At the Assist Conference a few weeks ago I did a session entitled ‘creating powerful presentations’. I wanted to share the slides and notes with you guys today… Here you go!
At some point in an assistant’s career they will be asked to put together a slide deck for their Executive.
This could be for a presentation in front of the board, for other members of staff or a pitch to win new clients. Whatever the occasion it is really important that the slides reflect the key points that your Executive is delivering.
In the past, I’ve been given scraps of paper and been asked to turn them into something visually stunning – it isn’t easy getting into the mind of someone else and trying to creatively design a slide that evokes their key points (that’s if they even have a key point!)
Nevertheless, creating slides for your Executive can be a real creative outlet. It is a piece of your work that other people will see and appreciate, something that doesn’t always happen for assistants. So it is well worth spending time and ensuring you create a really memorable slide deck for your Executive.
With that in mind, I’m going to give you my four top tips when creating presentations and then I will show you some tools that will help you create something a little different.
Firstly, I love a quote on a slide deck to help you explain your point – why not draw from other people’s knowledge!
Before you start to put a presentation together, it is worth considering if your boss even needs slides? This is the first question to ask. The best presentations I’ve seen are based around the speaker telling a story and interweaving it with the points they need to cover. If your boss is a good speaker they should rely very little on slides.
Slides should be one of the last things that your Executive focuses on when creating a presentation. Without a key message and structured supporting points you can’t really develop a slide deck for them. Make sure they have thought this through before you begin to produce the slides.
Has your boss written a script? If so, make sure you have a copy so that you can create an interesting set of slides around their key points.
Once you start working on the slides.
Each slide should contain one point. That point should be on the screen while your Executive is making it. If you are using bullet points set up an animation so that each bullet point appears one at a time. If your presentation contains charts make sure every chart is on a separate slide and is up on the screen when your manager refers to it.
Slides should support your point – not make them. Do not add paragraphs worth of text, this is a sure fire way of sending your audience to sleep or overwhelming them with information.
Slides are there to reinforce the speaker’s point not distract the audience. If you do have additional information to share with the audience use a handout or send them more detailed documents later.
Your Executive has to control the flow of information so that the audience is in sync with what they are saying. Each slide should help with this rather than hinder it.
Images that are thought provoking will make a presentation more memorable. Don’t whatever you do use WordArt or Clipart – yuck!
Get creative. This is your chance to add a really creative touch to your work so do take the time to make the slides, visual, appealing to the eye and different to the bog standard slide packs. Creative slides will make your boss’s presentation more memorable and this will reflect well on you.
Make sure you use good high quality images. Blurred images are not going to make the presentation look very professional so it is always better to use high-res images. Remember the image will be bigger on the screen so it really is worth investing in good quality images.
Don’t use words, unless you really, really have to. Images are much more visually interesting and can be used to emphasise a point just as well as text. If you are using text make sure it is readable, particularly for those at the back of the room.
Keep the slides simple. As most assistants are advanced users of PowerPoint the temptation to use all of the features can be high. However, this should be avoided in favour of a simple effective design.
Keep decorative fonts to a minimum and only use animation when it helps make key points stand out. Do not have too much clutter on one slide. It is better to use more slides which are simple, readable and easily understood than squeezing everything onto a smaller number of slides.
Use bullet points sparingly. I often find it really useful to speak through my key points and then use one round up slide that lists what I have said. This keeps the audience on track and in sync with my thoughts. Does your slide even need bullet points, can you create a list with a little bit of spacing around each sentence? This tends to look a bit more modern than the standard bullet point image.
Stick to one type of alignment for the text. A centred heading and left-aligned text doesn’t look too good so I always prefer left alignment even with the slide heading.
If you have very little time to put a presentation together here is a simple trick – use white text on a plain black background. It looks modern and projects well on the screen. Simple but different and it will help the presentation stand out.
Ensure the slides have a consistent feel throughout the deck. Avoid using different themes, fonts and colours. Each slide should feel like a new chapter in the same book. If your organisation does not have standard themes there are lots that you can use online and via PowerPoint.
Do, however, think outside the presentation theme – it can be a little boring if you are just using your Organisation’s theme on every slide. Can the company theme just be used on the first and last page? Yes, themes look professional and consistent, but they also limit your creativity.
Try to think about your organisation’s brand in a more creative way – if for example the company colour is green do a Google search for ‘green’ and see what images appear and then use them for your slide backgrounds. This is more creative than having a green font or a green sidebar.
If your Executive has a number of topics to cover during the presentation to ensure you have a transition slide that indicates to the audience that your Executive is moving on to the next topic. This slide should look slightly different to the rest of the deck.
