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A Slide Deck Makeover with Before and After Images

Executive meetings are a special breed of animal. What we say and how we represent our information can make a big difference.

This week I had an opportunity to sit in a high level meeting and team up with my boss to make a brief presentation. My initial instinct for any presentation is to find ways to get people involved and engaged in the presentation. A presentation to executives is a bit different than your run-of-the-mill presentation (Nancy Duarte has a great, short article about presenting to senior executives here), so I felt it wise to follow the script outlined by our CEO.

While this was going to be a straight-forward, informational presentation, I still wanted our slides to tell a story and offer a better visual experience than we’d get if we just lined up a bunch of bulleted points.

Here is an early version of some data:

slide-1-before

What is one to do with data? How do you dress up charts and numbers and make them more interesting?

slide-1-after

In this case, we didn’t think we needed to make these numbers more interesting. BUT, we also didn’t want the numbers from each chart to get lost. So, we broke these charts up into two separate slides (slides are free after all!), which allowed the audience to focus on what we wanted them to focus on, and we could tell the story behind the numbers.

Here is another early draft of one of our slides:

slide-2-before

It was a lot of text, and the human brain can’t read and listen to someone at the same time. So, we tweaked this a bit so that we could guide our audience visually through our points:

slide-2-after

In addition to some of the visual adjustments, we also animated the text on the screen so that only one point appeared at a time. This reduced the amount of information that the audience was allowed to look at during any given moment and kept them focused on the points we wanted to make.

Enough about what we did… as you take a look at these slides, how would you have adjusted them?

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