Tactics To Create Impressive PowerPoint Decks In Hours, Not Days
80% of the results in 20% of the time
Happy Saturday, fellow learner! 👋
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Few things are as seductive as “the toolbox.”
Learning “the toolbox" is the grand promise from prestigious management consultancies like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
Wide-eyed college seniors are torn between pursuing their passions or spending a few years as a consultant to learn slide-making, Excel modeling, and so-called problem-solving.
I was one such senior and chose to start my career at McKinsey.
👇️ Here’s what I learned about slide-making:
Actionable Tips For Efficient Slide-Making
1. Know Your Audience
A meeting with a CEO needs a different slide deck than a meeting with a designers.
And one group of designers, with their own personalities and subculture, might need a different deck than another group of designers.
2. Know — Feel — Do
What do you want your audience to know, feel, and do based on your meeting or presentation?
Beginners focus just on know while intermediates include both know and do.
Masters, however, emphasize how they want the audience to feel.
3. Presenting ≠ Discussing
McKinsey slides are often text dense, violating every rule you’ve heard about using large font and minimizing text.
Such dense slides are designed for discussions, not for presenting to large groups.
Know which you’re doing.
4. Create A Storyline On Paper
Here’s what I mean by storyline:
(a) Pick an overarching framework for your message
You need the total story to fit together.
I shared the frameworks Past → Present → Future and Problem → Solution → Evidence in my earlier newsletter about frameworks for impromptu speaking.
You can also aim for the hero’s journey, e.g., by using Dan Roam’s template for a 10 page pitch.
(b) Draft slide titles
Divide each sheet into 6 parts. Each part represents a slide. Write down a single key message of < 15 words for each slide.
That key message becomes the title of the slide.
(c) Sketch which data could support your key message
A graph? A table? Or simply a few bullets in large font?
5. Iterate With A Colleague
“Test fast” is as true for slide decks as for startups.
It’s faster to make changes when you’re still just sketching on paper than when you’re tweaking words on a slide.
6. Use Templates To Save Time
Consultants reuse the same slide structures over and over.
Save time by copy-pasting previous slides and modifying them, instead of building them from scratch.
7. Plug In Your Content
After steps 1-6, this part is mainly execution.
Just stay brief — cut unnecessary words.
8. Add a Dash of Polish
Ensure boxes are aligned, that the spacing looks balanced, and brighten it up with a slight touch of color and icons.
Read my guide here (read by 8500+ people) for beautifying slides.
A Few Resources
The service Pitch for slide templates. I used it for an investor presentation before and liked it, although it requires a subscription to remove the Pitch-branding and to export to PowerPoint format
My free PowerPoint templates here, in case helpful
Analyst Academy on YouTube teaches anything and everything about consultant slide-making
On a Personal Note
I left McKinsey after 10 months and have since encouraged others to pass on job offers from the firm ripe with scandals.
While I learned a lot, I have no doubt that those who are curious and ambitious grow fast in other roles too :)
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