During my tenure as a PowerPoint designer with Chillibreeze, I noticed that our customers send decks that require treatments that range from basic cleanup to complex animations.
Sometimes formatting one slide takes me just 5-10 minutes; others times it takes close to 4-5 hours!
We decided to streamline our formatting approach to adding maximum value to our customers as well as help ourselves work more efficiently.
The 3 levels of PowerPoint formatting
After careful study of presentation decks formatted over the years, we categorize our PowerPoint formatting approach into 3 levels. Each level required a different action. Defining the levels of PowerPoint formatting has made work so much easier for the team.
And the best part, customers adopted to this approach like fish to water. Communicating their requirements is now a breeze.
Sample this - “Level 1 for slides 3-6 and a bit of Level 3 on that timeline slide…that should do the trick”. The team could just get to work immediately. No back and forth emails or phone/Skype discussions. Such a time-saver!
Going a step further here is an elaboration on WHEN to apply each Level of Formatting.
Level 1 – Basic PowerPoint Formatting
Level 1 formatting; to put it in a popular term used here in Chillibreeze, “Basic formatting” is a general cleanup that is applied to PowerPoint. Such as alignment, spacing, consistency, clean look and feel of the deck.
Apply them to the following decks:
Internal team reports
Weekly or monthly reports that need to presented internally to team members or managers. They mostly contain data and charts showing trends and numbers.
These decks do not require stylized, or graphical representation. Sometimes they are just used to keep track of the performance of the team.
Here is an insider tip: If it is a presentation that you are going to give on a weekly/monthly basis, I suggest you have a readymade template. Teams across all departments can use the standardized PowerPoint template.
We have a lot of customers sending us private decks for improving the visual design/
communication part. Usually, it does not take much effort, and we always apply Level 1 Formatting.
To break the monotony, you can add a little pinch of color and graphics that represents the team.
However, a recommended best practice is to regularly update the template every year keeping it in line with the current industry trends.
This one is unavoidable, no matter which company you are. There are always meetings that require an audience that extends to the other teams. The frequency might vary according to the size of the organization and the industry type. But it is something every professional has to take up in their career.
Such internal decks do not require a high end or Level 2 and 3 graphic works. They just need to communicate the message that you want to get through to all departments and branches of your company.
However, if you want to send a message of what a business presentation deck should look across the company, then you can go ahead and pick level 2 PowerPoint formatting at most.
Again, as I said earlier having a ready-to-use Corporate PowerPoint Template for such meetings can reduce time spent in creating a new design template every time you have a company meeting.
Decks that you read alone or you share with someone. A deck without a presenter. It can be your personal deck, or it can be about your company’s products, services or even your career with an outline of the history/timeline of your achievements. You carry them around with you on your phone or laptop, and you show them to clients or prospects on the go.
When customers come to us with a Walking Deck, most often, it needs to be regularly updated.
These decks need only need light touchups, like when you put on sunscreen before going out or dressing up for work.
We get a lot of walking decks from our customers. Level1 formatting would just suffice for these decks, but some customers like to have them at Level 2 which I think is okay if you are working on something new that needs an uplift.
Working Summary deck
Consultants use a Working Summary deck to communicate with their clients on projects.
Typically, this deck goes back and forth between clients and consultants and even between members of an organization. Both parties regularly update it.
It is managed by more than one individual and presented to a group.
They are mostly internal decks that consist of projects, execution plans, findings of consultants working summary. Considering the nature of the content, it's best to format these decks to Level 1.
Once you have finalized the deck, it can be converted into other forms of PowerPoint and move up to Level 2 or 3 of formatting.
PowerPoint formatting to different levels can be tricky sometimes. Like some of our customers might prefer the higher levels for their internal communication purpose whereas some just need basic cleanup for Partner Facing Decks (I will talk more about this in my next article).
So most often, we collaborate with our customers and suggest the best approach for a particular type of deck. Like always some decks tend to break all rules (why else would we make rules if not to break it!). They just wouldn’t fit into one Level.
Sometimes, ongoing long-term customers like to experiment and try out newer ways of visual communication on PowerPoint. An exercise that we designers love to take up. It can be challenging and at the same time immensely rewarding.