Edited and prepared by Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU

Great guest post by Andrew Keogh. See more about Andrew’s company Aristo.ie here.

Here are a number of questions for you –

Do the people who write story books for children start by drawing the pictures and then write the story? Or do they (as I believe) write the story first, and then have an artist draw the pictures that enhance the story?

This is clearly the sensible and practical way to go about creating successful children’s storybooks.

So why is it that many companies attempt to create the slides for the presentation before they have created an impactful narrative that will hold people’s attention?

This is definitely putting the cart before the horse as it would be explained in a storybook with words and images.

Here is another example of a situation where this arises. I will always look at an organisation’s website and LinkedIn profile pages before  arranging to visit them.

On arrival, I will strike up a conversation about the website, only to be told that the site is out of date or does not reflect where they currently are.

So if you want to create sticky messages that are remembered long after you have left the room or want a website that is impactful, please read on …

So how should you go about creating presentations and slides?

Firstly you need to ask yourself do I need slides, and more importantly does my audience require slides?

The expression “send me your slide deck” has become ubiquitous, but will people take the time to review your deck, and if they did would they be more informed about how you can be of benefit to them?

If you feel you must have slides, here is my advice as to how you go about preparing your talk and enhancing it with slides.

In previous articles I have advised about how to prepare talks/presentations, so this time let’s focus on creating the slides.

(If you’re having difficulty doing the above engage a communications coach to help you get your story down on paper)

Having created an engaging and entertaining story for your audience now get some blank pages and get started on the slides.

Give some time to thinking about what text and images will enhance your talk and make it more memorable?

Read over your talk with the blank pages close by, write some key words, phrases or sketches (stick drawings are all that’s required), some images that would enhance the talk.

Note: To be effective, slides must be capable of being read and understood in 10 seconds.

At the end of this exercise you will have a talk and a pile of pages. Lay the pages out on a large table and practice the talk out loud referring to the pages/slides where appropriate.

Based on my experience when walking through this process with clients, we generally reduce down the number of pages/slides by asking the question, is this slide for the presenter or the audience? The slides must always benefit the audience and not just be there to act as the presenters notes.

When this process is finalised, give the pages to a person who is good at creating slide presentations in your organisation, or externally to my friend and colleague Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh of ClearPreso.com and let him do his magic.

“A great talk can be greatly enhanced by creative and imaginative slides, but remember, create the story first.”


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