How to Build a Presentation Deck that Slays
Real talk; not many of us like presenting in front of a group of people.
Most of us have had that moment. The moment right before you click the “share screen” button. Where all your hard work is culminating in a single click of a button, launching the screen that will either make your project remarkable, or insignificant. This is the make-it or break-it moment.
- Did I research enough?
- Is it possible to research too much?
- Are my slides in the same order I left them, or did they magically rearrange overnight?
- Will the story I wanted to tell be conveyed to the audience?
- Is my laptop battery charged?
Whether you are a seasoned presenter or it’s your first time, most of us can relate to this scenario.
I can’t help you with your dying laptop battery; however, my suggestions can help reduce or eliminate the rework that often accompanies lack of structure and help you feel prepared and confident in your presentation.
Before I begin, it’s worth saying that not all of the below will apply to every presentation, BUT most will. No matter how big or small your presentation is, or if you’re presenting to 2 people or 2,000, remember that structure saves, and the process is Queen.
Start with a Thesis
Who else has gotten lost in the endless deckbuilding exercise where it’s been months of work, hundreds of hours of tinkering only to ask yourself, “what’s the point of this deck again?” It’s easy to get lost in the details when building a deck, and easier for your audience to get lost while you are presenting it. To stay focused, I recommend making your first slide the summary and thesis of the presentation and refer back to it often.
Build your story points & narrative
It’s always a good exercise to set up the flow of the deck before you even start building slides. It will help you stay on topic and, most importantly, ensure you cover everything. You never want to do is wrap up our presentation with an “Oh yea, I forgot to mention…” You also don’t want to spend half the time covering stuff that really doesn’t need to be said or could be consolidated to just a few words.
Understand your audience
I am less interested in the pay grade of your audience and more about how they consume information. Are you presenting to a super technical person who will pull out her calculator and fact check your math? Or is your audience more interested in your story, and will they quickly lose interest if your slides are colorless and your story isn’t captivating? This is where I think most presentations are won or lost.
- If they are visual people, use design, colors, and visuals to tell your story—this could be beautiful graphs, images, animations, GIFs, memes, etc. Design Ideas is a tool within PowerPoint to add design elements (but don’t go overboard with the design, data never lies).
- If your audience is analytical, data-driven, and number crunchers, ditch the visuals and focus on the data that will make your points inarguable, and don’t forget to triple check your math.
Using this structure and process will help minimize the butterflies and, most importantly, eliminate the dread of presenting. So, go forth with my suggestions and slay your presentation.