I just finished work for a client on a multi-speaker presentation. It was a presentation that will be given to nurses at a nursing school and I thought I’d share my experiences with you.
It’s quite a challenge when you get several presentations from different presenters and have to turn them into one, coherent presentation.
Not to speak of the challenge of coordinating the content–but that wasn’t my task.
When it comes to coordinating comments from all the speakers, I learned a lot. I’ll share that later in this post.
I started by creating a branded theme
The organizer warned me, “Ellen, the presentations look like a ransom note!”
That was because of the many fonts and colors used, even within each presentation.
When I delivered it, she said, “It’s gorgeous!”
The presentation was sponsored by the nursing school and the University’s medical center so I started by getting their logos. These had the same colors as the University’s logo and were the start for me to create a theme for the presentation. It’s a common practice to brand a presentation for the audience when you’re speaking for an outside organization that has strong branding. A University is certainly a good example of that.
The 2 colors were awfully bright, so when I created the colors, I added darker versions of each color, plus 2 grays.
Here’s a blog post about branding a presentation: 8 steps to add branding to your presentations.
The presentation was very scientific and had lots of charts showing results of research, so the theme had to be very minimalist and design elements couldn’t take up much room. On the slide master, I put 2 very thin bands of color at the bottom using the 2 main logo colors.
Here’s the result. You can see that it’s very simple.
I saved the result as a theme. The post I linked to above explains how to do that.
Then I added the slides
The next step was to create a new presentation, apply the new theme, and copy the slides from the 3 presentations the presenters submitted the new presentation. I just selected the slides in the presentations, copied them, and pasted into the new presentation. By default, they take on the new theme.
You might think you’d be all set, but you aren’t. That’s because your presenters:
- Made individual changes to objects, like changing text color. These changes remain even in the new presentation.
- Used the blank layout (or another layout and deleted all of the placeholders) and added text boxes all over the place
- Used too much text that is too small to read. (This presentation will have several hundred people in the audience, so the text needed to legible from the back.)
- Didn’t add any images, or they added horrible images that you need to replace
- Inserted charts that were completely different in their colors and fonts from other charts (hence the ransom note look)
I reset lots of slides
For almost every slide, I checked the slide layout. If it wasn’t appropriate to the content, I changed the layout. If it was appropriate, I usually reset the slide. This process reapplies the layout to the slide. For more information, see my blog post, “Resetting a slide: A quick fix for awful slides.”
I manually changed objects that had been individually changed, so that they would match the theme.
I got rid of bullets (usually using SmartArt) and made sure the text was large enough to read. Sometimes, I divided a slide into 2 slides.
I added photos from my favorite stock photo site.
I did major surgery on the charts, to make them clear and as consistent as possible. This was difficult, because many of them were images, not native charts–and the original data was too time-consuming to get.
Getting feedback and making corrections can be difficult
When I submitted the presentation, the organizer sent it to each of the presenters and they each sent back some requests for changes. Over a period of several days. This created a problem and I learned something about how to specify these requests.
When the first presenter responded, I made the changes and sent the presentation back to the organizer as version 2.
Then the second presenter responded, giving me only slide numbers and the requested change for each slide. Oops. As a result of the earlier changes, the slide numbers were now different. Confusion!
I learned that I should specify that each change request should include the slide title, not just the slide number.
In the end, the organizer and I spent two hours together reconciling all of the requests and finalizing the presentation.
Plan carefully for multi-speaker presentations
For best results, make sure that someone is assigned as the coordinator, a person who will communicate with all of the presenters and take ownership of the presentation.
Expect the consolidation process to take longer than you expect.
Another option is to create a single slide presentation that links to a separate presentation for each speaker. This also requires coordination and a certain amount of practice. I explain some techniques in another blog post, “Switch to another presentation seamlessly.”
Have you done multi-speaker presentations?
What was your experience? Please share in the comments! And please share this post with others so they can have this information for their presentations–just use the Share buttons below.
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