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October 18, 2011

Slideology – Part 1 & 2

How many PowerPoints does an office worker see in their lifetimes? Thousands I bet. Any how many of those are stuffed with words, charts, “smart art” and adornments until the page is full? Lots I bet.

Nancy Duarte has other ideas on how to create presentations, and has written a couple of books, plus built a substantial business on the back of them.

The first book Slideology sets out a new approach to creating a presentation, the second Resonate explains how to tell visual stories. For people in the UK (or anyone outside America) the whole concept is somewhat alien – keeping slides super-simple, even one word on a slide sometimes.

Part 1

So in my current engagement, we’re trying to use the ideas in Slideology to generate new ways to engage with customers, and tell stories that appeal to our audience, by demonstrating complete understanding of their business circumstances.

One of the first steps we’ve taken is to generate “ideas”, we did this by slapping our ideas on PostIt notes in three categories “Drivers”, “Pain points” and “Solutions”. You can see an example of the notes we collected below.

At this level of thought, all the obvious ideas come flooding out – mainly a brain dump of what we know. The three categories were our way of initially sorting the ideas into a flow – what Drives change, what Pain it causes and what Solutions we could bring to the customers.

The next stage having blasted the whiteboard with PostIts, was to pick up the ones that fell on the floor, and organise them into groups around what turned out to be eight themes or subjects. This is pretty quick, as everyone in the room can grab PostIts and plonk them into piles. We allocated each stream a number and labelled each note with that number so make sure kept track of them all. All that got dumped into a PowerPoint for posterity, to enable us to take the next step.

Part 2

Now we have lots of ideas, we wanted to begin to think about Stories, this is where we held a session to hear the words from Nancy, via her videos. Firstly her speech at TedX (here), which sets out the whole point of Slideology. Next two shorter videos which lend themselves to thinking about how to use PowerPoint, firstly Five rules for presentations (here), and lastly Signal to Noise (here) on de-cluttering slides.

My audience were pretty amused about the idea of making a presentation on the super-dry subject of regulatory change in the capital markets, and having the audience whoop, cheer and applaud as we speak.

So given those inspirations, we also used the “spark-line” idea (here) to set out what is “now” and “future” and put as much difference between them as we can. The part we haven’t managed yet, and will take more effort, is to take all this material and weave it into a compelling storyline without descending into creating the same old “slideuments” packed with hundreds of words.

Watch out for Part 3, let’s see if this new process really delivers, and if we can successfully be more visual in our approach.


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