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Preparing Content

Lesson 4 from: How to Create and Deliver an Impactful Presentation

Matt Stevenson

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Lesson Info

4. Preparing Content

Lesson Info

Preparing Content

Now let's talk about the content. This is not creating content. That's in our next chapter, it's in section two. This is about preparing and gathering content. There's three types of content that you're gonna be gathering and preparing for these presentations and the amount of this content is gonna change depending on the level of presentation whether it's a green, yellow, or red. The first type of content is written content. This is usually what happens first. Sometimes you're given this content, sometimes you're asked to create it, sometimes there is no written content and you have to sort of start from scratch. There's nothing but some images, some visuals, and some ideas. Decide early on where this content's coming from and where you're gonna keep it. Let's go ahead and look at this very specifically. If this is our presentation deck master, he or she has access to that master written file. This could be done in PowerPoint, which we'll talk about in a second, why it would be good t...

o keep it in your slide program. It doesn't have to be PowerPoint. It could be Keynote or anything else. This person is the written content master. Often times there's never just one person coming up with the written content. There's lots of different people doing it. They're gonna be passing content back and forth between each other. What you want to do as the written content master is be the person that all of that is sent to. You notice that these people are all sending content amongst themselves and they're all sending it to you and you're probably getting a lot of files. Let's be honest, it's gonna be a flood sometimes. Sometimes we just cannot avoid the amount of content no matter how much we tell our content creators. Hey guys, you need to slow down. You need to consolidate this. We're gonna be the ones consolidating it especially if we're the ones creating the deck. You'll notice that none of these people are sending that into the master file. That's really important because we want one person controlling that master file. You may be the person designated to receive all of this content. If so, I feel for you. I'm sorry. It'll help things a lot because then we won't have version issues in our deck. The other thing that's important to note is that this person is gonna control the cutoff point of the deck. When we look at all three of our phases, prepare, produce, and present, the prepare and produce sections overlap quite a bit. That's because often times we're preparing new sections or writing new content as we're designing and preparing our notes, as we're producing our notes for the presentation itself. We wanna make sure that that cutoff is stated pretty clearly. I know from experience that it's not always going to be adhered to. In fact, I'd say maybe 50% of the time I will still be getting content for a deck after I've said the content cutoff is at X date. That's totally fine. To be honest with ourselves, this is a great policy. At least stating it saying this is gonna be when we're going to try to at least not have anymore content is really important. In a red deck presentation, I wanna be very clear about something. If you have just a couple hours or 24 hours to create a presentation, it's okay to have a big cutoff, a lead-in time of your content. What that does is it puts pressure on your content creators to actually have a stopping point because you need time to work with this content, to put it in order, to design it, to create notes about it. Even if you have 24 hours and you say my cutoff is 12 hours until presentation, that's acceptable because you need that time. That's also knowing that you're still gonna get content after that. Finally, there are cases where you've set that content cutoff, people are still giving you content, what do you do with that master content file? You can hand it off. That's completely okay to say okay, I am going to give the master file to someone else but you have to state it. One trick that I do is if I'm sending a master file via email, I will state very clearly in all caps you are now the owner of the master file. When you send it back to me, then I will own it. What that does is for the person who's creating stuff in there, it makes them a little more cautious about editing things that they may not need to edit. Only do the things that they want inside of that master file deck and then pass it back to you. It's just a good system version control. Speaking of version control and file naming, this is something that I've encountered quite a bit. Let's talk file naming conventions. Have you ever encountered a file name that looks something like this? Pitchfinal-final_usethisone. I have seen this more often than I care to remember. It doesn't end here because I'll get a file that says pitchfinalfinalfinalfinalfinal_usethisonev which clearly the people who were writing the previous parts of this file name didn't expect it to be edited anymore. It just gets kind of messy. By the way, that's usually .pdf. In order to alleviate some version control issues and to decrease your risk in yellow and red level presentations, I encourage some types of file naming structure. This is one that I use. You can pick your own but I'll do whatever the presentation name is. It doesn't matter what these are over here. Then