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?

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