Round BThe presentation formulation
The presentation formulation
In a company presentation, the foundation is critical. It forces the creator to be as precise as possible in their message, determine exactly what they want to say, and make sure that they have the best possible answers to questions about it
A significant part of our time and effort as entrepreneurs and managers is devoted to communication. We communicate our vision to the employees of the organization so that together we translate it into a list of tasks, we communicate our operational plan to investors to raise capital, we communicate the virtues of our product to customers to generate revenue, and our achievements to media people to generate awareness.
One of the actions that requires a lot of time from us and is considered by many to be a continuous nightmare is creating a company presentation. The defined target audience of this presentation is potential investors, and its purpose is to help convince them of the company's potential for raising capital.
But the same presentation, with slight changes, is also used by us to communicate with our other target audiences. Although the slides relating to the budget structure will be removed from the presentation that will be presented to clients, and those detailing the quarterly development plan will be omitted from the one that will be presented to investors, in the end when we sit down to build a presentation we are actually defining for the ecosystem around us the company's vision, plan and operating system.
Just as high school or university exams require us to study the material by heart, preparing a presentation also requires us to refine our plans and deal with questions, some of which remain in our minds until that moment. The challenge in preparing a company presentation is threefold. Technical control of the design, layout and creation elements of the presentation, building a coherent and clear narrative to communicate our messages, and at the core of the matter - making concrete decisions concerning the company's strategy and operations. Many times only when we sit down in front of PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Slides, do we decide ourselves in a very concrete way exactly what our strategy is, what our plan of action is and what answers we have to the many questions and doubts that are floating in our minds.
So, creating the presentation is less of a technical and design challenge, and more of a state of self-reflection where we are required to provide ourselves with answers to crucial questions before we communicate them to others. If we specify our strategy and make clear decisions regarding the many questions that define the company, we can more easily deal with the structure of the presentation of the messages and then with the design and construction of the presentation itself.
One of the reasons a presentation format is effective is that it is very limited and limits our ability to get off track and avoid decisions. When you have a canvas of unlimited length, like in a word processor for example, you are not obliged to be short and precise. In the format of a slide presentation, you are required in advance to divide your messages into relatively small units, which requires you to be precise in the structure, collate the messages, and commit to clearer definitions. Also, the fact that the presentation is usually guided, meaning that you as the presenter move slide by slide, requires you to consider the user's experience - that is, how much the person watching the face-to-face presentation understands each step of the argument you are building before moving on to the next slide. The web is full of articles full of advice regarding the construction of presentations: use a minimum of text, reduce to one central argument per slide, and more. The most important advice, as far as I'm concerned, is to first sit down to build the presentation only after you've made very clear decisions about the content you're presenting. When you know exactly what you want to say, it's easier to turn to storytelling and design techniques.
A company presentation is usually built in a structured narrative: it opens with an illustration of a need, i.e. what is the problem for which the company seeks to find a solution, a presentation of the vision of the solution itself, a breakdown of the company's action plan, budget and human capital, and then a few additional slides to emphasize the strengths and answer the main doubts. Some divide it into a series of questions: What is the need? What is the solution? Why specifically us? Why specifically now? If too many slides and background explanations are required to present all of these, the concept is probably still not consolidated enough. If you find yourself redoing certain parts over and over again, you probably aren't sure what you really wanted to say. If you find it difficult to contain the ideas in the short and to-the-point format of slides, you probably haven't formulated a sufficiently precise and clear story yet. The creation of this narrative is the stage where we encounter gaps and question marks in the basis of our strategy.
After we have wrestled with them and defined them, we face the storytelling challenge. How to make the message precise, how to choose the most catchy sentences, how to communicate detailed plans, technical concepts and work assumptions received after a long and in-depth discussion of the details, in a way that will be clear even to those who are not necessarily experts in the field. Usually when the first step is done thoroughly, and our decisions are clear and precise for us, it is easier to approach this step.
The third step is the one that usually takes us the most time, and it is to put all these points on the slide. Here we are dealing with questions of font size, how to align the title to the edge of the image, how to make sure that the frame of the image does not hide its edges and how to represent data in a table or graph clearly. It is precisely this step that I recommend to outsource, that is, to let someone who specializes in this do it for us. If we put the information on a slide, you can trust a designer to make it look clear and beautiful to the eye. As managers we are required to make so many decisions, those related to visibility can be left to people who specialize in that.
The app of the company I manage, Piggy, is not a dedicated app for presentations. For this, there are the traditional creation platforms that I mentioned before, as well as many new platforms such as pitch.com, which try to make it even easier to edit and design a presentation. But also in our application it is possible to produce narratives in the format of a presentation, one intended for consumption via the mobile phone, which is also the most available device for us to view the presentations sent to us. My talented partner Ilan, who is much better than me at design as well, took on the challenge of telling the story of our company through a presentation produced in the company's own application. It's not only a cute gimmick, but also an attempt to put our vision to the test - if we can't tell our story with the tools we build, it will probably be much harder for others to do so. The result embodies the values at the core of our strategy - the possibility of producing professional content with the help of the mobile phone, challenging the boundaries of the genre to use all the latest creative tools for the purpose of illustration and creating an experience, and most importantly - limiting the frame to the limited and restrictive size of a phone, in order to oblige the storyteller to be accurate and adapt it for the conditions of consumption in which the recipients are used to consuming content.
Like any platform, it has its advantages and disadvantages, but the foundation is the most important: it forces the creator to be as precise as possible in their message, and in the process to find out exactly what they want to say and to make sure that they have the best possible answers to the holes in the strategy and the various aspects of their plan.
Shaul Olmert is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of mobile app developer Piggy. He formerly founded interactive content company Playbuzz Ltd. You can find his previous columns here.