This 7 Point Checklist for Planning your PowerPoint can help save you from hours of rework and embarrassment.
Creating PowerPoint presentations with Graphics, Video and Text can be creatively alluring…and easier than ever to dive in and get started. But like the speedy rabbit darts ahead of the tortoise, ultimately, the slow yet wise tortoise emerges the victor.
Early on, it’s important to know what your end-presentation venue will look like. Take some time to visit the location of the presentation, or if you’re a speaker, get the details of the meeting room and presentation hardware from the meeting planner or AV team. This will help you to plan ahead and answer these checklist questions, ultimately translating to a smarter, more prepared presentation.
1. Time Manage Your Presentation
Address all graphical and technical aspects of developing the presentation by using this 7 step presentation Time Management approach. <Full Article>
Step 1: Set key goals/objectives, know your audiences’ goals and interests.
Step 2: Establish an overall graphical look and feel and draft a and high-level outline with key sections. Create a storyboard.
Step 3: Get Creative: Shop & tag relevant images for ideas and inspiration.
Step 4: Forge a first draft with key graphics and messages. Give an impromptu test-run- perhaps with colleagues- to see if the presentation flows.
Step 5: Deep-dive on the presentation with research, supporting text/messages and relevant imagery.
Step 6: Practice aloud to get comfortable with your presentation, and make any fine-tune edits. Print out any drafts/supporting material.
Step 7: Get a good night’s sleep, eat well in the morning, and be bold and confident that you’ll ready and successful.
2. Screen Size and Aspect Ratio
Early on, it’s important that you see (or at least know about ) the room and screen where you’ll be showing your presentation.
If your showing the presentation in a on a small screen or laptop, makes sure the minimal size of your visuals can be seen and read by everyone in the room. Remember, if you can’t see it, there’s no point to showing it.
Just as important, make sure your slide aspect ratio – the proportionbetween the width and the height – matches the screen and projector’s or screen’s standard output. The most common aspect ratios are Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9). Most newer conference rooms are implementing HDTVs or widescreen projectors using 16:9. But it’s best to be sure. Sometimes, I’ll encourage my clients to create two versions of their presentations in both 4:3 and 16:9 to avoid any headaches.
3. Operating System, PPT Version, and Connections
By ensuring your presentation will be played on the same end operating system (Mac or PC) and PowerPoint version that it was created (PPT 07/2010/13, etc.), you can avoid last minute trauma and troubles. Though similar, a presentation created in PowerPoint 2007 for PC may display differently in PowerPoint 2013 for Mac. And if your presentation has embedded or linked media, take the time to test that it plays smoothly on the output computer.
If you’re playing the presentation from your own laptop, ensure their cables are compatible with your system…and arrive early to setup and test.
4. Themes, Templates, Layouts + Chart & Table Templates
PowerPoint is much more than just a blank page to write text and insert graphics. Themes, Templates and Layouts help add structure and intelligence while ensuring presentation consistency. Most of the time, companies will have a basic approved corporate PowerPoint Theme/Template (.potx file). These files contain predefined colors, title/body fonts, animations, and layouts. Unfortunately, these PowerPoint templates are often fairly limited, and not well structured, and can limit creative development. If you can, it’s helpful to adapt and modify these elements to meet your specific needs.
When starting a presentation, take the time to know your Theme and pre-existing Layout slides. If you’ll be replicating a specific page formatting/layout often, create a custom layout of your own. (Duplicate, rename).
Do you have preferences for a certain chart type? A certain table type? Tables and Charts can have preset styles (templates) that once defined, can shave hours off intricate design work. Just click to apply your pre-defined chart (or table) template to any existing chart or table.
Predefining and knowing these features can help you create a professional presentation with greater consistency and efficiency.
5. Look and Feel
Although the theme, templates and layouts work maintain a standard look and feel, it’s up to you to work to stay within- or deviate outside- those creative boundaries. More often, it’s vital to maintain respect to the company branding and styles. Some companies have a Visual Style Manual that goes into detail about all placement, logo, and color issues. If you’re presenting at a conference or conventions, organizers often place restrictions on what you can- and cannot use in your presentations. Better to know what’s expected ahead of time than be blasted by the branding police for being too deviant.
Still, it’s important to consider what the overall look and feel of your presentation will be…and whether it’ll be more reflective of you or your company. Will it be light or dark? Colorful or monochromatic? Will the animations and transitions be wild or tame? Establish the standards of your presentation’s look and feel with an early sign-off by management, and you’ll avoid any last-minute entanglements.
