May 14th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Presentation Iteration Hell

Working on presentations for a picky and particularistic boss or client can be trying. You start out with a basic problem: create a sales deck. You then may have some discussion about what needs to be in the deck; hopefully, its based on what you learned about your audience. Then, you go on your way and start producing the deck. If you head right for powerpoint or keynote, you’re making a mistake.

Spending a lot of time making “production quality” slides in the first pass will result in frustrating rework. I recommend that you always spend sometime on the whiteboard or on a sheet of paper first. Depending on how much definition is required, this can take as little as 30 minutes, but will likely take an hour. Start by ordering the messages or flow of the presentation. Use sticky notes to represent your slides. Here you can scribble down the key message and a potential depiction of the slide. Once you’ve gotten it to a place where you’re happy, go shop it around. Get feedback. Make sure your boss is happy.

Likely, you’ll miss the mark for what your boss or client visualized in his or her head. But, since it’s on paper, you’ll be able to say: “Sketch what you had in mind.” This allows them to get their feedback in early, without you spending a lot of time trying to make the picture pretty over and over again.

Of course, you may always run into the people who will still change their mind over and over again. If you’re dealing with this type of person, lock them into two rounds of changes.

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