Monday, 2 March 2009

What's the powerpoint? - 4 basic tips for a killer presentation

"Businesses talk to each other in powerpoint" 

The quote is from a pitch handler at Interbrand and I believe that it is true, your company powerpoint template is a reflection of you as a business that is only ever seen by your peers, It says a lot about who you are and how you wish to present yourselves.

I have been building powerpoint templates and finessing presentations for many years, corporate clients include big boys like Interbrand, Coca Cola, BT, Thomson Reuters and TAG as well as high gloss clients such as Mont Blanc Pens and ESPA spa designs. I have a few basic tips for all powerpoint business users.

1, Get the template right first 

Powerpoint is not particularly user-friendly, but it is designed for its purpose, all the functions you need to produce a professional presentation can be built into the template. On the master pages your template designer should have placed styles for text and bullet lists appropriate to your usual presentation style. They should have defined areas for graphics and charts as well as header & footer styles, page numbers etc. 

2. Teach the operators how to use the template properly.

When building your presentation the three most useful tips i can give are:

use the slide layout palette to define each slide, you can add finesse to the presentation later, the important thing is to get the info in and to-style first. when you choose a slide layout style powerpoint adds the necessary elements to the slide, use them, don't draw a text box, choose a slide layout that contains a text box. If you need a second text box copy the one on the slide as it will have the format embedded.

use 'Edit > paste special > Unformatted text' when you paste text in as it will automatically take the style defined in the template.

use the custom colours specified these can be found at 'Format > Custom Colours' they also appear as the top row in any colour pallette in powerpoint.

3. Powerpoint animation and slide transition

I also have 3 useful tips for animation/transition:

Just don't do it. (dances in letter by letter, to oompah band soundtrack)

honestly don't. (72pt bold red font spinning in from the bottom)

really, really don't (boxes in, expands, and zooms off left)

Apart from a very select few clients in the media industry very little animation is actually needed, it distracts from the message and adds an unnecessary level of design complication in case last minute changes are necessary.

If you absolutely must animate, use subtle 'fades' and simple 'wipes' as entrances and 'disappear' for exits.

4. Corporate fonts and graphics

Fonts in powerpoint are a nightmare, the help file says that you can embed them, but if you read the small print you'll find that most corporate fonts are a no no and its back to Arial, Times or any other generic font that everybody has. If if simply has to be Helvetica Neue bold extended then use a graphic, 24 bit PNG with no background. One of the good things about powerpoint is that it loves PNG files and PNG files are great, they handle transparency brilliantly and you can place these files over patterned backgrounds easily and cleanly. Ask your designer to supply a couple of slides of logos and graphics on your template in PNG format to cut and paste.

Graphics look best if they are cut out from the background, they have impact without destroying the slide branding and can be placed as enhancements as well as for subject illustration, again PNG tranparency comes in very handy. Add a few slides of company imagery to the template.

This article covers the basics, at DaviesBatt we put as much thought and creativity into our Powerpoint Presentations as we do to our Annual Reports, Websites and Corporate Brochures and we think it is just as important. 

When you are presenting your services to other businesses can they see what your powerpoint is?

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Saturday, 28 February 2009

The new business reality - Promoting your business in the credit crunch world

We can all see what is happening in the financial world today and also begin to see the business and social effects of the downturn. Every business needs to take a lead from the big boys which means cut, cut and cut again. get yourselves back to the lean, mean business machine that made you successful to begin with.

Having achieved a new sleek streamlined you, what now?

Advertising? - Cut at your peril and make sure that you grab your share.

As a means of survival advertising is essential to any business even more so when times are hard. The upside is that in difficult trading environments even if you are selling less of your services/product you are capturing a bigger share of the available market as your competitors disappear which in the long-term and post credit-crunch will see your business in an overall position of strength. 

There are many ways of advertising and some are more effective than others, we find that email flyers are a relatively cheap, eco-friendly and instant promotional vehicle, you should go through your own client database first, after all the best business is repeat business, you can also build a list from your website visitors to get your message out there.

Corporate literature is more available than ever before, the bad old days of minimum orders of 1000 is long gone, new digital presses offer high quality and low quantity with prices at the lowest levels for years. 

for instance if you need a mailshot to 100 hand-picked clients then a full colour A4 2 sided flyer can be printed and sent in a couple of days for  under £250.

Check your website, make sure it is working for you as hard as you work yourself, go to it now, think like a customer, is it friendly and helpful? If not think about how you would like it to work? to generate more interest in you as a company or to sell more products or both.

Special Offers - Everyone is doing it, why don't we?

What can you give that may tip the balance, nowadays everything is price-sensitive, so 10-20% off may just seal the deal, or perhaps 30-40% for a limited period on an end-of-line item. The important thing is that you get noticed and open a dialog with your customer.

Business promotion  is a combination of advertising, corporate literature, coupled with an optimised website and well thought out special offers. we think that this increases your business recognition and sales and is an important part of any professional business.

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Monday, 23 February 2009

The new business reality- Small is beautiful

We have learned a few things recently from design guru Michael Peters, see designer breakfasts "a cataclysmic shake-up is forcing the design industry to reinvent itself"
“Clients, are sick and tired of the bullshit in our business. They want to connect around ‘the kitchen table’. They want the killer idea, not the Mayfair address. And I want creative people to be recognised as crucial cogs in the wheel of commerce. It has to be a partnership, not a client-servant relationship.”
In the new business reality we need business to business ties more than ever, if your overheads are down through shedding staff then so is your ability to fulfill orders, your options in this situation include outsourcing to a partner business or using freelance and short contract temporary workers on a per job basis. This keeps the costs low and the flexibility high.
At daviesbatt we use outsourced copywriters, web developers, market researchers and printers among others selected from a list of associates formed over many years in the industry.
This made us think, how we can help our clients to add value and open doors? We design their websites and send their email flyers, we drive the customers to them, what else can we do?
We need to promote our business too and our customers are our business.
We propose to put a new section on our website profiling our clients and their businesses, we will also produce an email flyer promoting this to our client base in the hope that the services each offers will be useful and productive to the others.
By promoting our customers on our website and not just referencing the designs but explaining what they do too, we hope that we can put our customers in touch with each other through a channel that is used only for our promotion at present. If we can drive extra business with minimal marketing spend, then everyone's a winner.
We think that this is the new reality, small is beautiful, small-scale marketing works, repeat business is the best business, productivity dependent on order book is the new 'just-in-time' business model and any other models are now looking rather outdated.

Times are hard and costs are critical:
We have a wealth of experience, over 30 years in the creative world and we are extremely cost-effective, our overheads are minimal; a few computers, a purpose built studio next to our home and our time.
Together with our creative and technical partners we are a forward thinking agency with the means of producing high quality design to the most exacting budget constraints.
exciting times ahead.

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