When I am delivering my workshops, a common concern is raised by the participants. They think that the ideas I share are great, they really like the slide makeovers I show them, but they are concerned that the new visuals they create won’t meet with management approval. So they don’t act on the information as much as their management would like them to. This article shares three steps you can use to lead the change in your own organization to create more effective presentations in less time.
Step 1: Remind yourself and others of the financial impact of poor presentations
No problem gets solved unless it is a big enough problem. So the first step is to remind yourself and others of the real cost of poor presentations. In a recent Chicago workshop, I showed the participants how the time wasted by the current way presentations are created is costing them millions of dollars each year. Any issue worth that much is one that management and others will be interested in addressing. Without putting a dollar figure to the cost of the current approach, the change won’t have priority. To calculate the cost in your organization, use this calculator.
Step 2: Start small
Don’t start changing every slide in a key presentation all at once. It won’t work very well. It will take too long and the drastic change may alienate some key members of the audience. Instead, select one key message that is currently shown as a wall of text or a spreadsheet on the slide and create a more effective visual for that one slide. It won’t take too long to do, and the change is less risky because it is only one point in the overall presentation.
Step 3: Listen to feedback to build support for the changes
After you have delivered the new slide, ask a few key people if the new visual helped them understand the message better. Listen to what they liked and what they felt was missing. Improve the slide and check for additional feedback. By focusing on making the message clearer, you position yourself as someone who is looking for opportunities to improve the quality of presentations. This leads to better decisions, improves the results for your organization, and boosts your career.
After a short time, the new visual becomes the standard. Then move on to the next key message that can be improved with a new visual. Repeat the process over time and the entire presentation ends up being transformed.
You can lead the change to more effective presentations in 2014 if you start small, build support, and always focus on the bottom-line benefit to your organization.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals.