Chantal Bossé got hooked on PowerPoint while doing instructional design in the mid-90s. Convinced there was a better way to present, she started CHABOS in 2004 and became a presentations and visual communications expert. She helps entrepreneurs, speakers, and trainers improve their presentations’ impact by having a clear message, great visuals, and a memorable delivery, whether in French or English. Chantal has been a speaker at various business events and a few international webinars, she is a presentation coach for the TEDxQuebec event.
In this conversation, Chantal talks about the benefits of creating large decks that have subsets suitable for specific audiences.
Geetesh: Tons of slides, many pictures, and so much text. Add to that many, many hyperlinks plus Custom Shows. This sort of presentation must be a dedication. How much time does it typically take to create and test this type of presentation?
Chantal: For this project, the client came to me with all the slides already done, so I don’t have data on how long it took them to produce the original 300-slide deck. And I would add that so much text was really TOO much text, but that’s another story. : )
Their request was to have a slide library from which physicians could pick the slides they needed, but they also wanted to have control over what content should be delivered for certain audiences. Since all their users had PowerPoint and the skills to use it, I introduced them to hyperlinks & Customs Shows within the tool. We had one or two conference calls to determine their needs in terms of navigation, and then I produced a first draft with the main dashboard and a secondary one. They supplied what groups of slides should be created so the final tool would make choosing a topic and its length pretty easy.
It took 42 hours for the whole project: navigation concept (17 dashboards), regular hyperlinking, create custom shows (total of 39), creation of thumbnails for “per slide” navigation (297 of them!), add tool tips to help during navigation, and all the testing. And it also includes some small training clips to help them update Custom Shows and how to avoid common problems. As a side note, at one point I did start to wonder if I would crash PowerPoint, but tests were conclusive and the client has been using it for almost a year now.
Some might think it’s a lot of time and money, but their investment helped them avoid paying extra fees for a slide library service that did not fit all their needs, while keeping training to a minimum for all users.
Depending on navigation complexity, number of slides, and the need to have a “per slide” selection option, people can expect to put in at least 15 to 20 hours. But they should see this type of project as an investment, not as a cost, because it allows to reduce design and update time in the long term. It also allows to get incredible results with audiences when trainers have taken the time to get used to the new navigation system.
Geetesh: Regarding creating one large deck that is capable of addressing many types of audiences, what benefits do you see for the presenters and designers — as against creating many smaller decks?
Chantal: For presenters, having everything in one large deck assures them they can address every audience at all times. Maybe they were asked to train on Topic A for 60 minutes, but realize that people in the audience are asking really important questions from another section. With this presentation structure, they are a few clicks away from all the content. Tailoring content to the audience’s needs is a great way to obtain better results, whether in a training or sales environment. It’s the difference between trying to answer a question with words only, and saying “Let me show you what I mean.”
I could have used links to smaller decks from the main presentation, but that would have paved the way to missing content. Linked files have to be together at all times, and I have seen too many people copying the main presentation only… with disastrous results in front of their audience because all external content was not available anymore.
Also, designers greatly benefit from the one-large-deck method, especially in this specific client project. Some slides were re-used in many training sessions. If I would have used many small decks, we would have ended up with many copies of the same slide in several decks. When we know how quickly medical information (okay, almost all information!) needs to be updated, the client would have wasted enormous amounts of time for updates. What usually happens when clients have the same slide in many decks is that they completely lose control over updates and end-up with low-quality content.