Writing content for presentations: how I usually do it.

A friend of mine (he doesn’t work in advertising, but as a market research manager he works frequently with advertising people) shared me this picture around few months ago.

I work as a planner, and as you can see from the picture some of my colleagues see me as “the PowerPoint monkey”. This means, in their eyes my main role is to churn out good-looking, smart-sounding slides for presentations that will make clients see the agency knows what it’s doing.

That perception is not entirely inaccurate, though. I deliver presentations and produce slide shows on a weekly basis. But I honestly believe that presentations are not about slides. In fact, I have strong certain beliefs about presentations, and I have a method I always use whenever I have to prepare for one.

On Thursday, March 22, 2012 I shared this method in a class in Akademi Berbagi Jakarta (Jakarta’s Sharing Academy, the Indonesian homegrown version of I promised that I would upload my teaching material, so here it is. It’s a free e-book. Download it. Read it and use it. If you find it useful, please share it with your friends or colleagues. Lastly, do let me know what you think by dropping a note here.

Download the free e-book by right-click this link and choose “Save Link as …”


14 thoughts on “Writing content for presentations: how I usually do it.

  1. wisnuwidiarta says:

    Reblogged this on Wisnu Widiarta's Blog and commented:
    The first thing I choose to reblog. It teaches us how to make a good presentation that sells. If you ever need to give any presentation, please take a moment to read it.

  2. Thank you for sharing the ebook. I adore Duarte and follow Reynolds, but having your ebook handy makes my life lot easier. I have shared your ebook to many colleagues of mine who, as you might be already aware, being economists usually won’t spare any empty space on their slides as it is (probably) considered a scarce resouce… 🙂

    As for my staffs, your ebook would be a helpful tool in meeting my expectation on making any slides… :p

    • Thanks for the comment. I personally prefer Duarte to Reynolds (sometimes I find him meandering too much with his philosophizing). Yes, this ebook is probably almost like a “quick start guide” while Duarte’s Slideology or Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points are like The Bible.

      As for the economists, I will tell them that yes, empty space on slides can be seen as a scarce resource. But guess what’s even scarcer? You right: the audience’s attention.

  3. santi says:

    Very useful indeed. Especially for me who often witness (or need to bluff through) 30 to 40 slides full of texts in one presentation.

    It is interesting, however, how the first fundamental -which is to know and understand your audience- could add more dynamics, and in the end, contribute to compromises in terms of presentation. In my world, i have to deal (almost on daily basis) with requests to ‘present’ research findings, or situation outlook, for the sake of sharing -things you would call “sharing information”. In a perfect world, where everybody reads or has time to read, sending them report or executive summary would just do it. But unfortunately, that is often not the case. I guess, even though i still have to share information in a ‘presentation’ manner from time to time, this guide helps a lot in terms of building a flowing and strategic argument block of it.

    I hope you wouldn’t find it as beating the purpose of the guide.

    Thank you, M!


    • Thank you.

      I still believe that you can rebuild a “present to share knowledge or outlook” (or in more honest words, “I make you my human audiobook because I simply can’t be bothered to read the report”) into a persuasive form to your benefit. Outlook is easier: I can see perfectly how you need a key message that sums up your outlook. As for report on research or projects, the key message can be derived from the key conclusion or key recommendation. I discussed that in my ebook.

      Let me know if this needs more clarification.

  4. Eva says:

    I love it! A conscious effort to develop presentation with clear intention/big picture in mind, rather than going sequential.

    I shall use the method in developing my next presentation this week. Thanks, Mita.

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Eva.
      At the end of the day, isn’t writing presentation content similar with writing content for mass communication? We start with the intention, then zoom into the audience’s agenda and interest, then work backward.
      Anyway, good luck for your next presentation. Let me know if you need any help on that.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I find it very useful. May I share it to other colleagues in my office? Presentation is one of the tools of trade in the “business” that I am in. Working for not-for-profit international organization is all about persuading people to change their point of view, or to reform a policy (I said this with a shudder, like we do after gulping a bitter concoction of jamu). Your book serves the purpose to make our job easier.

    • Yes, of course. I’m glad that you find this useful. I guess in your field, presentations matter a lot: they can make this world a better place. So please pass it on, use the method, and make a difference.

  6. This is a great e-book. It requires a rather lengthy process, but it has a very good logic in it. I’ll use this as a reference for a future in-house training on presentation. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. It’s really a nice and useful piece of information.

    I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us.

    Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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