Every day business professionals look for people to help improve an important presentation they have developed. They’ve created the slides and are looking for someone to “fix them up”. They contact a professional presentation designer and are sometimes shocked at the cost they are quoted. They just need minor changes to their slides, why does it cost so much? If the presenter has access to an in-house presentation professional, why does it take them so long to get the file back? Because most business professionals don’t understand what goes into fixing up a presentation. Let me explain what a presentation professional will likely have to fix.
Common problems: bullets and other text that is not aligned or properly indented, inconsistent line spacing, inconsistent fonts and font sizes between slides, text boxes used instead of placeholders, multiple formats due to multiple slide masters
What needs to be done: consolidate all slides to one master, apply the correct layout to each text slide or reapply the layout to reset the formatting, manually fix the fonts and font sizes, move text into the proper placeholders
Common problems: fuzzy low-resolution images, images taken from the Internet and used without permission, clip art used, images not aligned with other objects, images stretched, images not cropped to focus on the key portion
What needs to be done: find appropriate images that can be legally used in a commercial presentation, size and crop all images, align images with related objects
Common problems: is actually an image created in other software, fuzzy low-resolution image from PDF document, colors and fonts don’t match corporate template
What needs to be done: recreate the diagram using PowerPoint shapes so it is consistent with the template colors and fonts, is clear, and can be edited in the future
Common problems: fuzzy low-resolution image of a graph, Excel graphs that don’t match the colors and fonts of the corporate template, linked Excel graphs that can’t be edited because the Excel file is not available, graphs cluttered with “chartjunk”, graphs that contain embedded workbooks that expose confidential information
What needs to be done: copy the Excel graph properly so that the template look is maintained and no confidential information is exposed, create the graph in PowerPoint so all the data is in the file and editing later is easy, clean up the graphs to make them clearer
There is a lot more to “fixing up” a presentation than most business professional realize. That’s why it takes so long and costs so much if you use a resource outside your organization. Sure, you could try someone from Upwork or another work for hire website, but remember that you get what you pay for. Presentation professionals like those from the Presentation Guild are qualified to make the changes correctly.
There are ways that a business professional can create PowerPoint slides so that the work of the presentation professional is greatly reduced. If presenters learned the following skills, their slides would be better and require less fixing:
- How to use a single slide master (and don’t use the Keep Source Formatting option when copying slides from other presentations)
- How to select the correct slide layout for each slide
- How to only use images you have permission to use, such as from the corporate library or CC0 stock images
- How to crop and size images in PowerPoint
- How to use the tools in PowerPoint to quickly create diagrams using the built-in shapes
- How to create graphs in PowerPoint or copy graphs from Excel in a way that makes them consistent with the corporate template
- How to clean up graphs to make them clearer for the audience
If you want someone to improve a set of slides you have created, first make sure that you have learned how to create the best slides possible so the fixing up is just minor in nature. This helps reduce the work of the presentation professional and improves the turnaround time.
P.S. You may think I wrote this article because I do this work and am just complaining. I’m not. I don’t work on individual presentations for people. I conduct training workshops to teach business professionals how to create presentations with a clear message, focused content, and effective visuals. In the hands-on portion of my sessions I teach the skills listed above and many more. I wrote this article because I see the frustration and hear presenters complain in my workshops. Change the way you create your slides and you will be the dream client for the presentation professionals you work with.
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.