Centralized Information for the Presentation-Development Team
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Last month we explored ways of making the presentation-development process successful, which increases the likelihood of a developing a high-quality presentation. This month we'll look at ways to centralize information about the presentation-development process and the presentation itself so that:
- Presentation type and location are established and known to all team members before production begins
- Quickly needed contact information is easily attainable
- Process timeline is established
- Style preferences are identified and explained
Processing a handout presentation document is different than processing an online, onscreen, or projected presentation. It's important to know the ultimate use of the presentation before production actually begins. It is also helpful to know the location of the presentation: room and audience size, what technology is available at the location (sound, projection, computers, etc.). Adjustments can be made to either the presentation or what is brought to the presentation if this information is known in advance. Special requests can also be made to the location coordinator if made early enough.
There are times when a special template needs to be used for a presentation. Don't assume that your company's template will be used. Sometimes the client requests that the presentation be developed in their template for strategic purposes. Large seminars often develop a presentation template for the event and require presenters to use it.
It is important to understand these specifications as early in the presentation-development process as possible.
A simple directory of presentation-development team members and reviewers, including each team member's area of responsibility, can save much time when sending out updates, checking on status, follow-ups, etc. The directory compiles information about the team that cannot be found in an office directory: team members located in different offices, client team members, researchers, reviewers, and so forth. The directory can also take into consideration temporary locations and associated contact information for team members.
It might also be a good idea to set up an email distribution list for the team, so that all team members receive the benefit of new and changing information about the presentation.
It's important to know how to contact presenters when they are traveling, both in transit and at the destinations. Cell phones, of course, are indispensable. But cell phones are sometimes turned off during meetings and presentations. Also, it is vitally important to know how to get a package (maybe the companion printout document) to the presentation location when it has not been hand carried.
Travel schedules are important variables to know and understand for nontraveling team members. They are particularly important when last-minute changes are being handled while the presenter is in transit. The travel schedule sometimes establishes those types of deadlines.
Understanding the deadline and review points for a presentation is nearly as important as what is going to be said in the presentation. The larger the team, the more important it is to create a backward-scheduled production timeframe.
Since you already understand where the team members and reviewers are going to be during the process, this can be factored into the timeframe, i.e., time zones, stretches of availability, travel. Other scheduling considerations include weekend and evening availabilities, etc.
Mapping a process to a timeframe often makes the difference between shuffling toward a deadline and taking meaningful strides. Adjustments to the timeframe can be made and communicated; but these would deliberate decisions, not just reactions to a current set of circumstances.
The end of the process should provide for travel, rehearsals, last-minute adjustments, whether the event coordinator has issued a deadline, etc. The drop-dead deadline should be clearly established.
Style and Term Usage Preferences
If consistency is important to your team, and it should be, then there needs to be a place to stockpile the correct spellings of names, titles, companies, products, etc., referenced within the presentation. Team members need a reference authority when writing and/or proofing the presentation.
Acronyms should be identified and defined. Use the full term first and then the acronym (first referencing) in all presentations. Sometimes these need to be researched to be sure they are used correctly, especially when they are industry or company-specific terms.
Graphic style preferences can also be established in the style sheet section. This becomes very important when more than one team member is developing the slides. By establishing the preferred styles for fill color sequences, whether line colors are used, shadows, 3D, etc., the slides from each contributor are more likely to be consistent. Proofing and "massaging" the final graphics is always a good idea, however.
Get organized fast before a presentation. Getting organized during the production process leaves the team vulnerable to all sorts of missteps. Download PowerFrameworks' Presentation Information Sheet as an example of what you might put together for your company. You might want to consider creating it in Microsoft Word as a form. That way the information can be input quickly and consistently.