Procrastination is human nature. Presentation slide decks are ambitiously started weeks before the conference, and then finished in a panic days or hours before they are due. Walking up to the podium, the speaker shudders as the lights dim and the first slide comes up, thinking “oh well, I did the best I could”.
Laser Pointer, a medical/dental presentation design firm, hears this all the time. Just last week, a doctor called and said his presentation was tomorrow. He said, “So once I’ve gotten through that, can I send it over for a makeover?” The truth is, improvements can be made incrementally given an hour, a day or a week!
In this particular case, the titles of each slide were in different font sizes and colors, the telltale sign that these slides had been mixed together from various presentations. Image sizes were also varied and placed inconsistently throughout the deck. One hour spent tidying these up would have provided the audience a distraction-free visual experience.
Here is a tip: The easiest and quickest way to salvage a presentation is to make every image the full size of the screen. Reduce the text down to 5-6 words per slide and use a large font (48-60 point). This may mean creating many more slides, or selecting a declarative statement that captures the essence of the detail originally written on the slide. Finally, move all the detailed bullets into the notes section and use a presenter’s split screen as a prompt for speaking to that detail.
With a bit more time, Laser Pointer recommends building in compelling visuals that give a sense of storytelling and “what’s in it for me” elements that are essential to adult learning. Before starting any presentation, whether it is a new topic or customizing an existing slide deck, the speaker needs to put themselves in the audience’s seats and imagine the ONE THING they are hoping to walk away with. The cocktail napkin on the airplane is sufficient space to draw up a quick written outline. From there, PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi are all just tools that can be used to help capture the imaginations of the audience as the speaker shares the gift of the ONE THING.
If the procrastination bug has bitten, and panic is setting in, Laser Pointer wants every client to face their audience with pride, so they offer an initial consultation and a few sample slides for free. This ensures that the presentation designer is on the right track and the speaker is on board with the creative direction.