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The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

PowerPoint Hyperlinks: Creating an Interactive Deck

If you’re exhibiting at a trade show or convention, you need to set up a booth that can catch everyone’s attention. We talked about how to make video loops in the past. This will give people passing by your display a brief introduction to your brand. When that catches their interest, provide more information with an interactive presentation deck. You can easily create on through the use of PowerPoint hyperlinks.

PowerPoint hyperlinks allow you to jump to specific slides quickly. It can also serve as a command to switch to a second presentation or open a different document. Here’s a quick tutorial to go about it:

Step One

Start by creating your presentation as you normally would. Add an initial slide you’re planning to use at a trade show should start with a slide that will serve as a “homepage”. This is where you’re going to put all the hyperlinks that will lead to specific parts of your presentation. Forgo the usual title slide for a homepage slide instead.

Step Two

When you’ve finished building your deck, go back to the first slide. You can use any object as a PowerPoint hyperlink. It can be a picture, shape, or text. Whatever you decide to use, arrange them in any way you like. Just keep in mind that you should have an object to correspond for each part of the presentation you want to link to.

Here’s an example so you can visualize it:

powerpoint hyperlinks 01

Step Three

Now that you have your objects arranged, you can start making PowerPoint hyperlinks. All you have to do is to select the object you want to use, right-click, and choose Hyperlink.

powerpoint hyperlinks 03

 

If you want to link to a particular slide in your presentation, choose Place in This Document and select a slide from the list. If you want to open a different file or a web page, click on Existing File or Web Page. You can also link to your email address so visitors can easily send in their details.

powerpoint hyperlinks 02

Important note: If you’re using a different computer for the trade show, make sure you transfer your presentation and the files you want to link to. Keep everything in one place to make this step easier for you.

Step Four

When you’ve finished making each hyperlink, don’t forget to give it a test run. You don’t want broken links when people start viewing your presentation deck.

That’s it! It doesn’t take a lot to create an interesting experience for your prospects. All you have to do is think outside the box. Consider making an interactive presentation for your trade show booth. Practice using PowerPoint hyperlinks. Soon, you’ll be building even more complex and professional-looking slides.

 

Featured Image: Elco van Staveren via Flickr

Create a Captivating Presentation with Bright PowerPoint Backgrounds

Creating an impact as you get your message across is the ultimate goal of your PowerPoint presentation. To achieve this, your slides have to be planned and designed carefully. One of the things that can contribute to this is a bright background.

Ideally, PowerPoint backgrounds should be simple and clear as the main focus should be on the message and not on than the slide. With just the right brightness, the background can improve your presentations and ‘wow’ your audience.

Below are some ways a bright background can enhance your slides. Just one important reminder: Anything that is way too much can be bad. Having said that, what we’re going to talk about here is tolerable brightness for your PowerPoint backgrounds.

Allows the visuals to stand out

Apart from making the slides easy on the eyes, the contrast between them makes the texts readable. Graphic designer Matt Cronin explains that readability is one way in attracting your audience visually.

A bright background and a darker font color create a great combination. Some graphics will also stand out when placed on a bright-colored background. Using any one of these techniques may be beneficial to you in the long run.

After all, people don’t want to look at something they can’t understand.

Focuses the audience’s attention

If you don’t want to use a plain background but still want something bright, then you may want to use radial gradient with a rather bright center. The depth this adds to your chosen image or slide background not only makes it interesting, this also engages the viewer’s gaze more.

This background creates a highlight effect, which looks like a glow. When you use this effect, make sure to create the right balance to keep the glow from hindering readability.

Evokes positive emotion

Bright colors such as yellow and orange evoke a bright and sunny day. They seem to create a lot of positive energy. As bright colors generate feelings of joy and vitality, your audience are sure to feel quite comfortable and at ease throughout your presentation.

