Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj
In the last post in this series, we looked at how important compliance is in presentation management. And in this post, we explore how components of presentation management can help you achieve availability of content seamlessly, everyday.
Presentation management balances both sides of the enterprise: the high-level corporate brand and objectives with the everyday tasks of the employees out in the field — the folks whose day-to-day tasks are what actually build the business. Presentation management makes enterprise files available for everyday use and vice versa. It’s like a merger of content. To achieve this requires three key components:
- Cloud-based technology that can store, update and track presentations;
- Analytics and machine learning that can recognize patterns in and the effectiveness of presentations; and
- A cultural shift toward thinking about presentations differently.
These components, when combined, will change the nature of presentations in your organization.
Components of Presentation Management
Modern technology is the backbone of a great presentation management strategy. Of course, we at Shufflrr built just such technology and would like to sell it to you. But whether you buy it from someone else or build it yourself, the discipline of presentation management requires a few key elements.
1. Central Cloud Location
Amazingly, in this era of ubiquitous cloud computing, most companies don’t have a central cloud repository of presentation slides. Slides get stored everywhere:
- Individuals keep decks on their laptops.
- Some groups might share a Google Drive or dump presentations into a shared Dropbox account.
- Some companies used SharePoint’s Slide Library, which has been discontinued.
But whether we’re talking about a small business or a Fortune 500 corporation, it’s rare to find a single, organized, sophisticated cloud solution for presentations.
It might seem obvious, but if slides are scattered in all sorts of pockets of storage, they can’t be shared, reused, and monitored for compliance and consistency. The only way to get this party started is to get all presentations into one place in one location, preferably a cloud drive that anyone with permission can access.
So, here are some steps:
- Establish or buy (from us!) a central presentation repository and upload all of the company’s presentation files. Remember, these files are not limited to PowerPoint, they could include video, images, brochure PDFs, etc. When we refer to presentation files, we are talking about anything that can be presented.
- Make this library accessible to everyone in your organization with the proper permissions. Permissions are important because they direct users to the content that they need, and they help manage risk and ensure compliance.
- Dedicate a person or group to guide presentation strategy and direction. The presentation directors are responsible for ensuring that the presentation management strategy is planned and implemented in your company. Think of it like an advertising director who is responsible for all of the development, execution and measurement of the company’s advertising, or an event manager who is responsible for selecting the conferences and ensuring that the right employees are attending with the right collateral. We’ll go deeper into what skill set a director of presentation management should have in a later post. But for now, our point is that someone in the company should own the presentation strategy.
2. Active Files
Once presentations are in the cloud, the next step is to make them “active.” That means making them visual, searchable, accessible and reusable. They are permissioned, and their use is tracked. Visual files are files that are formatted to present. You can preview for yourself and present them to a client all from the same place.
Search is a pretty standard feature (we peak more about Search later in this post), but we all know that some search engines are better than others at helping you find content you need. Combine search with visualized results and you’ve instantly solved one problem: how to help employees find the right slides for their decks.
Accessible files are ones that your team can get to easily. Permissions enable accessibility because they direct users to content that is relevant to their job. And finally, reusable files refer to the ability to take a file or slide from a file and put it in a new presentation without a lot of hassle. For our clients, we provide a tray where users can drag and drop files and slides, put them in order, and then save them out as a new file. It’s like an Amazon shopping cart, except you are shopping for slides, and other content, instead of stuff.
In contrast, the opposite of active files are dormant files — files that are hidden, asleep on your network somewhere and are hard to find. Active files, on the contrary, are ready to work — ready to present — from anywhere, anytime. A sales rep presenting at her customer’s office can find and access the files and present them within seconds. Or she could share a large-file video with her colleague across town.
3. Slide Library
Going back to the mid-1990s, every solution we developed for our clients has had a slide library. It’s the foundation of presentation strategy. Whether your build one or buy one, a slide library becomes the catalyst for changing files from one-and-done to enterprise assets.
