Presentation Management 25: Content Organization

Presentation Management 25: Content Organization

Created: Monday, September 6, 2021, posted by at 9:30 am

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Original content by AlexAnndra Ontra and James Ontra
Enhanced by Geetesh Bajaj

In the previous part of this Presentation Management series of posts, we explored how creating a story for a business presentation is different than constructing other stories. In this part, we look at how you can organize content to make your business story interesting.

The next step is to organize slides into a library that tells an even bigger story: the story of your enterprise. Let’s expand the same methodology that we explored in an earlier post:

Every slide is a scene; every presentation is a story

If we were to expand the scope of this thought to your enterprise, you will benefit even more. If you work for a large enterprise, there could be many departments divided by discipline, product, or geography. Each department has a story.

Here’s how we built a presentation management solution for cable TV company Scripps Networks, which had a mission to improve their viewers’ lifestyle and community. Its portfolio of networks included brands like Food Network, HGTV, DIY Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, and Great American Country.

Each network answered a So what that mattered to viewers.

Furthermore, each program, each slide, had a more specific So what that mattered to a particular demographic.

For example, Rachel Ray showed people how to cook a great meal in 30 minutes, so we can eat well even when we don’t think we have the time. That was important to time-strapped parents who worked outside the home. We organized content into chapters for each network and slides for each program. Each network told its overarching story: why it exists, what it means to the viewers, and the value for advertisers and cable operators.

Then each program did the same, but on a smaller scale. The stories included factual information about the programs and their ratings, and also a human element about viewers and how that program changed people’s lives.

Each slide or set of slides told its own story. We didn’t just create a chart comparing audience delivery of women 25 to 54 years old. We stated why women 25 to 54 are such a lucrative target for advertisers and included pictures and videos to bring that audience to life. The slides showed real people with real emotions who were affected by those programs.

Content Organization 01

Content Organization 01

Even though it might be safe to assume that the advertisers in the room knew their target, Scripps went the extra mile and reminded them why their target is important. Finally, to keep the audience engaged, Scripps introduced different presenters to present the different networks, each with his or her own personality and character. And the presenters broke up the slides with videos. The changes added energy to the Upfront roadshow presentations room and kept the meetings flowing. In doing so, Scripps demonstrated that it intrinsically understood the marketplace and how it affected its advertisers’ business.

This approach allowed all of our salespeople to speak intelligently, whether talking about the details of one program or the value of working with Scripps in general, said Jon Steinlauf, who was at that time, in 2005, Senior Vice President of ad sales for Scripps Networks. He is now Chief Advertising Officer at Discovery Communications.

He further added, Presentation management gave them the ability to cross-sell the networks, which translated into higher revenues.

In the Scripps library, each piece of the content met the criteria for a good presentation management strategy. It was formatted to present; it told a relevant, memorable story; and it was branded and compliant. The 150 Scripps ad sales reps had a range of stories that they could repurpose and customize for their individual meetings. Because they were telling better stories, they became better presenters and ultimately better brand stewards for Scripps.

Content Organization 02

Content Organization 02

It is important to remember that the Scripps case study we just explored is from several years ago. There are two important observations to explore that are just as relevant today, or maybe even more pertinent now:

  1. First of all, we looked back at a time when very few people were talking about the importance of stories in business presentations. Today, almost everyone is aware that they need to be good storytellers to help their audiences understand messages better. With reducing attention spans, stories help capture and hold attention, and they also make your messages memorable, so that they are remembered, and acted upon, long after the actual presentation.
  2. Secondly, we spoke about the So what principle. So, how relevant is this principle now? We bring an answer to this question from James Ontra in the next section.
James Ontra
Geetesh: James, how does the So what principle help create stories today when attention spans are decreasing all the time? Can the So what principle make stories more factual than human?

James: The So what principle is so very important. If there is no So what to a slide, then the slide has no purpose… If the slide has no purpose, then you have to ask yourself, why did you use it in the first place?

The So what principle is a gauge for audience interest. When So what is high, audience interest is high. When So what is low, audience engagement is low. So, if your audience is less engaged in the slide, then ask yourself why?

Consider any great story/movie/presentation. Every scene has a purpose. The purpose of each scene can be simply restated as the So what. In making movies, no director would waste their time and money filming a scene that has no purpose to the overall story being told. Martin Scorsese would not waste his time filming a scene that has no purpose, and neither should you.

The So what principle can be understood as the purpose of each slide/scene that moves your story along.

In the next part of this series, we will look at the future of presentations.

Presentation Management Series: All Posts

All posts from the Presentation Management series are listed on this page, Presentation Management: The Entire Series.


First, try and answer these questions. Feel free to read the post again if needed. Then, scroll down to below the author profiles to find the answers.

Q1: Presentation management gave them the ability to cross-sell the networks, which translated into higher revenues. Which case study resulted in this statement?

Q2: Can the So what principle make stories more factual than human?

AlexAnndra Ontra

AlexAnndra Ontra
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

James Ontra
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

Geetesh Bajaj
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.

Quiz Answers

A1: The case study of cable TV company Scripps Networks using a presentation management solution resulted in this statement. This solution is now known as Shufflrr.

A2: The So what principle is a gauge for audience interest. When So what is high, audience interest is high. When So what is low, audience engagement is low. In many ways, thus, the So what principle results in stories being more human, while retaining any facts.

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