Creating presentations with confidence

Creating presentations with confidence
Photo by Teemu Paananen / Unsplash

For just the highlights of this post glance through the accompanying deck here.

Many of us find just the thought of creating presentations and sharing them with others quite daunting while others seemingly relish the opportunity and enjoy the whole process. But regardless of how we feel about it, for most of us sharing information with others is a vital part of our professional lives.

So why do we find it difficult? Well, one issue might be the fact that we are forced to focus on layout before content. In fact, research tells us that almost half of us spend more than 8 hours designing a single presentation with a whopping 40% of the time spent on formatting and layout. And to boot, quite a few of us are not particularly proud of the outcome.

So crafting impactful presentations that not only get the message across but also look good is a real challenge — but it can be made a little easier by keeping a few key things in mind when you are communicating using slides.

Write before you design

First of all: Write out the structure and key points before you go create the slides. We can not stress this highly enough. An effective presentation has a solid narrative and clear, concise content. But when we as authors are faced with that first, empty slide it’s easy to get distracted by how to design it. So where should you begin?

Get the narrative right before you start designing slides. Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Don’t worry too much about the initial order of your slides — you don’t have to get the story straight the first time! Once you’ve jotted down all of the major points, if it is just text you can then easily reorganise towards a structure that best fits your goals. For example ensure your presentation has a clear beginning, middle and end.

Use words sparingly

Sure, presentations come in different shapes and sizes, and they’re used in different ways. But, as a general rule when it comes to the amount of text in presentations, less is generally better.

When it comes to the amount of text in presentations, less is generally better.

Keep the design simple

Now once you have settled on the core messaging, the process of creating the slides is more straightforward. For each slide, you will know exactly what content you need to accommodate, and you can elevate the content using the various design elements available to you. Try experimenting with different layouts and themes until you find ones that fit the tone and purpose of your presentation, keeping in mind that the design should complement your message rather than distract from it. It’s all about balance. You can pique and keep people’s interest with the right imagery, use of colour, videos, and simple infographics. For example, a good way to support legibility and structure is to have clear, eye-catching breaks between the concepts you need to cover (try for example switching to solid coloured backgrounds with bold white or black type).

Edit aggressively

At this point, you’ve completed your rough draft and it’s time to start the editing process. Read over your presentation and aggressively edit for clarity.

Be concise, just don’t sacrifice clarity for brevity.

Repeat the process once more, but this time try reading the content out loud to ensure it still makes sense to the reader. But remember to never sacrifice clarity for brevity — make sure your message makes sense on its own.

Get feedback

Getting a second opinion never hurts! Ask someone else to read over your presentation to pick up the issues you might have missed.

If you have to deliver your presentation in person, practise out loud a few times to ensure you can deliver your message with confidence. Repeating the process will familiarise you with the content and improve your overall flow. It’ll also allow you to maintain eye contact and really engage with your audience without losing momentum since you’ll know exactly where you’re at, and what’s coming up next.

In either case, this will help you catch any mistakes or omissions before the big reveal.

Ready to create a presentation you’ll be proud of?

We hope you find the advice above helpful the next time you have to create a presentation. If you’re interested, we created Dropdeck to embody this way of working and freeing yourself from design concerns, allowing you to focus on the core message. Unlike other traditional presentation tools, with Dropdeck, all you need to do is type.

Dropdeck constantly analyses your content and tries to find the best way to represent it. Quickly add design elements such as charts, tables, images, videos or even interactive polls (and much more!) to your presentation just by typing.

Ready to get started? Click here.