I'll go ahead and do date and time and I'll do it in a really straightforward number format. Again, it seems pedantic but the more you get into these kinds of habits, the quicker you'll be able to produce decks, to produce files and get them to place. You'll know what the file is. I'm aware that often times, actually in every case, a digital file created will have a timestamp on it. Sometimes the timestamp will get changed depending on who's copying the deck, who's making edits to it, the date modified may change a little bit. Having it in the file name of when this was either sent to a client or marked as ready for the next over revisions will be really helpful. In addition to the file naming convention and we know how we're gonna be working with people and these files, we also need to consider where these files are gonna be kept. Sometimes you're just gonna be getting them via email. That's completely fine. Again, being the master of the content here, you're gonna be looking for all those emails and you're gonna be the one in charge of consolidating it. However, sometimes you may be able to come up with tools or integrate tools that allow live editing from multiple parties. In red level presentations especially, I highly encourage this. If you're not in a room literally writing on white boards or brainstorming with people on this content, you need to be doing it virtually because otherwise ideas are gonna be flying back and forth at a crazy rate. Things like Google Docs, even Medium can be a method for creating comments on documents in a live way. Try to find a tool that works well with your team. These are just some of the ones that I use so that you can be making live notes and edits to presentations. However, even if you're using live content creation documents, you still wanna have a cutoff date. Whether it's locking down that digital file online or whether it's just telling everyone okay guys, stop it, no more stuff at least for the next couple hours. Let me go ahead and create this and work out the flow of the presentation and the design and all of that. It's important to still have that cutoff date. The next item in our content preparation is the visual assets. Along with your written...content that you're creating, you're gonna be coming up with a lot of visuals and these can come from a lot of different sources. Before we talk about where they come from, let's talk about where we're gonna store them. Whether it's in a Google cloud or an iCloud, I encourage cloud based storage especially because the versions of those files, the digital files, can change at a moment's notice. Be able to have them all available to all parties is really, really important. If you are gonna be keeping any of these files on a desktop or a laptop or something like that, then try to have backups in the cloud and keep the live versions on your desktop. That's totally okay too. I definitely recommend keeping them someplace where everyone has access to them. This is also great because people who are creating content, who are curating it, can be dropping files in here for you so you won't have to hunt them down or they don't bloat your email. Speaking of bloat, as we're creating images and we're gathering them, as they come in try to make sure that they're the correct resolution. Sometimes people will send us images that are just way too small. Be frank and caring with them and say, look we need something a little bit bigger. This is not useable. Or if they're too big, that's also something we wanna watch out for. It's a great habit to get into to try to keep images to under a megabyte. Doesn't matter what presentation program you're using. It could be Keynote, it could be PowerPoint, it could be Prezi. An image that's more than a megabyte is gonna slow some things down, not just in the presentation itself but it's also going to bloat where you're storing your images and make things a little bit harder. If we wanna get into some of the details, usually nowadays in this age our presentations are gonna be 16:9 aspect ratio. Sometimes we'll still linger in the old 4:3 aspect ratio. Keep that in mind if you're creating full page images. We'll also wanna keep them at 150 pixels per inch. This is some detailed stuff and it's especially important for designers. Some of you out there may not know about pixels per inch. That's fine, don't worry about it. Just check to see if your images are looking good on your screen or not. If they're not, immediately speak up and say look, we need something a little big different here. Now let's talk about where we're sourcing our images. Depending on your level of presentation whether you have a red deck or a yellow deck or green deck, you're gonna be getting your images from different places. I personally use this sort of set. This is my image crew. If you are presenting in a private setting and you know that what you're doing is not really rights managed then you can probably get away with Google images. I have some caveats on that. Make sure that your sources for your files, even on Google images, are coming from reliable places. You don't want to be sourcing an image from let's say a city and having it be a completely different cit and you never knew to begin with because you just did a search for the city name and it came up with something different. In addition to Google image searches, pulling things down from there, we'll also look at things like stock sites. I personally prefer subscription stock sites where you can buy in for a month or a year and then you can download a whole number