One of the best parts of the client workshops we teach is that our clients are really smart people. We are blessed to be able to work with so many companies, which are full of bright, qualified, hard-working people. Sure… I am kissing up to our clients this morning… but it also happens to be true.
And frequently someone in our workshop will say something so simple and clear and powerful that I have to tell them right on the spot that I am going to use it in our blog, and that I will footnote them! (Thank you, Gerardo.) In a recent workshop we were talking about slide decks, and the correct way to develop them. And at The Latimer Group, we always encourage people to think about their message plan first, before they even think about slide creation.
But that is problematic for many people who work inside large corporations. Large organizations tend to have slide templates that must be used. In general, that is a very good thing. Having a consistent look and feel to the slides that are used is beneficial on a number of levels. But some organizations, in our opinion, perhaps take it too far, and also give the impression that the template not only dictates fonts and colors and branding… but that it also dictates content. And this is where the problems can arise.
Organizations should encourage their people to think and examine and assess, and then when they present, to give their opinion, and the facts as they see them. Organizations benefit when their people are thinking about their information and the best way to share it. Organizations lose when their people think they have no flexibility in the information that is shared, and that they simply have to plug required information into the required slide deck.
So, back to our friend Gerardo. We were talking about putting the slide deck aside for a bit, and about the value of thinking about a message plan. What is the goal of your presentation? Who is your audience, and what will they care about? What are you asking for or recommending? What are the main points that you need to make? And after you have considered these kinds of questions, then, and only then, should you be thinking about plugging your information into the slide template.
And as Gerardo was listening to me, he simply summarized my point as follows: “A slide template is not a message plan.” Thank you Gerardo, for making my point for me, but in a much more powerful way.
Put the slides aside. Think about message first, and slides second. It will be better for you, your audience and your organization.
Have a great day.