Project Focus – Presentation design and polish

We all know the situation, Friday morning and you are looking forward to the weekend, its tantalisingly close but something is about to spoil this wonderful feeling… From the corner of your eye you see your manager approaching and yes you guessed it, you need to present on Monday and have nothing prepared, good bye sweet weekend!

I joke but this does happen and when it does there is nothing worse. In this competitive world the demand on professionals is high and schedules are full. When something extra is dropped on your plate, especially last minute, it’s incredibly difficult to fit it in and still deliver at your best.

The good news is there is a solution, expanding your capacity through the intelligent and appropriate use of the Freelance workforce.

I have supported many professionals with just this situation, from brand managers to senior directors. The best part is the satisfaction of knowing I have helped them maintain a better work life balance, spending time with their families, while I take care of the presentation designs.

So how does it work in practice?

The overall process is fairly simple and have broken it down into the 4 stages below.

  1. Build your draft deck
  2. Define the project brief
  3. Select the right talent
  4. Manage the delivery

So let’s dig deeper into each step and share some tips for success.

The first step for a successful urgent presentation project should be to create a draft deck. This should contain the key points you need to convey to your audience and indicate any constraints the designer must work within.

Next you need to build a robust project brief. The Designer does not stand a chance without this. Sharing your expectations and direction on areas like tone of voice is vital to ensure success. Based on my experience, and to help guide you, I have included some of the core information you should look to provide in your project brief below.

The project brief…

Think about the following points as a guide when building your brief.

  • Does the designer need to align with your brand guidelines (if any) and share a copy. As a minimum include any mandated font and colour schemes.
  • Who is the target audience. This will ultimately affect two things:
    • The chosen presentation style. For example if the content is company financials for the accounts team the approach will be completely different than for a customer facing sales deck.
    • Purchased asset licences. Depending on presentation use any image assets may require very difference licences to protect you.
  • What are the Image sourcing options. Do you have an image bank? If not what platforms are acceptable and do you have a preference e.g. Shutterstock, Getty etc. On this point I also advise on letting the designer select images but insert as placeholders for your approval before purchasing the final assets.
  • Do you have an image/asset sourcing budget, what is the limit?
  • What is your preferred application. Are you flexible or is Powerpoint a mandate? Depending on the options you can achieve very different results. If you have never seen Prezi before, check it out here (https://prezi.com). The style is very modern and fresh, being open to options like this will empower your designer to deliver something amazing that your audience won’t forget.
  • Can you share samples you like. Always try to share previous work samples you like. There is nothing better than the Freelancer seeing first hand your preference. It also empowers a project manager to proof check the deliverable on your behalf and resolve any issues before they reach you.
  • What is the target Timeline. Think about when you need the finished deck, if the timeline is very tight I highly recommend asking to see a few slides as quickly as possible so you can feedback any changes, which the designer can then apply across the remainder of the deck as they progress.
  • What is your preferred Animation style. You either love presentation animation or you hate it! The important thing is to make your preference clear to avoid disappointment and groans from your audience!
  • What Fonts must be used. Your designer will need to ensure they have all the font licences required to produce your deck. Always share this information up front so an appropriate designer can be selected who already has your fonts. Not doing so could result in a nasty surprise of additional fees!

* Of course there could be many more questions that may need to be answered, depending on the type of work being delivered.

Select the right talent

Now you have a brief with some great details of your needs, you should look to find the right person with the right skills to deliver. My recommendation here is no matter where you source from, ask for sample work. It is so important that the designer has the capability to deliver to the standard you need. Checking out their previous work is a great way to do this. One caveat of course is allowing for NDA protected work, some designers won’t be able to share their best work due to NDAs, but you can ask them to share a redacted version to work around this, while maintaining their obligations under the NDA.

Managing delivery

Now you have the talent, I highly recommend a kick off call. Spending a few minutes on a call with your presentation designer is a worthwhile investment. It allows you to talk through the draft deck, project brief and give your Freelancer the opportunity to ask any questions they may have. I have seen many projects fail due to misunderstandings that could so easily have been avoided with a quick Skype chat. Additionally it is so important you are happy with both your designers creative skills and also their communication style. Having a quick call before you start the project will allow you to establish this and ensure you are 100% comfortable in proceeding.

Then it is down to execution.

Always be clear on your availability, especially if the project is being delivered over the weekend. It is likely that your feedback will be needed to keep the project on track, so make it clear when you will be available so the project team can plan around this. I also recommend setting up a couple of check in calls, these can be cancelled if not needed, but come in extremely useful to answer any questions and resolve any barriers, which would otherwise stop the team progressing.

So what types of presentation projects are possible with remote talent?

I have focused a lot on the dreaded urgent presentation delivery but this is of course is not the only type of work you can utilise Freelancer talent to deliver. Below I have included some examples to help inspire project ideas:

  1. Sales deck creation, including copy and visuals and partnering with Sales experts where required to perfect the material.
  2. Training/education deck creation with voice over. Which can also be used to feed into eLearning module development.
  3. Interactive presentations with navigation logic
  4. Captivating Prezi presentations to really tell the story to your audience
  5. Team strategy/goal decks
  6. Financial report out decks, including specialised Freelancer talent to work on dedicated charts/figures

And much much more!

If this all seems too complicated …

Engage a great project manager to take care of all of the coordination for you. The project managers’ role is to guide you through these stages, working to understand your needs, support the brief creation and then secure the best talent to deliver your specific project goals.
In addition a great project manager should be able to help validate the output, catching issues before they reach you and having them fixed quickly by the designer, to ultimately ensure a great delivery, on time.

An experienced project manager will have a source of trusted talent and know who matches your specific requirements. Working with someone proven like this, greatly reduces the chance of any major issues, which let’s face it, on an urgent project, we don’t have the time or inclination to deal with!
So if you have all the above in place and have partnered with an amazing project manager you should be well on your way to achieving the impossible, getting a top quality deck in your inbox for Monday morning, while still managing to spend Sunday at the beach with the kids! It can be done and doesn’t cost as much as you may think.

Concluding thoughts:

My advice to anyone reading this post is don’t be afraid of trying something new. Working with Freelance talent can be daunting but don’t go it alone! Partner with a project manager who knows the right talent and approach to get your project done and I would love it if that person was me.

I really enjoy delighting my clients and surprising them with how incredible this model is. The difference the support makes to their private and professional lives gives me a real buzz. Contributing to someone’s success is a great feeling ?

So please do get in touch, drop me an email or pickup the phone, I would love to talk and see how I can help you be successful.

Thanks for reading!

Oli

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