Ready to inspire the audience at pitch competitions? Perhaps you’re presenting a business at an event? Maybe you’re simply looking to host a meaningful meeting this week? Let’s explore translating your transmission with sharp slide deck design.

Before we dive in, why are slides even needed? Building a slide deck supports your key points while also establishing the tone and cadence of your performance. One development approach is to plan what will be said, and then wrap slides around that narrative. An alternate approach is to build the slide deck, which helps synthesize your storytelling. I personally find that the process of building a slide deck helps me lock in the story.

No matter how you find your flow, allow clean visuals to support your verbal queues and learn how to share your story in a natural way. The goal is to deliver the most lasting impact in the least amount of time. Honest passion, transparent vulnerability, and concise simplicity are great ways to accomplish this.

Extra Shot

Pitches are built to impress. Presentations are mean to share.

No matter the environment, a clean slide deck is always a good place to start. This is the visualization of your story. Slide decks should create flow while supporting your verbal presentation. They must concisely highlight key aspects of your business. Slides also help address any specific criteria of the environment it’s being used at, such as pitch competitions or other business presentations. Slides should not include full sentences or bullet points for you to read aloud. If the audience is asked to read the slide, they’re unable to pay attention to what you’re actually saying. Titles or short phrases may help guide the audience, but great slide decks use very few words.

With a foundation of strong imagery, make your presentation stand out. This does not mean a bunch of distracting transitions. Keep transitions between each slide simple, but consider how content comes and goes on each slide. Subtle animations and thoughtful hints of movement on each slide will keep your audience captivated. With a striking slide deck in place, practice what you plan to say and sync the narrative to the timing of each slide.

Extra Shot

Think deeply about the specific environment, your audience, and various objectives to craft the most compelling experience. When a message resonates, attendees express interest through questions, introductions, and future engagement.

Being prepared is obviously important when all eyes are on you. Whether you use animated content or not, it’s best to have a single click to move between each slide. As you speak, your attention should be on connecting with the audience, not the slide deck or the handheld clicker. My suggestion is to memorize the flow and order of your slides, but not exactly what you plan to say. The sentiment of your pitch should remain consistent, but it won’t sound the same each time. Memorizing a talk word-for-word is safe for some, but a more genuine tone comes from the heart.

Are questions allowed? If so, include supportive back slides. Back slides live behind the final slide. They are used to highlight material not included in the main presentation. Handy back slides include detailed pricing, competitive analysis, marketing strategies, research data, and intricate financial information. The optional, but available coverage back slides provide make them well worth the time to prepare. People who understand what they’re talking about can use fewer words, and back slides allow you to deliver a strategically simplified presentation. For the audience, this reduces the numbing effect of information overload. With back slides in place, you can indulge in clarifying conciseness. This makes for a more impactful tone. It can even be good to purposefully leave out a curious topic from the main presentation. When the inevitable question pops, you can use the sneaky back slide to share a more focused response. Memorize the order of your back slides and you’ll soon be leading a smooth, more authoritative exchange. In short, back slides prove you’re a pro.

To complete a slide deck build, export all the slides into one PDF and include a JPG image for each slide. The richest presentation will always come from the software (Apple Keynote, Microsoft Powerpoint, Google Slides, etc.) a slide deck was built from, but the PDF and JPG formats can be used as marketing materials. More important, they are quick substitutes to counter any sort of last minute technical issues. Deliver the digital assets on time and drop everything on a flash drive, just in case.

As you tell your story, take feedback seriously. Feedback from people you don’t know will sharpen the business, your slide deck design, and your presentation overall.

Extra Shot
Happy Thanksgiving!  2021 has been remarkable and I’m grateful for so many things. Along with treasured time with family and work I’ll always remember, the ability to consistently deliver these Roasted Reflections every single week is definitely an achievement I’m thankful for. I hope you’ve enjoyed these weekly ruminations and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the YDNTB audiobook this holiday season!