Four Must-Haves to Make Your Next Presentation The Best Ever
Your core presentation is likely your selling and storytelling go-to. But is it working as hard as it should?
Just for grins, let’s take a look inside that folder on your desktop labeled something like “Presentations Final.” No deck shaming here. This is a safe space to talk about how to build better presentations.
Core Deck Final
Core Deck Final FINAL
Core Deck Final Initech
Core Deck Final Initech RBG
Core Deck Final Initech RBG v2
Core Deck Final Initech RBG WTF*
Looks familiar, doesn’t it?
A core presentation is, in theory, a fantastic idea. Properly executed a core deck is a grab-and-go, concise telling of your company’s story. Everyone has the right tool to use to present a quick, accurate, and exciting look at your company, service, product or idea.
But in order to be successful, your core presentation needs to meet these four measures.
- Concise — Easily readable, one thought per slide, with great visuals to do most of the heavy lifting
- Consistent — Visually and verbally polished
- Current — fully up to date in facts and figures
- Correct — everyone who uses the core deck knows it’s the right one.
Successful core presentations don’t just happen. They’ve got to be nurtured. With the right tools and the right approach to storytelling, your core presentation can hit on all four Cs. Let’s take a look at how.
Ideally, when you’re in the room presenting, your prospect will be looking at one of two things—you or the screen. But if you’re staring up at the screen, reading every slide word for word, you’re missing the opportunity for the real face-to-face time you were after when you set the meeting.
Getting sucked into reading your slides is a common problem, typically arising from overloading the slides with copy. But your core deck should be the story you know by heart.
Too, your core slideshow should be using visuals to help tell your story. Involve your designer (or hire one) to work with you and identify point in your existing deck where 50 words of copy could be replaced with 1 well-designed graphic and a 5-word headline.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Re-work the presentation based on the principles we laid out in How to Build a Better Presentation. Then practice. A lot. Steve Jobs was legendary for his pre-Keynote prep. One TEDTalker claimed she delivered her 18-minute talk 200 times over three months. How much should you practice?
Only you can answer that. But a good goal could be “until I could make the presentation standing in the hallway with no visuals.” It’s a big goal, but reach it and you’ll never have to sweat having your meeting tech fail again.
Over time, core presentations are subject to content creep. Little variations creep in. Font differences. Numbers shift from numerals to their spelled-out forms. Indents and margins get wonky.
- Some sub-bullets are fully written and punctuated.
- Others abbreviated
In more obvious cases, the inconsistencies are enormous. You may have a bullet or two about your company’s factory-based QC program only to find out the factory had been sold in the past week but no one told you and the pitch happens in 5 minutes. Large or small, inconsistencies show, and can range in impact from the slightly annoying to the catastrophically wrong.
HOW TO GET THERE:
First off, review your deck over and over to root out these differences. Get new eyes on it from outside your department. Once you think it’s solid, you might even consider offering a bounty … some sort of recognition or (better yet) reward for the eagle-eyed persnickety punctuator who can find a misplaced comma or other error.
Then work with a designer or presentation whiz to establish a fairly granular style guide that speaks to how you’ll handle punctuation, typefaces, standardized indents and bullets, color choices and just about every other aspect of your slideshow.
While consistency is key to a successful core deck, one size never fits all when making a presentation. To ensure that the deck you’re presenting is as current as it can be, someone must take ownership of the deck. You need to make an assignment.
HOW TO GET THERE:
While it may have taken a village to write, review and approve your core deck, when it comes to ownership and upkeep, someone has to be named your Highlander. There can be only one. One person charged with keeping the facts and figures updated. Make it a part of their job description. Maybe even get them a special crown. It’s that important.
Once it’s written and approved, your core deck needs to have its Edit permissions limited in who can make changes to it. That’s not to say that only The Keeper of The Core Deck may touch the deck. Instead, keeping the number of people who can introduce changes to the document should be limited. Too many cooks spoil the deck, too.
So having done everything else to get your core deck written reviewed, and under the loving care of a Keeper, presenting the correct deck every time becomes much easier.
Instead of endless copying your core deck over and over, consider a “central library” approach to using your presentation. This library approach is built around centralized storage, publication and management of the individual slides within the core presentation itself.
Ecos uses this library approach to creating presentations. When a core presentation is needed for Client X, the presenter creates a new slideshow called, say, “Core Presentation – Client X.”
Then within Ecos’s Library, the presenter drags slides from the Core Presentation folder into their new slide show. Additional slides can be added to the meeting with Client X that follow the visual and editorial guidelines established in the Core Presentation itself.
“Core Presentation – Client X” gets saved, presented, and with it, you close the deal. Great job!
But what happens when something changes at the last minute within the Core Presentation itself? Because Ecos is cloud-based, changes made to a given slide can also be reflected in the presentation you just created. Which largely eliminates abandoned decks of questionable value sitting on someone’s laptop, just waiting to accidentally get sent.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Just knowing that you need to rethink your approach to your core presentation is half the battle. It’s how you got here, right? So get in touch with Ecos to learn more about building and using better, more consistent, more powerful core decks.