of images based on your level of subscription. Then there's finally some free places to get it which are different than Google or Bing searches. Things like the Noun Project are great for getting icons really quickly. You can get them as .pngs or .svgs for those of you who are design minded and work inside of those programs you know that those are the kind of files that we're gonna want to use a lot. Having these designated and having a go-to place for grabbing some of your visuals is really important to note upfront. Also, have an asset file. This is not just a folder where you have random images but if you're creating a lot of different assets in a program, and for you designers out there if you're using things like Photoshop or Illustrator, if you start a asset file and have everything in there that you need and then that file's then shared with everyone else who's creating the document, that's gonna be extremely helpful. This, by the way, is the asset file that I used for this presentation. All of the visual elements that you see, I've kept all in one place. I've created new ones based on them. It's easy to grab colors that way and to create things that looks like other things in your presentation. It's just a good habit to get into. You can also take that asset file and pull out the things that you know you're going to reuse. We're gonna talk about reuse of elements in just a second. The last part of your content preparation is gonna be templates. I've broken out templates. It's a little bit different than your visual assets because it's going to be the actual vehicle of your deck or of your presentation. It's not just the images, it's not just the content, but it's the shell in which you're going to house everything. There are a lot of different template and slide programs out there. There are some positives and negatives to each of them. I will go over them really quickly but I'm gonna do it in terms of red, yellow, and green levels so you can know which is best for which. Let's start with green level. All of these can be used for a green leveled presentation. You don't even have to use ones that you're comfortable with. If you wanna explore something a little bit different, some of the ones that aren't used as often like Slideshare or some of the third party online sites. Even Prezi is a great tool if you have a lot of time to be building these presentations. Those are great options. Prezi is what I'm using for this presentation itself. It's very visual in that sense. Some of these third party programs are great because they give you some things that you may not have used before, some animations, some transitions, and you wanna be able to explore that. A great opportunity there. As far as yellow presentation decks, I definitely recommend Google Slides. It's a really quick way to work with other folks. It's a live editing program so you can have multiple slides in there and everyone could be putting stuff in there and changing text. For our red levels, I recommend PowerPoint and Keynote. That's for the reason that it's what we tend to know the most. To caveat that, if there's a program here that you don't see or there's one of these that you are the most familiar with, use that one for a red leveled presentation. It's nice to try new stuff and it's nice to explore some other avenues but when you're in that red level and you only have 24 hours to go and you haven't even had content created yet, you wanna use the thing that you're best at. That said, there are some alternatives to these. You can just do a PDF. If that's what's easiest for you, go for it. The goal is to make your life easier. Finally, there is an option that has believe it not worked for me in a lot of cases and that's to bring a board. Bring something that's physical that you can sketch out diagrams on and then just go through, take your deck, take your presentation and do one slide per point and then be writing that on this big post-it board. Invest in a couple of these because they're gonna come in handy, not just for when you don't have time to work in these slide programs, but you can use it as a backup as well. For your plan B's, you can bring this board and then literally be writing out things if something breaks down or you don't have enough time to work in a program. It still feels good to look prepared to your audience by bringing something that's already pre-written out that you can then point to and talk about.

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Ratings and Reviews

Jude Temianka

Great course with lots of handy tips. I often find myself having to prepare and give presentations at short notice, and a lot of the preparatory advice that Matt gives falls by the wayside as I frantically jump straight into production mode. I often have the feeling to overwhelm my audience with too much information because I don't take the time to step back and determine what content matters most. Super tangible advice that I will be implementing!

Tomas Verver

As a presentator designer I think Matt has an interesting approach on how to create and deliver impactful presentations. Presentations are important part of you career. Presentations can change the company's future, your own future and the world. Making them impactful is very important. At the moment we have still many presentations but many can improve big time. And we have more presentations online (at) the moment.


Found this course concise and informative. Would recommend to all who have to do presentations.

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