The Communication Revolution and the future of presentations

The Communication Revolution and the future of presentations
Photo by Avi Richards / Unsplash

It’s undeniable that the way we work has changed radically in the last few years. Some blame the pandemic, while others attribute these fundamental changes to a workforce influx of digitally native, young professionals. Regardless of why, the result is a flexible, autonomous workplace where productivity, inclusivity and innovation reign supreme.

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Unencumbered by dated applications or other legacy ways, this new talent is making positive impacts by offering novel solutions and ideas to persistent issues. One of the most important changes is how we communicate in the workplace.

The modern professional has different expectations when it comes to communication. Not only are the methods of sharing information different but we’re also observing a preference for an open dialogue rooted in inclusion and transparency.

Photo by Marvin Meyer / Unsplash

But irrespective of whether you belong to the more short-form favouring Twitter/SMS generation or not; with the current rate of information we’re expected to act on and absorb, there needs to be a determined shift towards more concise, visual methods of communicating in the workplace.

So what does this mean for you?

Simply put, we’re in the midst of a communication revolution. Legacy workplace communication tools like presentations need to evolve to meet the needs and expectations of the next generation of knowledge workers.

Gone are the days of static slides and one-way conversations. Now, presentations need to be dynamic, conversational and engaging, using various multimedia elements to communicate information. Furthermore, they need to be presented in a way that is familiar to younger people. In this post, we’ll explore the changing nature of communication in the workplace and how presentations are evolving to meet the new generation’s communication needs.

Creating a concise, visual experience

With the popularity of apps like TikTok, it’s no secret that short, bite-sized visual content is king. Yet, this rise in the popularity of visual media to get your message across is not new. We know visuals are easier for us to comprehend and that showing is far more effective than telling. In fact, research suggests that the brain processes visual information an amazing 60,000 times faster than text. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that visuals let you tell a story and present complex, otherwise boring, information far more effectively.

Despite this, the average presentation still relies heavily on text to get the message across. In many cases, people still use wordy slides to support an in-person delivery, rather than using them to enhance it or even replace it. This often results in presentations that include walls of text and complex or unimaginative data visualisations that people may struggle to understand or, perhaps, skip altogether. But how do we fix this?

In addition to including different multimedia elements, you should also pay attention to the overall visual design. The less-is-more trend has reemerged, resulting in designs that are bold and simple. Simply put, when creating presentations, visual clutter is out, and keeping the signal strong and focused is in. Remember — if your designs look dated, your ideas will likely appear that way, too.

High on signal, low on clutter

With that being said, the younger generation is now used to visually sparse content that is high on signal. They find a cinematic format more engaging, focused and easier to follow than traditional written (long-form) content. That is why presentations will continue to be one of the most utilised business communication tools. They are an easy way to start (and facilitate) a conversation since you can easily segment your ideas and tell a clear story in a cinematic, step-by-step format.

With the right presentation tool, you can condense complex ideas and documentation into easily digestible short-form segments that your team will enjoy consuming.

Another reason presentations are here to stay as a medium is because they lend themselves well to providing strong visual signals in aid of clarity. For example, some sections may have solid coloured backgrounds with bold black or white type to indicate importance, while others may be presented on a white background. This lets you communicate without having to say a single word. Furthermore, these visual cues also make navigating through slides easier when consumed asynchronously.

Office Working
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

Embrace richer, more flexible ways of communicating

In today’s world, being flexible is key. Oftentimes, meetings are scheduled at the last minute, and we’re expected to adjust our schedules accordingly. But this isn’t always possible and flexible communication solutions are needed. To ensure presentations are flexible, they should be designed to be consumed asynchronously, allowing your team to access them whenever and however it suits them. Whether that means using a phone on the go or using a computer at a desk, viewing needs to be optimised for this.

Whether that means using a phone on the go or using a computer at a desk, viewing needs to be optimised for this.

In addition to optimised viewing, interactivity should be built directly into your presentation allowing your team to interact and communicate in the flow of consumption, rather than as afterthoughts in the form of simple comments.

By combining the presentation and conversation; feedback and decisions become contextually linked with the information they're based on.

Going forward, your presentations could be viewed as conversations and decision-making aids rather than presenter cue cards. By combining the presentation and conversation; feedback and decisions can become embedded, and not lost in the shuffle of messages across different platforms such as long-buried email threads or fast-moving Slack channels.

Finally, productivity is essential both for those creating presentations and those consuming them. Presentations should be able to be created quickly and easily, and, in the same breath, your team should be able to find and navigate through the information they need without any difficulty.

It’s important to remember, however, that flexible communication can still be secure. Controlled sharing options ensure that sensitive information is protected and only those who need access, have it. These options also save you time by allowing you to track who has already accessed the document, reducing the need for manual (read: pestering) follow-ups.

The key here is to not just incrementally improve presentation software but to bring all the other tasks we’re (rightly or wrongly) using them for into the flow.

The Dropdeck way

Businesses have always been reliant on some form of presentation to communicate with employees, shareholders, and customers. In the past, these were often delivered in person, using physical documents or overhead projectors. You’d typically be subjected to a single presenter at the front of the room delivering a one-way conversation with little to no interaction from the audience. However, times have changed and the current generations have led the way in bringing an end to these one-way conversations accompanied by text-heavy, static slides.

At Dropdeck, we believe that it should be easier to create presentations and visual documents. Everyone deserves to have a voice and be heard — not just the presenter. That’s why we created a tool that allows anyone to easily craft beautiful presentations that provide a more interactive and engaging experience in just a few keystrokes.

If this is interesting to you, here's a short screencast which demonstrates our methodology for creating visual content from text:

From text to visual content.

Ready to get ahead of the communication revolution? Click here to create your first deck.