This is part 2 of a series that looks at Presentation procrastinators. Read the first part here.
The Last-Minute Crunch Is Inevitable. Be Happy.
As terrific as this managed “presentation polyana” sounds, the reality is that there will inevitably be last minute edits, high-stress crises, and countless long hours as the clock counts down to showtime. Managers changing the whole deck around. Executives calling on you to update tables, graphs, and text. Presenters who are finally giving you the time, attention, and respect you had been begging for weeks earlier.
“Your failure to plan does not constitute an emergency on my part” maybe a humorous pushback, but your ability to stay positive, flexible, and focused when working with managers who are making edits at the 11th hour will help separate you and their presentation from success or disaster.
Always aim to have a backup strategy or colleagues who can help at the last minute. There’s a limit to what any one person can handle, and most people understand that. Give realistic ETCs (estimated time of completion) on all your work and manage expectations. Do your best to delegate, manage, and work fast and furiously as the deadline nears.
It’s 6pm and you’ve been thrown a whole new set of edits. Let your loved ones at home know you’re going to be late. Crank up some music, roll-up your sleeves, call in for pizza, and get ready for an all-nighter. The Last Minute Crunch is inevitable; it’s the nature of the industry.
Grin and bear it.
Technology and Techniques for Collaborative Edits
Take time to explore various technologies that can help you produce your presentations easier, while collaborating with executives. If you are still exchanging files by email, make an effort to switch to the cloud using tools like Google Drive or Dropbox to exchange files.
Adopt a file naming standard to help you track the versions of the presentation. (i.e. prestitle-lastname-v1KL.pptx; the title of the presentation, last name of the presenter, and version number with your initials) At the end of your day, send an email to your presenter instructing them to download the file, review and make their edits to the file and save it as prestitle-lastname-v2FL.pptx (version number and his/her initials) by 10am the next morning and upload to Dropbox.
Alternately, rather than the full presentation, consider just sharing a few slides or graphics that need input and help. Write bright notes on the slides with your ideas and questions.
Consider creating your initial draft of the presentation in Google Slides or Google Docs (part of G Suite). These cloud-based products are great collaborative development, allowing you to work in real-time with your executive with edits appearing instantaneously without having to upload/download a full file.
For complex meetings, it maybe helpful for you to record your meetings (audio) to make sure you capture all the critical information. Executives hate having to repeat things; so do your best to not forget something. And even if you don’t get to their request/edit, aim to have a note in the slide deck as a reference placeholder to their comment.
If you have the time, consider creating various options of key slides:
Option 1 might be a pie-chart with a light background.
Option 2 might be a bar-graph with a stock photo background.
This approach is helpful for slides that don’t have a clear direction or where there is a difference of opinion on creative design (i.e. executive wants it this way, but you believe it’s better another way).
Share your options for consensus or decision, as well as other concepts and ideas to ensure you’re on the right path by referencing slides from older decks, or from sites like Pinterest, which is rich with creative infographics.
In the next post of this series, we will look at how to be a collaborator and a coach.
Since founding The Presentation Team in the 1990’s, Kevin has developed thousands of presentations for clients including Motorola, Comcast Cable, Office Depot, Citrix, Oracle, Johnson & Johnson, NASA, the U.S. Army, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as numerous smaller companies, professional speakers, and individuals.