Starting with a standard set of slides speeds presentation creation; Issue #144 October 2, 2007

PowerPoint Tip: Standard Set of Slides

One of the ways to spend far less time creating PowerPoint presentations is to create a standard set of slides to draw on when creating your presentations.  Why is this such a good idea?  Let me share why I use this technique to drastically cut down on the time I spend creating each new presentation when I speak at a conference or deliver a workshop.

One objection I hear regularly to this idea is that having a standard set of slides eliminates the opportunity to customize presentations. And today you need to create custom presentations if you want to survive in the highly competitive business marketplace. I agree that you need to customize, but having a standard set of slides doesn't hinder your ability to do so.

By a standard set of slides what I mean is a set of slides that covers the majority of the common ideas that you present. It is not intended to be restrictive. It allows you to have a library of slides you commonly use to save time creating every new, customized presentation.

The standard slides have a common look and feel. They have one idea per slide so you can pick and choose slides from the standard set when you create each presentation. And it gives you only one place to go for slides instead of searching through different files every time. Let's see how this would look in two specific situations.

If you are in sales, your standard set of slides would include some introductory slides, slides on each popular product or service, slides on the purchasing process, slides with customer testimonials and others that would be included in the majority of your presentations. For a finance professional, your slides would include monthly graphs of the key figures you track, trends that executives need to be aware of and regular analysis that you perform that is critical to making operating decisions.

When you need to create a new presentation, you start by selecting slides from the standard set.  This will usually make up around 70% of the slides you need.  It takes only minutes to create the base of your presentation.  Now you have more time to create the remaining 30% of the slides that are customized for this particular presentation.  The resulting presentation is more effective because you used slides from the standard set you know work well, and spent your preparation time focused on making the rest of the slides the best they can be.

Look back at the last few presentations you have done. Which slides did you pull from a previous presentations? Which ones do you know you'll be using again? That's where your standard set of slides starts. Put together the slides that you regularly use into a standard set and draw on the slides in that set when you create your next presentation. You will cut down on the time you spend creating every presentation because all the time searching or recreating previous slides is eliminated.