6. File Size and Distribution
Early-on, it’s important to be aware of any technical limits of your network or email.
If you’re working on a 200-page data-heavy PowerPoint, it can get snarled by a network or be rejected by email! Ensuring your presentation is small enough to be transferred over the network or by email is critical to avoid any late production problems. Consider a file-sharing service to exchange files; Dropbox and GoogleDrive are easy and commonplace. If the file is still too large, split it into two separate logically-named files (part-1.pptx and part-2.pptx). Plan ahead and be ready to meet your deadlines.
7. Presentation Resources
Like a movie director, producing a PowerPoint presentation takes planning and preparation. Don’t try to do it all yourself.. Presentation resources can be anything from a stock photo website, to a presentation design agency, to a colleague providing input and analysis. Make sure they’re ready and you can use them to make your presentation great. By having presentation resources ready to assist you in creating or delivering your PowerPoint, you’ll be more confident, prepared, and ready to present like a pro!
Even before the first slide is created on your next presentation, applying a presentation checklist will help you reduce rework and troubles, while keeping a clear line of communications and expectations…helping everyone to look like a presentation expert.
Geetesh Bajaj contributed to this article.
Enthusiastic trainer calls experience “out of this world.”
A NASA contractor recently engaged The Presentation Team to conduct an Advanced PowerPoint Training program. Presentation consultant Kevin Lerner spent two days working with an employee to sharpen PowerPoint skills and presentation development techniques.
The two-day training program was conducted at NASA’s headquarters in downtown Washington, DC in late June 2014.
Presentation Team president and trainer Kevin Lerner called the experience, “out of this world.”
“Simply being at the headquarters of the nation’s space program was exciting enough. But helping to improve the quality of their presentations was an honor,” explained Lerner who confessed that there’s little chance that any of his presentations or work will make it beyond the beltway.
The client said that the training had an immediate impact on the speed and quality of their presentations, adding that the training was focused and customized.
Lerner says he’s hopeful that the PowerPoint training engagment will be the first of many with NASA and other agencies, while his firm continues on its global mission to provide superior presentation services.
Dating guru Evan Marc Katz hires The Presentation Team to create a dynamic 150 page webinar presentation to launch his new dating program, Love U.
150-page presentation developed in 7 days; re-worked from previous design agency.
When Evan Marc Katz called, he was in a panic. “My webinar is in less than a week and the PowerPoint is awful.”
Yes it was. “This is not me!” he insisted. His presentation- created by a low-cost overseas design agency- was littered with formatting inconsistencies, low-resolution clip art, and over 400-pages of bland bullets and spelling errors. I reviewed his website, asked a few clarifying questions, pitched an agreeable price, and got to work on creating a fresh presentation focused on helping him launch his new Love U web-based dating service.
Evan Marc Katz is a modern-day pricing charming, helping deliver dream-men to women through sage advice, inspirational messages, and modern-day magic. With a long-list of recommendations, accolades, and online following, his track record and reputation is respected in the dating circles. But these days, Katz is in high demand. So he worked with colleagues over the past year to create Love U, a self-paced romance/dating training system. Katz promises that- if followed- Love U will help deliver the “man of your dreams.”
Design to match the brand with a fresh, friendly, and warm image
Katz is proud and protective of his brand. Before starting the presentation, we created a template reflective of his image, including fonts, colors, and graphical elements all used in his existing marketing material. In addition to sharing screen shots of his colorful Love U website, we designed the presentation to display data through a series of techniques:
- Healthy white space between bullets and objects; at least 1″ margins on left and right.
- Where possible, words and companies replaced with icons and logos.
- Freestanding elements integrated into rectangles for unity and visualized grouping.
- Hair-thin skinny lines replaced with heavier lines for visual prominence.
- Section slides added to create improved flow and comprehension to message.
The 10 colors of the template Theme included 4 shades of purple (light to dark), plus the 3 colors of Love U’s logo; teal, white, and black. It may seem limited, but the colors created unity and consistency through the presentation.
The background was a light-to-medium-light-grey texture to give depth and dimension from the original flat-white background.
And the fonts were defined in the Slide Theme as Oswald (for Headings) and Open Sans (for body). These fonts projected a level of conservative strength, level of unique freshness, and effectiveness for easy viewing in webinars.
Reduced text + screen shots for supporting information.
