Transcript: PowerPoint Packs


Welcome to In Search of Clarity. One of the key challenges you'll face is how to take a storyline and translate that into an end product, in particular a pack or presentation deck. In this module, I'll help you master that task. There are four key steps that you need to take.

First, you need to understand how you use the storyline to drive the content of your pack.

Second, you need to ensure it signposted effectively.

Third, you need to make sure the visuals are great.

And fourth, you need to sweat the small stuff to make sure the pack sings.

Let's have a look at each one of those in turn.

So the first thing to understand is that the storyline structure actually drives the content of your pack. Let's have a look at an example. In this particular example, our storyline is for our fictitious company Transylvanian Industrial Products which we call TIP. So TIP is currently pursuing a strategy for worldwide expansion. And that's the context. The trigger for the storyline is that the divisions only had limited success in Australia, particularly in the industrial scaffolding market and they've asked us to examine the reasons for the divisions poor performance as a basis for identifying improvement opportunities. And the big question here is ‘what should TIP do?' The governing idea is that the division should focus on reducing the cost of TIP's industrial scaffolding products and it's a deductive storyline that supports that. The first part outlines the fact that low cost is key in this market. The second part of the storyline points out that however, tip has cost disadvantages. And the implication therefore, is that tip should implement initiatives to reduce cost. So let's have a look at how that storyline drives the structure of your pack. The context and trigger and question obviously provide background. You take the context, trigger and question, the governing idea and that first line of reasoning and that gives you an executive summary, the outline of the story that we need to have very close to the front end of the pack. Down below that, we then start to get into the content itself. And we're looking at the key sections of the pack and they are driven by the outline of that deductive reasoning. And there are three key sections to the pack. The fact that low cost is key, the fact that TIP has cost disadvantages and finally, the implication that TIP should take steps to reduce cost. And then the dot points underneath each of those sections provide the outline if you like, or the messages for individual charts within the pack. So as I've explained, the storyline drives the content of your pack.

Now the task is to actually put together that pack, that document and make sure it's signposted effectively and flows so that your audience can follow your thinking as outlined in the storyline. Let's have a look at how you do that. So there are really four drivers of the signposting that makes it easy for your audience to follow. First, you got to provide a meaningful cover that tells the audience obviously what the packs about and who it's for and when it was done. Second, you've got to ensure that you've got a context setting page. That is, a page that outlines the context and the trigger and highlights what the packs about. That ensures that an audience who's not in the room or picks the document up later can read the pack and understand where it came from and what it's about. Third, you've got to use the storyline itself to provide an executive summary that allows your audience to step through the thinking and step through the pack sequentially. And finally, you've got to use the storyline itself to track your way through the document. Let's have a look at how that works for our TIP pack. Here we have a storyboard of the TIP pack, outlines the entire package on one page and you can see the key elements of the pack. First of all, it's got a cover page. Second, it has a background page that outlines the context trigger and question. Third, importantly, it has a true executive summary, which is an outline of the storyline on one page. This tells your audience upfront what they're going to hear as they go through the entire package. Sometimes people like to use an outline picture of the storyline itself as the executive summary. Others like to use simple dot points. It's purely up to you.

Once you've established that executive summary, you can then step your way through each part of the storyline. And importantly, you use the storyline itself to track your way through the pack and you can see here we've highlighted the second section, which indicates now that we're going to be talking about TIP's cost disadvantages. Once we've talked about each of those disadvantages, we're in the third part of the story which outlines what TIP should do. So as you can see there, we've got a pack that unfolds naturally and takes the audience systematically through the thinking we've outlined in the storyline.

So what we've done so far is talk about the fact that you use the storyline to drive the content of your pack and that you've got to ensure your pack is signposted effectively so your audience can follow their way through. Now what I want to talk about is how you package up the visuals that make the charts that go together to make the pack. Let's have a look at the rules you should apply. Now there's a huge body of knowledge about how you draw great graphics, and I'm not going to go into that in detail here. What I want to give you are the five key rules that you should apply to visuals in your pack. First, you got to make sure there's plenty of white space on slides. They can't be too busy. If you pack out your chart with too much data, people aren't going to be able to read it easily. Secondly, there's got to be one core message for each chart. Third, you've got to make sure that the chart reads from top left to bottom right. That way, your audience's eye is actually going to naturally follow their way across the page. Fourth, you got to make sure everything on your slide is sourced appropriately so they know where the data came from. And finally, you got to make sure there is not too much text on your chart. If a textbox is longer than five bullets, you've probably got too much information.

So we've talked about the fact that the storyline drives content, you got to make sure the pack signposted effectively, you got to make sure your visuals are great. Now finally, you've actually got to sweat the small stuff to make sure a pack really works well, that it sings. Let's have a look at the questions you've got to ask to make sure your pack sings. We've produced a clarity college checklist that you can use to test whether your pack sings. You can see here 10 key questions that you need to ask in order to assess whether your pack is going to do the job that it's designed to do. I'd suggest you use this on every single pack that you develop and that your peers develop.

So what I've taken you through is how you can go from a storyline to a pack. It's one of the tasks that you need to master in order to be a great communicator. One thing I'd like to leave you with, is that the Neosi (*note – Neosi is no longer available) itself can help you with this task. It will not only help you map your storyline, but it'll help you generate an end product that really sings whether it's a pack or indeed a prose document. So good luck in creating great products.