Working with Graphic Designers for Better Business Presentations

July 11, 2012 | Paula Crerar
Working with Graphic Designers for Better Business Presentations

For higher quality PowerPoint and Brainshark presentations, I have the good fortune to work with a team of graphic designers. Like any collaborative project, the experience can either be very rewarding and efficient for all parties, or frustrating and drawn out. Using the following guidelines, our team has enjoyed the process of working together and has delivered content with consistently high quality. 

First, it’s a good idea to limit the creative team to two or three at the most. Others can have a say early in the project and be involved in the approval cycles, but there should be no more than three people responsible for creating the content – the project manager, the script writer and the graphic designer. In some cases, you may have just a writer and a designer.  (For more details on why a team of three works best, check out this post from one of our own on graphic design problem solving.)

The path to better presentations

Kick things off with a storyboarding session. You should come to the meeting with an approved script, as well as all the information that’s typically contained in a creative brief:

  • What’s the purpose and goal of the presentation?  Do you have a measurable objective?

  • Who’s the audience? What are their challenges, and what gets them excited? If you can get across who the audience is, the designer can get a picture in his or her head of the types of visuals that would resonate with the viewers.

  • How should the audience feel at key stages of the presentation – Excited? Concerned? Amused? Amazed?

  • What are the types of images that would appeal to the audience? What images should you stay away from? Be prepared to show the designer examples of websites that are popular with this audience, such as associations that the audience may belong to. If you’re using a freelancer, make sure they have the branding guidelines that include approved logos, fonts, and colors.

In the storyboarding session, discuss the script and story with the graphic designer. Resist the urge to jump in with your initial ideas on the graphics. Instead, listen to the designer’s ideas. They bring a different perspective and may have a very different -- and often much better -- image from what you initially pictured. Certainly express your ideas, but let them speak first. Redirect the ideas when they stray from the objective you’re trying to achieve and/or won’t engage the audience.

If the discussion during the storyboarding session is floundering, take a second look at the script. For example, you may find that the script is not very relevant to your audience. This will cause you to have trouble coming up with engaging visuals. Or maybe you and the graphic designer don’t understand the audience. You may want to end the meeting, go back and do more research, and then start storyboarding again.

After the storyboarding session, the ball is in the designer’s court. For your next meeting, they’ll show you initial design concepts for the slides. At that point you can decide if the graphics are complementing and reinforcing your script. If not, you can discuss ideas or other design approaches that might work better. Expect a few more iterations and meetings as you come progressively closer to a finished presentation that’s designed to meet your objectives and that your team can be proud of.


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