A Slide Deck Makeover with Before and After Images

This week I had an opportunity to sit in a high level meeting and team up with my boss to make a brief presentation. My initial instinct for any presentation is to find ways to get people involved and engaged in the presentation. A presentation to executives is a bit different than your run-of-the-mill presentation (Nancy Duarte has a great, short article about presenting to senior executives here), so I felt it wise to follow the script outlined by our CEO.

While this was going to be a straight-forward, informational presentation, I still wanted our slides to tell a story and offer a better visual experience than we’d get if we just lined up a bunch of bulleted points.

Here is an early version of some data:


What is one to do with data? How do you dress up charts and numbers and make them more interesting?


In this case, we didn’t think we needed to make these numbers more interesting. BUT, we also didn’t want the numbers from each chart to get lost. So, we broke these charts up into two separate slides (slides are free after all!), which allowed the audience to focus on what we wanted them to focus on, and we could tell the story behind the numbers.

Here is another early draft of one of our slides:


It was a lot of text, and the human brain can’t read and listen to someone at the same time. So, we tweaked this a bit so that we could guide our audience visually through our points:


In addition to some of the visual adjustments, we also animated the text on the screen so that only one point appeared at a time. This reduced the amount of information that the audience was allowed to look at during any given moment and kept them focused on the points we wanted to make.

Enough about what we did… as you take a look at these slides, how would you have adjusted them?

8 thoughts on “A Slide Deck Makeover with Before and After Images

  1. Tell a story with your slide title to share the key message from your slide: We’ve grown 271% since 2011, Hiring of male employees is down 12%. Our culture is vital to our mission. Currently, the titles don’t tell me, the audience, much about the slide at all, other than the theme.

  2. As I looked at the first slides, my thought was where are the graphics to make this come alive. My thought with word heavy slides and learners is why bother? Let someone read! And yes, a chart is a graphic but unless it’s widely dramatic, what’s sticking. What’s resonating

    • Indeed an interesting challenge. Most of the time I focus on “learners”. In this particular meeting, I don’t know that I’d consider this group of executives “learners” as much as a review board listening to reports and asking questions. And I absolutely agree – if there’s gonna be text heavy slides, just let people read them.

      When it comes to graphs/charts, what kinds of things have you done to make them come alive?

  3. What a timely topic for me! I’ve recently started realizing how text heavy some of my presentations have gotten. This was a good reminder of how I can make things better. Thanks!

    • And it doesn’t have to be too complex of a makeover. Yes, you can get ultra fancy if you have good design sense (which I don’t)… or you can make small, simple tweaks that can really go a long way in making sure your audience stays with you.

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