Business professionals can create clear, focused PowerPoint presentations that executives understand immediately
Is this your situation? You are a director, VP, or executive in an area that deals with a lot of data, such as financial, operational, research, engineering, or technical. Your staff do analysis in Excel and prepare slides in PowerPoint to present important information to senior executives and external stakeholders. Unfortunately, often the presentations are not clear in the messages, use overloaded slides, and end up confusing the executives. You need a training workshop for the business professionals in your group to create effective presentations so you don't spend hours fixing the presentations because you don't want to be embarrassed in front of the executive team.
A customized workshop can teach your staff in two days how to create a clear message with focused content and effective visuals
This was honestly one of the best courses I've taken in my 11+ years with the company. It should be mandatory for anyone who presents. Full of useful information and tips presented by a motivating, professional, expert who really knows how to engage the audience. Truly an excellent course!
How do I take your staff from their current skill level (usually picked up on their own over time) to having the skills to systematically create more effective presentations every time? Here’s what they will learn over two days.
The GPS approach to create clear, focused content
Most presenters start creating their presentation by copying slides from previous files. They pick all the slides they think might be useful in this presentation and copy them into a new file. Then they hope they can arrange those slides, and a few new slides, into some coherent message. This rarely works well. You end up with a message that does not flow, leaving the audience confused and the important message you needed to communicate goes unheard.
I teach your staff my GPS approach to planning a presentation. Like using a GPS on your phone or in your vehicle, we start with the destination of the presentation – what you want the audience to know, do, approve, etc. at the end of the presentation. Then we analyze the audience to understand who they are, what they know, and what they expect – like a GPS uses satellites to determine where you are now. Once we are clear on the destination and where the audience is now, we create an outline of how to move the audience from where they are to where we want them to be – the equivalent to the best route on a GPS. Here's how I summarized it when speaking to senior financial professionals at a conference in 2018.
This was extremely helpful - learned a new way to look at slides, pull data together and hope to now effectively provide information to senior management.
I will definitely focus on my audience more when publishing slides and not just give them the numbers, but the story.
Strategies to reduce information overload in presentations
Creating an outline is good, but not sufficient. In the audience surveys I conduct the single biggest issue in presentations today is information overload. Too much information on each slide and too much information crammed into the given time lead to confusion and inaction from executives. I share how presenters have three additional opportunities to share information with the audience outside of the presentation. I show them how moving details Before, After, or Behind the presentation focuses the key messages and allows them to access details if asked during the presentation. I also review eight considerations presenters should use when deciding to create a document or a presentation (or both).
I also get right into the details of making text and numbers more effective. I share eight strategies for removing words from text points. This makes every text point stronger and more impactful. When it comes to numbers, I share the three types of results a presenter can share and how most presenters stop short of what executives really are looking for. In this world of communication overload from email, text messages, videos, and presentations, executives appreciate a succinct, clear message that gets to the point quickly.
Working within the boundaries of a corporate template
Most corporations have a PowerPoint template that dictates the colors, logos, fonts, etc. Presenters will make decisions on colors, fonts, and layouts within the boundaries of the template. I spend a short time discussing how to make these decisions wisely.
This video clip shows how I give research-based answers to the questions on font face and font size decisions.
Three steps to create effective visuals in PowerPoint
The afternoon of the first day is spent teaching how to select and create effective visuals for their PowerPoint presentation. This starts with deciding on the headline for each slide. Like a newspaper article, the headline summarizes the key message. Headlines are powerful for audiences because they instantly understand the point the presenter is making. Headlines are also important for presenters as they focus the content that is delivered. In past workshops, many participants tell me that this one idea was the most powerful for them. It forces them to clarify their messages, leading to a more effective presentation. Often the headline is already on the slide and I show them the four places they can look find the headline.
