How to Prepare a Presentation in Half the Time

April 12, 2008

If you are starting the preparation of a PresentationZenBOOK.jpg presentation in PowerPoint, or Apple’s Keynote, you are making the creative process far more challenging than it needs to be. Many business people and college students make this mistake.

Presentation design guru Garr Reynolds says that most professional designers – even those who have grown up on computers – do much of their planning and brainstorming on paper first.

In Reynolds’ new book Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, he notes that he spends a lot of time working out of his office in coffee shops, on park benches and on trains. Even though, he has a laptop with him nearly all the time, he prefers to use a pen and paper to privately brainstorm, explore ideas, make lists and sketch out his ideas.

“I could use the computer, but I find – as many do – that the act of holding a pen in my hand to sketch out ideas seems to have a greater, more natural connection to my right brain and allows for a spontaneous flow and rhythm for visualizing and recording ideas,” Reynolds writes.

If he’s in his office, he sketches his ideas on a whiteboard, because it allows him to freely brainstorm on a large scale. This allows him to step back and imagine how it might flow logically when slides are added later.

He says the advantage of a whiteboard or chalkboard is that it allows you to use small groups to record concepts and direction. As he jots down key points and assembles and outline and structure, he can draw quick ideas for visuals, like charts or photos, that will later appear in the slide.

He says this saves time compared to going straight into PowerPoint. That’s because if he started in PowerPoint, he would have to constantly switch from normal view to slide sorter view to see the whole picture. And by doing that, it would disrupt his natural flow of creativity in simplifying his message in his head.

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