Like most great presenters, Katz knew that he is the start of his presentation…not his PowerPoint. So we worked to reduce the text-heavy bullets, and emphasize key words of action and benefits. His first live presentation had several hundred atendees. After the second live webcast presentation, Katz recorded the 60-minute program for on-demand playback.
A Call to Action
Like most great sales pros, Evan wastes no time in asking for the order. A good portion of the presentation was spent showcasing the benefits of his Love U program, as well as encouraging participants to take action.
Evan Marc Katz’ Love U presentation is a case study in balancing creative presentation design and clear content with efficient development. Time and costs were controlled, but everyone worked efficiently within the scope to meet the needs and create a dynamic presentation…that’s online now and helping women to find true love.
Strategies for keeping time and costs down and working more efficiently on PowerPoint presentations. Great for freelancers and outside agencies.
If you’re concerned that your presentation will take too much time or energy to create, here are some strategies for keeping time and costs contained and working more efficiently.
Often a designer or presentation design firm will be open to price negotiation, especially on a new project in order to win your business.
Aim to work toward a middle-ground that’s fair to your budget, yet respectful of the designer’s time and outside costs.
Some designers will even work on traded services. It’s rare that I do this, but several years ago, I designed a narrated video and PowerPoint presentation for a cruise affiliate. My compensation: A free cruise for two to Alaska.
#2: Do some of the work in-house or on your own.
By doing the initial layout or first draft of the presentation, you can save a lot of time and money on revisions or edits with a Presentation Designer.
Or, if you’re stuck, call the presentation designer for some ideas and strategies. Some of the more experienced presentation experts can listen your goals, and within a few minutes have several inspiring ideas for you to run with.
After you have the core concepts and outline, then turn to the presentation specialists to assist with the complex graphics, template, and hard-stuff.
Updating or redesigning a basic presentation is much more cost effective than hiring someone to do it all from the start.
#3: Build a library of presentation visuals and stock images.
There’s no need to design that chart again. Chances are, you’ve done something like it before.
Where relevant, you can copy and paste and just update the info.
And just because you used that icon or graphic in another presentation, doesn’t mean you can’t use it again.
Share your work- or work that you’ve seen and would like to emulate- with your presentation designers.
#4: Be clear in your communications.
Many presentation projects take extra time because the scope of the project changes.
Do your best to explain- or document – what you need, from the beginning to avoid costly edits and “Scope Creep.“
Ask your presentation professional if the information you’re sharing is making sense. Have him/her echo your concept and strategy. On big projects, a project workplan created by your presentation designer is a good way to ensure a clearly-understood gameplan.
Be a good manager, but not a control queen.
Working together with your presentation specialist can be the most efficient way to produce a presentation.
Your presentation specialist may provide ideas and insight to make your presentation even better and refined.
Also, revisions made on-the-fly (in-person or via WebEx conference call) are much faster than writing and emailing notes.
Why professional PowerPoint presentation design costs what it costs…and how to justify the expense by focusing on your Return on Investment.
Sometime around 400 B.C. the Greek physician Hippocrates declared, “Art is Long…Life is Short.”1
Nearly 2,500 years later, the aphorism still resonates to anyone who is committed to their craft, spending countless hours passionately practicing their profession. Michelangelo toiled for four years painting the famous Sistine Chapel ceiling. J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter over seven years. And the New World Trade Center will be completed 12 years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 (although construction on the New Freedom Tower started in 2006).
Yes, Mr. Client, it really does take time!
As a presentation design professional and trainer, I am keenly aware of the time and related costs involved in creating professional PowerPoint presentations. I work efficiently- not hastily- always aware of deadlines and budgets, and work to calculate time and costs with a scientifically-grounded formula built upon years of experience. Yet when I share my price estimates with business prospects and clients, they are sometimes surprised and struck with sticker shock.
Time…Money…Quality: Keeping it all balanced
A colleague once asked me, “How would you like it? Fast…cheap…or good? Pick two.”
The presentation process parallels the creative design process, but with the added component of writing, editing, and assimilating textual content & key messages. To most people, PowerPoint is one of the fastest and easiest programs; most anybody can work with it to create a sipmle presentation. But using this powerful presentation program properly takes a rare blend of time, testing, and years of focused experience.
Creating a high-end graphical presentation can be a time-intensive task. Sometimes the creative juices just flow perfectly and it comes together fast and bright. Other times, it can be a black hole of wasted time, endless edits, and mind-numbing wheel-spinning. Working among others- presentation by committee- can be even more laborious, as people spend more time “talking about it” rather than “acting on it.” Applying effective Presentation Time Management techniques can help produce quality presentations on time and within budget.
