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Make Your Presentations Evergreen

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. 

By
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #547

Choose General Examples

Some presentations need to use company-specific information. If you’re presenting to your zombie army on the conditions at the front, that’s not a presentation you’re going to reuse. Pretty much everything you say will be specific to the situation.

But it’s different for sales presentations, training, classes, and customer presentations. Those may be totally reusable, or comprised of modules that are reusable.

For those, when choosing examples, choose timeless examples that aren’t specific to any client or time period. Imagine giving a presentation on how to be a better leader. If you say “Bill Gates is a great example of a prominent technology CEO,” your example will get dated now that Bill’s mainly a philanthropist. So make up an example. “Consider Ashley Moneybags, a prominent technology CEO. Ashley’s fictional, and combines the traits that we know make a good technology CEO…” 

You can give exactly the same presentation, but using Ashley as an example that will always work. You’ll find that audiences will go right along with fictional examples as long as they have the relevant information.

Avoid Topical News Stories

In the same vein, avoid using topical news stories if you can. News has a way of changing. Today’s gigantic success story is tomorrow’s scandal of corruption and deception. This is especially true in business and politics, where fortunes come and go overnight. 

One day, you’re holding up ImaginaryCo as an example of a company led by ethical values. Then the news breaks that ImaginaryCo just helped topple a foreign government in order to get more favorable tax policies. Oops. That presentation on “Lessons on Doing Good from ImaginaryCo” just changed from an ethical roadmap to a handbook for Machiavellian propaganda.

It’s not a coincidence that my podcast examples often use imaginary characters working in a slightly surreal plant store. My fictional examples can be honed to show off exactly the point I’m trying to make. The examples are vivid enough to be memorable. And they’re not tied to any real place or people. So years from now, the tips and examples will be as relevant as they are now.

Don’t Use Specific Dates

Speaking of years, any time your presentation includes a date, you’ve dated your presentation. If your copyright says 2002, your audience might believe they’re getting a tired, stale presentation. But if you give exactly the same presentation and the copyright date is this year, they’ll think you’ve descended directly from Mount Olympus to pass on the nectar of the gods.

Some presentation software lets you insert a dynamic date field into a presentation. That field will always display as the current date or year. If your software can do this, make your copyright date be a date field, instead of plain, unchanging text.

Communicating is a huge part of a manager’s job. The more audiences you have, the greater the chances you can reuse some of your material between audiences. Give your slides and presentations a consistent style and you can easily reuse slides and modules. Keep your examples specific, but generic, and avoid anything that will tie the presentation to a specific date. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to mix and match existing material to get a head start on anything you need to present.

I’m Stever Robbins. If you need to clear the clutter in your office, home, or life, check out http://www.getitdonegroups.com to learn how Get-it-Done Groups can help you restore order and regain control. 

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

Presentation image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.