentation started
With the document printed, cup of tea poured and highlighter pen at the ready, I read everything thoroughly from start to finish to understand the concept and can draw out the relevant points.
I believe slides are there to support the presenter, not the other way around. I prefer not to clutter slides with too much meaningless text or pointless visuals. The images you use must emphasise the point being made, should not detract from the speaker and convey the appropriate sentiment. Nothing’s worse than a cartoon when you’re talking about a serious or emotive topic.
The power of three
Do you know about the power of three? it’s the basis of story-telling and I use it multiple times within my presentations. Often, it’s so subtle; you wouldn’t know. One way to think about it is the beginning, middle and end, but using more sections of three within the presentation will help the content flow. Essentially it boils down to: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you just told them.
The end result
This client’s presentation took around three hours to complete and was structured like this:
• Introduction –Why they’re here, what this is about or the problem we’re about to solve
• Principles – The purpose, aims, and what’s in, or out of scope.
• Research – How we went about finding out and who was involved
• Findings – Broken down into 5 sections, each covering 3 main points
• Recommendations – again 5 sections addressing the main points
• Implementation – How will we do this project and what could get in the way.
• Timing – When could it start
• Budget – How much it will cost
• Next – What needs to happen next
What I was gave my client was not just a presentation to edit, polish and add her own stamp on but more importantly, some valuable time back, some head space over the weekend and a head start for her working week.
If you would like to make my day; ask me to create your presentation.