3 quick, easy tips to get all decked out
By Lisa Bonatz
Fact: If you work in PR, you will give innumerable presentations throughout your career.
Follow-up fact: Despite what their résumés may claim, most PR students are not skilled in PowerPoint deck creation.
Unsolicited hot take: If you are under the age of 50, the ability to use the Microsoft Suite should not be on your résumé’s “skills” list.
After delivering over 80 presentations in the past year, my type A personality, obsession with aesthetics and love for persuasive speaking have led me to nearly perfect the art of slide deck creation.
I know you are a busy person. You do not have time to get into all the details. To meet this need, I have distilled my advice into three simple takeaways that will enable you to make better presentations.
Why does this matter? Simply put, better pitches mean more business. More business brings in more money. More money for the agency hopefully means more money for you.
Following that line of reasoning, this article is basically a get-rich-quick guide.
If millions of people are willing to follow online advice from high schoolers advocating that they invest in a brick-and-mortar game shop with minimal prospects to increase personal cash flow (read: r/WallStreetBets), you can spare a few minutes to read this article and invest in yourself.
Disclaimer (as any good PR presentation should have): This article is focused on pitch deck writing. The key principles can be adapted to suit whatever deck you need to make, but it is important to acknowledge the intent of this advice.
1. Your slides should have far more empty space than words.
My rule of thumb is no more than 40 words per slide.
Your presentation is a visual aid, not a teleprompter. Putting your entire pitch into bullet form and slapping it onto a few blank slides not only encourages you to rely on the screen as a crutch, but it also distracts and confuses your audience. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these slides. Both carry the same key message. One is convoluted. The other is clear(ly better)
2. Pull out the sticky notes and create an outline for your presentation.
As you do, consider the following three questions: Why is your client here? What are their key business fears? How can your agency directly solve those problems?
Write a basic description of what each slide will communicate, and make sure there is a distinct, logical flow between points. Force yourself to justify why each slide deserves your client’s time. Not only will this give you a framework to reference when you progress to slide creation, but it will also help you catch logic jumps in your timeline that might be easily overlooked during creative flow. Such as the following:
3. After you have created an outline, run it by the agency superior who asked you to create it to ensure you understood their request. The last thing you want to do is waste hours of your time (and theirs) creating a deck that doesn’t meet the deliverable request. Showing them your outline allows them to make tweaks upfront.
For example, I may hear “chocolate association pitch” and come up with the following deck theme:
Nothing is innately wrong with this deck. In fact, I would argue that it is cute (slight bias). However, it is completely wrong if the client is looking for a data-driven, scientific comms campaign like this:
Catching misconceptions early on will allow you to use your time efficiently and illustrate your willingness and ability to change course.
Spacing, outlining and verifying, three simple steps that can get anyone to “slide up.”
Lisa is a public relations and clinical nutrition student with a passion for running both campaigns and marathons ;). Her diverse interests drive her to be a copywriter, graphic designer, social media strategist, elementary school mentor, athletic recruiter and PRSSA’s VP of outreach. Want to learn more? Say hi on LinkedIn or check out her website!