A slide library is a critical component of presentation management because it makes files really easy to reuse. It makes them active. Your employees don’t want to just grab a whole presentation and use it as is – rarely does an entire presentation used in one setting fit another time and place. Employees instead need a library of finely crafted, approved slides that they can draw from to create their own presentations for their own situations. In a slide library, your files are broken down into their elements. A PowerPoint deck will show all of the slides separately within that file. So you can pick and choose the slides you want. A video will appear already formatted as a slide, ready to play. The system will show a Word doc or PDF in its entirety, but with each page broken down, so again you can pick and choose which pages you need.
Now, you’re probably thinking, I can already do that in PowerPoint and Word — just highlight what I want and copy and paste into my new file. So what do I need a slide library for?
- First, with a slide library all files are formatted and ready to present. You can review all the slides, files, pages, videos, etc. with one click. It lets you preview all files side by side, or toggle easily from one to the other, and then another, without a big mess of 20 open documents cluttering up your desktop screen. So you can find exactly what you are looking for.
- Second, once you’ve found what you’re looking for, a slide library has functionality to let you select content efficiently, with drag-and-drop or one-click to select individual slides, videos, etc. into your new presentation. This is much more efficient than scrolling through a bunch of open files on your desktop. You can see it, move it, drag-and-drop it, put it in a specific order, and save it.
Presentation management breaks the larger files down into pieces, so users can access the pieces that they need to customize their new presentation.
4. Visualization of Files
A key to presentation management is how it visualizes the files to make them so much easier to preview and read through.
You can see into slide 35 of an 80-slide deck, or page 76 of a 200-page white paper, right there in the cloud drive, without opening any files or software. The same is true for video and other file types.
In Shufflrr, we offer at least five different views in three sizes. Users can view one slide enlarged to full screen, or all of the slides in one presentation, or several presentations next to each other, so they can compare and contrast content. Furthermore, the visualization extends to the new file you are creating. As you mix slides, videos and images, you can see how your new presentation flows and you can make changes accordingly. That seemingly innocuous task can actually save hours in a user’s preparation time. Visualization makes the files accessible and active.
With visualization, you can see the file and decide in seconds if it’s right for your purpose. It’s formatted and ready to present. In presentation management every file is visual, every file is a slide.
In presentation management, search encompasses not just file names and meta tags, but text within the file, titles, body copy, speaker notes, etc., with mechanisms to sort and filter. It’s all searchable, and search criteria is customizable. In Shufflrr, all PowerPoint decks are indexed when they are uploaded into the app. Content administrators don’t have to do anything extra to make the files searchable.
Let’s say you need to create a presentation about cats. Just like when using Google, you input the term “cats” in the search window. Search results return all files, slides and folders with the word “cats” in them. But unlike Google, the results are visual. You get a little preview of each slide or file so you can review it without leaving the page or window, and then you won’t have navigate back again if you choose the wrong slide. It’s all contained within the same window.
In the next post in this series, we will look at the how presentation management transforms content.
Presentation Management Series: All Posts
All posts from the Presentation Management series are listed on this page, Presentation Management: The Entire Series.
AlexAnndra Ontra, co-founder of Shufflrr, is a leading advocate for presentation management. She has been providing presentation technology and consulting services to global enterprises for over 15 years.
At Shufflrr, Alex advises Shufflrr clients through the process: from trial, to content architecture, through the launch, training and then on-going software upgrades. She’s hands-on. She is a leading expert in presentation management strategy, implementation, and adaptation.
James Ontra is co-founder and CEO of Shufflrr. His 30-year career has focused on the highest profile presentations for world class companies. His clients have included: American Express, Bloomberg, Epcot Center, Mercedes Benz, NBC Olympics, Warner Bros. and many more.
His vision and strategy have been driving Presentation Management to become a recognized communication discipline. James combined this passion with technical development to build Shufflrr. Presentation Management is smart communication strategy.
Geetesh Bajaj is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional), and has been designing and training with PowerPoint for more than two decades. He heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India.
Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like story, consistency, and interactivity — and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He explains how these elements work together in his training sessions. He has also authored six books on PowerPoint and Microsoft Office.