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You need to create a very important presentation, and you’ve realized it’s time to turn to a presentation design agency for support.
It could be a presentation for an important corporate event, a new corporate PowerPoint template, a company presentation makeover, a project presentation or even a pitch to introduce your startup to investors.
We could mention countless other scenarios.
There’s an infinite number of them, and do you know why?
Because if you are creating a presentation, it means that you have something really important to say.
You need to make sure that your idea reaches your audience clearly and sticks in their minds.
In short, it’s a presentation you don’t want and can’t afford to fail.
That’s why we are here today – to learn how to choose a Presentation Design agency.
You’ve probably done some research on Google and found several alternatives, but on what basis should you make your assessment?
Yes, you could choose the one with the portfolio you like the most, but if you thought about it, you would be evaluating the graphics and therefore making a gut choice. Then, don’t complain if you find yourself struggling once the project starts.
So, how do you evaluate a presentation design agency?
A Presentation Design Service is Very Different from Any Other Communication or Design Service
First, we need to clarify a key difference between a presentation design service and all other communication, design, and marketing services.
When you’re looking for an agency that can support you in creating an effective presentation, you’re looking for a very specific skill set.
What do you mean, Maurizio?
Let me explain.
A common mistake is thinking that, in order to realize an effective presentation, all you need is someone who can nicely layout your content, line it up, choose the right images and colors and that’s it.
This is the perfect recipe for a presentation that won’t leave a mark and will soon be forgotten.
And I wouldn’t even want to know what it might cost you.
Do you know how many times I’ve found myself revisiting presentations created by graphic designers and communication agencies?
In fact, consider that I find myself working in partnership with communication agencies who entrust me with the creation of their clients’ presentations.
Why, couldn’t they just make them themselves?
And that’s the point!
Making an effective presentation is much more than just putting it on the page – it requires you to first read and understand its content.
In fact, to create an effective presentation, you must focus on the communication strategy before the actual design, and craft a powerful storyline that will truly resonate with your audience.
When I analyze a presentation, the first thing I do is throw out the slides and focus on the audience I want to reach.
I spend my time studying the people the speaker will be facing and look for the most interesting angle to best communicate their content.
Only after this in-depth analysis I begin to write the most effective communication script using storytelling techniques for business.
Why for business, Maurizio?
Basically, you haven’t mentioned PowerPoint yet.
At the moment, I’ve been doing strategy work that requires a deep understanding of the content, which can sometimes be very technical and use specific vocabulary from the reference industry.
Imagine if you were creating a presentation on logistics and manufacturing in the FMCG world, or if you were presenting data for a large pharmaceutical company, or if you were presenting an entrepreneurial project for the purpose of getting funded, etc.
A businessperson might have the flexibility and skills to understand the content, but a graphic designer would be right outside their comfort zone.
A graphic designer is an expert at visualizing ideas, finding the right balances, and pairing them with the best style, but they usually know little or nothing about business.
In addition, you need to analyze the audience and design an effective storyline, so you need a real communication strategy, another skill that is beyond the abilities of a designer.
Last but not least, designers don’t know how and don’t want to work with PowerPoint because they consider it a basic tool.
It’s actually much simpler than Illustrator or InDesign, but it was born to be so and is in fact much more accessible to the general public, which is why it is used by virtually anyone without technical skills and by most companies around the world.
Ok Maurizio, but a businessperson doesn’t possess the graphic or communication skills to display my ideas or to design an effective storyline after analyzing the audience.
These are specific skills.
In fact, you won’t find them in a design agency, and you won’t find them in a communication agency.
You need an agency specializing in effective presentations that possesses this combination of skills, and lots and lots of experience.
Now that it’s clear what kind of agency you’re looking for, excluding traditional graphic design and communication agencies, let’s see what you should consider when choosing a presentation design agency.
A Diverse Team Ranging from Business to Presentation Designers
To cover this wide range of skills, in a presentation design agency you should find a diverse team made up of different profiles, part business and part design.
The charm of a presentation design agency is to be able to orchestrate the delicate interaction between these two worlds that are so far apart.
