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Your Clean Energy PowerPoint Presentation IS Branding

February 29, 2024

Take the time to create powerful presentations.

TL;DR Takeways

  1. Check out this quick video to reduce the file size of your PowerPoint files.
  2. Positively impact your audience’s impression of your brand with every presentation.
  3. If your audience is reading a slide, they aren’t listening to you.
  4. Align, simplify, and edit out the unnecessary to get to your key takeaways.
  5. One idea per slide.
  6. Take the time to plan, practice, and edit.

I have been spending a lot of time in PowerPoint lately. Between draft files received, time spent in sessions at conferences, and webinars, the amount of time I’ve spent looking at presentations of late is… a lot. While I’ve known this for a while, it has become abundantly clear that those of us in the clean energy industry can do much better with our presentations.

Your presentation – whether technical, sales, or financial – is branding. What you put up on that screen is just as important as what you say in your presentation. You will form strong impressions of your company with your audience not only in how you deliver your speech, but also in how you present your information. I’ve talked about influencing brand identity out in the wild in other posts, so I won’t go into that here. Every presentation, session, webinar, etc. gives your company the opportunity to help steer brand identity and build brand trust.

Visually, I see a lot that baffles me in clean energy presentations. Here is my “most often” list:

  1. Wall o’ text – slides filled with text and bullet points the length of paragraphs.
  2. Charts and graphs with extra data or unexplained data difficult to parse.
  3. Messy image or chart callouts with excessive explanatory text.
  4. More than five images on one slide.

Wall o’ text

Most often, the wall o’ text is explaining something in detail or intricately technical. We humans do not listen while reading, and then retain that new knowledge. Your audience will either listen to what you’re saying and not read the wall o’ text, or more likely, read the wall o’ text and tune out what you’re saying. Studies have shown that 65% of the population are visual learners, while only 30% of the population are auditory learners. When made to choose, 65% of your audience will read the slide over listening to what you have to say.

Fixing the wall o’ text

Decide on the key facts or stats that are important for the audience to remember. Boil that down even further to a key number, percentage, or two to three keywords. That’s what goes on your slide. Use your speech to give context and detail. Your audience will quickly parse and remember the points on your slide and then focus back on you and what you’re saying.

If you are concerned about key points getting lost when you email your presentation to viewers after the presentation, remember that you can always add a slide with more detail before emailing. A slide that doesn’t get used in your verbal presentation.

Charts and graphs with extra or unexplained data

The purpose of charts and graphs is to contextualize data in a meaningful way for the viewer. The purpose of charts and graphs in a presentation is to present contextualized data in a way that the viewer can quickly grasp the key takeaway presented with the data. Nat Bullard’s annual decarbonization presentation does this well.

Our brains are naturally lazy. It takes a lot of energy to keep our brains functioning, they will look for shortcuts to use less energy. The less we make our brains work to parse data, the more energy available to expend on the actual message of the data.

Minimizing the need for keys or legends will help our brains from having to leap back and forth when reviewing the chart/graph.

Adjust your charts/graphs to only include the data range and labels needed to present the message – e.g. don’t have hash lines go to 200, when none of the data goes beyond 100, unless it is needed for the message. Or show hashmarks in multiples of five, when the data is just as clear with multiples of 10.

Choose the right chart to most effectively present your message. Does it make sense to show a scatter plot when a simpler trendline will get your message across?

Messy callouts with excessive explanatory text

Much like paragraph-long bullets, callouts with longer explanatory text leaves your audience reading instead of listening. Keep callouts simple. Like longer, walls o’ text, you can always add more information on a new slide when emailing your presentation after the speech.

Be aware of how you align callout text, where you are placing it, in what order your callouts appear, and finally what lines and at what angle the lines appear. The more visually aligned the boxes are, in a more logical order, and with fewer line angles to follow, the quicker your audience will be able to scan the information, take it in, and get back to listening to what you’re saying.

Multiple images on a single slide

Once in a while, a collage of images on a slide makes sense. The point of the collage is to take in the images as a whole and give a singular impression. Most of the time, however, what I see are multiple photos on a single slide with each image representing its own idea. Much like a wall o’ text, your audience will spend time taking in the images, and less time listening to you.

Break up your images into multiple slides or use animation to bring images in one at a time while discussing each one.

Do

Have one idea per slide. Don’t worry about rules you’ve heard about how many slides to have for an X-minute presentation. You’re better off having 40 well-designed slides with a single point on each slide for a 20-minute presentation than to stick to a 1-minute-per-slide rule and try and fit all of your points on 20 slides. Practice. Know your timing. Cut where you need to.


Stick to your brand color palette.
Take the time to edit charts and graphs to match your brand color palette. It will leave your presentation looking more cohesive, and feel much less jarring to your audience. The same can be said for fonts. Be consistent throughout – even in charts and graphs.


Outline your story and message.
Make sure you know your key takeaways and how you are going to lead your audience to those takeaways. You know A LOT more than you will end up presenting. That’s okay. Stay on track to keep to your goals.


Speak to your audience.
Remember your audience. Presenting at Distributech is going to be different than presenting to your chamber of commerce. Different audience, different assumed base of knowledge, different goals. Customize your presentation for your audience.

Be realistic in how much time a good presentation takes. You won’t get the results you want by tackling a presentation the night before a speech, or on the plane to a conference. Give yourself the time to outline and, most importantly, edit your presentation.

  1. Goals
  2. Audience
  3. Key takeaways
  4. Outline
  5. Draft presentation
  6. Edits
  7. Practice
  8. Edit again.

If you would like assistance with your next presentation so it effectively promotes your brand, don’t hesitate to reach out.