Follow These PowerPoint Presentation Hacks To Catapult Your Career

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Have you ever seen a PowerPoint presentation that hurt your eyes? Sometimes, in the worst cases, bad presentations can give you a headache.

Let’s save the world from these headaches!

Having at least a bit of OCD can be a blessing and a curse. The good side is that you will notice details and it will be valuable for making your work look as professional as possible. But the downside is that you will notice those small details in everything you see, including things that will make your guts twist and turn.

You know this is you if being tagged in one of those memes of “images that will drive you crazy” makes you uncomfortable no matter what.

Yet, this could be used as a tool to take your career to the next level. Ramit Sethi talks about the art of copywriting, and how to be world-class at it, and he points out the three basic levels.

  • Is it good or bad?

Here is where the OCD helps us because we can easily identify things that go together well. We can let our subconscious give us a sign.

  • Why is it good or bad?

This is a bit harder. Sometimes you will easily know but in other cases, it’s a bit more tricky. Is it because of the typeface being used? Is it the alignment? Or maybe the images or color selection?

  • How to make it good?

This is by far the hardest. Sometimes we can have an idea of what would look good in our heads, yet making it a reality is a challenge.

In this post, we will explore how to start taking those three steps every time you are in front of any type of work (documents, presentations, etc.) so that you can take your career to the next level by presenting information in a way that can be easily consumed and appreciated by the audience.

By the way, the Carnegie Foundation found that 85% of your success is related to your ability to communicate. You can read about this in Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. In most careers and businesses, your documents and presentations play a large part in those communications.

Let’s explore how you can take your documents, reports, and presentation slides to the next level.

Repeat After Me, "Pinterest Is My Friend"

MATT:

As someone who has worked in a third-world country, I have noticed there are things we take for granted in the United States. For example, when I flip a light switch, a light actually comes on. When I use a faucet, water actually comes out. Better yet, I can drink that water and not worry about life-threatening illnesses. Remarkable.

We live in complete comfort compared to the majority of the world. What does this have to do with designing a PowerPoint? Wait for it. With all of our luxuries, details have been passed over for mass production. I feel at home in Europe because there are design details everywhere. I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Paris learning about marketing in my MBA program. One day, we were at a fashion house and you could see detail in every corner. The door handles were ornate, the moldings around the ceiling had intricate designs, and you could just feel a sense that attention went into every space. That sense of pride and detail is rare in the United States.

I, like you, have sat through thousands of presentations. Most of them were dry, bland, and boring. The issue is that people don’t spend the extra time needed for a nice presentation. It’s actually not difficult to stand out because most presentations are terrible. All you need to do is be slightly better than others. That can be done with a little creativity.

You might say you are not creative. That’s untrue. Think back to when you were a child, or maybe you have children, think of them. Kids are creative in everything they do. They color, paint, sing, and dance with no apprehension. You were the same. At some point, you were likely told you are not creative, and that spirit of creativity slowly left you. I am here to tell you that, yes, you are creative and your PowerPoint presentations are an excellent way to manifest your artistic abilities.

Now that we have a foundation, let’s examine how to build a great PowerPoint deck.

First, you need content. What are you going to present? We won’t spend much time here as your presentation could be 5 minutes or an hour. Either way, you need your content written before placing them in PowerPoint.

Second, with your content in hand, go to Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest. Lookup “PowerPoint Design.” Scroll through the designs and use one as an example for what you would like to emulate. To really hammer this point, I will do an example deck in this article. I like this presentation - 

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Third, now that we have content and inspiration we can start to build our slides. You will likely only need five types of slides.

  1. Title
  2. Conclusion
  3. Section break
  4. Body
  5. Alternate body

That’s really all you need. Let’s look at my examples. 

Notice how these slides are very similar to the example I found on Pinterest. It’s perfectly fine to look at other’s work and be inspired by them. A little secret, that’s what all designers do.

As you are building your slides, focus on simplicity. Your presentation should not be full of content. Instead, your slides are guideposts for you, not your audience. Essentially your PowerPoint slides are simply there to trigger your speaking points.

You know a presentation will be bad when they are full of written content. If I see that, I know the presenter did not spend time crafting their presentation. Instead, they are just going to read the slides word-for-word. Breaking news. I can read just fine and prefer to hear your insights over watching you read every single word.

Back to the design portion. Take your time. Focus on simplicity, creativity, and have pride in what you produce. You will stand out when you spend that little extra time making a custom deck. We don’t have time to go into all the details of adding pictures, shapes, and changing colors. For those elements, click HERE for a list of articles which dive into actionable steps and resources of font selection, choosing pictures, and more.

So go be creative just as you were made to be and take pride in what you produce.

ALEJANDRO:

I still remember the first time I saw a presentation designed by Matt. The first thing that came to my mind was “I need to learn how to do that”. And right after our meeting was done I asked him: How did you do that? Can you teach me?

Most of my design knowledge I have stolen from Matt… so I can’t add much to the fundamentals and principles he shared… but I can give you the tools to find someone to steal knowledge!

There are only two things you have to do to put yourself in a position to learn these fundamentals and principles:

  1. Work with others who are more talented than you
  2. Ask them how they do it

It is that simple.

Yet, it is not easy because we have to fight our ego to do so.

We all like to feel important and appreciated. We all want to have an impact and create value. For this reason, putting ourselves in an environment where we are not as talented as others is a threat to those desires.

Yet, we have to play the long game. By putting ourselves in places where we are the least talented, we will be cutting our learning curves. We can make these talented people our mentors.

We will be less talented in that context. But compared to everyone else, our talent is growing exponentially by being exposed to people who are better than us at something.

Also, the most difficult part is to ask. It is as simple as asking: How did you do that? Can you teach me?

Simple, but not easy because it means assuming a lower status in front of someone else which we are not prone to do often (survival biases, etc.).

In most cases, people will say yes. The only thing you have to do is act on the advice they give you so that you are not wasting their time. Talented people value their time, and if they are giving it to you is because they value you. So the minimum you can do is to respect it and put that advice to work.

Also, start where you are with what you have. I still don’t know how to use InDesign like Matt. But that is not stopping me from taking action. I use PowerPoint and try to make the best out of it.

Now it’s your turn! Go put this advice to work!

See How We Present

We have a great opportunity for you. Matt and I will be conducting another Networking Boot Camp and we want to invite you. At the boot camp, you will learn the basics of how to open, maintain, and close conversations and networking events, and how to maintain those professional relationships.

This will be a great opportunity to face your fears and start challenging the status quo. Click here if you would like more information about what we do at the Networking Boot Camp.

Not only will you immediately become a better networker, you will also see how we present and can steal our style . . . I mean, be inspired. Notice how we set up our slides, transition, and engage with the audience. Register today by clicking the button below.

Stay Caffeinated!