Slide decks are like pets. They live, breathe, and adapt to their environment – or at least they should. In each of my roles, I’ve have 2-3 decks at any time that I use to pitch a deal or sell a product.
At Buzzfeed, I use an advertiser deck and one for publishers. I customise these decks, in many cases for each meeting, and also update the boiler plate versions almost every day.
A deck is never perfect and every day you use it you get good feedback. I’ve probably revised the core Buzzfeed deck close to 100 times. Some tweaks are big, some are small.
My decks have always used lots of screen grabs and typically have only 10-25 words per page.
Almost anything can be mocked up in a slide. I integrate prospective client brands, characters, and messaging into mocked up web pages using just cmd-shift-4 (screen grab on mac), cropping, and layering. I only bother designers on the team for the rarest needs where something needs to be perfect. Quick and dirty is ok in most cases.
Some tools advice:
- Use a Mac if you can. It’s a far superior product for all of this.
- I used Powerpoint for years and just switched to Keynote. It produces far more beautiful slides.
- Sign up for DropBox and keep you decks there.
- Use an iPhone and an iPad (worth the investment). Run Dropbox on both of these devices so you can pull up slides at any time as a reference point, even over dinner, drinks, or on a corner.
- Always send slides in PDF format. Everyone can read PDFs on almost any device
I typically say something different than what’s on the page. I trust that my audience can read the words on the screen, see the images, and get my colour commentary. Ogilvy says you should only say what’s on the page, but this is a rate case where times have changed.
I love decks. They refine my thinking and can be great conveyance tools. These decks are different then the kind of powerpoints consultants use, and people complain about. They’re visual aids or streamlined live demos. We could do it live but that would take to much time.
Banging it out:
You also need to be fast with your deck revisions. There’s a lot of work to do in a startup. Think about the changes you need while showering or eating and pound them out in 10 minute sprints between meetings. You can reserve evening hours for big restarts every couple weeks.
A deck is never done. A deck is never “right.” It’s a blade that needs continual sharpening and tooling for each piece of wood.
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