Never start with the slides

Today I started building a new presentation. It is an idea that has been running in my head for a pretty long time. This one is different from other presentations I built till today, because I am not quite sure I will even give it. I am trying to see if I can create something of value. I have a few ideas who to give it to, but it is still vague. Currently I am just creating it for me, to help me think about the subject, hoping it will lead to something great.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of a presentation the first thing that pops into my mind is the slides. I can see many of the slides and what will be on them – the pictures, what I will say with the slide, how it will be revealed. This makes it very tempting for me to just start of by building the slides. This something I try not do. Granted, conveying ideas using pictures is sometimes very powerful. But you can jot down the idea of the slide without building the slide itself (perhaps on a back of a napkin, also see here). Instead, I write down the ideas for the slides and start writing the actual words I will use when i give the presentation. The actual speech itself. Only when I am sure about the main theme, the story, the idea I want to convey, I move to the slides. Sometimes, when I start building the slides I will go back and improve the words, but I always start with words first.

This process helps me remember something very important about using slides. The slides are not the presentation. I am. The idea is. The story is. The words I will say will be. The slides are just a tool. You can compare it to using humor. Humor is great tool for giving great presentations. When used in the correct way, it can turn a bad speech into a great one. But it is not a must. You give a wonderful and engaging presentation without using any humor at all. The same goes to slides usage. Slides can help you convey your idea visually. But first you need an idea. The slides can’t talk for you (and no, reading them out loud does not count). You don’t go writing your presentation around a joke. You don’t go writing your presentation around the slides.

Elad

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