Indeed, a bright PowerPoint background has its benefits. It can enhance slides more than what dark backgrounds can do. When used with white texts, dark slide backgrounds can be hard on the eyes. Dark backgrounds just don’t have the same effect that you get from brighter ones.

Final Words

Bright backgrounds are appealing and eye-catching, but at the same time, don’t overdo them. This word of caution stems from the fact that bad combinations can lead to worse results.

Out-of-place neon colors can hurt the eyes and disrupt the senses, rather than draw viewers to your presentation. Use bright colors wisely and attract people to your deck in no time!

 

References

Cronin, Matt. “10 Principles For Readable Web Typography.” Smashing Magazine. March 18, 2009. Accessed May 23, 2014.
How Color Impacts Emotions and Behaviors.” 99Designs. 2011. Accessed May 23, 2014.

 

About SlideGenius

SlideGenius.com is your business PPT guru. Based in San Diego, California, SlideGenius has helped more than 500 international clients enhance their presentations, including those of J.P. Morgan, Harley-Davidson, Pfizer, Verizon, and Reebok. Call us at 1.858.217.5144 and let SlideGenius help you with your presentation today!

Jazz Up Your Sales Presentation With a Label Tag Created in PowerPoint

Using images to represent ideas is one of the best ways to enhance PowerPoint presentations. A product label tag, for example, is great in designing your deck during a sales presentation. According to Entrepreneur, in such presentations, it’s essential to establish your identity and address your customers’ needs.

If ever you need a tag to back up your points and differentiate yourself from the competition, you can always search for custom images of these tags on the Internet and tweak them to your advantage.

Or better yet, create one that you can easily customize using the Shape functionality in PowerPoint. This tutorial will show you how to do it using the Shape and Text tools in PowerPoint 2010.

Drawing the Frame

First, assuming that your PowerPoint is already open, create a new, blank slide. Then, draw the label using the Rectangular shape with a rounded border. You can find this in the Insert tab under Shapes.

 

label tag

 

After this, select the Oval shape from the Shapes option to create a small circular shape. Put this near the top portion of the rectangle to serve as the label’s tag hole.

Filling with Color

Fill the circle with the same color as that of the slide background. Do this by right-clicking on the shape and selecting the Format Shape option. Click Fill and then select Slide background fill.

label tag2

 

To give the label some depth, you may want to fill it with gradient color. To do this, click Fill from the Format Shape option and select Gradient fill. Depending on your preference, you may adjust the Gradient type, direction, color, brightness, and other qualities.

label tag3

Final Details

To create the label’s string, select the curve line from the Shapes option. Draw a line from the small circle and then click twice until you reach the label’s border. You may manipulate the string to give it a more natural look. Simply click on it and drag any of the visible points accordingly.

label tag6

Lastly, you’ll have to group all the shapes in a single label. Select all the elements and then right click on the label. Next, click on Group (and the other Group option that will appear) and

Next, click on Group (and the other Group option that will appear) and Voila! You now have your very own product label tag that you can use for your sales presentation. For added impact, think about adding some text inside the tags.

label tag7

Conclusion

An impressive deck is often eye-catching and unique, but more importantly, it should always be there to support you when you need to pitch to the crowd. Experiment with PowerPoint and add a tag to your slides. It’s simple and interesting. With just a few clicks using the Shapes tool, you’ll already have a tag-shaped image that you can spice up with text or gradients for depth.

Having trouble with your deck design? Our SlideGenius experts are always ready to help. Contact us today for a free quote!

 

Reference

Making Sales Presentations.” Entrepreneur. February 24, 2013. Accessed May 15, 2014.

About SlideGenius

SlideGenius.com is your business Power Point presentation expert. Based in San Diego, California, SlideGenius has helped more than 500 international clients enhance their presentations, including those of J.P. Morgan, Harley-Davidson, Pfizer, Verizon, and Reebok. Call us at 1.858.217.5144 and let SlideGenius help you with your presentation today!