Monday, 26 January 2015

Episode 3: Designing the Presentation

Say No to On-the-Go Style

Very often, we start the presentation with a minimal or no planning with just the overall objective/problem statement in mind. The outcome- a lot of on the go modifications and last minute changes resulting in truck loads of extra work and re-works. 

I am not saying that all these can be completely avoided. But one thing is for sure, all these can be reduced to minimal by proper planing and framework design at the start itself. 

I keep on designing a lot of corporate presentations and over the time, I have realized and formulated a presentation design framework for myself that does help me a lot. So, here I am sharing the same with you all, eagerly looking forward to your inputs about the same.

The Central Theme

First and foremost there will always be a central theme - a problem statement for any presentation. The first target is to narrow it down to a tangible question format. What is the presentation actually trying to highlight? Is it related to an existing business problem or a business idea or a sales pitch?
One this is identified, it actually becomes a great support in identifying the presentation skeleton.
Consider a scenario - your boss asks you to prepare a presentation about the findings of a customer satisfaction survey that your company did recently.

SCENARIO I - You start in the conventional on the go mode. You start making the presentation then you realize - a particular question about after sales service has very skewed result as compared to the other questions before that. You modify the presentation to highlight the same. Then after a while you again see similar results for another question. You do the same. Then you find the overall result to be the negative. But you had started a with a preset mind that you will highlight the positives, so you either try to dig deep and find positive inferences which require extra work or you start modifying the presentation to include the unexpected (Extra Work!!! Isn't it).

SCENARIO II - You identify the central theme of the presentation. Lets just consider it to be:
"How satisfied are my customers?." Done!!! So far so good. Now what?

The Framework

So based on the above theme, you can easily chart out a draft plan. The draft plan will act as your agenda. So a simple draft plan can be:
1. Agenda - Using the draft plan
2. Introduction - Survey Details
3. The Highs
4. The Lows
5. The Anomalies
6. Recommendation
7. Conclusion

So, I have a draft plan ready with me. Next is what?

Put the Placeholders

Now all I have to do is to create empty slides with proper placeholders. For example, my slide 3 speaks of the highs. So, I create an empty slide with placeholders for tables and charts (if need may arise). Similarly, I do for other slides. Once done, I am ready for the next step.

Note: This steps helps in ensuring one important aspect - a consistent format of presentation. Otherwise, every time you insert  something, you will have to check format and then correct it appropriately (time consuming). 

Number Crunching

Now I revert back to my survey. Do the necessary number crunching and get the data ready. Once it is done, all I have to do is to fill in those details in to the proper placeholders and I am done with the first draft. 

There will for sure be some inputs, comments and re-works. But it will definitely be lesser than the usual rework that happens with the on the go presentation designs. That is for sure!!!

This is it from my side. Do let me know if you have any more tips and tricks up your sleeves!!!



  1. Hi Vishwa,

    Can you suggest me, how to present following data in chart?
    Name maths Chemistry Physics
    A Average Good Bad
    B Good Bad Good
    C Good Average Bad
    D Good Good Average

    Awaiting your help.............

    1. Hi Ani,

      For small chart like this you can create the conventional chart using Excel with Names on one axis and subjects on the other. You can assign some numeric value to the labels like Good (1), Average (0) and Bad (-1). Once the chart is made you can go on individual data labels and replace 1, 0, -1 with respective labels. Alternatively you can use available excel add ins to use for labeling like the one here

      Hope this helps!!!

    2. Thanks a lot. It really helps.