Over my career, I estimate that I made 700+ presentations. Some were executive summary or update presentations of 5-10 pages. Some were financial and operational reviews. Some were full-scale consulting engagement read-outs (e.g., 40+ pages). They were all top-shelf and required enormous time / effort / love.
Many of them were also for other people. What? Yes, as a consultant, as a strategic planner, as an adviser, your primary job is to make OTHER PEOPLE SUCCESSFUL. As Rick Warren says in the Purpose Driven Life (affiliate link), in a completely different context:
It is not about you.
This means that you need a mastery of the content, a knack for storytelling, basic PowerPoint design and formatting skills, AND some mind-reading. Mind read your presenter and mind read his/her audience. If you don’t have a good working rhythm with your client / boss / manager, you will find it a very painful process.
Mind-reading. This might sound mystical, but it’s just a combination experience and trust between the presentation creator (usually the consultant) and the presenter (client / boss):
- Do you have experience with your client / boss / manager?
- Do you know their speaking and presentation style?
- Do you know audience, venue, context, and time constraints?
- Do you agree on the key messages you want to convey?
After you have a working rhythm with your client / boss / manager – you will become the go-to person for all things presentation for that individual. It’s happened for me 4-5 times in my life. Trust me, it’s not a bad place to be.
Tips for making presentations for other people:
- Be explicit with the message; don’t leave it up to chance and nuance.
- Review the slide deck with the client 1 week, 2 days and 1 day before the presentation
- Provide notes and speaking points for each page if necessary
- Limit the fancy video links, and animation; don’t trip up the presenter
- Give the presenter confidence in the quality of the analysis and recommendation
- Be available (during the presentation time) to answer questions as needed
- Learn their style – over time – and match your words and graphics to their style
- Be willing to say “no” and respectfully guide them to the direction you think is best
What other tips do you have for making slides for others?