At MLC Presentation Design Consulting, for example, we have a very diverse team of designers and engineers from technical and business backgrounds.
Also, all our designers specialize in the advanced use of PowerPoint, as our final deliverable will always be a PowerPoint file.
But Maurizio, by doing this, clients could then update it themselves and never come back to you, haven’t you thought about that?
In fact, that’s exactly what we hope.
I want clients to be able to independently evolve the PowerPoint presentation we create for them.
This way, every presentation the MLC team creates becomes a set of layouts that can be considered real assets that can be reused on countless future occasions.
That’s why we often create modular business presentations consisting of parts that can be displayed or not, depending on the specific case.
An Effective Presentation Requires a Strategic Approach
Okay, once you’ve verified that the presentation design agency’s team includes both business and design profiles, you need to figure out if there is a strategic component as well.
Maurizio, what do you mean by strategy in presentations?
Every effective presentation should start with a deep understanding of three elements: objective, audience, and resistance.
I won’t go into detail in this article, but if you’d like to learn more about the strategic approach behind the methodology, I’ve published: Lean Presentation Design. I invite you to check out this article – Business Presentation: the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Modular, Effective Presentation.
In a nutshell, I believe that before you get your hands on the PowerPoint, you need to study the audience and design the storyline until you have a real script.
To do this, at MLC Presentation Design Consulting, we use a proprietary tool published in the Lean Presentation Design: How to Create an Effective Presentation in the Blink of an Eye.
This template is called: Lean Presentation Strategy Canvas
So, work on the strategy first and then think about the visualization part.
It’s About Designing an Experience, Not Just Slides
When you talk to the presentation design agency, right from the first meeting, pay attention to how they redesign the slides – what is their logic for displaying the content?
Personally, I think the basis of an effective presentation is a good design of the interaction experience according to the context of the target audience.
Easy Mauri, I’m not following you.
No problem, I’ll give you an example.
If you need support to create a presentation that you will be delivering live, you must imagine the context of fruition, i.e., the moment in which you will project in front of your audience, in presence or remotely.
The two modes are very different experiences and must be treated with specific design techniques, but to clarify your ideas, you can guess that, when you give an in-person presentation and you are standing next to your screen, your audience will interact with you and with your slides.
Quite simply, people will watch you speak and redirect their attention to the slides each time you move on to the next one.
From that point on, after quickly capturing the message, they will return their eyes to you.
These are basic interaction dynamics that significantly affect the usability of the presentation and must therefore be taken into account in the graphic-stylistic choices of each PowerPoint slide.
In an online presentation, these dynamics are actually different. If you’re curious about them, I recommend reading Online Presentation: The Ultimate Guide
So, is the presentation design agency you’re talking to designing the experience, or just embellishing the slides?
Project Management for Presentations
If you’re approaching a presentation design agency, you’re probably short on time.
So, project time management is key.
Maurizio, that seems obvious, right?
Not at all!
In the business world, project management is a widespread discipline that we’re all sensitive to, but in the creative world, everything becomes more fluid, and an unstructured and imprecise management of the process of creating a presentation can put your project at risk.
What happens if your presentation isn’t ready by the set deadline?
You see, delivering a presentation project requires careful planning of each step.
Maurizio, could you give me an example?
Certainly. In general terms, a presentation might follow this roadmap:
As you can see, there are times when the agency will need your support, and your timely and comprehensive feedback can significantly speed up the presentation creation process.
But it’s not up to you to manage it!
The agency needs to make it clear from the outset what is expected of you and at what times, so that you can prepare in time and provide the best feedback possible.
For example, at MLC Presentation Design Consulting we have a dedicated person who not only acts as a single point of contact with you, but also builds and shares the project roadmap, making it clear when exactly the team will need your input and what input is needed at any given time.
Make sure that the agency is really able to manage your project in a structured way – creativity should not be part of this interaction between you and your account.
Offering Effective Presentation Design Services Requires a Separate Specialization
As you will have noticed, a presentation design agency is a very unique organization both in terms of its expertise and the way it handles interactions internally and externally.
Maurizio, are you referring to what you said in the previous paragraphs?
