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I’ve made more than 100 custom decks in the past 10 years, and mind you, these don’t include your run-of-the-mill powerpoints designed using in-built templates.
As designers and design students, you will be called upon to make multiple presentations in your career. Whether it is to present your concept to a jury in college, to pitch your brand to an investor as an aspiring entrepreneur, or to simply structure your company’s ideas for a client meeting as an employee.
Steve Jobs popularly dismissed deck-making. And therefore many professionals are only too happy to follow. Unfortunately, hating presentations doesn't make them go away. Finding them slowly only makes you look smart in your head.
The reality is, you may need to make many decks before you can delegate them. And while there are enough terrible deck-makers in the universe for you to be judged poorly for your lack of ability, making stellar presentations gives you a competitive advantage.
A deck is a presentation or a collection of slides, colloquially called a ppt, owing to PowerPoint’s popularity back in the day. Today, Google Slides and Canva are used more often in the workplace, due to their technological prowess and the ease of sharing editable links.
Decks or slides are used to present ideas, concept notes, reports, business updates and company credentials amongst other things. They’re widely used in the creative industry for pitching to brands for mandates. As a creative professional, you might be roped in to write a deck, source images for a deck or to actually design it, at some point in your career.
Recently, we did a post on Kool Kanya (a women’s only learning led community) asking our users what age they were when they found out that presentations were called decks. Interestingly, many commented saying our post educated them.
Therefore, it’s a skill that will help you, until a new software is developed. Until then, put aside your (imaginary) black turtleneck and learn to make smart slides,
Not all decks are the same.Therefore, the way you structure and approach them will differ depending on the type. Broadly, there are 4 kinds of decks -
Creds is short for credentials and therefore a creds deck introduces your brand or product to an audience by highlighting its offerings, features, target group, USP and prices.
A pitch deck also includes your brand’s credentials but is structured for the purpose of getting funding or acquiring a new client.
A concept deck may or may not include your brand’s creds in detail, focusing on creative ideas. Concept decks are widely used in the advertising and branded content industries, and are often created by graphic designers and art directors along with copywriters.
Lastly, a data deck is a collection of slides that is used to report on numbers. It could be a survey that you’ve run or a weekly report to your manager.
As designers, you have the upper hand as you already know the principles of good design. So, unlike many professionals, you won’t struggle as much to create a good deck.
Do not open PowerPoint (or your chosen software) and stare at the first slide for 15 minutes flat, deciding the font. In fact, don’t open the software at all.
This is perhaps the most important piece of the ppt puzzle. You need to be able to define the objective you want to achieve from this presentation before starting work. Ask yourself questions like after viewing your presentation, what action do you want your audience to take. Do you want them to invest, buy or register for something, or is it simply an awareness deck intended to educate? What emotion do you want to leave them with? Should they feel impressed, awed, inspired, motivated, driven, empowered or satisfied? Or is the purpose of your presentation a tool to alert them of an impending crisis?
If the objective of your deck isn’t clear, it’s important to seek clarity as soon as possible, to avoid what the average millennial would call - “an epic fail.”
Once you’re crystal clear as to what the objective of the deck is, it’s time to plan the structure. Below, there’s a rough flow of how you could plan it. If you observe the figure, you will see that in each deck type, there’s a part that I’ve made bold and large. That is the core of the deck or the solution. However, before getting to the core, sometimes it’s important to hook the audience with a bit of build-up. Think of it like a movie. For instance, your deck should highlight the problem your market is facing with various facts almost like you’re building the plot of a film. So that when you get to the actual part of the deck–the climax–the audience is gripped, and can’t wait to see what your solution is.
The trailer of this film is your opening slide, where you sort of sum up what the audience can expect. Of course, there are managers, bosses and investors who like to get to the point asap, in which case, you must tailor-make your presentation according to their brief.
Generally though, it’s best practice to grip the audience with a story or else they will zone out.
Once the structure is set, you can start sourcing, writing and planning your content. Draw out the flow on a notebook. Make scribbles, notes and charts first on paper so that you know what you’re going for, when you open your software of choice.
Think of the software as a support-tool to your core thought, instead of a brainstorming tool.
This is my favourite part, and also where most of my colleagues go wrong. They place too much emphasis on the content without realising that bad presentation or packaging can ruin their hard work. (And good decks can sell a mediocre concept).
6 Tips to Design your Slide Moodboard
I firmly believe that the number of slides doesn't matter if you have your story down pat. However, there are plenty who disagree with me particularly those in the venture capitalist space. It seems investors have low attention spans. So, if you’re seeking funding for your start-up it’s important to keep the slides crisp. The goal of such investor pitch decks is to showcase ROI and therefore 15-20 slides should be sharpened to depict the same.
Meanwhile, I have worked for a decade in the creative space, where I’ve witnessed decks with more than 50 slides bearing fruitful results. So,I speak from experience when I say that sharply-structured, narrative-focussed decks can afford to go beyond 20 slides in the creative field.
I would rather focus on the duration of my presentation. If 50 slides can be presented in 15 minutes, it’s as good as a 10 slider demanding the same duration. Avoid multiple slides crammed with text. Space it out. Try to be creative with images and typography to communicate the concept effectively.
While it’s tempting to pass on all deck design work to your juniors and interns, it’s a skill that will give you an edge because it’s “uncool.” Nobody wants to make decks or be known for it. This creates a situation where the demand for strong decks is high and supply is low. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to stand out and make your presence known. Hone your ability and get set for promotions by leveraging a flex others don’t want to possess.
Shivani Krishan is the Chief Content and Community Officer at Kool Kanya – a community-led learning platform for women. She has over a decade of experience across e-commerce, publishing and advertising, working in art, copy and strategy role ...
s. Equipped with a degree in Knitwear Design and a certificate in Art Direction, she’s passionate about fashion, while also being a staunch feminist obsessed with corporate humour. She worked at Condé Nast India for five years where she headed native content. When she’s not working, she’s binge-watching a show, doom scrolling on Instagram or arguing with her mum for fun, all while drowning herself in caffeine.
Her dream is to curate a meme museum someday, and she’s open to being funded by any generous souls reading this
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