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.
If you knew that spending just one additional hour to work on your PowerPoint presentation would help you win a $1M account,would you invest the time to make it shine?
Everyone loves good visuals. Extraordinary visuals get noticed…and remembered. Presentation software has made it easier than ever to tell a story and communicate key concepts…but far too often people still saddle their slides with text-heavy bullet points, and flat boring backgrounds.
The next time you’re called on to present, consider these 4 Tips on The Value of Extraordinary Visuals.
1. Graphics Get Noticed and Remembered
Presentations with extraordinary visuals help audiences to understand and comprehend your message. Comprehension leads to connection…which leads to success. Whether it’s a brief company overview, a training presentation, or a quarterly update to company shareholders, the presentation with the extraordinary graphics will stand out and get noticed. Presentations with extraordinary visuals can have a direct and measurable impact on sales and revenue. Boring bullets and technical diagrams create a barrier between presenters and their audiences. Slides with images help presenters get noticed and remembered. By investing the time to make a presentation shine, you’ll gain a greater connection with your audience, delivering a greater meaning in your message. Some ideas:
- An inspirational graphics from a stock photo library.
- One thematic concept image that supports the key message.
- A cartoon to add humor or levity to the topic
- A quotation or introspective insight to support your message.
The graphic can be full screen, or off to the side, with your bullet points balanced to the other sie. When creating your presentation, stay focused on your core message and aim to find a graphic or example that’s simple, concise, and memorable…that supports and enhances the core message.
2. Graphics Build your Brand and Help You Look Your Best
Most companies spend millions of dollars on their marketing and branding. But when it comes to “the presentation”, executives often fail to acknowledge the vital link that the presentation plays in supporting the company brand. All too often I’ve seen company executives spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising…but then tackle the presentation themselves or let an unskilled amateur tackle it. Crazy and creative templates, wild animation, fonts and messages that distract and detract, reinventing and distorting the company brand. The next time you have to give a presentation, make sure the presentation supports your company brand…it should all tie-together and look seamless, consistent and professional. Indeed, looking good is what most presentation visuals are all about! Consciously or subconsciously, good graphics send a message of prestige and professionalism, helping to bolster brands, drive revenue, and build great companies.
3. Connect and Retain
People remember 20% of what they hear, and 30% of what they see, but 50% of what they hear and see. Good visuals get noticed…and remembered. The bullets and specific talking points may fade from your audiences’ memory, but visuals stick. If your presentation is beautiful, people will remember. And if it’s ugly …it’ll also be remembered, but not in the way you want! If you want people to remember you, make a great visual. Take the time…look at it from the eyes of the audience, and aim to make it clean, consistent, and with quality.
4. Getting Your Ovation
Presenters strive for recognition, praise and ovation. Getting an ovation requires a delicate balance ofmessage, delivery, and presentation. When these three elements are in harmony, the accolades and ovations will shine upon us. The goal of a finding graphics for your presentation should be more than just making it look good or finding a “good looking graphic.” In the larger picture, investing the time to find the perfect picture or creating extraordinary visuals can translate to a major return…
- An illustration that simply and succinctly explains your business process- rather than a diffused and messy text-heavy graphic- can help a client or business partner gain more confidence in you, and help close a deal.
- One photo to stir the souls of your audience and support your core message, helping to gain confidence in you as business leader or speaker, creating additional revenue opportunities.
- Or one stunning template that supports your company brand and make you look like a million dollar speaker, and translate to greater marketability and professionalism.
Extraordinary visuals can translate to extraordinary results…and investing the time and money in creating a powerful presentation can translate to significant gains and successes. So the next time you’re called on to create a presentation, consider the value of an extraordinary visual. Turn to a colleague for insights, search online for graphics/examples, or connect with a presentation professional for insights and strategies. Your time, efforts, and recognition of the value of visuals is certain to generate a maximum return on your Return On Presentation Investment (ROPI), in new business, revenue, and recognition.
