In this blog, I discuss presentation strategies and techniques relevant to situations where a human being is delivering the presentation. There are instances, however, where a PowerPoint presentation may need to stand on its own as a work product. Here is a guest post on this type of presentation from Dave Tracy at learnppt.com. Be sure to check out his website for some great resources.
PowerPoint presentations have become an inseparable part of corporate work. This is true whether you're an analyst or executive, whether you work in marketing or IT, and whether your business is in the manufacturing or media world. Slide presentation usage has grown from just a speaking supplement to become a recognized and expected form of work product. In fact, after multi-million dollar engagements, strategy consulting firms deliver PowerPoint presentations as their final client-ready products. Market research firms frequently release stand-alone PowerPoint presentations with their latest research findings. PowerPoints have become tangible work products meant for wide circulation within and outside an organization.
Naturally, the design and structure of a work product PowerPoint differs greatly from a PowerPoint meant to complement a public speaking event. The work product presentation is very content and data heavy—relying on detailed and often complex visuals that present data and need to be understandable on their own versus visuals meant to supplement a speaker’s words.
The focus of this article is around the high level approach management consultants take to structure presentations. As with any presentation, the first step is to define the "story." Many consultants use concepts from Minto's Pyramid Principle in defining their story.
As a simple illustration, let's say this is the start of your story:
"Our industry is in a transitioning state. Historically, it has been very fragmented--no one company with over 5% market share. Over the past year, there has been significant consolidation, mostly through acquisitions. Three big players are emerging. We are currently ranked 7th--and need to make big changes to remain competitive..."
The next step is to convert the story from paper to PowerPoint. In the example above, you will notice each sentence represents a stand-alone thought that can be represented on its own slide. These sentences, called 'Headlines,' are written across the top of the slides. In other words, when you take a consultant's deck, you can just read the Headlines across the top of each slide to understand the story.
Everything else on the slide is there to support the Headline. At the bottom of each slide, you will usually find a 'Bumper'--a single sentence meant to capture the big "aha!" from the slide. Whereas Headlines typically contain common knowledge, Bumpers offer the deeper insight that should be directly called out for the audience. Any Headline or Bumper should not exceed 2 lines, to ensure the sentence is easily digestible.
Using the methodology outlined above, here is an example of how a work product slide would look.
David Tracy has worked as a management consultant for the better part of his career, where he focused largely on corporate strategy. In this time, he has created countless business presentations for clients. He runs www.learnppt.com, a site that shares the PowerPoint practices, diagrams, and business frameworks used by consulting firms.
Photo Credit (at top):
Flickr/Nick Bramhall's photostream C.C. 2.0