VVSVS — is the creative platform of Ivan Flugelman.
A creative based in Berlin exploring the relationships between art, design and technology with a passion for content.

Create Better Presentations

I can attribute a big part of the success of my career to understanding how to communicate my ideas through presentations. Being able to craft a clear and compelling presentation can be the difference between winning that client, pitch or funding round. Having a background in graphic design definitely helped me a lot crafting a good deck, so here are a couple of things I’ve learned that might help you make better presentations.

They are also great to structure your ideas, specially if you are presenting live, or if you have to do public speaking. Just the process of crafting and structuring your thoughts and ideas is eighty percent of the battle won. 

THINK EDITORIAL

A Presentation is a story, it is a document that has a beginning a middle and an end. The reader should, at the end of reading the document, have a clear understanding of what you wanted him to know. Think a magazine. There is a cover page that introduces you to the main theme or idea reinforced by a key visual, and followed by some heading text plus to article. In between we have quotes with different sizes and sometimes even fonts and some visual guidelines that support and complement the story and usually an ending.

When crafting a presentation this is key. The choices of typography and sizes should be consistent. It is better to go for the classics, such as a Helvetica and a white background, than test crazy typographical layouts that make no sense and confuse your audience. 

Typography is a tool and you can use it to make different types of statements. But remember, the main goal of a good presentation is to communicate. And you can do this with very basic typographical operations. Nice clean (and readable) text is better than a designer that thinks that every presentation is an opportunity to try something radically new and become the next David Carson. 

Give also opportunities to breathe, and the reader to process the information. Usually when they are being presented, they are being introduced or updated to a new idea, piece of information or data sets, so its good to have chapter separators to be able to take a break and let them process.

ORIENTATION

If someone finds your presentation on an USB drive on the street, he or she should be able to understand exactly what the whole thing is about and get ready to give you a call back with the feedback you are looking for at the end of it.

Here is where designers can actually be useful. A good designer should have good sense of hierarchy. Set proper styles to differenciate headers from text from sub-headers from quotes is critical.

But at the same time there should be room for other things such as a logo to enforce your brand. Constant text that rests on the margins that can help as orientation for chapters or topics. Page numbers are also crucial because if you are forced to present over the phone, you can say “Now we are looking at the blue raccoon on page 3, and if you follow me to the next one…” -you get the idea.

LAYOUT DESIGN

Layout is important but if you are not a professional designer, there are different ways you can go. My best advice is that you hire a designer to create a good personal brand template that you can reuse consistently. Usually designers, and I am very much guilty about this, are very sloppy about their own personal brand, or collateral assets such as invoices or presentations. So try to have a very basic design system that you can translate into your communication material. 

If you are not a designer, you can use whatever your software of choice and their built in templates, such as PowerPoint and Keynote. They are not great but they will probably cover your most basic needs. As long as you take your time to structure things out and follow some of basic editorial guidelines you should be fine. And if you want a bit of an extra touch, try to find a default template, and change the typography to some of the classics such as the aforementioned Helvetica, Futura, Gotham, Avant-Garde, Avenir, etc. Any of these look great and will give you that little extra edge.

A great third option that appeared recently in the market is a SaaS solution called  
pitch.com they have a community driven template library. 

The style you give to the presentation will help you drive a certain personality, and will also reflect on how much you care about those details, but don’t get too obsessed with the looks, the content is more important than the looks.

Pitch.com template library showcasing different presentation styles.
STRUCTURE 

Structure give order to chaos. The better structure that you have, the clearer the ideas will come through. I definitely recommend the use of a grid, or at least keep a grid on the back of your head. Usually presentation software don’t have a great use of grid. The most advanced and available editorial piece of software that you can use for editorial design is Adobe InDesign. This is a piece of software that is used for creating books, and it works great with grids, but you can also use other resources to keep your text and images organised. 

Row of Skulls
A rectangular grid showcasing different variations of the same subject.
MOODBOARDS

I have discussed moodboards before in my Art Director series. A moodboard (sometimes called a Stylescape) is a series of images that are collected together in one big image in order to transfer a vague mood, style or idea. The goal is to have different existing elements to try to describe something that is in your head. It could be a particular style or story. It is alway best when you can organise your images in a moodboard telling a story, from left to right, the logic of the elements makes your presentation more powerful if you can guide the reader through your though process.

I have prepared a little digital product with some template for moodboards. It is a very basic Figma file that contains different structures to showcase your mood boards. You can purchase it here for just 9$. It’s a very simple product but hopefully it helps you save some time when you are in a rush.

VVSVS Moodboard Layouts
Different Moodboard layouts that you can quickly replace to create your own and add a little variation and structure to your presentations.
VVSVS Moodboard
A moodboard with some of my work created in no time using my templates.
ENDING

Last but not least: The ending.
Wrapping up a presentation -or a blog post for that matter- gives closure to your reader/viewer. It’s always a good idea to do a quick recap of the topics covered and lay out the next steps, to keep the ball rolling. You can end up with a call to action (CTA) but sometimes those look strange, and if you can’t back them up with your personality is better to leave them out.

 Don’t forget to include a thank you slide followed by a contact information, you never know, you can also include links and references. And if you do so, try to have links that you can track. If it’s a sales presentation that you distribute globally or you give away after a call with lots of stakeholders, sometimes you’d be surprised to track it and see how they shared that document within the organisation. 

Presentations can be the key to unlock sales, that pitch winning document, or the protocol your employees need to understand in order to perform better at their jobs. Make them nice and clear, and you will increase your chances of getting what you want. 

ABOUT

VVSVS — is the creative platform of Ivan Flugelman. A creative based in Berlin exploring the relationships between art, design and technology with a passion for moving content.

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