Clear responsibility for presentations is a factor in corporate success. But how can we get there?
Is PowerPoint really past its prime? An international study. The ‘Business Presentations 2017 – Practice, Efficiency and Success’ international study launched by Strategy Compass came to a close in November. With over 500 participants from German and American companies, it represents a cross-section of thinkers, predominantly managers, from companies with more than 1,000 staff.
For the last 3 years, we at Strategy Compass have been supporting EAST, a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing education, health and entrepreneurship in Africa. At the heart of its activities is the annual “eLearning Africa” conference, which brings together people from all over Africa (and beyond) who can and want to bring about change.
The time has come. A new corporate design has been created. Your brand is refreshing itself and taking the next step towards a successful future. It’s time for a new outfit, for elegant haute couture. The project is going well, and management is happy. Until… you guessed it, staff become outraged after suddenly discovering they need to rework all existing presentations in order to transfer them to the new master.
Let’s be honest: What communication, marketing or advertising agency is inspired by PowerPoint masters or slide templates? The focus, after all, is on completely different, meatier issues such as communication concept, brand, media mix, websites and campaigns.
Most companies don’t realize the true costs associated with PowerPoint. These are often completely underestimated, just like the potential opportunities for efficiency and savings. Perform the “how are we going” check. Answer a few questions and get an idea of where you currently stand.
In a recent blog post, we described how important presentations are in anchoring a brand in employees’ hearts and minds. A little while ago, I had an interesting conversation with the head of communications at a not-so-small business. She told me that PowerPoint was the reason the brand was having trouble really taking off inside the company. Which only demonstrates once again that, like it or not, you should never underestimate the power of PowerPoint.
The use of pictures in presentations can be extremely helpful. They can support and enhance content. They can convey messages instantly. They can make a presentation more interesting and provide visual orientation. But it is sometimes not that easy to find an appropriate image. And if you do find one, there are all the legal aspects involved. What is permitted? What is not? As you can see, the issue is complex.
What is it that actually makes a presentation compelling? We already asked ourselves this question many years ago (and continue to ask it). It essentially comes down to just a few criteria, which we’ve summarized into what we call the OSCAR Principle. If your presentation meets these five criteria, it’s likely to receive an OSCAR nomination – and get you the desired results.
Image copyrights are a difficult subject. We recently took a brief look at it in this blog. Let’s now take a closer look, using several specific examples. We’ll concentrate on standard licenses, because they usually suffice for presentation purposes. Current March 2016
In this post, we’d like to take another look at the role of presentations in company internal communications. For indeed, more presentations are held internally than externally. Think of decision documents, projects, review meetings, sales conferences, departmental meetings, and a dozen other occasions. And here’s a small word that tells you something about their ascribed level of importance. That word is ‘only’. It is ‘only’ for internal purposes. ‘Only’ for co-workers. ‘Only’ for an info-update briefing...
When it comes to presentations, there’s what you can be classified as routine craftsmanship and there’s rousing, passionate freestyle brand management. This includes company presentations as well as canvassing or sales appointments, results and project presentations or speeches and lectures.
Sometimes one just has to add an ‘NA’. NA? Not applicable? Not quite. Do you remember WYSIWYG ‒ what you see is what you get? When creating a presentation on your PC you can immediately see what it looks like. Yet the whole thing can look completely different when you open your presentation on a different PC. Because then a WYSIWYG quickly becomes a WYSINAWYG ... namely “What you see is not always what you get”.
Heard of Nicolas Boileau? Don’t worry if you haven’t. It’s just remarkable that this 17th century French author made an observation that provides the key to a good PowerPoint slide title: ‘What is well conceived well is clearly expressed’. Clear, well-phrased titles attune your audience to the content and purpose of each slide, providing rapid orientation and keeping them focused on your presentation. And there’s a useful side effect: when you’re done, you really do know what you want to say!
At some point, you may want to hand out your presentation: in paper form or perhaps electronically. This may sound simple, but there are a few things you should consider first. In our experience, there’s more to this than simply clicking ‘print’ or ‘attach file’. Why? As is so often the case – the devil is in the detail.
