Simon Raybould started his working career as a researcher looking at the causes of childhood cancers. After his Doctorate he spent 24 years as a research scientist and even spent time as the Centre Manager of the world’s second most influential social science research unit at Newcastle University in England. The need to base what he does only on researched evidence has stayed with him. He’s also been a lighting designer for dance companies, a playwright and author, a professional actor, and even a fire eater!
In this conversation, Simon talks about his new product, the Presentation Design Pack.
Geetesh: Simon, please tell us more about your new Presentation Design Pack, the concept, and how it evolved?
Simon: Wandering around the internet, there’s plenty of advice about how to deliver presentations (“Don’t face the screen”) and there’s lots of training about technical things (“How to use the new Morph transition”). What’s missing was help with the process of creating the presentation and sorting out the content. These are the things that really matter in real-word presentations!
Getting that right makes presentations:
- Quick to write
- Easy to deliver
- Simple to understand
On the other hand, if you get the basics wrong no amount of tips or fancy transitions will help.
I like to say that the Presentation Design Pack helps the people in the middle… people who have to give good presentations but who don’t think of themselves as “presenters”. These people are probably really good at what they do, anything from accountant to zookeeper, but now they have to make presentations about what they do. The Presentation Design Pack means they don’t have to be experts in teaching or presenting, because there’s a system they can apply that gives them a clear pathway for giving the right information at the right time and in the right way.
I don’t pretend the Presentation Design Pack won’t help create an astonishing presentation for a 4000-seat international conference if you’re the full-on-pro-presenter! It’s not designed to do that. It’s intended to raise the bar for the millions of ‘normal’ presentations that happen each week.
You know the ones. The presentations that happen in monthly feedback conferences: they happen in funding pitches; they happen in reports to the board; they happen in end-of-project reviews; in fact, they happen anywhere involving normal people in normal presentations.
When I researched how presentations were structured and the best way to design them, I realized there’s a process that will get you there. It’s not fool-proof but it’s been very heavily tested to make it as close as I can. I lost count of the iterations and experiments I went through in terms of the wording and so on.
For example, we’ve had wall chart versions and we’ve had digital versions – but I’m a research scientist by training (I spent 24 years in research) so I’m keen on doing what the research says is the best thing to do – so the Presentation Design Pack finally ended up having four sets of cards and two booklets.
It looks and feels lovely, too, so it’s a joy to use! 🙂
Geetesh: Can you share some user experiences about the Presentation Design Pack. How has this pack benefitted users?
Simon: I’ve said the Presentation Design Pack is intended for ‘normal’ people giving normal presentations, but it’s not limited to that.
For example, one of the first advocates of the Presentation Design Pack was Richard Tubb. Richard is a full-time professional speaker working in the tech space. By coincidence, he sent me this pic of how he’s using part of the pack just as I was sitting down to do this interview.
Because he’s such an experience presenter, Richard tends to use the first few parts of the pack only – he’s got all the experience in the world designing the actual slide, but even someone like him says he finds it an invaluable tool for making sure he can create the right structure for his presentation on a systematic basis – there’s no more hit-and-miss and trusting to luck etc.
A more typical user is Gary Hosey. Gary runs a training company where making presentations is something he does as part of his job – it’s not “what he does”, just something he has to do as he goes along. He sent me this message on LinkedIn a couple of days ago.
I’ve not done any formal research into who uses it most, but anecdotally I’d say about 20% of the users are “speakers” or presenters of some professional type. The 80% majority are “normal people” – non-presenters who need to be good at presenting…
… and that makes me ridiculously happy because that’s who it’s intended for and the type of people I want to help most.
Geetesh: What are the three variations of the Presentation Design Pack? Also, where can one buy them?
Simon: I’ve made three levels of the Presentation Design Pack. I’m afraid I can’t claim to have named them with any originality … they’re called Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
Silver is the standard pack and Gold means you get some online time with me and a few other things too. Bronze is for when you’re not sure!
You can get more information here – but at the moment I’m not sure about being able to ship outside of the UK! That will change soon, I’m sure. (Well I hope so at least!)
If I’m totally honest, I think I’ve undercharged for the packs, given how much value they bring to people. I couldn’t bring myself to charge their full worth though, as that might put off the people who need the help most. It’s an argument I keep having with my marketing advisors!
I’m working on an affiliate program too. It wasn’t something that I’d intended to do but some of the people who bought packs emailed me to ask if they could pass it on to people in their network. That sort of thing is new to me, so I’m making a point of talking to everyone who wants to be an affiliate individually – there are some fantastically interesting people out there!