4 alternatives to the ‘hard copy of the deck’ take-away

What do you give people to take away from your presentation? Or if you’re at their place, what do you leave behind? Please don’t let it be ‘a hard copy of the deck’.

Why? Because your presentation take-away has to work in a different way to your presentation. You’re no longer there to build engagement by weaving a thread or story through those slides. You can’t make eye contact and interact with your audience. When you’re not there you can’t answer questions right away. And by the way, if your slides are so wordy that someone could just read off them all, you’ve probably got a really boring deck. Simply printing out your slides is a lazy way to go – and it’s a missed opportunity to connect with your audience.

What can you do instead?

1. Write a compelling executive summary

I saw this done brilliantly on a pitch it was my good fortune to be part of. The best strategic thinker on the pitch team was a great writer. On every pitch he wrote an executive summary, which did a superb job of communicating what we were offering to help that client achieve and how. He did this based on the assumptions that:

a) it would be read some time later by those who’d been in the room, as they worked to reach their decision and tried to remember which pitch team had said what; and

b) it would also be read by decision makers who hadn’t been in the room.

When we were appointed, we got feedback that it had worked a treat. Get the best writer you can on the case, ideally someone involved in the presentation.

2. Create a ‘pitch on a page’ visual

Not got the time or literary skills to do an exec summary? Then create a diagram, Mind Map or infographic, with the main points on just one page. You can pack a lot of important ideas and statistics into one visual. Let your presentation objectives and your knowledge of the audience guide you to the best kind of visual representation. If possible, whilst you’re preparing your presentation ask someone who’ll be in the audience what type of visual they think would work best.

3. Record a video

There are several ways you can do this. You can have the whole presentation filmed and give your audience the recording. Filming live can work well if you’re on a podium or presenting via a virtual system.

But filming live could be a risky strategy if it’s a confidential business presentation – in which case you can film a dress rehearsal. That way you get the entire package – speakers’ energy, enthusiasm and body language, as well as the points they’re making. This option could be worth the time and possible cost if the stakes are very high.

Or you can script and record the main points you want your audience to take away and deliver an ‘edited highlights’ video to send through soon after the live presentation.

4. Add a voice-over

Rather than just a hard copy of the deck, send a link to (or leave a thumb drive with) the presentation slides with a voice-over throughout. If it’s a team presentation you can get each member to record their piece, or you can go for the person with the best voice for the job. Record it before the presentation actually happens and you have an impressive take-away on the day, or add it afterwards and include answers to the questions that came up.

Dawn is the author of ‘How to be Zoomly at work’, available on Amazon.

Photo by Seiichi Kusunoki

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