Have you read our previous blog on the subject of orientation, explaining that your audience members need orientation and security before they can give you their full attention? Then you are already well informed about the ‘receiving end’. But what about you, the speaker? In order to give a good presentation, you too need security and orientation before you begin.
There are many useful textbooks on PowerPoint and giving presentations that tell us how to tune in to our audience. And that’s good. Because if we don’t take into account who’s sitting in front of us, why they are there, what they actually want and what interests them (or doesn’t interest them), then we’re not going to achieve anything.
Humans are complicated creatures. But in some ways they are actually pretty simple - and this is the focus of today’s blog. Following a few simple basic rules can really help your audience to concentrate on your presentation. And the best thing is, that applying this knowledge automatically increases your presentation success, without any effort on the part of your audience. An easy-to-use approach is Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’, which suggests that we are only able to immerse ourselves in something if we are reassured that all our basic needs are met.
In the good old days, our slides came in a 4:3 format. Thanks to technical progress, the 16:9 format is becoming more and more appropriate. PowerPoint realized this long ago, and has been offering us both the 4:3 and the 16:9 formats, in addition to every other customized format we might want. This leaves us with difficult choices.
This is now the third blog entry on the subject of orientation. Because orientation really is important! We’re focusing again on your security and orientation as the person standing up front and speaking. The more authoritative, confident and relaxed you appear, the more credible and interesting you will come across.
You want to give a good presentation that holds your audience’s attention right to the end? One that creates enthusiasm for your topic? And for you as the speaker? Your presentation concept is the key. Based on your target group, aims and central message, and taking into account the time available, you need to create a clear structure with a golden thread running through it.
What does Twitter have to do with your PowerPoint slides? Can you learn about effective communication from Twitter? Yes, you can. Twitter has just about perfected the art of brevity. And your perfect slide convinces by being succinct and to the point. How does it work? With the Twitter transfer:
What do you want to achieve with your presentation? Reach a decision, implement a change or excite interest? This goal determines where you want to take your audience by the end of the meeting. You design your presentation accordingly – but even if it goes perfectly, you’re still not home and dry. The crucial last phase is the audience discussion.
How much can you squeeze onto a slide? You’ve collated so much information and material, that it’s difficult to decide. In the process, you can easily overlook the fact that it’s not about cramming as much information onto the slide as possible, but about making a clear statement.
You have data in Excel that you could use to make many different points. Which are important? Let’s take as an example the turnover figures of a nationally operating company over a number of years.
Sound familiar? You have piles of data, most of it in Excel, and are trying to work out how best to get it onto a PowerPoint slide. The simplest way is ‘copy and paste’. But it’s certainly not the best way. Large amounts of data are often confusing, because it’s hard to single out what really matters.
Images have a big impact. They can underscore important messages and give them emotional weight – but they can also miss their intended purpose, e.g. because they are unsuitable or generic. Given the millions of pictures available today in online archives and company databases, it’s no simple matter finding the right one. We’ve come up with five tips for you:
For your presentation to appear harmonious and professional, all elements should be properly aligned. Not just on one slide, but across all slides in the presentation. There are two things that make this easier: layout grids and PowerPoint guides.
You know the feeling? You’re sitting in a meeting and the presentation is good as far as its content goes, but it’s somehow not very convincing. There is usually a very trivial reason for this: the individual elements of the presentation don’t match, each slide looks different, and some slides have obviously been recycled from other presentations. In short: the presentation doesn’t have a unified look.
No matter how big the organization - when it comes to using PowerPoint, there’s always a certain degree of chaos. You can’t find the slides you need, some sales staff are using the company presentation from two years ago, and everyone uses whatever images and icons take their fancy.
PowerPoint presentations are the standard in business communication. But PowerPoint is often used sloppily, even in the world’s leading companies. Tens of thousands of employees are not using the software properly, creating huge amounts of additional work. And it’s quite likely that the results don’t have much in common with corporate design guidelines, either. In fact, using PowerPoint correctly in your company is not very difficult. This blog post explains how to structure a professional PowerPoint master, and what to look out for when using it.