By Boris Hristov, 356labs
Every presentation that your present is critical! One reason for this is because every time you present, you are standing with your name and reputation behind this presentation. Moreover, you could not be aware of the potential benefits or losses that this presentation could bring to you. In our case, we’ve created a presentation that managed to raise 82 million leva (40+ million euro) for the Gradus IPO. Well, if this is not critical…
Our team had the privilege to be invited to work on this project. We decided to share with you some of the tricks which we used while creating the presentation. But just before we start, we should probably inform you how big this IPO was. Let’s just say it’s the biggest one in Bulgaria for the last 10 years and the second biggest in the whole history. It was only surpassed by the FiBank IPO which raised around 107 million leva (50+ million euro) back in 2007.
Now back to the lessons!
Lesson 1: Differentiate Live Presentations From Presentations Which Are Sent as a Document
Read carefully, this one is important! If you need to send a document presentation via email, it’s best to use 4:3 proportion in PowerPoint. You can change it from Design | Slide Size. But when it comes to a live presentation, you should automatically think of a 16:9 proportion. That’s the standard which is expected by everyone.
If you look around, you will see that nowadays everything is in wide-format – your phone, the TV, the office monitor, and so on. Moreover, you probably notice when someone is presenting in the 4:3 format and it annoys you. Well, it’s the same with others. You don’t want to leave any negative emotions in your audience from the beginning. Especially during an IPO presentation and you’ve got only one chance to grab the attention and interest of the media and investors.
Oh, and something more! When you send your presentation via email, don’t forget that you won’t be there when the person/people open it. That means that you need to have a higher level of details in it and can afford to include more text. However, we STRONGLY advise you to not do that during a live presentation. In that case, slides should be clearer and simpler. Remember, you are the main focus. The presentation should only be your helper.
Check out the differences in the presentation in both scenarios for Gradus.
Lesson 2: Every Detail Matters!
And by every – we mean it! Your presentation must be perfect to the last pixel. Yes, you may not be a designer, but you do not need to be to ensure that everything is properly aligned. Even more, do your elements “breathe” freely (is there free space around the slides) etc.
When talking about details, it’s important to think to what level we need to include them in our presentation. This is important if you want your audience to understand your message without any effort. Check out the example below. One item is missing on the left picture. Can you find it?
You guessed right. Yes, there is no X axis showing the years. Would that make things more difficult for the audience? In our case, definitely yes. That is why it is part of the final version of the document. However, you can see that there is nothing else that prevents you from understanding it. No extra headlines, no grids and etc. And yes, we know that we’re repeating ourselves… but every detail matters!
Lesson 3: Do Regular Checks!
The last example we gave you was a game of details. However, it could’ve been something simple we’ve missed. Now that’s unacceptable! Mistakes of such caliber are literally unthinkable, especially in a situation like this one. Always check your presentations several times. Furthermore, you could also send them to a friend or a colleague to double check. The more critical the presentation is, the more important it is to check everything. Do not compromise with this. One minor error can overturn your entire performance. Not worth it…
Lesson 4: Data Source
The trust factor is one of the most critical things in presentations. What does that mean? Well, in order to grab the attention of the audience and make them believe you, you need their trust. If they don’t believe you, everything you say or do won’t matter.
When data, surveys and graphics are visualized, you should have a source. You can either mention it or write it down on the slide itself. On the image above, you can see who audited the data to confirm that it is correct. In this case, you can “break” one of the rules of slide design – everything to be extremely simple and visual. However, data source information may be in small print. The reason for this is that it is not the main focus of the slides, but it must still appear on them.
Lesson 5: Data Conclusion, Not Just a Headline
Very often, when data charts are displayed, their title is something like “Results Q3” or “Budgets for TV” etc. These titles are only effective if, as in the left example, you have an explanation of exactly what these graphs tell you. Otherwise, it is not fatal, but it is not optimal either.
On the other hand, in a live presentation, you want your audience to have just a quick scan of your slides. Trust us, you don’t want to lose their attention for too long. In such situation, you can use one simple trick. Replace the title with a conclusion of the chart. In other words, just describe what does the data say. Despite “breaking” yet another rule in slide design, you can have a whole sentence as your title. Something you would not want in your slides without a good reason.
These are the 5 lessons from a presentation that really achieved its purpose. Of course, they are only small part of the many things to do for a successful presentation. Either way, we advise you to use them next time you prepare your presentation. Even more, we are confident that if you apply them, they will help you to get it to a higher level!
Boris Hristov is the Founder of presentation agency 356labs and a PowerPoint MVP. He has presented in 25+ countries and has been rated as the top speaker numerous times. Boris has years of experience as a trainer, mentor and consultant and works with companies like Deutsche Telekom, KPMG, Renault, Societe Generale, Roche, Publicis, Experian, Bosch, VMWARE, adidas and many, many more to help them craft and deliver truly effective presentations. His agency is also the only presentation agency in the world speaking at Microsoft Ignite – the biggest yearly event of Microsoft, attended by more than 25000 people.