Get-It-Done Guy explains how to make your presentations reusable from the start so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time and save time.
If you’re a manager, you’ll find a lot of your job is giving presentations. Status presentations. Market presentations. Project presentations. Analysis presentations. Proposal presentations. Training presentations. Presentations to those above you. Presentations to your colleagues. To clients. To your team. Presentations everywhere!
It takes a lot of work to develop that much. If you present, you know how much time and effort goes into a good presentation. If you’re going to put in that much effort, you want to get the most out of it.
Some presentations, like status presentations, are very much about a specific moment in time. Those must be created from scratch, and when they’re done, they’re done.
But other presentations—sales, analysis, proposals, training—can be reused. You can give them again in their entirety. Or you can use them as the starting point for other presentations further on down the line.
If your presentations rely on slides (and we can talk about that decision in a future podcast), you can carefully design them to be sneakily reusable.
Sales, analysis, proposals, and training presentations can be reused. Or you can use them as the starting point for other presentations further on down the line.
Use a Consistent Look-and-Feel for All Your Presentations
Give all your presentations a consistent look and feel. That means color scheme, font choice, and layout. Most presentation software provides templates for different slides, so everything within a presentation goes together. Then when you change or add a slide, you don’t need to worry about formatting it. The formatting magically matches the rest of the presentation.
Don’t just stop at one presentation; do them all. Choose the same theme for everything. The same colors, fonts, and layouts—for all your presentations. This way, you can easily cut and paste slides from one presentation to another. You won’t need to reformat them or tweak them to get them to match. They’ll already match. So combining material from multiple presentations will be a snap.
Develop Your Presentation in Modules
There’s no reason to stop at copying single slides between presentations. Sometimes presentations share entire topics. For example, one of my favorite productivity techniques is Speed dating your tasks. Speed-dating belongs in my both Work Less and Do More speech, and my How to Beat Procrastination speech.
Do this by thinking of reusability from the moment you create the model. Don’t include client names, dates, or anything that would tie the module to one presentation. Then reuse it in a new presentation, lickity-split. Just copy-and-paste it, lock, stock, and barrel.
You can even create title screens for each module, which makes it easy to add to any presentation that has separate sections.
Personalize as Little as Possible
Don’t personalize your presentations for your audience. Don’t put your client’s name in the headers and footers of presentations. I used to put a client’s name on the footer of every slide, which meant more customization to reuse any part of a presentation.
Audiences do like to feel special, though. So customize your title screen out the wazoo. Put the client’s name, the name of the event where you’re presenting, and a subtitle that mentions the CEO of their company as the most brilliant, amazing, insightful, competent leader in all of human history. They’ll be so dazzled by the title screen that they won’t even notice the absence of their CEO’s name from the rest of the deck.