Do start with a really great cover page that will pull your audience in from the first moment the slides are on the screen.
So lets have a look at a few alternatives to standard Power Point…
First off we have Prezi which is a really popular alternative to PowerPoint. Here are the key points
- It is a free if you allow access to the presentation otherwise you have to pay – it is from $9 per month
- The website is easy to use, you can share the presentations easily, download or collaborate with other member of staff.
- The zoom in technology is different from PowerPoint and if you haven’t seen a Prezi presentation before it looks pretty cool, although I do know people talk a lot about Prezi overload.
I used to use haiku deck all the time when it was free. They now have a freemium model in place which costs from $9.99. Just to say the best thing about this presentation builder is the link to stock free images.
To finish off the list, slides.com, is a cloud based presentation software that allows for easy collaboration. The advantages: Full editing capabilities; can present from anywhere; cloud based; comes with analytics; incorporate html and css in the presentations
Slidebean has a dynamic means of creating slides for presentation givers. Their USP is that they have slides that design themselves. You add the content, and the slides create themselves. The software is easy to use, quick to develop presentations and there are plenty of templates to choose from.
Google Slides has all of the elements you would expect from a google product. It is free, there are plenty of templates and if used with Google Docs you can collaborate in real time. This is helpful if you are reviewing the slides remotely with your Exec.
Last but not least is Projeqt
Again this is a freemium model. You can create a presentation from scratch or upload it from a PDF. You can then weave in other elements such as website content, YouTube clips, PDFS, charts or social media – such as recent tweets.
Lastly, I’d like to run through a quick and dirty list of tools that will help you with your slide creation and also some useful resources in general for slides.
Designing graphics for websites, social media platforms, presentations, and brochures can be a tricky business. It can be expensive to hire a professional and painstakingly difficult to do with inadequate tools and software. Canva is an online platform and app that allows users to drag and drop images and text into a number of different templates which are available for free or a minimal cost (usually $1). Canva have also launched Canva For Work which will provide many more templates specifically for businesses.
Free stock images
The images on Stocksnap.io may look familiar as this is my go to website for the images I use on Practically Perfect PA. I love the easy search function, the images are always beautiful and compliment my website.
Pixabay has loads of free images and some that you have to pay for. You can also search for illustrations, videos and vectors on this one. I use this website when I need to find an image that matches certain words rather than general business images.
The images on Gratisography are pretty random, but generally good fun. New images are added weekly and you can sign up to receive them via email.
I like FindA.Photo because you can search images by colour. So if you are putting a presentation together and want to use images that reference your corporate branding and colours this is the website for you.
I use Im Free for free templates, icons and button makers. The website also has lots of free images too.
Again, Picjumbo is a website you sign up for and receive free photos via email. You can also search on the website for images they have already released.
The pictures on Unsplash are really vibrant and quite different from your usual stock images. I find the collections of photos quite useful if I am working on a particular newsletter or presentation. For example, they have a great collection of autumn photos on the website at the moment.
I use FancyCrave mostly for their tech and food images. The website is easy to navigate and they have loads of other high quality images on there.
So it is a screen and webcam recorder that can record on-screen activity for short tutorials, visual presentations, and communicate while you demonstrate! The free features include:
- 15 minute recordings
- screen and webcam recording
- Instant publication to YouTube
- Ability to save the recording as a video file.
The pro version has a load of other features including editing tools and this is only $15 per year. There are also plenty of tutorials on the website to get you started.
Turns your slides into a moving video. Can add voice over, music and some animation
Present.me is a free piece of software that, instead of editing/creating presentations, presents slides you’ve already built.
Once you’ve made a presentation with other software, you can easily upload it to Present.me and then optionally add webcam footage to show yourself explaining the slides.
Is the world’s largest presentation sharing platform. It has over 60 million unique visitors per month, so is a really useful platform to promote your presentations. If your Executive is doing a brilliant presentation that will help promote your organisation, it is well worth encouraging them to upload it to Slideshare.
Speaker Deck is the best way to share presentations online. Simply upload your slides as a PDF, and the website turns them into an online deck that you can embed on a website or share on social media via the URL.
SlideDog is software built specifically for presenting already made presentation files. The idea is to use media files to create a playlist and then use SlideDog to present it to an audience.
There are numerous features that make it a pleasant choice for presenting files to a live audience, whether they’re in the room with your or accessing your presentation from a remote browser.
This piece of software is just under $50. It adds features to your computer that lets you write on the screen and zoom into certain portions for a quick explanation. With the screen annotation tools, you can draw all kinds of lines, rectangles, circles, or add text marks or picture marks on the screen. You can use the software to zoom into something on your screen or highlight certain text.