The next step, selecting a visual for the slide, is the one where many professionals struggle. Your staff don’t need to become designers to select the right visuals, they need a structured approach. I will teach them my six category decision model that allows anyone to select an effective visual based on what message is being communicated. They will see visuals they can use for their own slides through the slide makeovers I use to demonstrate the different visuals. They will increase the library of visuals they know how to use to effectively communicate a message visually.
This video from a live workshop for financial professionals introduces the six category approach to selecting visuals for your slides.
Once the visual has been selected, the third step is to focus the audience while presenting the slide. This can be done by: 1) using callouts that direct the attention to a specific spot on the slide, 2) using builds so the presenter can give context before the audience comes to a conclusion, and 3) using techniques that break complex visuals into smaller pieces that are easier to explain. I demonstrate all of these approaches so the participants know when they should be used.
Focused Excel & PowerPoint skill training on the second day teaches your staff the techniques and insider tips to quickly create the visuals they now want to use
At the end of the first day, many participants realize that while they thought they had pretty good PowerPoint knowledge, they don’t know how to create the visuals I showed them. Since all the visuals I show are created in Excel and PowerPoint, they want to know how they can create the graphs, diagrams and other visuals themselves. The second day is a hands-on day of learning the techniques and tips to create the effective visuals they have seen. I focus on the makeovers they saw on the first day so they know exactly how to use Excel and PowerPoint to create the visuals they saw. Plenty of time is reserved for questions and personal help is provided if someone gets stuck. Since they are practicing on their own laptop, they walk away with a file of effective visuals that they have created themselves. They also walk away with insider tips on how to create these visuals quickly. They will be more efficient at using the software in the future.
In addition to the data graphs that I show your staff how to construct, I also cover how to take images from other software or equipment and present them effectively. The video below is one of the methods I show to break an image apart and build it piece-by-piece so you focus the audience on each portion..
This is training on effective presentations – not how to stand and deliver, not every technical aspect of Excel and PowerPoint, and not how to be a designer
How is this training different from other presentation skills courses? My clients tell me it is unique because it covers practical skills that other courses don’t cover. A traditional presentation skills course videotapes the students and discusses how to stand, how to gesture, etc. I don’t do that at all because there are plenty of good courses already. Technical Excel and PowerPoint training focuses on every feature in the software, runs multiple days, and it led by a software trainer who has never had to present in front of executives. This is a waste of time for people who already know the basics of the software.
There are some presentation design firms that offer training as well. It isn't their primary service, but they list it on their website. Most of their work is design focused, meaning you will be learning about color, fonts, layouts, etc. If you are looking to turn your staff into designers, that is the training for you. If you want your business professionals to be focused on their analysis and learn how to communicate those important results to executives, design training may not achieve the results you are looking for.
The training I provide delivers what your staff never received in university or through a professional accreditation program. This is training on how to structure an effective message, eliminate the overload of information that confuses executives, select and create effective visuals to support your message, and prepare the presentation efficiently using the software you already have. The skills are practical, required for success in today’s business world, and relevant for data or information intensive roles.
The instructor took a number of slides from our existing financial presentations and provided an updated view of those pages based on the principles we learned in class. I found this to be very effective because he took presentations we were familiar with and demonstrated how that same information could be applied differently on a slide.
This was one of the best courses I have ever taken. The instructor was knowledgeable, engaging, and presented the information in a format that was easy to understand. It was a great learning experience!
I am a recognized expert in effective PowerPoint presentations
You would be wise to ask how I am qualified to develop and present this course to your staff. I am one of North America’s recognized experts in effective PowerPoint presentations. I have authored or co-authored nine books. I have consulted on high-stakes presentations including one used by the CEO of an investment management firm to retain over $800 million in assets. I am one of fifteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for my contributions to the PowerPoint and Excel communities. My thoughts and ideas have appeared in publications all over the world. My information gets used by universities such as Vanderbilt, Southern New Hampshire University, Baruch College at CUNY, and many others in their coursework and as teaching reference materials.
