PPP#3 — I don’t have time

Persistent Presentation Paradigm #3: “I don’t have time to make proper slides because I sometimes have only a few hours to prepare a presentation.”

A familiar problem, but preparing a presentation takes time, no matter what we do. In her book “slide:ology”, American presentation designer, Nancy Duarte, sets the average timeframe for an hour-long presentation with 30 slides at 36–90 hours. She estimates 20–60 hours for designing the slides alone. That might sound shocking to some, to us it sounds quite right.

So, what if there is almost no time to prepare? If at all possible, we should avoid poorly prepared presentations. Sometimes, sending out a report instead can do the trick as well as a personal talk to one or two decision makers. The next best thing would be a speech without any visual aids. That way we would spare ourselves the time to create the slides, being able to focus more on the topic. If we need to visualize thoughts, or concepts, we can do so on a flip chart. Without any doubt, a computer-aided presentation is the most time consuming way of all.

As for time savers, they work like a piggy bank — we have to invest first before we can reap the benefits. If we build a library file containing the best elements of slide shows we design, and keep it up to date, we can save ourselves a lot of time when it counts. The best way to prepare a presentation is to start analog before we go digital. We should draw and write by hand everything we will later reproduce on our computer.

To make it quick, we can ask three questions: 1. What do we need to say (that we can not possibly leave out)? 2. What do we want to say (that adds value and supports our message)? 3. What does our audience want to know (to become more engaged in our topic)? Keeping strictly to these questions is an efficient way to get results. A good rule of thumb is to pretend to prepare a flip-chart presentation, that helps us to keep it simple. But, however tight our schedule might be, we still have to plan in some time to practice.

Paule Wendelberger