5 Simple Steps on How to Make Great Slide Presentations, Part 1

So, you have to do a slide presentation in one week. You may get a little bit of sinking feeling on the large amount of time it is going to take.  Days of typing, editing, and finding the right picture. Good presentation take time. But, you can use your time an energy much more effectively if you follow this simple process:

  • Day 1: Brainstorm on the Topic
  • Day 2: Write an Outline
  • Day 3: Storyboard the Presentation
  • Day 4: Create Presentation
  • Day 5: Practice

So what do you notice about this? Anything different from what you would do normally? I guess the first major difference is that you do not start with the software. It is very easy to get an idea to create a presentation, and then immediately start working on it. However, there are several problems with this.

a)    Your first idea is often not your best idea.

b)   It is easy to become tied to that first idea.

c)    It is easy to shift back and forth between making content and making it look good.

d)   It is easy to lose track of the entire picture of your presentation.

e)    It is easy to focus on creation and not on the whether it helps the audience.

These things can lead to a mediocre presentation and a lot of wasted time.

So, what is the alternative? Pencil, Paper, and Post-Its.

Surprised? If you have done any creative work, you have probably used these three things many times. If you have not for some reason, I suggest that you should.

So, let`s look at the process one day at a time. This time I will only cover the first two parts. I next 3 parts will come later.

Day 1: Brainstorming about the Topic

Before, you do any brainstorming you should determine who your audience is. I am not going to go in much detail about this, but for any presentation, that is something that you will naturally consider right at the beginning. Later, this will help you decide what to leave in, what to leave out, and how to say what you want to say. I only mention this first, because there are times when you are not sure what topic you want to talk about. Knowing your audience can help you decide on the most appropriate topic.  If you already have a topic or were given one, then you can start with that.

So, do you have a topic? Not Yet? It will help you understand the content of this if you work along. You can pick anything you like even cat internet memes. If you are having trouble just write a 3~5 things that come to your mind right now. Pick the middle one or whatever your like. Done? Ok!

After you have the topic, get out some Post-it notes. If you don`t have any, you can use paper and tape. But I really suggest you go out and get Post-its. Especially the ones with the strong glue. It will make it to move ideas around and group them later. Also, only one idea per post-it. If you write more than one it will be hard to group.

So, where do you put them? The wall is a good place. You put them directly on the wall or tape some white paper and put the post-it on the that piece of paper. Or you do on a table. It doesn`t matter as long as you have a lot of space to put ideas on. Also, walls are great because you can use more than one and move around a bit. If you get stuck and no ideas come to you move around a little bit. It may seem silly, but it works.

Finally, no matter how silly or stupid the idea seems at first, write down anyway. You just never know when that idea maybe an inspiration for another good idea. So, Don`t Censor anything, yet. Once you felt you have written all that you could. Write 10 more and stop. Collect all the ideas and put them somewhere you can see them.

Day 2: Write an Outline

Now comes the organization. You can use any format you like. Different formats work for different objectives. An outline for a pitch would be different from presentation simply conveying information. There are two patterns that I like. The simplest one is the following. It 3-point tree structure. It looks like this:


  • Introduction
  •                 Supporting Point A
  •                 Supporting Point B
  •                 Supporting Point C
  • Sub Topic 1
  •                 Supporting Point A
  •                 Supporting Point B
  •                 Supporting Point C
  • Sub Topic 2
  • Supporting Point A
  •                 Supporting Point B
  •                 Supporting Point C
  • Sub Topic 3
  • Supporting Point A
  •                 Supporting Point B
  •                 Supporting Point C
  • Conclusion
  • Supporting Point A
  •                 Supporting Point B
  •                 Supporting Point C

Another good outline, but more advanced is this one:

  • What: The Overall frame:
  • Why
  • Beginning of Story 1
    • Beginning of Story 2
      • Beginning of Story 3
        • What
        • How
        • What if (optional)
      • Closing of Story 3
    • Closing of Story 2
  • Closing of Story 1

(adapted from “Presenting Magically”)

Again there are a lot of different types of outlines and framework. Each with its occasions, plus and minus. I suggest trying one or two styles and see what you get.

Also, you do not need to start with the beginning and fill everything out until you get to the bottom. Start in any order you like and fill in what you need. Once you written everything down take a short break. Watch a YouTube Video or anything else that is mild distraction. With a fresh mind, come back to your outline. How would you make it better? Make the changes you need and stop. But the whole thing out of the way for the day. Be sure to place it where you can see the next day.  So, Next week we will move onto storyboarding your presentation.

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