Cross posted from Martha’s blog

Many think that the biggest challenge in preparring the perfect presentation is the content and the time.  But I’m going to argue it’s time management.  Many folks figure that once their content is down (and typically in rough form), that the heavy lifting is done.  Yay!  The designers, editors, event producers and printers will take care of the rest.  And do they need much time?

That my dear readers, depends on how polished and awesome/complicated you want your presentation to look in its final form.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Well, if we had time, we could do your vision, but alas, this is our reality now, you can have this much more simple version instead or just a general clean up and some simple editing, OK?”  And then after the presentation, some of the presenters say a lot of things like “I think it went really well, but alas some of my visuals weren’t quite what I wanted.”  There are some very simple things you can do to avoid this situation and rule your next presentation:

  • Bring in the experts from the beginning.  Tell them your vision and ask them how much time they’d need to execute.  If you don’t have that much time, discuss alternatives.
  • Now that you know how much time you will need, set  up your time line – working backwards from your presentation date.  I suggest this order for scheduling:  Time of presentation, time that organizers need your presentation, time that printers need your presentation, time that designers need your presentation, time that the video producers need to create/edit/convert/upload your videos, time that editors need your presentation, time you need to get sign-off form key stakeholders along the way. time you need to get any data back.  That time in between is how much time you have to write.
  • Do your animations/video inserts last.  They take time to do and can be complicated – save yourself some time later and avoid redoing them constantly.
  • Do not forget underestimate your stakeholder buy-in time and DO NOT be shy about letting them know the time you need to take it all away from them.  Schedule rehearsals with them before you loose your designer because you need to go to print – edits always happen after/during a rehearsal.  If you are tight on time, bring your designer and editor into your rehearsal for on the spot help.  Realize that more complicated requests (like say a mock-up, which may be sent off to another designer) needs time to execute.
  • Plan for your worst-case scenarios.  If it can go wrong, some of it very well might.  What are your last minute file sending options?  What about a back up printer?  Do you have all of the right equipment you need?  (dongles, cords, projectors, clicker, batteries, sound, music, etc)  Ask your experts what they suggest you plan for.  If you’ve planned these things out, you’ll be a lot calmer and more likely to give a better presentation in case something does happen.

Yeah, this all seems like a lot – but if you go through these steps, you’ll have a better presentation.  Not only because you planned, but because you gave your experts space to do what they need to do so they can help you shine!  And after you’ve done a more thorough planning process more than once, it will feel like clockwork.

Happy Presenting!