How a new approach to presentations could spur economic growth
The economy is hurting. And all around the world, companies are cutting corners to cut costs. And cutbacks on the design of professional presentations are indirectly affecting the bottom line, as companies tackle the writing, design, and delivery of these vital communications tools in-house. But during these trying times companies should be increasing – not decreasing – their investments in professional presentations. If companies around the world recognized the importance and ROI of a professional presentation, we could have a well-needed shot in the arm to the global economy.
Presentation Design for the everyman
For many years, presentation design was the domain of an elite group of audio-visual marketing designers. But with the release of PowerPoint 2007, everyone was able to create sophisticated graphics with ease. SmartArt, multiple masters, and a host of other features made it simple and fast for anyone to create great-looking slides. Secretaries were now tasked with the design of the average office PowerPoint presentation. And many mid-level managers are forced to handle the development of the presentation themselves. And because PowerPoint is woven into the psyche of every educated person since the earliest days of school, most executives are comfortable with the application these days to help communicate their key concepts. But knowing how to use PowerPoint, and knowing the art and science of presentation visuals are not the same. Just as easily as PowerPoint has helped people to make good slides, it’s just as easy to make bad-looking slides too, explains Geetesh Bajaj of the website Indezine.com. “It’s easy to create great slides in PowerPoint; it is easier to create bad slides, especially if you do not have some design training.”
Many corporate PowerPoint presentations are designed by someone with a general knowledge of PowerPoint, and with minimal experience of presentation design or delivery. Consequently, these presentations often have diluted messages, or a home-made appearance, that detract from the professionalism of the company brand or image.
Corporations must recognize the importance of The Presentation. Firms frequently spend millions of dollars on marketing and branding, but handle their presentations in-house. Consequently, the visuals don’t reflect the true professionalism of a company, and weaken the marketing and sales efforts for front-line sales reps, who all-too-often are called on to create their own presentations.
By investing in presentation training for their in-house team, or hiring outside presentation designers for key projects, companies can achieve a world-class presentation design with a focused message…while keeping the economy moving.
Bare Bones: Cutting back on professional presentations
In the past few years, presentations have taken a more relaxed and informal style. As dress codes have relaxed in workplaces, so has the formality of the presentation. There’s less emphasis on glitz and glamour, and a greater focus on just the message. It’s easier than ever to find free and basic PowerPoint templates online. But these economical templates often lack the graphical sophistication and subtle nuances that more professional packages offer. Gary White, president of PresentationPro, an Atlanta-based company specializing in presentation designs and templates says his sales are down, as consumers seek cheaper ways to present their information. Ultimately, he says, “this is diluting the professionalism of the presentation and hurting the U.S. economy.”
In many corporate meeting rooms, there’s been a shift from elite and chic to average and acceptable. Presentation design and artistry is not as important anymore. People don’t seem to care as much if a white screen with 10 bullet points are on screen.
Presentations are often viewed as discussion documents, rather than a visual tool to tell a story. Most people want something grand and glorious, but ultimately, they feel more comfortable cramming gobs of bullets, text, and graphics onto a page.
If companies want a true ROI on their marketing and presentation efforts, they should invest the time and money to contract with a true presentation expert, or create a position in-house for a presentation specialist.
A new approach to presentations will boost the global economy
This economic downturn has translated to a reduction in professional PowerPoint designs and contracting with outside agencies. But during this time of financial challenges, companies should be exubrarent about their presentations. Everyone should be presenting, sharing the glories of their companies and initiatives! The “presentation” should be creative portals to our brains and ideas….as we capitalize on all the modern technology; graphics, video, webcasts, and social medial connections the modern world offers.
A company talking by phone to a prospect about their services is adequate. Integrating a web-based presentation or remote presentation tool could give them a competitive advantage. So many companies are still using the web in a two-dimensional style. Creating surveys for feedback, full screen graphics, animated text, can all set them apart from others…translating to a greater positioning as the industry expert…and driving traffic and sales.
By looking at the big picture of the power of a presentation, a company can gain a competetive advantage and boost in their sales. And if all companies revisited their presentation marketing strategy there would be a solid return on investment, that could jumpstart our economy, putting all players back on the path for greatness.
It’s easy to create great slides in PowerPoint; it is easier to create bad slides, especially if you do not have some design training.