Nov 19, 2009

How to make slides as fast as Maggi noodles?

Making slides for a presentation is often a long and tedious process. It might take you hours just to get the content in place and editing / re-editing slides might extend it even longer. But in reality you never have enough time. Your boss wants a presentation by tomorrow morning and he might tell you today evening. How do you make an excellent presentation within a small amount of time? This is the topic for today's post.
Making presentations the way you make instant noodles

To make a quick presentation, you need to know where do you mostly waste a lot of time. Making a presentation is a three step process.

1. Planning the content
2. Creating the slides (slide design), and
3. Delivering the presentation

Most people waste time in creating slides. The reasons can be many:

a) Skipping step 1 and directly starting to make slides. Then going back and forth all the time to get the flow right

If you skip step 1 and try to create slides and plan parallely, you are in for trouble. Making the slides and planning parallely does not save time. It ends up confusing the flow and takes more time because planning the flow on the software is not easy.

b) Completing a slide 'fully' (with images/animations) before moving on to the next slide
If you complete a slide fully before moving on to the next slide, it will take you more time to churn out a presentation. You will add a relevant picture, animate the slides if needed and never move on to the next until you are fully satisfied with the current slide.
c) Excessive time spent in making the slide look better

If you have a designers heart, you might end up wasting too much time to get the colour scheme and template right. Remember, when time is less, these things are luxury.

The secret to making a quick presentation is this:

A. Set yourself a deadline for planning, creating slides and final proof-reading.
B. Plan the content and flow in detail.
C. Create slides with the minimum amount of text you need. Leave the decoration for any spare time later on.

A. Set yourself a time target
Give yourself a time target to plan the presentation, create the slides and proof-reading. Write down these time targets on a A4 paper. If you are making a 30 minute presentation (say 10 slides), and have 2 hours to prepare then allocate time like this:

Planning the content and flow: 30 minutes
Creating the slides: 1 hour
Proof-reading & editing: 20 minutes
Buffer (in case you want more time on any of the above): 10 minutes
This excludes time for rehearsal.
B. Planning the Content & Flow
Plan on a large piece of paper. Write down the following:

Write down the flow on the piece of paper clearly. This will be your guide when you create the slides. Edit this flow and perfect it on paper. This will help you save a lot of time later on. Also write down in brief what you will cover in each slide. When you make the slides, you can just expand on these points.

C. Making the Slides (on software)
i. Do not create any templates. Stick to a standard template from the software or use an old template of yours. This will save a lot of time.

ii. Start preparing the slides. Measure yourself against your time target. Expand what you wrote down on paper. No new content now.

iii. Slide decoration is a luxury. The basic content without any jazz is what matters. Indulge in slide decoration (aesthetics) only when you have time.

iv. Do not animate slides. Animation takes time and do this only when you have time.

v. Run through the presentation at the end (in slideshow mode) to check for any errors and flaws.

Take a deep breath and close the file.

Because you have planned well, you will definitely deliver a great presentation.


  1. Nice one.

    I tend to do my planning with empty powerpoint slides with just titles and arranging the flow. Then I start filling them and as time permits will break the topics futher.

  2. I strongly suggest you plan on paper or notebook. I used to plan on slides earlier but later I realised planning on paper gives you a better overall picture and allows you to set the flow easily.

    Try it.

  3. Nice article. I was just browsing info for corporate presentations since I have to give one in the next few weeks. Found this other article too about how to make your slides faster, I linked it above.