How to build and deliver a slide deck

Brainstorming

I like to just start a google doc. This isn’t anything formal I just make main headings of ideas I come up with and then add sentences or paragraphs to expand. The benefit of doing this is that I can come back to it when I feel inspired and I don’t have to “grind it out”. Even when I have to grind it out I use this method because it’s effective. Don’t worry about making anything specific, treat this like notes. You can delete, add, remove, etc. When you’re pretty happy with your list then you’re done brainstorming.

Transition to slides

There’s no real good way to explain this because the notes can be so different. It should be natural with the way we used headings to make key points brainstorming. Short impactful things go in the doc and the rest can be moved to speaker notes or removed. In some cases just having written them in brainstorming is enough for queues with the other speaker notes.

Talk through slides

Now we start making the actual slide deck. Likely what you’ve got now is scattered notes, maybe some partial slides, and maybe even some placeholder slides. Now start actually talking through the slides one at a time as if you are trying to give the presentation. Talking out loud is really helpful here. Don’t worry about any theme here just focus on finishing the content itself.

Finalize the slides

This is where you make the presentation portion. You’ll have done some of that in the last step but now we want to work on delivery. Go back through the slide deck with delivery and theme in mind. Some presentations may get gifs here, transitions, or you may be thinking of a funny delivery. Put that style in now.

Do a practice run of the full presentation

The final step is to do a full presentation. Out loud. To yourself.

Do a practice run with friends

Find someone who’s not the target audience to do the presentation for. This presentation is mostly to practice in front of people so whoever you are comfortable with. This may or may not be a hard process for you. If you have severe nerves then just present to one person, but if you can tolerate it 2–3 is a good number.

Do a practice run with sample users

I find 2–3 is always a good number for feedback groups but find at least one person that is in the target user group of your presentation. This can seem odd if you’ve never done it before and may feel like you’re going to lessen the impact of the presentation somehow. Don’t worry that won’t happen! You’ll find most people are happy to help.

Deliver the presentation

Once you’ve incorporated what you can from the draft runs you may or may not want to do another trail run on your own. You won’t be changing major portions of the presentation so you may just decide you’re comfortable enough to go right to it. I almost always give one last demonstration to myself out loud.

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Steven Griffith

Steven Griffith

I was a software engineer for right around ten years before transitioning into management. I’m still growing in my new field.