I am not a techie who has never had to give a high stakes presentation to senior executives. I have walked in the shoes of your staff. I have spent over 15 years working on how to structure and deliver effective PowerPoint presentations. When you hire me, you get an expert who has proven their ideas in the marketplace over time. And when you hire me to do the training, you get me, not a staff member who just has a cursory knowledge of my content. I don’t employ anyone to deliver my courses because you deserve the expert in front of the room with your staff.
I have credibility with business and technical professionals because my educational background includes both. My undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering and I have an MBA from a top US program (the Tuck School at Dartmouth College). I can understand the financial or technical information being presented by your staff and show them how it can be presented more effectively. When I present the makeovers during the day, I commonly hear that people think I have worked for the company because I present as if I know a lot about what they do. I have the background to quickly figure out the key messages and communicate them.
Am I the right expert to help your staff? Here’s a page that will help you figure that out.
The ideas I share in the course are backed up by academic research. These aren't just ideas I thought up. I was an adjunct faculty member at Rush University, I have read the academic research and I have presented at two conferences of Business Communications professors. I also do my own research that has been published in major newspapers and other author’s books. My articles are regularly on the reading list for college and university courses. There is a solid foundation behind what I present, so you are assured that it is not just theory and pie-in-the-sky thinking.
Special note for training department staff: If you are a specialist in the training/development/learning department who has been asked by a senior manager or executive to find a solution for the pain they are experiencing from poor staff presentations, let me be clear on one thing. I am an expert, not a trainer. Training is just one of the ways I share my expertise to improve the effectiveness of presentations. Why is the distinction between an expert and a trainer important? Because an expert costs a lot more than a trainer. If you are going to evaluate my program based simply on cost compared to other trainers, not on the return on investment an expert can deliver to an executive, save us both the time and don’t contact me. If you do contact me, I insist that I send my proposal directly to the executive who asked you to search for a solution. They are the only ones who can truly evaluate the value my program provides because they are the ones experiencing the pain. If that’s not the way you are willing to proceed, I guess there won’t be a good fit between us at this time. Feel free to come back when the executive can’t find a solution that provides the ROI they want.
Customized content and slide makeovers of their own slides shows your staff exactly how these ideas apply to their own presentations
I don’t deliver the same workshop to every group. I don’t believe that will give the best outcome for your staff. I discuss what your goals are, the issues you see in the current presentations, and I analyze example files that I request the participants send me. I look at all of this to determine which topics to include and in what depth we need to cover each topic. The content of the course is tailored to the unique situation your staff faces every day.
For every workshop I prepare customized slide makeovers of slides sent to me by the participants. This is one of the primary reasons why the session is so successful. When the participants see the ideas applied to their own slides, they are convinced that they can improve their presentations. This is not a set of generic examples that aren't relevant to your situation and the types of presentations you deliver. The participants see their own slides and get customized advice in the session.
This video shows an example of a makeover that is based on one from a workshop. You can see how I explain what the issues are with the original slide, what can be done to make the slide more effective, and what lessons we can apply to similar slides in the future.
Each participant receives a detailed handout at the session. The handout contains almost all the slides that I use and allows the participants to spend their time thinking of how these concepts apply to their own presentations. The handout has space for them to take notes of where they will apply the ideas on the slides they are currently using. I send you the handout in PDF format three business days in advance of the session and you print a copy for each participant. If you are a paperless office, you can distribute the PDF file and people can take notes on it electronically.
The learning continues after the session as I provide you with a PowerPoint file containing all of the “before” and “after” slide makeovers I showed during the session. You send the file to the participants, who can see exactly how I built the revised slides and they can use these slides as the starting point for further revisions. The handout and slide makeover file are always provided for every session and the cost is included in the fee for the session.