Yes, I mean that there are several professionals, often with diametrically opposed backgrounds, who interact with each other in a structured way, providing their specific contribution at precise moments of the process of creating an effective presentation.
In addition, there will be a figure in charge of the realization and management of the project who is close to the client and will act as the sole point of contact with you.
All of this implies a high level of specialization.
In summary, I would be wary of agencies that do a little bit of everything, and I would rely on those who, by trade, have chosen to specialize and do a certain thing in the best way.
This is true in general, as far as I’m concerned, but in the case of a presentation design agency, it’s even more important.
Proven Industry Experience
You made it to the end of the meeting where you met the agency team, were given countless reassurances and passed along several samples of work that has been done in the past.
Between words and deeds, however, there’s a big difference!
Look for – and if you can’t find them, ask for them – successful examples of projects done by the presentation design agency in the past.
Do you know how to analyze a success story?
I’ll explain, it’s pretty simple, follow me.
In any case or past project, you must always look at three things:
- The client’s need
- The agency’s intervention
- The results
The client’s need helps you understand if the agency has experience solving problems similar to yours. The intervention gives you an idea of what to expect in response to that need.
Finally, the results prove that the type of intervention the presentation design agency is proposing is actually a solution and shows you the extent of it.
In the case of MLC Presentation Design Consulting, for example, we’ve converted our portfolio into a detailed collection of a few successful case studies that we feel are representative of our abilities, take a look – MLC Case Studies.
Every Agency Has Their Own Style, Which One Are You Looking For?
We left the graphic-stylistic part for last, that’s true.
Don’t get me wrong though, I didn’t do it because I think it’s less important, on the contrary, I care about it a lot!
However, we often tend to let the graphic-design part prevail to the detriment of the communication strategy, and that’s why I like to make order between the phases.
That said, it’s clear that each presentation design agency will differ in style.
We believe that a presentation should be essential, elegant and contain only those elements that add real value to the communication for the final audience.
Everything else for us is just meaningless communication and a waste of time for those who make it.
If you like a minimal style, we could be the right choice, but if you’re looking for something different, you could find an agency that has a heavier or more similar style to what you’re looking for.
Agency Clients Say More Than You Imagine
A fundamental aspect that distinguishes one agency from another is the ability to dialogue with a certain type of client.
What do you mean, Maurizio?
You see, talking to a startup, a freelancer or a multinational company are very different things.
There are completely different dynamics and needs that require a specific industry experience.
For this reason, when you look at a presentation design agency’s client portfolio, don’t be dazzled by how famous their clients’ logos are.
Rather, focus on figuring out if the agency is used to talking to clients who are in your category.
In short, if you work for a multinational company, don’t choose an agency that has always worked with freelancers and small businesses, and vice versa.
Designing Presentations vs. Innovating the World of Presentations
Presentation design is a complex set of skills and, as in many disciplines, there are those who improvise, those who simply study and replicate existing approaches, and those who develop new approaches and expand the frontiers of existing literature and techniques.
When evaluating a presentation design agency, always make sure you understand what type of organization you are dealing with.
The MLC team creates presentations that we call Lean.
Does that mean that they are all pictures and few words?
It means we focus on designing an experience for our audience that guides us to make minimal choices of only those graphic, visual and strategic components that will allow our speaker to leave a mark.
We are not content to simply bring existing techniques to market but have developed our own method and aim to evolve the world of presentation design to serve our clients.
So, always consider whether an agency is innovating or replicating existing approaches. There is no right choice here, but if it’s the agency that founded the approach, it will certainly be better than one that replicates it.
Choosing a presentation design agency is not an easy task precisely because of the stakes and the level of importance of your presentation.
You can’t afford to fail, and so you definitely need to rely on the right partner.
Make sure you find a team that is highly specialized in presentation design and doesn’t do a little bit of everything. Don’t go for communication and graphic design agencies, look for a presentation design agency.
Check that they know how to set up and manage a project professionally and within the timeline.
Chat with them, get to know them, and after evaluating their experience, learn to trust them and let them guide you towards the presentation that will allow you to leave a mark in your audience’s memory.