Presentation Management – Why Bother?

Presentation materials are not only expensive to create but often embody the essence of a company’s strategic, tactical and future development plans. Electronic presentations have therefore assumed a vital importance as the primary communications tool for many companies.

Despite all this, presentations are typically created by a single person using Microsoft PowerPoint their own PC, with the result that materials are seldom shared; indeed they might be jealously guarded. At best, presentations may be copied to a shared network drive of some kind but will remain hard to find in the absence of powerful content search facilities. There are also other challenges to overcome, such as:

  • Not knowing of a presentation’s existence means that the same material must be needlessly and expensively re-created time and again.
  • In the absence of an easily searched central repository of approved, signed-off material, presenters can be tempted to make up their own content, perhaps resulting in needless compliance risks and/or legal exposure
  • Presentations are typically exchanged between staff using Email or a shared drive. However, colleagues may not be available to send urgently needed materials, particularly in a global setting when 1/3 of staff might be asleep. This results in the non-availability of key assets, as well as imposing an extra load on Email systems
  • With many different versions of ‘standard’ presentations doing the rounds it is hard to know which is the most up-to-date. Nor is there an easy way to review previous versions if necessary.
  • When new presentations are finally approved it is difficult (often impossible) to recall out-of-date or incorrect copies of slides or to update them.
  • Workers in other departments, divisions or countries cannot tell what presentations may be available and how relevant they might be.
  • Company-wide branding is hard to enforce in the absence of an easy way of distributing presentation materials quickly and securely to authorized users.
  • There is no way of seeing who has used which materials or when. Lack of audit trails can be a severe handicap in the event that legal compliance is called into question.
  • It is impossible to determine the origin of any individual slide once it has been copied or moved from its original presentation.
  • Selected materials cannot be shared securely with outside users or suppliers.
  • It is difficult to quickly pull together tailored presentations for a specific audience.
  • Expert and novice users alike have no option other than to be proficient with PowerPoint.

This is very costly

Make no mistake; living with this kind of inefficiency is very expensive. When the biggest outlay for most organizations is the salary bill, having highly-paid executives spend their time messing around with PowerPoint is just not smart.

Presentation Management therefore quickly leads to more effective collaboration between staff, with more efficient use being made of expensive presentation assets.

What’s the alternative?

If a solution can be found to address each of the above, it follows that large savings are possible, especially for organizations employing many presenters.

These are some of the challenges Digital Image set out to solve by creating a Presentation Management service to act as a secure central repository for an organization’s PowerPoint slides.

What’s in it for me?

Typical Presentation Management benefits are:

  • Re-purpose expensive presentation materials saving time & money
  • Web-based libraries of key PowerPoint presentations & slides
  • Secure distribution of business critical presentations worldwide, 24/7
  • Create new presentations ‘on the fly’ from existing slides
  • Users save time by easily managing and sharing presentations
  • Maximize revenue – react quickly to sales opportunities
  • Stay on-message; Automatically slide updates when an original changes
  • Share approved, signed-off information with remote users
  • Save confusion – manage different drafts using ‘Visual Versioning’
  • Save time with a powerful slide search and retrieval engine for individual slides
  • Help Compliance- help enforce & monitor the use of legally approved and up-to-date materials
  • Brand integrity- help impose current branding & template use
  • Management controls record and report on usage of sensitive or valuable assets
  • Reduced loading on Email systems by posting links, not large files
  • Forensic reconstruction of historic materials delivered at any past time and date
  • Zero client installation
  • Minimal training because of an easy, intuitive interface.

Need to know more?

A solution does now exist for users and managers to share presentations with colleagues, perhaps worldwide, whilst keeping a record of who downloaded which material and when.

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Developing the Narrative for the PowerPoint Presentation

The way you present the text/data is vital in a presentation. Post the first stage of inquiring and collecting the vital information, the stage comes when you need to prepare what goes into the ppt. When I am given the task of preparing the presentation, at the second stage this is what I do -

Briefing meeting with the subject matter experts (SME’s): At this stage, I already have the objective of the presentation and the background information on who would be providing the content, I then arrange for a briefing meeting with the content providers. I ask him/them to mail across the material post the meeting. During the meeting, they explain and show the reference material that needs to be used.

Prepare the first draft: Post the meeting I go through the material in detail, I prepare the story line in a word format and I don’t worry about the representation at this stage at all. The story needs to be as in-depth as possible. I also carry out my research on the topic and embed that in the narrative.

Second discussion with the SME: I then arrange for a second session with the content provider (subject matter expert) and share the narrative with them. Every line is then introspected and discussed upon to freeze the narrative so that the message it crisp and clear. This I do by asking relevant questions to the content provider whenever I feel that the message needs to be more accurate and technically/conceptually correct, strong and as per the industry standards.

Organise the narrative: I then organise the narrative so that the message does not seem disconnected, is coherent and connected – following the basic rule – setting expectation with the audience (agenda), introduction, body, conclusion/recommendation, annexure, next steps and contact details. While organising the content, you need not worry about what text goes to each slide – you just chunk the portions of the content to frame a story line. For example, it may happen that introduction can have more than 1 or 2 slides depending on the kind of representation you would want to give to the deck.

Freezing the narrative usually takes two/three sessions, but it is the most important task that needs to be completed prior to jumping in the design stage. The output that you achieve here will be extremely lengthy like a research/speech and this won’t go as is in the deck. However, framing this narrative provides you a solid foundation and serves as notes and reference material to the presenter, sales people and other stakeholders.