You can take the learning even deeper and make it continue longer by providing some of my learning resources for each participant. This is completely optional, but organizations who have done this see participants leave with tools that help them remember what they learned and take the knowledge further. It also allows you to eliminate the excuse of “I couldn’t remember what he said” as a reason why someone has not made positive changes to their presentations. Commonly the resources are my books "GPS for Presentations" and "Select Effective Visuals". We can talk about this when we discuss your session.
Hiring an expert is an investment that pays off within a few months
As a senior manager or executive, you understand that hiring an expert is an investment, not an expense. You expect the investment to pay off quickly. Investing in this training for your staff will have a positive ROI in under a year. Here’s how to look at it.
First, let’s look at the time your staff will spend in the session. The fourteen hours they spend will increase their skills and make them more efficient at creating the presentations they are required to create. With a better approach to planning their message, cutting away the information that is not needed, and better skills at efficiently using PowerPoint, they can easily save 3-4 hours per month. In five months they have saved more time than they spent in the course.
Second, consider the investment to bring me in. Directors and VPs will save time & hassle not having to revise presentations, and executives won’t waste time trying to figure out what a presentation means, so they will make quicker decisions. All of these leaders can apply the time they have saved to increase revenue and decrease costs in other areas of the business. It will be different in every organization, but the net result is usually many times the cost of bringing me in. The payback is usually within six months or less.
You need this training to be cost effective, so I have a very simple fee structure. There is a flat fee for me to be with your group for the two days. There are no per person charges (other than optional resources you may choose to add), so you can gather up to 25 of the team members who would benefit from these ideas and know your cost is the same. If you compare this to the cost of sending staff to public training sessions, you’ll find a great cost savings. And with a customized workshop, the focus is on exactly what they need for their presentations. Public workshops deal with general topics that are not tailored to the specific type of presentations your team delivers.
If you haven’t already noticed, I live in Canada. This may be a concern if you are in the U.S., but you don’t need to worry. I hold an E-1 visa that gives me full access to deliver workshops with no issues at the border and no letters or forms for you to fill out. I am familiar with the forms your accounting department will ask for, like the W-8BEN, so I’ll make sure that this is smooth and easy for you. I know you want the least hassles possible, so I’ve done the work to make sure that booking a workshop is simple and easy.
Call or email today to get started
You know the pain presentations are today in your group. You can relieve that pain with a focused, practical two day training course. Email me or call me today at 905-510-4911 (Eastern time zone) so we can start discussing how to customize the session for your group.
If you don’t think you can have your staff attend a two-day program, you may want to know whether this program can be delivered in different duration formats. It can, but we need to discuss what your staff would not learn if the course is shortened. Email or call me and we can discuss what your restrictions are and what the options might be.
If you are an individual who is responsible for your own professional development and your organization does not have enough people for a customized in-house course, consider my Guided Self-Study Course.
Dave Paradi Consulting is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.NASBARegistry.org.
60 second summary
- You are an executive in finance, operations, engineering, technology, research, or analysis
- Your staff create presentations that are unclear, overloaded, and confusing
- In my two-day workshop, I can teach your staff how to create PowerPoint presentations that have a clear message, focused content, and effective visuals
- This practical, focused training provides a positive ROI within months
Here are some video resources that will give you more information on Dave's ideas.
Selected Client List
Here are some of the organizations I have delivered workshops to in the past few years. Many of my clients do not allow me to list them on my website (almost every large company has this in their contracts now), so this list does not fully indicate the breadth of organizations I work with. The list is organized based on the area or department I worked with.
CPA British Columbia
TD Canada Trust
Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board
LCBO (Finance Department)
Financial Planning Association San Francisco
Canadian Institute of Actuaries
The Regional Municipality of York
General Dynamics Land Systems Canada
Pacific Gas & Electric
SeraCare Life Sciences
Medtronic of Canada
Ontario Cancer Institute
Emergency Medical Associates
Nintendo of Canada
LCBO (Marketing Department)
Ontario Real Estate Association
Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
Town of Oakville