Let’s estimate the time for creating a simple 30 page company overview presentation…
|Researching/Writing/Creating the Core Text Content
|Designing the Graphical Template & Theme + Layouts & Animations
|Researching/Purchasing/Designing 10 Graphics working with Photoshop + inserting in PPT
|Designing/Editing 5 Tables & 3 charts of Financial Information & Analytics
|Company Org Charts and Process Diagrams
Working from scratch, this project would take 40 hours! And that’s assuming everything came together fast and easy. At $100/hour, the cost would be $4,000.
Even at a race pace of 45 minutes average per slide (some faster/some slower), this 30 page deck would take 22.5 hours…or $2,250.
Heck…simply spending 1 minute per page reviewing and looking at this 30 pager will take half-an-hour.
Typical fees for a presentation designer & agency
According to HR specialists, the average hourly pay rate for an experienced presentation designer or freelancer (skilled in Photoshop, business presentation writing/editing), is $50 to $75 per hour. Junior designers work at $30 to $50 per hour.
Creative staffing agencies like Aquent and Creative Circle often bill-out their clients at $70/hour to $100/hour.
Most presentation design agencies prefer to bill by the project, but calculate their costs using hourly rates starting at $100/hour. Some agencies’ top designers or consultants are billed at a rate of over $250/hour. Presentation design agencies often have the advantage of a pool of experienced talent, and large graphics libraries for fore efficient and creative design.
The Presentation Team has several pricing models. Companies wanting ongoing presentation support use a retained-services / contractual working model to save costs.
Justifying the costs and selling the presentation ROI to management
“Why do we need to pay this much for a PowerPoint presentation?”
That question- typically asked by upper management to a middle manager- has killed numerous potential presentation projects at my firm. Senior executives often don’t realize the time involved in creating presentations. They are either too detached from the behind-the-scenes development of presentations…or simply don’t recognize the importance of a quality presentation.
Not just another document, PowerPoint is on the frontline of business communications
To many executives, “The Presentation” deck is viewed as just another document or report. But presentation visuals are often seen by more people- internally and externally- than the average report. From quarterly stock earnings reports, to training presentations, to investor pitch decks…the PowerPoint presentation is often on the front-line of corporate communications.
Poor PowerPoint practices are everywhere!
Yet all too often, the development of these essential presentations are handled internally by administrative assistants or the employee directly. The result: a mosh pit of tremendous text, boatloads of bullets, gregarious graphs, and irrelevant information. Weak presentations subconsciously affect a viewer’s perception of a company. Presentations should reflect the highest standards of any company.
Top companies recognize the importance of “The Presentation”
Indeed, companies who have recognized the importance of “The Presentation” and its reflection on their brand and image (not to mention its effectiveness as a critical communications medium) have a solid edge over their competition. Many Fortune 500 firms have a dedicated presentation design department, often working alongside the marketing, PR, and/or meeting & events departments. They often have established guidelines for their presentation visuals (usage, colors, spacing, fonts, etc.) and a well-developed presentation template/theme.
Emphasize Value for Buy-In from Upper Management
To a presentation project champion or manager trying to sell the value of a professional presentation to management, its vital to emphasize the value that a well-written and well-designed presentation can have on the company’s image. A $10K investment in a professionally-designed analyst or investor presentation is a small price to pay for a communications tool that will generate exponentially higher revenue.
And even if the presentation never gets shown to an outside audience, its design should be no-less compelling. Often, the content that is created for a small internal “discussion presentation” can be repurposed for a more important company presentation.
Outsourcing can save time and money
Outsourcing a PowerPoint presentation to a professional presentation design firm can actually help companies save time and money, by allowing them to focus on their core competencies rather than relying on internal resources. Marketing experts and graphics designers- skilled as they might be- often do not have the same skillsets and as an experienced presentation specialist.
Presentations have a long life span!
Many presentations live-on, long after the show is over. More companies are uploading their key presentations to their websites, or sharing them on SlideShare.net. Indeed, The Presentation is more visible than ever, and should be given the same level of respect and budget as Sales & Marketing collateral, brochures, websites, and corporate videos.
Presentation development is a blend of art and science
If the good doctor Hippocrates was around today and tasked to deliver a PowerPoint presentation at a local college, I’m sure he would recognize the artistry and time involved…and wouldn’t think twice about partnering and paying for a true presentation professional to get the job done right. Art is long.